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Author Topic: PC Miniature: Stone Born  (Read 9904 times)
Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« on: April 03, 2008, 11:48:22 PM »

Stone Born

By Loreen Heneghan
Read by Sam Ferree
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky
First appearance here, in PodCastle
Today marks the debut of our first PodCastle Miniature*, “Stone Born” by Loreen Heneghan.
 
They weren’t friends — she being a girl. Plus she had a crooked smile, a  snorting laugh, and a face like some stone-age ax. Even so, he and Brenda were the last kids on the bus route out past those cliffs. Mark let her sit with him when all the other boys were gone. He’d heard her parents were fighting over her, too. Fighting mean.
They never talked about that. As they rumbled along, Brenda taught him to look forward, never turning, even when the faces were like a crowd at the edge of the road. It was cool, like seeing into a strange, goblin world.


Rated G. Contains children, school buses, and elves.


Listen to this week's Pod Castle Miniature!


Flash Fiction Contest thread for Stone Born



*According to wikipedia, the word miniature is derived from the Latin minium, red lead, and is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript. We thought it was a good way to describe very short stories with a fantasy theme: a word that indicates brievity, manuscripts, and a medieval atmosphere.

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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2008, 12:10:06 AM »

On a purely personal note, I'm really glad the Flash Fiction Contest pieces are starting to air.

I remember liking this story back then, and given that it's a year later I can only say I like it more. It reminds of American Gods in all the good ways — that in SF or F that sense of the other world being out there but just slightly out of reach is one of the reasons the genres are so near and dear to me. I probably still have a bit of that childhood Superman-is-a-career-option and if-I-really-fell-and-missed-the-ground-I'd-fly still in me, and this helps me connect to that.
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eytanz
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2008, 05:57:48 AM »

Ok, I have to admit - I read the story, I listened to it, and I listened to it again as instructed, and I'm still pretty sure I didn't understand it. I liked it, but I only ever understood it in a pretty straightforward, non-fantasy kind of way. I think I'm missing something...
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2008, 04:17:21 PM »

Ok, I have to admit - I read the story, I listened to it, and I listened to it again as instructed, and I'm still pretty sure I didn't understand it. I liked it, but I only ever understood it in a pretty straightforward, non-fantasy kind of way. I think I'm missing something...

That's a pretty common response to the story. Check the Flash Fiction thread, which has the full story text along with some interpretations, including a pretty exhaustive one by Palimpsest Rachel.
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bolddeceiver
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2008, 05:38:20 PM »

Liked the story, but there seemed to be something up in either the recording or the editing of the intro/outro; the treble end was so harsh I had to turn it way down, and even then it was distorting in my speakers a little.
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birdless
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2008, 10:19:54 PM »

Ok, I have to admit - I read the story, I listened to it, and I listened to it again as instructed, and I'm still pretty sure I didn't understand it. I liked it, but I only ever understood it in a pretty straightforward, non-fantasy kind of way. I think I'm missing something...
Maybe that's my problem: i didn't like it enough to listen to again. Totally missed the mark for me. It came across to me as Pan's Labyrinth plot repackaged, but much less engaging. I'll give it another try, though, and try reading the thread that Heradel pointed to. Wasn't particularly keen on the narrator's choice of inflection (or lack thereof). I hate to say that, because I really don't want to hurt his feelings, but... well, it just made the dreary story drearier.
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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2008, 01:00:55 AM »

Well, since people are mentioning the advice to re-listen to the piece, I'll go ahead and say that I was attempting to imbed a hint toward my interpretation in the sentence itself. "A stone seen from the corner of your eye may look like a face. A slight shift in perspective can change everything."

During the contest, this piece seemed to be one people resonated to or didn't, which is fair enough. Death and elves so far; dragons next.
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2008, 09:25:26 AM »

It resonate for me!  I, too, am glad to see some of the Flash stories making their way out into the light.

(And if you didn't like this one, there are a few hundred alternatives in the Contest boards!  Check 'em out!)
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yukihada
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2008, 06:19:00 PM »

I enjoyed the story a great deal.  Little details stuck with me...the fists, the boy's own hardening of a sorts at the end of the tale.  It gives glimpses of a bigger story behind it.  I am glad that the author was ambiguous about whether the stone goblin reality was truth or just a child's interpretation of the events. 

As a teacher with many students from broken, unhappy homes, I found that this story captivated me.  Rereading/rehearing this story unveils even more gems as well...the sustained imagery of stones, hardness, cragginess suited the theme of kidnapping and growing up in harsh conditions only too well. 

Thank you for sharing.
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ajames
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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2008, 07:44:51 AM »

This one definitely resonated with me. It beautifully captured a certain stage of childhood, when we begin to "know" what is real and logical, but still believe the world may be full of magic, just in places that are hard to see and only if you keep an open mind. Doubt about magic is definitely still there, but belief in magic hasn't been completely dispelled, either. I also liked how Loreen was able to show this without idealizing childhood, and also without the typical "escape into fantasy to learn something about yourself to help you deal with a real situation once you leave the fantasy world" format. Magic is woven into this story, though if you chose not to open your mind to it, it isn't really there at all. Is Brenda living in a stone world with her stone father, or has her father just taken her somewhere far away but non-magical? Either way the events of the story make sense.

I too am glad that these stories are coming out on air. I loved thinking about this story again!
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Darwinist
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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2008, 09:50:20 PM »

Cool story.  Listened to it twice with my 11 y/o and we talked about it for quite some time.   I'll have to go read the original thread and compare thoughts. 
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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2008, 01:08:45 PM »

Extremely happy to see this made it to production!  I loved it from the Flash contest and it is still a favorite! 

I guess I've always seen this story from the edge of my vision because the premise and fantastical implications have always seemed obvious to me.

By the way, Rachel, thanks for living up to your word:

If I had a magazine (that paid and had respectability), I would publish this.
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gelee
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« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2008, 01:17:38 PM »

Very good short piece.  The imagery was very nice, and I agree with ajames, that this is an interesting look at that "in between" place at the end of childhood.
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birdless
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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2008, 03:08:16 PM »

Wow. I guess I just really didn't get it... I still haven't re-listened to it though.

<Edited after another listen>
Okay, so I listened to it again. It was more Twilight-Zoney the second time through, but I still didn't like it. It didn't come across as fantasy at all to me. For me, it was just a story about perspective, and a depressing story, at that. I will say that I thought it was well-written, with consistent and relevant choices of wording, and had a great ending line for such a short story, but I just didn't like the story.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2008, 08:45:20 AM by birdless » Logged
Roney
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« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2008, 04:37:22 PM »

I've been looking forward to hearing this since it was announced, and I'm delighted to find that "Stone Born" is still a great story.  (Of all the many, many flash fiction contest entries, it's the only one I could have given a reasonably detailed summary of, a full year later.*  Others are just isolated images now, or have dissolved completely.)

But I'm not sure I'd have had as strong a reaction to it if I hadn't read it first.  I struggled a bit with the audio version, and I think I might just have gone "huh" and thought no more about it if I hadn't been paying special attention.

I'm not keen on the redraft.  I appreciate that there's no point in torturing a story into a 300-word limit that no longer applies, but I thought that some of the new text was a bit too expository.  I know that this is a classic case of not being able to please all of the people, and the biggest criticism during the contest was that the story was too confusing, but the balance of the text was severely disrupted by the additions.  At this length prose is boiled down nearly to poetry, and the inclusion of sentences that sounded like they came from a 500-word version broke the rhythm -- enough that I'd convinced myself that it was a revised draft even before I checked it against the original.

The other disappointment was the reading.  I'm being unrealistically demanding here because I'm not sure that any reading would have satisfied me: part of the pleasure with an allusive, elusive story like this is trying out troublesome phrases with a variety of emphases, mentally twisting the story in front of the light to see what meaning refracts through it from different angles.  As soon as the narrator chooses a single way to read a sentence, all those possibilities are lost.  Still, that's the nature of podcasting.  Unfortunately this particular reading (or the editing) was stilted to the point where already difficult sentences became nearly impenetrable.  A story this dense, where each word matters so much, needs really world-class narration to convey its full impact.

And I like the EP/PP tradition of jumping straight into Flash pieces without an introduction.

Sorry -- this post sounds more negative than I intended.  "Stone Born" is a wonderful story, and a great choice for the first Miniature.

* With the exception of the time-travelling Nazi.
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Rain
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2008, 10:40:40 AM »

This is my favorite Podcastle story so far, interesting ideas
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Opabinia
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« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2008, 03:29:45 AM »

This was my favorite story in the flash fiction contest that wasn't by someone I was engaged to.
I am so glad that this was able to come to light again!
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ROUS
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« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2008, 12:35:55 PM »

Very well done.  The concept is one to which I can relate, and one I had forgotten existed in me.  After hearing this story I immediately added the concept to my current writing project.
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« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2010, 12:59:43 PM »

I didn't get this story at all, which made me feel more than a little dense.  I thought about listening to it again, as per the intro, but didn't figure there was much point.  To my mind, if I don't like the story the first time, a second read won't make the slightest difference.  I'm all for deeper meanings, and it's cool if consecutive readings provide different interpretations, but at the end of the first read I had no interpretation, just a "Huh?" reaction.
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