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Author Topic: PC Miniature 002: Giant  (Read 19526 times)
Heradel
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« on: April 18, 2008, 06:18:01 PM »

PC Miniature 002: Giant

By Stephanie Burgis
Read by Jonathan Sullivan.
Outro by Rachel Swirsky.
First appeared in Lone Star Stories, 2004 (full text at link).

A few words on “Giant,” from Associate Editor Ann Leckie:

Today’s story is a riff on the classic trope of The Giant Who Had No Heart which you can take a gander at on wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giant_Who_Had_No_Heart_in_His_Body -- if you happen to be unfamiliar.

Nearly every culture has fairy tales, and many of them are strikingly similar to tales told by other, very distant peoples.  That may be the long process of transmission between different groups, stories passed along in a game of telephone thousands of years long, or it may be that fairy tales spring from, and engage, something basic in human psychology. It’s hard to say, really.

The tales themselves are stripped down, very concise and economical. Close-in examination of a character’s psyche, or even more than rudimentary character development, doesn’t exist in fairy tales. Even in stories with little or no magic, strange things happen with no obvious reasons, let alone explanation. We may hear of beautiful maidens, perhaps even with hair of ebony or flax, shining dresses of gold or silver, mountains of glass–but without much in the way of detail.

And good and evil are clearly marked. We know which is which–one sister speaks, and jewels fall out of her mouth. The other utters toads. There are no qualifications, no mitigating circumstances, no shades of gray. It’s all very straightforward.

Today’s story is “Giant” by Stephanie Burgis. It plays on a tale that’s very popular, one that, like most fairy tales, has plenty of variants. It’s the story of the ogre who’s hidden his heart–or sometimes his soul–in an unlikely and hard to reach place. His vulnerability is in an iron box at the bottom of the sea. Or in an egg in the mouth of a fish inside a crow that came from a deer. Or else he can only be killed in very specific, very unlikely circumstances. But once the secret is known, he’s vulnerable.

What does it mean to have to hide one’s heart? To never be able to trust anyone — even one’s own beloved — with the secrets of one’s own existence? To always have to be protect your heart from those closest to you within the egg, inside the crow that came from the deer?

But, of course, since we’re talking fairy tales, the ogre must be evil. Surely. Surely, he must deserve his fate.



I’ve hidden my heart in an egg, in a box, in a well at the end of the world. My father taught me that trick a long time ago.

If I’d kept my heart, I would be in trouble now. This princess is too beautiful.


Rated G. Contains a heart, once carefully hidden.



Why PodCastle miniatures? 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.


Listen to this week's Pod Castle Miniature!



[Blog text edited by Rachel to reflect revisions on the main site.]
« Last Edit: April 20, 2008, 11:53:02 AM by Rachel Swirsky » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2008, 07:26:32 AM »

This story didn't touch me.  I got the idea (on purpose or not) that the giant had hidden away his heart, and was immune to both the princess's attentions and the human's stealthy approach.  He could not die and could not fall in love, so neither of them could get close enough to hurt him.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2008, 08:54:19 AM »

This one completely fell flat.  I just didn't see the point; in fact I want my six minutes back.

Podcastle's 0 for 2 on the flash fiction so far.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2008, 08:56:34 AM by stePH » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2008, 09:31:03 AM »

I liked the way this gave a flip side to so many "giant" stories... mainly thinking of Jack and the Beanstalk.  (Although, sadly, my brain kept seeing friggin' Willy.)



There was something about the ending that misfired, but I can't put my finger on what it was.  Otherwise, I enjoyed the implications.
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2008, 10:33:16 AM »

I give this story a "meh".  Loved the first Miniature, though. 
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2008, 11:30:51 AM »

Just for information--I probably should have put this link in the blog post:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giant_Who_Had_No_Heart_in_His_Body

(I've edited it in, and added a paragraph. Changed the heading at the top of this thread to reflect that. --Rachel )
« Last Edit: April 20, 2008, 12:00:49 PM by Rachel Swirsky » Logged
ajames
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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2008, 07:27:13 PM »

I loved the narration - superb effort!

I enjoyed the story too, though the ending left me feeling that I had missed something. I suppose we saw the fatal moment, and the rest was inevitable. And it is interesting to consider why a giant without a heart would make a mistake, well, of the heart. So it challenges some conceptions. Not bad for less than 6 minutes.
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2008, 11:05:41 AM »

I liked this one. It was, in fact, one of the few flash pieces on Escape Pod, Pseudopod, or Podcastle that I have liked enough to want to post and say "I liked it."
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2008, 11:46:42 AM »

I really liked this one, especially when I try to take it on face value - I was thinking about it earlier and my thoughts went down some uncomfortable paths (this is a story, in a way, about a mentally disabled serial rapist who does not understand the import of his own actions), so I stopped, backed off those paths, and decided to enjoy the story as it is.

it is interesting to consider why a giant without a heart would make a mistake, well, of the heart. So it challenges some conceptions. Not bad for less than 6 minutes.

Good point.
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ChloeH
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2008, 08:37:33 AM »

I really liked this story. I think though that the reason that I liked it was I have actually heard the story of the "Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body."

If you'd like to hear it their is a very good audio version from Dale Jarvis' website.

Hear is a link.
This is from World Storytelling Day Concert 2007. It is the second story told.
Enjoy!
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gelee
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2008, 10:02:52 AM »

Nice short piece, and good reading, too.
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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2008, 04:39:14 PM »

I really enjoyed this one, majority of it because the narration was done so well!

Please invite Jonathan Sullivan back sometime soon to read a longer story.
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« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2008, 07:03:19 PM »

I really enjoyed this one, majority of it because the narration was done so well!

Please invite Jonathan Sullivan back sometime soon to read a longer story.

"Sully Dog" is great... I just listened to him reading Escape Pod #14 today, by coincidence.  If you're not already an Escape Pod fan, you can find a lot of Jonathan Sullivan over there.  He has read a number of stories, done several movie reviews, and even wrote the first Escape Pod episode!

Welcome to the forums, by the way.  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2008, 10:27:17 AM »

Wow, I forgot what a great narrator Sully Dog is.  That was a fantastic reading.  Great story, too.  Very compelling writing that drew me in right away.
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Rain
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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2008, 11:06:40 AM »

I kinda liked this one, i say kinda because it feels like half a story and it expects you to know the other part in advance, but still it wasnt bad, the flash fiction has been the best part of podcastle so far
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2008, 10:45:25 PM »

The story of a violent, abusive man abducting a helpless woman, raping her, raising their child and teaching the child how to abduct, rape and father a new generation fell flat for me. It does not help the story that the child may decide to break his father's "rules" and tell his rape victim that he has a heart so he can get _killed_ for having a heart. So then we are supposed to feel sorry for the giant?

Next please.

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« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2008, 08:39:00 AM »

The story of a violent, abusive man abducting a helpless woman, raping her, raising their child and teaching the child how to abduct, rape and father a new generation fell flat for me. It does not help the story that the child may decide to break his father's "rules" and tell his rape victim that he has a heart so he can get _killed_ for having a heart. So then we are supposed to feel sorry for the giant?

Next please.



Does it make you feel any better about it that Doom Is Approaching for the rapist?  What IS that smell, after all... it's Jack!   Shocked
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2008, 01:39:03 PM »

I listened to this story on the subway on the way to work. Shortly after that disturbing news came from Austria. Once again, life imitates art in all the cruel ways.
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Heradel
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« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2008, 02:44:47 PM »

I listened to this story on the subway on the way to work. Shortly after that disturbing news came from Austria. Once again, life imitates art in all the cruel ways.

I don't think Giant was quite that dark. I'm not saying it wasn't dark, but the Austria thing was several shades past black hole black.
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« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2010, 01:00:07 PM »

I've gotta agree with JoeFitz on this one, not much to like in the character, which makes it hard to like the story for me.

The heart separated from the body is a cool idea, but one I've heard before.  I hadn't seen the source material before, but the Davey Jones character in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies has a similar situation, and I've seen phylacteries elsewhere.  Phylacteries are a cool idea, but I still want to care about the protagonist.


AND this marks the end of my threadomancy here on Podcastle, as I've run out of things to comment on.  Now to board the mothership!  Off to Escape Pod!
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