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Author Topic: PC005: The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale  (Read 47226 times)

hautdesert

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Reply #25 on: April 30, 2008, 09:45:30 PM
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the story probably makes more sense once you know what the gumballs represent (like the suitcase in pulp fiction)

I don't have a particularly literal reading of this aspect of the story, and certainly my guess is only as good as anyone else's, but I assume they're pomegranate seeds.

I can't see it that way at all ... eating the pomegranate seeds condemned Persephone to stay in the underworld, while having the woman consume a gumball helped Stan get her out.

Right, but if she hadn't touched the gumballs while she was staying with the ant king, she wouldn't have turned back when she tried to escape.  It was the craving for the addictive gumballs that trapped her there.

The parallel is there, but not exact.  Which is the kind of parallel that I like best, just personally.  The resonance is there, but it's not just an allegorical, one-thing symbol.  It's flexible, it echoes different ways, depending on where you're standing while you're listening.



hautdesert

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Reply #26 on: April 30, 2008, 09:51:43 PM

That's what I was thinking too (especially with the "don't look back" part), which I wasn't really expecting because Greek lit/mythos doesn't come up in my head when I think fairy tales.

I don't generally either, and am occasionally surprised when I run across clear connections.  Consider "Beauty and the Beast" and "Psyche and Eros," for instance.



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Reply #27 on: April 30, 2008, 10:53:24 PM
Quote
the story probably makes more sense once you know what the gumballs represent (like the suitcase in pulp fiction)

I don't have a particularly literal reading of this aspect of the story, and certainly my guess is only as good as anyone else's, but I assume they're pomegranate seeds.

I can't see it that way at all ... eating the pomegranate seeds condemned Persephone to stay in the underworld, while having the woman consume a gumball helped Stan get her out.

Right, but if she hadn't touched the gumballs while she was staying with the ant king, she wouldn't have turned back when she tried to escape.  It was the craving for the addictive gumballs that trapped her there.

Good point; I can see that now.

And on a tangent, going back to Rachel's post, I didn't see the suitcase in Pulp Fiction as representing anything, other than being an object for Vincent and Jules to be sent to retrieve.  IOW, nothing more than a plot device.

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deflective

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Reply #28 on: April 30, 2008, 11:11:30 PM
that was generally accepted until another theory made the rounds.



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Reply #29 on: May 01, 2008, 12:37:52 AM
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the story probably makes more sense once you know what the gumballs represent (like the suitcase in pulp fiction)

I don't have a particularly literal reading of this aspect of the story, and certainly my guess is only as good as anyone else's, but I assume they're pomegranate seeds.

Now, THAT, I wish I'd noticed, before...

Perhaps that was my problem when I first listened to it:  that I didn't catch the reference.  I'm not usually obtuse, but -in this case- I definitely was.

I'm still not fond of it but I certainly don't think it a bad story.  Perhaps it was just a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around.

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deflective

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Reply #30 on: May 01, 2008, 02:04:40 AM
a couple other things i noticed that may shed light on the story as a whole.

AntAgonist became the Ant King. this may be a way of saying that the Ant King is a higher antagonist, sort of a meta-villain placeholder representing antagonists in general. alternatively, the author included a little wordplay because it's fun.

both Corpse & Vampire joined the Ant King. this works well with the underground hades theme, if there are direct parallels to an particular myth i'd be interested to hear it. they are also the two youngest characters. maybe it's a new generation embracing a new way of doing things?



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Reply #31 on: May 01, 2008, 03:30:17 AM
that was generally accepted until another theory made the rounds.

From that same page:

Quote
According to Tarantino A to Zed: The Films of Quentin Tarantino:
Tarantino has admitted that there is no official explanation behind the briefcase's contents, and that it was simply written into the screen play as an intriguing McGuffin.

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cuddlebug

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Reply #32 on: May 01, 2008, 09:17:10 AM
Quote
the story probably makes more sense once you know what the gumballs represent (like the suitcase in pulp fiction)

I don't have a particularly literal reading of this aspect of the story, and certainly my guess is only as good as anyone else's, but I assume they're pomegranate seeds.

Now, THAT, I wish I'd noticed, before...

Perhaps that was my problem when I first listened to it:  that I didn't catch the reference.  I'm not usually obtuse, but -in this case- I definitely was.

I'm still not fond of it but I certainly don't think it a bad story.  Perhaps it was just a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around.

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)

I absolutely agree with Sylvan (Dave), but I have to say I LOVE mythology and I didn't notice the reference at all, since I was looking for other references the whole time, it didn't even occur to me to take Greek myth into consideration. It totally makes sense now, Pomegranate seeds, Hades, ... of course, why didn't I think of that...

But not getting it is extremely frustrating.

Whereas I enjoyed the story at first for its surrealism alone, I now have to revise my initial assessment and I am not sure whether I am just sulking over my own 'daftness' or am blaming the story itself for it.

Will have to pay more attention next time. 



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Reply #33 on: May 01, 2008, 12:33:49 PM
I enjoyed a lot of this story -- it was vivid and fun to listen to -- but I didn't really care about any of the characters.  Sheila was a cutout, Stan was un-empathize-with-able, the Ant King was not nearly what I expected, and no one else made any sense.

It was surreal.  I liked the surreal bits quite a lot.  But I don't know that I necessarily enjoyed the story as a story; it felt more like a strange dream.  And may have been (the author's, that is).

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DKT

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Reply #34 on: May 01, 2008, 04:19:41 PM
Wow.  I totally missed the greek mythology bit. 

Really enjoyed this story, though.  Thanks for picking something this kind of weird. 

I fell for tale when Vampire turned to Stan and said "You poor bastard!"  There was something in the way Steve delivered that line that just made me laugh very loud.  There were some hilarious images and characters.  Stan going to a waterpark with a sword.  The Ant King on the couch chomping dorritos.  Vampire trying to help Stan navigate through the tunnels.  Vampire and Corpse pretty much cracked me up whenever they spoke.  And Steve's reading was great -- I'm not sure how much I would've enjoyed it without Steve's reading. 

I'm gonna have to listen to it again now. 


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Reply #35 on: May 02, 2008, 05:40:36 AM
There were some hilarious images and characters.  Stan going to a waterpark with a sword.  The Ant King on the couch chomping dorritos.  Vampire trying to help Stan navigate through the tunnels.  Vampire and Corpse pretty much cracked me up whenever they spoke.  And Steve's reading was great -- I'm not sure how much I would've enjoyed it without Steve's reading. 

Going to the waterpark with a sword was somehow a beautiful moment. 



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Reply #36 on: May 02, 2008, 08:35:06 AM
Sorry, but this story just did not click for me.
It had a similar style to a Tom Holt type story which I like, but I do not know if it is because of the minimal humour or the set up, but I did not really care about any of the characters or what they were doing.
It was not that I hated it, I just felt a bit meh.


DKT

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Reply #37 on: May 02, 2008, 11:18:02 AM
There were some hilarious images and characters.  Stan going to a waterpark with a sword.  The Ant King on the couch chomping dorritos.  Vampire trying to help Stan navigate through the tunnels.  Vampire and Corpse pretty much cracked me up whenever they spoke.  And Steve's reading was great -- I'm not sure how much I would've enjoyed it without Steve's reading. 

Going to the waterpark with a sword was somehow a beautiful moment. 

Maybe because it's something every California boy longs to do?


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Reply #38 on: May 02, 2008, 11:50:07 AM
There were some hilarious images and characters.  Stan going to a waterpark with a sword.  The Ant King on the couch chomping dorritos.  Vampire trying to help Stan navigate through the tunnels.  Vampire and Corpse pretty much cracked me up whenever they spoke.  And Steve's reading was great -- I'm not sure how much I would've enjoyed it without Steve's reading. 

Going to the waterpark with a sword was somehow a beautiful moment. 

Maybe because it's something every California boy longs to do?

  I know I wanted to when I was a kid, but mom said it would rust  :-\

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Reply #39 on: May 02, 2008, 12:49:54 PM
I fell for tale when Vampire turned to Stan and said "You poor bastard!"  There was something in the way Steve delivered that line that just made me laugh very loud.  There were some hilarious images and characters.  Stan going to a waterpark with a sword.  The Ant King on the couch chomping dorritos.  Vampire trying to help Stan navigate through the tunnels.  Vampire and Corpse pretty much cracked me up whenever they spoke. 

My first reaction to this story was, "Ok..."
My second reaction was the same as any other story which I'm required to know *other* stories in order to understand, "Crap!  It's all crap!"
But, my third reaction dovetails nicely with other comments.  The imagery was highly entertaining.  The Doritos were probably the best character by being the central foil in the Ant King's lair, and as mentioned in the quote, "You Poor Bastard" was freaking hilarious.



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Reply #40 on: May 02, 2008, 01:20:56 PM
I REALLY didn't care for this story.  The only positive thing from this story for me was that it got me to register on the forums so I can complain about it.

Two major things I didn't like

When Vick, Shelia, and I can't even remember the main character's name were talking it was So and So said... over and over again.  I felt like I was watching a 3 way tennis match.  So and so said, so and so said, so and so said, so and so said.  I almost had to turn the story off.

Also and I hope I dont offend anyone here but typically I would say fantasy is a nerdy genre, the only finger I am really pointing is back at myself, but who writes a fantasy story where the nerd loses the girl to the jock.  I mean I understand sad endings but not in a story that came across humorous and fun.  I am sure all the Fantasy Jocks named Vick loved the story, but fantasy nerd exoasol, did not.

exoasol



stePH

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Reply #41 on: May 02, 2008, 02:45:48 PM
Did anybody else think that having Steve Eley read this one made it feel like it belonged on Escape Pod?  Or was it just me?

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Anarkey

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Reply #42 on: May 02, 2008, 02:53:04 PM
Oh bravo, PodCastle!  Well done!

I loved this story.  It doesn't knock my favorite Benjamin Rosenbaum story off its perch on the hill (that would be "Start The Clock") but it met all my criteria for depth and complexity and is another solid example of what I like in his stories.  While I normally whine about lack of character development in stories, I have to admit this is the type of archetypal play I can happily go along with, because there's enough layers and other things going on and references and resonances to make the stiffness in the characters work for me.

I'm afraid to say this without outing myself as a complete lunatic, but I have no association with California or Silicon Valley whatsoever (ok, ok, I played Zork about a billion times as a kid, but that's the ONLY connection, I swear) and yet I didn't find this story weird at all.  Yes, I'm here to throw off the statistics in the CA vs. rest of the world weirdness debate.  Maybe I'm overly at home with surrealism, or maybe my outsider persona lets me roll with time/place dependent scenarios better than most.  I really liked the vividness of the setting, how concrete and specific all the details were.  I also liked that people talked like they were from California in the 90's.

There's one more thing I loved about this story, which is that it worked as fairy tale.  To me, fairy tales are stories about the hopes and fears of a culture.  When they get reinvented (expurgated, changed, enhanced, etc.) it's a specific society's way of saying, 'we've changed, and this is who we are now'.  We're a society that can't talk about sex, frex, but where eating children is just fine to treat thematically.  Or perhaps: we can't talk about how painful transformation and change are, but we can layout an improbable tableaux of romantic love, bc 'romantic love' is what we're all about.  At the rate of change in our world, I expect a remake of this one in about 20 years.  I can't wait.

BTW, as far as the Greek connection goes, I've always thought of the Greek myths/legends/deity tales as a type of fairy tale.  Probably because I was exposed to both in the same impressionable time frame and because the Greek stuff goes a long way toward explaining their society, so they work the way I think fairy tales work.

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Reply #43 on: May 02, 2008, 04:45:51 PM
OK, maybe you have to be from CA to like this story, or at least appreciate CA culture, but this just bored the hell out of me.  The text was well crafted, but the characters were uninteresting, and the story itself was just dull.  Obscure Zork references may make for a good inside joke with part of the audience, but inside jokes make for crappy stories.  Absurdist non-sense with a lot of pointless details thrown in for window dressing to lend the appearance of depth.  Or is that another CA reference?
Pleeeease no more fairy tales for a while?



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Reply #44 on: May 02, 2008, 09:02:26 PM
It was okay when I heard it, but it's growing on me.



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Reply #45 on: May 02, 2008, 09:35:42 PM
It was okay when I heard it, but it's growing on me.

I could totally see that happening.  Kind of like some of the Coen Brothers movies.


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Reply #46 on: May 03, 2008, 07:19:29 AM
You know, I usually like to think I know my way around weird.

Obviously I was wrong. Upon finishing this story, I thought to myself "what the hell?"

The following sentence is false. The previous sentence is true.


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Reply #47 on: May 03, 2008, 10:51:30 AM
I like video games and I loved the Zork series. I like stories of almost all kinds, and I love the Greek myths.

I like some video games based on stories. But for the most part stories based upon video games have left me cold, and this is no exception.

This story seemed a jumble of elements with no real cohesion or purpose. Some zork here, some orpheus there, a bit of persephone and demeter there, .com craziness strewn throughout, and so on, but to what end?

Clever, I guess, and entertaining for some, but not for me.



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Reply #48 on: May 04, 2008, 04:42:25 PM
Loved it. I am a big fan of funny Surrealism in Fantasy (opposed to not-funny Surrealism which usually bores me). This one was just what a modern fairytale should be.



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Reply #49 on: May 04, 2008, 10:20:33 PM
Yes, I'm here to throw off the statistics in the CA vs. rest of the world weirdness debate. 

Don't worry, I'm as far from California as you can get, but I still Get it.

I loved that the ending wasn't a happy one, despite being set in Hollywood (well, metaphorically speaking). Life is messy.