Author Topic: PC006: Hotel Astarte  (Read 39321 times)

Heradel

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on: May 06, 2008, 05:01:00 AM
PC006: Hotel Astarte

By M. K. Hobson
Read by Paul Tevis of (Have Games, Will Travel).
Introduction by Ann Leckie.
First appeared in Realms of Fantasy (full text online here).

There is a loud knock on the door of the farmhouse.

The Queen of the Midwest glances at her husband; strangers at night may bode ill, foreshadowing assassination or traveling salesmen.

“Who could it be?”

The King lifts his rifle from above the fireplace; the look on his face indicates that the visit is expected, but is no more desired for being so.

The Queen tucks away her yarnwork and goes to sit close to her son. Her son does not stir, but continues to stare out the window.

“A dark man,” he murmurs to his mother, without looking at her. “A dark man from the east. Walking through the corn. He has been summoned.”

The Queen’s breath seizes. She cannot swallow. Her hands become ice. The palace shudders with her anxious dread; muffin tins and cream separators and sheaf binding machines rattle.

But when the King opens the door, there is no one there, only the miles and miles of fields all around.

“Come in,” the King speaks to the darkness, gruffly. “Come in, damn it. I have been waiting for you.”


Rated PG. Contains hotel rooms where lovers tryst and spells are cast.



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Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 02:53:59 PM
I'm only 12 minutes into the episode (about 7 minutes into the story proper I think). But I note that this one also has exposition in the introduction.  (For the record, this doesn't bother me like it does some others.)

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Kaa

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Reply #2 on: May 06, 2008, 04:56:39 PM
The opening exposition didn't bother me in this one like it did the last one. I think because it didn't try to tell me what to think of the upcoming story.  Or at least I didn't take it that way. *shrug*

I was fairly sure I wasn't going to like this story, but the longer I listened the more I liked it.  By the time it was done, I liked it a lot.  Alternate-reality stories like this one generally don't do much for me, but for some reason, this one clicked with me.  Possibly because it didn't try to explain anything, but just leapt right into the story, and let the "reader" glean what we could from the context.  Those are the best, from my point of view.

I was a tad disappointed that the Prince just had to exposit the bit about not needing one heart, let alone two.  I had already gone there and was appreciating the dark humor...and then had it "rammed down my throat."

But overall, a good story, well told.  But...did he say "reading French movies" at around time 27:29?  I could swear I heard it that way....

As an aside, I also appreciated that I had to look up several words/terms.  I like that in a story. :)

« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 04:58:41 PM by Kaa »

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eytanz

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Reply #3 on: May 06, 2008, 05:23:19 PM
I'm only 12 minutes into the episode (about 7 minutes into the story proper I think). But I note that this one also has exposition in the introduction.  (For the record, this doesn't bother me like it does some others.)

It didn't bother me nearly as much this time, for the simple reason that the exposition was really background data that was only subtly related to the story, as opposed to "Here is the subtext of the story. Enjoy!" like the miniature had.

As for the story itself - loved it very, very much. It's vying to the spot held in my heart by "Come lady Death" as my favorite PC story (I don't think it'll end up winning, but it's a good contender).

I do have a weak spot, developed over the past five years of living there, for the mythization (mythicization?) of America. Stories such as American Gods, and Last Call really appeal to me, and this is a fine entry into that genre. Probably the best I've read/heard that fits into a short story form as opposed to an epic novel.



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Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 08:09:50 PM
Wow, this story was like a cauldron filled with all the good stuff, there was romance and sensuality, magic, revenge, flashbacks, a father-son-reunion, disgusting self-mutilation and it was a 'coming of age story' at the same time. That is quite an accomplishment.

Especially loved the ‘heart of the west’ part.

I have to say, just like Kaa I thought at first I wasn’t going to like this story, the characterization took some time to develop and at the beginning I had a hard time sympathizing with anyone, which is rather unusual for me since I tend to identify easily with fictional characters (hahaha). But they, especially the dead warlock, grew on me throughout the reading.

And I wanted to add, I really enjoy the mythification of America as well (maybe a bit far-fetched, but a few examples of Homer in an American context come to mind), so this is maybe a little wink towards the writers, please keep them coming. Stories of Kings, Princes and maybe witches, dragons and fairies/Faerie in America (… or anywhere really, am not too picky ;)) are always welcome on my iPod.



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Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 08:25:51 PM
I do have a weak spot, developed over the past five years of living there, for the mythization (mythicization?) of America. Stories such as American Gods, and Last Call really appeal to me, and this is a fine entry into that genre. Probably the best I've read/heard that fits into a short story form as opposed to an epic novel.

ok, finished this one at lunchtime.  Loved it.  I don't know if it's the 'mythization of America' that I get off on, so much as my preference for a story with fantastical elements in the mundane world ("low fantasy") over a fantasy story set in a wholly imaginary world ("high fantasy").  But I loved American Gods and wonder what is this Last Call to which you refer.

And I never thought I'd post anything worth quoting in the feedback outro  ;D

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eytanz

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Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 08:32:27 PM
But I loved American Gods and wonder what is this Last Call to which you refer.

Last call: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0380715570/escapepod-20

It's the first book in a trilogy, but it's self-contained. Its sequels are not as good, but still worth reading.

Moderators - please adjust Amazon link.

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« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 09:02:38 PM by Heradel »



eytanz

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Reply #7 on: May 06, 2008, 08:40:53 PM
And I wanted to add, I really enjoy the mythification of America as well (maybe a bit far-fetched, but a few examples of Homer in an American context come to mind), so this is maybe a little wink towards the writers, please keep them coming. Stories of Kings, Princes and maybe witches, dragons and fairies/Faerie in America (… or anywhere really, am not too picky ;)) are always welcome on my iPod.


I should clarify, perhaps, that while I enjoy fantasy set in modern settings and would probably enjoy all of the above, that was not exactly what I meant - I was specifically referring to stories, such as this one and the other two I named, that contain a retelling of (elements of) American history in mythological (not just magical) terms. And a key feature of these stories is that they could all actually be true, in a way, in parallel to actual history.



Ocicat

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Reply #8 on: May 06, 2008, 09:01:43 PM
I really liked this one when it started out, but my attention seemed to wander as it went along.  The premise was great, and the world-building had my interest, but once everything was set up (about the time the price took out his two hearts) it just didn't grab me anymore.  The narrative style had gotten old, for one thing.  But mostly I could see where things were going, and couldn't bring myself to care anymore.

So, a solid "Eh" here, and interestingly the exact opposite of other listener's responses to the story.



cuddlebug

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Reply #9 on: May 06, 2008, 09:11:17 PM
And I wanted to add, I really enjoy the mythification of America as well (maybe a bit far-fetched, but a few examples of Homer in an American context come to mind), so this is maybe a little wink towards the writers, please keep them coming. Stories of Kings, Princes and maybe witches, dragons and fairies/Faerie in America (… or anywhere really, am not too picky ;)) are always welcome on my iPod.


I should clarify, perhaps, that while I enjoy fantasy set in modern settings and would probably enjoy all of the above, that was not exactly what I meant - I was specifically referring to stories, such as this one and the other two I named, that contain a retelling of (elements of) American history in mythological (not just magical) terms. And a key feature of these stories is that they could all actually be true, in a way, in parallel to actual history.

Yes, and those were included, sorry if I didn't make that clear. I really enjoyed that aspect in the story and giving the dates helped with the anticipation of what was going to happen.

And I am sure we will have a retelling of 9/11 in mythological terms any day now. (... for all I know there might be one already?)



stePH

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Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 10:16:44 PM
And I am sure we will have a retelling of 9/11 in mythological terms any day now. (... for all I know there might be one already?)

J.C. Hutchins' 7th Son: Descent (book 1) contains (as background exposition) an oilman's conspiracy that led to the 9/11 attacks, I seem to recall.

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eytanz

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Reply #11 on: May 06, 2008, 10:36:56 PM
And I am sure we will have a retelling of 9/11 in mythological terms any day now. (... for all I know there might be one already?)

I would say that is impossible, at least not in the way I was suggesting. Oh, it's certainly possible to give a supernatural explanation of 9/11, or one using mythological tropes, but it's way too recent past to actually be mythology. I have vivid recollection of hearing about the first plane crash while driving home after class, and watching CNN in horror for a few hours, and worrying about a friend who worked in downtown New York. I remember following the ever changing death counts on the news. My children, or their children, could form myths about it. For me it's just a part of my life, and even if someone manages to demonstrate that the twin towers were actually taken down by Zeus, that won't make it mythology.

Hotel Astarte works because the Great Depression is known to us - at least those of us who are not actually historians - mostly as a myth. We only hear it from secondary, teritary, and further removed sources. We have fragments of knowledge about it that don't combine together into a coherent picture, because there are too many gaps and probably too many contradictory accounts feeding into our knowledge. We can't tell apart what really happened from scenes from movies such as Grapes of Wrath. And most importantly, we grew up on these myths. They may be based on reality, but for all practical reasons they are just cultural background the same way the Trojan war was. I'm generalizing over myself here, but I'm sure that's true for most people here, at least of my generation and younger.

9/11, the (first) Gulf War - even the second World War, those are too recent history to be myth, because either my life was touched directly by them, or I know people who were. The Great Depression falls just beyond the cusp (it's not just timeline, by the way, it's also geography - Last Call works for me because I've never been to Las Vegas, and everyone I know who had only went for very short visits and didn't look beyond the surface).

Anyway, I'm not sure if this post has gone off-topic or not, but it's probably time to end it regardless.



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Reply #12 on: May 07, 2008, 03:30:23 PM
In the first few minutes, I thought this was going to be some thinly veiled rant against technology. I was thinking, "Oh... great... I'm gonna hate this." But then, I realized it was just a mytholization (another option, eytanz! :D) of the events in the early twentieth century, which I thought was pretty cool! So I ended up liking it. I thought it was very well written, even when I thought I didn't like it.



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Reply #13 on: May 07, 2008, 04:31:50 PM
This one... um... I'm kind of in the middle.

It was hard for me to get into it, even though I understood all of it.  The mythological retelling of the end of the Roaring Twenties was good stuff.  I want to make an America-as-Oz reference (several distinct kingdoms in a country) but I didn't see an Emerald City per se.  The magic was cool.  The reading was pretty good, though some of the voices (especially the warlock's) were overplayed, and toward the end his voice started to get too boring.

The writing bothered me a little in that Jacob Philadelphia was constantly referred to as "the dead warlock", almost to excess.  Started to drive me crazy and draw me out of the story a bit.

I usually like stories like this a lot more, so it's odd to me that I'm not full of more glowing praise, but I guess it just didn't resonate.  Good idea, good execution, good reading, but somehow only "eh" in the end.

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birdless

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Reply #14 on: May 07, 2008, 08:17:35 PM
Yeah, the "Dead Warlock" repetition was difficult to miss. I thought the author was trying to make a point with it, though I was never really clear on what it was. And I expected to be in the middle on this one, but I think reading the other posts and just letting the story digest a little before I posted pushed me more towards the "like" end.

One thing about the dead warlock: was he supposed to represent something specific? Like, at first, I thought Columbia represented freedom, Licorice represented technology and the East represented upper-echelon businessmen who sacrifice all for another dollar. Obviously as the story went on, I realized that wasn't the case, or at least not so simply put... but out of all of it, Licorice/Dead Warlock/Jacob Philadelphia was the most puzzling character to me. Anyone care to give their take?



ajames

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Reply #15 on: May 08, 2008, 12:37:39 AM
First off, I loved this story.

As I was reflecting on it, I thought of what Virgil's Aeneid did for Romans. This story doesn't rise to that level for a variety of reasons, most of which aren't in the author's control, but I was impressed. This is a myth I'll be sharing with my children when they get a little older.

If I have to criticize, I'd say once in awhile the prose seemed a bit overworked (though I loved many of the descriptions and similes), and the ending, IMO, didn't quite live up to the promise of the beginning and heart of the story. But these are quibbles.

Wonderful story.



ajames

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Reply #16 on: May 08, 2008, 11:02:39 AM
One thing about the dead warlock: was he supposed to represent something specific? Like, at first, I thought Columbia represented freedom, Licorice represented technology and the East represented upper-echelon businessmen who sacrifice all for another dollar. Obviously as the story went on, I realized that wasn't the case, or at least not so simply put... but out of all of it, Licorice/Dead Warlock/Jacob Philadelphia was the most puzzling character to me. Anyone care to give their take?

I didn't really try to analyze the symbolism in this one too deeply, but enjoyed letting the different possibilities come and go. That said, some things which stuck out:

Columbia: obvious references to an earth/fertility goddess, and an agricultural way of life tied to the seasons and the vicissitudes of nature. Simple and "pure", and idealized. Yet as we find out, Columbia is more complex and less pure than she seems at first.

Jacob Philadelphia: a Jewish man who sold his soul to the devil because the devil seemed more interested in it - in other words, Jacob did not have an appreciation for the good things in life. Interestingly, he takes for his last name the name of a city, the city of brotherly love founded by Quakers.

Licorice: the name given to Jacob by Columbia. Maybe she sees the good in him and awakens it (and this is "licorice"), or maybe she is simply taken in by his ruses, yet her own goodness and innocence call forth the goodness latent in all of God's creatures, or maybe yet another interpretation is correct. Yet where Jacob Philadelphia sold his soul to the devil, Licorice reneges on the deal, at least in part. Yet despite his ability to love, it is hard to make the case that he has converted to the cause of goodness.

The dead warlock: This calls attention to the fact that Licorice sacrificed his life so that Columbia could live. This fact is even more salient given that Jacob had sold his soul, and therefore had nothing but hell to look forward to after his life was over. How much more precious must his life have been? Perhaps his deal with the devil is null and void after his act of self-sacrifice for love, but if so this is never dealt with in the story. And clearly, although Licorice has loved and sacrificed for love, he is no saint. As the dead warlock, his only desire is revenge. But revenge for what? This is one of the most fascinating elements of the story to me. Revenge for his own death? No. Revenge for Columbia's death? Obviously not, he thwarted the Emporer of the East's plans. Revenge for Columbia's trip into the underworld and de-flowering? In which he played the major role. This is what he is willing to unleash chaos and death upon countless innocents for? An act that would destroy his son, the son of Columbia, and Columbia herself (the two hearts that were destroyed were the Prince's and Columbia's).

Well, this post is far past too long, but this story had a lot of things to think about. However, I liked that it could be enjoyed without knowing exactly what things meant, and therefore met the criteria for myth rather than merely fable.



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Reply #17 on: May 08, 2008, 11:47:52 AM
  While I enjoyed this story, I found it to be a bit dull, and kind of hard to listen to. I liked the mythology that was infused into American history, it reminded me a bit of Harry Turtledove's "Case of the Toxic Spell Dump", but it just seemed to get quite dull during the middle.

  Once I was sure of what the story was moving towards, I was able to get more into it, but there was a good ten or fifteen minutes there where I was fighting to pay attention.

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Reply #18 on: May 08, 2008, 07:11:48 PM
If our current world ever somehow falls into another dark ages... I see this being the type of tale that will rise about the mordern world over time.  Corperate and union bosses are Warlocks.  People who are used and tossed aside are seen as having been sacreficed and killed.  An idea stolen by all is a person torn apart for power.  A whistleblower is a lost prince out for revenge. 
It works for me ok.
>_>


I don't know that much about the great depression other than what I've learned myself... but I've never taken much interest in it, but I did like this story.  It was fun.

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birdless

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Reply #19 on: May 08, 2008, 09:34:25 PM
However, I liked that it could be enjoyed without knowing exactly what things meant, and therefore met the criteria for myth rather than merely fable.
Well said.

Interesting, your take on Columbia. I associated her with the District of Columbia.



ajames

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Reply #20 on: May 09, 2008, 10:12:01 AM
However, I liked that it could be enjoyed without knowing exactly what things meant, and therefore met the criteria for myth rather than merely fable.
Well said.

Interesting, your take on Columbia. I associated her with the District of Columbia.

I did too, but I didn't get much from that. Which doesn't mean that there isn't something there.

A couple other thoughts on 'the dead warlock'

First, as the story does do some jumping about in time, using the phrase 'the dead warlock' helps keep the reader/listener orientated to the current time in the story.

Second, we are told early in the story that Jacob Philadelphia sold his soul to the devil. While I would like to believe that his act of self-sacrifice made this deal null and void, maybe not. So 'the dead warlock' could be a reminder that what we have is simply an agent of the devil now.

Thanks for bringing this point up, Birdless. It has been fun to think about.



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Reply #21 on: May 09, 2008, 11:46:10 AM
There were a lot of interesting associative images and ideas in this one, but I think overall I fall in with Ocicat and Listener.  I think having the myths of Astarte and Adonis up front was a bit distracting, because I kept trying to find the links and parallels with those myths instead of just letting the allegory play out on its own.

Incidentally, I had only just listened to M.K. Hobson's E.P. story, Hell Notes, just the other day.  I think it helped me to have another story to contrast this one with; it certainly allowed me to accept a lot of that "overworked prose" as a stylistic element of the story.


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Reply #22 on: May 09, 2008, 12:02:42 PM
Great story!  The writing was consice and descriptive, and the narration was compelling.  I loved the way the writer described the different settings, as well as the warlocks nickname, "Licorice."  Great metaphor in Columbia, as well.  I guess it's still a fairy tale of sorts, but I really enjoyed this one.  My favorite PC to date.



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Reply #23 on: May 09, 2008, 12:42:44 PM
Just for something to chew on, Timothy Dwight's "Columbia."

http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~mudws/texts/Columbia.txt

Columbia, Columbia, to glory arise,
 The queen of the earth, and the child of the skies;
 Thy genius commands thee with rapture behold,
 While ages on ages thy splendor unfold.
 Thy reign is the last, and the noblest of time,
 Most fruitful thy soil, most inviting thy clime;
 Let the crimes of the East ne'er encrimson thy name;
 Be freedom and science and virtue thy fame.

I don't think Ms Hobson was neccesarily thinking of this poem in particular when she wrote.  (The east here is Europe, not New York.) But it comes automatically to my mind.





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Reply #24 on: May 09, 2008, 12:55:44 PM
On that subject, I'lll throw in with a wiki quote:

Quote
Columbia was the first popular and poetic name for the United States.

Or, from this article on the female form as allegory:

Quote
Columbia, sometimes considered the feminine counterpart to Christopher Columbus, emerged as yet another icon for the United States. Dressed in classical robes, but with a kinder face than the Plumed Greek Goddess, Columbia did not appear with plumed ostrich feathers, nor bows and arrows. But the liberty cap and pole almost always accompanied her, and the stars and stripes of America could be found on her dress or cap.

Here's a picture of Columbia. Ack, bad picture! I removed the link! Don't go there! A better picture.

« Last Edit: May 09, 2008, 12:58:36 PM by Rachel Swirsky »



eytanz

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Reply #25 on: May 09, 2008, 01:06:12 PM

Here's a picture of Columbia. Ack, bad picture! I removed the link! Don't go there!

Now I'm curious.

Quote
A better picture.



And quite apropos.



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Reply #26 on: May 09, 2008, 01:17:19 PM
I think it was a white supremacist site.



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Reply #27 on: May 12, 2008, 10:27:37 PM
This was like listening to a painting. It didn't matter what the story was.


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Reply #28 on: May 12, 2008, 10:52:04 PM
I'm in the camp that started out meh on this one, but really got into it right around the time Jacob Philadelphia died.  The story wouldn't let go of me after that point. 

Nice reading, too.


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Reply #29 on: May 12, 2008, 11:57:12 PM
There were a lot of interesting associative images and ideas in this one, but I think overall I fall in with Ocicat and Listener.  I think having the myths of Astarte and Adonis up front was a bit distracting, because I kept trying to find the links and parallels with those myths instead of just letting the allegory play out on its own.

I agree with you on this.  I sort of see the parallels, but they're not that prominent and don't crop up 'til near the end.  So listening for them throughout was distracting.

What I heard and liked was some similarity to Carl Sandburg and his various stories mythologizing America.



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Reply #30 on: May 13, 2008, 02:40:40 AM
I'm not really sure if I enjoyed this piece.

Unfortunately, I thought it fell into the absurd at times and that ruined the mood for me. The J.P. Morgan broker buying US Steel was hilarious and also just weird. I'm all for an allegorical retelling, but this seemed a might bit over-wrought.

re: reading French movies. I assumed it meant the movies had subtitles.

As a closing, I'm not pleased with the racial epithet used in this story. In my humble opinion, it added nothing to the story and I almost stopped listening. YMMV.



eytanz

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Reply #31 on: May 13, 2008, 03:07:33 AM
As a closing, I'm not pleased with the racial epithet used in this story. In my humble opinion, it added nothing to the story and I almost stopped listening. YMMV.

I disagree (about it adding nothing, not about your reaction). I thought it added a layer to the conflict between Philadelphia and the board; it showed that it was personal in more ways than one, even if his love for Columbia was the main issue. It was also historically accurate, and I think it fit in with the allegory as well. I don't think it was accidental that the warlock was Jewish, and I don't think it was unimportant that fact about him was the source of contempt.



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Reply #32 on: May 13, 2008, 04:05:17 AM
As a closing, I'm not pleased with the racial epithet used in this story. In my humble opinion, it added nothing to the story and I almost stopped listening. YMMV.

I disagree (about it adding nothing, not about your reaction). I thought it added a layer to the conflict between Philadelphia and the board; it showed that it was personal in more ways than one, even if his love for Columbia was the main issue. It was also historically accurate, and I think it fit in with the allegory as well. I don't think it was accidental that the warlock was Jewish, and I don't think it was unimportant that fact about him was the source of contempt.

I do not disagree that the idea the Board had contempt based in part on racial prejudice adds something to the story, I merely dispute the particular epithet was necessary to convey that idea.



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Reply #33 on: May 13, 2008, 04:36:21 AM

I started off not being sure if I would like this one or not.   I initially picked at a couple of details, like the thousand-acres of row crops in the 20's, but it stopped bothering me once the mythic tone set in -- part of the mental reset from Escape Pod to Podcastle.  I got very comfortable with the idea that the relationships between, say, the regions and their iconic representatives were going to be ill-defined, just like that between the Greek and Roman dieties and their areas of responsibility. 

An area of mental speculation I've enjoyed lately is the whole question of how history becomes myth -- how the hard facts on the ground are gradually shaped into narrative by time, selective memory, and societal need. This was an interesting look at the process.  Not to mention that the language was beautiful and the characters were engaging. 

As I'd say to my Illumio RSS feed organizer: "More Like This." (Please.)

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birdless

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Reply #34 on: May 13, 2008, 05:00:34 AM
re: reading French movies. I assumed it meant the movies had subtitles.
Also, this was, what, in the years preceding and into 1929? The first talkie wasn't until 1927, so, yeah, most films were read back then. Of course, they were also watched, so... it was a strange choice of words. Before The Jazz Singer, did they really say, "Hey, you wanna go read a movie tonight?" :P



eytanz

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Reply #35 on: May 13, 2008, 06:56:00 AM
I do not disagree that the idea the Board had contempt based in part on racial prejudice adds something to the story, I merely dispute the particular epithet was necessary to convey that idea.

Necessary? I'm not sure about that, but I thought it was effective and not gratuitous.

That said, I think it definitely stood out, partially because of the audio medium. For me, at least, reading (any) racial epithet in a written story does not usually cause an emotional response, but hearing it spoken aloud makes it shocking. While I do not think it detracted from the story, I did certainly find it salient while I was listening, in a way that perhaps exceeded the author's original intention.



Chey

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Reply #36 on: May 13, 2008, 01:48:09 PM
A solid 'meh' from me.  I enjoyed the ending, I like alternative history.  A while back Escape Pod ran a story with Stalin as the head of the US during the depression.  This reminded me of that concept, and caused me to warm to the story.

But between the exposition and the convluted world building at the beginning I found myself slightly lost and a bit annoyed.  Beautifully painted prose is wonderful, but I need something to grab and keep my attention.  Instead I was distracted by word choices, attempting to visulize what the author was describing, and trying to find the connections from the intro to the story. 

Just a thought.  It would me more enjoyable if the explination of the myth referenced in the story came after the story.  Alistar in Pseudopod has fantasic outros, so I don't think an intro is required to make the podcast fly.  And if I hear about the extras going into the story after I've had a chance to get my own impressions clean, it would make the story more enjoyable.  Rather than feeling like I've missed the joke somehow.

The reading was good though.  :)



Sleestaxx

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Reply #37 on: May 13, 2008, 05:08:28 PM
i just wanted to say the story rocked! I would have to learn three additional languages to express how much i liked this story.
i only wish i could be surrounded by stories that spoke to me like this one did. I can not think of a single story that ever was like this one.

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Reply #38 on: May 13, 2008, 05:17:19 PM
A solid 'meh' from me.  I enjoyed the ending, I like alternative history.  A while back Escape Pod ran a story with Stalin as the head of the US during the depression.  This reminded me of that concept, and caused me to warm to the story.


  Which story was that? I don't remember that one, and I thought I had heard them all.

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Reply #39 on: May 13, 2008, 05:25:14 PM
A solid 'meh' from me.  I enjoyed the ending, I like alternative history.  A while back Escape Pod ran a story with Stalin as the head of the US during the depression.  This reminded me of that concept, and caused me to warm to the story.


  Which story was that? I don't remember that one, and I thought I had heard them all.

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Reply #40 on: May 14, 2008, 09:40:29 AM
Well.
For the first five minutes or so, I thought "meh", but I persevered.
It just went downhill. It would engage me for a few sentences at times, but didn't have any momentum, and I didn't care about any of the characters.

Somehow it reminded me of the episode of ST:TNG where some entities took over the Enterprise and several of the main characters had to wear these masks and act out some ancient myth. That was painful.

This was the most difficult PodCastle story I've listened to.
The second- or third-most difficult if you include EP and PP stories.

Quote
Quote
A better picture.


And quite apropos.
Yes it is. Or this one:

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Anarkey

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Reply #41 on: May 14, 2008, 03:04:54 PM
I LOVED this story!  Yay!  Thanks, PodCastle.  Interesting setting, gorgeous descriptions, mythic resonances.  All in all, very nice, and nicely done.

That said, I have to agree with other posters in the wandering attention issue.  I kept realizing that I'd missed two minutes of text and having to rewind.  The story kept losing me.  I don't really know if this was a momentum issue in the writing, or whether it was the reader, or possibly some combination thereof.  The reading was delivered in a very regular monotone, practically without inflection and I'm leaning toward casting blame in that direction, but I honestly don't know, maybe there wasn't enough tension in the story to keep me engaged.  But I was interested even if it wasn't continuous interest and I kept dutifully rewinding and listening again and again until I had it.  And I loved it in almost every aspect.  I even liked that it wasn't high pressure go go go and I could leave it and then come back to it (it took me about four days to listen to in its entirety, going over some parts many times).  Seems to me that in contrast of tone and pacing, it was a perfect followup to Ant King, demonstrating PodCastle's commitment to exploring different aspects of fantasy.  That was certainly different from the listening experience I normally expect.  But it was very satisfying and I think it has strong potential for re-listens, and things I can go back to and be refreshed with again I value very highly.

One thing I thought was weird though, maybe someone can explain...the knife JP uses to cut the Prince with is obsidian the first time he uses it, but later the Prince is using it to slice apples and it's silver.  What does this mean?  Anyone know?

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Reply #42 on: May 14, 2008, 08:39:46 PM
Well, I thought this piece was brilliant.  My favorite PC story so far.  When the warlock started laughing out loud uncontrollably at the end, as I saw the pieces coming together, I was laughing the same way.



eytanz

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Reply #43 on: May 17, 2008, 01:58:44 PM
One thing I thought was weird though, maybe someone can explain...the knife JP uses to cut the Prince with is obsidian the first time he uses it, but later the Prince is using it to slice apples and it's silver.  What does this mean?  Anyone know?

Oh yeah, I remember being puzzled at that, but then I forgot about it (it's the sign of a good story when I forget a possible nitpick). I don't know if this was an authorial slip or an intentional shift. Anyone have any idea?



Shotobouv

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Reply #44 on: May 26, 2008, 04:26:24 PM
Really a blah story, might be a better read then an audio story.

I really don't get how you can sleep with someone, go to meet other people, allow your self to be killed not to reveal their location. Yet, somehow later be traveling with them. What did she do, mail the child to a dead guy?

Just no.



eytanz

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Reply #45 on: May 26, 2008, 04:29:53 PM
I really don't get how you can sleep with someone, go to meet other people, allow your self to be killed not to reveal their location. Yet, somehow later be traveling with them. What did she do, mail the child to a dead guy?

I'm really unsure what you are trying to say here - could you please elaborate a bit?



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Reply #46 on: May 31, 2008, 05:41:33 PM
I really don't get how you can sleep with someone, go to meet other people, allow your self to be killed not to reveal their location. Yet, somehow later be traveling with them. What did she do, mail the child to a dead guy?

I'm really unsure what you are trying to say here - could you please elaborate a bit?

Sure, from what I cared to remember, you had Licorice marry and sleep with Columbia at the Hotel Astarte. Then he leaves to get killed and not reveal her where abouts. So, Licorice is now the dead wizard, or what ever his name is now, and goes back to the midwest. The dead wizard/Licorice, whatever his name is, returns to New York with his son. How did that happen? His son has his own heart and his moms, Columbia.

I think I should have turned the story off after 7 minuets, I would have been better off.



Anarkey

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Reply #47 on: June 01, 2008, 12:13:43 AM
Sure, from what I cared to remember, you had Licorice marry and sleep with Columbia at the Hotel Astarte. Then he leaves to get killed and not reveal her where abouts. So, Licorice is now the dead wizard, or what ever his name is now, and goes back to the midwest. The dead wizard/Licorice, whatever his name is, returns to New York with his son. How did that happen? His son has his own heart and his moms, Columbia.

I think I should have turned the story off after 7 minuets, I would have been better off.

I'm like eytanz, a little puzzled about whether you wish to have the plot explained to you or not.  You posit questions that can be easily enough answered, saying these questions are what cause the story not to make sense as though they aren't answered, but then imply you have no interest in those answers anyway.  I honestly can't figure out whether you want to know or not. 

That said, I can clarify one point straight off: there's no real indication that Licorice is from the midwest or has ever been there before he's summoned by the King.  So he's not going "back".  He's going there for the first time.  The Hotel Astarte is back East, but Columbia flees to the midwest after he disappears that night.  Licorice goes there because he's been summoned by the King's spellcasters and the story dates indicate that a couple of decades have passed (the passages are dated, so it's easy enough to look up how much time has passed exactly, I'm just being lazy and so not looking it up atm).

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Shotobouv

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Reply #48 on: June 01, 2008, 11:03:59 PM
Sure, from what I cared to remember, you had Licorice marry and sleep with Columbia at the Hotel Astarte. Then he leaves to get killed and not reveal her where abouts. So, Licorice is now the dead wizard, or what ever his name is now, and goes back to the midwest. The dead wizard/Licorice, whatever his name is, returns to New York with his son. How did that happen? His son has his own heart and his moms, Columbia.

I think I should have turned the story off after 7 minuets, I would have been better off.

I'm like eytanz, a little puzzled about whether you wish to have the plot explained to you or not.  You posit questions that can be easily enough answered, saying these questions are what cause the story not to make sense as though they aren't answered, but then imply you have no interest in those answers anyway.  I honestly can't figure out whether you want to know or not. 

That said, I can clarify one point straight off: there's no real indication that Licorice is from the midwest or has ever been there before he's summoned by the King.  So he's not going "back".  He's going there for the first time.  The Hotel Astarte is back East, but Columbia flees to the midwest after he disappears that night.  Licorice goes there because he's been summoned by the King's spellcasters and the story dates indicate that a couple of decades have passed (the passages are dated, so it's easy enough to look up how much time has passed exactly, I'm just being lazy and so not looking it up atm).

Just didn't care about the story, tried to, but just could not. Found all the name changes back and forth annoying, and then the 2 hearts.

I really think this story would have been better to read then to hear.




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Reply #49 on: June 20, 2008, 12:39:56 PM
I loved this one. A dead warlock who died for love and comes back for revenge...how can that ever make for a bad story! Then layer in the history and the mythology and it's a straight 10 out of 10!

Marvelous!



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Reply #50 on: January 08, 2010, 07:24:51 PM
This one didn't keep my interest.  The beginning was far too slow, without anything of real interest happening.  The only real hook at the beginning is the mix of mythology and the midwest, but the midwest didn't feel like the midwest, so it just ended up being a random place called the midwest for no apparent reason.  To me it read like someone trying to describe the midwest who'd never been there.