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Author Topic: PC007: Fear Of Rain  (Read 19871 times)
Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« on: May 13, 2008, 12:39:05 AM »

PC007: Fear Of Rain

By Robert T. Jeschonek
Read by Mur Lafferty
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky
First appeared in Postscripts

“Won’t be long now,” he says, his voice a gravelly tenor. “Not long till my
retirement party.”

If you didn’t know better, to look at him, you’d think he was just another little old man hobbling around downtown Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Just another Central Park bench sitting, Social Security check cashing, prescription picking up, stumbling on the curbs, taking too long to cross Main Street old timer. You’d never know the kind of power that boils inside him.

Maybe you’d see him bang his fork on the plate a second time, and you’d hear the thunder, louder than before, but you wouldn’t connect the two. You wouldn’t realize that he’d made it happen. You wouldn’t know what he was about to do next.

But I know. I know all about what’s coming.


Rated PG. Contains drops, trickles, drizzles, torrents, downpour, and flooding.

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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2008, 12:31:54 PM »

Mur Lafferty twice this week (the latest PP, too)!  wOOt! 

I enjoyed this story and Mur might have been the perfect narrator for it.  Is this part of another run of stories from Podcastle, the way we had Fairy Tales?  These last couple seem pretty mythic, and remind me a bit of American Gods.
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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2008, 04:33:51 PM »

We're going from mythic to urban fantasy. I was thinking of this piece as the latter, but I was also using it to transition from Astarte, so I'm glad that it was able to fit into both categories.
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Ocicat
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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2008, 06:51:29 PM »

I enjoyed it - no doubt in part because I listening while driving through a typical Seattle rain, which added great atmosphere. 

This reminded me a lot of the Citytalkers episode of Escape Pod back in December.  Who wrote that again?  Oh ya, Mur Lafferty.  Interesting, that. 
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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2008, 12:18:55 AM »

Neat.
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2008, 08:23:30 AM »

I liked this one.  It also reminded me of Citytalkers.  Excellent narration by Mur. 
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Rain
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2008, 10:16:37 AM »

I am not quite sure what to think of the story, it was interesting and certainly not bad, but it allways bugs me when i read stories about unsympathetic characters and i have a hard time seperating the two things.
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2008, 01:09:17 PM »

The reading was superb, though I did catch a couple of audio artifacts here and there.

I didn't dislike the story, but it didn't really stand out to me as ZOMGAWESOME.  The idea of an elemental deity living as a human isn't really a new one, but I wasn't bored by it, so no problem there.

The title misled me a little.  The citizenry's fear of rain was explained, but they weren't really AFRAID of it, per se.  They were wary of it; they understood what it could do in all its awesome power.  But afraid?  *Data head shake a la "android's bottom" scene in Star Trek IX*
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2008, 01:27:03 PM »

I'm kinda with Rain on this one. And those who were reminded of "Citytalkers." I dunno. It was okay, I guess. Mr. Flood was loony, and I had trouble figuring out why it took Dee so long to figure that out. Dee, in fact, was a puzzling character for me, because if she had been brought up by Mr. Flood for most of her life, I would think his skewed view would have been transferred to her, unless she had contact with other people, which seems to be out of character for Flood (plus I kept thinking of Keepsie Grin ). It was descriptive enough so that I was able to pretty much picture everything, and the mental image the narrative conjured of the frozen-in-place rain was very cool. But, all in all, I couldn't sympathize with the characters. The flood would have caused so much death—much of which would have been the death of children and animals—and the central characters seemed so unconcerned about this that I found Flood repugnant and Dee only marginally better because, while she wasn't excited about the life lost, she didn't seem as concerned about it as I thought she should have been, which is another reason that I felt like she was pretty removed from society, so I wasn't sure why she would sympathize with them... anyway, like I said, I was confused by her character.
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ajames
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2008, 05:36:29 PM »

I liked the basic idea and the story was creative enough to keep me interested. Some beautiful descriptions of the makings of a flood. I almost felt like I was witnessing the storm at times. But just as I was getting drawn in, often times something would take me right out. Like learning Dee's name was short for Aphrodite near the climax of the story, but not before. That came off as contrived to me. The reverse flood idea was brilliant in some ways, but I couldn't help but think - so millions of gallons of water go up in the air.... and then what? No more gravity? The water is expelled into space? It is evaporated? Or its hanging there forever?

Interestingly, I didn't even think of city talkers until I read the boards, despite the obvious reasons to do so.
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Heradel
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2008, 05:43:28 PM »

I liked the basic idea and the story was creative enough to keep me interested. Some beautiful descriptions of the makings of a flood. I almost felt like I was witnessing the storm at times. But just as I was getting drawn in, often times something would take me right out. Like learning Dee's name was short for Aphrodite near the climax of the story, but not before. That came off as contrived to me. The reverse flood idea was brilliant in some ways, Chekov but I couldn't help but think - so millions of gallons of water go up in the air.... and then what? No more gravity? The water is expelled into space? It is evaporated? Or its hanging there forever?

Interestingly, I didn't even think of city talkers until I read the boards, despite the obvious reasons to do so.

I had about the same reaction, and I felt like Dee's name was a bit of a Chekhov's gun in terms of the name not really being used meaningfully in terms of the story. Maybe I'm missing something, I'll admit that my knowledge of Greek Lit is by no means complete, but I couldn't see any meaningful parallels or, well, any added meaning by having the female lead named after the Greek goddess of lust/love.
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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2008, 07:41:24 PM »

I liked it well enough. Mur's reading was nice - great vocal tone of a teenager.

I felt there was too much exposition about the Rain Dance (surely that's the hardest rain in history...wait, no it's even harder! No, wait...even HARDER! By the end, people shouldn't have been able to stand up in the sheer tonnage per second that must have been dumping on them!) and not enough behind Dee's motivation to rebel.

Her parents died? She mentions it fleetingly. She loved the crazy old bugger? She said that LOTS. Absolutely power corrupts? Absolutely. So where did she get her empathy for the people if all her life she was taught that her goal was to kill them?
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2008, 06:31:53 PM »

Mur's reading was masterful, and definitely put me in mind of "Citytalkers" along with everyone else, it seems.

The writing, however, was less than stellar.

There was no conflict.  When it came time for Dee to assert herself, she just did, and it happened.

As a result, there were no consequences.  No-one paid a price for anything that happened.

As a result, there was no character development.  Dee learned nothing.  Flood learned nothing.

As a result, there was NO STORY.

At the end, I felt cheated.  I had been set up for some kind of lesson; either where Dee proves that people can be true to themselves without adversity, or else where she learns the value of adversity.  Either would have been good stories.  This one came to a screeching halt in the middle of the highway, took my wallet, and kicked me out on the median strip.

In the rain.
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Hatton
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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2008, 11:44:22 PM »

I enjoyed it - no doubt in part because I listening while driving through a typical Seattle rain, which added great atmosphere. 

This reminded me a lot of the Citytalkers episode of Escape Pod back in December.  Who wrote that again?  Oh ya, Mur Lafferty.  Interesting, that. 

When I landed at Whidbey Island (in the Puget Sound) the pilot said, "Welcome to Western Washington, where it rains 50% of the year.  The rest of the time there's only a 50% chance of it!

Good story, I was reminded of Citytalkers too... funny, that!

I think those who are trying to rationalize or demonize Mr. Flood are missing the point of his role - he doesn't care about power, he doesn't care about life or death and he certainly doesn't care about buildings.  He is something akin to a rain god, his young student there to take his place.  I found his comments, "It's good to know you care; I can't say that I was sad [to see my predecessor go]."

It is the humanity in the girl that makes this story enjoyable for me.  Flawed as she is, she has a heart and uses it.
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ajames
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2008, 05:37:14 AM »

... I felt like Dee's name was a bit of a Chekhov's gun in terms of the name not really being used meaningfully in terms of the story. Maybe I'm missing something, I'll admit that my knowledge of Greek Lit is by no means complete, but I couldn't see any meaningful parallels or, well, any added meaning by having the female lead named after the Greek goddess of lust/love.

Exactly - after the big reveal, I too was left wondering why the Greek goddess was invoked.

It is the humanity in the girl that makes this story enjoyable for me.  Flawed as she is, she has a heart and uses it.

This is as close as I could come for finding the reason for her name, yet as much as love may have been behind her motivation to act, she seemed far from love personified. And a very far cry from the Aphrodite I am familiar with. The juxtaposition of Aphrodite with "Mr. Flood" was also clumsy, IMO.

Anyway, sorry for being negative here and harping on what I see as the flaws of the story. Even if there were some elements to the story that didn't quite work for me, there were some memorable images and the story made me think. If I were to meet the author in person, I'd thank him for writing this and offer to buy him a cup of coffee (or a beer) and talk about the story (like why he felt it important to name the heroine Aphrodite, for one...).
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hautdesert
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« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2008, 07:03:07 AM »

I can't speak for the author, I haven't ever spoken to him.  However.  It occurrs to me that the "Aphrodite" connection might the one I mentioned in last week's intro.  Aphrodite is Astarte, Inanna, Ishtar.

The flood--you know, the whole Noah's Ark thing--also has other Ancient Near Eastern versions.  One of them appears in the epic of Gilgamesh.

Now, I don't think there's any point in looking for exact analogues, and I doubt very much that this is a retelling--it doesn't match, in the end, except for the flood, and a woman named after a goddess who, in the epic linked to above, wept and grieved when she saw the flood.

Incidentally, for a tenuous Goose Girl connection, the god Ea doesn't want all life destroyed by the flood, but he's sworn not to reveal what the gods have said in council.  So he tells a wall, after having suggested to Utnapushtim (the "Noah" of this story) that he maybe hang around and keep his ears open.  (In Goose Girl, the princess' secret gets out even though she's sworn to never tell a living soul.  She tells the stove, and the king is hiding there and overhears.)  Doesn't help the story any, just thought it was kind of funny.  I'm sure I can find Ant King connections too if I look hard enough.... Wink
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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2008, 07:07:20 AM »

I don't know. Maybe that's what he's thinking... it also seems like a strain, though, for me. Why call her Aphrodite if he's reaching back further?

Maybe he was trying to hit that she was loving? Loving of Mr. Flood? Loving of people? Loving of small towns?

Actually, the detail just doesn't make much sense to me either. So chalk me up as agreeing with the rest of y'all on that issue. ;-)
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eytanz
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« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2008, 08:10:40 AM »

So, the first PC story I didn't like. Not horrible, just not very interesting, and I felt the writing was subpar. There was a lot of repetition, a lot of contrived elements, and a pretty unclear viewpoint. It's one thing to have a story where the characters are unclear as to whether the destruction is justified or not, but in the end I felt that the story itself was unclear - the ending felt more like a cop-out than anything else. My overall impression was that the story set up a scenario and lacked the courage to follow through on it - by which I don't mean Dee should have followed through on the flooding, but I feel like the story would have needed to tackle the question of whether the flood was really necessary or not, rather than trump the flood with a cool special effect.
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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2008, 03:14:09 AM »

Still no barbarians chopping of heads...no, just kidding, I liked this story. I agree with what has been said about Dee having very little internal conflict and sort of just....doing what was necessary for the story, without any real motivation.

I didn't feel the same way about Mr. Flood. He's not a person, but a force of nature that revels in its own existence. Does rain care? Because he was once human, he has rationalised this by telling himself he's protecting the town from the crazy outside world. But all he's doing is what he's supposed to: unleashing his full powers in an arbitrary way. A true storm god, in the ancient tradition of callous, uncaring storm gods that's even older than the Greek Zeus.

I also really liked the images of the story. Dee and Flood dancing in the air, on hill overlooking a giant flood...I could hear the strains of an orchestral piece in my mind. Great stuff.

A gripe about the intros: the sound quality is still below parr, making Rachel's voice sound rather grating and unpleasant. I hope fixing this is high on the PC-team's to-do list. Just below bringing us a story about barbarians and fireball-casting wizards... Wink
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cuddlebug
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« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2008, 05:06:38 AM »

This story was ok, but not great. I have to add though, that Dee having trouble letting go of Mr Flood was very understandable, IMO, as he was the only one she had, a father figure who's judgement she only starts to questions as she grows older culminating in what we heard in the story.

One thing that seemed like a logical slip to me was the explanation/justification used for the floods. Why would flooding the same place over and over again *preserve* a way of life. It seemed to destroy a way of life rather than holding it down, keeping it from developing. That made no sense to me. If a town is destroyed why would it be rebuilt exactly how it was? How would that keep people locked in their old-fashioned way of life/thinking? Would not insurance money and financial support from the government (...?) lead to an improvement of the town's infrastructure/maybe even making it more desirable for professionals to live there. ... On the other hand this actually makes me wonder why people who survived stayed in the first place. Would they not relocate after one of these devastating floods not having any ties left to the town? Would the youth not go away to big cities anyway? That is what usually happens, at least where I am from, rural areas are populated by families and older people and the children move away as soon as they can after having finished school.

Anyway, this is not a nitpick, it was just something that came to mind while listening to the story. But I haven't thought this through yet, obviously. BTW; it did remind me of Citytalkers as well, which I listened to last week and was still fresh in my mind.
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