Escape Artists

News:

  • Congratulations to the winners of the Podcastle flash fiction contest!

News

Congratulations to the winners of the Podcastle flash fiction contest!

Author Topic: PC008: The Osteomancer’s Son  (Read 36185 times)

Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
on: May 20, 2008, 12:22:20 PM
PC008: The Osteomancer’s Son

By Greg van Eekhout
Read by Ben Phillips (of Pseudopod)
Introduction by Ann Leckie
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction

“What’s that?” I ask.

His smile reveals several gold teeth. “Come from dragon turtle. You see giant dragon turtle wash up in San Diego? You see that on news?”

“I’m not really up on current events.” Especially not as regurgitated by state-controlled news organizations.

He nods enthusiastically and edges more powder into the envelope. “This come from San Diego dragon turtle. Wife’s younger brother, he lifeguard. He scrape some turtle shell before Hierarch’s men confiscate whole carcass.”

“What’s it for?” I ask, indicating the powder-filled envelope.

“All sorts of stuff. Rheumatism, kidney stones, migraine, epilepsy, bedroom problems … All sorts.”

“No, thanks,” I say as I try to shoulder my way back into the crowd.

“Get you girls,” he calls after me. “Make you animal! Guaranteed!”

Dragon turtle can’t do any of those things, of course. Not that it’s genuine turtle he’s selling. I figure it for flour and sulfur, with maybe the tiniest pinch of rhinoceros horn thrown in. You can’t even put a street value on the genuine stuff these days.

I know. I’ve experienced the genuine stuff. It’s in my bones.


Rated R. Contains yellowed bones and violence against children.


Listen to this week's Pod Castle!


« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 01:51:28 PM by Rachel Swirsky »

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Sylvan

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 78
    • The Darken Hollow
Reply #1 on: May 20, 2008, 02:18:38 PM
Now this is what I consider to be a great story!  I was afraid I was being too negative in recent posts on these forums, especially after I missed the deeper symbolism of "The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale".  No fears!  This time, I can relate my unabashed love of the PodCastle story...

"The Osteomancer's Son" felt like the love-child of Niel Gaiman and Jim Butcher:  I really felt myself carried along with the flow into the dark sides of this magical world where the arcane was frequently disturbing and deeply personal.  The color of the bones, the depth of the aromas, and the description of the feelings the osteomancer's endured with their magic were the pulse of the story.  But if the adjectives were the pulse, the pacing was the heartbeat and the depth of the characters was the skeleton.

The relationships between the osteomancer's son, his father, his mother, his daughter, and the larger community of the occult were what drew me into this tale.  I could identify with the character not because I crack bones for their spiritual power but because he had real emotional ties and bindings with these people.  His emotions were real and that pulled me into the domain of osteomancy more than any spells or enchantments could have.

The story was straight-forward and gradual; with tiny elements unfolding piece by piece.  I found myself worried about Miranda until the very end.  Was she alive?  Was she dead?  What would happen to her?  She was off-camera for 99% of the tale and, yet, I cared about her through the main character's actions.

If I were asked to find a flaw with this remarkable story, I think it would be that the final confrontation with the Heirarch resolved itself too quickly with more of a display of brute force than the subtlety I think the main character was capable of.  Still, how else could you beat such a powerful enemy?  I got the impression that the Heirarch was well-prepared to defend himself against just about anything.  The only way past that is to strike suddenly and overwhelmingly in such a way as preparation is reduced to a negligable thing and sheer force can take the day.

In the end, this is my favorite PodCastle story, yet:  even moreso than the enchanting story, "Run of the Fiery Horse".

The resolution was powerful and I'm definitely looking forward to the author's future work in this amazing universe.  "The Osteomancer's Son" has truly captivated me!

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #2 on: May 20, 2008, 03:46:39 PM
I absolutely loved this story.  It grabbed me right away at the opening lines and wouldn't let me go.  I can't wait to see what Greg van Eekhout does with a novel set in the same world(!?!?)!  I'm hopeful Miranda plays a key part in it, because I imagine her experience (off-camera) in this story shapes her future.  There's so much room in this story for a novel to explore, what with the war in Southern California.

I thought the confrontation at the end was incredibly well written.  At pretty much the same time we got hit with terror, humor, horror, and then the thrill when Daniel beat the Hierarch. 

"If there's anything left of you, I'll drink you with Green Tea" had me cracking up.  Finally, it was great to hear Ben Phillips reading here.  He's one of my favorite readers of all the Escape Artists podcasts. 

Great story.  I'm looking forward to listening to it again!  I hope we get more of Greg van Eekhout's stories here soon.


ajames

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 358
Reply #3 on: May 21, 2008, 12:03:12 AM

Hot damn!!!!! THAT'S what I'm talking about!!!!!




birdless

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
Reply #4 on: May 21, 2008, 04:45:49 AM
Now that was an excellent story!!! I think I'm chalking this one up as my favorite EP/PC ever (still haven't become a regular listener to PP). This restored my faith in the short-story format. I love to get invested in the characters, but with very, very few exceptions lately, it just hasn't been happening for me, partly because the format is, well, so short. Extremely well written, great world building was implicit without me having to know every detail of this world, sympathetic and fleshed out character in Daniel, and the incredibly cool and inventive arcane art of osteomancy! And while the Heirarch may have been slightly cliché in the "charming but evil motif," it didn't bother me at all as it worked so well in this story.

And the reader was excellent!



Darwinist

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 701
Reply #5 on: May 21, 2008, 01:34:09 PM
Really cool story and well read by Ben.  It had an underlying creepiness and held my attention the whole time.  The intro seemed too long to me.  Easily my favorite Pod Castle story.   

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan


gelee

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 521
  • It's a missile, boy.
Reply #6 on: May 21, 2008, 03:04:03 PM
Great story!  Nicely complicated, but not confusing.  Multiple levels of conflict.  The characters have understandable and believeable motives, and react consistently to the things that happen to them.  I think Sylvan's remarks about the protag's personal relationships were right on target.  I got a great impression of depth from the setting, and that seems to be the case since Greg has more material in this universe.  I'll definatley keep an eye out for it in print.  Great reading from Ben, as always.  Yay!



Biscuit

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 113
Reply #7 on: May 21, 2008, 10:03:18 PM
Yup, great story. Great world building. Loved it.

On a little geek note, I was all "OMG, I did that!" when the MC talked about walking through the Farmers Market. Really resonated for a person living a world away from LA. BTW, I LOVED that market - it was a great day. I remember eating my very first gumbo there. And I'm rambling.


Nobilis

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 156
    • Nobilis Erotica Podcast
Reply #8 on: May 21, 2008, 10:07:55 PM
I hate to make "me too" posts but...

Me too!

Great story. It has everything I need.



crowsdream

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Reply #9 on: May 21, 2008, 11:14:38 PM
So far this has been the best story in PC. I was taken in by the exquisite attention to detail and world building. To me, science fiction and fantasy are about exploration. This story was the first one in the history in this podcast that left me wanting more. Although I really enjoyed Hotel Astarte, and Fear of Rain (it is always great to hear Mur's voice), I didn't feel like I could get lost in their respective worlds. Once they ended, their worlds ended for me, but TOS transported me in to a place worth exploring. I knew that there was more to this universe than the author was telling me, and I wanted unpack the mysteries within in. All good fiction, at least for me, has to have a good and solid sense of place. This tale did, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Also, the reader was very good, and his voice prefect for the story. 



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #10 on: May 22, 2008, 07:24:57 AM
I enjoyed it, though not to the overwhelming degree that some of the other posters here have. While the writing and Ben's reading were both excellent, and the story really enjoyable, it suffered a bit from hollywood logic, especially at the final confrontation. A small-time, powerless guy who one brush with power in his childhood facing the biggest, baddest wizard around. The Heirarch never stood a chance. And why did he totally ignore the army of ultra-powerful security people he had around and come to investigate a threat - which he believed to be entirely unimportant - himself (and without backup)? I guess he must have a lot of free time on his hands. Just because the story lampshades this, doesn't mean it's not stupid.

But again, a very enjoyable story. Just one that is vulnerable to some silly nitpicks.



cuddlebug

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 145
Reply #11 on: May 22, 2008, 11:50:26 AM
I'm sorry but, what??? I must be in the wrong film --- äh, sorry, podcast, but I don't get it, what made this story so GRRREEAAAAT? It left me absolutely cold. I think I'll have to check whether iTunes screwed up the feed or something, maybe I listened to something entirely different. I certainly seems like I got a different story altogether. I can't believe everyone loved it so much.

OK, the protag's relationships were not bad, but felt slightly superficial to me. Maybe I just didn't hear the depth, you all got from it, maybe I was distracted, who knows. And 'Magic in bones', nice but a bit *blah* and it didn't seem like the story brought a lot of new things to the genre. And I have to agree the conflict with and description of the Heirach seemed clichéd, as eytanz pointed out.

Ok, I will listen to it again. But seriously, I am still in shock at how our understanding of the story differs.





Void Munashii

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • twitter.com/VOIDMunashii
    • Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse
Reply #12 on: May 22, 2008, 12:23:35 PM
  I love stories that take the normal world I recognize, and make some subtle alterations to the way it works. I normally refer to Turtledove's "Case of the Toxic Spelldump" when talking about this type of story, but the changes to reality were far more subtle in this story. Van Eekhout seems to be very good at this,  given my limited exposure to other stories of his (basically the ones that have been on EP)

  This story doesn't quite edge out "Ant King" as my favourite PC so far, but it is close. What keeps it from being the best is the sort of lack of depth of the characters. Everyone seems to fit into some basic stereotypes. The protagonist is the cool tough guy who doesn't let anyone in (which makes me wonder how he ended up with a kid really). There's his idealistic dad who seems more interested in his ideals than his son. There's the slimy criminal who blackmails the protagonist onto his quest, and of course there's the big bad guy who seems like he was cloned directly from Randall Flagg, and is killed way too easily for someone supposedly so powerful.

  Still, this was a great and engaging story that hinted at a large and well developed world. The imagery of federal agents with the Hierarch's symbol on their windbreakers instead of the name of their agency flooding into the house of someone using magic illegally came into my mind very easily, and while I didn't particularly like the main character, I was still rooting for him. Plus, this story had cannibalism, and that always gives a story a couple of extra points  ;)


"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com


Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #13 on: May 22, 2008, 01:35:06 PM
I liked it, but I found it a little hard to follow in places.  That may just be me.  Also, Ben Phillips's voice can sometimes be soporific when going through exposition.

I agree with Sylvan that the final confrontation was too fast, and I kept feeling like I missed something.

I was confused as to whether or not Daniel's daughter was still alive until the end, and I felt it was an unnecessary additional piece of tension.

I'd rather read the longer version that's going to come out in novel form, as was mentioned in the intro.

The intro was a little too long; too much background, I think.  Interesting, yes, but still long.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


birdless

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
Reply #14 on: May 22, 2008, 02:22:14 PM
This story doesn't quite edge out "Ant King" as my favourite PC so far, but it is close. What keeps it from being the best is the sort of lack of depth of the characters. Everyone seems to fit into some basic stereotypes. The protagonist is the cool tough guy who doesn't let anyone in (which makes me wonder how he ended up with a kid really). There's his idealistic dad who seems more interested in his ideals than his son. There's the slimy criminal who blackmails the protagonist onto his quest, and of course there's the big bad guy who seems like he was cloned directly from Randall Flagg, and is killed way too easily for someone supposedly so powerful.
It's interesting to me how differently we viewed the characters in this story. I'm not saying either one of us are wrong, I just find it engaging that we saw them in such a different light. I didn't feel Daniel was a basic stereotype at all. While I found him somewhat confusing at first, the more I found out about his backstory, the more I understood him. I didn't view him as the "cool, tough guy," but scared and insecure and uncertain of his own power.  And while the dad was distracted by his passion for osteomancy, I felt he also desperately wanted to share that passion with Daniel because he loved him (that's an easy mistake for any dad). As far as the defeat of the Heirarch, my take on it was that a large part of the power Daniel got from his father's bones was because it was family, that the love he had for Daniel that was so deep it had actually penetrated his bones. Plus I felt that Daniel's father was a very powerful osteomancer, too. Powerful enough, at least, to make the Heirarch feel threatened. I agree that the antagonist was a bit clichéd, but it really didn't bother me at all. I preferred it to many of the other options the writer could have chosen.



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #15 on: May 22, 2008, 02:31:08 PM
Plus I felt that Daniel's father was a very powerful osteomancer, too. Powerful enough, at least, to make the Heirarch feel threatened.

I thought so for most of the story, but was taken aback a bit when the Heirarch didn't recognize the father's name. I mean, if you have someone on your inner circle who turns traitor and becomes a rival powerful enough to threaten you, and order his execution, his name should be at least somewhat familiar after a decade or so. The way the Heirarch reacted, it sounded more like the father was below the Heirarch's personal attention.



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #16 on: May 22, 2008, 04:01:06 PM

I'd rather read the longer version that's going to come out in novel form, as was mentioned in the intro.

From what I'm understanding, the novel will be set in the same world and have some of the characters, but won't be a retelling of this story.  I think. 

Listener, why do you think not knowing whether Miranda was alive or dead added unnecessary tension?  I thought that was pretty smoothed, and was really relieved to find out she'd survived everything.


DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #17 on: May 22, 2008, 04:03:30 PM
Plus I felt that Daniel's father was a very powerful osteomancer, too. Powerful enough, at least, to make the Heirarch feel threatened.

I thought so for most of the story, but was taken aback a bit when the Heirarch didn't recognize the father's name. I mean, if you have someone on your inner circle who turns traitor and becomes a rival powerful enough to threaten you, and order his execution, his name should be at least somewhat familiar after a decade or so. The way the Heirarch reacted, it sounded more like the father was below the Heirarch's personal attention.

Wait, I thought the Heirarch did know his name.  After Daniel told him who was in the bowling bag (heh, just typing that sentence made me grin), didn't the Heirarch make the connection, and ask, "So you're his son?"  Or something like that?


eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #18 on: May 22, 2008, 05:03:47 PM
Wait, I thought the Heirarch did know his name.  After Daniel told him who was in the bowling bag (heh, just typing that sentence made me grin), didn't the Heirarch make the connection, and ask, "So you're his son?"  Or something like that?

No, it was stated that the Heirarch just assumed this was about revenge - he figured out that there was a personal connection and guessed what it was, but that doesn't mean he remembered the father. It was strongly implied (by the "you got further than most") that the Heirarch had a lot of Osteomancers killed, and that this isn't the first time one of their children attempted to break in and steal their bones. I think the Heirarch was thinking "oh, another one of those", not "oh, I know who this is".



Rain

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 178
Reply #19 on: May 22, 2008, 05:15:33 PM
Great story, one of the best Podcastle has had



jodymonster

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 54
Reply #20 on: May 22, 2008, 05:40:18 PM

Hot damn!!!!! THAT'S what I'm talking about!!!!!



What he said. 

"If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up." -Hunter S. Thompson


Ocicat

  • Castle Watchcat
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3642
  • Anything for a Weird Life
Reply #21 on: May 22, 2008, 11:11:07 PM
I enjoyed it, but wouldn't rank it among my favorite stories.  It seemed a lot like the PP stories with the Lovecraftian book lending service - a blend of crime noir and mystical powers.  Of course, those have been some of my favorite PP stories ever.  If this had run in PP (and I think it could have) it would have ranked among my favorites.  For PC it's just middle of the road, which says more about the high quality of the stories run so far than it does about this one.

The world was interesting, and I kept wondering if there was anything else weird out there other than monsters and people who get powers from their bones.  There must be other sources of arcane might in a world like this.  The focus on one thing is fine in a short story, but I hope it gets considerably expanded in the novel. 



deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #22 on: May 22, 2008, 11:11:45 PM
While the writing and Ben's reading were both excellent, and the story really enjoyable, it suffered a bit from hollywood logic, especially at the final confrontation. A small-time, powerless guy who one brush with power in his childhood facing the biggest, baddest wizard around. The Heirarch never stood a chance. And why did he totally ignore the army of ultra-powerful security people he had around and come to investigate a threat - which he believed to be entirely unimportant - himself (and without backup)? I guess he must have a lot of free time on his hands. Just because the story lampshades this, doesn't mean it's not stupid.

i didn't really think about it until you mentioned it. there's a good chance that it was set up by the cabal. we know that traitors work for the Hierarch and they could have arranged something like placing the father's bones near kraken remains and sending Daniel when the Hierarch was in the area. they also gave him a bone of his daughter's so he had three generations available (even if he didn't use it). there was that line about his father using him as a weapon.

it also sounded like the Hierarch made a habit of investigating stronger intruders to figure out how they broke his defenses and to consider consuming them.

so, agreed, the confrontation was hollywood cliche. but it was given a very nice lampshade. there were tassels.



Void Munashii

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • twitter.com/VOIDMunashii
    • Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse
Reply #23 on: May 23, 2008, 12:24:11 AM
This story doesn't quite edge out "Ant King" as my favourite PC so far, but it is close. What keeps it from being the best is the sort of lack of depth of the characters. Everyone seems to fit into some basic stereotypes. The protagonist is the cool tough guy who doesn't let anyone in (which makes me wonder how he ended up with a kid really). There's his idealistic dad who seems more interested in his ideals than his son. There's the slimy criminal who blackmails the protagonist onto his quest, and of course there's the big bad guy who seems like he was cloned directly from Randall Flagg, and is killed way too easily for someone supposedly so powerful.
It's interesting to me how differently we viewed the characters in this story. I'm not saying either one of us are wrong, I just find it engaging that we saw them in such a different light. I didn't feel Daniel was a basic stereotype at all. While I found him somewhat confusing at first, the more I found out about his backstory, the more I understood him. I didn't view him as the "cool, tough guy," but scared and insecure and uncertain of his own power.  And while the dad was distracted by his passion for osteomancy, I felt he also desperately wanted to share that passion with Daniel because he loved him (that's an easy mistake for any dad). As far as the defeat of the Heirarch, my take on it was that a large part of the power Daniel got from his father's bones was because it was family, that the love he had for Daniel that was so deep it had actually penetrated his bones. Plus I felt that Daniel's father was a very powerful osteomancer, too. Powerful enough, at least, to make the Heirarch feel threatened. I agree that the antagonist was a bit clichéd, but it really didn't bother me at all. I preferred it to many of the other options the writer could have chosen.

  I'll agree that Daniel may be conflicted inside, but he still put on the "cool, tough guy" mask to show the world, even when he was shaking with terror he still found it in himself to be a smartarse. I think if more time had been spent on his daughter (like other people, I was not even sure if she was alive or dead until the scene at the end), it might have made him a little deeper character, but it might have also made the story drag. In any case, I'll take a good story with cookie cutter characters over a bad one with really complex characters anyday, and this was a good story.

  I understand that the power Daniel got from his father's remains was incredible due to the family connection (and undoubtedly from his dad's taking more power into himself whenever he could get away with it), but it all still seemed a bit rushed. It was as if Luke Skywalker just walked up and punched Vader in the face, and Vader went down, defeated. It was an impressive display of power, but it was just too short for me. I did laugh at the bit about finding a bucket and a sponge though.

  I think the story was very well written, just rather abbreviated. I look forward to seeing more of this world in the novel he is working on set in this reality that was mentioned in the intro. I think this may have just been too much good story to fit into such a small package.

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #24 on: May 23, 2008, 04:04:42 AM
The intro was a little too long; too much background, I think.  Interesting, yes, but still long.

Offtopic, I know, but this is exactly my complaint about the film Gattaca.  It didn't bother me so much in this story though.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


sirana

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 409
Reply #25 on: May 23, 2008, 09:25:57 AM
Didn't like it all that much. Not a bad story by far with solid worldbuilding, but both the plot and the characters felt unoriginal and the telling didn't bring much more to the table afaiac. Good reading as always by Ben Phillips.



crowsdream

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Reply #26 on: May 23, 2008, 08:03:26 PM
Quote
Didn't like it all that much. Not a bad story by far with solid worldbuilding, but both the plot and the characters felt unoriginal and the telling didn't bring much more to the table afaiac. Good reading as always by Ben Phillips.


I think this story should be viewed as something that can grow--and is growing--in to a novel. I agree that I would like to have seen character development, but the scope of the story was semi-epic, and therefore not completely treatable in a short story. This story has taken a lot of heat from people who see the characters as flat, and while I agree, I came in to it expecting to be entertained, not enlightened. It was as much fun as watching a good TV show or movie, and that was good enough for me. I expected a "Dresden Files," level of plotting and writing, so I was happy when I didn't get the "Stranger in a Strange Land" some other stories might attain. I look forward to having some more fun reading the future exploits of the Osteomaner's Son.



Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #27 on: May 23, 2008, 08:43:23 PM

I'd rather read the longer version that's going to come out in novel form, as was mentioned in the intro.

From what I'm understanding, the novel will be set in the same world and have some of the characters, but won't be a retelling of this story.  I think. 

Listener, why do you think not knowing whether Miranda was alive or dead added unnecessary tension?  I thought that was pretty smoothed, and was really relieved to find out she'd survived everything.

I don't have perfect recollection at this point, but I _think_ I remember Daniel had a bone in his bag, and I _thought_ it was Miranda's... and then it turned out someone else had another of her bones?  I was just confused by it all, I guess.  Maybe I missed how old the kid was, in the beginning?

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #28 on: May 23, 2008, 08:55:15 PM

I'd rather read the longer version that's going to come out in novel form, as was mentioned in the intro.

From what I'm understanding, the novel will be set in the same world and have some of the characters, but won't be a retelling of this story.  I think. 

Listener, why do you think not knowing whether Miranda was alive or dead added unnecessary tension?  I thought that was pretty smoothed, and was really relieved to find out she'd survived everything.

I don't have perfect recollection at this point, but I _think_ I remember Daniel had a bone in his bag, and I _thought_ it was Miranda's... and then it turned out someone else had another of her bones?  I was just confused by it all, I guess.  Maybe I missed how old the kid was, in the beginning?

You know, sorry, Listener.  I just realized I didn't write that as clearly as I thought I had. 

You're right -- he did have her bone in handkerchief at the beginning of the story (when he had the picture of her three year birthday, with the ice cream cone).  I had the same initial reaction as you did -- is she alive?  Is she dead?  What happened to her?  But I thought the added tension was a nice touch and I was curious as to why it bothered you.


Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #29 on: May 23, 2008, 09:49:41 PM

I'd rather read the longer version that's going to come out in novel form, as was mentioned in the intro.

From what I'm understanding, the novel will be set in the same world and have some of the characters, but won't be a retelling of this story.  I think. 

Listener, why do you think not knowing whether Miranda was alive or dead added unnecessary tension?  I thought that was pretty smoothed, and was really relieved to find out she'd survived everything.

I don't have perfect recollection at this point, but I _think_ I remember Daniel had a bone in his bag, and I _thought_ it was Miranda's... and then it turned out someone else had another of her bones?  I was just confused by it all, I guess.  Maybe I missed how old the kid was, in the beginning?

You know, sorry, Listener.  I just realized I didn't write that as clearly as I thought I had. 

You're right -- he did have her bone in handkerchief at the beginning of the story (when he had the picture of her three year birthday, with the ice cream cone).  I had the same initial reaction as you did -- is she alive?  Is she dead?  What happened to her?  But I thought the added tension was a nice touch and I was curious as to why it bothered you.

Maybe it just didn't resonate with me...?  I have a hard time identifying with the conflict-coupon of "child in peril" in most Fantasy, probably because I know it's Fantasy.  I don't think I cared enough about the character at the time to be drawn into that aspect of the story when it was first revealed to me, so when he got Miranda's bone from Turtle Man, I must have missed some of the impact.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


ajames

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 358
Reply #30 on: May 23, 2008, 10:54:50 PM
[snip] The Heirarch never stood a chance. And why did he totally ignore the army of ultra-powerful security people he had around and come to investigate a threat - which he believed to be entirely unimportant - himself (and without backup)? I guess he must have a lot of free time on his hands. Just because the story lampshades this, doesn't mean it's not stupid.

Here's a theory. The Heirarch set up just enough security to keep nonmagical thieves, or very weak magical thieves, out. Once someone with enough magic got through, though, the Heirarch went to investigate so that he could destroy the intruder, eat his or her bones, and become still more powerful. As for not having backup, he's the Heirarch. He don't need no stinkin' backup (except, apparently, he does).

Wait, I thought the Heirarch did know his name.  After Daniel told him who was in the bowling bag (heh, just typing that sentence made me grin), didn't the Heirarch make the connection, and ask, "So you're his son?"  Or something like that?

No, it was stated that the Heirarch just assumed this was about revenge - he figured out that there was a personal connection and guessed what it was, but that doesn't mean he remembered the father. It was strongly implied (by the "you got further than most") that the Heirarch had a lot of Osteomancers killed, and that this isn't the first time one of their children attempted to break in and steal their bones. I think the Heirarch was thinking "oh, another one of those", not "oh, I know who this is".

If I remember correctly, the Hierarch did know his name. I'll have to listen again.

All that said, I can't really argue with eyantz that the confrontation with the Heirarch gave some easy targets for nitpicking. I definitely thought "Hmm, a pair of glasses gets you past the most powerful wizard's defenses. Oh, right, he had a boot to throw, too." and "Wow, he's the Heirarch and he died just like that? Huh." Sure, there are enough things you can point to and theories you can come up with to explain things, but it was a little too wide open for my taste.

But the superb writing and the world-building were more than enough so that I noticed these things but didn't care.



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #31 on: May 23, 2008, 11:21:46 PM
[snip] The Heirarch never stood a chance. And why did he totally ignore the army of ultra-powerful security people he had around and come to investigate a threat - which he believed to be entirely unimportant - himself (and without backup)? I guess he must have a lot of free time on his hands. Just because the story lampshades this, doesn't mean it's not stupid.

Here's a theory. The Heirarch set up just enough security to keep nonmagical thieves, or very weak magical thieves, out. Once someone with enough magic got through, though, the Heirarch went to investigate so that he could destroy the intruder, eat his or her bones, and become still more powerful. As for not having backup, he's the Heirarch. He don't need no stinkin' backup (except, apparently, he does).

I thought of that, but I don't think it works. Two reasons:

A - It's mentioned that the guards that are there are extremely powerful. Specifically, it's mentioned that the guys standing outside the warehouse are "not rent-a cop security", and that they are "the best money could buy" (around 12 minutes), and that the guys inside the warehouse "have received advanced training" and have "tasted deep magic" (around 26 minutes).

B- I can't think of a way to rationalize the heirarch using the police to get rid of magical opponents whose abilities he could forsee (like the father), but going alone to face unknown threats. Did he become the most powerful osteomancer in the west by being careless?

Quote
If I remember correctly, the Hierarch did know his name. I'll have to listen again.

His reaction to the name, quoted from around 30 minutes in:

Quote from: story
"John Blackland," I rasp." He was an Osteomancer." The Heirarch puts his hands in his pockets, and bounces on the balls of his feet, as if stretching out his calf muscles. "This entire section of the Osteory is full of osteomancers. It's the Osteomancy section. I suppose you are John Blackland's son."

That's it. No other reaction to the name. Of course, it could be that the Heirarch recognizes the name and is not letting the narrator know, but there's no hint at that.



Thaurismunths

  • High Priest of TCoRN
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1421
  • Praise N-sh, for it is right and good!
Reply #32 on: May 23, 2008, 11:50:03 PM
I really enjoyed this story, and look forward the future unfurling of the world it's set in.

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?


Windup

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1226
Reply #33 on: May 24, 2008, 12:33:26 AM
Another great PodCastle.   As others have mentioned, loved the world-building that's done not with long blocks of exposition, but simply by characters reacting to things in their world as they happen.  Like the bit about not being interested in news "regurgitated by state-controlled media" which was for me the first hint that this was not "our" California.

I'm actually still unclear about Miranda.  Was she resurrected from her bones at the end of the story?  If she was alive the whole time, how did her father and the "Uncle" have a finger-bone, and how could the Uncle threaten to "piece her out?" 

Still, that bit of confusion didn't detract from what was, for me, a great story.

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


Void Munashii

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • twitter.com/VOIDMunashii
    • Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse
Reply #34 on: May 24, 2008, 12:36:10 AM
Another great PodCastle.   As others have mentioned, loved the world-building that's done not with long blocks of exposition, but simply by characters reacting to things in their world as they happen.  Like the bit about not being interested in news "regurgitated by state-controlled media" which was for me the first hint that this was not "our" California.

  Maybe it speaks to my mindset, but that didn't trigger that reaction in me at all. I just figured he just viewed the media as the government's lapdog.

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com


JoeFitz

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
Reply #35 on: May 24, 2008, 03:18:49 AM
Liked this story a lot for all of the reasons stated above - and even the problems. I especially liked the ending. Driving until all he could smell was baby powder (no pun intended!).




deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #36 on: May 24, 2008, 08:10:23 AM
Here's a theory. The Heirarch set up just enough security to keep nonmagical thieves, or very weak magical thieves, out. Once someone with enough magic got through, though, the Heirarch went to investigate so that he could destroy the intruder, eat his or her bones, and become still more powerful. As for not having backup, he's the Heirarch. He don't need no stinkin' backup (except, apparently, he does).

that's close to what i suggested but not quite.

the defenses were as strong as possible. if they were broken then either the intruder was using a technique the Hierarch didn't know or they were someone extremely powerful. if it was a new technique then the Hierarch wanted to investigate it personally so that it didn't become general knowledge. defenses could adapt preemptively and it may be a useful trick for him to know.

if it was someone powerful then he would sense it. if it was someone he he might have problems with (i got the impression this hadn't happened for a long time) he could bring backup.

this kind of illustrates the problem with a fight against an overwhelmingly powerful opponent. if it's won at all it's usually with a single, brutal, sucker punch. in this case a low level osteomancer who, against all odds, had consumed high grade kraken with a father who's bones he now held near other kraken remains (i choose to believe this was set up by the cabal because otherwise it's just too much deux ex machina).

if the Heirarch had had time to respond it would have gone the other way, it had to be over before anyone really had time to figure out what was happening. this just isn't all that satisfying for narrative.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 07:51:45 PM by deflective »



Yossarian's grandson

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 47
  • Wisdom is knowing when to jump
Reply #37 on: May 25, 2008, 09:17:56 PM
Yep. Much more like it. Yeah sure, it wasn't a perfect story. Most of the criticism so far I can dig. But still. This is the kind of fantasy I signed up for. Maybe it's me, but it seems like the really good reception this story is getting (even with it's flaws) means that PC listeners like a bit of meat on the bones of their story (no pun intended). And so far, PC's been a bit short on fast moving, action filled stories. They've all been pretty talky, as far as I'm concerned. More like this, please! Oh, and yeah, Ben is a great reader.



Biscuit

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 113
Reply #38 on: May 25, 2008, 11:52:55 PM
Did he become the most powerful osteomancer in the west by being careless?

Villain Downfall seems to come from being too smug or too stupid. (Dang, it took ONE ship to blow up my Death Star? How did I not see that coming, especially when I did it myself when I was ten years old?!)

But yes, it does make it a little difficult to vaunt a hero when he won on dumb luck.

However with this story, I do like how it was balanced out by the hero taking all that power, locking it up tight inside himself and running away with it. There's definitely a story in there about whether his morals outlasted all that buried power.


Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Reply #39 on: May 26, 2008, 02:37:12 AM
I enjoyed the story quite a bit... though for some reason it made my fingers feel greasy...

Like old fried chicken.

Is that normal?  ???

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


birdless

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
Reply #40 on: May 26, 2008, 03:13:10 AM
I enjoyed the story quite a bit... though for some reason it made my fingers feel greasy...

Like old fried chicken.

Is that normal?  ???
Seriously, TAD, how often have you been accused of being normal?
;D ;)



Windup

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1226
Reply #41 on: May 26, 2008, 04:13:24 AM
I enjoyed the story quite a bit... though for some reason it made my fingers feel greasy...

Like old fried chicken.

Is that normal?  ???
Seriously, TAD, how often have you been accused of being normal?
;D ;)

And did the charge stick?? ;)
« Last Edit: May 26, 2008, 11:03:26 PM by Windup »

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


AmoryLowe

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Reply #42 on: May 26, 2008, 10:45:21 AM
I read this story when it originally came out in Asimov's. I enjoyed it when I first read it, and Ben Phillips was the perfect reader for the story. He seems to pull off the 'lovable smartass' better than any other reader I've ever heard.

As for the story it, I thought it was a great little diatribe on how people can use their children to live out their own dreams and desires, and the effects it can have on the children after the parent is long gone and the child has to deal with the aftermath of their parents affect on them.

While it wasn't the best story on Podcastle so far (lady death is still so far the best for me), it was definitely a really good story.



contra

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
Reply #43 on: May 26, 2008, 11:00:16 PM
This story felt like the pilot for the TV show 'Dresden files' ( I have't got around to the books bet, so I wont make the comparison to that).  ie, while it worked as a pilot, and it gave us an idea of the universe were in, really there is so much more.
If you have seen the extended pilot, it is a lot better.  This story may benefit from the same.

I liked it, but I want more.  I want more now...

So I suppose it worked

---
Mike---Glasgow.  Scotland.-->


Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Reply #44 on: May 27, 2008, 10:18:21 AM
I enjoyed the story quite a bit... though for some reason it made my fingers feel greasy...

Like old fried chicken.

Is that normal?  ???
Seriously, TAD, how often have you been accused of being normal?
;D ;)

And did the charge stick?? ;)

@birdless:  VERY rarely.

@Windup: I didn't even need a lawyer to beat that one.

I think if I ever met a "normal" person, they'd probably scare the daylights out of me.  Either that, or by being so unusually normal, they would blend into the parade of oddities that normally surrounds me.  ;)

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #45 on: May 27, 2008, 12:54:14 PM
Did he become the most powerful osteomancer in the west by being careless?

Villain Downfall seems to come from being too smug or too stupid. (Dang, it took ONE ship to blow up my Death Star? How did I not see that coming, especially when I did it myself when I was ten years old?!)

Wow.  I totally didn't make that connection until just now... I guess Phantom Menace was just that forgettable... So forgettable that even Darth Vader forgot it.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #46 on: May 27, 2008, 06:14:48 PM
This story felt like the pilot for the TV show 'Dresden files' ( I have't got around to the books bet, so I wont make the comparison to that).  ie, while it worked as a pilot, and it gave us an idea of the universe were in, really there is so much more.
If you have seen the extended pilot, it is a lot better.  This story may benefit from the same.

I liked it, but I want more.  I want more now...

So I suppose it worked

See, this is part of what I love about this story (and other stories that do similar things on the sister 'casts) -- the "OMG I want to go explore more of that world for a year" feeling.  To me, that's a mark of a good story.  I love it when some stuff is only hinted at, and there's so much left for my own imagination to explore.  So long as the story is complete, of course.


MacArthurBug

  • Giddy
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 648
  • I can resist anything except temptation
    • undercaffinated
Reply #47 on: May 28, 2008, 02:00:11 AM
squee!  I'd read this before, and the reading got the "feel" of the authors voice dead on. GOOD story. More like this one please?

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


Austineze

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #48 on: May 31, 2008, 02:50:09 AM
This story is the reason I signed up at the forums here. I have been a listener to EscapePod since last July, and PodCastle here since its debut, but this story is the only one that will not be deleted off of my iPod to make room for other, newer stories. It is the first one that I felt was worth several listenings just to capture the details and nuances of that world.

If I had to nitpick, I agree that the "showdown" was lacking. I was truly expecting that the hero's most powerful magic would merely allow him to escape, not actually defeat the master there in his own lair.

Keep up the good stuff - this is why I own an iPod!   ;D



Chivalrybean

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 158
    • The Space Turtle
Reply #49 on: June 04, 2008, 12:19:11 AM
This story was crackin! Get it... ah.... never mind.

Like many PC stories I do like, it took me a while to like it, but overall this is my favorite action oriented piece.

I should make sure Norm Sherman heard this one...

The Space Turtle - News that didn't happen, stories to entertain.


Planish

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 772
  • Fun will now commence.
    • northernelectric.ca
Reply #50 on: June 08, 2008, 06:18:35 PM
Not my favourite PC story so far, but still two thumbs up.

I liked the U-turn I got when Daniel dismisses the usefulness and/or authenticity of the dragon turtle powder the vendor was trying to sell him, and then he says (to us) "I’ve experienced the genuine stuff. It’s in my bones." That was the Rabbit Hole for me.

The business with his father making use of the kraken spine instead of keeping it to sell for cash was an excellent way to introduce the father. You learn what he does, and you learn a lot about his character. It also sets up the Chekovian Gun for the finale, without spoiling it. It did distract me for a bit when I learned that his name was "John Blackland" because it kept reminding me of Prince/King John of England, aka "John Lackland".

I normally refer to Turtledove's "Case of the Toxic Spelldump" when talking about this type of story, ...
Aw. I wanted to make that comparison first. :'(

I feed The Pod.
("planish" rhymes with "vanish")


Void Munashii

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • twitter.com/VOIDMunashii
    • Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse
Reply #51 on: June 09, 2008, 05:09:42 PM

I normally refer to Turtledove's "Case of the Toxic Spelldump" when talking about this type of story, ...
Aw. I wanted to make that comparison first. :'(

  Wow, you're the first person I've ever seen admit to reading that book.

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com


Planish

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 772
  • Fun will now commence.
    • northernelectric.ca
Reply #52 on: June 10, 2008, 12:29:49 AM
  Wow, you're the first person I've ever seen admit to reading that book.
Are you kidding? I made it required reading for my two sons.
It's a hoot.

I feed The Pod.
("planish" rhymes with "vanish")


DarkKnightJRK

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
Reply #53 on: June 12, 2008, 04:27:26 AM
Villain Downfall seems to come from being too smug or too stupid. (Dang, it took ONE ship to blow up my Death Star? How did I not see that coming, especially when I did it myself when I was ten years old?!)

10 years old? They never showed Vader in the movies before he became Vader. ???

*lives in Denial*

Anyway, I dug this one--I more prefer the type of fantasy stories that are about the more "modern" world then the usual sword-and-sorcery fare.

Also, I love this little bit:

"Is that a Sphinx?"
"Yes, one of three that was ever found."
"What happened to the other two?"
"I smoked them."

That and the "what's left of you I will drink down with green tea!" made me laugh. He was stereotypical and the final fight was kind-of too short, but damn was the Hierarch was a funny villian. ;D



yicheng

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 221
Reply #54 on: July 09, 2008, 03:32:45 PM
...
I thought of that, but I don't think it works. Two reasons:

A - It's mentioned that the guards that are there are extremely powerful. Specifically, it's mentioned that the guys standing outside the warehouse are "not rent-a cop security", and that they are "the best money could buy" (around 12 minutes), and that the guys inside the warehouse "have received advanced training" and have "tasted deep magic" (around 26 minutes).

B- I can't think of a way to rationalize the heirarch using the police to get rid of magical opponents whose abilities he could forsee (like the father), but going alone to face unknown threats. Did he become the most powerful osteomancer in the west by being careless?

A - I get the impression that the invisibility glasses that Daniel wears were one of a kind, from a kind of magic that the Hierarch had not known about.  The Hierarch did specifically make a comment about how it was very clever that he used two seperate kinds of magic for invisibility.  It's highly possible that John Blackland, before he and the rest of the cabal were killed, was planning to use those to either filtrate the Hierarchy or help someone else infiltrate the Hierarchy, most probably to assassinate the Hierarch.

B - The name given to the assassination of the osteomancer's cabal was called the Night of the Long Knives.  In the real world, the Night of the Long Knives of 1934 was a political power grab against the Nazi SA and other dissenters by the Nazi SS, who answered only to Hitler.  Thousands of people were arrested, assassinated, imprisoned, and/or tortured into false confessions of treason, and then summarily executed.  While it is possible that the Hierarch *could* have taken out most of the Osteomancers individually by himself, he could not have personally killed more than a few before the rest of the Osteomancer's Cabal were alerted and took measures to escape or protect themselves.  It had to be a fast decisive coup to simultaneously arrest/kill as many of Hierarchy's political enemies as possible before they could react.  It is also important to realize that it's been a span of 6~10 years (since Daniel was still a young boy when his father died) since that night and when Daniel finally confronts the Hierarch.  It's highly possible that in the intervening years, while the Hierarch has been consolidating power and smoking every magical bone he could find, that he has let his guard down from megalomania or just gone out-of-his-gourd from long term exposure to osteomantic magic. 
 
Personally, my take is that John Blackland was *not* a well known Osteomancer before his death, although we can guess that he was a relatively important figure in the Cabal.  From Daniel's description it seemed like his father was a black sheep, and perhaps John had taken steps to hide the extent of his powers from the Hierarchy.  It may very well have been that John Blackland was *the* leader of the Cabal, and forced the police to kill him so as to not reveal the other members, and possibly to save his son from becoming a high-value target of the Hierarchy.  As for the final showdown, put yourself in the Hierarch's shoes.  You have a thief who's gotten past most of your best defenses, wearing very powerful magic that he obviously did not craft himself.  Do you 1) kill him immediately and never find out who sent this stooge, until maybe next time when it might be a handful of powerful osteomancers here to assassinate you?  or do you 2) capture him alive and see if he gives up some information before you drink his incinerated remains with tea?  While it could have been written a bit better, I thought it was fairly that the Hierarchy was attempting to subdue Daniel alive, and was taken utterly by surprise by Daniel's counter-attack.



Myrealana

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 107
    • Bad Foodie
Reply #55 on: August 04, 2008, 08:19:00 PM
I loved this one. The mix of exposition and actions was excellent. I particualrly enjoyed the descriptions of Daniel's interaction with his father.

Yeah, the bad guy did get caught in a bit of classic bad-guy monloging. Good thing he did, or the story would have had a much sadder ending. ;)

"You don't fix faith. Faith fixes you." - Shepherd Book


Lionman

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 148
  • Next time, I'll just let sleeping dogs lie.
    • The Practice of IT.
Reply #56 on: August 18, 2008, 05:56:45 PM
I have to say this is one of my favorite stories from PodCastle to date.  I thought it was well-told, and well-read.  But, then again, I'm probably a sucker for a story where the underdog overcomes the "evil overlord" as well as the father whose willing to do anything for his child...and in this case, more than one generation.

Failure is an event, not a person.


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #57 on: November 19, 2009, 07:52:01 PM
Overall, this one was fun.  It had the feel of the Pseudopod stories about the book collector, magic in a modern world.  The exposition was done well--it served to characterize and build up important details gradually so they didn't overwhelm.

But, there were a couple things that brought down my enjoyment:
-The sunglasses were so powerful as to make most of it fall flat tension-wise.  Nobody but the Heirarch had any kind of defense for them?  He didn't put much thought into the abilities of his guards if they can't penetrate known invisibility spells in any way whatsoever.
-The resolution was too easy.