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Author Topic: PC012: Barrens Dance  (Read 20738 times)
Heradel
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« on: June 17, 2008, 08:10:06 AM »

PC012: Barrens Dance

By Peter S. Beagle.
Read by Stephen Eley (of Escape Pod).
Introduction by Summer Brooks.
First appeared in Wizards Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, 2007.

Carcharos. One tends to think of wizards either as bearded and severe, bearded and bumblingly kindly, or bearded and dark and vaguely sinister. Carcharos was none of these things. There were broad blond planes to his friendly face, and if his blue eyes were a bit small, they were yet as candid as they could have been. His hair was red-gold in any light, as though the sun were always behind him. When he spoke, there was a deep thrum to his voice, like the singing of a giant cicada. There was no one living in the Barrens who was not afraid of Carcharos.

Yes, there was. One person. But that comes later in the story.


Rated G. Contains strange animals and high magic.


Listen to this week's Pod Castle!

« Last Edit: June 17, 2008, 11:51:56 AM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2008, 08:37:37 AM »

I didn't like the style of the story.  It was all in the telling.  I remember extremely little dialogue, and dialogue tends to improve pacing.  It was too slowly-paced for me, and the ending wasn't a big enough payoff.

The reading was as good as it could be, given the material.

Overall, not a good PC for me.
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2008, 09:49:34 AM »

  While this was a nice story it just took too long to get anywhere. I cannot really fault the writing of this story, as this is probably the exact way an old man would tell the story, I also tend to zone out on old men telling long rambling tales as well, no matter how interesting the story may really be. Even the mental image of a wizard version of Michael Flatley could not keep my mind focused on this one.

  On positive notes, the sound quality was good, and Mr. Eley did his usual great job reading.

  Not my favourite PC by a long shot, but there's always next week.
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2008, 07:30:26 PM »

It had wizards, magic that was simply magic, and Steve Eley reading it. Not the best story,  but a better one on PodCastle as far as my own tastes go. I was worried when they said something about dancing. I was hoping it wasn't going to be some hoity toity artsy fantasy. It wasn't, so I was happy. I was in the mood for a straight story, and I got one. The 'talking to you' style worked even if it wasn't the best.

PC gets a few mana bars back from after last week.
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ajames
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2008, 05:28:52 AM »

Very solid story - I was into this one right away and loved every moment. I actually hadn't read anything of Peter Beagle's before Podcastle, so I owe the editors a big thank you.

Thank you!

And another very good reading by Steve.
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CammoBlammo
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« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2008, 07:48:02 AM »

I really enjoyed this story. It wasn't really suited to audio, but it did a great job with the world building. Steve's narration helped a lot. I loved the thought of the dancing wizard and the funny little creatures. The narration was a great touch. I spent a lot of time wondering how on earth the narrator knew everything he did, and the answer was both unexpected and satisfying.

The only real complaint (if I have the right to use that word) is that the end was a bit long. Once the reveal was made, there was far too much exposition left to do.

Also, I was pretty impressed with the first ninety percent of the intro --- it introduced the author and the reader perfectly. However, the person doing the intro proceeded to summarise the story. It didn't give anything away needlessly, but I did feel cheated in that I already had somebody else's interpretive framework in place when I heard the piece.
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eytanz
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2008, 10:59:42 AM »

Wonderful story, satisfying on many levels. Every exposure I have to Beagle's work leaves me more impressed.

Also, I was pretty impressed with the first ninety percent of the intro --- it introduced the author and the reader perfectly. However, the person doing the intro proceeded to summarise the story. It didn't give anything away needlessly, but I did feel cheated in that I already had somebody else's interpretive framework in place when I heard the piece.

I agree completely. The intro wasn't spoilery this time, just pointless and condensending. Let me say once more - Podcastle editors, your listeners are not idiots, and don't need to have stories explained to us in advance. Especially not clear, well-written stories like this one. Please, stop treating us like idiots.
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Hatton
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2008, 11:00:48 AM »

I can't help thinking I should have heard "Pikachu" screams in the background.

Actually, I'll say this - I *like* hearing old men tell stories.  The fact that our old man wasn't born human in this story doesn't matter.  The premise is good but there's the whole problem of listening to a picture.  Dance is meant to be pictured, not described... kinda like golf.

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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2008, 11:40:39 AM »

Quote
Podcastle editors, your listeners are not idiots

Summer is not an editor.
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eytanz
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2008, 12:13:08 PM »

Quote
Podcastle editors, your listeners are not idiots

Summer is not an editor.

I know that; I was assuming that the intros undergo some sort of editorial oversight/guidance. If that's not the case then A - my apologies, and B - Podcastle presenters, your listeners may have mistaken assumptions on how the intros come to be, but that still doesn't mean we are idiots Smiley
« Last Edit: June 18, 2008, 12:24:06 PM by eytanz » Logged
DKT
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2008, 12:17:49 PM »

I don't know.  This one just didn't do it for me.  Not because it was poorly written or narrated, mind you.  The writing was nice enough, and it had magic and wizards, but I just had a hard time latching on to it.  It just wasn't my cup of tea coffee, I guess. 
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eytanz
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2008, 12:24:21 PM »

Re-reading what I said in my posts earlier I think it comes out snotty and not quite as I meant it. I'll leave it up for context, but what I'm trying to say is - Pseudopod editors, please instruct presenters not to give story summaries and/or analysis in their intros. It is a really bad practice that at worst seriously detracts from the story, and at best is patronizing to the listeners. I like the rotating hosts format, and the different perspectives it has to offer, but this is, first and foremost, a story podcast, not a literary discussion podcast, and the intro should exist to introduce the story, not to interpret it.
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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2008, 12:39:04 PM »

At the moment, when we invite new hosts, our format is to send examples of what we think are successful introductions and then give the people free reign. Under most circumstances, I'm not going to ask for rewrites. It's not something that pays well.

So, most of our control at the moment is exercised through guidance ("please try to do something else in the future") or shaping who we aks to do introductions.

Ann and I are probably going to be doing most introductions from here on in, with occasional guests (for example Erin Cashier, who's running the crit group, is doing the intro for next week's story)... although, as a teaser, I have also asked a writer who wrote two popular podcast stories if she'd be interested in working with us as a regular host in the future.

(Oh, just for my reference, it seems like the stories people disliked the intros on are Pahwahke and this one? Is that more or less right, or were there other instances where you felt the plots were given away before the story started? [I know there were scattered complaints about Osteomancer's and Astarte, but that seemed to be on the order of "too much information I wasn't interested in as it was presented" rather than spoilage or condescension. Also, IIRC, people disliked the "Run of the Fiery Horse" intro for being too much personally about Tempest. It's just good for me to have the info on what's not working for people as we write new introductions Smiley ])
« Last Edit: June 18, 2008, 12:43:23 PM by Rachel Swirsky » Logged
Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2008, 12:48:36 PM »

Ack, just wanted to say, this is probably the last quiet moment I'm going to have before Saturday... who knew planning a wedding was so much work?? So I'm not ignoring y'all, just running off to scramble around and greet guests and make food and steam dresses and all. ;-)

Whew! There's one of the bridesmaids at the door now...
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eytanz
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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2008, 12:56:27 PM »

(Oh, just FTR, it seems like the stories people disliked the intros on are Pahwahke and this one? Is that more or less right, or were there other instances where you felt the plots were given away before the story started? [I know there were scattered complaints about Osteomancer's and Astarte, but that seemed to be on the order of "too much information I wasn't interested in as it was presented" rather than spoilage or condescension.])

For me the two worst were Pahwahke and Stoneborn - not the part where you quoted the author's "stuff to think about", but rather the last sentence of the intro which sounded like a 1-sentence summary of what the story is about, in at least one of its interpretations. But note that Fear of Dragons also ended the intro with "and this is what the story is about" (explicitly in that case). The current story, which contained a summary but not interpretation, would probably not have bothered me as much if it wasn't that I was already primed to notice this by the earlier stories.

Personally I'm less bothered by infodumps if they are only background to the story, Run of the Fiery Horse, or tangential to it, like Osteomancer's Son and Hotel Astarte.

One thing I feel I should point out is that while I may sound really like I'm being really critical about this, it's because this is the sole fly in an otherwise exceptional ointment for me. In 12 weeks, Podcastle has already become my favorite Escape Artists podcast, quite a task given how much I love the other two as well. So I think that you and Ann and everyone else involved is doing a wonderful job, and I'm not griping because I'm unsatisfied, far from it. I wouldn't be complaining if I didn't think my complaints are valid, but I don't want the fact of my complaining to overshadow how great I think this podcast is.

Oh, and happy wedding Smiley
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DKT
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« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2008, 01:01:59 PM »

Ack, just wanted to say, this is probably the last quiet moment I'm going to have before Saturday... who knew planning a wedding was so much work?? So I'm not ignoring y'all, just running off to scramble around and greet guests and make food and steam dresses and all. ;-)

Whew! There's one of the bridesmaids at the door now...

Geez, I'm surprised you're still hanging out here.  See you later.  And have fun!
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stePH
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« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2008, 03:16:42 PM »

Chiming in here to say, I'm lukewarm on the story itself but must comment on the intro.

In over one hundred and fifty weeks of Escape Pod introductions, Steve Eley has never found it necessary to tell us anything about the story other than who wrote it and where it may have previously appeared.  The "here's what this story is about" is unnecessary and annoying.  Please have less in the future.
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2008, 03:30:42 PM »

Chiming in here to say, I'm lukewarm on the story itself but must comment on the intro.

In over one hundred and fifty weeks of Escape Pod introductions, Steve Eley has never found it necessary to tell us anything about the story other than who wrote it and where it may have previously appeared.  The "here's what this story is about" is unnecessary and annoying.  Please have less in the future.

When Alasdair does an outro, he may refer to something in the story and how it relates to something he's thinking about or something in his life.  If these stories are going to have intros like this, perhaps it would be optimal to make them outros?  Just a thought.
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2008, 03:38:09 PM »

Chiming in here to say, I'm lukewarm on the story itself but must comment on the intro.

In over one hundred and fifty weeks of Escape Pod introductions, Steve Eley has never found it necessary to tell us anything about the story other than who wrote it and where it may have previously appeared.  The "here's what this story is about" is unnecessary and annoying.  Please have less in the future.

When Alasdair does an outro, he may refer to something in the story and how it relates to something he's thinking about or something in his life.

Steve Eley often does the same, but these comments invariably come after the story, not before it.  And he's never divulged the premise of the story, neither before the reading nor after it.
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« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2008, 03:45:05 PM »

I was ready to love this story, as the author is truly a master, but this one did nothing for me.    It never captured my imagination.  To be honest, I didn't feel like it was even trying.

I agree with the other posters; you REALLY REALLY need to save personal comments about the story for the end. 

I DON'T CARE.

In fact, if you try to "sell" the story before you tell it to me, you're more likely to get an "Oh, really?" rebellious streak flare-up and I'll probably react poorly to the story just to spite you.

Once I've heard the story, and made my own mind up about it, then yes, I am interested.  Until then, please keep your mouth shut.
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