Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: PC013: Spell of the Sparrow  (Read 24446 times)

Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
on: June 24, 2008, 12:35:36 PM
PC013: Spell of the Sparrow

By Jim C. Hines.
Read by Tina Connolly.
Introduction by Erin Cashier.
First appeared in Sword and Sorceress, XXI.

I was in the woods behind our cabin, trying yet again to dissuade my daughter from this wizarding business.

“I _like_ magic,” Mel protested. “And I’m good at it. Remember the spell I made up last week?”

“The spell that changed my daggers into caterpillars?” James and I were still pulling cocoons out of the laundry.

“No, the other one.”

I crossed my arms and did my best to look parental. “The one that sent my undergarments on a mad dash for freedom?”

She covered her mouth, trying to hide a gap-toothed grin. “I got it right the next time. Don’t your clothes smell nicer?”

“They do… those that aren’t hightailing it for the border.”

It was no use. After two years, I knew I couldn’t win, but I kept trying. James and I thought that if we could teach her another skill, something respectable…..


Rated PG. Contains ghost cats, precocious girls, and amorous spouse-stealers.


Listen to this week's Pod Castle!



« Last Edit: June 24, 2008, 06:57:10 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.


Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #1 on: June 24, 2008, 01:42:53 PM
A good reading, though a bit overexaggerated in places.

I loved the humor and the small scale of the story -- just because they live in a fantasy world doesn't mean we have to hear every single aspect of it.  I think some fantasy writers get caught up in that.

I'm still unhappy that we don't know exactly how Bossy (Bozi? Bazi?) tricked James into eating the egg.  That kind of bugged me a little over the course of the story.

I knew the twist was coming when she patted her handprints off Bossy's shirt.  She's a thief.  Besides, the foundation was laid when James pickpocketed her dagger without noticing.

I also thought the denouement went on a tad too long.

This was one of those stories that had things I didn't like, but overall I enjoyed it so much that I was able to overlook those issues/flaws.

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

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


eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #2 on: June 24, 2008, 01:52:15 PM
I really liked this story. It was fun and flowed well and had likeable characters and generally really enjoyable.

What I didn't like was the reading. It felt forced and the inflection was often really bizzare. I got the impression - right or wrong I don't know - that the speaker didn't even look at the story before she started reading it to the microphone. This was one of very few times in an Escape Artists production where I was considering stopping a story I enjoyed because the reader annoyed me so much, though in the end the story won.

Edit: Removed erroneous reference to Christiana Ellis.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2008, 04:09:07 PM by eytanz »



Ragtime

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 45
    • Comic Book Thoughts
Reply #3 on: June 24, 2008, 02:13:48 PM
I liked the reading a lot.

The story itself was a lot of fun, and pleasant enough to listen to, but I guess I actually prefer a more flawed story (like 14 Postal Experiments, or Hotel Astarte) that gives me more to think about even as I'm complaining about it.

This one didn't give me much to complain about (aside from a little bit of triteness in the "I'm gonna steal your man" storyline), but it also didn't leave me with much of anything else either.  Pleasant, funny, cute, well formed characters.  I doubt I'll be able to remember what it was about in a year.

Also, and this is more personal, "Magic Bird Eggs" is also a plot device in the Disney Fairies books that I read to my girls for bedtime stories (See, e.g., "Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg"), so the Sparrow Egg part just made me think of "Mother Dove" from the Disney stories.



Tina Connolly

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 10
    • Tina Connolly
Reply #4 on: June 24, 2008, 04:03:59 PM
Hey all!  Just so Christiana Ellis doesn't get unfairly judged, I'll note that there was a mistake initially with the credits and I read the story. 

Thanks, Tina Connolly



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #5 on: June 24, 2008, 04:07:39 PM
Hey all!  Just so Christiana Ellis doesn't get unfairly judged, I'll note that there was a mistake initially with the credits and I read the story. 

Thanks, Tina Connolly

Ah, that makes sense, in that I didn't think it sounded like Christiana Ellis. But it seems so far that I'm in the minority opinion regarding the reading anyway, so I wouldn't fret too much about it if I were you :)



Rachel Swirsky

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1233
    • PodCastle
Reply #6 on: June 24, 2008, 06:53:28 PM
Quote
I'll note that there was a mistake initially with the credits and I read the story. 

Thanks, Tina Connolly


Thanks, Tina. I was going to post something similar, but you beat me to it.

(Also, sorry again about the credit mix-up!)
« Last Edit: June 24, 2008, 07:00:12 PM by Rachel Swirsky »



ajames

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 358
Reply #7 on: June 25, 2008, 01:08:53 AM
This one didn't give me much to complain about (aside from a little bit of triteness in the "I'm gonna steal your man" storyline), but it also didn't leave me with much of anything else either.  Pleasant, funny, cute, well formed characters.  I doubt I'll be able to remember what it was about in a year.

Ragtime pretty well summed up how I felt about this one. Kind of cool and funny and a bit different, yet it didn't really grab me. Still, it was an enjoyable listen on my commute.



Ocicat

  • Castle Watchcat
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3283
  • Anything for a Weird Life
Reply #8 on: June 25, 2008, 01:36:19 AM
I thought this was really... not good.  I didn't like the wordcraft, the characters, the world building, or the plot.  The reading, well, it brought out the characters well, I think - it's just that I found the characters and their manner of speech annoying.  I'm not really sure what take the reader could have done to win me over here.

While this story didn't read like a D&D game - no combat, for one thing - but there was still too much high fantasy tropes in the worldbuilding.  She's a thief.  Daughter is a magic user.  No talk about them being exceptional - apparently everyone in this world is a class out of the Players Handbook.  Which is just lazy. 



stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #9 on: June 25, 2008, 02:41:19 AM
I didn't think much of this story (though I didn't dislike it.)  I'm just not big on "high fantasy" in general.  Most of the time I avoid the genre entirely, and I almost didn't subscribe to Podcastle because I expected it might dominate the story selection.

It was better than any of the "miniatures" so far, though.

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


Rain

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 178
Reply #10 on: June 25, 2008, 05:57:33 PM
I really liked the first part of the story where it had some nice humor but it kinda seemed to go away after the first few minutes and then it just became standard fantasy, i thought it was an ok story but could have been great if taken in another direction



zZzacha

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
  • Did I just say that?
Reply #11 on: June 25, 2008, 11:11:24 PM
Cute story! Well read too, I really felt sorry for the woman who had her love life invaded by the mad lady. And it's always great to listen to stories in which True Love prevails. Even if you need an egg to bring your man back to his senses. I think we need more eggs :]

It is never too late to be what you might have been.


Sandikal

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 287
Reply #12 on: June 25, 2008, 11:34:50 PM
I thought the story was too formulaic.  I'm not a fan of high fantasy because all the stories seem the same to me after a while.  Part of why I didn't subscribe to PodCastle at the time I subscribed to EscapePod is that I was afraid all the stories would be of this sort.

Please, bring in more modern fantasy. 



deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #13 on: June 26, 2008, 12:44:01 AM
pshaw! pshaw, i say! to those who complain about too much fantasy from a fantasy podcast: pshaw!

truth be told, this episode didn't grab me that much. it may have been the reading, which felt hammy, but suggesting that podcastle should avoid stories like this seems silly.

maybe once we're finished the tour of sub-genres we'll see a wider mix from week to week so no one's overwhelmed by a particular style.



Chivalrybean

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 158
    • The Space Turtle
Reply #14 on: June 26, 2008, 03:05:04 AM
Two thumbs at a 45 degree angle. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't super wow neato. That said, it was one I liked a lot more than other stories on PC.

Is there a post of what kind of story is what kind of fantasy? What is high fantasy? Is there low fantasy? Is medium fantasy about talking to the dead?

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


Ocicat

  • Castle Watchcat
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3283
  • Anything for a Weird Life
Reply #15 on: June 26, 2008, 03:35:01 AM
Is there a post of what kind of story is what kind of fantasy? What is high fantasy?

"High Fantasy" generally means epic storylines, lots of magic, maybe some elves, monsters with three heads, and what have you.  I really like a lot of high fantasy (hey, huge Tolkien fan here), but it seems that too much of it is very derivative of Tolkien, or worse, just a writeup of someone's D&D game.  I far prefer it when authors actually go back to original sources and draw from mythology and legend.  Which is of course what Tolkien did...

Is there low fantasy?
Yes, there is.  This generally means less magic, and smaller or darker storylines.  A lot of urban fantasy falls into this category, but so does Conan and A Game of Thrones.  It's a pretty broad term. 

Is medium fantasy about talking to the dead?
*snort*  Yes.  Of course.




stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #16 on: June 26, 2008, 04:49:19 AM
.
Is there a post of what kind of story is what kind of fantasy? What is high fantasy?
"High Fantasy" generally means epic storylines, lots of magic, maybe some elves, monsters with three heads, and what have you.  I really like a lot of high fantasy (hey, huge Tolkien fan here), but it seems that too much of it is very derivative of Tolkien, or worse, just a writeup of someone's D&D game.  I far prefer it when authors actually go back to original sources and draw from mythology and legend.  Which is of course what Tolkien did...

Is there low fantasy?
Yes, there is.  This generally means less magic, and smaller or darker storylines.  A lot of urban fantasy falls into this category, but so does Conan and A Game of Thrones.  It's a pretty broad term. 

Well, the distinction as I was given to understand it is that "high" fantasy is typically set in a wholly invented world (and usually also has the standard tropes of wizards, dragons, elves, etc.) whereas "low" fantasy is typically set entirely or mostly in the world we know ("urban" fantasy is the obvious example, and I think most Neil Gaiman and Stephen King falls into this category as well.)  By this classification I would put Conan on the "high" side.

Being a D&D player of old, and having read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, most "high" fantasy just gives me a "been there, done that" feeling.  I find a story set (at least in part) in this world gives me more to identify with (even if it's as psychedelic and fucked up as "Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery  :).)

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


deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #17 on: June 26, 2008, 04:54:09 AM
a question of definition can almost always be answered at wiki these days.

this particular story is more accurately defined as sword & sorcery but fantasy's fine splitting of sub-genres is getting a little silly. pretty much everyone will understand 'high fantasy' if used as previously described here.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2008, 04:58:55 AM by deflective »



yicheng

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 221
Reply #18 on: June 26, 2008, 01:45:50 PM
Aside from being cute, I thought the story was just so-so.  The plot was fairly linear (the thief pick-pocketed, you don't say?) and all the characters one-dimensional and rather limited.  The humor saved the story for me.

As for how James got charmed in the first place...  Think a delicious cupcake in the middle of the forest.  Come on, you know you would.



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #19 on: June 26, 2008, 05:22:28 PM
It was a fun little story to listen to on my morning commute.  Light, fluffy, and fun.  The tone of it reminded me a little bit of what I've read of Steven Brust.  And although I usually really enjoy the dark or more complex stuff, I thought this story was a nice change of pace.


ROUS

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Reply #20 on: June 26, 2008, 05:31:09 PM
Not a bad story, but then not a great story either.  I never felt attached to any of the characters and found that I did not really care which way the story ended; in fact I think I might have liked it better had the other girl won.

I did like the concept of the story, known magic, unknown magic, and a few daggers thrown in to keep it "real".  A bit drawn out, this could have been done as a miniature without taking away anything.



Kaa

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 618
  • Trusst in me, jusst in me.
    • WriteWright
Reply #21 on: June 26, 2008, 06:15:30 PM
I enjoyed the story. I liked the characters with all their quirks and flaws, and I liked how it was written and basically everything about it.

Except the reading.  And I hesitate to criticize when I know the person who did the reading is following the discussion because it feels weird, but...it felt "performed."  It wasn't at all like I was being told the story; it was a little too much like the reader was...overdoing it to the point that it was a caricature of someone telling a story.  That was the only thing that detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

Well, that and the little jerky kid in the next booth over from me in the restaurant who kept swinging his stuffed toy in a huge arc until he finally knocked all the glasses on the table over, spewing ice water all over their table and the wall and the floor and the next table.  But Podcastle can't control that. Yet.  But I digress.

It was a comedy, and I think perhaps the temptation to over-comedify (is that a word?) the reading was too much to resist.

That being said, I liked the different voices for the characters. Just...not the reading as a whole.

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else


Nobilis

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 156
    • Nobilis Erotica Podcast
Reply #22 on: June 26, 2008, 10:35:09 PM
Still listening, but the line "corn so fresh the farmer didn't know it had been picked" was cute.



Nobilis

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 156
    • Nobilis Erotica Podcast
Reply #23 on: June 26, 2008, 10:45:42 PM
Audio-only productions require exaggerated emotions, compared to real life or video productions.  I felt the production was spot on.

I liked the way the plot progressed, and how all the details fit together so neatly.  Thoroughly enjoyable.



Chivalrybean

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 158
    • The Space Turtle
Reply #24 on: June 27, 2008, 02:23:43 AM
Is there a post of what kind of story is what kind of fantasy? What is high fantasy?

"High Fantasy" generally means epic storylines, lots of magic, maybe some elves, monsters with three heads, and what have you.  I really like a lot of high fantasy (hey, huge Tolkien fan here), but it seems that too much of it is very derivative of Tolkien, or worse, just a writeup of someone's D&D game.  I far prefer it when authors actually go back to original sources and draw from mythology and legend.  Which is of course what Tolkien did...

Is there low fantasy?
Yes, there is.  This generally means less magic, and smaller or darker storylines.  A lot of urban fantasy falls into this category, but so does Conan and A Game of Thrones.  It's a pretty broad term. 

Is medium fantasy about talking to the dead?
*snort*  Yes.  Of course.



Thanks for the info. I actually know what is going on now!

I'd say I lean towards liking high fantasy. I like creating worlds, and then stories in those worlds, and I like stories set in rich worlds as well. I don't need to know all the details, but it just needs to _feel_ like a rich world. As a note, this story didn't feel like a really planned out world, and it didn't have to to tell the story, but hinting at details never hurts, so long as it isn't overdone and is relevant to the story.

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


BubbleDragon

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #25 on: June 30, 2008, 03:56:11 PM
I disliked this story quite a bit.  The tone was out of whack with what was actually going on in the plot to the point that I sometimes felt the characters turn and look at the camera to wink along with a cheesy rimshot.  The characters were exaggerated and quite frankly, sounded like something out of high school fan-fiction.

The whole sub plot of the parents not wanting the daughter to practice magic just seemed stretched and tedious.

All of this is disappointing, of course, because a few elements were really captivating, particularly the cloudlings and their magic.



Hatton

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 88
    • Front Porch Political Talk
Reply #26 on: June 30, 2008, 07:06:59 PM
You guys are HARSH  :o

Not every story can be perfect, not every reading can be enthralling... After the selection of readings that have come across this show's playlist I can say that the PC team has worked hard to show the diversity of the "Fantasy" genre as a whole.  Not every listener likes every setting, but one episode does not a podcast make.

My take on this story fell in line with most.  It was a fun, light tale that had a lot of re-used elements and some interesting ideas.  The concept of a "family life" for a married thief couple with their magic-user daughter was an interesting spin... and the idea of the "ghost cat" just had me rolling when it came to the chase scene.


Normal is just a setting on the washing machine.


Dwango

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
Reply #27 on: June 30, 2008, 07:18:12 PM
The moral of the story is not to just eat anything left in the kitchen at work, especially the leftover Easter candy.

As for the story, it could not seem to decide if it was high fantasy or a fairy tale.  The whole bird magic and cloudlings could really work, throw away the wife is a thief, rebel daughter wanting to learn magic, D&D fantasy staples.  They felt out of place and forced.  I think this would have worked better as a pure fairy tale in the vien of the Run of the Fiery Horse tale.

As for the reading, I thought it was fine, except for the voicing of the Cloudling.  Pure scratchings on a chalk board as the speaker probably intended.

(EDIT: Got the correct story name for Run of the Fiery Horse )
« Last Edit: June 30, 2008, 07:22:35 PM by Dwango »



Dwango

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
Reply #28 on: June 30, 2008, 07:25:46 PM
... and the idea of the "ghost cat" just had me rolling when it came to the chase scene.



Oh yeah, I forgot.  I loved the ghost cat.  Bird's worst nightmare :-)  There should be a whole tale about the cat alone.



Roney

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 440
Reply #29 on: July 01, 2008, 08:27:31 PM
I suppose I look for different things from Fantasy than I do from SF and (for better or worse) I don't mind a bit less originality in my Fantasy.  I'm much more inclined to accept a simple story for the way that it's told.  In this case I thought there were several cute touches that made it a rewarding listen -- and not just the ghost cat.  I liked the husband's sketched presence around the edges of the story, the wife's determination to endure the cloudling's tightening trap until she could figure out a way out of it, and the tension when all four characters were in the same room.  Most of all, I loved the creation of a sympathetic heroine who finds the very idea of nobility revolting -- you don't get much less conventionally heroic than that.



Cerebrilith

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 62
Reply #30 on: July 02, 2008, 02:40:44 PM
This story felt a lot like the sort of cheesy D&D games I was into during my junior high days.  The idea that a lot of those trapping could be removed and make this story more of a fairy tale seems like a good one to me.



mudguts

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 12
    • Blog Allo!
Reply #31 on: July 02, 2008, 03:17:35 PM
I really enjoyed the story as well.  The reader did a great job.   There were a few plotline flaws (like following the cat through the forest) but then again, this isn't the cure for cancer, it's a fun story to pass time while I walk my dog.

Overall, I really enjoyed the ebb and flow of the writing and would like to hear more about the characters in other adventures.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Free Blogs, Free Hosting, Free domain name
http://www.BlogAllo.com


the_true_morg

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 12
Reply #32 on: July 03, 2008, 07:44:04 AM
0ne thing that i did not read once in anyones comments was about the good use of magic that was mentioned in a very different way. it was subtle i might go so far to say it was in the background in a way that made it more believable. The way it was not just explained in a gross amount of detail like more and more High fantasy seems to do. I think Fantasy does this so they seem more original where instead you get bogged down in details and miss the story while you are looking it up on wiki pedia.

The story was ok other than that.

"My own Duschebaggary is a killing word. Will it be a healing word as well?"


JoeFitz

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
Reply #33 on: July 17, 2008, 02:12:42 AM
Many things didn't work for me with this story, but overall it was an okay episode.

I didn't like the rebellious daughter character, her role or the parent's reaction to her. It made no sense to me that Bossy would have an antidote egg on hand when it seemed so easy to procure eggs on demand.

And I could not get the image of the Chicken Lady from Kids in the Hall out of my head.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkhENWjCI20




Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #34 on: January 08, 2010, 05:34:56 PM
Fun with a cool premise, the cloudling was sufficiently annoying and arrogant for me to really hate her, and I liked both the writing and the reading which portrayed the protagonist very well.

My only niggle was that in many SF/fantasy stories there's always a convenient antidote just lying around for the taking, so that comes off as a plot device than anything more real.