Author Topic: PC014: The Grand Cheat  (Read 22897 times)

Heradel

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PC014: The Grand Cheat
« on: July 01, 2008, 06:11:35 PM »
PC014: The Grand Cheat

By Hilary Moon Murphy
Read by Rajan Khanna
First appeared in Tales of the Unanticipated.

My finest cheat started long ago, before India was even a country. Most of us were still under British rule, one way or another. I was apprenticed to Sri Ghare, one of the greatest negotiators in the princely states. I lived with him and his wife in a fine manor. Though I was from a poor family, he always treated me like I was his own son.

When Sri Ghare’s wife was great with child, he was called to negotiate for the local rajah. Sri Ghare made me promise to take care of her while he was gone. When my master’s wife went into labor, the female servants shooed me out of the house, knowing that I would only be in the way. But I had promised my master, and I was very worried. What if something should go wrong with the birth?

So I cheated. I sneaked back into the house when the servants were too busy to check for me. At first, I only listened through the sheer, blue draperies that curtained off the women’s quarters, but all I could hear were screams, sobs, and muffled assurances. I crawled under the draperies, coming as close as I dared. The sounds were so awful, I was certain that she must be dying.

I meditated in the doorway to her rooms and prayed deeply for safety of mother and child. I prayed harder than I ever had before. I prayed so hard that I became aware of the god who was trying to slip past me into the rooms don’t ask me how I knew it was a god, I just knew - and I cried, “Hold!

“No one says ‘Hold’ to me, mortal,” the god rumbled.


Rated PG. Contains schemes, cheats, and tricksters.

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« Last Edit: July 02, 2008, 04:15:40 AM by Rachel Swirsky »
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Swamp

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2008, 06:28:50 PM »
I just want to say that this story is sexist.  jk

Sorry, I couldn't resist ;)  (I haven't even downloaded it, yet)
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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2008, 07:21:54 AM »
I thought the reader did a great job, though I do think I heard one of his kids (if he has kids... I know it was a kid...) in the background once.

The best part of the story, for me, was the a-ha moment when Jai (sp?) first outwitted Brahma with the rice-and-bullock trick.  The whole story was pretty strongly-written until the end; I think the author just couldn't stop herself from adding on that little coda.  I think the story would've been fine without it.
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Ragtime

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2008, 08:43:57 AM »
I LOVE these types of stories!  This one was great.  If I were the main character though, I think I would have done it all backwards.  I mean, the daughter seemed to be in much more dire straits than the son, who was just "poor," so I would have helped her out first.  But I loved the concept, and it all fit together very cleanly.

I had no problem with the "coda," as the frame had been set up within the story, so it needed a resolution as much as the story itself did.

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2008, 08:50:07 AM »
I really enjoyed this story!  I don't know why but it delivered more than I expected because of the way that he "cheated."

I expected pleading or wild deals with horrible contracts that couldn't be subverted.  What happened in actuality really threw me.

As for the "child" noise in the background, at least it was true to the setting of a grandfather telling a tale to the children.
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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2008, 09:29:05 AM »
This story was a lot of fun.  My only complaint is how frickin many Escape Artist stories are there that involve prostitutes?  I mean seriously, it seems like half.  I mean no disrespect to prostitutes, but do so many stories really need to have one?

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2008, 11:19:56 AM »
Absolutely fantastic story!   It held me the whole way through, and I can't think of a single thing I didn't like about this one.  I loved that in the end, Brahma had become enslaved by the fates of the ones he'd marked, and the only way to become free was to free them.  The coda also didn't bother me -- I thought it was a nice touch to see what happened after, introduce the grandson, and the closing lines couldn't have been any more perfect.  All in all, very smart, very thoughtful, and even sweet. 

And the reading -- wow, can we have Rajan Kanna read more stories?  Please?

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2008, 01:02:14 PM »


And the reading -- wow, can we have Rajan Kanna read more stories?  Please?

I agree.  I assume that he is of Indian heritage, and therefore especially appropriate for this story, but there's no need to wait for the next "Indian themed" story to use him again.

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2008, 02:24:49 PM »
I agree with everyone about Rajan Khanna. Actually, I do have another piece in mind for him to read, and it's not Indian-themed. (Our readers do sometimes decline projects, though, of course, so I can't guarantee anything...)

Just to let you know, Ragtime, Escape Artists doesn't have an acquisitions department. The podcasts buy and schedule stories separately. We don't even talk about what stories we're running with each other in advance, so the preponderance of prostitutes in the last couple weeks is just one of those flukes that happens sometimes when you collect a bunch of stuff in a random order. Sometimes, they just happen to coincide.

Though, for the record, PodCastle is considering having some themed content later (just within our own podcast). For instance, we're planning an elf month for a to-be-named date. I've already acquired a story by Esther Friesner for it.

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2008, 03:08:54 PM »
Liked this story a lot.  The reader did a good job as well.

Not usually being a very critical reader, I don't really have much more to say about it.
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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2008, 03:53:27 PM »
This was a remarkable story!  Very, very good.  Cheating the fates never looked any better.  Easily my favorite PodCastle so far.  It makes me feel bad for making the joke earlier.
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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2008, 04:37:02 PM »
OK, I need some help.  Where have I heard other Hilary Moon Murphy stories.  Obviously this story and Run of the Fiery Horse, But I know I've heard another story by her and been to her website before, but I can't remember where.  I thought it was EP but i went through them and didn't find her.  Is anyone aware of other stories she has had podcasted in the last couple of years?  Perhaps Ms. Murphy herself is watching the forum?
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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2008, 06:40:51 PM »
Three strikes in a row! Good thing this is bowling and not baseball.

The last three stories have been enjoyable, with this being my favorite of the three (this is including the flash piece).

Great reading, great story, etc.

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2008, 07:29:14 PM »
  I was surprised by this story, from the intro and the beginning I thought I was going to be kind of bored through it like I was "Barren's Dance", but once the story got rolling I found it to be very engaging and compelling. This is easily my favourite story since "14 Experiments".

  I would also like to chime in that I thought the reading was very good as well.

  the only possible dissapointment is that I was looking forward to picturing Pokemon throughout the story again  ;)

  Finally, what's wrong with prostitutes? Really?
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Heradel

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2008, 07:50:24 PM »
The prostitution subtopic was split off and placed here.
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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2008, 10:32:42 PM »
A very solid, well-written story! I think this would rank in my top ten of the entire Escape Artist productions, probably top five. It had such a 'classic fable' feel to it, like i should have heard this story in my youth... <edit> er, younger youth... much younger youth. :P
« Last Edit: July 02, 2008, 10:35:53 PM by birdless »

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2008, 11:36:24 PM »
I liked this one a lot, as well.  There's something satisfying about playing strictly within the rules and yet completely overturning them, at the same time, while simultaneously trapping a god into doing your bidding.

And I, too, enjoyed the reading.  More him. :)
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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2008, 12:49:34 PM »
I just listened to this again (I ususlly don't do that).

The coda also didn't bother me -- I thought it was a nice touch to see what happened after, introduce the grandson, and the closing lines couldn't have been any more perfect.

I agree.  I thought the interaction with the grandson was a great element to the storytelling and did more to enhance it than distract from it.

"How old are you again?  Well, perhaps that's old enough.  Besides if your grandfather didn't corrupt you, who would?"

This and other moments made me laugh and brought great perspective to the story at the end.
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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2008, 01:00:50 PM »
I really loved this story, it's by far my favourite PC-story so far! The writing was good, the story had a nice pace to it and the reading really did the whole thing justice.
What I liked most about the story is the way it captured the Indian way of looking at life. Resigned and fatalistic (re the fact that all fates are decided in advance), but also gentle and with much humour.

For some reason I feel the need to write down my only gripe (maybe because an review that is only positive seems to be partial), namely the coda. Too much, too soppy. That's all.

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Re: PC014: The Grand Cheat
« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2008, 06:43:25 PM »
Yeah!  Myth and fable in a modern setting!  This is what I want in a fantasy.