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Author Topic: PC026: Black Ribbon  (Read 15133 times)


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Reply #20 on: September 26, 2008, 12:00:44 AM
I thought the suicide kiss and the closing line were pretty good, actually.  As well as the character's motivation.  But the plot to kill the ambassador, raise to twins for 16-17 years to do it, and go to the lengths they did seemed a bit far-fetched, or maybe just far-sighted, for me.  I don't know really why they wanted to kill him.  Was he really that bad of an ambassador almost 20 years ago?  What was the thing he did that was so bad that they would spend this long plotting to kill him, and in such a fashion.  (For that matter, was he really an ambassador for that long?)   

I can imagine why someone would wait that long and put together as nutty a plot as this one (see the movie: Oldboy).  But I have a hard time when I never find out the motivation behind it all.

So basically: "Hello, My name is Inigo Montoya ... Prepare to die."

I think I'm missing the "basically."  It might be the cider I'm drinking ;) Are you saying Princess Bride is a good example of motivation or a poor example of it?

I left out the part of the speech where he states his motivation, rendered in full it's "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die." I wasn't trying to make a direct parallel to the PB, just illustrate what you were saying when you said "I don't know really why they wanted to kill him.".

Ah. Carry on, then :)


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Reply #21 on: September 26, 2008, 01:44:59 AM
I think something that was missed here is that Black Ribbon was sent to kill the ambassador and she may suspect that her keepers will kill upon her return, but there's no indication of that in the story. So we have to believe that they would not (can't prove a negative). What we are missing here is that by going on her killing spree and possibly killing her keepers she is killing herself. She needs them to supply the daily antidote to the poison or she will die. Basically this is a nuclear bomb being used as a surgical tool (or to quote from Indiana Jones "They would use a bulldozer to find a china cup"). It's just one of many plot issues to add to those already mentioned here. I think this was a pretty weak story containing an overused devise of twins where one is "bad" and one is "good". One get's all the praise and the other none. Repressed people making elaborate plots against their government. Religious house defiled by said oppressors. I could go on, but I think that everyone else covered it pretty well.


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Reply #22 on: September 26, 2008, 08:41:09 PM
I too think there needs to be more story to this story to explain more.  I was expecting some sort of all powerful lord needing assassination.  Someone very hard to get close to or having some sort of special protections.  The ambassador seems an awful bland target for so much planning a preparation.  He did not seem especially difficult to access, considering she just had to ask one person to get to him, in the night, without announcement.  With so much work I was expecting a kind of moral story about whether its worth destroying a person's life in order to rid the world of some evil.  As I don't know who set it up, I wonder if she even got any kind of revenge in killing everyone.  Maybe thats what they actually wanted, but I don't know.

I understood the ending, and her mental breakdown.  But it did not have the emotional impact I think the piece was aiming for.  I felt some sympathy for her plight, but it did not make me care about her fate, nor her final decision.  It was logical in its way, but it had no resonance with me.

Another problem I had with this piece was the reading.  Not the reader, she was fine, but the time period changes without any verbal cues.  It was difficult to grasp what happened when it ran along without a pause from one time period to the next.  I had to rewind to hear it again and note what was going on.  The move from baby to woman was done in barely a breath; I was mentally whiplashed trying to interpret the quick change.


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Reply #23 on: September 27, 2008, 12:54:02 AM
Dwango, by "time period" you mean scene breaks?

Yes, I think scene breaks should always be punctuated, in audio, by some kind of device.


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Reply #24 on: September 27, 2008, 03:22:49 AM
I only listened to a minute or so, got kind of annoyed with the audio being one sided, and it was depressing right off, and I was having a good day, so I skipped this one. I read all the comments here, and don't think I'll listen. If the audio were fixed and re-released, I might give it a try.

I have listened to a podcast that for a few episodes was coming out of only one earbud, but the content was good enough to put up with it. *cough*Daveshotfirst*cough*

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Reply #25 on: September 27, 2008, 04:46:53 PM
A decent story with an interesting premise.

I don't feel like any of the characters were very fleshed out, even the protagonist. In the end, I didn't see in her character the desire to kill everyone. She had motive enough, but the characterization just wasn't there enough for me to feel like it made sense for her to be doing it.


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Reply #26 on: September 27, 2008, 05:19:40 PM
*Goes back, reads thread* (I never read the threads before responding; they tend to color my reaction.)

Everyone assumes the nursemaid killed herself, but when I listened to the story that wasn't at all clear to me. Remember, "it takes more than that (referring to Keriss petting the dog) to poison a man." I just assumed the dose from a single, brief kiss was enough to make ill but not to kill.

Taking as given that the nursemaid committed suicide, the killing spree makes a little more sense for the character. Also, the fact that she felt the death of the dog more than that of the man seems like an attempt at establishing a sociopathic personality.

People also pointed out the retardation of the assassination plot. I had assumed while listening that Keriss in Black had been created for the same reason people make swords: not to kill any specific person, but for use in a time of need. They found someone they wanted dead, so they used her. They could have used any number of other methods in this case, but Keriss was the weapon they had and when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I agree that it would be idiotic to plot the murder for so long in this way, but I didn't get from the story that that was the case.

I also didn't get that the assassination would be the end of Keriss' life. Maybe the ruse about warning of a plot to kill him was supposed to allow them to get away with it, and live to kill another day. Maybe killing this one man would destabilize the ruling class enough to restore power to the natives?

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Reply #27 on: September 29, 2008, 05:43:50 PM
Finally got the chance to listen to this one. 

Before I comment, let me hand Rachel a tarp.  (She needs something to keep all the rotten fruit off... Honestly, have you seen what rotten fruit can do to your wardrobe?  It can be really hard to wash it out at times.)

I will play dissenter and say that I enjoyed this story.  As a writer of a story with another poisonous female (Li Chi in Run of the Fiery Horse) I realize that I am biased here.  There is something about the theme of the poisonous girl that really appeals to me, especially when the author takes time to explore the character's feelings about being a literal poison to those you love.  My reading of this story was pretty similar to Rachel's.  Black Kerris is one messed up girl -- created as a weapon, deprived of touch, and always having to see a twin who gets the best of everything.  Red Kerris was special, coveted, and had a claim of royal heritage.  She had laughter, dancing, and companionship.  Black Kerris only got the mere shadow of her sister's often resentful company.  I totally bought that she would want revenge, but even more want one last night of touching and human contact.

However, even I thought that the whole "Let's break your hymen by killing a guy" thing was just awful.  *Splotch!*  (Sorry Rachel.  I had to throw at least one rotten peach.  But hey, I supplied the tarp.  Remember that.)

And I won't throw a fruit over this, but I wish that the assassination attempt of the Ambassador/Governor/High Muckety-Muck had been done with more finesse.  I wanted more subtlety and better planning for the assassination attempt.

Still, over all I liked this one.

(Speaking for the Dissent)


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Reply #28 on: September 30, 2008, 01:09:00 PM
I enjoyed the story, once I got into it -- the beginning was kind of tough to follow as audio.

I agree with much of the dissent in terms of plot devices and the nurse killing herself. The "cheerful sociopath" ending was interesting, but I think it was done so the story would fit into its last line -- "I want to dance with everyone tonight."

This almost seems like a slice out of a larger piece -- how will the ambassador's death change things? Just how badly were these people trodden upon?

The thought of being completely insulated the way Black Ribbon was is kind of scary, and the fact that the touch of a stray dog's fur could evoke that kind of reaction was very powerful.

So... not necessarily a great story, but it had good points. I still liked it.

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Reply #29 on: September 30, 2008, 07:19:14 PM
I can't say that I loved it - it was interesting, kept my attention and didn't suck... the pure evil of the girl at the end was just a bit over the top.

She went from assassin to mass murderer way too fast for me.

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Reply #30 on: October 26, 2008, 10:23:31 PM
She went from assassin to mass murderer way too fast for me.

On the other hand, I never expected anything different.  She was the biggest Chekhov's gun I've seen in fiction for a long time and the logic of the story could only have been that she would shoot herself at anyone and everyone in the third act.  Alternatively, looking at the psychological angle, killing is the one and only thing that she's good at -- indeed, pretty much the only thing she can do.  Most people find that they learn to enjoy the things that come naturally to them.

I didn't have any problem with the poisonous girl as the assassination weapon either.  It was one of those things that only takes a few seconds' effort to come up with an explanatory backstory, so there's no pressing need to burden the story with it.  Some candidates: there's a long tradition of female poison assassins; it is believed to bring an especially nasty curse on the associates of the victim; it is the only method the perpetrators know of that they think won't be traced back to them; it is symbolic, the means by which the victim and/or everyone else will know that they have had their revenge.  Whatever -- it doesn't really matter, like the details of who the ambassador is, why they want to kill him, etc.  This story isn't about the murder, it's about the weapon.

I enjoyed the story just for the anticipation of how Black Ribbon would detonate.  Perhaps expecting a bit too much, I found the actual ending slightly pedestrian.


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Reply #31 on: October 29, 2008, 07:01:59 AM
a halloween tale.
dry, but i promise you it's true.


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Reply #32 on: October 29, 2008, 06:07:35 PM
a halloween tale.
dry, but i promise you it's true.

I remember that!  In fact just yesterday or the day before I was trying to remember the name of the woman in that case so I could look it up again.  Thanks for saving me the legwork.

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Reply #33 on: October 29, 2008, 06:57:51 PM
Dwango, by "time period" you mean scene breaks?

Yes, I think scene breaks should always be punctuated, in audio, by some kind of device.

Yes, scene breaks would be a good term.  I found that story 30, Grand Guignol did the pauses just perfectly.  It made a somewhat complex story much more listenable.


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Reply #34 on: January 06, 2010, 06:17:38 PM
It was an interesting idea, but the whole assassination plot was just too ridiculously silly to take even remotely seriously.  If, like ryos said, the intent of creating her as a weapon was to have a general purpose weapon, then that makes way more sense then to spend 17 years cultivating a one-shot gun.  But I didn't get that impression at all during the story. 

The core ideas are interesting, especially the human weapon which turns on its masters, and the woman with a poisonous touch.  But because the whole plot was so silly it's hard to really get into even these themes, and both of these themes have been covered by X-Men (Wolverine and Rogue respectively).  That alone isn't a criticism--X-Men have been around a long time and done a lot of stuff, so saying that alone is just like the argument "Simpsons did it!" doesn't carry much weight.  But if it'd been something I'd never seen before it might've wowed me enough to overcome the ridiculousness.

Also, I didn't understand why her nurse kissed her, and her flipout at the end seemed too much of a character change with no reason behind.  But those I can probably write off by simply saying "I didn't fully understand the character" or perhaps "To understand the insane you must be insane".