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Author Topic: PC027: Red Riding-Hood’s Child  (Read 34512 times)

Heradel

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on: September 30, 2008, 04:31:56 AM
PC027: Red Riding-Hood’s Child

By N. K. Jemisin.
Read by Rajan Khanna.
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky.
First appeared in Fishnet Magazine.

Once upon a time in a tiny woodland village there lived an orphan boy. As his mother had been less than proper in her ways — she died unwed, known well to several men — the villagers were not kindly-disposed toward the tiny burden she left behind. They were not heartless, however. They reared young Anrin with as much tenderness as a child of low breeding could expect, and they taught him the value of honest labor so that he might repay their kindness before his mother’s ways took root.

By the cusp of manhood — that age when worthier lads began to consider a trade and marriage — Anrin had become a youth of fortitude and peculiar innocence. The villagers kept him at arms’ length from their homes and their hearts, so he chose instead to dwell within an eccentric world of his own making. The horses and pigs snorted greetings when he came to feed them, and he offered solemn, courtly bows in response. When the villagers sent him unarmed into the forest to fetch wood, he went eagerly. Alone amid the dappled shadows he felt less lonely than usual, and the trees’ whispers were never cruel.

Indeed, Anrin’s fascination with the forest was a source of great anxiety to the old woodcutter’s widow who boarded him at nights. She warned him of the dangers: poison mushrooms and hidden pitfalls and choking, stinging ivies. And wolves, of course; always the wolves. “Stay on the path, and stay close to the village,” she cautioned. “The smell of men keeps predators away… most of the time.”


Rated X. Contains sex and wolves.

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wintermute

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Reply #1 on: September 30, 2008, 11:57:46 AM
Did not like.

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Hilary Moon Murphy

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Reply #2 on: September 30, 2008, 07:01:59 PM
Mmm... Rajan Khanna's lovely voice reading wolf smut.  What could be better?

I found this story's arc fairly predictible, but I enjoyed listening to it unfold.  And I was so pleased to hear Mr. Khanna narrating again!

Hmm


thomasowenm

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Reply #3 on: September 30, 2008, 08:06:04 PM
Care for a strawberry little boy??? :-*  I am definitely  do not enjoy slash, however if someone was able to overlook the erotic elements (but I couldn't) this story  had great potential.  A child of Red's growing up alone with wolf blood.  This could have really been something, learning to deal with his two separate natures, but it only dealt with his sexuality (what a disappointment).



stePH

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Reply #4 on: September 30, 2008, 08:28:28 PM
Care for a strawberry little boy??? :-*  I am definitely  do not enjoy slash, however if someone was able to overlook the erotic elements (but I couldn't) this story  had great potential.  A child of Red's growing up alone with wolf blood.  This could have really been something, learning to deal with his two separate natures, but it only dealt with his sexuality (what a disappointment).

Please ... the gay blacksmith is almost as cliche as the hardware store owner who wears ladies' underwear.  ;D

But seriously ... didn't love the story, didn't hate it.  Not a complete waste of my listening time but not a particularly good use of it either.

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Void Munashii

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Reply #5 on: October 01, 2008, 03:50:36 AM
  Do not want!

  I certainly cannot say I was not well warned at the beginning of the story, but I listened to it anyway. I'm not sorry I listened or anything, but furry slash is not my cup of strawberries. Cheers for trying something new, but please feel free to keep the furry slash for a new podcast, Furry-Pawed maybe. ;)

  It was a learning experience though; I always thought lycanthropy was just spread through the bite, I did not realize it was an STD. Makes sense though.

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stePH

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Reply #6 on: October 01, 2008, 04:09:02 AM
 Cheers for trying something new, but please feel free to keep the furry slash for a new podcast, Furry-Pawed maybe. ;)

 :D

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Old Man Parker

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Reply #7 on: October 01, 2008, 05:59:54 AM
Gay werewolfs? You go GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR-irl!

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wintermute

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Reply #8 on: October 01, 2008, 12:02:20 PM
feel free to keep the furry slash for a new podcast, Furry-Pawed maybe.
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zZzacha

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Reply #9 on: October 01, 2008, 01:00:41 PM
wOw... Podcastle has such nice stories about fairies and castles and dragons. So cute and sweet and dragony.

This story was a bit shocking for the image I had of Podcastle stories. It was so dark. I kept expecting a sweet princess to come and save the boy so that he wouldn't get raped by anyone. She never came. Not even a dragon. I honestly never expected such a heavy, dark horror story in the listing of Podcastle. No, I'm not starting a thread about genres or anything, I just never expected such a dark story in this corner of the Pods.

Besides the darkness of the story, I expected a different ending. Usually I'm a bit disappointed when a story seems to go in some direction and at The End you find out that it really did just that: go in that direction and I never got to be surprised by a different option along the way. I love being surprised, and this story did no such thing.

Looking forward to next week's episode, because overall, Podcastle has great stories :)

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Hatton

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Reply #10 on: October 01, 2008, 02:20:25 PM
Amazingly, I managed to listen to this story all the way to the end without my homophobia kicking in!

Very dark, Grimm-esque tale, well written and read to perfection.  I would have rather had the child be a girl, would have made more sense with the strawberries and the wolf, but since alpha dogs will hump lower dogs to force them to submit, I don't see where wolves or even werewolves would be any different.  Maybe that's why I didn't stop listening, I know at least that much about the animal kingdom.

I'm surprised that more people haven't liked the tone of this tale - not every fantasy story can be about the Paladin or the Mage.  Even the Thief in fantasy lore gets off easy.  The dark and middle ages were messy, ugly places where ignorance was the rule rather than the exception.  It's nice to see a story that shows that.

Technical note - there was a hum in part of the recording and not in the other... made me think, "well, guess they had to pause for a while."

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DaveQat

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Reply #11 on: October 01, 2008, 06:48:05 PM
I really liked this...  Of course, I might be a bit biased on that score.  I liked the spin on the classic fairy tale motifs, including the poor corrupted innocent, since he seemed to enjoy his corruption quite a bit, thank you very much.



Ocicat

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Reply #12 on: October 01, 2008, 08:27:58 PM
I quite liked the atmosphere.  And for the record, I'm glad the protagonist was a boy rather than a girl.  Sure, I'm a heterosexual male, and might have thought the wolfsex was hotter if it was heterosexual - but I think it was meant to be a bit disturbing, and not just hot.  And I'm well aware that young boys are sexually preyed upon, and it tends to get vastly under reported. 

But ya, about that wolfsex.  It did devolve a bit into Slash territory.  Which is a shame, since the general atmosphere was so dark and well done. 



Void Munashii

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Reply #13 on: October 01, 2008, 09:04:00 PM
I quite liked the atmosphere.  And for the record, I'm glad the protagonist was a boy rather than a girl.  Sure, I'm a heterosexual male, and might have thought the wolfsex was hotter if it was heterosexual - but I think it was meant to be a bit disturbing, and not just hot.

  The wolf could have been having it off with Scarlett Johansson, and I still would not have found it hot. I agree though, it seems pretty clear to me that it was meant to be a disturbing scene regardless how hot one may or may not have found it.

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eytanz

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Reply #14 on: October 02, 2008, 01:14:29 AM
I liked the story a lot. And I was surprised by people who saw it as overly dark - yes, it starts out pretty bad for our young hero, but by the end he gets a lover and the ability to turn into a wolf. I'd say he did quite well for himself.

I did find the sex scene somewhat ridiculous; I found myself wishing it was either less explicit, or moreso, but the line about how a part of the wolf's body that was previously deflated was now sticking out, without actually naming the bodypart in question, felt a bit juvenile to me.



ThunderBunny

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Reply #15 on: October 02, 2008, 03:26:52 AM
I've loved pretty much everything that PodCastle has had to offer, and this was no exception.

You picked the perfect narrator, he had the perfect voice for this.  And yes, I'm gay and I found the sex to be a bit hot.  But, I was imagining him more in his human-esque form when they were together.

Anyway, kudos to the author for stepping outside and having some gay leads.  I love my podcast community and the fantasy stories I've found out there and this is the first one (that I've found) to feature a gay themed story.

Well done and keep them coming!



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Reply #16 on: October 02, 2008, 11:05:18 AM
 >:(

"...this week's Podcastle brought to you by NAMBLA."

I really believe in freedom of speech and expression, but this particular subject gives me the creeps.  Having been a prosecutor for the past 12 years, I have seen people who use this type of "first experience" literature as inspiration for bringing their own criminal fantasies into reality.  And then use it as a justification for the harm they have done, saying that if society approves because it is published, it must be all right, regardless of the damage done to the victim.  You, as the publisher, may not intend for that to be your message.  But that is what some take away from that particular episode.



eytanz

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Reply #17 on: October 02, 2008, 11:27:23 AM
Um, what? I don't know how old the protagonist was, but I'm pretty sure he was of age.



Void Munashii

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Reply #18 on: October 02, 2008, 12:21:56 PM
>:(

"...this week's Podcastle brought to you by NAMBLA."

I really believe in freedom of speech and expression, but this particular subject gives me the creeps.  Having been a prosecutor for the past 12 years, I have seen people who use this type of "first experience" literature as inspiration for bringing their own criminal fantasies into reality.  And then use it as a justification for the harm they have done, saying that if society approves because it is published, it must be all right, regardless of the damage done to the victim.  You, as the publisher, may not intend for that to be your message.  But that is what some take away from that particular episode.

  How old did you think the main character was? I pegged him as being at least in his mid-teens, being past the age at which most boys pick a trade and all.

  I can see that you have a unique perspective on that sort of subject matter, but I would hate for any of the Escape Artists editors to ever reject a story because they are afraid of what a very small segment of the population might take from it.

  In any case, I'm pretty sure the kiddy-fiddlers can find plenty of their preferred reading material around the net without having to resort to coming here.

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Reply #19 on: October 02, 2008, 01:28:04 PM
Hey, all -- N. K. Jemisin here, the story's author.  Was going to stay silent and just watch from the sidelines on this one, but I guess I'd better clear a couple of things up.

For those who see this story as an endorsement of child porn... Well, I guess it could be read that way if you squint and tilt your head sideways.  But I would've just let the smith rape Anrin if that was the case, and I would've just eroticized that rape.  And I would have made Anrin specifically a child, rather than old enough to marry in his society as I noted early on in the story.  In medieval Europe, boys generally married (if they had the money and status to marry) around age 17 or 18.

For those who would rather have seen this story done with a female protagonist so that the sex could be het -- just note, I probably would have had to make her 12 or 13, the usual age of marriage for girls in that era.  It wouldn't be realistic for a girl in her position to have reached 17 untouched.  But if that's your preference, there are actually quite a few Red Riding Hood stories out there which place a female protagonist in a sexual victim's role.  Red Riding Hood itself can be read that way; there are literally dozens of versions of this tale, and not all of them treat the sexuality in a symbolic/allegorical manner.  For example, I read a version in which she had to buy the woodcutter's help to save her grandmother, using the only currency she had.

Double standards re gender roles is one of the reasons I went the direction I did with this story.  (How interesting that so many people have fixed on the mention of slash in the intro, but not the mention of deconstruction!)

Anyway, for more explorations of this myth in heterosexual directions: in addition to the Sondheim musical mentioned in the intro, the cult classic movie "A Company of Wolves" plays more explicitly with this concept  (though the female protag is probably about Anrin's age, not the more usual 12).  It's also not porn, but still pretty blatantly sexual, hairy-palmed men and all.  For literary takes on the concept, I'd recommend Snow White, Blood Red, an anthology edited by Datlow and Windling from about 10 years ago http://www.amazon.com/Snow-White-Blood-Ellen-Datlow/dp/0380718758.  They did several "adult reworkings of fairy tales" anths, as I recall, but this is the one I read.  Not just the RRH myth in that one, but they take on a number of the classic fairy tales and the not-so-hidden dark sexuality of their original, unsanitized/unmodernized forms.  (I remember them noting one early version of Sleeping Beauty that featured her waking to the suckling of her infant child, not the prince's kiss -- the prince had already been there, raped her in her sleep, and was long gone.)

For those who'd like to see other homoerotic takes on wolf mythology (though not Red Riding-Hood in this case), there's a German film called "The Wolves of Kromer" (sp? Maybe Kroemer) that does an interesting depiction.

Oh, almost forgot; a few more clarifications.  a) Anrin was not raped by the wolf.  I'm not sure why people are referring to this as rape; I tried to draw a pretty clear concept between what the smith tried to force (rape) and what Anrin chose (not rape).  b) The wolf was in human form during the sex scene.  (Wolves can't have sex in the missionary position as far as I know.)  And c) The sex also had nothing to do with dominance/submission.  There are a number of species in which we've observed homosexual pairbonds in nature; it's rare but it happens.  Wolves, who mate for life, are one of these species.

I tend to believe that a story speaks for itself; a writer should never "explain" her work, because if she has to do that then she didn't do a good job of writing it in the first place.  But I'm seeing some misconceptions here that don't make sense, and I'm not sure whether that's my fault or something else is going on, so I hope this clears things up for everyone.



eytanz

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Reply #20 on: October 02, 2008, 01:45:57 PM
Double standards re gender roles is one of the reasons I went the direction I did with this story.  (How interesting that so many people have fixed on the mention of slash in the intro, but not the mention of deconstruction!)

Well, slash may be shocking to some and worthy of attention, but the D-word is just perverse and wrong and utterly unspeakable ;)

Quote
 (Wolves can't have sex in the missionary position as far as I know.)

Not with another wolf, but they probably could with a human.

I must say I've been very surprised by the rape comments as well. I thought the story made it very, very clear that the sex was consensual. I guess that if one read the story thinking of Anrin as a child it could be viewed as false consent, but I don't think the story supports that either.



wintermute

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Reply #21 on: October 02, 2008, 02:31:32 PM
just note, I probably would have had to make her 12 or 13, the usual age of marriage for girls in that era.  It wouldn't be realistic for a girl in her position to have reached 17 untouched.
The average age of marriage in noble families, where an early alliance was advantageous, was between 16 and 18. In peasant families, where marriage was of no consequence for anyone other than the couple, the average age of marriage was between 18 and 22. This, of course, varies, depending on exactly when you intend "that era" to be, and what country you're talking about. But at no point anywhere in medieval Europe would the marriage of a 12-year-old girl be considered normal. In Britain between the 13th and 16th centuries, for example, the legal minimum age for marriage was 24.

True, there were a small handful of high-profile diplomatic weddings that involved minors (Prince Arthur, Henry VIII's brother, married Catherine of Aragon when he was 14; and Henry Tudor married the 12-year-old Margaret Beaufort), but these examples are notable for their rarity.

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stePH

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Reply #22 on: October 02, 2008, 04:26:01 PM
True, there were a small handful of high-profile diplomatic weddings that involved minors (Prince Arthur, Henry VIII's brother, married Catherine of Aragon when he was 14; and Henry Tudor married the 12-year-old Margaret Beaufort), but these examples are notable for their rarity.

And don't forget the marriage of Princess Leia of Hungary to Prince Edmund "The Black Adder"  ;D
« Last Edit: October 02, 2008, 04:31:43 PM by stePH »

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Reply #23 on: October 02, 2008, 04:38:03 PM
The story was vivid and interesting, but I didn't like it for a couple of reasons:

1. The word "gaze" seemed like it was used once every couple of minutes. I am helping to edit a friend's romance novel, so maybe I'm sensitized to it, but seriously... gaze... hit the thesaurus.

2. It felt more like erotica because the sex was the climactic activity. I would almost have expected this on Nobilis's podcast, not PodCastle.

Nothing against erotica -- I write plenty of it myself -- but when the intro said the first time the author read Red Riding Hood was right around the time she was introduced to slash fic, I knew exactly where this story was going. Another instance of the intro spoiling the story to some extent.

The reading was good. I liked how the reader sped up and slowed down in places to make the story flow better.

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Reply #24 on: October 02, 2008, 05:49:24 PM
Nothing against erotica -- I write plenty of it myself -- but when the intro said the first time the author read Red Riding Hood was right around the time she was introduced to slash fic, I knew exactly where this story was going. Another instance of the intro spoiling the story to some extent.

  I can see how it could be considered spoilage, but I also view it as a fair warning. The warning at the top of the show was only for sexual content, which I am not a huge fan of in fiction, but it's okay if I know about it in advance. I think my reaction to the story would have been more negative had I gotten to that point and discovered surprise furry sex; although I suppose if I did not see it coming, I would deserve it.

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