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Author Topic: PC045: The Annals of Eelin-Ok  (Read 11754 times)
Heradel
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« on: March 25, 2009, 07:25:30 AM »

PodCastle 045: The Annals of Eelin-Ok

by Jeffrey Ford.
Read by Rajan Khanna.

…there is only one way to truly understand the nature of the Twilmish, and that is to meet one of them. So here, I will relate for you the biography of an individual of their kind. All of what follows will have taken place on the evening of a perfect summer day after you had left the beach, and will occupy the time between tides–from when you had sat down to dinner and five hours later when you laid your head upon the pillow to sleep. There seemed to you to be barely enough time to eat your chicken and potatoes, sneak your carrots to the dog beneath the table, clean up, watch your favorite tv show, draw a picture of a pirate with an eye patch and a parrot upon her shoulder, brush your teeth and kiss your parents goodnight. To understand the Twilmish, though, is to understand that in a mere moment, all can be saved or lost, an ingenious idea can be born, a kingdom can fall, love can grow, and life can discover its meaning.

Rated PG. Contains fae and sandcastles.
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eytanz
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2009, 01:35:37 PM »

First, let me make a meta-comment. The past few weeks have been interesting for me, in that all four stories appear in anthologies I own (3 of them, indeed, from the same book). So I've read them before.

And I was really, really glad that this story was chosen, as I really love it. It is a thing of beauty, on quite a few levels. The only criticism I would have is that the massive infodump in the beginning, setting up the background, does not carry as well to audio format. But once that was over with, the remaining story more than makes up for it.
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2009, 04:06:06 PM »

Quote
all four stories appear in anthologies I own (3 of them, indeed, from the same book)

What are your favorites from that antho? There are two others I'd consider running at some point (both because they fall into categories we rarely see good fiction in). I'm just curious.
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2009, 11:14:53 AM »

I was really worried about this story because of all the "foreword" that the author included. But once the story started, I was hooked. I really, really liked this one and it was acted extremely well. Other than the foreword I only had one other problem: Didn't Eelin-Ok say that the red ball disappeared into the water? Well, that would mean he's on the west coast. But then the sun rose from the water... so he'd be on the east coast. Unless he's on a north coast or south coast, that part of the story made no sense.

I suppose I could echo a concern from others who've said PC sometimes equates elves and faery, and in this case I'd have to agree... I think Eelin-Ok's people self-identified as faeries, not elves. But I didn't really care one way or the other.
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2009, 05:43:01 PM »

What a charming story.  And the conceit of how the castles have to be constructed seemed a very natural thing.

Where were the elves, though?
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2009, 09:11:32 PM »

I really enjoyed this story and, as a departure from the couple other posts I've seen (respectfully, though, I should say) I enjoyed the introduction.  For me, it reminded me of how I would be told a tale around a campfire when I was a boy.  In many ways, this is probably the only way I can abide an "info dump":  in the format of a spoken tale in the second-person.

When the narrator breaks the fourth wall and sits back, speaking to me in conversational tone, I'm eased into the tale in a way that makes me feel the world more readily as it develops in the words that are woven into the sentences.  Perhaps it works best in an audio format and not written; I'm not sure ... perhaps I'd have to read it to be certain.  But here, on PodCastle, I loved every second of it!

Thank you, for a lovely tale!

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2009, 11:14:10 PM »

A charming, well read and well written tale. I really really like the idea of magic living/taking form in the innocent hand created sand castles of youth. I know I always peopled mine with pixies/faries. Pretty little tale, sad but deep at the end, the way it had to be.

I have gotta agree on the speculation on if these are elves at all.
 Magic folk- to me almost always count as amoung the Fae, but elfen? I see elves as a sub species, but really as I've pointed out before, that's me.   And, since I really really liked this story? I'm not gonna argue. The editor and slushpile reader get final say, I get to listen and enjoy. In this case, I'm a happy camper.
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eytanz
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2009, 05:03:38 AM »

Quote
all four stories appear in anthologies I own (3 of them, indeed, from the same book)

What are your favorites from that antho? There are two others I'd consider running at some point (both because they fall into categories we rarely see good fiction in). I'm just curious.

Not that easy a question to answer, as it's been a while since I read the book. The only story that really stood out for me was this one - most of the others were good, but this was the only real masterpiece among them. On the other hand, you already ran the one that was my clear least favorite when I read it (Immersed in Matter), which, as I said in that thread, improved in audio form. So, I think I'll be happy with whichever stories you run, as long as it's not over the next couple of weeks (since I'm sort of hoping for stories that are new to me Smiley ).
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Kaa
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2009, 09:51:15 AM »

Oh, yes. Yes, yes, and again yes.  This is one of the better Podcastles.  As others have said, the "infodump" at the beginning worried me a bit (and made me think twice about a story I wrote that has an infodump at the start), but once I realized it was a framing story filling in as a book's "Foreword" would, I liked it.  And the story wouldn't have made much sense without it, since the Twilmish are an "invented" faerie. Smiley

The story itself was charming, well-written, and poignant.

Well done on both the author's and reader's parts.
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2009, 10:45:26 AM »

I was really worried about this story because of all the "foreword" that the author included. But once the story started, I was hooked. I really, really liked this one and it was acted extremely well. Other than the foreword I only had one other problem: Didn't Eelin-Ok say that the red ball disappeared into the water? Well, that would mean he's on the west coast. But then the sun rose from the water... so he'd be on the east coast. Unless he's on a north coast or south coast, that part of the story made no sense.

I had the same boggle.  When the moon rose I had to scroll back to where the sun set and confirm that it set into the sea.  Kind of like in Stephen King's The Drawing of the Three where Roland the Gunslinger is heading north on a western beach, but the sea is to his right.

As for the story itself, I'm in the minority here ... the "foreword" is the only part I found interesting.  Once the diary translation started I was bored very quickly.
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« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2009, 03:07:30 PM »

I enjoyed it... but I'm with Steph - the intro was actually more enjoyable.  It set up all the ideas, which are great!  The execution of them left something to be desired, at least for me.  Because I, ah, overthink things.  Like the Sun setting over the water, and the moon rising over the water.  Like the water not being at it's high point yet when the moon is directly overhead (which is your basic condition for a lunar high tide).  Like why the ship faeries age as fast as the Twilmish - doesn't make a lot of sense. 

Basically there wasn't anything in the story that really reached out and grabbed me.  The basic idea did - but the actual fights against the rats and the romance with the ship fairy were just kind of there.  Well okay, the sand flea dog was pretty awesome, actually.
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2009, 04:44:21 PM »

Okay, I had to look this stuff up, to see if I was just crazy.  I probably am, because I used Wikipedia, but at least I have some backup for what I thought was true.

Regarding the sun setting into the water vs the moon rising from it:

First of all, the moon's orbit is not in the same plane as that of the earth's, so even with a shoreline that takes up exactly 180 degrees of the horizon (he hinted) it's entirely possible for the moon to rise out of water and the sun to set in it, in whatever order.

Secondly, if you were on a smallish island (say, for a beach vacation - when else do your kids have time to build a sand castle?), facing north on a curved coastline, it's likely you would (seem to) see both the sun and moon rise from and set into water.  The farther south you go during the Northern Hemisphere's summer, the more likely that would be.

Look up Taipei, for instance, on your favourite mapping website and imagine the sunrise and sunset there.  Or Port Austin, Michigan.  I bet Jeffrey Ford lives in or has visited just such a place.

The East and West coasts are not the only shorelines available, even if you forget there are places in the world other than the U.S. Smiley

Regarding:
Quote
the water not being at it's high point yet when the moon is directly overhead (which is your basic condition for a lunar high tide)

My vague recollection from a long time ago was that the tides actually lag behind the moon somewhat, but in a short search, I can find no specific support of that claim, so I may have misread or just have dreamt it.  However, what I was able to find was this bit from Wikipedia's article on tides (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide):

Quote
The shape of the shoreline and the ocean floor change the way that tides propagate, so there is no simple, general rule for predicting the time of high water from the position of the Moon in the sky.

Finally:

Hello!  Fairies!  Sandcastle fairies!  Ship fairies!  Imaginary beings!  And you quibble about where the moon rises?
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2009, 05:12:20 PM »

I enjoyed it... but I'm with Steph - the intro was actually more enjoyable.  It set up all the ideas, which are great!  The execution of them left something to be desired, at least for me.  Because I, ah, overthink things.  Like the Sun setting over the water, and the moon rising over the water.  Like the water not being at it's high point yet when the moon is directly overhead (which is your basic condition for a lunar high tide).  Like why the ship faeries age as fast as the Twilmish - doesn't make a lot of sense. 

Basically there wasn't anything in the story that really reached out and grabbed me.  The basic idea did - but the actual fights against the rats and the romance with the ship fairy were just kind of there.  Well okay, the sand flea dog was pretty awesome, actually.

By the way, speaking of things one may overthink - and I should stress that in this case, I was totally taken by the story and this only occured to me later - why are the rats moving at normal speed? If the Twilmish (and, apparently, the ship faeries) can live an entire lifetime in a few hours, then in the time a rat would take to lunge at one, then he should have time to get out of the rat's way, have breakfast, brush his teeth, straighten his hat, and leisurely stroll back to the rat and kill it before it has time to react.
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2009, 05:15:41 PM »

The rats, the bird, the ... well actually sandfleas *do* move pretty fast, so no problem there.

And ya ya, it's fantasy.  I wouldn't quibble if it was presented as a kids story, actually.  But to really sell a fantasy I think the non-fantasy elements should be realistic. 
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2009, 06:03:38 PM »

Quote
in the time a rat would take to lunge at one, then he should have time to get out of the rat's way, have breakfast, brush his teeth, straighten his hat, and leisurely stroll back to the rat and kill it before it has time to react.

Somebody's been watching Over the Hedge Cheesy
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« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2009, 06:05:47 PM »

Quote
in the time a rat would take to lunge at one, then he should have time to get out of the rat's way, have breakfast, brush his teeth, straighten his hat, and leisurely stroll back to the rat and kill it before it has time to react.

Somebody's been watching Over the Hedge Cheesy

Or reading Terry Pratchett's "Bromeliad" trilogy, more likely.
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« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2009, 06:11:42 PM »

You know, given how long the intro was, I thought I would have disliked it, but it completely helped draw me into the story.  Despite the very micro-focus, the addition of the introduction gave the impression of a greater world around this castle beyond even just the beach resort.

Somehow this addition of a much larger fictional world made the focus on the smaller events of this short-lived fairy that much more meaningful.

(I agree on the whole "Elves are not fairies" comment, though.)


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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2009, 08:27:23 PM »

Quote
Not that easy a question to answer, as it's been a while since I read the book. The only story that really stood out for me was this one - most of the others were good, but this was the only real masterpiece among them. On the other hand, you already ran the one that was my clear least favorite when I read it (Immersed in Matter), which, as I said in that thread, improved in audio form. So, I think I'll be happy with whichever stories you run, as long as it's not over the next couple of weeks (since I'm sort of hoping for stories that are new to me  ).

No worries. I haven't bought either of the other two stories I pondered, so there's nothing else from that anthology on our list.

The original plan for elf month was only supposed to have two stories from Faery Reel -- it wasn't supposed to include "De La Tierra" (which I'd planned to run separately as an action story for when we had too many contemplative pieces in a row). I'd hoped to include a gorgeous novella-length piece by Susanna Clarke which would have run as a giant. Unfortunately, the reprint rights didn't work out.

If people want to chase that one down, though, it's called "Mr. Simonelli, or the Fairy Widower" and you can find it in the Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling anthology Black Heart, Ivory Bones.
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« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2009, 11:36:51 PM »

I knew I was in for a treat when I was totallly hooked and charmed within 15 seconds of the story starting, and I was not let down.

Wonderfully imaginative. A thing of beauty! Makes me wish I'd dreamt up sand castle faeries first Cheesy
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eytanz
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« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2009, 02:17:12 AM »

The original plan for elf month was only supposed to have two stories from Faery Reel -- it wasn't supposed to include "De La Tierra" (which I'd planned to run separately as an action story for when we had too many contemplative pieces in a row). I'd hoped to include a gorgeous novella-length piece by Susanna Clarke which would have run as a giant. Unfortunately, the reprint rights didn't work out.

If people want to chase that one down, though, it's called "Mr. Simonelli, or the Fairy Widower" and you can find it in the Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling anthology Black Heart, Ivory Bones.

Heh - it's also in The Ladies of Grace Adieu, which I also own, so for me at least it would still have been a month of re-acquaintances (not that I'm complaining, mind you - I did enjoy the past few weeks a lot, as the audio presentation clearly does make a difference. I just think I'm ready for a new story Smiley ).

Though I heartily support the recommendation that people seek this story out. It is quite wonderful.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 02:19:15 AM by eytanz » Logged
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