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Author Topic: EP192: Sumo21  (Read 2999 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: March 29, 2009, 07:17:26 AM »

EP192: Sumo21

By Daniel Braum.
Read by Stephen Eley

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"Oh great Emperor,” the gyoji said, continuing the ritual. “These two honorable warriors can not agree who will step aside, and who will join the sacred battle to return you to us. We would gladly send all our sons, but the Council of Infinite Japans says there may be only twenty-one. So now they must fight to decide.”

“May the best warrior join the fight,” the crowd answered in unison with the gyoji.

The gyoji stepped back. Asashoryu stared into Takanasuro’s expressionless brown eyes. The match would begin upon a tacit agreement between them. He kept Takanasuro’s mid section in his field of vision while focusing on keeping his own face blank. He knew the beginner’s lesson as if it were part of him; faces deceive and betray, but all movement starts at the hips.


Rated PG. Contains death, betrayal, hauntings, and a challenging amount of Japanese.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Rain
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2009, 02:09:57 PM »

I really liked this one but it perhaps felt a little rushed, there was enough interesting concepts for a whole book
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2009, 05:45:30 PM »

first of all, great to have Steve back, we missed ya.
as for the story, i generally liked it... the constant use of the long names got kinda annoying, and also the use of sumo moves that im sure most people dont know doesnt help with the imagery.
loved the concept tho, great plot, nice execution, etc.  So aside from the few annoyances, i'd say it was a great story!
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2009, 07:20:44 AM »

I liked it quite a bit.

If I had a problem with it anywhere, it was that I felt like there was something missing between Asashoryu and Geisha 73's first bout and Asashoryu's entry into the final tournament.

The setting, the concepts, all that stuff was great.

Having just finished Terry Pratchett's "Jingo", I was struck by the similarity of the plot -- prince plots to overthrow his own country -- but that didn't bother me.

Many stories like this -- hero stories, for lack of a better term -- seem to suffer from a right-place-right-time problem. That is, Asashoryu just HAPPENED to be the sumo that Geisha 73 chose to train, and he just HAPPENED to be the one that the prince chose to be his stalking-horse, and he just HAPPENED to be honorable enough and believe enough in the honor and rightness of winning that he got past the final boss and found the emperor, and Geisha 73 just HAPPENED to be the emperor's Kirin. Too many coincidences.

Fortunately, the story was good enough to overlook them.
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2009, 07:58:30 AM »

i wouldnt blame this story on coincidences, Asashoryu was repeatedly told that he was one of the best, so he was probably chosen carefully rather than coincidentally chosen to be trained/etc/etc.
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Zathras
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2009, 06:30:16 PM »

Well done.  I didn't see anything coincidental in this, either.  At first, I didn't care for the ending.  After giving it some time to digest, I really liked it.  The ship being launched into the Sun and granting Sumo21 his wish was a nice touch.

楽しい時を過しなさい
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2009, 11:51:49 AM »

I enjoyed this one. Really great hearing Steve host AND read!
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2009, 12:25:49 PM »

I didn't like this one but hung in until the end for some reason.  Steve's reading was great, he did a bang up job with the play-by-play of the battle scenes.  There was a lot going on there and I was able to follow along.  But the battle scenes were what pushed it over the edge for me.  It just got to be too much and too ridiculous, it reminded me of the four Pokemon movies I took my lads to when they were little tots.   Blech.
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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2009, 08:46:22 PM »

good stuff.  sometime all i want is a hero story and i'm happy that escape pod gives me one now and again. =)

i'd really like to see a full on high-magic transformative battle done up in blockbuster cgi, the last Harry Potter is the closest we've seen but it felt truncated.
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eytanz
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2009, 05:51:43 PM »

I really liked this story. As deflective said, sometimes a simple, straightforward hero story is really nice. And this was certainly a good one.


Many stories like this -- hero stories, for lack of a better term -- seem to suffer from a right-place-right-time problem. That is, Asashoryu just HAPPENED to be the sumo that Geisha 73 chose to train, and he just HAPPENED to be the one that the prince chose to be his stalking-horse, and he just HAPPENED to be honorable enough and believe enough in the honor and rightness of winning that he got past the final boss and found the emperor, and Geisha 73 just HAPPENED to be the emperor's Kirin. Too many coincidences.

Fortunately, the story was good enough to overlook them.

I didn't feel that these were coincidences - I felt that Geisha 73 - who clearly had some special abilities or knowledge - chose Asashoryu because she knew that A - he was honorable, and B - that the prince will send him into the match soon. Presumably, she had waited until an appropriate warrior came up. Yes, there's some background information unexplained here, but my overall impression was that she was working subtly behind the scenes, rather than relying on coincidences.
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JoeFitz
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2009, 08:12:08 PM »

Unfortunately for me, while I admired the craft of the story, it fell flat for me. I felt it was plodding and slow full of too many details that did not resonate (though I'm sure they were accurate). Apologies to the author and those who liked it, but all I could think of was a Mortal Kombat movie.
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« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2010, 12:21:03 PM »

Unfortunately for me, while I admired the craft of the story, it fell flat for me. I felt it was plodding and slow full of too many details that did not resonate (though I'm sure they were accurate). Apologies to the author and those who liked it, but all I could think of was a Mortal Kombat movie.

Maybe that's part of why I liked it, since I like the Mortal Kombat movie.  I'm not claiming it was Oscar-worthy or anything, but it was exactly what it promised and that was fun.

I thought this one was fun--what's not to like about a system of Infinite Japans battling amongst themselves with sumo fights in a virtual world to declare dominance.  Good times!
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Devoted135
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« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2010, 09:52:44 AM »

I went back and listened to this one this week (thanks Unblinking and kibitzer!) and really enjoyed it. I actually listened to it twice in a row because I wanted to hear the qualifying battle again once I knew where the story was going.

I do agree with Listener that there must have been a reasonably significant jump in time between his first lesson with Geisha 73 and him challenging the other sumos. However, while a transition sentence or two would have been nice, I don't think that detracted from the story in any way. If anything, it was cool being surprised and finding out the extent of what Asashoryu had learned right in the midst of battle instead of seeing him learn it in his lessons.

I would love to hear more about this world, and what the ramifications are of having so much of the population sleeping at any given time. Do they also have lives in the real world? They must, or else they would eventually die off, right? And if they fall out of the ring and become a lost soul, does their real body die or remain in a sleeping state forever? The possibilities seem endless...  Smiley
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Gamercow
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2010, 11:17:53 AM »

FWIW, Asashoryu, Kaiho, Musoyama, and Shimotori were current sumo wrestlers(rikishi) when this story was written.  Our Asashoryu is Mongolian, but(at the time of the story's writing) was considered a dai-yokozuna, one of the best wrestlers in history.  Excellent performance often leads to exceptional wrestlers from that same heya to repeat the name.  This is done to inspire the wrestler to achieve the greatness of his namesake, and possibly to transfer some of the spirit of greatness into the new wrestler.  That is a long way of saying that wrestling names often repeat, and a future yokozuna being named Asashoryu would be very possible.  Given his actions in the past 2-4 years, there is very little possibility that any future rikishi will be named Asashoryu.

The writer definitely knows quite a bit about sumo, the bout described at the beginning was a picture-perfect and accurate as you could possibly be.

I'm not sure why I was left with a mediocre response to this the first time I heard it, as a second listening has shown it to be right up my alley, and quite enjoyable.  
« Last Edit: December 02, 2010, 11:20:18 AM by Gamercow » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2010, 09:26:29 AM »

I do agree with Listener that there must have been a reasonably significant jump in time between his first lesson with Geisha 73 and him challenging the other sumos. However, while a transition sentence or two would have been nice, I don't think that detracted from the story in any way. If anything, it was cool being surprised and finding out the extent of what Asashoryu had learned right in the midst of battle instead of seeing him learn it in his lessons.

If it was a movie they could have a training montage scene with suitably cheesy 80s rock music in the background.  Alas, I don't think that sort of scene would transfer well to text.  Smiley
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