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Author Topic: PC048: “I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,” the Manticore Said  (Read 13010 times)
Heradel
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« on: April 15, 2009, 02:20:00 PM »

PC048: “I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,” the Manticore Said

by Cat Rambo.
Read by Elizabeth Green Musselman.

There is a tacit understanding between a beast trainer and her charges, whether it be great cats, cunning dragons, or apes and other man-like creatures. They know, and the trainer knows, that as long as certain lines aren’t crossed, that if certain expectations are met, everything will be fine and no one will get hurt.

That’s not to say I didn’t keep an eye on Bupus, watching for a twitch to his tail, the way one bulbous eye would go askew when anger was brewing. A beast’s a beast, after all, and not responsible for what they do when circumstances push them too far. Beasts still, no matter how they speak or smile or woo.

At any rate, Bupus felt obliged to maintain his reputation whenever another wagon or traveler was in earshot.

“Gnaw your bones,” he rumbled, rolling a vast oversized eyeball back at me. The woman he was trying to impress shrieked and dropped her chickens, which vanished in a white flutter among the blackberry vines and ferns that began where the road’s ground stone gave way to forest. A blue-headed jay screamed in alarm from a pine.

Rated PG. Contains some violence, and a number of circus creatures.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 02:21:38 PM by Heradel » Logged

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stePH
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2009, 03:57:14 PM »

Haven't listened yet, but the title reminds me of Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.
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Heradel
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2009, 04:02:58 PM »

Haven't listened yet, but the title reminds me of Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said.

Which remains one of the better ways of saying "Screw you punk".
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Listener
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2009, 07:39:23 AM »

Pretty good reading, though I heard a hiccup.

I'm not a huge fan of Cat Rambo's stories; of all the ones I've heard on EA, only one has really struck me as being "good" (in my opinion; YMMV). This one seemed like she wanted to tell a story about a fantasy circus and tacked on the whole thing about the fey at the end. I could be wrong, but that's how it felt when I heard it. The characterization was interesting, the setting was interesting, but the story seemed kind of cliche, like I'd heard all those elements (except the circus) and she was just assembling them in order.

The story itself was fine to listen to, if a bit unsatisfying. Except the ending, when they're at the stream and the manticore talks to her. I felt like something was missing, like the narrator missed a line or the editor was laying in a new cut and overwrote something or whatever. Was it just me? Or was that intentional? It threw me even after I listened to it three times, and I eventually gave up on trying to understand it.

Soooo... I'll give it 2.5 stars (out of five).
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Zathras
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2009, 01:06:40 PM »

I agree with Listener.  It was enjoyable, but left me wondering where the purpose was.  Were we supposed to think that she was going to dull the manticore?
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stePH
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« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2009, 07:55:22 PM »

It was okay.  There are worse ways I could have spent the time listening to it.

And again I find it astonishing that something I posted was judged quoteworthy for the feedback section of the podcast. Shocked
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2009, 08:06:41 PM »

I have to agree with the consensus here. A good story, but...puzzling. I felt as though there was some kind of subtext I just wasn't picking up on. Something about intelligence and misunderstanding, maybe...

The description of "dulling" gave me a chill. That's pretty much a frontal lobotomy, isn't it?
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Ocicat
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« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2009, 03:40:43 AM »

Enjoyed it for the fantasy candy aspect of it.  A traveling circus with fantasy monsters is just cool, though of course done in The Last Unicorn - they even had a manticore.  Still, I spent half the story thinking about what monsters I would and wouldn't want in a zoo.  Flying ones are hard to keep but doable.  Things that breath fire or turn you to stone with a gaze are more problematic.  Talking monsters are of course their own kind of problematic... hum, leaving out those three categories, what's even left?!?

...I may have missed parts of the story while on this train of thought...

like what was up with the bunnies?  And am I really supposed to be scared of them?  Bunnies?  And so Fae are monster people constrained by their natures to do... what exactly?  And hey look!  Elves!  After Elf week is over!  With the cold iron bit and everything!  Better elves than 3 out of 4 Elf week main stories, actually.

So ya.  Fun enough.  Not giving it any great thought though.
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eytanz
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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2009, 04:59:33 AM »

So, I think this story was trying to make some sort of point about the "beasts vs. people" distinction. But it was sort of lost in the mounds of exposition. I think the story would have been better off trying to be either a story about lief in a touring fantasy circus, or a story about the moral distinction between men and beasts and the morality of making such a distinction, or a novel/novella. But this story tried to deliver on too many fronts at once and didn't quite succeed. Interesting ideas and setting, but not interesting storytelling.
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Lionman
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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2009, 08:34:59 AM »

I have to agree with the consensus here. A good story, but...puzzling. I felt as though there was some kind of subtext I just wasn't picking up on. Something about intelligence and misunderstanding, maybe...

The description of "dulling" gave me a chill. That's pretty much a frontal lobotomy, isn't it?

I'm going to land squarely in this camp as well.  Puzzling would sort of be the word of the day here.  It flowed, but didn't quite convey, I feel, what the writer was really meaning to share, or at least not clearly.

And when it was over and done with, I had to sort of shudder a bit and go 'eww.'  Because yes, the 'dulling' was described as a frontal lobotomy as has been performed on humans in the past.  In fact, that was perhaps the piece that evoked the strongest emotion in this story.  When I had the opportunity to parse and consider that, it left a bad taste in my mouth.  But, perhaps that was really where the writered wanted to go with this story?  Perhaps this was more of a story meant for us to think about how we tend to treat our pets, whether what we do to them is as barbaric as this story nonchalantly implies?

Either way, that was a little ..eww. :-/
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Zathras
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« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2009, 09:05:56 AM »

I forgot all about the zombie bunnies!  Zombie bunnies rawk!
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2009, 02:36:40 AM »

I have to wonder how long ago the story, or maybe just its intro, was recorded.  Ann says, "It's read for us by Elizabeth Green Musselman, who hosts a monthly podcast on the history of science, medicine and technology, called 'The Missing Link'..."

I thought to myself, that sounds pretty cool, I should check that out! Happily, as they always say, 'links in this intro can be found on our web page,' so I checked out the (happily) not missing 'Missing Link' link.  Cheesy

Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the podcast is on indefinite hiatus and has been since October, due to the amount of time Musselman put into the production and her unwillingness to let its quality suffer.  (This speaks well of her commitment to quality in the podcast, and I have no complaint with her decision to put her 'cast on hiatus, even if there are only 14 episodes.  That's 14 more than I knew about before.)

What surprises me is Ann referring to The Missing Link in the present tense.

Anyway, that being said, I don't want to be just a complainer so I should mention that I quite liked Musselman's reading; she's now up there among my favourite readers on PC, along with M. K. Hobson.

I'm always a little surprised when I come to this forum and read people's complaints about how the story held no 'deep inner meaning' for them, or had no 'purpose' revealed at the end.  I mostly just enjoy the stories for themselves without looking for further meaning than just a decent, and decently told, tale.  I guess I haven't had enough indoctrination in English classes...
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stePH
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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2009, 09:25:37 AM »

I'm always a little surprised when I come to this forum and read people's complaints about how the story held no 'deep inner meaning' for them, or had no 'purpose' revealed at the end.  I mostly just enjoy the stories for themselves without looking for further meaning than just a decent, and decently told, tale.  I guess I haven't had enough indoctrination in English classes...
Smiley I'm glad to hear that.  I was always lost in those classroom discussions about "the pickle is a symbol of the fascist oppressors" or whatever (usually chiming in with "I just don't see it), though I eventually learned to fake it when required to.  I'm not a very critical reader, and when I read or hear a story, I just enjoy it ... or I don't.
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Zathras
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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2009, 09:27:52 AM »

For me it's not a case of "deeper meaning".  In this story, there seemed to be no point.  It seemed as if it was truncated at the end.  It was rolling along and I was really enjoying it and then bleh.
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eytanz
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« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2009, 10:06:56 AM »

I'm always a little surprised when I come to this forum and read people's complaints about how the story held no 'deep inner meaning' for them, or had no 'purpose' revealed at the end.  I mostly just enjoy the stories for themselves without looking for further meaning than just a decent, and decently told, tale.  I guess I haven't had enough indoctrination in English classes...
Smiley I'm glad to hear that.  I was always lost in those classroom discussions about "the pickle is a symbol of the fascist oppressors" or whatever (usually chiming in with "I just don't see it), though I eventually learned to fake it when required to.  I'm not a very critical reader, and when I read or hear a story, I just enjoy it ... or I don't.

I am a critical reader, but that comes afterwards - in most cases (except if the story itself is very idea-oriented), my first reaction is enjoyment or not, and then I start thinking about ideas.

But I think Wilson Fowlie is being a bit unfair here to the forumites - like Newt says, most of the criticism isn't on the level of "this story isn't saying much", but rather "this story isn't very well told". I think I was the only person who was commenting about any deeper subtext, and what I was saying was that I felt that the ideas in the story were getting in the way of the storytelling, rather than complaining about how the story lacked a deeper meaning.

As for the zombie bunnies, I was pretty sure they were an illusion or other type of fake threat created by the fae woman so that she could dispel them and get the narrator's trust.
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hautdesert
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« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2009, 02:52:39 PM »

What surprises me is Ann referring to The Missing Link in the present tense.

I didn't actually visit The Missing Link and was unaware that it was on hiatus.  I usually use whatever information the author or narrator provides for the intros--if they haven't sent information, then I google a bit.  In this case, Ms Musselman had sent us information, so I read that.  It turned out to be a bit outdated, sorry.

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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2009, 06:04:59 PM »

I didn't actually visit The Missing Link and was unaware that it was on hiatus.  I usually use whatever information the author or narrator provides for the intros...  It turned out to be a bit outdated, sorry.

Oh, well.

I wrote that when I had just discovered that The Missing Link was on hiatus and was still nursing the disappointment. Thinking about it later, I figured it was something like that. These things happen and I shouldn't have made a big deal out of it.
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« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2009, 06:57:02 PM »

Involuntary surgeries (mostly sterilizations) were performed on non-white people in the United States until 1975. Previous surgeries were often justified with the suggestion that non-white people were not quite human enough to be sentient -- for instance, there's an entry in the diary of an English colonial exploring Africa where he talks about having shot and eaten a "Bushman" (!Kung San), which he sees no problem with, because such people are just apes like gorillas.

While it's certainly disturbing to consider the ramifications of mistreatment against apes like gorillas (since some apes can communicate with us via sign language), the historical medical mistreatment of non-whites on the basis that they are like beasts is not particularly remote.

Whether these abuses -- or a more broad sense of social justice, or even animal rights -- was on Cat Rambo's mind when she wrote, I wouldn't know.
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hautdesert
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« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2009, 09:31:20 PM »

Quote
These things happen and I shouldn't have made a big deal out of it.

Eh.  No problem.  I totally understand.   Smiley
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2009, 09:34:38 AM »

I'm also not really a fan of Ms. Rambo. Aside from having apretty magnificent pen name she's yet to thougharly impress me. She's disturbed me, set me off my lunch, and made me feel quizzical but has yet to write something I'd dub "fantastic."   I liked this one enough to give it a listen, but this was the first time I fell asleep on my first run though. I'll blame it on the couch but...
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