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Author Topic: PC050: Komodo  (Read 14374 times)

Heradel

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on: April 28, 2009, 08:51:02 PM
PC050: Komodo

by Tim Pratt.

Read by Cat Rambo.

I hadn’t cultivated a new lover in many months — the last one had fulfilled all my wishes and, as he’d requested, was now living happily at the bottom of a local river, slowly decaying into the bottom-mud and learning the languages of fish and pollution. In another hundred years or so, if the river didn’t dry up entirely, he might become a minor river god. Kasan had appeared just in time. I had certain things to accomplish over the course of the next month, and the energy that came with a new lover could serve well to fuel those endeavors.

“Want to come upstairs for a while, Kasan?” I asked. I’m beautiful. I’m desirable. I know how to sense when a potential partner is interested. I can say these things with no particular pride, because such powers require relatively small magics to achieve. People seldom say no to me. I never compel anyone to make love to me — such mental domination is possible, but it’s also essentially rape, and cannot be condoned. I entice my lovers with beauty, and bring them back again and again by giving them the best sex they’ve ever had. There’s no magic to that, just years of experience and sensitivity to the needs of my lovers. I am good at what I do. Sex is my vocation and my devotion.

Rated R. Contains sexy sorceresses (explicit).

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Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #1 on: April 29, 2009, 10:15:43 PM
I liked this story.  I was glad that the 'villain' wasn't depicted as someone being evil for its own sake but genuinely behaving, innocently, in a way that - he didn't understand - harmed others and moreover, that it mattered.

The source of his behaviour was also, it occurs to me now, a pleasantly subtle reminder that the indirect effects (e.g. from observations) of our actions almost always reach farther than we know.

I also really liked that it wasn't just the 'villain' who got to (hopefully) learn something about some of the best of what it is to be human.

Cat's reading was good enough that it didn't take a huge amount of time to mentally overcome the bad sound quality, though that did still intrude at a couple of points.  Maybe Podcastle should get a sponsorship from the yogurt Tubes people; lately, some readings sound like the people in their ads.  :D

I take a little bit of exception to the 'sexually explicit' warning; not that I particularly disagree with having it there, but I think that if you're going to do that, then an analogous Violence warning for stories like "Bright Waters" or " 'I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,' the Manticore Said" should also be given.

Presumably the warning is there for subscribers who don't read the blog (or this forum) and therefore the ratings; so listeners can censor themselves (or, in the case of parents, their kids) as they see fit.  But I think that applies just as much to violence like the fairly brutal war scenes in "Bright Waters" or the description of 'dulling' that sickened many readers in "Manticore".

If a warning on the blog (and here) isn't sufficient for sexually explicit material then it isn't sufficient for violence, either.

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


stePH

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Reply #2 on: April 30, 2009, 06:16:39 PM
Good story.

I take a little bit of exception to the 'sexually explicit' warning; not that I particularly disagree with having it there, but I think that if you're going to do that, then an analogous Violence warning for stories like "Bright Waters" or " 'I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,' the Manticore Said" should also be given.

Presumably the warning is there for subscribers who don't read the blog (or this forum) and therefore the ratings; so listeners can censor themselves (or, in the case of parents, their kids) as they see fit.  But I think that applies just as much to violence like the fairly brutal war scenes in "Bright Waters" or the description of 'dulling' that sickened many readers in "Manticore".

If a warning on the blog (and here) isn't sufficient for sexually explicit material then it isn't sufficient for violence, either.

Well, "Bright Waters" and "Manticore" didn't have BUTSEKS which should always carry a content warning. :P

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Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #3 on: April 30, 2009, 06:20:47 PM
Well, "Bright Waters" and "Manticore" didn't have BUTSEKS which should always carry a content warning. :P

And poking an icepick through someone's eye socket into their brain and stirring it around shouldn't?

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


stePH

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Reply #4 on: April 30, 2009, 08:32:56 PM
Well, "Bright Waters" and "Manticore" didn't have BUTSEKS which should always carry a content warning. :P

And poking an icepick through someone's eye socket into their brain and stirring it around shouldn't?

No, I don't see a need for it.  :P

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #5 on: May 01, 2009, 03:34:01 PM
Overall I was pleased with this story and the reading was decent.  There were moments I found myself feeling like something important was missing- but it managed to make its point.

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Listener

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Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 08:51:30 PM
Cat Rambo is still in her bathroom (or so it sounds) but the story helped overcome that.

I didn't really like this story as much as other Pratt. Delanie wasn't sympathetic at all IMO, even when she lost her power. I usually love explicit sex, and the sex was good, but it didn't overcome. Pratt may wish to read some contemporary erotica to help deal with the condom issue, though kudos to him for including it. Parts of the story were repetitive (the komodo explainers), and I think way too much time was spent on the fictives (?). There seemed to be a deus ex machina for every problem Delanie had -- like she'd planned ahead for every last detail, but she never planned for losing her powers? Baroo? Srsly?

The ending also was a bit of a let-down. So komodo-boy isn't really evil and it turns out she really likes him. Great. Blood-exchange sex, and everything's fine. I suppose we're supposed to think Delanie keeps him around afterward as her permanent lover, but I don't know that I buy it.

Oh, and for the record, on the interwebs I believe it's spelled "buttsecks". Behold the ORLY OWL:


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Reply #7 on: May 05, 2009, 09:56:50 PM
Oh, and for the record, on the interwebs I believe it's spelled "buttsecks". Behold the ORLY OWL:



You should have put a content warning on that.  ;)

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Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #8 on: May 05, 2009, 10:24:03 PM
You should have put a content warning on that.  ;)

Nah, there was no blood.  :D

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


stePH

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Reply #9 on: May 05, 2009, 10:29:52 PM
You should have put a content warning on that.  ;)

Nah, there was no blood.  :D

Like I said above, BUTSEKS (or "BUTTSECKS" if you prefer) should always require a content warning.

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Heradel

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Reply #10 on: May 05, 2009, 10:42:57 PM
You should have put a content warning on that.  ;)

Nah, there was no blood.  :D

Like I said above, BUTSEKS (or "BUTTSECKS" if you prefer) should always require a content warning.

I don't know, and this might just be a goalposts thing; I think sex should always have a content warning, but that unless it's really extreme (necrophilia, pedophilia, etc) it shouldn't need a content warning beyond that. Otherwise you get into situations where you end up putting a harder warning on gay male intercourse than straight intercourse. Plus, it's sex. I assume clothes are probably going to be off or in dishabille, that someone is doing something to someone else, and that penetration of something into some orifice is highly likely. PC hasn't run any X rated stories like EP has, so I'm not sure it's going to be a big deal going forward.

—————

I liked the story, but agree with the criticism that the main character didn't engender a lot of sympathy.

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stePH

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Reply #11 on: May 05, 2009, 11:58:10 PM
I don't know, and this might just be a goalposts thing; I think sex should always have a content warning, but that unless it's really extreme (necrophilia, pedophilia, etc) it shouldn't need a content warning beyond that. Otherwise you get into situations where you end up putting a harder warning on gay male intercourse than straight intercourse. Plus, it's sex. I assume clothes are probably going to be off or in dishabille, that someone is doing something to someone else, and that penetration of something into some orifice is highly likely. PC hasn't run any X rated stories like EP has, so I'm not sure it's going to be a big deal going forward.

I might be misreading you here, but you seem to be under the erroneous impression that I'm serious about the whole BUTSEKS thing  :P

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Heradel

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Reply #12 on: May 06, 2009, 02:04:29 AM
I don't know, and this might just be a goalposts thing; I think sex should always have a content warning, but that unless it's really extreme (necrophilia, pedophilia, etc) it shouldn't need a content warning beyond that. Otherwise you get into situations where you end up putting a harder warning on gay male intercourse than straight intercourse. Plus, it's sex. I assume clothes are probably going to be off or in dishabille, that someone is doing something to someone else, and that penetration of something into some orifice is highly likely. PC hasn't run any X rated stories like EP has, so I'm not sure it's going to be a big deal going forward.

I might be misreading you here, but you seem to be under the erroneous impression that I'm serious about the whole BUTSEKS thing  :P

I guess bold to me has always been serious, while italics are sarcastic/fun/flirty.

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Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #13 on: May 06, 2009, 04:42:07 AM
I might be misreading you here, but you seem to be under the erroneous impression that I'm serious about the whole BUTSEKS thing  :P

I admit to that erroneous impression.   :-[  I assumed you meant it, however lightly you expressed it, and I thank you for clearing up my misapprehension!

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


Void Munashii

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Reply #14 on: May 06, 2009, 03:03:01 PM
Cat Rambo is still in her bathroom (or so it sounds) but the story helped overcome that.

  That's the exact thought I had. I kept expecting to hear the splash of bathwater. I liked her reading, but I'm no fan of her microphone.

  Overall, I liked the story, but for some reason explicit sex in audio fiction always makes me fell oogy. I guess I'm just a prude. Although this does make the second bestiality story on Podcastle (Technically he was an animal, even if he was disguised as a human).

  I don't expect that a BUTTSECKS warning would have either dissuaded me from listening, nor made me any less uncomfortable. The explicit sex warning was plenty for me personally.

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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #15 on: May 06, 2009, 03:47:44 PM
Technically, we did have an X - Red Riding Hood's Child. Although actually if you look on the text on that piece, it's all sliding euphemisms and nothing explicit, I knew it would squick people. (It squicked me, a bit.) But we put like four warnings on it in different places to try to make sure that people who really didn't want to hear it wouldn't, you know, listen.

Anyway. I have to admit that I didn't even notice the sex in this piece when I bought it. Cuz mostly when I think about flagging stuff for warnings, I think about flagging stuff I find disturbing, and what's a little all-in-fun anal? Not disturbing. Or at least not to me. This was supposed to run back in, oh, November? At which point our then-audio-editor, on taking a listen, told me, "Um, I think you need a warning."

If we're talking about personal philosophies, then I certainly agree that warnings should be more likely to occur on very violent material. If I were going entirely with my own gut, the only things I would probably ever put warnings on would be things likely to be triggering to people who have, for instance, PTSD. I've said before that I, personally, don't really believe in screening content for arbitrary designations of "contains sex" or even "contains blood."

However, the ratings aren't meant for me. They're meant for the percentage of our readers who *do* want to screen content. And based on the feedback we get from those readers, they really want to screen sexual content, and aren't as picky about violence.

Can I argue with that philosophically or politically? Yes, I can. And in fact it's a mindset which is sufficiently foreign to mine that PodCastle has actually engaged a couple people to do our ratings for me, because I can't always figure out how things should be rated based on that scale.

But my personal, philosophical, and political arguments aside -- the ratings system is a small concession that PodCastle can make so that those listeners feel more comfortable with the 'cast. And while they and I don't agree on everything, I think we can agree that we'd like the podcast to be accessible and welcoming to people with a number of different points of view.

On the other hand, I draw the line at using the ratings system to enforce different standards for different kinds of people, rather than just note when there's sex going on -- for instance, as Heradel mentions, I won't use a rating system that  distinguishes between gay sex and straight sex. So there's always a process of negotiation going on.



Listener

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Reply #16 on: May 06, 2009, 04:36:55 PM
Anyway. I have to admit that I didn't even notice the sex in this piece when I bought it. Cuz mostly when I think about flagging stuff for warnings, I think about flagging stuff I find disturbing, and what's a little all-in-fun anal? Not disturbing. Or at least not to me.

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Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 05:08:20 PM
If we're talking about personal philosophies, then I certainly agree that warnings should be more likely to occur on very violent material.

You're my new hero, too.

...based on the feedback we get from those readers, they really want to screen sexual content, and aren't as picky about violence.

I find that utterly, utterly sad.

However, that being the case, those people probably shouldn't be reading this thread then.  :D

But my personal, philosophical, and political arguments aside -- the ratings system is a small concession that PodCastle can make so that those listeners feel more comfortable with the 'cast. And while they and I don't agree on everything, I think we can agree that we'd like the podcast to be accessible and welcoming to people with a number of different points of view.

Absolutely.  I like the ratings system and I've always felt it was sufficient.  In fact, the more amusing ones lend an extra fillip of enjoyment to the whole experience.

I simply feel that if you're going to do extra warnings - verbal ones at the beginning of an episode in addition to the ones printed on the blog - that explicit violence is as good a reason to do it as explicit sex.  For the very reason you stated: "to be accessible and welcoming to people with a number of different points of view."

"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham


stePH

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Reply #18 on: May 06, 2009, 06:19:02 PM
However, the ratings aren't meant for me. They're meant for the percentage of our readers who *do* want to screen content. And based on the feedback we get from those readers, they really want to screen sexual content, and aren't as picky about violence.

Welcome to the USA, the greatest country in the world (tm)  :P

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #19 on: May 06, 2009, 07:41:49 PM
heck- if you posted a warning before anything that may offend anyone.. there'd be warnings slapped across the face of almost every story. If not every story. I, personally, was not in the least offended.

And Rachel? you're my new hero too. *fluttery eye lashes*

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


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Reply #20 on: May 06, 2009, 07:57:29 PM
I skipped this story.  The warning had me worried, but I was going to give it a shot.  After 3 words, I stopped it.  The audio was crap.  I skimmed the comments here, but I still think I'll give it a pass.



SirJolt

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Reply #21 on: May 07, 2009, 07:09:50 PM
I hate to pick holes, I just need some clarification because I can't take it when something isn't consistent with its own rules...

At the end, she takes the komodo's immunity to its own magic so that she can cure herself of the infection, yet there is at no point a concern expressed that this immunity will encompass the magic she uses to sustain her unnatural longevity (which seems more and more tenuous as the plot progresses)?

Moreover, the solution to so big a problem didn't seem too hard to figure out, everything just fell into place and suddenly Delanie(?) realised she literally had everything she needed to make things better at her disposal already. With all that in mind, the character development at the close felt a little tacked on.

Maybe it just wasn't for me.

On the sound quality side, I genuinely thought there was a deliberate effect applied to this until I read the topic. Funny old world :)



Loz

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Reply #22 on: May 07, 2009, 07:30:26 PM
I did enjoy this story, my attention was beginning to wander in the midle as everything she tried to do to solve her problem didn't help, but it was a nice twist on this that while she's working on the assumption that it's an attack by some malicious enemy she's picked up down the years it's actually an accidental attack by a more benign entity that just doesn't understand the rules.

However, as the story states, Komodo dragons are evil vicious little shits who are just as likely to eat their own young as not, it's perhaps lucky for the narrator that the only trait in the entity is it's poisoned bite and not it's attitude.

And anyone who is interested in Komodo dragons should seek out the late great Douglas Adam's 'Last Chance to See' where he went to see them in their natural habitat.



Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #23 on: May 19, 2009, 11:08:34 PM
And then along comes science to wreck the whole premise.  Oh, well.  It's an alternate world, anyway...

(NOTE: The link is to a New York Times article so it requires a login, but - in case you don't already know this - you can get a fake login from www.bugmenot.com.)

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Reply #24 on: June 01, 2009, 06:12:37 PM
And then along comes science to wreck the whole premise.  Oh, well.  It's an alternate world, anyway...

I was thinking about that, too. The price you pay for being a science geek. As for the story itself, Eh, it was Ok. I think it was very well written, actually, and the premise was not common in fiction stories. (While I understand there is a whole Category of Pagans who are all about Sex-magic (Or magik or however they spell it these days) it remains uncommon in actual literary works). So anyway, it didn't work for me, but I imagine a lot of new age types probably loved it.