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Author Topic: PC050: Komodo  (Read 8045 times)
Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« on: April 28, 2009, 03:51:02 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, 05:15:43 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.  Cheesy

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.
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stePH
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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2009, 01:16:39 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. Tongue
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2009, 01:20:47 PM »

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

And poking an icepick through someone's eye socket into their brain and stirring it around shouldn't?
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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2009, 03:32:56 PM »

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

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.  Tongue
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2009, 10:34:01 AM »

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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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 03:51:30 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, 04:56:50 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.  Wink
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2009, 05:24:03 PM »

You should have put a content warning on that.  Wink

Nah, there was no blood.  Cheesy
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stePH
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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2009, 05:29:52 PM »

You should have put a content warning on that.  Wink

Nah, there was no blood.  Cheesy

Like I said above, BUTSEKS (or "BUTTSECKS" if you prefer) should always require a content warning.
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2009, 05:42:57 PM »

You should have put a content warning on that.  Wink

Nah, there was no blood.  Cheesy

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, 06:58:10 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  Tongue
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2009, 09:04:29 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  Tongue

I guess bold to me has always been serious, while italics are sarcastic/fun/flirty.
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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2009, 11:42:07 PM »

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

I admit to that erroneous impression.   Embarrassed  I assumed you meant it, however lightly you expressed it, and I thank you for clearing up my misapprehension!
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2009, 10:03:01 AM »

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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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2009, 10:47:44 AM »

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.
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2009, 11:36:55 AM »

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.

You're my new hero.
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« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2009, 12:08:20 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.  Cheesy

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."
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stePH
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« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2009, 01:19:02 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)  Tongue
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« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2009, 02:41:49 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*
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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2009, 02:57:29 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.
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SirJolt
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« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2009, 02:09:50 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 Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2009, 02:30:26 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.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2009, 06:08:34 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, 01:12:37 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.
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WolfDeca
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« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2009, 03:02:38 AM »

I'm not a new age type myself, but I still loved this story.

Mostly because the stories I know based on ceremonial magic follow the premise of 'striving for power for yourself implies not caring who you use and discard in the process.'

Otherwise known as 'power corrupts.'

Compared to this, the 'sure, I'll help you reach your dreams by day and have mind-blowing sex with you at night' attitude of the otherwise fully power-hungry and enemy-collecting Delonie was very refreshing to me.

What's immortality if you don't make any friends in the process? Wink
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Father Beast
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« Reply #26 on: July 10, 2009, 11:15:09 PM »


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."

.....................

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.

Rachel,
I was wondering if we can have a consistent rating system for escape artists. By comparison, the EP story "Snow Day" was far less explicit, but got an X rating while this one was rated R. I read and enjoyed both stories myself, but others are more sensitive than I, and may miss out on stories that wouldn't offend them because of the inconsistent rating system.

EDIT: OK, My Bad. I just looked up Snow day, and it has been downgraded to an R rating. I could sswear it used to be an X
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009, 11:24:12 PM by Father Beast » Logged
Father Beast
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« Reply #27 on: July 10, 2009, 11:28:34 PM »

Anyway, about the story....

I was expecting the witch in the story to be the bad guy, but it didn't turn out that way. Apparently she still has a good relationship with all the former lovers she sucked dry. With that in hand, I should have expected that the Komodo would turn out to be pretty decent also, but I didn't.

Challenging my assumptions helps the enjoyment of a story, but it isn't enough by itself. This was a good story, but not a great one. good for one read through.
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eytanz
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« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2009, 02:39:33 AM »

Anyway, about the story....

I was expecting the witch in the story to be the bad guy, but it didn't turn out that way. Apparently she still has a good relationship with all the former lovers she sucked dry.

She didn't "suck anyone dry" - she wasn't feeding off her lovers. She was feeding off the sexual energy they (mutually) created. She did kill some (a small minority) of them after they were done being lovers, but that was so that they can be transformed into gods or nature spirits, not a real death, and it wasn't a direct outcome of the month of them being together - she said most of her lovers just got back to normal life afterwards with a wish (money, power, etc.) granted.
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DarkKnightJRK
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« Reply #29 on: July 27, 2009, 04:30:26 AM »

Very interesting story--the whole nu-pagan stuff is something I don't recall seeing in regular fantasy, and the characters were pretty fleshed out and very different from your standard fare. The differences is probably why I dug it so much. Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2009, 02:38:13 AM »

Wow, this was really a unique story (for me anyway, I'm sure there's a whole subset of Fantasy fiction involving witch-vampire-werereptile romances), and I was surprised again and again throughout.  I just didn't know where the story was going, and when I thought I had it figured out, it turned sharply and kept going.

Great reading too.  This is the sort of story that makes me want to go back and listen to the PodCastles I've missed.  Kudos!
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« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2009, 01:15:04 PM »

After the first few minutes, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like it.  It seemed like it was starting slow with the talk of finding a new lover and etc...

But then when she started describing the source of power, that intrigued me enough to keep listening, and then on to the fictives, which were also very interesting, and on and on until the end.  Great story!  It's hard to tell a tale from the point of view of someone who is quite different from an everyday human, and do it without a massive infodump, but this does it perfectly, giving pieces of information just as they're needed, so that my understanding of the world expands comfortably as the story keeps my attention.

I thought the fact that anal sex granted her more power than other types was very cool, and it makes sense in a way that can be applied to the magical system.  Very cool.  The idea of the fictive decoys was really cool as well, quite clever. 

Before the story started, she was so powerful, and so in control of everything, that there wasn't much of a story in that part of her life.  But to start the story just at the point where she loses her power worked really well, so that we can understand her power by understanding how the lack of power affects her.

I liked that she drew sexual energy without harming the other person, and in fact giving them a grand ol' time, and that many of them she helped boost to higher forms.  That made her much more sympathetic and something to root for.  I also like that she was unwilling to dominate him, even when the opportunity arose.

I also liked how the "villain" was not really villainous, but just inexperienced in his new form.  At the same time, he managed to be sort of sympathetic despite his lack of compassion (he seemed to know that his former bite victims died, but that didn't really seem to matter much to him).

Also, it was a really good reading by Cat Rambo.  I noticed the technical issues in the first minute, but totally forgot about them after that, so a combination of good story and a good reading kept me too riveted to care.
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justenjoying
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« Reply #32 on: January 16, 2012, 01:27:26 PM »

This is offically my favorite Tim Pratt story. Period. I can't fit everything I love about this story in one post, and
keep it shorter than the story itself. I Love This Story.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 06:55:51 AM by justenjoying » Logged
ElectricPaladin
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Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


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« Reply #33 on: January 16, 2012, 01:33:09 PM »

Holy sh*t. I can't believe I never commented on this story.

Long comment short - I loved it. I'm a huge fan of modern magic in stories, movies, and roleplaying games, and this one took it in a very interesting direction. I enjoyed the complexities of the narrator's immortal existence, the way she helped her lovers to transform into strange new shapes. Deeply cool and deeply weird.
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