Author Topic: PC051: The Cambist and Lord Iron  (Read 11093 times)

Heradel

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on: May 06, 2009, 12:46:05 PM
PC051: The Cambist and Lord Iron

by Daniel Abraham.
Read by Wilson Fowlie.

Born Edmund Scarasso, Lord Iron had taken his father’s title and lands and ridden them first to war, then to power, and finally to a notorious fame. His family estate outside the city was reputed to rival the king’s, but Lord Iron spent little time there. He had a house in the city with two hundred rooms arranged around a central courtyard garden in which trees bore fruits unfamiliar to the city and flowers bloomed with exotic and troubling scents. His servants were numberless as ants; his personal fortune greater than some smaller nations. And never, it was said, had such wealth, power, and influence been squandered on such a debased soul.

No night passed without some new tale of Lord Iron. Ten thousand larks had been killed, their tongues harvested, and their bodies thrown aside in order that Lord Iron might have a novel hors d’oeuvre. Lord Biethan had been forced to repay his family’s debt by sending his three daughters to perform as Lord Iron’s creatures for a week; they had returned to their father with disturbing, languorous smiles and a rosewood cask filled with silver as “recompense for his Lordship’s overuse.” A fruit seller had the bad fortune not to recognize Lord Iron one dim, fog-bound morning, and a flippant comment earned him a whipping that left him near dead.

There was no way for anyone besides Lord Iron himself to know which of the thousand stories and accusations that accreted around him were true. There was no doubt that Lord Iron was never seen wearing anything but the richest of velvets and silk. He was habitually in the company of beautiful women of negotiable virtue. He smoked the finest tobacco and other, more exotic weeds. Violence and sensuality and excess were the tissue of which his life was made. If his wealth and web of blackmail and extortion had not protected him, he would no doubt have been invited to the gallows dance years before. If he had been a hero in the war, so much the worse.

And so it was, perhaps, no surprise that when his lackey and drinking companion, Lord Caton, mentioned in passing an inconvenient curiosity of the code of exchange, Lord Iron’s mind seized upon it. Among his many vices was a fondness for cruel pranks. And so it came to pass that Lord Iron and the handful of gaudy revelers who followed in his wake descended late one Tuesday morning upon the Magdalen Gate postal authority.

Rated PG. Contains economic trickery that is fantastic, if not fantastical.

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Void Munashii

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Reply #1 on: May 06, 2009, 02:55:49 PM
  After the intro I was afraid this story was going to be one that just didn't click with me, much like the last piece of financial fantasy, but in the end I was very surprised. The story is very cleverly written, and the logic in it all makes sense (to me at any rate).

  Even though I suspected something along the lines of Olaf's reasoning (I actually expected it to be equal, with the explanation that no one person's life is any more valuable than any other person), I was still quite entertained by his argument to the judges.

  I especially enjoyed the reading. While the narration seems a little flat and dull (as befits a story about money exchanging) the voices were all done very well. Mr. Fowlie did a fantastic job of creating separate and distinct characters.

  If I were to have any criticism of this story, it would be that it seemed like multiple separate stories crammed together, but I suppose getting multiple stories at once is better than having them split into multiple parts.

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SirJolt

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Reply #2 on: May 07, 2009, 06:51:02 PM
At the risk of sounds like I'm only pro-economic stories, I very much enjoyed this. Without ever spending too long detailing the setting, enough was communicated that characters were easy to situate and their motives easy to understand - an area in which a tremendous number of short stories tend to go a little awry.

The characters were well drawn, the narrative well structured and the fact that it broke down into several shorter stories gave it the feeling of a Sherlock Holmes styled series without having to actually break it up. As was already stated, even when the arguments were a little predictable they didn't come off as trite and were put across in a manner that sustained interest :)

Thoroughly enjoyable without belabouring the point. Excellent reading as well, though I've forgotten since starting to write this post who read it :)



ajames

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Reply #3 on: May 10, 2009, 10:33:27 AM
I quite enjoyed this story, and the reading. There were several lasting images that make me smile still today.

But of course, the real question is - what is the value of this story? It is audio, so I can't exchange it for wrapping paper. ;D  And its distributed under a Commons License, so I'm encouraged to distribute it for FREE. Hmmm. What would Olaf say?



eytanz

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Reply #4 on: May 10, 2009, 10:42:30 AM
I really enjoyed this one as well. Very good characterization, and really excellent pacing - the three mini-stories format worked really well, as each episode could proceed relatively fast while still offering scope for character development. And I really liked how the economic discussion felt really integral to the story, and didn't slow down anything at all. This was a long story, but it never dragged or fell flat and had my interest throughout.



MacArthurBug

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Reply #5 on: May 10, 2009, 06:07:40 PM
I started this groaning "what another economics lession via fantasy?"  But darnit I really enjoyed this. Curse you PC! Making me smarter.. buh

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Loz

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Reply #6 on: May 14, 2009, 07:24:33 PM
That was great fun, especially the last section which veered off in an unexpected direction and left me feeling quite sad for Lord Iron, though that's probably because 'A Christmas Carol' is one of my most favourite stories.

What did grate though, was the pronunciation of the silent 'r' in Iron.



hautdesert

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Reply #7 on: May 14, 2009, 07:56:42 PM
How do you pronounce "iron"?  I know of two ways--eye-run and eye-urn--both of which have r pronounced.



SirJolt

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Reply #8 on: May 14, 2009, 08:00:14 PM
How do you pronounce "iron"?  I know of two ways--eye-run and eye-urn--both of which have r pronounced.

I dunno about other people, but with my silly Irish accent the "eye-urn" has a fairly hard "r" sound, though I do know a northern girl who would soften the "r" sound right out of it. :)



Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #9 on: May 14, 2009, 08:06:25 PM
What did grate though, was the pronunciation of the silent 'r' in Iron.

As hautdesert and SirJolt noted, it's not the 'r' that's (usually) silent, it's the 'o' that is made into a schwa, turning it into something like "EYE-urn".

I made a deliberate choice to pronounce Iron's name that way, for a few reasons.

Firstly, it sounded a bit more old-fashioned to my ear, and suited to a time when people travelled by carriage.

Another reason was to distinguish it as a name.  I don't recall the word 'iron' appearing in the story, but if it had (or did) I may well have pronounced it the usual way (or at least, tried to remember to do so).

Also, I felt it worked with the character; it seemed to me that a lazy pronunciation of his name (which is what "eye-urn" is, really) would be something he himself would not tolerate.

My final reason was a pleasing (to me) association with Lord Byron (which I admit didn't occur to me until I'd heard myself say it a few times).

Lest you feel that I overthought this - probably true - I don't think much of it was all that conscious at the time (except the Lord Byron part).

I'm sorry you didn't like it, Loz, but at least now you know why it was like that.

'Lord Ion' is an interesting name, too, though.  ;)


(*Edited to acknowledge the posts that came up between starting and finishing this entry.)
« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 08:20:41 PM by Wilson Fowlie »

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eytanz

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Reply #10 on: May 14, 2009, 08:43:21 PM
I think most non-rhotic dialects (including the English spoken in England, where the story seems to be set), would pronounce "iron" as "Eye-on", with the "r" silent. Certainly, I don't pronounce an "r" in "iron".



Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #11 on: May 14, 2009, 09:56:08 PM
I think most non-rhotic dialects (including the English spoken in England, where the story seems to be set), would pronounce "iron" as "Eye-on", with the "r" silent. Certainly, I don't pronounce an "r" in "iron".

This made me look up rhotic.  Fascinating, as is its etymology.  Thanks for the ey-opener (sic), eytanz!

While I agree that, with a non-rhotic accent, the normal pronunciation of the word (but perhaps not the name?) 'iron' would be "eye-on", as you say, I don't concede (at least not yet) that that makes the 'r' silent.  I think it's still there, just not pronounced as 'hard' as a person with a rhotic accent would do it.

Just as in a non-rhotic accent, the second syllable of, say, "water" is pronounced, but more like 'uh' than 'er' (to my rhotic-biased ear), I hear non-rhotic pronunciation of 'iron' as "eye-uhn", with the 'uh' part being the non-rhotic version of the word's letter R.

The best evidence that I can come with to support this view is that an actor would change the pronunciation of the word depending on which type of accent he or she were imitating.  A person who normally says "eye-uhn" but who was imitating (or even mocking) an American accent, would say "eye-rrn".  That wouldn't happen if they were (unconsciously) thinking of the 'r' as silent - the pronunciation wouldn't change, since the 'o' is the same in both types of accent.  Try it out.

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Reply #12 on: May 16, 2009, 03:35:47 PM
Wait, you guys are trying to find LOGIC in English grammar and pronunciation?

I like this story. I wasn't sure where the overtly fantastical elements might be found, but it was cool meditation on the value of life. Almost like a philosophical dialogue on abstract concepts.

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eytanz

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Reply #13 on: May 16, 2009, 03:45:58 PM
Wait, you guys are trying to find LOGIC in English grammar and pronunciation?


It is sort of my job (well, not the pronunciation part).



Anarkey

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Reply #14 on: May 21, 2009, 12:05:47 PM
I'll add to the general kudos here.  I liked this story a lot, even though the idea of it being about economics (again!) put me off a little.  Story completely won me over.  So yay there.  Thanks, PC!

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Reply #15 on: May 21, 2009, 03:26:28 PM
when hearing the intro i was worried that the story would be dry and not have much interest to it.  but after listening to this one, and it took a couple of days because i could never have a good time to listen, i found that this is the best story that i've heard on podcastle.

the logic of finding the value of anything is very intriguing and enjoyable to listen to.

i was able to find myself able to relate to the simple life that Olaf, the Cambist, pursued and enjoyed.  i wish that i was able to have a life that simple and in many ways, relaxed.

as for the pronunciation of of Lord Iron, it didn't bug me in the slightest.  my wife is scottish and there are many words that are pronounced differently between us.

i think one of the main reasons i enjoyed this story is that, at least for me, it is not easy to place the 'when' of this story.  aside from referring to the train tunnels there isn't much reference to technology, modern or archaic.

fantastic story and now i'm off to read the polite flame wars that this story generated.



Hilary Moon Murphy

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Reply #16 on: June 07, 2009, 06:11:19 PM
Wow.  This story would definitely be in the top five of stories I've listened to on Podcastle.  I've always been a sucker for deals with the devil stories (heck, I even wrote two of them) and this was a lovely twist on the genre.  "You don't want to sell a soul; you want to buy one."

Great stuff.  This was an awesome, fabulous story.  More like this, please!

Hmm




LadyIndigo

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Reply #17 on: June 11, 2009, 01:12:45 AM
I was expecting something dull too, but this bowled me over.  No wonder it's been received so well all over the place.  Its economic lessons are simple, funny, philosophical even to someone who hates math like myself, and the two leads are so well-drawn that I was sucked in to their emotions and Lord Iron's fate, especially, touched me deeply.  (I have some screwed up adolescent Thing about hedonist characters, so I have a feeling I liked him a lot more than I should.)  It is very much a fable, and one more reason for me to love fables as much as I do.



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Reply #18 on: July 28, 2009, 12:54:58 PM
This story is a real gem, one of the best I've read in a long time. A lot of fresh ideas, I was drawn in from beginning to end. Great pickup by Podcastle!



Swamp

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Reply #19 on: September 16, 2009, 10:03:08 PM
I can't believe all of the quality stories I had been missing out on by getting behind.  This story is fabulous!  I felt like I was listening to Classic Tales, except B.J. Harrison wasn't narrating.  I'm not saying that either of the podcasts, Classic Tales or PodCastle, are better than the other.  I am saying that this story by Daniel Abraham sounds like really good classic litureature--the kind where you say ,"Why doesn't anybody write like that anymore?".  In this case, Daniel did.  Very top notch!
« Last Edit: September 23, 2009, 03:41:30 PM by Swamp »

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Reply #20 on: October 22, 2009, 05:09:57 AM
My absolutely favourite episode!
If Chaucer were alive today, he'd be shaking his head and cursing why the hell he missed such a story! It is a stylistic gem, intricate and well structured. The reading was marvelous as well! 



Unblinking

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Reply #21 on: December 11, 2009, 05:57:26 PM
Wow, I'm the lone dissenter on this one, eh?

It's not that the story was bad.  I just have yet to enjoy any story based around economics, because all of it seems to read like a textbook trying to teaching me economics.  When I want to be educated, I seek out educational reading.  When I want to be entertained, I seek out entertaining reading.  Mixing the two rarely works for me.  Hard SF tends to fall flat for the same reason because way too much time is spent trying to convince me that this technology is possible when I'd really just like to enjoy the story instead.  And it looks like there are several more economic-based stories coming up.  *sigh*

I thought the intro was amusing in an odd sort of way,:  "You must all be sick about listening to everyone talk economics.  Now, we bring you a story about economics." 

The beginning several minutes, where the two characters were described in a long summary was boring for me even before it made it to the economics.  It sounded like character notes that an author might keep in the same folder as the story to keep details straight, but as part of the story it wasn't particularly compelling.

I made it through the first trial, and thought the solution was somewhat interesting in the way he found to exchange the currency, although it seemed more like a word problem that might be in an economics textbook, only extended from 2 paragraphs into a 20 minute read.  In that way, the United States newer bills with the colors on them would be more valuable currency then their former counterparts that are only green.  Also, the number on the bill would be irrelevant.  So, in order to maximize the value of my money, I'm going to withdraw all my money from the bank, and ask for it all in multi-colored 5 dollar bills!  That's the ticket!  :)



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Reply #22 on: December 14, 2009, 10:07:56 PM
How do you pronounce "iron"?  I know of two ways--eye-run and eye-urn--both of which have r pronounced.

As long as you're asking:  I had a cow-orker from Pennsylvania get very frustrated trying to borrow an issue of "Iron Age" magazine from a library - they kept insisting they didn't have "Air & Age."  Her accent rendered "iron" into "AIR-nn."

But back to the story.

I loved it.   8)

GAM



Wilson Fowlie

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Reply #23 on: April 20, 2010, 07:27:56 PM
If anyone's interested in more about the pronunciation of 'R', the joke in the latest (as of this writing) Irregular Webcomic revolves around the differences in its pronunciation, and has a small annotation about the issue.

http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/2641.html

Most of it is stuff I learned when I looked them up for the discussion above, but it's nice to have it all in one place like that.

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Reply #24 on: May 07, 2010, 01:07:51 PM
i believe i have listen to this one at least 5 times and here on the 6th time through i get the part about the king being in the room too. thanks for the fun

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