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Author Topic: PC063: Daughter of Botu  (Read 7623 times)
Heradel
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« on: July 29, 2009, 06:18:45 AM »

PodCastle 63: Daughter of Botu

By Eugie Foster.
Read by Diane Severson.

When we reached the south entrance, Nai-nai stopped. “An-ying, there is great passion in you,” she said. “A blessing and a curse, I have always maintained, that you were born in both the year and the hour of the rabbit but also beneath the auspice of fire. Fire rabbits are impetuous and brash.”

“But I–”

She bumped me with her shoulder. “Outspoken and discourteous, too.”

“I’m sorry, Nai-nai.” I lowered my head and flattened my ears in a conciliatory manner.

She nibbled my fur. “I’m not angry, granddaughter, but you should know we feared for you, your mother and I. Even your coat is marked by fire, and it is well known that fire rabbits die young.”


Rated R. for frank descriptions of adult events.
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« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2009, 06:57:30 AM »

I wrote this on PodCastle's front page for "Daughter of Botu", but I really wanted to bring it here, as well.

This was a phenomenal story and I felt it surround me and pull me in like few others.

This style of fantasy tale -the immersion of the folklore traditions of a non-Western culture- is rapidly becoming my favorite installment on PodCastle. The reading lent emotion and personality to the characters and I was swept along with the narrative in this Chinese fable.

The belief in animals who can take human form is in many cultures and imbuing them with human characteristics reflects both the people of the culture and their philosophies at the time as well as their hopes and fears about themselves as seen in the animals around them. In modern America, our rabbits are Bugs Bunny and Bre’r Rabbit: trickster’s, both. It’s really fascinating to see the Chinese view of the rabbit in this beautiful tale.

Wonderful!

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)
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Kaa
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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2009, 12:42:00 PM »

I'm still listening to the story, but I wanted to comment.

I am really enjoying the story.  As Sylvan said, it's refreshing to hear a tale steeped in another culture, and we can always rely upon Eugie Foster for excellent stories.

The only thing that's bothering me is that it sounds as though the reader recorded herself saying the Chinese names once and then pasted them in whenever she needed them.  It's unnecessarily throwing me out of the story because I notice it each time. Sad

Other than that, though, it's a wonderful reading without being over the top.
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Sylvan
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2009, 11:08:36 PM »

The only thing that's bothering me is that it sounds as though the reader recorded herself saying the Chinese names once and then pasted them in whenever she needed them.  It's unnecessarily throwing me out of the story because I notice it each time.
Really, Kaa?  I'd not noticed that!  Are you certain?

Mind you, I listened to it on speakers and not headphones; how did you listen to it?

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)
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Kaa
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2009, 11:42:40 PM »

Really, Kaa?  I'd not noticed that!  Are you certain?

Mind you, I listened to it on speakers and not headphones; how did you listen to it?

No, I'm not certain. I just noticed a certain...similarity among the names each time they were used.  I was listening using noise-canceling headphones.
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divadiane
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2009, 04:45:26 AM »

Hi Sylvan, Hi Kaa,

Thanks for your comments regarding the narration. I really enjoyed doing this one. The story is wonderful and Eugie's characters are so full of life.

Regarding the narration, I realize that some of my choices won't be to everyone's taste, but that's just the nature of things, right? As for the chinese words: After consulting Ms. Foster about the pronunciation of the Chinese names and words, she sent me a mp3 of the words themselves. I did my best to get the pronunciation right, including the tonal nature of the language. Doing this story, I realized how difficult it is to mesh individual Chinese words into an English narrative. The main problem being that many of the words have an upward swing on the 2nd syllable which makes them sound like a question in English. I admit to having a hard time getting those words to flow within a longer sentence.  For the record: I didn't use one recording for all uses of a single word. I recorded each one anew. I did however often have to repeat the sentence or part of the sentence and edit. Once or twice I might have spliced the single word into the sentence, but I never used the same one twice, I swear! :-) Since I'm not the most accomplished editor, it's very possible these splices can be heard and I apologize if it diminished your listening enjoyment, Kaa!

Thanks again for the kind and the constructive criticism. I aim to please.

Diane
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Kaa
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2009, 08:04:12 AM »

Thanks, Diane.  I think what I was mostly reacting to was the upwards swing in the names. It often didn't match the tone of the rest of the sentence, as you said. After I posted the above comments, I finished the story and realized it must have been the tonality of Chinese causing the "problem."  It speaks well of your ability to duplicate Eugie's pronunciation guide that I thought it was a recording! Smiley

It didn't diminish my listening enjoyment, it was just something that I noticed once in a while, and "caught" myself noticing. Smiley After I got into the story, I was able to ignore it.
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Ocicat
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2009, 05:18:36 PM »

I thought it was great, and the oriental feel was pulled off very well.  It was easy to loose yourself in.  But then I'm likely to love any story with a Kitsune (fox) in it. 

There were a lot of little bits I loved - the grandmother's matter of fact handling of the change, the mirror that revealed truth (I actually introduced one of those in my old fantasy role playing game), the rabbit's confusion regarding changing her clothes, etc...

There were some bits that needed improvement though.  It felt like there was a lot more time passing, so when the husband got angry because the pregnancy was too far along it was kind of offputting.  Giving more explicit references to seasons or exactly how much time was passing would have helped. 

And I'm amused that this wasn't a Podcastle Giant.  The last giant ran 1:04, this ran 1:11.  Captan Fantasy may have had more words but that's not really relevant to my listening experience - time is.

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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2009, 06:02:36 AM »

Ocicat -- I hear you. But words are something I control when I'm purchasing and scheduling. We don't know times until the ep is complete!
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Kaa
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2009, 06:35:02 AM »

The reading can make such a huge difference in the amount of time it takes.  For instance, Elizabeth Green Musselman in episode #62, "The Fiddler of Bayou Teche," did such a fantastic reading, and the southern accent she used was nice and slow like it should be for that story.  This one had a similar "feel" to it. The story would have suffered from a faster reading, and we wouldn't have been able to keep up with the foreign names as well.  A fast reading would have made this story feel...frenetic. Which it definitely is not.
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ajames
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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2009, 05:44:14 AM »

If this were one of Aesop's Fables, I suppose the moral would be that you can take the rabbit out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the rabbit. Or at least one of the morals - this story was rich enough to have several.

This is the second Eugie Foster story I've thoroughly enjoyed, although I won't share this one with my kids until they are a bit older. I suppose I am a romantic like An-ying's mother, as I wanted a happier ending, but then this story wasn't about An-ying's mother, was it?
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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2009, 07:16:23 AM »

I understand what Diane was saying about the names. As a person with a LOT of audio experience (radio, audio production, editing), I could kind of hear where the names were dropped in, and I totally get that the names were supposed to be pronounced differently than an American might pronounce them.

My difficulty with the reading was that it was felt very straightforward until the end. I find the same problem when I read stories: the beginning I'm trying to find my feet, and I get into it the farther I go. Or maybe the choices were intentional. Anyway.

As for the story, I appreciate a good fable as much as the next person -- maybe more so, except when the next person is a fellow listener to Podcastle -- but this one had SOOOO much setup in the beginning that by a few minutes in I didn't care about the characters. When we got to the pivotal moment -- the death of An-Ying's child -- I wasn't as horrified by the stepmother's actions as I should have been (and I'm a parent, so I think it should've resonated with me a lot more). Also, I felt the husband's retainer was too much of a red herring; I suppose since this is an Eastern tale I should've expected An-Ying to fall in love with the noble, but the retainer was what my Western mind was expecting. Perhaps that's just cultural differences.

I enjoyed the descriptions of rabbit-hood; I feel the author really got those down. Her details of the setting and culture of the human world were also good. I just think the story was far too long -- the reading was at an average pace, as readings go; I just felt the story took too long to get going.

Better than a "meh", but not quite a "good".

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thomasowenm
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« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2009, 06:21:22 PM »

I did like this one even though it felt too long.  I think this was really a two seperate tales.  The first is the meeting and courting of the heroine bunny, and the second is with the marriage and pregnancy of said rabbit.   With that complaint out of the way, I liked the voice of the story.  It was very descriptive and gave me a glimpse of a world that is very foreign, yet familiar.
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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2009, 12:45:04 PM »

This is one of my favorites on Podcastle, at least as far as stories themselves go, and maybe my favorite of all the Eugie Foster stories I've heard (although "Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me" from early PP days is a close second). It's just absolutely heartbreaking. And even though Foster straight up tells us that from the beginning, I let myself get swallowed in the sweet, sugary relationship between An-Ying and her lover, and then get gut-checked at the end. Just lovely writing.
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« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2009, 09:51:38 AM »

Along with stories set in feudal Japan, I also seem to be partial to stories by Eugie Foster.  Smiley

Although last night at bedtime I listened to the extremely disturbing "The Reign of the Wintergod" ... brrr.
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« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2009, 09:56:49 PM »

Just finished it now; that was a simply beautiful story -- lyrical, gentle in tone yet emotionally charged. Wonderful. Wonderful!!

And I really liked the reading; it was sympathetic, thoughtful and thoroughly appropriate.

Did I mention I really liked the story?
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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2009, 02:13:59 PM »

A very enjoyable story with a great deal of emotion to it.  I was able to connect with the characters well, the plot was well thought out, and it had good imagery as well.  Towards the start of the story I was beginning to think this was going to be a rehashing of Watership Down, but then it took a completely different turn and surprised me.  Bravo to the author for this well done piece of work.
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« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2009, 04:58:17 AM »

This story was very well done.  The most memorable bit for me was the death of the infant.  I felt really sad for the main characters loss for the rest of that afternoon.  I love that this story was good enough to have a real emotional impact for me.
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« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2009, 09:07:43 PM »

Along with stories set in feudal Japan, I also seem to be partial to stories by Eugie Foster.  Smiley

Although last night at bedtime I listened to the extremely disturbing "The Reign of the Wintergod" ... brrr.

Steph, did you go back to the PP backlog when you started listening there?  PP 18 "Oranges, Lemons and Thou Beside Me" by Eugie Foster is not only one of my favorite PPs, it's also my favorite Eugie Foster story ever and it's deeply, deeply disturbing.  I recommend it. 
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2009, 09:20:46 AM »

Along with stories set in feudal Japan, I also seem to be partial to stories by Eugie Foster.  Smiley

Although last night at bedtime I listened to the extremely disturbing "The Reign of the Wintergod" ... brrr.

Steph, did you go back to the PP backlog when you started listening there?  PP 18 "Oranges, Lemons and Thou Beside Me" by Eugie Foster is not only one of my favorite PPs, it's also my favorite Eugie Foster story ever and it's deeply, deeply disturbing.  I recommend it. 

I started with Pseudopod #1 and went forward from there.  I'm within ten shows of being caught up.  For some reason I don't recall what "Oranges" was about; I'll have to go back and listen.  But if it's by EF I'm sure it's worth the repeat listen.
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