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Author Topic: PC 068: A Heretic By Degrees  (Read 9523 times)
Heradel
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« on: September 02, 2009, 06:32:10 PM »

PodCastle 068: A Heretic By Degrees

by Marie Brennan.
Read by Paul Tevis.

The suggestion was heretical, and treasonous to boot.  Two years before, the king had established by sacred decree that there was only one world, and that nothing lay beyond its bounds; anything seen there was a delusion, a final torment sent to test the faithful before their eventual salvation.  And for two years, his Councillors and subjects had respected his word.

Now they faced a choice.  Disobey the king — or lose him.  Commit treason, or let him die, and with him, the last remnant of the sacred royal line.

Rated PG. for actions taken at the end of the worlds.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 08:15:06 AM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2009, 09:46:41 PM »

I suppose some could see this as picking nits but in the intro 2012 is the year the millenarians in question believe the world will end, not 2010.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2009, 09:53:58 PM by Agies » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2009, 01:35:21 AM »

I felt like I was hearing a description of a roleplaying game setting.  I know I'm unusually against this sort of thing, but I was kind of miffed that we sat down in the middle of the story to have a long digression about the nature of the world.  It's a cool concept, don't get me wrong, but I will almost always advocate for seeing something in action rather than hearing about something.  I know it's hard to show a concept as arcane as a graveyard of worlds destroyed by apocalypses (apocalypsi?) in the space of a short story.  Maybe this should be a longer piece, a novel or a series, with the mystery of where they are and what's happening gradually unfolding instead of just being infodumped in the second act.

The character of Last (or Laft; I couldn't quite tell, though the former makes a lot more sense in context) also had a really, really strong player-character vibe to him.  Unfortunately, it turned the story from the interesting moral dilemma of the counselor into the story of "Look at how cool Last is!"  Last didn't seem to have any intriguing flaws or much of a personality beyond knowing everything.  I'd rather have seen the counselor and the criminal explore the worlds on their own.  They had a weird buddy-cop vibe that amused me, whereas Last was just... too competent. 

I found my mind wandering to potential interesting plot hooks I could concoct to run a D&D crew through.  A particularly technologically advanced plane starting to conquer the others, for instance, and set themselves up as a ruling class, creeping outward every time their current base grew too near the Shreds.  Or a quest to acquire three or four pieces of MacGuffin technology/magic to construct a ship to explore the Mists and potentially save everyone.  If my group still ran D&D, I would totally be writing up a setting book for this.  Somewhere between Rifts and Planescape with just a hint of Wraith...
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2009, 06:33:37 AM »

I suppose some could see this as picking nits but in the intro 2012 is the year the millenarians in question believe the world will end, not 2010.

You're right, of course, and I'm not sure what happened to my brain when I said that.  Sorry.
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2009, 06:49:20 AM »

I suppose some could see this as picking nits but in the intro 2012 is the year the millenarians in question believe the world will end, not 2010.

You're right, of course, and I'm not sure what happened to my brain when I said that.  Sorry.

It's OK. I managed to not yell "It's 2012 you fools, the world will end in 2012," on the bus. That would have been awkward.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2009, 07:19:11 AM »

It's OK. I managed to not yell "It's 2012 you fools, the world will end in 2012," on the bus. That would have been awkward.

Snip!  Thank you very much!  Got today's done early...
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« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2009, 10:40:32 AM »

I've always liked fictional geography. Driftwood sounds like an interesting place and I'd like to hear more stories about it now that the explanation and exposition are out of the way.
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ajames
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2009, 06:37:43 AM »

I really enjoyed this story and the reading - more like this please.
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2009, 12:26:26 PM »

Yes, there are at least three religions/cults/ancient civilization that claim a world ending in 2012. With the new movie and the new fad, SciFi Wire did a recap of some known end-of-the-world claims and how they turned out. It's a fun read: http://scifiwire.com/2009/08/2012-15-doomsday-propheci.php

As for the story. The world seems like InterWorld which is why I like it. It's amusing and interesting but 'nice' is the best I could give it. And, of course, the moment they said 'The King is Dead' I knew the next line would be 'Long Live the King' and exactly how the story is going to end.
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« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2009, 08:00:41 PM »

A story centered around geography? I couldn't be more delighted!
There was something so simple and childlike about it. It reminded me of the days when I pretended the supermarket was an exotic country, the spaces between buildings were another dimention, and the back of my wardrobe turned into Narnia.
There was so much to love!
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kibitzer
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« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2009, 08:21:27 PM »

Enjoyed this story very much, and returning to the very interesting world of Driftwood would be wonderful.

I always find it odd when story characters refuse to believe the evidence of their own senses -- as here, where the guy wasn't ready to believe in other worlds. Still, I wonder how I would fare in such a setting.
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Listener
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2009, 09:31:10 AM »

Paul Tevis's readings are always at least adequate. I particularly enjoyed the disdain with which Haint (is that how you spell it?) "corrected" the Councillor's map.

This is a very interesting world; I was vaguely reminded of Hal Duncan's Vellum/Ink in the beginning, though I liked this story much more than I liked Vellum (I've discussed on the forum before how I didn't really care for Vellum). The jump from the MC's world to the first world he left was quite jarring; I would've appreciated a little more of a pause. I've used that technique before -- completely skipping over action that I really didn't want to write (which is what I'm guessing happened here) -- and I appreciated it. Quest stories like this often have a lot of long trooping-through-the-world-interspersed-with-random-encounters scenes and I was glad this one didn't.

The spit thing was particularly visceral and disgusting. Even more so because I was eating dinner (in my car) while listening to it. Blergh.

I think I needed to know more about the thought-process that converted the MC from a heretic to a man who could take on the mantle of the king. And then, at the end, when he's talking to Last, it almost sounded like he was going to leave his world to join Last on his "mission" to guide others through Driftwood. I think the writing could've been sharpened to avoid that confusion, which I imagine wouldn't have happened in text form.

Overall an interesting story with a lot of slow bits.
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2009, 04:06:02 PM »

The Amazing Atheist on YouTube made a pretty good comment about the Mayan calender: "2012! This is when the world is supposedly going to end according to the Mayan calender...the Mayans couldn't forsee the demise of their own civilization, and ritually sacrificed humans to the gods, but they knew when the world was going to end; makes perfect f****** sense!"

On the story though, this was pretty good stuff; a multiverse of dying and new-born realities in a pepetual loop, forever between life and death. Awesome idea! I think I could enjoy some more stories set in the "Driftwood universe". Grin
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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2009, 09:57:32 PM »

It's OK. I managed to not yell "It's 2012 you fools, the world will end in 2012," on the bus. That would have been awkward.

Snip!  Thank you very much!  Got today's done early...

I believe the link you wanted to post was http://scattercatstories.blogspot.com/2009/09/hindsight.html
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DKT
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« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2009, 10:33:42 PM »

I really liked this story. But I LOVE that last line. It just speaks to me  Grin

Paul Tevis did an outstanding job with this story. I loved his portrayal of Haint, and I really dug Last, too. Great narration to a fantastic story.
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« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2009, 07:50:42 AM »

It's OK. I managed to not yell "It's 2012 you fools, the world will end in 2012," on the bus. That would have been awkward.

Snip!  Thank you very much!  Got today's done early...

I believe the link you wanted to post was http://scattercatstories.blogspot.com/2009/09/hindsight.html

Quite right.  I always have trouble with links, for some reason...
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« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2009, 10:18:06 AM »

I liked this one.

I've been contemplating unsubscribing from Podcastle for a little while, having found many of its recent offerings a little too, I dunno, trendy maybe? This is solid fantasy.
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izzardfan
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« Reply #17 on: September 10, 2009, 04:11:06 PM »

I always have trouble with links, for some reason...

Suggestion:  open the page you want to link to in another window (or tab) and highlight the address in the address bar.  (In IE, you can use F6 to do this easily.)  Cut or copy the address and paste it into the post.  Then highlight that address in the post and click on the "Insert Hyperlink" icon above (looks like a globe with a page in front of it).  That's it!
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« Reply #18 on: September 10, 2009, 06:54:25 PM »

I loved his portrayal of Haint, and I really dug Last, too. Great narration to a fantastic story.

Thanks! Haint was terribly fun to do.
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« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2009, 07:41:05 AM »

This was a really enjoyable story.  Now, there seemed to be more world-building than actual story - or, to put it another way, the primary function of the plot was to show us around Driftwood, and have it explained to us how it worked.  But that's not necessarily a bad thing, if the world-building's done well enough.  And it was.
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