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Author Topic: PC071: I'll Give In  (Read 8439 times)
Heradel
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« on: September 24, 2009, 07:38:28 AM »

PodCastle 71: I’ll Give In

by Meghan McCarron.
Read by Rachel Swirsky.

I turned around and found myself face to face with a minotaur.

He was shorter than I would have expected and a bit more — human-y? He had the head of a bull, sure, but he wore a black suit and a skinny black tie, like he had decided to live Pulp Fiction.

“I’m Phil,” he said.

“Phil?” I said.

“It’s easier to say than my real name.”

“Try me.”

Phil grunted something unintelligible. I tried to grunt it back and he started laughing.

“I think your dog would have done a better job,” Phil said. “And you are?”

Rated X. for S-E-X.
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Talia
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2009, 08:13:44 AM »

I had a hard time liking this one mainly because the main character is so unlikeable. I spent most of the episode wanting to punch her in the face. And then she got all whiny and skanky, cheating on the husband who spoiled her. I mean she even pretty much admits she's a spoiled brat at the end. Her husband should have left her, he deserves so much better.

RE: the intro: dude, don't knock heroes. It's still awesome. :p

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DKT
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2009, 10:32:31 AM »

RE: the intro: dude, don't knock heroes. It's still awesome. :p

I agree. The first season of Heroes is still awesome.  Wink
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Swamp
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2009, 12:51:46 PM »

Yeah, the summary blurb said it all: a woman, a minotaur, a sex warning...I saw where it was going, so I bowed out of the story.

However, I did want to say that Dave did a great job with his first hosting gig.  It got a little long just before and after the author/reader bios, but it was good fun stuff that didn't seem too spoilerific.  Rachel "Don't call me mundane" Swirsky--that made me laugh.  I look forward to more of Dave's intros, as well as Rachel's, Ann's, and MK's.  The variety is nice.
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DKT
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2009, 03:21:33 PM »

The feedback is appreciated, Swamp Smiley Glad it made you laugh. 

I know the intro went on a bit this time. I'll make a more concerted effort to keep it shorter next time.

Okay, I'm going to duck out of the thread now and let everyone talk about the Meghan's great little story Smiley
« Last Edit: September 24, 2009, 03:24:07 PM by DKT » Logged

Nobilis
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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2009, 09:00:02 PM »

I don't think it'll surprise anyone that I liked this one.

Specifically, it made me laugh.  I liked the little twists and turns, not that they were particularly twisty, but they were fun to ride.
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ajames
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2009, 05:46:39 AM »

First off, I thought Rachel did a very nice job with the reading. The very beginning sounding tinny and was a little difficult to follow, but that either changed or I stopped noticing it very soon into the story. Rachel seemed to enjoy the reading and gave each character his or her own voice very well.

Second, I've learned a few things about myself. One is that in general I don't like stories set in modern settings with 'old world' fantasy elements thrown in. There are some exceptions, such as the Harry Potter stories. I'm not sure yet, but I think the exceptions for me may work because they all continue to have some divide between the old world mythical creatures and the new world. In Potter's world, the muggles just don't see the old world (and when they do, the magical types intervene and erase their memory). It's not the most clever divide, but it works for me.

But when there is no divide and no explanation for the juxtaposition for the two worlds (Hi honey, a minotaur moved in down the street. That's nice, did it hit on you?), then the author becomes the main character in the story when I'm reading it. What I mean by that, is that I can't get very far in the story without wondering why the author made the choices she or he did for the characters. The characters then become mere vehicles, and any attachment I might have for the story is lost.

The second thing I learned is that I prefer very short intros to stories on EA. I know Steve set the standard and I did enjoy his intros. But things were different then. Steve was the one and only host (I don't listen to pseudopod). He was telling you why he loved doing what he did. It wasn't something that seemed like he did it because he felt he had to, it seemed like he did the intros because he loved to. It seemed like you were being invited into his house, and while you were getting comfortable he was taking a moment to tell you why he loved the story he was about to read to you or a little something about his day, and then all of a sudden it was story time. Well, now I find myself mostly waiting for the intros to be over. I've given it some time to see if the intros would grow on me, and they haven't. I know I can "just skip ahead" (its not really that easy when you are in the car) - I'm just voicing my opinion.
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yicheng
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2009, 03:54:17 PM »

Seriously, this sounds like a toned-down version of Furry pr0n, and as it was: it wasn't half bad.  I can't really think of any other plot elements other than lonely-housewife f*cks the minotaur next door.  She's a thoroughly unsympathetic character, almost one-dimensionally self-absorbed, and one can't help but think she's a partial projection of something/someone in the author's own life.

I'll agree with ajames that Rachel did an excellent reading.  I also thought that the justaposition of mundane and magical world elements was inconsistent.  Minotaur, apparently, aren't remarkable enough to mention outside of dinner small-talk, but sirens and flying horses are special enough to require the skills of a "specialist". 

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Katie
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2009, 09:41:12 AM »

I thought the language and small moments in this created a gorgeous lived realism that contrasted great with the mythic minotaur. I think this type of fantasy, which feels just as grounded in the fiction section of the New Yorker as Fantasy Magazine, is intriguing, because it's just as interested in us (modern peeps) as ancient mythic tropes. I find the meshing of those worlds fascinating, and illuminate the standards of our current times, that I think are difficult to see since we're swimming in it.

Also, I liked the protag, maybe because of her flaws. She felt depressed in a charming way to me, and I loved it that she told her husband the truth, even when he didn't hear her the second time. My only complaint is I wish she would have chosen the minotaur. I mean, come on, dude who likes to discuss literature over scotch and is an ancient mythic beast?
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stePH
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2009, 01:03:31 PM »

Can DKT take over Escape Pod instead of Norm?  Grin
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2009, 05:50:25 PM »

Unpalatable MC, but then again I'm more familiar with NASCAR-crazed lawyers rather than biker lawyers, so it's probably due to a lack of a common reference point.

I'm all for incorporating the fantastic into the mundane, but a little more internal consistency here would have been nice.  A minotaur living next door is nothing to marvel at, but when you've got to deal with winged horses and sirens it's something truly out of the ordinary?  To me, it's like saying it's OK to go out partying with the satyrs but not the centaurs because they're total trash.  It just didn't seem consistent to me, but as a short story I don't know how this could have been handled differently.

Then again, it's rather moot as the MC just really didn't engage me much.
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Swamp
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« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2009, 08:57:10 PM »

Can DKT take over Escape Pod instead of Norm?  Grin

Norm has not taken over EP.  He is a recurring occasional co-host.  I don't know how the schedule is worked out but Steve hasn't left and will still be hosting often.  Sorry for the interruption/correction.

But I'm with you that DKT did good as host here on PC.  He would do welll at EP and PP as well.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 09:09:49 PM by Swamp » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2009, 09:32:59 PM »

I do have to agree with the negative reactions to the main character; there just wasn't much to like in her.  However, I found this story to be pleasantly nuanced as a result.  That is, I often see stories about infidelity and marriage which have an axe to grind, one way or the other.  Either the marriage is choking and stupefying and the illicit love brings the spark of liveliness back, or else the temptation is preternaturally compelling and the violation is punished as a perverse betrayal of trust.  This story presented a very real situation, two people who are compatible but not completely living in a marriage which is pleasant enough, though it has rough spots.  One spouse has second thoughts, is tempted by the physicality of a new partner, resists, succumbs, feels guilty, and we end with reconciliation, but not in a "love conquers all" manner.  Instead, there are repercussions from the betrayal; the foundation of their partnership is weakened, now.

I enjoyed the surreal fantastic elements; they add a layer of secondary meanings to pick through and interpret, which lets me get my English major jollies.  The maze which "isn't really that hard" to navigate can be taken any number of ways, for instance; say that the boundaries of a marriage, supposedly fraught with difficulties and ringed about with sturdy walls, are really quite easy to move past if you're looking to do so.  Or the exaggerated masculinity of the minotaur neighbor, with his bull's head, his musky scent, his 'man-cave,' and his high-powered assault rifles, yet also with his almost comical sensitivity and "good lover" vibe, which makes him like a caricature of the ideal heteronormative male romantic partner.  The woman longs for this "perfect man," but finds the actual experience both too intense and not real enough; there are threads upon threads of symbolism and metaphor here, about the perception of others versus their reality, about cultural norms and sexual preferences, about fantasies and practicality.  Just all kinds of stuff.  Fun times. 

Possibly not my favorite story ever, but I think it's got a lot more going for it than it's been given credit for so far in this thread.  It might have furry porn, but it isn't just furry porn.  (Not to pick on you, yicheng; no offense intended.)
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2009, 09:50:04 PM »

I didn't think there was enough depth to the story. Ultimately it didn't feel like the fantasy aspects were all that important. Fantastical creatures and nothing interesting done with them. It was just a story about infidelity...oh yeah, and the other man's a mythical beast.

On a personal note, the main character reminded me of a very bad place to have been. Every man who tries to be a good man, who tries to give his lover/wife/whatever everything, feels this insecurity. That no matter how good you are, or how much she SAYS she loves you (or how much she actually MAY love you), she'll drop you for the first magical beast that pays attention to her. Or worse, she WON'T drop you; she'll just apologize and come back. And you'll take her back, because you really do love her despite of the pain she causes you, and she knows it too. And you have to come to terms with the fact that all the love you have for her can't MAKE her be faithful to you, that some things are just beyond your control, and you have to make some hard decisions about what YOU want from this relationship and end up feeling guilty and selfish because of it...

...ahem. Anyway. Not my favorite story.
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2009, 10:06:31 PM »

I didn't think there was enough depth to the story. Ultimately it didn't feel like the fantasy aspects were all that important. Fantastical creatures and nothing interesting done with them. It was just a story about infidelity...oh yeah, and the other man's a mythical beast.

I don't know that one can equate "depth" with "fantasy elements are prominent."  That is, people are complaining that the fantasy elements are just "grafted on" the real world, which is true, but that doesn't cause the story itself to be shallow.  You yourself had quite a strong reaction to it, recognizing something in the story which rings true to you (and makes you uncomfortable).  Is that not what constitutes "depth?"  To me, a "deep" story is one which can be read on multiple levels and one which has something you can take away from it, some insight or idea.

I think this ties in a bit with discussions of genre literature, what it means to be "genre," and why genre literature ends up being regarded as "less" than "real" literature.  Many genre readers want a fully-realized other world to explore, and they read a fantasy story in order to see this other place.  But the more a given world deviates from the "normal" world, the more time the author has to spend explaining the world and the less time the author has to construct relationships and three-dimensional characters. 

It just puzzles me that someone who sees and recognizes the very human relationship at the core of this story would say that it lacked depth.  I can see how someone who thinks this was just erotica, or just a "lazy fantasy" that didn't bother to create a whole other world, might disregard that...

(I don't think this story is "lazy fantasy," either.  If you removed the fantastical elements, it would not be the same story.  It needs the "magical" creatures to heighten and exaggerate traits in order to create the drama, and the fact that it is a minotaur rather than just an attractive new neighbor really is integral to the way the story plays out; were this written as a real-world story, Phil would seem unrealistic, because he IS unrealistic.  He's a fantasy man, too big, too masculine, too perfect.  In that way, he is not just the neighbor whom the unfaithful wife doinks, but he is almost an embodiment of the fantasies of a bored housewife.  He personifies the restlessness that comes with marriage and monogamy.  He is the Seven Year Itch.)
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Kanasta
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« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2009, 02:55:10 PM »

I enjoyed this story although I can see why some people wouldn't. Funnily, there has also been a recent Escape Pod story, The Kindness of Strangers, which had similarities- a story about a relationship with a "sci-fi wrapper", as one commentor put it, and I guess you could say the same about this except it has a fantasy wrapper. I didn't like the other story though, but with this one I think the combination worked. I viewed the introduction of fantastical elements in a 'realistic' world as a bit like the presence of Hollywood stars in our world- so you know that Angelina Jolie exists, but you would still be surprised if she moved in next door! (Well, I would anyway maybe some of you lead more glamourous lives!  Smiley ). Perhaps a minotaur is just like a soap opera star- rather exotic, but nothing amazing, whereas the sirens are a bit more A-list! I quite like this treatment of fantasy, as opposed to a world that has elves and dragons on every corner.
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Gia
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« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2009, 08:15:09 PM »

You know the part where they're killing sirens and Phil says that it's okay because their not human? Isn't Phil technically not human? That would make it okay for Oscar to kill Phil, wouldn't it? I would have liked to at least see him try.  He came back to her too easily and a good fight would really test Jane's loyalty.
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AliceNred
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« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2009, 05:50:11 PM »

I loved the idea of living among myth in a modern setting but somehow I thought this should be stronger. You could change a few things and have it be mundane.
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thomasowenm
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« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2009, 03:10:52 PM »

I felt cheated by this story.  We have this mysterious maze next door and all we find in it is a cottage?  No explanation of why the minotaur is hired to guard this construction project, or who hired him.  the only thing I can think the point of this story is an avenue for beastial porn.   Although erotica is not my personal flavor, I am not averse to it as long as it has a engaging plot and rape is not glorified.  At least this story did not do the later, but the plot was so shallow it was annoying.

On the plus side DKT did a decent job for a first time, but cut it shorter next time please.
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2009, 10:55:45 PM »

Can DKT take over Escape Pod instead of Norm?  Grin

I don't want to lose Norm, he's ace.

This story was... odd.
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