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Author Topic: PC073: Rapunzel  (Read 11820 times)

Heradel

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on: October 08, 2009, 03:44:33 PM
PodCastle 073: Rapunzel

by Tanith Lee.
Read by Rajan Khanna.

Excerpt not included this week. You’ll just have to listen!

Rated PG. for revisionist “history.”

Bonus: If you enjoyed this week’s Tanith Lee story, you might want to go check out Fantasy Magazine’s audio version of “Clockatrice” by Tanith Lee, read by perennial PodCastle favorite M. K. Hobson. Enjoy!

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Biscuit

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Reply #1 on: October 09, 2009, 01:36:17 AM
The feminist in me was really banging my head on the desk at this one.

- Raped at 15, yet she "seemed unperturbed" by the past? Must've have been those witchy ways and her "special potion" that will get you back. *thonk thonk*

- "While he did the male jobs around the cottage". Whai Mister Prince, hao EVAH did ah survahv 'round hair withawt you tah do those icky manly man male male ewey chop wood jawbs! *thonk thonk thonk*

- The "black eyed, black tempered" princess. One dimensional stereotype, which couldn't possibly have anything to do with her sole purpose in life being a piece of chattel? *thonk thonk thonk thonk!*

- Having to make up some preposterous story to explain why he got a 17 year old knocked up on his way home from a war, then "bringing her to the safety" of the castle, forcing her to live a lie for the rest of her days for the sake of comfort and getting one up on the old man and the bitch he didn't really want to marry. *brain scattered in unctuous mess on desk*

*edit* Oh oh yes, let's not forget that our hero wasn't ACTUALLY a prince, yet was quite happy with the thought of becoming one by proxy of marriage ("Let's call him DAD") to the bitch princess he didn't like, AND he was also quite happy to fudge the truth with his heroine, AND take his place as a prince ANYWAY because he made up cool war/rescue stories for dear old dad. Just put a bell on our dear black eyed princess and call her Daisy, already!
« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 02:00:44 AM by Biscuit »



smithmikeg

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Reply #2 on: October 09, 2009, 03:18:03 AM
It made my day to be mentioned in the feedback section, thanks!

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Reply #3 on: October 09, 2009, 07:37:06 AM
The retelling was nice - I always like a good re-imagining of an old story - but why on Earth did we have to listen to the entire story of Rapunzel again?  If you're going to do an alternate version of a fairy tale, then run with that and don't tell us the original, too.  It frankly bored me, and there wasn't much after it to justify having to sit through it for the purposes of the story.

Otherwise, solid marks, pretty good, no serious complaints (though the line about "manly work" got an eyeroll from me, as well.)

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Portrait in Flesh

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Reply #4 on: October 10, 2009, 12:23:20 AM
The retelling was nice - I always like a good re-imagining of an old story - but why on Earth did we have to listen to the entire story of Rapunzel again?  If you're going to do an alternate version of a fairy tale, then run with that and don't tell us the original, too.  It frankly bored me, and there wasn't much after it to justify having to sit through it for the purposes of the story.

That's pretty much my reaction.  While listening to the end I keep wondering "wait, this isn't just a recap of the original, is it?"  It was a letdown.  Not quite as bad as an "and then I woke up" ending, but scarcely better.

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Talia

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Reply #5 on: October 10, 2009, 04:17:28 AM
Maybe I missed something, but I didn't pick up on where the name "Rapunzel" came from. It almost seemed like it was supposed to be a final twist or something, but it wasnt since it's right in the title.

Don't have much to say about it otherwise. The "salad" thing was really odd.



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Reply #6 on: October 10, 2009, 05:04:51 AM
The salad is a part of the original story.  "Rapunzel" is part of the German name for a type of lettuce.  In the fairy tale, her mother craved the rapunzel growing in the witch's garden.  Her father stole the lettuce to feed his wife and they named the child Rapunzel in honor of the craved lettuce.  The theft, in turn, led to the witch demanding Rapunzel herself as payment for the stolen rapunzel. 

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Talia

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Reply #7 on: October 10, 2009, 05:22:29 AM
"Rapunzel" is part of the German name for a type of lettuce. 

OH.  I didn't catch the name the first time though, I guess. Well, that makes sense.. though its still weird. :)



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Reply #8 on: October 11, 2009, 02:55:29 PM
*edit* Oh oh yes, let's not forget that our hero wasn't ACTUALLY a prince, yet was quite happy with the thought of becoming one by proxy of marriage ("Let's call him DAD") to the bitch princess he didn't like, AND he was also quite happy to fudge the truth with his heroine, AND take his place as a prince ANYWAY because he made up cool war/rescue stories for dear old dad. Just put a bell on our dear black eyed princess and call her Daisy, already!

I missed this somehow; I thought he was actually a son of "the dad", with two older brothers.


I enjoyed the story.  The only other Tanith Lee I've read is Electric Forest which I found strange, and surprising at the end ... but I liked that also.   I have The Secret Books of Paradys volumes 1-4, The Wars of Vis, and Red as Blood on my shelf as-yet unread.

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #9 on: October 12, 2009, 11:26:43 AM
I adore retellings of older stories. And overall I REALLY enjoyed this one. After the "inner feminist" comments I feel slightly guilty about it... but meh still enjoyed. :)

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Kanasta

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Reply #10 on: October 12, 2009, 06:56:13 PM
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, as when it started I did think "Oh, not another fairytale retelling.. done already". But I liked the way that he wasn't really a retelling, but a whole new story, and a funny explanation for how the fairytale itself came about. Definitely let down by the rape anecdote though; a couple of days of diarrhoea considered sufficient punishment for a rapist? Erm, don't think so. That aside... enjoyable.

Personally, I did not mind the retelling of the 'original' fairytale at the end, as I found that, although I thought I knew the Rapunzel story, on hearing this I realised I had forgotten all the detail, so it was good to have my memory refreshed.



Kaa

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Reply #11 on: October 12, 2009, 07:10:30 PM
I was going to say I enjoyed this, and then I read Biscuit's "tirade" and now I'm afraid to. :)

(But I did like it.)

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ajames

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Reply #12 on: October 13, 2009, 12:56:53 AM
*edit* Oh oh yes, let's not forget that our hero wasn't ACTUALLY a prince, yet was quite happy with the thought of becoming one by proxy of marriage ("Let's call him DAD") to the bitch princess he didn't like, AND he was also quite happy to fudge the truth with his heroine, AND take his place as a prince ANYWAY because he made up cool war/rescue stories for dear old dad. Just put a bell on our dear black eyed princess and call her Daisy, already!

I missed this somehow; I thought he was actually a son of "the dad", with two older brothers.

He was - his hesitant use of the term 'the dad' was due to his feeling distant from his father and his father's preference to be called king. The King chose the lady to be the bride of his son because she was supposedly the child of a witch (or the grand daughter). I actually thought Rapunzel was a strong character, although her reaction to the rape was bizarre, to say the least. I think the title must have been decided after the story was written, or all the effort not to say her name is also bizarre.

I did enjoy this story. I'd be okay if was the last retold fairy tale for awhile, though.


[Edit: fixed quote, added last comment.]
« Last Edit: October 13, 2009, 10:15:53 AM by ajames »



Biscuit

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Reply #13 on: October 13, 2009, 02:30:38 AM
I was going to say I enjoyed this, and then I read Biscuit's "tirade" and now I'm afraid to. :)

(But I did like it.)

Heh, s'ok - I know I come across as quite strong. I've been reframing a lot of literature (inc my fave SF&F) of late.

I was kinda hoping there'd be some sexual politics punchline to those fairly blatant examples (esp the rape comment), but I'm wondering if it was more shock value.

Ok on the "dad" references.

yes, I agree that Rapunzel was strong, which made the comments about "male jobs" and being sold into servitude wierd in contrast to her "I'll be ok if you want to take off and leave me with the baby" speech.

Overall, the moral I get from the story is that "people make stuff up to make themselves sound more heroic".


Cerebrilith

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Reply #14 on: October 13, 2009, 03:12:31 PM
In one light this seems like it's supposed to be a feminist take on the Rapunzel story because she's all living independently in the woods and doesn't need no man to take care of her babies and can take him or leave him, but it undermines itself in a lot of ways.  The story just wasn't good enough for me to want to spend a lot of time recapping them.  A lot of the key problems have already been hit on by the first poster.

What this story reminds me of was a local news story I once saw about women taking lessons in dancing on a stripper pole as an exercise in empowerment.  Those women seemed a lot less liberated and more like slaves who've taken up the master's whip and started beating themselves with it.



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Reply #15 on: October 13, 2009, 03:49:21 PM
Can I just say how happy I was to hear Rajan Khanna reading again? The guy's voice is nothing short of awesome.


alllie

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Reply #16 on: October 16, 2009, 04:57:13 PM
Well, that made me tear up. Tanith Lee is such a great writer. She's written over 70 books and some of them she really hacked out but some of them are so wonderful that I buy every book she ever writes. Well, except for a few old ones that are so expensive I can't afford them. I even forget sometimes and buy one I already have, so anxious am I not to miss some new magic from her pen.

You should start with Bite the Sun. It's really two books, Don't Bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine, both great fun. You'll enjoy them. Then if you like them enough you'll start down the path to filling shelves with her work.

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The green thickened in clusters on the trees, and the stars were thinner and more bright on the boughs of darkness. Then a golden border stitched itself into the trees. Tanith Lee

« Last Edit: October 16, 2009, 05:19:43 PM by alllie »



alllie

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Reply #17 on: October 16, 2009, 05:05:42 PM
Maybe I missed something, but I didn't pick up on where the name "Rapunzel" came from. It almost seemed like it was supposed to be a final twist or something, but it wasnt since it's right in the title.

Don't have much to say about it otherwise. The "salad" thing was really odd.

Rapunzel is a kind of plant. In some countries it looks like cabbage, in others a little like asparagus. Look up "Rapunzel plant" in google images and you are shown various plants it might refer to, but which one varies from place to place.  Calling a child Rapunzel would be like naming it "cabbage" or "asparagus". So the salad references were cute to me.



kibitzer

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Reply #18 on: October 20, 2009, 03:51:20 AM
I didn't realise she'd been writing so long! 1968 you say?


LaShawn

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Reply #19 on: October 23, 2009, 04:46:39 PM
I'm sorry, but this was one of those stories I stopped listening to after five minutes. It just didn't catch my interest, and I wasn't hearing anything new.

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eytanz

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Reply #20 on: October 23, 2009, 10:10:42 PM
I enjoyed this story, though it really took its time to start getting interesting. My main problem was that the characters were so amiable that, really, there was little story to this. They're just fully in love with each other, and in sync with each other, and the bad things in the past (including rape!) just slide off them like water off a duck in a raincoat.

As far as a reworking of a fairytale goes, this seems like a Disney reworking with more sex - take the original story and make it friendlier, in contrast to the normal contemporary literary retellings that tend to focus on the problems.



Listener

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Reply #21 on: October 27, 2009, 12:59:58 PM
The reading was great, as usual. If Rajan Khanna hasn't submitted his readings to audiobook companies, he needs to start doing so.

I have to admit, I'm not a huge Tanith Lee fan, and to be honest I didn't really notice the feminist/sexual politics stuff until I read about it here. The only possible reason I could think of for the rape retelling to be included was to legitimize the heroine offering Erlen her bed as a form of payment, but even then... ehh?

Overall the story wasn't too bad. I think it was really more about Erlen trying to please his father than Rapunzel herself. But even then it got a little saccharine at the end.

Fairy tale retellings as a genre I'm not terribly unhappy with -- I've even written one of my own, which is now being considered by The Lorelei Signal, but the fairy tale I chose isn't one you might think of as a traditional fairy tale -- but I think readers are a little jaded on them by this point. I remember them being a LOT bigger in the 90s, when I first got into fantasy fic -- for example, the first time I read Sheri S. Tepper's "Beauty", I quite enjoyed it.

The reading saved the episode.

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David Steffen

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Reply #22 on: November 03, 2009, 11:11:27 PM
I just wanted to say I was excited to hear Rajan Khanna reading, and a mention of the Shadows of the Emerald City anthology where he and I both have stories.   ;D



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Reply #23 on: November 04, 2009, 07:44:00 PM
I gave this one a chance, but didn't finish it. 

The girl was surprisingly nonchalant about the rape in her past.  How did that not effect her?  Oh she gave him a little laxative, that made her feel better...  And then these two meet up and start screwing like rabbits almost immediately.  And then nothing much continues to happen for a long, long time, and I just gave up.