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Author Topic: PC075: The Man Who Carved Skulls  (Read 5883 times)
Heradel
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« on: October 29, 2009, 07:14:04 AM »

PodCastle 75: The Man Who Carved Skulls

By Richard Parks.
Read by Wilson Fowlie.

“I married your mother for her skull. It’s no secret.”

Jarak put aside his rasps and gouges for the moment, resting his eyes and mind from the precise, exacting work his trade demanded. He didn’t mind his son’s persistent questions at such times. Akan was at an age when he should be curious and, if curiosity was a duty, Akan was a dedicated boy. It wasn’t as though Purlo the Baker, whose skull rested patiently on Jarak’s workbench, was in a hurry.

Akan nodded. “Mother is pretty,” he said. “Often men of the village speak about what a fortunate man Jarak the Skullcarver is.”

“Letis is indeed the most beautiful woman in Trepa and for seven leagues around. But that’s not the same thing. The ugliest man alive during your grandfather’s time turned out to have a skull of exquisite beauty, as your grandfather knew all along…

Rated R. for morbid themes. Happy Halloween!
« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 12:59:54 AM by Heradel » Logged

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Talia
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2009, 10:28:29 PM »

I couldnt get over the fundimental selfishness of the mother. "Yes, I will let my son kill me so his life will be ruined so I can have the most beautiful skull as my husband promised me!"

Maybe I'm wrong, I'm not a mom, but it seems to me having a child would have changed her viewpoint over the years, lessened her obsession with the skull carving some. I donno. Just really struck me as very shallow that she took it down the path that she did.

Perhaps its just the culture is so alien. I mean, the culture I currently live in focuses on the family, on continuing the family, taking care of your offspring, focusing on the future.

This culture seems to focus more on the past.

At any rate.. I found all the characters inherently unlikeable - PERHAPS because of the cultural differences. But their behavior was so anathema to what I know of people, that I couldn't justify it.

Interesting cultural depiction, though.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2009, 11:24:04 PM »

I think the most interesting aspect was the twist on the Deceiver/Enemy of God mythology.  I'm always fascinated by fantastic theologies, and extending "the world is a dream" into "the Enemy wants to waken the Sleeper and thus end the world" makes for a very interesting thought exercise.  I approve of the thwarted romantic love explanation, but I think there are others, bubbling just below the surface.  I love assimilating a new theology and philosophy; it's like a full steak dinner for the mind.

The actual characters in the actual were kind of meh.  I'm with Talia on them mostly being selfish, almost incomprehensibly so, and thus less empathetic. 

So for me, this was just another item to add to my list of Alternate Satans.  It was a novel enough twist that I'm content with that.
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2009, 12:30:02 AM »

This story reminded me of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want".
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eytanz
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2009, 05:48:42 AM »

I had a very similar reaction to Talia. This is, ultimately, a story of bad parenting - both parents are quite happy to let the son sacrifice himself in order to satisfy their own desires. Especially the mother, but it doesn't sound like the father tried to stop him or anything.

I love my parents dearly, and I will do much for them, but they will be appaled if I ever chose their happiness over my own. The way I was raised was always quite explicitly - "we give to you, as out parents gave to us, so that one day you may give to your children". I look forward to the day when I have my own children so that I can pay my debt to my parents forward. The characters' choices in this story are alien to me, far more alien than their society's treatment of the dead (which I actually found rather admirable).
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stePH
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2009, 10:52:51 AM »

I think the most interesting aspect was the twist on the Deceiver/Enemy of God mythology.  I'm always fascinated by fantastic theologies, and extending "the world is a dream" into "the Enemy wants to waken the Sleeper and thus end the world" makes for a very interesting thought exercise.  I approve of the thwarted romantic love explanation, but I think there are others, bubbling just below the surface.  I love assimilating a new theology and philosophy; it's like a full steak dinner for the mind.

Agreed, this was the best part of the story.
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2009, 01:53:24 PM »

I think the most interesting aspect was the twist on the Deceiver/Enemy of God mythology.  I'm always fascinated by fantastic theologies, and extending "the world is a dream" into "the Enemy wants to waken the Sleeper and thus end the world" makes for a very interesting thought exercise.  I approve of the thwarted romantic love explanation, but I think there are others, bubbling just below the surface.  I love assimilating a new theology and philosophy; it's like a full steak dinner for the mind.

I also found the theology intriguing. I thought that it was appropriate that their goddess was called the Dreamer because all creator gods are dreamers in a sense, just as all destroyers are nightmares. The theology of dreams is especially effective in how it portrayed a greater existence beyond our own. I wonder how Somna and Gehun (sp on both?) interact in this greater existence (Are they lovers or is he just a stalker?) and who esle is there.

Mr. Fowlie, between this one and the dybbuk one you are now my favorite narrator. Hooray for you Smiley. Akan's voice (when he was little) was so cute that I wanted to cuddle him.
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« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2009, 04:43:37 PM »

Hi everybody!  I recognize some of you from over on Pseudopod where I've been remorselessly performing threadomancy for quite some time.  Alas, I've run out of Pseudopod stories to listen to, so now on to another Escape Artists output!

Anyway, this is the first Podcastle story I've listened to.  It had a lot of interesting ideas, including the chronicling of your life on your skull, the moral dilemma of the husband who must kill his wife to fulfill his betrothal promise to her.  I liked the theology here with the love story between the two deities--very cool.

But, like others, I found it hard to be sympathetic with these selfish characters.

All in all, not a bad story to be my first. 
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DKT
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« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2009, 04:49:44 PM »

Yay! Nice to have you on this side of the boards, Unblinking Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2009, 08:09:11 PM »

This seemed like a story that was written around a killer opening sentence.  (That's not a complaint.)
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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2009, 11:14:43 AM »

Oh, and since this is my first episode, I guess I"ll make some more general comments about the presentation.  Keep in mind these are biased because I've spent the last few months listening to Pseudopod.

-The mp3's don't alphabetize very nicely in order.  If I want to listen to them in any particular order there's a lot of scrolling back and forth.  and some of the episodes have the same number on them, both The Man Who Carved Skulls and The Curandero and the Swede are listed by filename as being episode 75, for instance.

-I like it when the author's name is listed in the "artist name" data.  I file all the stories under the Podcastle album, so having the artist name be "Podcastle" does not give me any new information.  If the author name is there, then if I forget in mid-story one glance at my iPod and I remember that this was written by <insert name here>.

-I don't like the feedback about previous episodes being listed at the end.  Much of the reason for this is that I am listening to these first few in reverse order, so the feedback is for episodes I haven't listened to yet.  Also, I can read people's comments on the forums and I love to do so after I listen to a story, but it makes that kind of a redundant effort if some of the comments will also be re-listed in future stories.  Again, I may be biased, but on Pseudopod I enjoy Alasdair's intros and outros almost as much as the stories themselves.
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Talia
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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2009, 01:02:54 PM »

I think you're probably out of luck about when the episode feedback is read, for a couple reasons. 

1) we've had discussions of intro formats here on the forums before. Most people (not all) tend to prefer a shorter intro and to get right into the story. This is purely a matter of taste. You can't please everyone.

2)its not terribly redundant -  Keep in mind you're only getting a couple snippets of the feedback discussions that go on here on the boards. Frequently the discussion threads are significantly more expansive.

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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2009, 02:40:25 PM »

I think you're probably out of luck about when the episode feedback is read, for a couple reasons. 

1) we've had discussions of intro formats here on the forums before. Most people (not all) tend to prefer a shorter intro and to get right into the story. This is purely a matter of taste. You can't please everyone.

2)its not terribly redundant -  Keep in mind you're only getting a couple snippets of the feedback discussions that go on here on the boards. Frequently the discussion threads are significantly more expansive.

I realize a change in format isn't going to occur simply because of one person's opinion.  But, since this lovely forum has been provided for me to give my feedback, that's my feedback.  Smiley
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Talia
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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2009, 02:48:36 PM »

And I was just providing feedback on your feedback. Which prompted your feedback on my feedback of your feedback. And I'm not providing feedback on your feedback on my feedback of your feedback -

AHHHHHHHHH *mind melts*

Wink
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DKT
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« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2009, 02:50:58 PM »

Perhaps I should quote the feedback you've both given in my next feedback section?  Wink
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2009, 03:55:57 PM »

Perhaps I should quote the feedback you've both given in my next feedback section?  Wink

I will not clean up any infinite feedback loops you create. There are some things a semi-omni-potent moderator will not touch.
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« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2009, 04:03:38 PM »

Perhaps I should quote the feedback you've both given in my next feedback section?  Wink

Metafeedback!  Recursion is a dangerous thing.  I'm afraid by even suggesting it, you'll begin to unravel the fabric of the space-time continuum--based on all the time travel movies I've seen, it's getting pretty tattered the way it is!
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« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2009, 04:05:06 PM »

And I was just providing feedback on your feedback. Which prompted your feedback on my feedback of your feedback. And I'm not providing feedback on your feedback on my feedback of your feedback -

AHHHHHHHHH *mind melts*

Wink

 Grin
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DKT
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« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2009, 04:17:00 PM »

Perhaps I should quote the feedback you've both given in my next feedback section?  Wink

Metafeedback!  Recursion is a dangerous thing.  I'm afraid by even suggesting it, you'll begin to unravel the fabric of the space-time continuum--based on all the time travel movies I've seen, it's getting pretty tattered the way it is!

Pfshaw. Been there, done that  Grin
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Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
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Part-Time Psychopomp.


« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2009, 04:27:59 PM »

>sudo
Password:
>kill -1
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