Author Topic: PC076: The Small Door  (Read 7074 times)

Heradel

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PC076: The Small Door
« on: November 05, 2009, 02:30:11 PM »
Podcastle 76: The Small Door

By Holly Phillips
Read by Tina Connolly

Originally published in Fantasy Magazine.

Neither knew what the Weirdo did with his captives, but it was hard to think of a possibility that wasn’t horrible. Not when you saw that figure, with its thatched gray hair, lumpy shoulders and white hands as big as baseball gloves, carry some hapless creature into the house with the broken drainpipes and curtained windows. Even cooking and eating seemed too simple, too close to human.

“Sal,” Macey said, “we’ve got to find out.”

“You keep saying that.” Sal picked fuzzies off the bedspread, her mind drifting to the fair’s candy-bright commotion.

“But now I have a plan.”

Rated PG: Contains weirdos, children (the two are not mutually exclusive), and a very small door.

Mod note: The initial version of the RSS feed went out with a slight typo in the title, it has been fixed but may remain for those whose podcatchers downloaded the episode before it was fixed.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2009, 08:24:12 AM by Heradel »
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Gia

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2009, 07:34:09 PM »
I liked the characters, especially Sal who was well-formed a believable.
It took a while to get to the fantasy and even though I always know from the beginning that the Weirdo would be a nice guy and I had figured out where the door went by the time they got to the basement, none of that was really a problem for me. The story was able to stand on its own. I think that if the door was taken out and the Weirdo merely took the animals to shelters or something, then I still would have liked the story and I would assume that the fantasy came from the everyday magic of seeing people in a new light and finding the good in others. That sounded cheesy, didn't it? :-\ Who cares? I liked it.

MacArthurBug

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2009, 01:42:56 PM »
This was fantastic. Strange and sad. The fragile caution and dismissal of a concerned child. Wonderous
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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2009, 06:08:55 PM »
This story had kind of a Rear Window vibe going for it.  I liked it.  Sal was presented very well.  It was easy to relate to her and care for her.  The dialog between her and the Weirdo was realistic.  Her short plea "My sister?" at the end was touching and full of hope.  Their discussion of it was short, but you could feel the emotion.

One thing that seemed out of place was the carnival.  Was that just the representation of the fun that Sal was denied due to the attention to her sister or was there more to it.  I'm not sure if it needed as much focus as it was given.

I like the idea of the magazine recommendations and look forward to the rest of the month.
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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2009, 12:01:04 AM »
This story's shape was clear from the beginning, but I think the mark of a well-told tale is when you can see how it will go but are able to sit and enjoy the ride.  In particular, I liked this story's use of dialogue.  The characters were clearly portrayed, each with a distinct voice and all speaking like real people, i.e. never saying what they actually mean, leaving thoughts and statements unfinished, shifting tones in the middle of a speech.  So often dialogue is polished down like everything else in a story, carefully angled to reflect just the right bits of narrative.  This dialogue was reminiscent of a well-planned landscape; on the surface, it resembles wild plant life, things growing haphazardly, but on closer inspection one sees the underlying structure of the design.  The hand of the gardener is evident, but only to one seeking its signs, and nowhere obtruding on the natural beauty of the scene. 

Good dialogue is startlingly rare.  I am pleased to see it wielded with such deftness and skill.
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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2009, 02:40:51 PM »
This is the first Podcastle story that I've listened to so far (only a handful of course) that I could heartily recommend.  That's a relief--I was starting to wonder if my tastes were just unsuited for this podcast, so I'm happy to know they are not.  Or at least, not always.

This was a great story and well-told.  The dialogue was believable.  The ill sister watching obsessively out her bedroom window provided a tension that felt real and kept me asking what was going to happen next.  The interaction between her and her sister was fantastic, especially how her sister, having no ability to do things except through her sister, would have the first reaction after her sister went through the trash of "You must have missed something".

The weirdo took on a Boo Radley sort of light throughout the thing (not a bad thing).

The only thing I'm not sure I liked was the ending.  After all this buildup we find out that this man has the means to cure illness and give people what they most desire.  But in the end, this ray of hope is offered at the same time as it's shot down--the door is too small.  How cruel!  Not that that makes it a bad story, but it just makes the ending especially depressing.

I do think it's a cool idea to have other magazines recommend their favorite.  I really enjoy Fantasy Magazine, so no surprise that I liked their suggestion.

Ocicat

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2009, 02:53:53 PM »
It was kind of a shame that I could guess where this story was going just because of what podcast it was on.  I kept thinking about how different a feeling I'd have of it were it presented on Pseudopod. 

But it was still an enjoyable ride - I really liked the details of the relationship between the sisters.  And I agree that even if the fantasy element had been dropped it would have been a fine story.  But still, it did add a little something, if only for the bit about it being a small door...

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2009, 08:51:08 PM »
Even though I saw where this story was going, I really enjoyed the journey.  It was a simple story, simply told and that was its power.  It reminded me a bit of the movie "The Sandlot" and I mean that in the nicest possible way.  I would love to learn what happens with Sal and the old man once this story ends.  Does she start helping him with the animals and eventually take his place? 

I'm very, very glad the story didn't end with either a miracle healing or a death for Macy.  The author had the courtesy to leave me with the power to decide what happens.

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2009, 02:18:28 AM »
This is a very sweet, very enjoyable story. Some pretty heavy "To Kill A Mockingbird" overtones there but that's OK. The reality and motivations of each character shine through.

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2009, 11:18:58 PM »
I liked this story, and what's more, I didn't think I would. 

I supposed I had a strong suspicion of where the story was going, but when Sal sees the first critter in the cage and its condition, my expectation got derailed.  I also thought there was a lot of stuff going on that gave the story a "bigger world" feel to it like the carnival and Macey's condition.  Finally, the unabashed way that the characters talked --- referring to the guy as "a weirdo," making comments like "you fought like a girl" --- were very in character.

I thought that Tina Collony's performance/reading was also quite good.  I bought her a tastee cup-cake as a reward, but it seems to have gone missing (burp).

Whatever

P.S. I wrote up the episode as well as Podcastle at http://blather-n-rants.blogspot.com
P.P.S. Yes, I use "whatever" as my pseudonym.

Heradel

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2009, 11:23:29 PM »
[...]
P.P.S. Yes, I use "whatever" as my pseudonym.
Believe me, hereabouts that isn't that far a pseudonym from the beaten path. Welcome, hope you like it here in our little corner of the internet.
I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2009, 11:14:07 AM »
It was kind of a shame that I could guess where this story was going just because of what podcast it was on.  I kept thinking about how different a feeling I'd have of it were it presented on Pseudopod.

Fools seldom differ -- I mean, great minds think alike ...


... "me too," is what I mean to say.  My thoughts were something along the lines of "if this were on Pseuopod, that Weirdo would certainly be up to something awful."  That this was on PC and not PP had me certain that The Weirdo would not be the villain Macy made him out to be.
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Talia

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2009, 12:18:17 PM »
and if it had been on Escape Pod? :) perhaps he would have been taking in injured animals and modding them with electronics, creating a veritable army of animal cyborgs.

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2009, 06:22:41 PM »
and if it had been on Escape Pod? :) perhaps he would have been taking in injured animals and modding them with electronics, creating a veritable army of animal cyborgs.

And it would have been awesome.

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2009, 07:42:10 PM »
Another thought that kept crossing my mind as I listened was "Macy is e-Macy-ated."

... yeah ....  :-\
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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2009, 05:21:34 PM »
That this was on PC and not PP had me certain that The Weirdo would not be the villain Macy made him out to be.

You know, the really lovely thing for me is that I have all of my Escape Artists podcasts in one playlist, so after I was a couple of minutes in, I'd completely forgotten whether it was PC, PP, or EP. I kept trying to remember, but I was on a bicycle, and I didn't want to either stop or rewind, so I figured I'd just listen it out.

It made Sal heading into the basement far more nerve-wracking than otherwise, but that's probably a good thing, isn't it? Less predictability isn't bad.

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2009, 05:42:34 PM »
You know, the really lovely thing for me is that I have all of my Escape Artists podcasts in one playlist, so after I was a couple of minutes in, I'd completely forgotten whether it was PC, PP, or EP.

I have a single playlist  for all three EA 'casts as well, but I've not yet lost track of which one I'm listening to.  And I was on the roof stringing holiday icicle lights at the time.
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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2009, 12:49:55 PM »
That this was on PC and not PP had me certain that The Weirdo would not be the villain Macy made him out to be.

I'm not sure you could rule out villany in a PC piece just because of the podcast.  The man would have to be villainous to qualify for PP for sure, because there were no other horror elements, but as long as there's a fantasy element it could qualify here.  So he could've been doing something horrible, but it would have to be fantastic and horrible!

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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2009, 09:12:27 PM »
I have to say that I have had a great podcast day at work today. This was one of the many stories I listened to.

Yes, "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Rear Window" bits were there.
Yes, once I remembered which podcast it was from, I kinda saw where it was going.

Makes no difference whatsoever. Good writing, excellent reading. And, the fact that the reading turned out good was a surprise. There wasn't really a lot of differentiation in the voices, but it was so clear, so distinct, that even the slightest change was very pronounced. That takes skill.

It actually gave me a little chill when she talked about the high dive. I have a slight thing about heights, but it is rare that a simple description will affect me.

Great story. I haven't been the biggest fan of PC, but decided to stick it out and listen to them anyway. Glad I did.
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Re: PC076: The Small Door
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2009, 11:40:59 PM »
That this was on PC and not PP had me certain that The Weirdo would not be the villain Macy made him out to be.

I'm not sure you could rule out villany in a PC piece just because of the podcast. 

Not as a rule, no, but I thought it was telegraphed pretty clearly even for this usually-non-perceptive listener.  That the sister was making such a business out of him put actual villainy almost completely out of the realm of possibility.
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