Escape Artists
November 19, 2018, 08:51:22 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
Author Topic: PC083: The Petrified Girl  (Read 8404 times)
Heradel
Bill Peters, EP Assistant
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2938


Part-Time Psychopomp.


« on: December 22, 2009, 01:20:18 AM »

PodCastle 83: The Petrified Girl

By Katherine Sparrow
Read by Marguerite Croft

Besides, Tucson was too hot in summer.

It was so hot, way up into the hundred and tens, that the only refuge was in Betty’s pool. We stayed out there the whole hot afternoon, and when the sun went down it didn’t even get all that much cooler. Neither of us had a stitch of clothes on as we lay submerged, lying on twin yellow plastic floatables. It was good to be naked with Betty, I could look over at her and see all the things a body could survive. She had that old desert skin that bore a million wrinkles and just hung off her. It made me feel like maybe I could survive in this world too. Betty kept our cups of Jim Beam and Mountain Dew full all afternoon and into the night, cause as she said it, it was too hot not to drink. On about midnight, the hot air was just starting to feel bareable again, but neither of us were keen on getting out.

Rated R: for desert weather, both heat and storms.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 11:01:16 PM by Heradel » Logged

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.
ridiculouslee
Extern
*
Posts: 8


« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2009, 06:11:54 PM »

It's so refreshing to hear a story with gay characters that doesn't involve excess amounts of sex, or end in a tragic cliche. It just feels good to feel represented in a genre you enjoy. Aside from that, it was also a good story and a great reading that left me wanting to know more. I think Marguerite Croft's voice did a great job capturing the emotion of the narrator.
Logged
Scattercat
Caution:
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4847


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2009, 07:33:04 PM »

Nicely done.  I have no nitpicks at this point.  Not my very favorite story ever, just because it didn't quite hit my preferred sweet spots and themes, but that's hardly a flaw in the story.  Lovely reading of it, too; very lively and personable.  Excellent effort all around.  Full marks.  Ten points to Gryffindor.

(And if Scattercat can't find anything to overthink or nitpick at in a story, well...)
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Darn
Extern
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2009, 04:31:07 PM »

I felt the story was pretty solid all around.  I don't really have much to say about the actual content.

The introduction provided by the PC host was definitely an influence on how I ingested this piece.  Throughout the reading, I was considering the work in a native american lore/mythology context and expecting elements that went with this.  I think it would have been much more appropriate to relate the references after we had a chance to hear the story.  Don't get me wrong, I definitely found the info in  intro helpful, but it was sort of a spoiler.

On a completely unrelated note, the reading by Ms. Croft was nothing short of inspired and expert.  Such an excellent performance and effort.  I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more from her.  The emotions were perfectly lent where appropriate and needed, and her voice was mesmerizing at times and matched the themes of the hot desert.
Logged
bethelash
Extern
*
Posts: 7



« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2009, 09:22:16 PM »

I liked the story for the most part, but felt the ending was weak. All that build up too...let's all be family? I was a little let down, I was hoping for something a little more pointed.
Logged

The worst thing that could plausibly happen to anyone would be to not be used for anything by anybody. Thank you for using me even though I did not want to be used by anybody.
mbrennan
Peltast
***
Posts: 120


« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2009, 12:21:08 AM »

Very nice.  I agree with bethelash that I would have liked something a bit more complicated at the end; it was a beautiful piece, but the conclusion felt just a bit too simplistic, not quite the full working-out of the story's potential.  Not a fatal flaw -- not even a serious one -- but I wasn't quite as blown away as I feel I could have been.

I'll disagree with Darn about the intro, though.  I know several of the hero-twin myths, but I don't know that I would have made the connection had I not been cued in advance.  Which might be considered a weakness in the story; however, in this case the intro meant I enjoyed the story more than I might have otherwise.  This is, like several recent PC episodes, a fairly realistic story with just a touch of the speculative, which isn't quite my cup of tea; and had I not been actively looking for hero-twin echoes, the speculative touch might have felt too faint.

Lots of things well-done here, though.  I loved the reading, and the descriptions of the desert, and very much appreciated the way lesbianism was presented here -- as ridiculouslee said (yes, apparently I'm going to name-check every comment before mine) it was neither in-your-face erotic nor doomed to tragedy, which seem to be two common patterns for homosexuality in fiction.  This felt more comfortably lived-in, if that makes sense.

(Which leaves Scattercat as the one commenter I haven't referenced yet.  That's what you get for not overthinking or nitpicking!)
Logged
NoraReed
Extern
*
Posts: 19


No pomo.


« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2009, 04:24:42 AM »

Sa-WAHR-oh. The g is pronounced like a w.

Good story other than that though.
Logged
cdugger
Peltast
***
Posts: 144

I read to be smart...er.


« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2009, 08:04:46 AM »

Just not my cup of tea. But, that is a personal thing, and has nothing to do with the writing or reading. THAT was pretty good.
Logged

I read, therefore I am...happy.
MacArthurBug
Giddy
Hipparch
******
Posts: 648


I can resist anything except temptation


WWW
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2009, 11:20:15 AM »

Sa-WAHR-oh. The g is pronounced like a w.

Good story other than that though.

well.. that and in ALL my many years of living in Tucson AZ- I never ever once saw a firefly.

Great story overall.  I liked the multiple elemants, the tie together, the MC etc. Just mispronunciation and fireflys threw me for a bit.
Logged

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.
Gia
Palmer
**
Posts: 49


« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2009, 12:02:53 PM »

I'm going to be different and be the one person who didn't like this story. For me, the primary failing was in the characters. Cassie was very shallow and I didn't care about her. Toward the end when she said "But I love her!" I remember thinking " No you don't. You just like how she's hot and doesn't talk too much." That pretty much sums up that other character, Maeda or something like that, hot and doesn't talk too much, except that she's also in pain. It would be nice if we were shown this maybe with some crying or a short conversation about her what she's going through (although, that would have her talk too much for Cassie's taste) instead of Cassie saying "She's in so much pain" over and over again. I got the feeling that I could have liked Betty if she didn't spend so much time scowling.  She seemed to understand a lot more than she got to talk about and I would have like to she her a little more fleshed out.
Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2009, 04:09:56 PM »

I actually quite disliked this one. I had two main reasons.

Firstly, Cassie was incredibly shallow. I found nothing to like. I cannot imagine what I was supposed to like. She was a terrible combination of selfish, arrogant, and stupid. While her declaration of "I love her!" at the end was probably intended to reflect a transformation and deepening of her character, the "tell don't show" nature of her romance with mystery chick made it feel like just another explosion of shallow BS from an overwhelmingly shallow and meaningless person.

That came out rather more vehement than I'd intended... I'm sorry, I just really didn't like Cassie at all.

Let me be a little more clear; in order to like a story I need to find the protagonist either likeable - so that I am involved in the story via sympathy - or interesting - so I am involved via fascination - or both. Cassie was a bad combination of unlikeable and boring. She was a whiny, horny, arrogant, ungrateful teenage runaway with no depth but a past of indifferent suffering lacking the wit to even contemplate her own hardships. The protagonist of The Olverung, for example, turned out to be an enormous jerk, but he was an interesting jerk. Cassie was a boring jerk, and for me, that's a recipe for story failure.

Secondly, what's up with the man-hate? As a person who was a man-child I am a little bothered by a future of hope and happiness being symbolized purely by the birth of twin girls. It's a happy future, and the sun is brighter, and they'll be a happy lesbian family forever, and all because there are no baby boys here. What the hell is up with that? I'm not accusing the story of being sexist - that's not for me to say - I'm accusing it of being thematically lazy.

All that said, I'm almost always amused by modern mythic urban fantasy, which this was, for all that it was set in a rural environment. The premise is fascinating, even if the characters and the conclusion left bad tastes in my mouth.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
mbrennan
Peltast
***
Posts: 120


« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2009, 12:50:02 AM »

EP -- I read it not as, "the future of hope and happiness is symbolized purely by the birth of twin girls," and more as "the future potential of hope and happiness is indicated by the new result."  Maida (or however you spell her name) says early on that she always gives birth to male twins, so the fact that she's had girls this time is a sign that she can escape the cycle she's been trapped in for who knows how long.  I didn't see any real man-hate going on, in the sense of pinning the world's faults on men or whatever.  Change was the important thing.

I wasn't too fond of Cassie either, and I think the "I love her!" moment was, for me, the place where the story missed its chance for a more complex ending.  What exactly I wanted to have happen instead, I don't know, but if Cassie's love was the catalyst for change, I needed to be sold on it more than I was; and I think I would have liked the catalyst for change to be something more subtle anyway.
Logged
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2009, 01:12:02 PM »

EP -- I read it not as, "the future of hope and happiness is symbolized purely by the birth of twin girls," and more as "the future potential of hope and happiness is indicated by the new result."  Maida (or however you spell her name) says early on that she always gives birth to male twins, so the fact that she's had girls this time is a sign that she can escape the cycle she's been trapped in for who knows how long.  I didn't see any real man-hate going on, in the sense of pinning the world's faults on men or whatever.  Change was the important thing.

It's true that the story doesn't do any overt blame-pinning. However, I feel that you have to consider what the change is. This is where stories send subtle messages that can distract and dismay the audience. Consider that a story in which all the women who are featured are scheming and untrustworthy and the male main character finds trust and brotherhood with another male character is also sending a message. Perhaps it's a coming-of-age story (or, like this one, a romance), but it's also making a clear statement about women.

The only males in the story are Maida's off-screen rapist and the dreaded twin boys whose failure to materialize is the change that symbolizes hope. That's a choice. It wouldn't have taken much to make a different choice. I didn't call the story sexist because I don't know the motivation for that choice - but I can call that choice lazy and say that I distracted me from enjoying the story.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2009, 10:41:23 AM »

Much like Captain Fantasy(which I haven't commented on yet), it was nice to see a story with gay characters that did not also involve sex with animals.

But, I also did find Cassie incredibly shallow to the point that I found it really hard to care what happened to her.  And the "I love her" moment at the end struck me not as a sign of her true love finally falling into place, but more of an expression of another trait that made her hard to like--that she only professes love to a person she KNOWS she can't have.

I was reasonably happy with it overall, but the ending didn't really resonate for me.

I didn't see a man-hate message in this one at all.  I saw more along mbrennan's reasoning, that the change is the important thing, not the actual sexes.

Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2009, 01:08:59 PM »

Also:  twas a superb reading, lots of good emotion in there!
Logged
lisavilisa
Peltast
***
Posts: 114


« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2009, 04:56:21 PM »

Hi!  first time poster long time lurker first time poster.

Cassie reminded me of the people in your life who make stupid decisions, are self centered, and yet think they know everyone.  I enjoyed the story because I wanted to see her perspective, even if the understanding isn't the redeeming.  The fondness I feel for the character may have also been helped by the fantastic reading, which gave a lot of depth to the story.

I think the point about the twin girls and coming home is what Betty was saying about how people that have been cast off and hurt by their own family have to come together to form a support network.  Betty helped Cassie and Maida, Cassie was able to get close to Maida by needing help, and Cassie wanted to help raise the twins and help Maida.  It was able to break the cycle of Maida's existence and showed that times can change. 
Logged
lunastrixae
Extern
*
Posts: 11


« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2009, 10:52:18 PM »

I think the point about the twin girls and coming home is what Betty was saying about how people that have been cast off and hurt by their own family have to come together to form a support network.  Betty helped Cassie and Maida, Cassie was able to get close to Maida by needing help, and Cassie wanted to help raise the twins and help Maida.  It was able to break the cycle of Maida's existence and showed that times can change. 

I agree with you all around! I like this story because a 'family is what you make it' themes. Cassie was kind of 'paying back' what she received from Betty.
Logged
mbrennan
Peltast
***
Posts: 120


« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2009, 03:48:49 AM »

ElectricPaladin -- this, I think, is where I need context in order to judge.  "A story in which all the women who are featured are scheming and untrustworthy and the male main character finds trust and brotherhood with another male character" isn't just a standalone thing; it's part of a widespread and long-standing narrative pattern in which women are represented as scheming and untrustworthy and men are better off without them.  Ergo, it will feel more like it's making a statement about Women, rather than these particular characters.  Stories wherein a trio of lesbians find happiness that doesn't really involve men, on the other hand, are much thinner on the ground; as a result, this story reads to me more like a statement about three individuals, who are not necessarily intended as representatives of Their Kind.  The message, to me, is "sometimes women find healing by taking care of each other," not "men are bad!"

The other relevant context, of course, is the rest of the author's body of work.  If a guy who normally writes nuanced and interesting women writes a story featuring shrewish female characters, then I'm going to conclude that he wanted to explore a personality type.  If shrews are the only thing a guy writes, then I'm going to conclude that he's sexist.  Ditto this: if Katherine Sparrow habitually writes stories where men are absent, vilified, or detrimental to the happy ending, then I'll agree about your message.  But if it isn't a pattern with her, then I'm not going to read a lot into one example.  (This is the first piece of hers I've encountered, so in this particular case, I give her the benefit of the doubt.)
Logged
Yargling
Peltast
***
Posts: 139



« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2009, 03:02:37 PM »

Interesting, but...well, I didn't 'get' this story. It just seemed abit fuzzy and unfocused to me. That said, it was pleasant enough to listen too.
Logged
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 6098



« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2010, 05:39:31 AM »

Well, I agree with a lot of the commentary above about the shallowness of the protagonist, but it didn't bother me so much. She didn't read two-dimensional to me, she read like a real person, who happens to be extremely shallow and self-absorbed. I disliked her, but I was also interested in her journey, at least enough to carry me through this story.

I was taken by surprise by the ending, though. I really had this figured out as being the story Betty thought it would be - the story where Cassie brushes with a hopeless spirit and gets her heart broken and grows wiser as a result. Instead, there was a happy ending, one that included both wisdom and hope. I'm not entirely sure that the story actually gave us enough to get to that ending, but it was still somewhat refreshing.

Oh, and regarding the presence of men in this story, I agree with everything mbrennan said above. We are all used to stories in which women are absent, or just portrayed negatively. I think it's perfectly valid to have the opposite pattern too. Note that no-one commented that the previous story - The Twa Corbies - was sexist, even though it was a story where the only female character was a scheming murderer. Whether the author is sexist or not (and, like mbrennan, I have no other exposure with her work so I have no idea) (edit - I just realized that this is the same person who wrote Pirate Solutions, so I've been exposed to her work before - and have found no evidence of sexism as a pattern), focusing on the potentially sexist elements of the plot, I think, is doing ourselves as readers a disservice.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2010, 05:49:06 AM by eytanz » Logged
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!