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Author Topic: EP230: Candy Art  (Read 12479 times)

Swamp

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on: December 24, 2009, 10:05:23 PM
EP230: Candy Art

by James Patrick Kelly.
Read by Kathryn Baker.

First appeared in Asimov’s, December 2002.

“They’re uploads, Jennifer.” When I first met Mel, I thought the sleepy voice was sexy. “How can they move in with us when they’re not anywhere?”

“They bought a puppet to live in,” I say. “Life-sized, nuskin, real speak – top of the line. It’s supposed to be my Christmas present. Bring the family back together for the holidays and live unhappily ever after.”

“A puppet.” A puzzlement glyph pops up at the bottom of my screen. “As in one puppet?”

“It’s a timeshare – you know. They live it serially. Ten hours of him, fourteen of her.”

“Not fifty-fifty?”

“He’s giving her the difference so he can take extra time off for his bass tournament in June.”


Rated PG. Contains family drama and way too much sugar.

Special Closing Music: “Podsafe Christmas Song” by Jonathan Coulton.


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KenK

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Reply #1 on: December 25, 2009, 04:10:16 PM
She finally broke through! Holding all that resentment inside yourself must be painful. Bet it felt good.  ;D



Talia

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Reply #2 on: December 26, 2009, 02:39:25 AM
I liked this. You really got a feel, I think, for Mel's character by how it played out at the end. Plus the way she kept leaping to conclusions felt very real - who hasn't done that (or maybe its a chick thing. I'm not sure).

Also, I thought the commentary on parenting in here was an interesting parallel to the feedback recounted in this week's Podcastle. Just an interesting coincidence, if indeed coincidence it was.



mrund

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Reply #3 on: December 26, 2009, 06:25:03 PM
Mod:  I moved this comment to the EP231 thread
« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 10:41:05 PM by Swamp »



MacArthurBug

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Reply #4 on: December 26, 2009, 09:57:08 PM
Hey pretty good story! The reader perhaps put more "morose" in the MC's tone then I think should have been there- but I liked the story over all. I truly enjoyed all the candy ideas. I have quite a bit of a sweet tooth myself, so candys, sweets that aren't aweful for you AND taste good? That'd be awesome.

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cdugger

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Reply #5 on: December 28, 2009, 04:44:34 PM
Was just kinda blah on this one. Solid "meh", as The Ely would say.

Not bad, just not great. Audio wasn't the best, but the reading was alright.

All in all, coulda been better, but coulda been MUCH worse.

I read, therefore I am...happy.


Swamp

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Reply #6 on: December 28, 2009, 11:03:29 PM
James Patrick Kelly is fantastic!  I love how the parents subplot is interwoven into the main plot.  Their inclusion as uploaded consciences in a timeshare body could have easily taken over the story, but didn't.  Also, I like how Mel's character is revealed in the end, becoming a totally different person in hindsight, independant of Jennifer's assessment.  I liked Jennifer, too, and love her little unspoken outbursts that made for a nice touch at the end.

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cdugger

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Reply #7 on: December 28, 2009, 11:50:06 PM
And, now that I am not at work with my wife looking over my shoulder...

One of the things I didn't like was that internal monologue followed unerringly by "...but I didn't." Except for the one at the end, they were getting old. One would have been fine, along with something like "...like I always do...".

I did like the parents, though. I hadn't thought about the separation aspect of their relationship and how it would affect them. I thought it intelligent that the author switched the stereotypes. The man missed his wife, and SHE was the one out spreading it around, so to speak. That was new and refreshing.

The reading was fine, but it did sound a little like speaking into a plastic bucket.

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seanpeter

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Reply #8 on: December 29, 2009, 03:59:53 AM
Very nice.  A full story.  Loved it.



Katie

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Reply #9 on: December 29, 2009, 06:00:04 AM
Whenever I read/hear a James Patrick Kelly story, I'm always struck by what lovely characters he has, and how personable they are which makes such a great bridge into the strange worlds so often found in SF stories.

The boomers in this were interesting and hilarious, and their continuing domination of life even post mortem, even through an animated puppet, worked really well to explore some of the themes of my kids-of-boomers generation.

Also, the candy was brilliant, as was the boyfriend.



Scattercat

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Reply #10 on: December 29, 2009, 06:55:25 AM
What a charming and depressingly accurate portrayal of what it's like to be in a relationship with a nerd.  ("Call me right back if you say yes.  *click*")

The annoying "...but I didn't" motif had a sufficient payoff to justify it.  I don't like it, but at least it was used intelligently, and I can appreciate its place in the narrative.

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Kaa

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Reply #11 on: December 29, 2009, 05:18:10 PM
I could not disagree more with cdugger above. :) I loved the repeated "...but I didn't." I knew the second time I heard it that it was going to pay off in the end, and I enjoyed anticipating hearing it after each internal tirade, and I laughed when it paid off at the end, as promised.

Good reading, good story.

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OsamaBinLondon

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Reply #12 on: January 02, 2010, 09:02:09 AM
20 minutes in when nothing had happened and no significant points of interest emerged, I threw in the towel.  Very boring.  Typical J.P.K.




Swamp

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Reply #13 on: January 02, 2010, 05:21:36 PM
20 minutes in when nothing had happened and no significant points of interest emerged, I threw in the towel.  Very boring.  Typical J.P.K.

You're on a roll today.  You were fine until your last line.  All we ask is that people show repect and do not make it personal about an author, reader, etc.

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eytanz

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Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 07:19:11 PM
I'm not sure if I liked this story or not. I appreciate how it built towards its ending, how all the positive signs were there if you were only to look for them. But, well, the story was basically us spending some 30-odd minutes with the protagonist's frustrations, resentments, and insecurities. There was clearly more to her - but the story made a definite point of steering us away from experiencing any of her positive qualities directly. This may speak to my mood while listening more than to the story, but I found myself losing patience with her, rather than empathizing with her.



Scattercat

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Reply #15 on: January 02, 2010, 08:11:16 PM
I found myself losing patience with her, rather than empathizing with her.

I think it might just be a mood thing; I could see myself getting really irritated with the protag if this story caught me on the wrong end of a bad day with clients on the phone.  I mean, the story was basically a navel-gazing trip through the neuroses of an insecure woman and her even more insecure loved ones, and if you're not feeling forgiving or generally affable toward humanity in general, that could quickly become wearing.

Luckily, I was pretty mellow when I listened to this one.  I was mostly pleased that it went the happier route; it had felt like it was laying things on a little too thick for Mel to actually be preparing to leave her, and it was somewhat satisfying to have my instincts confirmed.  (As opposed to what happened to me on "Restless in My Hand.")

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Planish

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Reply #16 on: January 03, 2010, 09:43:44 PM
This story took a while, but it grew on me.
I enjoyed the off-hand bits of world-building, like "waving the bowl under the dishwasher".

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deflective

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Reply #17 on: January 03, 2010, 11:25:38 PM
petulant woman
wishing her parents' full death
lost my sympathy



Kathryn

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Reply #18 on: January 04, 2010, 09:07:14 PM
I loved it. Absolutely charming and right on the money re: insecure females. As one, I could totally relate to her missing the clues about her beau's intentions. I was cheering for him through the whole thing and let out an audible "Awww" when he proposed. Big sap, me. Well done.

Kathryn

Edited to add that I think she was far more patient than I would be if I had to live with my Mother...



Listener

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Reply #19 on: January 05, 2010, 02:56:01 PM
Stories like these are good for Kate Baker, because she can act the world-weary/downtrodden part quite well.

I didn't care for the "but I didn't" callouts in the story either, especially because, at the end, she explodes into happiness instead of letting go of her constantly-tamped-down anger. If she'd just started screaming at her mother or screaming at Mel for FINALLY getting around to asking, instead of asking years ago, I would've found the character to be more realistic.

The commentary on desert islands, as well as the food itself, was very interesting to me, as was the ability for fat people to make themselves thin via technology. I'm not sure Mel's choice was quite adequately explained, however. I also LOVED the commentary on "old people just won't DIE!"

Sharing a dreamscape? Cool idea, but I like my dreams because my id can do what it wants. I don't want my wife seeing EVERYTHING my id wants. I did, however, like that the MC didn't have easily-interpretable dreams; they really were just random images only tangentially related to what was happening in her life.

As you can guess, I thought the world was cool, but the story itself seemed more a prop to show us the world than vice versa. I believe it should be the other way around, which is why this story probably didn't really resonate with me.

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DKT

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Reply #20 on: January 05, 2010, 05:29:37 PM
JPK JPK JPK JPK!!!!

Thanks EP for bringing me more JPK!


CryptoMe

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Reply #21 on: January 05, 2010, 09:53:03 PM
I thought the world was cool, but the story itself seemed more a prop to show us the world than vice versa. I believe it should be the other way around, which is why this story probably didn't really resonate with me.

I have to agree with this assessment. In fact, I found the slowness of the plot actually detracted from the world building. Feeling ho-hum about the plot, left me uninspired about all the really cool technology of this universe. I needed to come to the forums for that :)



wakela

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Reply #22 on: January 06, 2010, 06:32:28 AM
I thought the world was cool, but the story itself seemed more a prop to show us the world than vice versa. I believe it should be the other way around, which is why this story probably didn't really resonate with me.

I have to agree with this assessment. In fact, I found the slowness of the plot actually detracted from the world building. Feeling ho-hum about the plot, left me uninspired about all the really cool technology of this universe. I needed to come to the forums for that :)

Yes.  Plus a very unlikeable MC.



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Reply #23 on: January 07, 2010, 12:44:45 AM
I absolutely loved this one. It isn't the first EP episode to leave my stomach wooshy like a good story should, but it is the first to get me to comment.

I loved the internal tyrades! I used to scream monologues like these alone in my back yard when I was an angsty adolescent with too much time and not enough perspective.

I had a pit in my stomach from the first mention of a break up to the first phone call on Christmas Eve. The pace was slow enough for me to agonize over the characters' fates, and when the puppetmom was walking all over the climax, I wanted to scream!

I laughed out loud more than once, and any story that can make me feel like I'm about to be broken up with has earned its space on my hard drive.



Listener

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Reply #24 on: January 07, 2010, 02:13:50 PM
I used to scream monologues like these alone in my back yard when I was an angsty adolescent with too much time and not enough perspective.

I still do that, except replace the following items:

used to = currently
back yard = head
when I was an angsty adolescent with too much time and not enough perspective = because every healthy outlet for my anger has been taken away

I think we all do this to a greater or lesser degree, and I think that might be why the author kept calling back to the MC doing it. Didn't work quite so well for me unfortunately.

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