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Author Topic: PC084: Restless In My Hand  (Read 11685 times)
Heradel
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« on: December 29, 2009, 12:26:20 AM »

PodCastle 84: Restless In My Hand

By Tim Pratt
Read by Steve Anderson
Originally published in Realms of Fantasy.

“It is an axe, Mr. Selfry,” the man said. He produced a prybar — from where, Richard wasn’t sure — and, with a great squealing and popping of nails, pried the lid off the crate. Richard left the safety of the doorway and went out onto the porch just as the man set the lid aside. Peering into the crate, Richard saw only darkness, as if the box were full of ink, but then something glinted silver, and — as if his eyes were adjusting to a moonlit night, instead of midafternoon sun — he saw the great silver crescent of an axehead, nestled among styrofoam packing peanuts that were, inexplicably, black instead of white. It was a double-bladed axe, with a long three-sided pyramidal spike emerging from the top.

“Workmanship,” the man said approvingly. “Look at the blood-gutters on that spike. It’s not as if the spike was ever likely to be used for stabbing, but the smith allowed for the possibility. Truly, they were giants on the earth in those days.”

“I don’t understand,” Richard said. “This thing is a family heirloom? From Great Grandma Melody? It doesn’t even look old.”

Rated R: contains a weapon smarter than average, and more purposeful.

« Last Edit: January 19, 2010, 07:41:55 AM by Heradel » Logged

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lunastrixae
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« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2009, 10:46:43 PM »

Meh.

Started out great. However this one ended up like an article from Parenting magazine.

It's not that I don't respect the noble art of child raising , but really it's not something I want to hear a FANTASY story about. As a childless woman, I'm a bit overwhelmed with such themes constantly around the water cooler at work. Because I'm female everyone expects me to offer an ear about their reckless teenagers or coo over a teething toddler. Kind of like how men who don't like sports sometimes can feel a bit isolated when male coworkers and friends go on about the 'big game'. 

I enjoy unsung hero stories, but this one was a bit too much like mundane real life for me. The sequel will be about having to get the dry cleaning or the rewards and sacrifices of paying taxes.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2009, 03:07:19 PM by lunastrixae » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2009, 03:01:05 PM »

I honestly enjoyed this one myself - very different from what I usually listen too; I thought it'd go the tired old route of having him go into the other place, win the war, and return, changed by his experiences, etc, etc. This turn was unexpected by me, but it was enjoyable to listen too.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2009, 10:00:09 AM »

I enjoyed this one.  No surprise there, I've liked most of Pratt's work that I've come across.  Since I'm not a parent, the principles didn't feel like something I'd been beaten over the head--but I can certainly see how that would be a pain.  As a man who doesn't much care about sports I know how it is from that side. 

I thought the story was quite good, the man's struggle against himself to give his son a chance to grow up with a father instead of following his impulses and going to get himself killed.  I really liked that we just saw glimpses of the other world, and of the bloody-toothed enemy without ever going there, it lets the imagination sort the rest out.

I am a bit skeptical however that the enemy would deliver the axe right to him just because it was keening.  I mean, I can understand why they wouldn't want it around (though perhaps they could have found some deaf folks to guard it), but they could've dropped it in a volcano or something.  Doubtless it would've been found sooner or later, but delivering it right to the guy was only accelerating their own destruction.

This story had a few associative connections for me:
Warcraft III:  similar to Frostmourne, the axe whispers to its holder and subverts their will.
The Subtle Knife:  a blade so sharp it cuts holes into other worlds
And, most of all:
Chopper's Tale (in the Shadows of the Emerald City antho):  Told from the POV of the Nick Chopper's cursed axe before he becomes the Tin Man, which can also subvert the will.

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Kaa
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2009, 12:06:03 PM »

I'm not a parent (and, frankly, don't care too much for children, period), and I am a man who cares nothing for sports or fast cars, so yeah...I know what that isolation feels like that lunastrixae spoke of.

But I still very much enjoyed this story. I liked it at least in part because it was a story about an ordinary, unheroic-in-the-conventional-sense guy who made a difficult decision...which I thought made him heroic because I get that he gave up a life of adventure to provide a good life for his son.

What I didn't like was the abruptness of the wife's death. To just say it like that, "She was killed a week later" caused me to back up the story to see what I'd missed. I think maybe that part would work better in print. Smiley

Oh, and although I didn't get any of the associative connections that Unblinking got, the one that I got was from the Joss Whedon series Angel. There was an arc with Angel's son that had to do with growing up in another dimension.
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cdugger
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2009, 12:32:46 PM »

I really like this one. I thought it brought across the message perfectly.

If you truly are dedicated to your family, you would do just what the MC did. Turn your back on the adventure. It's called sacrifice, and any truly honorable man (or woman) would do it gladly.
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mrund
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2009, 01:50:51 PM »

I didn't get either why the enemy ran arms to the guy, keening or not. As for choosing between kids and adventure, well, I had my kids at age 26 and 31. I look forward to decades of adventuring once the little one's off to college. Though in my case, "adventure" will most likely be something like "teach archaeology in Norway" or "teach English in China".

"Sleep-scuba-diving" was a fun idea, though.
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the_true_morg
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2009, 04:22:17 PM »

second favorite i ever listened to on podcastle. (#1 Ostromancers son) they gave enough details about the other world to make it come alive but not to many that your brain overloaded and assumed it was like it was Tolkien. Personally the only flaw was it was the fathers worst fears were fixed very neatly. great podcast.
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« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2010, 01:05:46 AM »

Fabulous, on almost every level.  Though I was hearing a much darker story than the one that apparently ended up being told; in my mind, the wife cheated because the AXE whispered to her and convinced her to do it, and then it also arranged her death when her disloyalty wasn't enough to subvert his wielder's will.

Mind you, I went through the whole story expecting him to finally give in and go to the other side, only to find that time hadn't stood still there for four centuries and the undefined inhuman race had developed guns and heavy armor which rendered the axe truly a pointless "antique."  (This also explained in my head why they were so willing to hand it over in the end.)  Instead, apparently the son actually saved the fantasy realm, which is still a subversion of a fantasy trope, it's just not the one I was expecting.  (And also, a story about the futility of war comes to my mind more readily than a story about the joys of parenthood.)

Nonetheless, I loved this story, and not just because it twigged on my old fascination with sharpness

Tim Pratt is pretty awesome.
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Divya
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« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2010, 07:26:57 AM »

Scattercat, somehow that was the story I heard too ... Do you think there is something wrong with us Smiley
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the_true_morg
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« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2010, 02:36:30 PM »

Scattercat, somehow that was the story I heard too ... Do you think there is something wrong with us Smiley
no because i heard that story also.
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2010, 06:05:40 PM »

As someone who has sacrificed for my children-let me say this story moved me. There was something here in the son eventually "getting it" in the fathers denial of adventure that made me weep. Gorgous, deep and wonderous. A very well read well put to gether piece. I know I rarely complain at all about stories, and I rarely say more then "yay"  I don't ever feel I can do justice to a story by commenting on it. This one- this one moved me as a parent. As a dreamer. Wonderous!!
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2010, 12:20:44 AM »

I must admit, every time I see Tim Pratt's name attached to a story, I go "ooh, this will be good!" before even giving a listen, so I am perhaps biased :p But I did very much enjoy this tale. I thought it was very sweet. And yes the ending was pat, but I confess I was rooting for it. After all this time and all his pain and suffering, he finally gets what he's been yearning for: both an adventure to a magical land, and reuniting with his family (although it was clear from the closing statement it was the family part that excited him more).

A real feel good ending, of which I heartily approve.
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2010, 09:04:10 AM »

I must admit, every time I see Tim Pratt's name attached to a story, I go "ooh, this will be good!" before even giving a listen, so I am perhaps biased


Oh! Total ditto on this. Pratt would have to do a lot to do me wrong.
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smithmikeg
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 02:33:40 PM »

This left me wanting context of what was going on in the other world, even though that's not what the story's about and wouldn't have added anything.
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« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2010, 08:05:24 AM »

Loved it!  Got to the dad in me as well.  Truly explored the idea of who is the hero, the one who goes off for the adventure, or the one who lives by principles of responsibility and doing what's right therby making it possible for others to be slay the dragons.  Outward vs. inward heroics.  Kind of a George Bailey vibe there.

I loved that the temptation never left Richard; he always wanted to go, but choose his family priorities instead, especially after his wife cheated and he was set to leave until the son came home.  How many of us have an axe in our shed nagging at us?  I also liked how the axe twisted Richard's actions in the son's mind, but how the son understood when he had his own family.  Isn't that the truth?

The enemy returning the weapon of it's own destruction?  Yeah, you got me there.  Maybe the "bloody man" was bound by some magical law/edict?

BTW, for some reason, I really dug the geneology thing at the beginning.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2010, 10:22:32 AM »

I must admit, every time I see Tim Pratt's name attached to a story, I go "ooh, this will be good!" before even giving a listen, so I am perhaps biased


Oh! Total ditto on this. Pratt would have to do a lot to do me wrong.

Me too!  The Pratt stories that I've liked the least have still been pretty darn good.  His choice of topics and characters really appeals to me for some reason.
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« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2010, 10:23:31 AM »

How many of us have an axe in our shed nagging at us? 

The way you said this reminded me of the slang "battle axe" to use to describe a nagging spouse.  Not that that has to do with anything, but it made me laugh.  Smiley
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2010, 10:33:03 AM »

I must admit, every time I see Tim Pratt's name attached to a story, I go "ooh, this will be good!" before even giving a listen,

I've forgotten... who's the guy that writes all the sentimental robot stories?  It isn't Tim Pratt, is it?
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« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2010, 10:48:45 AM »

Lovely story, and the intro worked well for me too. I'm not sure I would have thought about all that hero's journey stuff on my own, and it gave me an extra appreciation for the work. Also, kudos to the narrator.
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