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Author Topic: Pseudopod 178: The Tamga  (Read 8916 times)

Bdoomed

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on: January 22, 2010, 06:20:11 AM
Pseudopod 178: The Tamga


By Maura McHugh
Read by Cheyenne Wright

Floating above the earth, Kulin checked the boundary around the graveyard. To his relief the hungry ghosts were contained, but the binding charms showed signs of deterioration. He cloaked his lifeforce so the dead would ignore his presence; a chill settled over his heart. He could not maintain the illusion for long.

He slipped into the sacred grove. The pallid forms of the dead, some still, other agitated, moved around the confines of the graveyard. The outlines of the grave huts loomed above them: little wooden cabins on fragile stilts, where the soul dolls resided. Underneath them lay the grave boats in which the bodies were interred.

Anger and grief saturated the atmosphere, and Kulin restrained the violent shaking that threatened to overcome him. The living were not welcome.

The Tamga stood in the middle of the cemetery. Its skinny arms stretched upwards, and its black hair flared out. Kulin shrank into himself, and concealed his life’s pulse.




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 06:01:31 AM by Bdoomed »

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gelee

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Reply #1 on: January 22, 2010, 04:59:51 PM
Awesome story, and delivered by one of my favorite readers. I especially liked the fact that Peter was actually supportive of his uncle. This could have turned into a trite generational conflict story very easily.
Oh, and am I right in thinking this was set in a Finnish culture?



stePH

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Reply #2 on: January 23, 2010, 04:43:52 AM
Oh, and am I right in thinking this was set in a Finnish culture?
I was wondering too... Norwegian? Ukranian?  Maybe even Russian?  The way the reader pronounced "Peter" suggested that it was spelled "Piotr" or "Pietr" in the text.  I figured it was somewhere in the general area of Skandinavia or eastern Europe, but beyond that I had no idea. 

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kool420deathstar

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Reply #3 on: January 24, 2010, 03:56:39 AM
I could not get in to this story however, I was not in the mood for a serious, spirituality driven story. I will go back and listen when I'm in the right mood, which I can say that I am prone to more often than not.

It should go with out saying that the Author and Narrator are to be commended for their efforts. Bringing this type of media to the masses involves a grueling process, one which people who have time to post on forums (Like me in between my work (oil painting sessions) and my internet video\audio time wasting sessions  should not be doing this because it does not further the cause of www.davidoliverstudios.com , ok now I just made it worth while, LOL) should really take the time to consider. Just the writing of such a story alone is enough and then all we have to do is click on a few links to get it for FREE Holy Cow!!! are we lucky. it sounds like I may be complaining but I'm not. My intent is to remind myself by reminding others how lucky we are to have people like the Escape Artists to give us something to listen to while we grind through the day or like myself, try to fulfill my dreams of becoming a financially successful artist and listening to PP, EP and PC while I make art. To this I would like to finish up by saying to the Escape Artists, Thanks for being there for me, I really need you and greatly admire what you are doing. Thank You deeply and without any conditions.

Thats it.



kibitzer

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Reply #4 on: January 24, 2010, 09:08:40 PM
@kool420, could not agree more about EA. Wonderful people they are.

Loved this story -- I figured they were Russians or Russian-esk. (That a word?) I guess some might say the ending copped out a bit but I found it refreshingly undismal (now I know THAT'S not a word). Cheyenne Wright's voice is outstandingly good and suited the story very well.


Bdoomed

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Reply #5 on: January 24, 2010, 09:46:13 PM
Russian-esque is how to write it :P

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kibitzer

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Reply #6 on: January 24, 2010, 11:58:08 PM
Yeah I figured Russky-like wouldn't fly ;-)


Unblinking

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Reply #7 on: January 25, 2010, 03:34:40 PM
I do think it was Russian or a country with similar culture due to the pronunciation of Peter, and the presence of Vodka.

I liked this story as well, and any story is better with Cheyenne Wright narrating it!  Good explanation and I like to see different cultures in the storylines. 

I did think the ending was a bit of a cop-out, the conveniently placed attacker to sacrifice. 

Also how did the looters got past the Tamga in the first place--isn't it's purpose to protect the graveyard?



cdugger

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Reply #8 on: January 26, 2010, 12:49:41 AM
Ya know, this one has all the earmarks of one I wouldn't like.

But, it is sticking with me.

I guess it's because the background was done very well. The secondary characters were a little more real than the MCs to me.

I would like to see the mythology explored some more, find out about the different types of spirits and what their purpose is.

I read, therefore I am...happy.


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Reply #9 on: January 26, 2010, 05:23:01 PM
It was pretty good.  Cheyenne Wright's reading made it for me, more than the actual story.  I like the Slavic shamanism angle, but the actual events felt a little predictable and a bit too... action-y, I guess?  I like stories that make me think of Nobilis more than stories that make me think of D&D.  There was a bit too much... physicality? to the spiritual fights here for my taste.  (And I actually barked a laugh at one line about "He shifted to Owl and took off."  It sounded like a line describing what someone did in a video game boss fight.) 

Actually, that's what this reminded me the most of!  A video game like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, where the atmosphere is creepy and the background setting is fascinating, but when you actually play it just comes down to using your shotgun or grenade launcher on a screen-wide boss.  It's technically exciting, but it's not what I enjoyed most about the experience, and I'm left with a feeling of mild enjoyment tempered by a wish that the focus had been a little different.

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stePH

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Reply #10 on: January 26, 2010, 05:29:39 PM
It was pretty good.  Cheyenne Wright's reading made it for me, more than the actual story.  I like the Slavic shamanism angle, but the actual events felt a little predictable and a bit too... action-y, I guess?  I like stories that make me think of Nobilis more than stories that make me think of D&D. 

You want more porn in your stories? :P

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gelee

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Reply #11 on: January 26, 2010, 06:35:11 PM
Actually, that's what this reminded me the most of!  A video game like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, where the atmosphere is creepy and the background setting is fascinating, but when you actually play it just comes down to using your shotgun or grenade launcher on a screen-wide boss.
Yeah, I didn't get that.  I thought the story was operating on two levels:
1) Local shaman fights for the preservation of the Old Ways against encroaching modernity, with the help of his nephew apprentice.
2) Man struggles to come to grips with the misplaced guilt he feels for the death of his son, while failing to deal with the unresolved grief he still feels over the death of his wife.
I also thought Kulin had intended himself to be the sacrifice to appease the Tamga, which was awakend, not by the intruders, but by the unquiet dead.  As I understood it, the Tamga did not gaurd the cemetery against intruders, but against the dead themselves.  Of course, I may have missed on that point.



Bdoomed

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Reply #12 on: January 26, 2010, 08:23:30 PM
It was pretty good.  Cheyenne Wright's reading made it for me, more than the actual story.  I like the Slavic shamanism angle, but the actual events felt a little predictable and a bit too... action-y, I guess?  I like stories that make me think of Nobilis more than stories that make me think of D&D. 

You want more porn in your stories? :P
Zing!

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Scattercat

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Reply #13 on: January 27, 2010, 07:51:57 AM
Quote from: gelee
Yeah, I didn't get that.  I thought the story was operating on two levels:
1) Local shaman fights for the preservation of the Old Ways against encroaching modernity, with the help of his nephew apprentice.
2) Man struggles to come to grips with the misplaced guilt he feels for the death of his son, while failing to deal with the unresolved grief he still feels over the death of his wife.

Oh, it was.  It just spent more words on the blow-by-blow of the combat than I was interested in hearing.  I'd rather have seen more interesting images or had more of the conversations with Bear, which were fun.

Quote from: gelee
I also thought Kulin had intended himself to be the sacrifice to appease the Tamga, which was awakend, not by the intruders, but by the unquiet dead.  As I understood it, the Tamga did not gaurd the cemetery against intruders, but against the dead themselves.  Of course, I may have missed on that point.

Seems like the Tamga did both, really.  Sort of an omni-purpose guardian.

It was pretty good.  Cheyenne Wright's reading made it for me, more than the actual story.  I like the Slavic shamanism angle, but the actual events felt a little predictable and a bit too... action-y, I guess?  I like stories that make me think of Nobilis more than stories that make me think of D&D. 

You want more porn in your stories? :P
Zing!

I...don't get it?  Explain?

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stePH

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Reply #14 on: January 27, 2010, 03:19:03 PM
It was pretty good.  Cheyenne Wright's reading made it for me, more than the actual story.  I like the Slavic shamanism angle, but the actual events felt a little predictable and a bit too... action-y, I guess?  I like stories that make me think of Nobilis more than stories that make me think of D&D. 

You want more porn in your stories? :P
Zing!

I...don't get it?  Explain?

Well, I don't know what you mean by referring to Nobilis in your post-- but the first thing that comes to my mind in association with him, is his podcast of "erotic short fiction" (porn by any other name...)

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Scattercat

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Reply #15 on: January 28, 2010, 03:29:06 AM
Well, I don't know what you mean by referring to Nobilis in your post-- but the first thing that comes to my mind in association with him, is his podcast of "erotic short fiction" (porn by any other name...)

Ah, I see.  No, I meant the role-playing game by Sean R. Borgstrom (or Jenna Katarin Moran or whatever her name is now.)  Epic fantasy that plays with platonic ideals, is purely diceless, and focuses more on "And then what?" and "Sure, if you're willing to pay for it," than on D&D's "Roll for initiative" model.

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stePH

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Reply #16 on: January 28, 2010, 03:36:26 AM
Well, I don't know what you mean by referring to Nobilis in your post-- but the first thing that comes to my mind in association with him, is his podcast of "erotic short fiction" (porn by any other name...)

Ah, I see.  No, I meant the role-playing game by Sean R. Borgstrom (or Jenna Katarin Moran or whatever her name is now.)  Epic fantasy that plays with platonic ideals, is purely diceless, and focuses more on "And then what?" and "Sure, if you're willing to pay for it," than on D&D's "Roll for initiative" model.

Never heard of the RPG. The guy who sometimes posts here and has his own fiction podcast is the only "Nobilis" I know.

Damn... we went right over each other's heads, more-or-less simultaneously.  That's gotta be an accomplishment.  :D

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Reply #17 on: January 28, 2010, 03:40:01 AM
Damn... we went right over each other's heads, more-or-less simultaneously.  That's gotta be an accomplishment.  :D

More common than I think anyone is prepared to believe...

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Dave

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Reply #18 on: January 29, 2010, 01:32:13 AM
Wait, was this a Podcastle ep that got on here by mistake? Great story, mind you, but where's the horror? I was expecting that Kulin was planning all along to sacrifice Peter to appease his guilt over Oleg somehow. But no, the heroes win! That's not horror!

It's damn fine fantasy, don't get me wrong, but it's not horror.

(In case I'm being too obtuse, I liked the story. Just thought it was a little soft)

-Dave (aka Nev the Deranged)


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Reply #19 on: January 29, 2010, 06:42:28 AM
Just wanted to note that this has become one of my favorites. In the first few minutes, I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue listening, but the story unfolded itself rather quickly, with just the right amount of detail. The reading, of course, was also excellent. As for the claim that it's not horror, I don't buy it. The hero may have won, but not without a horrific experience. If/when he has to face the Tamga again, it'll always be a terrifying ordeal, even with previous experience. It's possible to have horror and terror without losing the main character.



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Reply #20 on: January 29, 2010, 03:14:53 PM
I like that Pseudopod has a broad definition of horror.  The hero doesn't need to lose to make it horror.  This one would've been well-suited to either Pseudopod or Podcastle.



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Reply #21 on: February 01, 2010, 05:41:08 PM
I especially liked the fact that Peter was actually supportive of his uncle. This could have turned into a trite generational conflict story very easily.

YES! I kept waiting for this to happen - for the nephew to betray or overthrow his uncle. And I was pleasantly surprised it never happened, and that their relationship was such a strong and positive one.


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Reply #22 on: February 07, 2010, 02:25:12 PM
This was a good story, with good characters and world-building and a very effective control of its pacing. I did feel the sudden appearance of the rifle-bearing miner in the end did feel a bit out-of-place, an action-movie like plot device that felt out of place, and offered a relatively cheap exit out of the "Tamga demands a sacrifice" problem in the end.

I have to say, at the end of the story, my main thought was "of course these people are at the losing edge of the fight against the outside world, when their own spirits turn against them so easily".



kibitzer

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Reply #23 on: February 08, 2010, 01:58:57 AM
I have to say, at the end of the story, my main thought was "of course these people are at the losing edge of the fight against the outside world, when their own spirits turn against them so easily".

That's an interesting observation. I had the feeling the spirits were always that hostile, hence the need for people like the MC and his nephew -- a constant vigilance against a possibly violent ally.


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Reply #24 on: February 21, 2010, 10:25:39 PM
The Ural mountains mentioned in the story are in the middle of Russia/Western Kazakhstan.  So it can't really be Scandinavian, but is almost certainly Russian or Kazakh.