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Author Topic: PC089: The Queen’s Triplets  (Read 8230 times)
Heradel
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« on: February 02, 2010, 12:46:42 AM »

PodCastle 89: The Queen’s Triplets

By Israel Zangwill.
Read by Steve Anderson.
Originally published in The King of Schnorrers : grotesques and fantasies.

On the last day of the year the King summoned the three Princes to the Presence Chamber. And they came, the Green Prince, and the Blue Prince, and the Black Prince, and made obeisance to the Monarch, who sat in moir antique robes, on the old gold throne, with his courtiers all around him. ” My sons,” he said, ” ye are aware that, according to the immemorial laws of the realm, one of you is to be my heir, only I know not which of you he is ; the difficulty is complicated by the fact that I have covenanted to espouse him to the Princess of Paphlagonia, of whose imminent arrival ye have heard. In this dilemma there are those who would set the sovereignty of the State upon the hazard of a die. But not by such undignified methods do I deem it prudent to extort the designs of the gods. There are ways alike more honourable to you and to me of ascertaining the intentions of the fates. And first, the wise men and the magicians recommend that ye be all three sent forth upon an arduous emprise. As all men know, somewhere in the great seas that engirdle our dominion, somewhere beyond the Ultimate Thule, there rangeth a vast monster, intolerable, not to be borne. Every ninth moon this creature approacheth our coasts, deluging the land with an inky vomit. This plaguy Serpent cannot be slain, for the soothsayers aver it beareth a charmed life, but it were a mighty achievement, if for only one year, the realm could be relieved of its oppression. Are ye willing to set forth separately upon this knightly quest ?”

Then the three Princes made enthusiastic answer, entreating to be sped on the journey forthwith, and a great gladness ran through the Presence Chamber, for all had suffered much from the annual incursions of the monster. And the King’s heart was fain of the gallant spirit of the Princes.

Rated G for the travails of princes who seek to be kings and much astonished reproofing.

Colloquially referred to as Ann Leckie month, February 2010 is the month in which all the story selections were made by our slush reader, Ann Leckie. Enjoy!
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 08:44:10 AM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2010, 11:00:49 AM »

  I felt very iffy going into this story, but it had me charmed well before the end. It was well paced, and the reading was perfect for it. I especially liked how it turned out to be the inspiration for lawn tennis.

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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2010, 05:27:32 PM »

Ah, shaggy dog stories.  I was grooving pretty well with the old-style fairy story tone, but hey, if they want to make it even goofier and sillier, it's certainly a light and fluffy enough story that having a punchline doesn't harm it at all.
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2010, 11:27:58 PM »

This one fell flat for me. At the point where the Blue Prince is trying to explain his Evil Plan (tm) to the Black Prince, he just lost me. It made NO sense. I kept saying, "Dude. The prophecy was that the king would be who the princess chose. Period." It got back on track a bit after that, but it was too late for me. The lawn tennis thing was...too much.
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2010, 11:23:34 AM »

I didn't think I'd like it.  The narrator was a bit off-putting in the beginning, but I figured out that it wasn't supposed to be a serious story and put down my guard.  In the end, I was won over by the cuteness.  Not a great story, but a fun listen.  Probably good for the kids.
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Talia
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2010, 01:12:27 PM »

Hehhe, this was very cute. I didn't see the end coming and it made me chuckle.
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2010, 05:53:43 PM »

this was a cute story, but it was a succession story right after Tim Pratt's Another End of The Empire, which was far more entertaining and enjoyable in my opinion.  If I had heard this one first, I think I might have enjoyed it more. 
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2010, 10:53:26 PM »

There aren't a lot of people who DO shine in comparison to Tim Pratt, though.  Srsly.  "The orange soda was pretty good orange soda, but coming right after the artisanal organic hand-picked fresh-squeezed orange juice at breakfast, it just wasn't as tasty somehow."

Drink yer orange soda and like it, dammit.  ;-)
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2010, 06:26:17 AM »

i agree Smiley  so, i just don't understand why 2 stories themed about succession would be read this close together, especially one being a Pratt story  Wink (and, my favorite soda of all is Orange Crush!)
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2010, 09:46:27 AM »

There aren't a lot of people who DO shine in comparison to Tim Pratt, though.  Srsly.  "The orange soda was pretty good orange soda, but coming right after the artisanal organic hand-picked fresh-squeezed orange juice at breakfast, it just wasn't as tasty somehow."

Drink yer orange soda and like it, dammit.  ;-)

He certainly would be a tough act to follow regardless of the particular story!  Smiley

I like the idea of an Ann Leckie month--good to see what her personal tastes are.  (And the writer side of me is rubbing his hands together in anticipation--now he'll understand what sort of stories most appeal to Ann so that he can get a manuscript by her!  Mwahahaha!)

This story was cute.  Not spectacular but cute.  We all knew the Blueprints was going to win out in the end, of course, from the moment he asked for the pigeon, but it was a fun journey to get there.  The Blueprints's plan was a little too convolute to really be believable, but that was just a minor hitch.  The lawn tennis origin ending was a bit much for me.

At first it looked liked the usage of pigeons was going to be of the Harry Potter variety, where the bird just goes wherever you tell it to go.  Thankfully, the explanation of the training with the string helped--I'm not sure that would actually work, but at least it was an attempt at explanation.
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2010, 11:42:17 AM »

I enjoyed it overall, especially the king's brilliant moment of genre savvy and the unexpected, though very amusing, part at the end. My one big problem was the part where the Blue Prince stops the story to explain what he's been doing. I would rather have had most of that put in as part of the story instead. Also, his logic was a bit shaky and we found out what actually happened with the dragon. Other than that, great story.
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eytanz
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2010, 05:31:30 AM »

Mixed response to this one. The story itself was very cute, but it was difficult to cope with the slower pacing of a story from around 100 years ago. Humor writing is among the most susceptible to changes in styles, and this one nearly did not contain enough substance to shine through the fact that it's been done, many times, since; and that made features like the princes' laboured speech patterns more obvious compared to the more naturalistic speech we would expect today. It definitely suffered from being back-to-back with the very similar "End of Empire" story from last week.

However, I feel the coda to the story was really brilliant. I actually laughed out loud as I was listening to this, alone in my kitchen over breakfast.
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2010, 07:52:38 AM »

Great choice Ann.  The light sure touch of a master shines through this story.  My favourite little bit: the dastardly black prince, since he's been proved (paradoxically) to be the youngest, is sent to bed early.
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2010, 12:37:05 PM »

Generally enjoyed it, as I like fairytale themed stories - and humor, of course.  Was glad I knew it was an old old story, or I might have gone in with expectations that wouldn't be met.  But I was still disappointed a few times when new "rules" where made up late in the game.  Like a royal wedding will keep the beast at bay.  Uuuuuh, really?  Would have been more fun if I'd had a chance at actually guessing the Blue Prince's game in advance.

But still, fun and enjoyable.  The ending was a groaner, but it was supposed to be.
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2010, 08:00:13 PM »

The ending actually felt just a bit offish to me. However I enjoyed the story. Very old school fairy tale. The end was cute- it just almost didn't seem to fit, in my humblest of opinions. Great choice though! This month promises to be interesting.
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2010, 09:32:35 AM »


I like the idea of an Ann Leckie month--good to see what her personal tastes are.  (And the writer side of me is rubbing his hands together in anticipation--now he'll understand what sort of stories most appeal to Ann so that he can get a manuscript by her!  Mwahahaha!)


I can provide some of the information you want for less effort.  Smiley  I pass anything that's really beautifully written, even if it's not my sort of thing.  I pass anything that I think Anna and/or Dave would like, even if it's not my sort of thing--so it's better to work on figuring out their tastes than mine.  However, I do have a personal bug about worldbuilding, one that, I think, Anna shares with me.  If your worldbuilding doesn't make sense--either "logical" sense or what I call "poetic logical" sense, that's going to be a strike against the story.  Similarly, if a story is using a culture or a mythos that I'm familiar with and the writer hasn't done their research, that's going to be a hard sell.  For example, sloppily researched Arthurian stories have almost no chance of making it past me.  Of all the Arthurians that have been subbed to PC, only three were clearly by people who knew the literature well, only two have made it past me, and we only bought one.  (That would be the awesome "Cup and Table," which I adore.  But you probably knew that.)
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2010, 11:28:49 AM »

I can provide some of the information you want for less effort.  Smiley  I pass anything that's really beautifully written, even if it's not my sort of thing.  I pass anything that I think Anna and/or Dave would like, even if it's not my sort of thing--so it's better to work on figuring out their tastes than mine.  However, I do have a personal bug about worldbuilding, one that, I think, Anna shares with me.  If your worldbuilding doesn't make sense--either "logical" sense or what I call "poetic logical" sense, that's going to be a strike against the story.  Similarly, if a story is using a culture or a mythos that I'm familiar with and the writer hasn't done their research, that's going to be a hard sell.  For example, sloppily researched Arthurian stories have almost no chance of making it past me.  Of all the Arthurians that have been subbed to PC, only three were clearly by people who knew the literature well, only two have made it past me, and we only bought one.  (That would be the awesome "Cup and Table," which I adore.  But you probably knew that.)

Ooh, I'm sharpening my quill to jot this down.   Grin
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« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2010, 09:15:24 AM »

I too liked the genre awareness. I too was lost by the Blue Prince's explanation. I too thought the lawn tennis bit at the end was completely pointless -- unless I missed a reference to it in the beginning?

This was the perfect story for this reader.
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« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2010, 09:45:15 AM »

If anyone is interested in my interpretation of the Blue Prince's plan--this isn't meant to be a final word, or anything, just how I took it when I first read it--

The creature "deluges the land with an inky vomit."

Later, the Blue Prince says that the royal wedding will prevent this--"not a scribe will shed ink to tell of his advent."

In other words, as I took it, the "inky vomit" was reporters writing incessantly about the serpent--rather like news coverage today, when after a week or two of All Tiger Woods All the Time and "exclusive interview with Tiger's dog groomer's assistant's cousin!" one might consider the land to be afflicted.

The royal wedding, though, would be much more newsworthy and the serpent, thus, ignored.

That's how I took it, anyway.
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« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2010, 09:19:49 PM »

this was a cute story, but it was a succession story right after Tim Pratt's Another End of The Empire, which was far more entertaining and enjoyable in my opinion.  If I had heard this one first, I think I might have enjoyed it more. 

Ditto. However, Steve more than made up for it in my eyes.

Of course, in my eyes, Steve can do no wrong...
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