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Author Topic: PodCastle Miniature 47: Chinatown  (Read 4799 times)


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on: February 14, 2010, 02:19:28 PM
PodCastle Miniature 47: Chinatown

by Greg van Eekhout
Read by John Meagher

Extracted from “Tales From the City of Seams,” Originally Published in Polyphony 4

One day as I sat in the restaurant savoring my lunch, a man in an ivory suit came into the place. His head was as white and hairless as an eggshell, and when he spoke, every syllable came out twisted into an odd shape. I think he was Belgian. “Daughter of Lu Ch’eng-Huan, far removed,” he said,  ”I have grown impatient with your truculence. I have dealt with you in good faith. I have offered you riches — gems and antiques, property and estates, significant shares in profitable concerns — but you have mistaken my generosity for desperation. If you will not part with the soup in a fair exchange, I shall have to take it by force.”

Michelle Sze was over at a corner table, taking care of some accounting matters. “Get lost,” she said.

Rated PG for some very old soup

Happy Chinese New Year!
« Last Edit: March 03, 2010, 01:14:37 AM by Heradel »

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Reply #1 on: February 14, 2010, 04:36:11 PM
I loved this! I'm generally pleased by Greg van Eekhout's stuff, and this is certainly no exception. It was "merely" a good tale told well until the end when he found the BBQ place, and that's when I started to laugh, imagining what kind of adventure that would turn out to be.

Keep 'em comin'!

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Reply #2 on: February 15, 2010, 09:49:53 AM
Great fun. Really enjoyed this one. But I was slightly troubled that the narrator's taste in food seems to veer towards homeopathic cannibalism - after all, all the food he likes is derived, over many centuries of dilution and mixing, from murdered humans.


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Reply #3 on: February 15, 2010, 11:53:49 AM
homeopathic cannibalism

All right, I'm stealing that. :)

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Reply #4 on: February 16, 2010, 05:30:28 PM
Very cute miniature!  I like the theme of various magically enhanced restuarants.  Special kudo points to Mr. Van Eekhout for doing his history homework (Mongol khans were indeed very fond of making goblets and other souvenirs out of the skulls of their conquered kings).  Listening to this story left me hungry and craving for sequels.

homeopathic cannibalism

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Reply #5 on: February 16, 2010, 05:45:25 PM
Great story. I wanted so much more! :) And I want to know where that restaurant is.


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Reply #6 on: February 16, 2010, 11:39:18 PM
my favorite mini to date.  LOVED it!


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Reply #7 on: February 18, 2010, 04:35:08 PM
I enjoyed the story as well. I wonder how this guy goes about finding places with "mythical food".

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Reply #8 on: February 18, 2010, 06:27:08 PM
I very much enjoyed this story.  Kudos to Mr. Van Eekhout AND to Mr Meagher for an outstanding reading!

rkg  101010


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Reply #9 on: February 20, 2010, 12:23:34 AM
I have to agree with danooli. My favorite mini so far.

Now, Greg, ya gotta give us more of this character. A semi-cannibalistic weirdo. Great!

I always like Greg's stuff, and this one is at the top, now.

The reading was dead on. Really brought the MC to life!

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Reply #10 on: February 21, 2010, 01:29:28 PM
Very enjoyable.

The utter bizarreness of the snapshot image of the standoff between the modified monkeys and the preternatural brothers tickled me in all the right, absurd places.

The idea behind the the ever-simmering soup was pretty awesome--one of those little chestnuts you read and think, "Damn, that should have been mine!"

And I too found myself curious as to how this guy finds these mystical restaurants. I like that. He's not shown as some occult investigator or offspring of a mythological deity or anything like that. He's just a dude who likes supernatural food and inexplicably finds these places, as if they are all around us, we just have to know to look for them. I can't remember where I read it (might have been a Poe essay), but someone was breaking down fiction into three categories: a bizarre voice describing a bizarre event, a bizarre voice describing a normal event, and a normal voice describing a bizarre event. I found this story to be a delightful example of the last mode.

"There is no exquisite beauty…without some strangeness in the proportion."
~Edgar Allan Poe, "Ligeia"


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Reply #11 on: February 21, 2010, 06:10:50 PM
One of my favorite books as a very young child was "The Five Chinese Brothers," which was an Americanized picture-book version of an old Chinese fairytale.  This story reminded me of that in a very good way.

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Reply #12 on: February 23, 2010, 02:30:53 PM
A fun quick tale as usual from Van Eekhout, good stuff.

I particularly liked the line at the beginning comparing his restaurant-going to passing up a line of prostitutes because you know you have something better waiting for you.


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Reply #13 on: February 24, 2010, 02:51:16 PM
Outstanding as usual. Great story, with a great ending of the BBQ place.  On the idea of homeopathic cannibalism, I thought of the same thing, and then thought "Good soup is good soup."

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Reply #14 on: February 24, 2010, 10:01:45 PM
Probably my favourite minature so far, I have to say that I've really enjoyed the last few PC's, a really consistant high standard.

This one tickled the taste buds and my sense of humour in equal measure. Our canabalistic gourmet reminded me of a TV cartoon from my childhood, Mr Ben. Mr Ben used to visit a fancy dress shop each week and have a different adventure associated with the costume he wears, this guy could be his slightly weird american cousin visiting a different restaurant each week.

Man - despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments - owes his existence to a six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.


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Reply #15 on: March 09, 2010, 04:57:22 PM
Dammit, now I'm hungry for potstickers and pulled pork.

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