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Author Topic: PC101: Kristin, With Caprice  (Read 4658 times)
Heradel
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« on: April 27, 2010, 11:08:02 AM »

PodCastle 101: Kristin, With Caprice

by Alan Smale
Read by Norm Sherman

Originally published in Realms of Fantasy

“I came for my things,” he said.

“If you’d called, I could have been out.” She stood aside to let him in. Reluctantly.

“That’s not necessary,” said Paul. “You don’t have to do that. You look great.”

“Yes, it is,” she replied. “Yes, I do. No, I really don’t. Your stuff’s in the spare.” She walked into the kitchen and he heard the strange squeal again. Perhaps the sound of a sponge against the inside of the oven?

Rated PG For Goats That Will Eat Pretty Much Anything You Can Think Up.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2010, 08:20:55 AM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2010, 03:16:50 PM »

Good reading, and the fact that there were only two human MCs meant that no radical voice changes were necessary. Always a plus.

I'm sour on stories with protagonists who just got out of relationships and are all emo or all apologetic about it. And for a while I was trying to figure out the fantastic element. The threads (witchy aunt, magical goats, "Speed" references) came together too late, in my opinion, and were too tenuous to make the reveal strong enough to matter to me. Like, in "The Sixth Sense", when we found out that (SPOILER) Bruce Willis and his horrible haircut were dead the whole time, we could reflect on the film and pick out specific moments that were weird and now suddenly make sense. But in this story I didn't reflect. It was just... Paul pets goat. People discuss things. Goat bleats when Paul stops petting it. They forget everything.

The premise is a good one. I'd love to have a few of those goats hang around my house for a bit. I just didn't much care for the execution, and the storytelling itself couldn't overcome that, for me. Nor could it overcome a rather pathetic MC.
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l33tminion
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2010, 04:56:54 PM »

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Goats?

Meh.
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DKT
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2010, 05:56:21 PM »

Meh.

I think it's pronounced "Meh-eh-eh." At least, for this episode...
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2010, 06:35:24 PM »

Magical goats are a neat idea and the eating anything you don't want is a fun concept.  I kept expecting this to go pseudopod though... the boyfriend is not really wanted anymore and suddenly those cute goats stop being so cute.

Really though the random bleating made it totally worth it.  Evidently silly goat noises are enough for me (was that Norm or an actual goat?  if it was Norm, wow).  I was laughing out loud and making my own goat noises... glad I drive to work now.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2010, 06:52:35 PM »

Meh.

I think it's pronounced "Meh-eh-eh." At least, for this episode...

aaaand quote of the week goes to DKT!
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2010, 12:17:56 AM »

A very cute, slightly romantic tale about second chances. I especially love the scale, how almost the entire story takes place in an apartment...not all fantasy has to involve dragons, magic puppets, and the Dark Lord Of (fill in name of cursed land here).
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2010, 06:03:11 AM »

I just want a domesticated, hypo-allergenic non-smelly non-memory-eating goat after hearing this.

Although, Norm Sherman did do an awesome job reading it.
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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2010, 08:28:00 AM »

Where do I get one of these goats?  The miniature domesticated goats was what kept me listening.  I wish the fantasy element had sprung itself earlier, but that's okay, the goats ate my discontent over that and now I'm perfectly happy.   Grin

It did make me think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Not in a bad way or a derivative way.  It's a great movie, and the association gives me warm fuzzies. 
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2010, 08:55:21 AM »

Does anyone know the significance of the title?  There's a character named Kristin, obviously, but what's "With Caprice" mean?
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Heradel
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2010, 09:55:43 AM »

Does anyone know the significance of the title?  There's a character named Kristin, obviously, but what's "With Caprice" mean?

caprice |kəˈprēs|
noun
1 a sudden and unaccountable change of mood or behavior
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2010, 10:02:56 AM »

Does anyone know the significance of the title?  There's a character named Kristin, obviously, but what's "With Caprice" mean?

caprice |kəˈprēs|
noun
1 a sudden and unaccountable change of mood or behavior

Yes, but also refers to Capricorn: the Goat (there was a reference to the Zodiac, albeit the chinese zodiac in the story). Pretty obvious when you think about it.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2010, 10:28:16 AM »

Stories that play around with consciousness and memory loss are always freighted with serious potential for horror. Had the goats been any hungrier, this story could have been slotted over to Pseudopod, with the two left in the apartment drooling and crawling, having forgotten how to walk or speak.
I personally have issues with this tale, though not on any stylistic premise. I'm not sure I can outline it in this limited space, but here goes.
Fantasy, SciFi...SpecFic in general has two obvious roads it can choose to follow. In the first case, the type I prefer, it can use technology or fantastic setting to outline certain new or interesting challenges to human society, but the answers people find to their problems are within themselves and society, not the technology or magic. The second and in my opinion more common type of SpecFic uses magic and/or tech as its own solution. This is basic Deus ex Machina, and its usage is as old as speculative fiction:like  the original mythological Greek plays of Aeschylus and Euripides, (we get the term from the 'mechane;' a wooden crane which was used to wheel out actors dressed like gods over the stage so they could make their final pronouncements.)
I think this story tries to belong to the first category but is dangerously close to being the second. Because of how obvious the goats' influence is made, the message that could be taken away is: 'don't learn to deal with your problems, just get some magical sorrow-devouring pets.' I don't think that was the intent of the story. I don't know how, given the central premise of the story, this could be communicated any better.

As it is, meh. 
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2010, 01:23:10 PM »

I think blueeyeddevil has the right of it; the goats overwhelm the story here, oddly.  "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" managed to be about the characters and their relationships rather than about the speculative element, but in this one the characters have no agency; the goats take what they want, and in the end it turns out positively (though it could well not have.)  I think that's the issue, for me; it could have turned out very darkly indeed, but nothing the characters did could have affected the outcome one way or the other.  For some sorts of stories, that works, but relationship stories just don't mesh with the helplessness meme, for me.  Relationships are about time and effort, not about mystically working or not working.  You can't have a good relationship just because you're lucky; you have to want it and work for it.  In ESotSM, the character(s) come to a moment of clarity and work to salvage the parts of their relationship they'd forgotten about, making an appointment unbeknownst to themselves; in this story, the "caprice" of the title seems to rule the day.  At the end, he can't even be sure of remembering her address afterward, and through no effort or decision of his own.
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« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2010, 08:10:43 AM »

I thought this was a great story. I disagree that the goats "overwhelm" the story. The goats ARE the story to a degree. We were looking at two very messed up, miserable people here until the goats ate their bad memories (and some of their good ones as well). Now they're functional individuals, but are they still themselves? That's the question. Both of themselves had part of their life erased and at least in the guy's place, he had no (concious) choice about it. So that's a little sinister (as has been pointed out). The lack of control is the point.

I don't think the story falls into either of those categories, not exactly. More towards the latter, assuming the relative gave Kristin the goats knowing what they'd do. Whether Kristin knew what they'd do is unclear. But at the very least there's the guy, who as I said has no choice in the matter. That's not very Eternal Sunshiney. Was magic used as a solution? Yeeeessss, but not necessarily on purpose (except on the aunt's part..). And whether the results were any kind of good at all is difficult to judge.

I also thought the "reveal" about the fantasy element worked fine. This was supposed to be a slow and subtle sort of story. I also really, really loved the line about the goat chewing on his thoughts. I just thought it was a nice use of language at the time. LITTLE DID I KNOW. Hehe.
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2010, 08:28:15 AM »

Quote
But at the very least there's the guy, who as I said has no choice in the matter. That's not very Eternal Sunshiney.

I got the impression that he did choose.  Kristin said that the goats ate what you didn't want, hence the unhappy memories.  His memories only started disappearing when he realized what happened to hers and realized he might have a chance with her again if he could let go of his grudge, so he did.  So to me, it's very similar to Eternal Sunshine.
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2010, 08:18:22 PM »

This story really struck a cord in me.  I found myself wanting these goats.  Maybe because after I left America, went to live in China to be with my Fiancee (met her in America, but she is from China), her parents at first seemed to be in favor, after meddling by her brother, they changed their minds, made her move away from me, but she still managed to visit some times without their knowledge.  After spending most of a year apart mostly alone in a foreign culture and country, we reunited before my Visa was up.  The plan was for me to return to America, and then when she was able to qualify for a US Visa again (J visa has a two year waiting period after expiring) she would come to America.  About a month after my return she said she can't marry me, at least not for 15 years or so.  The parents don't approve so I can't be with you is so foreign to me and my cultural view.  These goats would be a blessing.  I also wonder if they eat debt.  The wonders of 5 months with no employment, and not qualifying for unemployment because I was not working in US for at least 6 months of the year.  So I guess I want some memory and debt eating magical goats of my own.  I give this story an enthusiastic thumbs up.  and Norm making goat noises earns another thumb up.
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« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2010, 07:48:37 AM »

I liked this very much, after almost giving it a miss. I only figured it out about 3/4 to maybe 6/7 of the way through -- I'm not the sharpest claw in the paw sometimes.

Also, wonderful to hear Norm back on EA.
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« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2010, 09:45:19 AM »

I found this story had at its core a strong literary element, which is nice and good to hear in Fantasy.  The reading was incredible as the good norm can do, but I am not sure if I liked the goats as the device.  The lovely part about bringing some type of thought eater into the broken relationship is a great use of a device usually reserved for evil mechanation.  I thought that it was a wonderful way to direct how often what is hurting us is of our own making and if we can let go as a person, we will find that all the stress and angst can just float away.  The goats however I cannot fathom why goats were a better choice than say pygmy platypus (platypie?), or goldfish, or good old fashioned dogs other than they cam from a farm with no animals as they were house goats.  Perhaps as one of the oldest domesticated animals is where it stems.
Overall great pace and theme, was a good episode.
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Ric

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« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2010, 10:06:06 AM »

The goats however I cannot fathom why goats were a better choice than say pygmy platypus (platypie?), or goldfish, or good old fashioned dogs other than they cam from a farm with no animals as they were house goats.  Perhaps as one of the oldest domesticated animals is where it stems.
Overall great pace and theme, was a good episode.

Yeah, that and also that goats are known for eating everything they find or at least trying to.
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