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Author Topic: PC102: Hooves And The Hovel Of Abdel Jameela  (Read 4732 times)
Heradel
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« on: May 04, 2010, 01:07:03 AM »

PodCastle 102: Hooves And The Hovel Of Abdel Jameela

by Saladin Ahmed
Read by Rajan Khanna
Originally published in Clockwork Phoenix 2

I should not be so hard on Beit Zujaaj and its bumpkins. But when I look at the gray rock-heap houses, the withered gray vegetable-yards, and the stuporous gray lives that fill this village, I want to weep for the lost color of Baghdad.
 
Instead I sit and listen to the Shaykh.
 
“Abdel Jameela is not of Assad blood, O learned Professor. My grandfather took mercy, as God tells us we must, on the old man’s mother. Seventy-and-some years ago she showed up in Beit Zujaaj, half-dead from traveling and big with child, telling tales – God alone knows if they were true – of her Assad-clan husband, supposedly slain by highwaymen. Abdel Jameela was birthed and raised here, but he has never been of this village.” Shaykh Hajjar scowls. “For decades now – since I was a boy – he has lived up on the hilltop rather than among us. More of a hermit than a villager. And not of Assad blood,” he says again.
 
I stand up. I can take no more of the man’s unctuous voice and, praise God, I don’t have to.
 
“Of course, O Shaykh, of course. I understand. Now, if you will excuse me?”
 
Shaykh Hajjar blinks. He wishes to say more but doesn’t dare. For I have come from the Caliph’s court.

Rated PG: A miracle a day keeps the physicker away…
« Last Edit: May 17, 2010, 11:28:47 PM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2010, 08:05:28 AM »

I mostly enjoyed this story. The only thing missing, for me, was more exact knowledge of WHEN this is -- I'm guessing 1800s/early 1900s. And the scent/sound got really repetitive after a while. But except for that it was great -- I thought the writing was strong and the "man of science is confronted by the supernatural and must accept its existence" trope was well-done.

The usual good reading from Rajan Khanna.
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2010, 12:50:29 PM »

Brilliant bit of work.  I, too, am particularly drawn to stories of moral dilemmas and crises of faith.  I like fiction that asks questions rather than coming to conclusions. 

I *love* the final bits of the story; a graceful "Lady or the Tiger" ending is a difficult thing to pull off properly.  It pleases me immensely to be asked what *I* think really happened.  And I, at least, found the synesthesiac elements to be an elegant way to describe the sensation of communing mind to mind with an unholy abomination; I might have preferred a bit more work on phrasing the metaphors so that they avoided the repetitiveness Listener mentioned, but as a device they worked marvelously. 

I'm also pleased to see fantastic fiction set somewhere other than the modern USA or pseudo-Europe (quasi-medieval or not.)  In the early days, Arabia, the Far East, and Africa were places to set stories because they were far away and strange.  Then everyone realized that was kind of demeaning and marginalizing, and for a while only people from that culture could write in that culture.  I think we're reaching the point where we can have our exotic settings without committing the postmodern sin of exoticizing; I hope to see more stories set in previously exotic locales not as a way to make the story seem fantastic, but simply because that's where the story takes place, to see the setting as a proper setting instead of a "far and distant land." 
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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2010, 08:39:16 AM »

I like to see fantasy stories set in settings not of European heritage, so that's a plus, and Rajan kicks butt as always.

This story didn't do a lot for me, though.  It's not that I hated it, and I don't have a list of things that bugged me or anything.  It just didn't really get me excited about anything, it was there, and it was good for what it was, but ultimately was not very memorable for me.  I wish I could articulate it better, but I haven't figured out any specifics.
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Heradel
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2010, 08:25:20 AM »

So— I'm kinda wondering if the Flash contest is just sucking away all of the commenting and critical analysis that would normally be directed at the main Podcastle stories.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2010, 08:38:38 AM »

So— I'm kinda wondering if the Flash contest is just sucking away all of the commenting and critical analysis that would normally be directed at the main Podcastle stories.

Could be.  I think one of you mods had said that the Flash Contest was getting a much higher comment rate than the main threads usually do.  Perhaps because commenters' stories are also in the running, and because over there they have the power to steer the publication.

I'm still checking both, but without some back and forth I don't have too much to add.
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eytanz
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2010, 08:45:26 AM »

So— I'm kinda wondering if the Flash contest is just sucking away all of the commenting and critical analysis that would normally be directed at the main Podcastle stories.

Could be.  I think one of you mods had said that the Flash Contest was getting a much higher comment rate than the main threads usually do.  Perhaps because commenters' stories are also in the running, and because over there they have the power to steer the publication.

I'm still checking both, but without some back and forth I don't have too much to add.

The flash contest is definitely sucking up my free time devoted to fiction - I haven't listened to this story yet (or to the last two pseduopods).
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Scattercat
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2010, 09:36:13 AM »

So— I'm kinda wondering if the Flash contest is just sucking away all of the commenting and critical analysis that would normally be directed at the main Podcastle stories.

I'm doing MY part, but no one's coming to argue with me!
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merryoldsoul
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2010, 12:43:22 PM »

ok, call me mr miseryboots but i thought the story was too long, slow in getting going, lacking a wow factor and clunkingly read. actually even i don't know what clunkingly means and i just made it up!
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Ocicat
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2010, 01:08:39 PM »

I thought it was pretty good.  It certainly pressed some of my happy buttons - the man of science confronting the supernatural, the non-western setting, a thorny moral dilemma.  The writing didn't hit on all cylinders, for example I got a little lost or bored during the surgery scene, couldn't quite visualize what was going on with the new magical legs.   But I thought it evoked the mood, sense of place and old fairytale feel quite well.  I also liked the ambiguous ending - no need to be told if he had done right or if it was a trap, or if he was damned... he's left wondering, and so are we.
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Gamercow
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2010, 09:55:53 PM »

This one worked for me.  The non-euorpean setting was excellently done, and really painted a vivid picture for me, the cultural and religious aspect of middle-eastern society was fully fleshed out, and wasn't just a thin veneer over a western setting.  The decision by the doctor whether he would go through with it or not was a difficult one, not only for his sensibilities, but also for his religious beliefs as well. 
The thing I loved the most about this story, however, was the sounds and smells that came with the she-ghoul's voice.  Excellently done. 
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LaShawn
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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2010, 11:59:56 AM »

I liked it. The beginning started off clunky, with so many names and pronounciations slipping through my grasp. For me, the story started when the protag set off towards the hermit and his wife. I also enjoyed the smells and sounds of the she-ghoul, and the miracle that took place at the end was poignant and put a big smile on my face.

Of course, I also just listened to Kristin, With Capice. Do I sense a goat motif? Mehhh!!!!
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« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2010, 01:19:39 PM »

Of course, I also just listened to Kristin, With Capice. Do I sense a goat motif? Mehhh!!!!

We've got another goat story coming in a few weeks! You all should be happy we decided to spread them out instead of having "Goat Month!" at PodCastle  Grin
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« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2010, 03:59:35 PM »

We've got another goat story coming in a few weeks! You all should be happy we decided to spread them out instead of having "Goat Month!" at PodCastle  Grin

I think I would have enjoyed a Goat Month.
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« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2010, 05:29:45 PM »

*Makes mental notes*

1) Pseudopod loves evil apples.
2) PodCastle loves goats.
3) Huh
4) Profit
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« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2010, 06:12:19 PM »

We've got another goat story coming in a few weeks! You all should be happy we decided to spread them out instead of having "Goat Month!" at PodCastle  Grin

I think I would have enjoyed a Goat Month.

We'll keep that in mind  Grin
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« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2010, 10:28:26 AM »

*Makes mental notes*

1) Pseudopod loves evil apples.
2) PodCastle loves goats.
3) Huh
4) Profit

The next time my company has a board meeting, I'm going to propose a business plan with Huh as a middle step.  Smiley
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justenjoying
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« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2012, 04:27:29 PM »

A beutiful mealding of several culture's myths and beleifs. I love the implication that demons are really just another
race of sentient beings. Every part of this story worked so well. It was truly a perfect specimen of it's craft.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 06:54:29 AM by justenjoying » Logged
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