Author Topic: PC106: Little Gods  (Read 14053 times)

Heradel

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on: June 02, 2010, 03:29:05 AM
PodCastle 106: Little Gods

by Tim Pratt
read by Dave Thompson

Originally published in Strange Horizons

“I wish I could be a little goddess of cinnamon,” my wife Emily says,
closing her eyes and leaning in close to the spices. I’m used to Emily
saying things like that, so I don’t take any notice, just nod and pick
up a bottle of peach nectar off the shelf, slosh it around, wrinkle my
nose. I know all the gunk in there is supposed to be fresh natural
goodness, but to me it just looks like gunk. Emily says that I deny
the truth of natural origins. Emily likes peach nectar, so I put the
bottle in the basket.

“A little goddess of cinnamon,” Emily repeats. “Or brown sugar.” She
crosses her arms, her silver-and-brass bracelets tinkling together.

“As opposed to a big goddess of cinnamon?” I move on down the aisle
with my basket over my arm.

“Little things get little gods,” Emily says. “It’s only natural.” She
trails after me, running her finger along the shelves, pausing to
sniff at the black teas, to open the lid on a jar of sugar-free
gumdrops. Emily is always prodding, smelling, caressing — she says
that she is experiencing the world.

“So big gods are for big things, then? Like, say, whales?”

Emily sighs behind me. “Big things like . . . I don’t know . . . love.”

Rated PG for the Little Gods of Hanging On

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


stePH

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Reply #1 on: June 02, 2010, 03:56:12 AM
Hello, Podcastle?  It's Sir Terry Pratchett on the line; he'd like a word with you...  ;D  :P

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timpratt

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Reply #2 on: June 02, 2010, 01:57:56 PM
Heh. Little Gods =/= Small Gods, in subject matter, tone, or anything else, really, apart from the noun in the title and similar modifiers... but Small Gods is one of my favorite Discworld books, actually.



Swamp

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Reply #3 on: June 02, 2010, 02:13:49 PM
I really enjoyed this story.  It introduced the gods into the MC's life very nicely.  I especially like how the God of Guilt tried to trick him and make him sink into despair until the Goddess of Grief arrived to offer the true healing of the grief process, and then how she weened him.  Very touching and very insightful to the emotions that hurt and heal us.

Edit:

I forgot to say how much I liked Dave's reading.  His first on PC, I believe.  More please.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2010, 06:43:22 PM by Swamp »

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yicheng

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Reply #4 on: June 02, 2010, 05:56:03 PM
Good story.  It seemed to have a lot Buddhist themes in it.  The Gods/Goddesses remind me alot of the Boddhisatvas in the Mahayana tradition, in how they help guide and facilitate the MC's journey into embracing and transforming his grief into wisdom.  To me, when the Goddess says "That I am, I always was" (paraphrasing here), she is in fact quoting one of the descriptions of becoming enlightened, i.e. that you will realize that you have always had enlightenment all along.  The MC takes this at first as to mean that humans could never become Gods/Goddesses, but only later when he sees Emily as the Boddhisatva of Cinnamon, does he (and the readers) come to the full realization of the Goddess' meaning.

There are no small things because all things are not separated from each other.  Good stuff.



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Reply #5 on: June 02, 2010, 10:57:49 PM
Very kewl story this week.  Will take more than one listen I think.  I liked the mythos/pathos that was drawn and thought it was well handled and the emotion drawn in the intro to the story fit really well with the audio format.  The second half I think some of the emotion flattened out and it wasn't as vivid, but still very good.  What else can we say?  I do think this is my favorite by Mister Pratt who has been drowning the market a little bit lately.  Luckily for me I stayed for this one, great reading, and great story.  Pod Castle needs more like this.

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danooli

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Reply #6 on: June 03, 2010, 02:47:51 AM
Another tasty story from Tim Pratt :)

This one was not my favorite of his short stories (that honor belongs to Another End of The Empire)  but, as stated. it really did tug at the heart strings.  When the grieving widower saw those black corkscrew curls at the beach, i actually shouted "yay!" Thankfully, I was alone in my car at the time so no one else heard me...

anyway, it was a delightful story to listen to, in part due to the narration.  Great job, DKT! More, please? 



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Reply #7 on: June 03, 2010, 03:20:47 AM
I thought this was a lovely tale, and very sweet. A lot of really lovely descriptions and turns of phrase, little details here and there that really influence the feel of the piece - add an element of the poetic, I think. And the concept of all these mini gods is really a lot of fun. (I probably owe an apology to the God of Keyboards for abusing the heck out of his underlings..) I daresay I'll spend the next few days thinking about the little gods of this and that. :)


And, mmm, sorry Dave, but its not Gamercrow either, its GamerCOW. :P

Psyched for Drabblecast too. This is a good week.



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Reply #8 on: June 03, 2010, 06:16:56 PM
No way! I messed it up again? Ugh. I'm so sorry, Gamercow. If it makes you feel any better, that's how I'm pronouncing it in my head now, at least.


HugoGrim

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Reply #9 on: June 04, 2010, 02:23:34 PM
The imagry of the woman on the ceiling was creepy.

Enjoyable.



Listener

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Reply #10 on: June 04, 2010, 09:03:54 PM
I really liked Dave's reading. He is able to differentiate characters with his voice without using "voices".

There's a point in every grief story where, if you hit it, you win. Pratt "won" when the MC finally realized that he had no guarantee if Emily was even in the afterlife -- or if there was an afterlife. That's the point where I started to feel the story. Before then, it was the grieving process wrapped up in fantastical elements. I was honestly much more interested in the fantastical elements, as well as where the author's dislike of high-end grocery stores (Trader Joe's, Fresh Market, Whole Foods) was coming from. The MC clearly didn't like it that much, but was going because Emily wanted to.

The concept of there being a god for everything isn't necessarily new -- two Pratchett books, "Small Gods" and to a lesser extent "Reaper Man" both address this, as I'm sure other fantasy stories do -- but I still mostly enjoyed the story.

By the way... is it on purpose that both this story and the one on Drabblecast feature a grieving MC whose lover has been killed as the result of a gunman opening fire in a public place?

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danooli

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Reply #11 on: June 04, 2010, 09:41:01 PM
By the way... is it on purpose that both this story and the one on Drabblecast feature a grieving MC whose lover has been killed as the result of a gunman opening fire in a public place?

i was wondering that as well!  it made me feel a bit nervous for Mrs. Pratt!  In fact, the wife in "Restless in My Hand" also dies young and tragically..  :-\  eek.



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Reply #12 on: June 04, 2010, 09:54:48 PM
By the way... is it on purpose that both this story and the one on Drabblecast feature a grieving MC whose lover has been killed as the result of a gunman opening fire in a public place?

i was wondering that as well!  it made me feel a bit nervous for Mrs. Pratt!  In fact, the wife in "Restless in My Hand" also dies young and tragically..  :-\  eek.

Someone ought to review Pratt's published stories and see how many of them have the spouse or lover dying, and how it happens.

I am not volunteering.

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Reply #13 on: June 04, 2010, 10:01:44 PM
By the way... is it on purpose that both this story and the one on Drabblecast feature a grieving MC whose lover has been killed as the result of a gunman opening fire in a public place?

It is an interesting coincidence, isn't it? But the answer is: it really is No, it's just chance. DC had a Tim Pratt story and we had a Tim Pratt story, and we decided to do a cross-promotion featuring Tim Pratt.

Danooli, the fish in "Jubilee" also put me in mind of "Bottom Feeding," which was run here sometime last year, I believe. But if it makes you feel better, Pratt also writes happier love stories: "Impossible Dreams" and "Incubus" (heh) come to mind. And if you want a kickass heroine, the Marla Mason series is fun.


danooli

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Reply #14 on: June 04, 2010, 10:11:34 PM
If I recall correctly, Bottom Feeding also featured the tragic death of a cherished person, although it was the brother of the narrator and not a lover/wife.

I'm in the midst of Broken Mirrors now :)  I have already devoured the rest of the printed novels and Bone Shop.  Without posting any spoilers about the novels, the death-of-a-loved-one has featured in many of the Tim Pratt stories I know  ;D 

Sick bastard, you just have to love him, it's true!  Everyone loves Tim Pratt!



Swamp

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Reply #15 on: June 04, 2010, 10:35:13 PM
If I recall correctly, Bottom Feeding also featured the tragic death of a cherished person, although it was the brother of the narrator and not a lover/wife.

The theme continues on Tim Pratt's story, Jubilee, now on Drabblecast, which also provides corelations with Bottom Feeding.

Edit:  Which is exactly what DKT said.  That's what I get for not looking upthread
« Last Edit: June 05, 2010, 12:00:33 AM by Swamp »

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Reply #16 on: June 05, 2010, 11:49:05 PM
The eventual giant retrospective of my work will inevitably be titled "Dead Spouses and Magical Fish and Dead Fish and Magical Spouses: The Collected Tim Pratt".



danooli

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Reply #17 on: June 07, 2010, 02:34:41 AM
thats just awesome.



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Reply #18 on: June 07, 2010, 02:39:50 AM
I loved the concept to pieces.  (I'm actually 65K words into a novel with similar themes.)  I got a little tired of the talking heads, though; it felt like so much time was spent explaining what was going on that we didn't just get to see stuff and go, "Oh, cool."



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Reply #19 on: June 07, 2010, 02:49:51 AM
Hmm, this one didn't grab me as much as other Pratt stories I've heard. The writing was good as ever, though -- the opening scene in particular painted a very vivid image in my head. I could see it playing as though it were a movie.

And the final scene did bring a smile to my face. Very beautiful.

The whole though? Didn't quite work for me. I think I didn't buy that this guy suddenly started seeing these little gods, nor the idea of their existence in the first place.


blueeyeddevil

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Reply #20 on: June 07, 2010, 12:24:25 PM
As much as I love Pratt's short fiction, and I really love Pratt's short fiction, this one was a miss for me. The use of litany sounded a bit...(I hesitate to say it) amateurish. The fantastic element was the only exceptional part of the story, and the actual description of grief, this hurts me the most to say, sounded false.
I know, I know...everyone's emotional experience is different, one can ever say that someone else's description of an emotion sounded 'wrong;' but I have more than a little personal experience with grief, and a bit of professional experience with it as well. Grief in my experience, both personal and witnessed, isn't like this. The emotions associated with actually being present and witnessing the death -particularly the violent death- of a loved one are even more complicated.
I hate to say it, but I found this story slightly insulting. Maybe Mr. Pratt has actually witnessed the violent death of a loved one, but from this description and treatment, I doubt it...it just sounds like he dipped into 'story contrivances' bag when trying to find a way to flesh out a concept-

Thinking about it actually makes me angry, I should stop.
Perhaps I shouldn't post this, and I will happily take it down if asked, but this is a small sample of the sort of emotional complication this sort of event creates.

I really like Mr Pratt's work and I think he can do better.



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Reply #21 on: June 07, 2010, 12:55:35 PM
The eventual giant retrospective of my work will inevitably be titled "Dead Spouses and Magical Fish and Dead Fish and Magical Spouses: The Collected Tim Pratt".

You wouldn't even have to do the work. Just call it "Dead Spouse, Magical Fish" and let Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling edit it.

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Reply #22 on: June 07, 2010, 01:06:57 PM
Simple, but nice.  Another great work from the author.



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Reply #23 on: June 07, 2010, 05:43:08 PM
As much as I love Pratt's short fiction, and I really love Pratt's short fiction, this one was a miss for me. The use of litany sounded a bit...(I hesitate to say it) amateurish. The fantastic element was the only exceptional part of the story, and the actual description of grief, this hurts me the most to say, sounded false.
I know, I know...everyone's emotional experience is different, one can ever say that someone else's description of an emotion sounded 'wrong;' but I have more than a little personal experience with grief, and a bit of professional experience with it as well. Grief in my experience, both personal and witnessed, isn't like this. The emotions associated with actually being present and witnessing the death -particularly the violent death- of a loved one are even more complicated.
I hate to say it, but I found this story slightly insulting. Maybe Mr. Pratt has actually witnessed the violent death of a loved one, but from this description and treatment, I doubt it...it just sounds like he dipped into 'story contrivances' bag when trying to find a way to flesh out a concept-

Thinking about it actually makes me angry, I should stop.
Perhaps I shouldn't post this, and I will happily take it down if asked, but this is a small sample of the sort of emotional complication this sort of event creates.

I really like Mr Pratt's work and I think he can do better.

I'm wouldn't ask you to take the post down, but I want to be very careful about getting into some kind of "That's not how grief really is" debate. Because as you said, everyone's emotional experiences are different. Your own experiences of grief are your own, as are mine. Suggesting someone else's experience or reaction to grief is amateurish or a contrivance is insulting. (We haven't gone there yet, but it's teetering on the edge.)


blueeyeddevil

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Reply #24 on: June 08, 2010, 11:27:04 AM
I'm wouldn't ask you to take the post down, but I want to be very careful about getting into some kind of "That's not how grief really is" debate. Because as you said, everyone's emotional experiences are different. Your own experiences of grief are your own, as are mine. Suggesting someone else's experience or reaction to grief is amateurish or a contrivance is insulting. (We haven't gone there yet, but it's teetering on the edge.)
[/quote]

Absolutely right, all -and genuine- apologies.

Leaving aside the debate over emotional verity, let me rephrase the unfortunate "amateurish" in this way:
I personally find litany to be an overused literary form, and to be honest, whenever I encounter it, it brings me back to hearing teenagers' poetry at open mic nights. Of course litany can be used skilfully, and I should not conflate hearing it used by amateurs with the form being amateurish in nature. I have encountered uses of litany that I found interesting, but I did not here. I think, as a personal criteria, for litany to be used constructively it must have a progressive (or regressive, depending on what your using it for) structure i.e. every succesive item must represent a step toward a greater point. In my experience I find litany too often used as a clearing house for concepts, or even turns of phrase, which the author doesn't wish to take the time for to properly imbed in the text. 
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 11:28:43 AM by blueeyeddevil »