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Author Topic: PC107, Giant Episode: The Behold of the Eye  (Read 15627 times)
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« on: June 09, 2010, 02:23:22 PM »

PodCastle 107, Giant Episode: The Behold of the Eye
by Hal Duncan

read by MarBelle of the Directors Notes podcast.

Originally published in Lone Star Stories


Flashjack had hauled himself up beside her on the rim of the wine-glass he was skinnydipping in, shaken Rioja off his wings, and looked around at the crystal forest of the table-top he’d, just a few short hours ago, been born above in a moment of sheer whimsy, plinking into existence at the clink of a flippant toast to find himself a-flutter in a wild world of molten multicolour— mandalas wheeling on the walls and ceiling, edges of every straight line in the room streaming like snakes.  He’d skittered between trailers of wildly gesticulating hands, gyred on updrafts of laughter, danced in flames of lighters held up to joints, and landed on the nose of a snow-leopard that was lounging in the shadows of a corner of vision.  He’d found it a comfy place to watch one of the guests perform an amazing card trick with a Jack of Hearts, so he’d still been hunkered there, gawping like a loon at the whirl of the party, and making little flames shoot out of his fingertips (because he could), when Pebbleskip came fluttering down to dance in the air in front of him.

“Nice to get out once in a while, eh?” she’d said.  “Hi, I’m Pebbleskip.”

“I’m… Flashjack,” he’d decided.  “What’s in a while?  Is it like upon a time?  And out of what?”

Her face had scrunched, her head tilted in curiosity.

“Ah,” she’d said.  “You must be new.”

Since then she’d been explaining.
Rated R for Foul-Mouthed Fairies and Ever-Shifting Landscapes

(Check out the shiny new Directors Notes iPhone App)
« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 09:00:35 AM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2010, 05:38:31 PM »

Geesh. I haven't yet started listening to this one, so I have no idea what triggered the response above, but I can certainly see how you might not want to see certain subject matters on Podcastle, and it's fair to express that opinion. I just wonder if there's a way to express that opinion without insulting the listeners of another podcast. I mean, it's not the pseudopod listeners who put this story here, is it?

For what it's worth - and again, I'm ignorant of the actual content of the story - I do think that the content warnings in podcastle (and escape pod) have taken a turn for the fanciful, rather than useful, in recent months. Rated R for "ever shifting landscapes"? How is that supposed to help me decide whether or not the story is to my sensibilities?
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2010, 06:13:22 PM »

Rated R for "ever shifting landscapes"? How is that supposed to help me decide whether or not the story is to my sensibilities?

Well, I did say Foul-Mouthed-Fairies before that. But you're right in that the rest of it is fanciful. Mostly because I don't like being the MPAA.

In response to Alllie, I'm sorry you're upset by this story, but I have to admit, I'm having a hard time seeing this one as horror. I mean, I could understand Smokestacks Like the Arms of Gods maybe, or even the Mermaid's Tea Party, but this one feels pretty safely fantasy to me.

(Of course you're free to disagree. I just can't see why you're disagreeing right now.)

And yes, let's try to refrain from calling people mentally sick, and from suggestions such as this is similar to false-advertising for "rape porn" please.

ETA: Need to mind my you're and yours
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 07:20:29 PM by DKT » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 09:29:44 PM »

Having heard the whole story I'm more than a little startled by your response, Allie. To my mind.. its pretty clearly 100% fantasy. There are darker aspects to it, very dark even, but isn't there in most tales?

Finish listening to the story. It does not "revel in torture, gore and death." The violent scenes are included for a very specific reason, and its representative of one boy's inner turmoil and absolute suffering. The only person being tortured here is the boy himself, and he's partially doing it to himself.

Making such severe accusations without having finished the story is really pretty unfair.

Anyhow

I thought it was a fantastic story. The opportunity to get these elaborate visuals about one boy's mental and emotional state as he grows was just really neat (though at points the passage of time was a little unclear to me). Also seeing the way he was grappling with his sexuality through this.. kind of oblique lens was a most interesting perspective.

I enjoy the thought of having a little fairy riding around in my head, making a plaything of my desires. Although I suspect my fairy would not be having a great time of it these days.

Also, Fuzzy rocked. It just occurred to me, I bet he represented lost innocence, huh.
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2010, 01:23:01 AM »

What a beautiful story.  I loved the image of Fuzzy, "the most loyal imago," smashing and destroying because it's the only way he knows how to help and just making it worse, worse, worse...

Resonant imagery that comes round full circle with that ending.  Puckerscruff was just a delightful character.

ETA:
I really liked how the story portrayed the mutability of identity, with the blankness slowly filled up by the things that strike us or that make us think, gradually shifting in tone and theme while still maintaining a cohesion of... character, I suppose.  We are what we love and what we hold onto...

---

My one quibble, and this has come up before, is that chapter headings do not work at all well in audio fiction.  :-P
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 01:35:31 AM by Scattercat » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2010, 11:08:22 AM »

I started this last night on my drive home from work and finished it this morning on my drive in.

I enjoyed the first part, even up through the darker aspects of the story. It made me wonder what imagos I would keep in my own behold, and what my internal fairy would do with them. I rather liked the idea of the fairy--born of a whim--being the sparkle in your eye, and what's behind your imagination. And if you have too much of an imagination (i.e., more than one fairy), it can do bad things to you. All good stuff.

Then...I got to the sexuality part.

Is it just me, or was the story suggesting what it sounded like it was suggesting? That Toby's homosexuality was because he had a fairy inside him?

Because really? REALLY? I don't know. Because the story seems an awful long way to go for a pun that lame.
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2010, 11:14:16 AM »

The discussion on episode ratings and genre debates has been moved to About PodCastle.

My first split, so possibly a little messy. Feel free to participate here or there, but let's focus on the story here.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 11:16:53 AM by DKT » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2010, 12:15:03 PM »

It took me a minute or two for my brain to sync with the reader's accent. After that the only problem I had with the reading/production was that the section headers seemed dropped in, with no adequate pauses before or after. Oh, and the music still playing under it for a good five minutes in the beginning.

I didn't like "Vellum" when I read it. I don't mind a complex story but it was way too hard to follow. Not so with this piece, which had a relatively simple premise: fairies are benign parasites living inside our brains. I can follow that. I also caught echoes of the id/ego/superego debate inside Toby. If you go by this explanation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego,_and_super-ego), then I saw Flashjack as the id, Fuzzy as the ego, and the Voice as the superego (although I'm not 100% sure on id/ego and I think it could be argued either way). When I started thinking of it that way, I appreciated the story even more.

It's very hard to read a story like this and not wonder what it was like inside one's own mind, and that definitely engages the reader. If you measure success by how well your readers were engaged, then this story was a smash hit for me.

I do feel like the epilogue was WAY too long.

Is it just me, or was the story suggesting what it sounded like it was suggesting? That Toby's homosexuality was because he had a fairy inside him?

I don't think so. I think the statues inside the behold were from what the narrator said they were from -- old books about Greek/Roman statuary.
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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2010, 12:39:36 PM »

Is it just me, or was the story suggesting what it sounded like it was suggesting? That Toby's homosexuality was because he had a fairy inside him?

I think it's just you, d00d.  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2010, 05:16:30 PM »

Is it just me, or was the story suggesting what it sounded like it was suggesting? That Toby's homosexuality was because he had a fairy inside him?

Because really? REALLY? I don't know. Because the story seems an awful long way to go for a pun that lame.

I think everyone had a fairy in the story. They're like a magical symbiotic parasite that either makes sense of our desires, or is a symbol of our creativity.
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« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2010, 05:19:13 PM »

I didn't think so because the other fairy at the end said he was looking for the sparkle and didn't see one, and it seems like I remember the narrator fairy remarking a time or two that he didn't see sparkles in very many eyes. Maybe I misheard? [shrug]

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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2010, 05:22:32 PM »

Is it just me, or was the story suggesting what it sounded like it was suggesting? That Toby's homosexuality was because he had a fairy inside him?

Maybe it wasn't just you, but I didn't hear it that way.

Until fairly far into the story, I felt that Flashjack was an observer, not a participant (except, perhaps, to tidy his living space by putting books on bookshelves and the like).  It wasn't until just before the disasters started happening that (I think) he even realized what was was going on.  I got no hint that his presence caused Toby's homosexuality.

I didn't have a problem with the chapter (well, section) headings, except for "Epilogue".  In most cases, the sentence to which the heading referred occurred almost immediately in that section, which I actually found to be a little amusing.  I was glad of that, because I needed that touch of comic relief amongst all that darkness.

That part felt way too long and expository to be a cleaning up of the story's loose ends, which is what I generally expect an epilogue to be.

Like Listener, it took me a bit to get used to the reader's accent, and I never did figure out one word, it sounded like "repentance", but I couldn't make that make sense.  The imagos of their repentance?  Can someone explain (or clarify) that to me?

I think everyone had a fairy in the story. They're like a magical symbiotic parasite that either makes sense of our desires, or is a symbol of our creativity.

Actually, the story stated that not everyone had one - only those who could see them and let them in and (this is where I agree with you) foster/symbolize creativity.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 05:26:43 PM by Wilson Fowlie » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2010, 05:30:10 PM »

Like Listener, it took me a bit to get used to the reader's accent, and I never did figure out one word, it sounded like "repentance", but I couldn't make that make sense.  The imagos of their repentance?  Can someone explain (or clarify) that to me?

The Imagos of Their Appetence

Text of the story here, if that helps.
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« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2010, 05:43:36 PM »

The Imagos of Their Appetence

Text of the story here, if that helps.

Thank you!  It did!  Mostly because I was able to look up the word (one I've never seen/heard anywhere before, to my recollection).  It's a good one, too:

appetence n. A strong craving or desire. A tendency or propensity. A natural attraction or affinity.


ETA: A friend of mine says that the OED has no citations of this word later than 1836. Hmm. Given that, I think it might have been worth defining somewhere in or before the story (by the author, not necessarily the podcasters, though including it as part of the introduction wouldn't have hurt) for the benefit of readers (let alone listeners!).
« Last Edit: June 11, 2010, 12:52:40 PM by Wilson Fowlie » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2010, 06:16:10 PM »

wow, from the 98% of the story I was able to understand (due to the narrators exquisite yet sometimes difficult to comprehend accent) i loved this story!  the whole concept of it has gotten my imagination so fired up, it's as if my Behold has a Behold.  i adore the idea! and, it makes me wonder if i have a twinkle in my eye...


i don't think the author meant what Kaa thought about Toby's homosexuality.  I just think Toby had a fairy in his Behold because he was sensitive enough to have had Flashjack catch his eye.  Simple as that.
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« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2010, 08:35:41 PM »

I loved this story. I cried at the "end" but then was put off by the epilogue. I guess I'm so used to the stories I read just ending, no explanation. Other than that I though it was a fair representation of the teenage soul, though my beholden is exactly opposite(points at name). I wonder how having a fairy changed Toby's life, though I don't think the author intended the fairy to make Toby gay.
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« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2010, 12:26:42 PM »

I hope, Dave, when you do the feedback for this story, you catch the triple 'L' in 'alllie' when you pronounce it.  Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2010, 04:56:32 PM »

I think this story didn't work well in audio format.  Lots of convoluted sentence structure that was beautiful, but easy to loose track of in a reading.  

The initial idea was pretty neat, but I had a hard time caring about either Toby or his fairy.  Which really just reduced the whole thing to a series of interesting images.  And extra-long epilogs.
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« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2010, 09:27:38 AM »

This story was perfect. Unmitigatedly, brilliantly perfect. I loved every moment of it and it made driving hard more than once. Like a lot of people, it seems, I was most fond of Fuzzy. His transition from comforting toy to cartoon villain to genuine monster was handled deftly and subtly and left me shaking my fist gleefully at my car radio.

One thing I want to know if anyone else noticed - and if the author graces us with his presence, know if he intended - was this: Fuzzy is a perfect image of the persecutor/protector. My fiance is in shrink school, and in the creative therapies (drama therapy, art therapy, etc) they talk about the persecutor/protector as the part of you that protects you from bad stuff, but not always in the most healthy ways. When part of you causes you to withdraw from an abusive relationship, ruining the parts of the relationship that are good so you eventually leave your abuser, that's the persecutor/protector. Unfortunately, when the same thing happens in your next, non-abusive relationship, that's also your persecutor/protector. Same thing about the part of you that helps you block off bad experiences to keep them from traumatizing you and then leads you to drinking or drugs to keep those emotions blocked off. People tend to describe their persecutor/protectors in pretty apocalyptic ways: they are shadowy villains, dark jesters, childhood toys gone bad. The fact that Fuzzy's first really crazy act was to murder the imago that represented Toby's growing suicidal urges and then go on to preside over a reign of terror in Toby's head makes him a perfect prosecutor/protector. Did anyone else see that or have thoughts on whether or not the author intended it?
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« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2010, 10:22:47 AM »

Given that the whole story is a psychodrama, I'd say it's pretty safe to assume that's what the author was getting at, yes...
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