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Author Topic: PC110: The Alchemist’s Feather  (Read 5188 times)
Heradel
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« on: June 22, 2010, 09:00:10 AM »

PodCastle 110: The Alchemist’s Feather

by Erin Cashier
Read by Dave Thompson
Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

I have always done as I have been told, and most of my actions have not been kind ones. I know because the Alchemist did not always tell me to forget and so, trapped inside my jar, I was cursed to remember.

I dreamt the dreams of dolls, and those were the times I could see the past most clearly. I remembered the time I crept inside a true man’s workplace to hide false evidence. And when I delivered a botched love potion into a poor serving girl’s tea and hid behind a jug of milk to watch as she retched black blood and green bile across the floor.

Tonight as I dreamt, I became aware that these were horrible things. They did not bother me at the time, and they do not bother me now, but I am aware of them in a way that I have never been before. And in the morning I realize one of my fingers is gone.

Rated R for Violence
« Last Edit: July 14, 2010, 09:58:49 AM by Heradel » Logged

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Talia
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2010, 09:33:05 AM »

It's like Pinnochio with an evil Gepetto. Nice.
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2010, 04:41:08 PM »

Just finished listening. Already plugged it on my Live Journal page. Love, love, LOVE this story.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2010, 05:03:27 PM »

I loved this story in BCS, but I want to say that Dave Thompson's reading really brought it to life from me, turning a good experience into a great experience. Dave really brought out the brutality of the alchemist, the innocence of the girl, and the sad, frustrated love of the homonculous. Seriously, on BCS, the story was striking; here it was tear-jerking. Great job!
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 05:24:11 PM »

Aw, thank you Electric Paladin. That really makes my day Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 06:16:53 PM »

 Smiley
This was a charming story!
It just shows that you never know where you'll find a friend.
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2010, 06:34:58 PM »

I really loved this story.  I love the part where homonculous realized he doesn't have to forget as ordered.  Was his new spark of life caused by Maria's blood, or briefly becoming a phoenix, or a combination of both.  I also liked the subtle relationship with the girl, especially once the other girls were remembered.  It's another reminder that small things can change the world, or at least our world.

And, yes, Dave's reading was top notch.
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2010, 06:41:41 PM »

I really loved this story.  I love the part where homonculous realized he doesn't have to forget as ordered.  Was his new spark of life caused by Maria's blood, or briefly becoming a phoenix, or a combination of both.  I also liked the subtle relationship with the girl, especially once the other girls were remembered.  It's another reminder that small things can change the world, or at least our world.

And, yes, Dave's reading was top notch.

Personally, I prefer to think that it was the homonculous's love that broke his connection to the Alchemist and forged a stronger connection to the girl, but probably it was meant to be a combination of all three: love, blood, and a moment of phoenixhood.
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2010, 11:05:00 PM »

Great reading, great story. I especially adore a story that invites you to imagine what comes next, hinting but not drawing in the details. For me, I imagined Maria becoming a vengeance forest witch with a band of lost girl groupies that play with Allred and wreak havoc on those who think they can hurt kids.   
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« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2010, 08:35:10 AM »

This story rocked, and more so because of Dave's reading.  His voice is extremely well-suited for particular stories, and those particular stories are usually the ones he narrates, so good job suiting the narrator to the story.

The one thing I'm not sure I understood is why the homunculous kept losing fingers?  Was that an ingredient in the alchemy or something? 

Anyway, lots of great story elements here, used to great effect, between the alchemist, the homunculous, the phoenix.  I love seeing from the point of view of an artificial being when done well (and when it avoids too many of the "robot learning to love" cliches), and here it is done VERY well.

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Talia
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« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2010, 08:42:27 AM »


The one thing I'm not sure I understood is why the homunculous kept losing fingers?  Was that an ingredient in the alchemy or something? 

As I understood it that was because the alchemist kept plucking feathers - apparently the feathers matched up to his fingers in his "natural" form, or something.
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2010, 08:33:14 AM »


The one thing I'm not sure I understood is why the homunculous kept losing fingers?  Was that an ingredient in the alchemy or something? 

As I understood it that was because the alchemist kept plucking feathers - apparently the feathers matched up to his fingers in his "natural" form, or something.


Oooooohhhhh.  Okay, that makes sense. 
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Listener
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2010, 09:55:48 AM »

Dave is a good reader, although sometimes he sounds overly sinister.

I didn't love the story. I thought it was well-told, but I don't know if it brought very much new to the table for me -- evil smart person? Check. Pinocchio-like creature that longs to be more than it is? Check. Child not cared for very well by evil smart person? Check. Using the child for nefarious purposes? Check. Good guys escape? Check.

The switching from bird to bird in the effort to get to the Phoenix was interesting, but we didn't know WHY the local lord wanted to be one. It was like there's this whole other story going on, and we just zoomed into the part about the Phoenix and the alchemist.
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2010, 10:34:38 AM »

Dave is a good reader, although sometimes he sounds overly sinister.

I didn't love the story. I thought it was well-told, but I don't know if it brought very much new to the table for me -- evil smart person? Check. Pinocchio-like creature that longs to be more than it is? Check. Child not cared for very well by evil smart person? Check. Using the child for nefarious purposes? Check. Good guys escape? Check.

The switching from bird to bird in the effort to get to the Phoenix was interesting, but we didn't know WHY the local lord wanted to be one. It was like there's this whole other story going on, and we just zoomed into the part about the Phoenix and the alchemist.

Maybe I am sometimes overly sinister  Wink

We do actually know why the local lord wants a Phoenix feather. In the first scene with the Alchemist, they essentially say that the prince has contracted some kind of STD and wants to be rid of it before his wedding night. A phoenix feather is the only thing that can cleanse him. Thus the "If the prince hadn't stuck his sword in every whore in Vienna line..."
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Listener
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« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2010, 12:33:53 PM »

Dave is a good reader, although sometimes he sounds overly sinister.

I didn't love the story. I thought it was well-told, but I don't know if it brought very much new to the table for me -- evil smart person? Check. Pinocchio-like creature that longs to be more than it is? Check. Child not cared for very well by evil smart person? Check. Using the child for nefarious purposes? Check. Good guys escape? Check.

The switching from bird to bird in the effort to get to the Phoenix was interesting, but we didn't know WHY the local lord wanted to be one. It was like there's this whole other story going on, and we just zoomed into the part about the Phoenix and the alchemist.

Maybe I am sometimes overly sinister  Wink

We do actually know why the local lord wants a Phoenix feather. In the first scene with the Alchemist, they essentially say that the prince has contracted some kind of STD and wants to be rid of it before his wedding night. A phoenix feather is the only thing that can cleanse him. Thus the "If the prince hadn't stuck his sword in every whore in Vienna line..."

Oh right. I sometimes miss details at the very beginning of stories as I get myself into the story-listening mood.
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« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2010, 09:27:26 PM »

Thus the "If the prince hadn't stuck his sword in every whore in Vienna line..."

And here I thought he was on some kind of moral quest to get rid of the red-light areas... ;-)
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2010, 08:49:27 AM »

Dave is a good reader, although sometimes he sounds overly sinister.

I didn't love the story. I thought it was well-told, but I don't know if it brought very much new to the table for me -- evil smart person? Check. Pinocchio-like creature that longs to be more than it is? Check. Child not cared for very well by evil smart person? Check. Using the child for nefarious purposes? Check. Good guys escape? Check.

The switching from bird to bird in the effort to get to the Phoenix was interesting, but we didn't know WHY the local lord wanted to be one. It was like there's this whole other story going on, and we just zoomed into the part about the Phoenix and the alchemist.

Maybe I am sometimes overly sinister  Wink

We do actually know why the local lord wants a Phoenix feather. In the first scene with the Alchemist, they essentially say that the prince has contracted some kind of STD and wants to be rid of it before his wedding night. A phoenix feather is the only thing that can cleanse him. Thus the "If the prince hadn't stuck his sword in every whore in Vienna line..."

What, Phoenix feathers don't always revive the dead?  Though I guess that's phoenix down, these sounded like pinfeathers...
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« Reply #17 on: July 04, 2010, 12:10:06 AM »

I'm actually kind of sad that the story didn't end with the phoenix feather used as ultra-penicillin on some nob's wobbly bobber.  I strive for mythic, but I am forever sidetracked by irony.

It was a good story, though.  I liked the mouthlessness most of all; it verged on the eerie at times, of which I heartily approve.  Echoing the kudos for the reading; I don't always like DKT's readings, but this one worked very well indeed.
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merryoldsoul
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« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2010, 12:55:22 PM »

is it only me that didn't really get this? i enjoyed the reading but the story was staid and plodding: dare i say wooden? the alchemist was too broad brush "evil villain" without further characterisaton. sorry, just didn't work for me.
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Paranatural
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« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2010, 12:11:27 AM »

I, too, was rather 'meh' on this story. From the moment it was revealed the Prince wanted an Phoenix's feather, it became blindingly obvious either the homunculus or the little girl would get the use of it. There was little in the way of twists or turns after that, just the plodding on till the end. However, it was a rather well written story, I just wish something more interesting had happened.
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