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Author Topic: PC112: The Somnambulist  (Read 10287 times)
Heradel
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« on: July 06, 2010, 02:42:52 PM »

PodCastle 112: The Somnambulist

by David J. Schwartz
Read by Elizabeth Green Musselmen

Originally published in Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy

The somnambulist brakes at the intersection of two suburban streets–Ivy Something Lane, Something Creek Road.  Her headlights illuminate the 2 A.M. silence.  She leans over to open the passenger side door and her husband, in the body of a grey squirrel, jumps in.  He’s been gone twelve days, in a double-door trap, in a coma, trekking across astral space and chemically treated lawns.  Earlier today his human body died.  The somnambulist cried herself to sleep; salt tracks have dried upon her face.
She pulls the door shut and sits up.  The squirrel-husband hops over to her, his tail arcing after him like an echo.  He climbs the arm of her teddy bear pajamas and perches upon her shoulder.
The somnambulist–her name is Judy when she’s awake–has been married for ten years.  Her husband calls himself a trader, and this is perhaps the best description of what he does, but he has been called other things; magician, sorcerer, devil.  Within the profession these terms have little meaning.  He traffics in power, which is more or less what Judy has always believed.
“The hospital,” says the squirrel-husband.  At least, she hears a voice, and the squirrel is the source.  The somnambulist turns towards the highway.

 
Rated R: Violence, Language, Adult Themes
« Last Edit: July 27, 2010, 08:19:25 AM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2010, 01:42:25 PM »

I liked this one a lot, and the "Seeping Judy" pun made me smile. I appreciated that their relationship was subtly dysfunctional, and I enjoyed the moment of Judy taking her destiny into her own hands, much to her husband's dismay. I also enjoyed the husband's conflicted pride at his wife's strength and independence and would have liked to see more of that. The narrator says that he had to love her for the magic to work; I would have liked to see more of his regret at having to take over her body, his desperation to conquer her and secret desire not to succeed. But... maybe I'm giving him too much credit. Maybe he wasn't meant to be at all sympathetic.

I think the best thing about this story was the atmosphere. Mundane suburbia mixed with astral projection and symbolic mysticism/magic. The setting turned my crank, perhaps a little more than the story did, but this is more a reflection of the strength of one than the weakness of the other.

Oh, and Dave, don't worry about your daughter. That whole "don't wake a sleepwalker" thing is total BS. It's based entirely on the belief that a sleepwalker's soul is absent and she'll be injured by premature waking, which would be awesome, but isn't true.

I hope so, anyway. My fiance sleepwalks and I'd hate to dislodge her soul. It's bad enough when something else gets in there, even when she's at home; it'd be worse if something actually displaced her. I'd never hear the end of it.
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« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2010, 03:30:05 PM »

Oh, and Dave, don't worry about your daughter. That whole "don't wake a sleepwalker" thing is total BS. It's based entirely on the belief that a sleepwalker's soul is absent and she'll be injured by premature waking, which would be awesome, but isn't true.

I hope so, anyway. My fiance sleepwalks and I'd hate to dislodge her soul. It's bad enough when something else gets in there, even when she's at home; it'd be worse if something actually displaced her. I'd never hear the end of it.

Oh, thanks for that. I hadn't heard it before. Now that I think about, I can't actually remember where I heard it...

Congrats on your engagement, BTW Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2010, 03:36:12 PM »

I liked the story a lot for the awesome concept of sleeping ninja assassins. Unfortunately, it got mired down in scads of exposition, a couple of tense changes that I'm sure were intentional but didn't really work in audio, and the whole thing with Death and the gods on a boat listening to a baseball game -- which was a story in and of itself.

So, great concept, passable execution, overall enjoyable but not blow-me-away-ing.
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2010, 03:36:43 PM »

Upcoming marriage, at this point. The date is August 15th! We're naming all the tables after fantasy places, and the temptation to seat my parents at Mordor is nearly uncontrollable. We'll probably put them in Luthadel, instead.
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« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2010, 04:11:36 PM »

Please God tell me you're not kidding about having a table called Mordor at your wedding!
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« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2010, 04:18:50 PM »

Please God tell me you're not kidding about having a table called Mordor at your wedding!

I'm not kidding about naming the tables after fantasy places, but we're actually probably not going to use Mordor. The trouble is, my Mom hates fantastic literature with a fiery passion, but my Dad is an old-school Tolkeinist, knows I have tension with my mother, and is going to be sitting next to her wherever we put them. I don't actually want to upset my parents, just mock them a little, so we'll have to put them somewhere a little less obvious.

There will be a table called Tortal, though, and certainly a Lothlorien.
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« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2010, 04:35:11 PM »

Yeah, that totally makes sense, and it's an awesome idea.

I hear London Below is nice that time of year!

Okay, sorry to detract from general Somnambulist discussions. Onward!
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« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2010, 07:16:34 PM »

I agree with Listener.  I am left wondering about the possibilities of this story, but felt the delivery was off for some reason.  I love the concept and

I also don't understand where the cheese love comes in... Wink (although, i do love cheese. )
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« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2010, 07:25:23 PM »

I agree with Listener.  I am left wondering about the possibilities of this story, but felt the delivery was off for some reason.  I love the concept and

I also don't understand where the cheese love comes in... Wink (although, i do love cheese. )

She = loves cheese.
He = gives her everything she wants to earn her love (so he can steal her life)
She = eats cheese (nom nom nom)
He = I can has life?
She = No!
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« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2010, 07:45:07 PM »

The thing I liked about this story was that there was a lot of dream logic in it. You know, the kind of things that would just be weird in real life, but make perfect sense when they happen in dreams. For me, it's even more believable because some of those things come up in my own dreams. The part where she pulls out the sword reminds me of a time when I pulled a splinter out of my heel and it just so happened to be eight inches long and intricately carved.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2010, 07:49:29 PM »

The thing I liked about this story was that there was a lot of dream logic in it. You know, the kind of things that would just be weird in real life, but make perfect sense when they happen in dreams. For me, it's even more believable because some of those things come up in my own dreams. The part where she pulls out the sword reminds me of a time when I pulled a splinter out of my heel and it just so happened to be eight inches long and intricately carved.

Neat. I wonder how much your husband/wife got for that beauty Tongue.
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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2010, 11:19:13 PM »

She = loves cheese.
He = gives her everything she wants to earn her love (so he can steal her life)
She = eats cheese (nom nom nom)
He = I can has life?
She = No!

LOLTales?

(I like it!)
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« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2010, 11:38:12 AM »

She = loves cheese.
He = gives her everything she wants to earn her love (so he can steal her life)
She = eats cheese (nom nom nom)
He = I can has life?
She = No!

LOLTales?

(I like it!)

So did I.  Made me grin.
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« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2010, 01:00:59 PM »

Upcoming marriage, at this point. The date is August 15th! We're naming all the tables after fantasy places, and the temptation to seat my parents at Mordor is nearly uncontrollable. We'll probably put them in Luthadel, instead.

One does not simply get seated at Mordor!
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2010, 03:50:53 PM »

I thought this was a great story. Slightly surreal, as any story centered around dreams should be. And I personally absolutely adored the image of Death & company chillin' at the lake, downing cold ones.

Interestingly, I wasn't sure if the husband was calling himself a "trader" or "traitor." At first I thought it was the former (and checking the excerpt below proves that accurate), but as the story progressed I saw that "traitor" would be appropriate as well. Now, that's not a connection I'd necesarily make reading it in print - its just an interesting consequence of hearing the story read aloud. A good example of what a difference hearing a story vs. reading it may make.
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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2010, 04:50:15 PM »

Interestingly, I wasn't sure if the husband was calling himself a "trader" or "traitor."

I had the same experience.  I decided on trader, based on other things that went on (though I think 'broker' is the more general term), but yes, 'traitor' works - in a different way - also.
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« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2010, 06:41:36 PM »

The thing I liked about this story was that there was a lot of dream logic in it. You know, the kind of things that would just be weird in real life, but make perfect sense when they happen in dreams. For me, it's even more believable because some of those things come up in my own dreams. The part where she pulls out the sword reminds me of a time when I pulled a splinter out of my heel and it just so happened to be eight inches long and intricately carved.

Neat. I wonder how much your husband/wife got for that beauty Tongue.
I don't know. I woke up, but I do know that by that point my dream husband and everyone else had switched to looking entirely different from how they looked in the first part of the dream and I was perfectly okay with that because dream logic said so. That happens to me a lot. For me, it would make perfect sense if somebody started looking like a squirrel.
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« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2010, 09:58:37 PM »

Interestingly, I wasn't sure if the husband was calling himself a "trader" or "traitor."

I had the same experience.  I decided on trader, based on other things that went on (though I think 'broker' is the more general term), but yes, 'traitor' works - in a different way - also.

I figured "trader" right away, probably because we first meet him occupying a squirrel's body, and I had Charles DeLint's novel Trader in mind, which begins with two men finding themselves having swapped bodies overnight.
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2010, 10:59:48 PM »

I agree with Listener.  I am left wondering about the possibilities of this story, but felt the delivery was off for some reason.  I love the concept and

I also don't understand where the cheese love comes in... Wink (although, i do love cheese. )

She = loves cheese.
He = gives her everything she wants to earn her love (so he can steal her life)
She = eats cheese (nom nom nom)
He = I can has life?
She = No!

sweet  Cheesy thanks
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