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Author Topic: PC121, Giant Episode: The Warlock And The Man Of The Word  (Read 12334 times)
Heradel
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« on: September 08, 2010, 06:01:02 AM »

PC121, Giant Episode: The Warlock And The Man Of The Word

by M.K. Hobson

Read by Bob Eccles

Originally published in Postscripts 19

Mrs. Jorgensen ran the whores out of a big square building that had once been butter-yellow but had weathered to the color of chicken fat left out on a plate. The place was built sturdy, of white pine and fir, and had fine scrollwork supporting the eaves. The windows were covered with stretched oilpaper, ripped in places. At night, behind the oilpaper, shadows moved in the light of kerosene lamps. Some of the shadows had horns, some did not.

The building had three floors. The saloon was on the ground level, and above it there were two floors of small rooms where the girls worked. It was in the room on the east corner of the top floor that the demon prince Methe Pyrtrogo was shot dead.

It was past midnight on a Saturday, a hot night after a day when the thermometer outside Jowett’s General Supply had risen to a hundred and three. The hot thick dark air was split by a sound like branches being snapped. Two cracks. No one downstairs heard the sounds. Miners from the Baby Boy and the Independence and the May Queen had gotten their monthly envelopes that day. There was every kind of miner in the dance hall that night–alive and undead, Indian and white, human and demon. The noise they made was deafening.

Then Minnie, a young whore with yellow hair, came stumbling down the stairs. She was splattered with black blood, a great deal of it, all over her face and the front of her dress.

Rated R: Contains Violence (Including Gore), and Language

This episode of PodCastle is proudly sponsored by:



You can read the Prologue and Chapter 1 online now! Check back on Friday for an exclusive audio chapter read by M.K. Hobson!
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 08:38:03 AM by Heradel » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2010, 07:53:32 PM »

I wrote my comment, edited it, and my browser dropped the website. This was after it took me 10 minutes to find the tiny button that says 'reply', and to know that was how to post a comment.
I am now totally frustrated and won't rewrite my comment.
Arrgh!
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« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2010, 11:33:08 PM »

At the risk of sounding crassly unintelligent, I have to say I am again disappointed by a story with an incomplete plot.  I don't function well with all the 'layers' in literature, I pretty much just need the main narrative to move to a visible and satisfactory ending.  This wasn't it.  Which is too bad because it had me invested a lot in a genre I don't usually care for.

Sorry Podcastle, I've been too put off by the story selections for some time now.  I'm unsubscribing.  I know this would have more impact if I was a financial donor, but there it is.  However I still have big(ish) love for Escape Pod and Pseudopod so this decision likely says more about my taste and tolerance as a listener than it does about the quality of the podcast.  Weigh my opinion with the others on the forum and give it only the due it deserves.

~Gord
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2010, 09:45:05 PM »

Loved it.

Think I'l buy the authors work when I'm done on my book about oaks.
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Loz
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2010, 02:25:56 AM »

My heart often sinks when I see a giant episode in my list of podcasts as they rarely seem to gain anything by being longer than a regular episode. Such was not the case here though, I loved this episode and will be looking to buy the book at some point in the near future when I've worked my way through a pile of library books.
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danooli
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2010, 06:03:42 AM »

This one was a teensy bit hard for me to get into at first...I think because of the names...sometimes I find that hearing a story, as opposed to reading it, can make it difficult to distinguish characters.  However, that was quickly overcome and I ended up LOVING this story!  The twist (Squaw Bess) was so unexpected!  I also really dug the discussion on the way up the mountain...

As soon as I'm done with the book I'm reading, I think I'll head right out to pick up The Native Star and delve back deeper into that engaging world Ms. Hobson has created!
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2010, 08:37:35 AM »

Like Loz, I generally don't get too excited about giant episode as they just tend to be a normal size story bloated to twice the normal size.  But (also like Loz) I thought this one was really great, my favorite Podcastle in quite a while.  I did have trouble keeping the demons' names straight, which probably would've been easier in text, but it didn't cause me any major problems. 

I liked the way the rules of the world played out piece by piece, revealing the demons right away, then adding the powerful men of god, and the power of a Sending.  Several good turns that took me off guard, from the apparent reveal of Squaw Bess as an angel, then the reverend's incorrect revelation that he is the Sending, and that the Sending actually worked in the Mountain King's favor, that was really great.

I haven't bought any books for quite a while, because my bookshelf is overflowing with the unread books the way it is, but I might have to make an exception for Hobson's book.
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2010, 12:02:45 PM »

Me likey.  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2010, 09:15:29 AM »

I liked this one a lot.  I haven't read a book now in about four months due to malaise and what-have-you, but I'm ordering The Native Star, and it's getting read.

I liked Bob Eccles' reading, he's got an appropriately gravelly voice for a Western, and he's very good at differentiating the characters.  He didn't stumble or have a superloud fan going in the background, so good technically too.

The story itself was breathtaking in its scope and the implications it made, and the characters were rich and complex despite the limited amount of words they had to breathe.  I liked how the revelation the padre had was incorrect and things kept flipping on their head.  I liked the dialogue as well, very flowing.

My only problem was the denouement.  It was over and done with before I realized I didn't have five minutes of story left.  It was also confusing.  I was left with a lot of questions jumbling around in my head that I tried to make sense of (and failed) afterwards.  I think some of those unresolved issues are the result of my not being astute enough, some of 'em can be racked up to author's intent, but that still leaves a bit left over where I kind of wish she'd spelled it out more clearly.

Anyhow.  A good listen, hopefully leading to a good read.
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« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2010, 10:03:54 PM »

I enjoyed this.

It certainly draws heavily on your typical Western characters -- gunslingers, preachers, miners, whores -- and does so well. I'm a little conflicted about whether the fantasy elements mix well with the Western. It seems odd to me that a demon prince could be simply shot in the back and killed, special ammo or no. And I wasn't sure how the magic worked. I'm not looking for a manual or "How To Be A Warlock" but Ash's magic seemed restricted to bindings and little else. I saw he drew power from the ground somehow, but I didn't get why it was different then as opposed to when he threw magic in town.

This next is likely just a personal thing: I'm very uncomfortable when faith is reduced to/set on par with magic. As portrayed here, I felt Fennel (sp?) and Ash were presented as two equally valid forces, the one dependent on belief and the other on craft. I suppose it depends on how god(s) or God is defined in the story, as are demons.

I wonder whether this was written before/during/after The Native Star? It feels a little like Hobson knows her world in broad strokes but has yet to flesh it out.

Let me reiterate: I enjoyed the story.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2010, 10:05:30 PM by kibitzer » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2010, 10:46:37 PM »

I liked this one a lot.  I haven't read a book now in about four months due to malaise and what-have-you, but I'm ordering The Native Star, and it's getting read.

I liked Bob Eccles' reading, he's got an appropriately gravelly voice for a Western, and he's very good at differentiating the characters.  He didn't stumble or have a superloud fan going in the background, so good technically too.

The story itself was breathtaking in its scope and the implications it made, and the characters were rich and complex despite the limited amount of words they had to breathe.  I liked how the revelation the padre had was incorrect and things kept flipping on their head.  I liked the dialogue as well, very flowing.

My only problem was the denouement.  It was over and done with before I realized I didn't have five minutes of story left.  It was also confusing.  I was left with a lot of questions jumbling around in my head that I tried to make sense of (and failed) afterwards.  I think some of those unresolved issues are the result of my not being astute enough, some of 'em can be racked up to author's intent, but that still leaves a bit left over where I kind of wish she'd spelled it out more clearly.

Anyhow.  A good listen, hopefully leading to a good read.

Everything he said, +1. I loved every moment of the story, except for the last moment, when suddenly it didn't make sense anymore. I understand the appeal of leaving some questions unanswered, but this one went without explaining just a few too many things for my liking. It's not that I didn't fully understand a character's destiny, or even motivation - it's more that it felt like the entire world stopped making sense in the last few plot points, and I don't like that.
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2010, 04:43:41 AM »

Also: I support your monetisation!
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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2010, 08:28:08 AM »

Quote
This next is likely just a personal thing: I'm very uncomfortable when faith is reduced to/set on par with magic. As portrayed here, I felt Fennel (sp?) and Ash were presented as two equally valid forces, the one dependent on belief and the other on craft. I suppose it depends on how god(s) or God is defined in the story, as are demons.

I enjoyed that aspect, though I'm generally quite drawn to alternate views of religion, so that's no real surprise.  What intrigued me the most is that, if Ash is right, and that religion is just another form of magic, then his very recognition of this fact bars him from ever using it.  You don't have true faith if you only see the faith as a tool.
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« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2010, 01:17:39 PM »

@Kibitzer: To answer your question, this story was written well after THE NATIVE STAR and while it shares a similar magical structure (in the world of THE NATIVE STAR, faith-based magic is called "Credomancy") I didn't flesh it out here as much as I do in the book.

@Unblinking: You raise a very interesting point ... if having faith in (or fear of) something gives that thing power, does *knowing* that necessarily rob it of that power? For instance, let's say I'm afraid of spiders, and thus spiders have a certain amount of power over me (I may refrain from cleaning the shed in the backyard, for example.) Does my rational understanding of my fear lessen the emotional power that spider has over me? (Well, maybe with lots of therapy I guess.)  Smiley

If religion is just another form of magic (an idea which I do play with substantially in the book as well), let's say that, as a magic user, you know that how much you believe in God impacts how much power God has. But that doesn't mean that God doesn't exist, rather just that his power is dependent on you as much as your power is dependent on him. It becomes a symbiotic relationship.

If Ash were to go on to become a Man of the Word, it would be because he has faith in *faith*, not necessarily in the God that inspires it ... if you follow me. Which you are more than welcome not to, for my logic is twisty and all the lights are off.  Cheesy
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2010, 02:02:30 PM »

I really enjoyed this story and the reading of it as well.  I have been a huge fan of PodCastle even if I have not enjoyed every story. 
However, I am not sure why it is okay to use the word n!gger just because you put the word 'hell' in front of it.  Maybe I am not 'cool' enough to let this just be a literary reference or to show how much hate/tension there are between the humans and demons.  But it doesn't work for me.  It's same as calling someone a Sand N!gger or just a regular N!gger (whatever that would be).  I remember sitting at my grandfather's knee and him telling me how he felt being called that offensive term as he marched for rights of all people. 
I am  not against it being in Literature, it does have its place.  Ignoring it doesn't make it go away.  But there is no place for it in this story. 
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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2010, 02:54:30 PM »

Gotta disagree with you Dallas, there is absolutely a use for it in this story. Its thematically appropriate - rather (or perhaps as well as) than the racism of the period being directed at African Americans, its targetting demons. Its mean to emphasize what a nasty slur it is and to be suggestive of the deep level of, uh, species-ist hate going on.

Now, I'm at work and don't dare google the N word to determine when it originated, so I can't back this up with facts, but it seems like a word they would have used in that era.
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2010, 03:20:17 PM »

However, I am not sure why it is okay to use the word n!gger just because you put the word 'hell' in front of it.  Maybe I am not 'cool' enough to let this just be a literary reference or to show how much hate/tension there are between the humans and demons.  But it doesn't work for me.  It's same as calling someone a Sand N!gger or just a regular N!gger (whatever that would be).  I remember sitting at my grandfather's knee and him telling me how he felt being called that offensive term as he marched for rights of all people. 

I am  not against it being in Literature, it does have its place.  Ignoring it doesn't make it go away.  But there is no place for it in this story.

I am of the camp that says that pretending that nasty stuff is not a part of our world does not make it less nasty. In fact, it may make it more nasty, by allowing it to fester, unseen by those who don't have to deal with it every day. On the other hand, showcasing the nastiness in art and activism, making it public and impossible to ignore, can go a long way to making the world a better place.

In some sense, The Warlock and the Man of the Word is about cultural tensions. The same jerks who first applied the word "nigger" in a modern context are here in a position to invent a similar word about another people they dislike. Why shouldn't they coin the term "hell-nigger" when it works so well (that is to say that the demons are disliked and dark-skinned). If the story is about the same tensions that make the word "nigger" a bad word, why not use a similar word to underline the damage the word does?
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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2010, 05:14:56 PM »

If religion is just another form of magic (an idea which I do play with substantially in the book as well), let's say that, as a magic user, you know that how much you believe in God impacts how much power God has. But that doesn't mean that God doesn't exist, rather just that his power is dependent on you as much as your power is dependent on him. It becomes a symbiotic relationship.

If Ash were to go on to become a Man of the Word, it would be because he has faith in *faith*, not necessarily in the God that inspires it ... if you follow me. Which you are more than welcome not to, for my logic is twisty and all the lights are off.  Cheesy

Yup, I can go with that; as you explain it here it makes sense. Thanks for the explanation.
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2010, 10:48:53 PM »

As portrayed here, I felt Fennel (sp?) and Ash were presented as two equally valid forces, the one dependent on belief and the other on craft.

Yes, it does seem a little unfair that Ash had to go to all the trouble of learning spells and studying ancient texts (including the Bible), presumably risking his life to do so in a lot of cases, while all the preacher needed to do was believe. Ash's powers should have be been a lot stronger.
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« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2010, 09:03:03 AM »

Ooh, yay, I like when the author stops by to say something.  Hi, MK!

If Ash were to go on to become a Man of the Word, it would be because he has faith in *faith*, not necessarily in the God that inspires it ... if you follow me. Which you are more than welcome not to, for my logic is twisty and all the lights are off.  Cheesy

That's a cool idea as well.  On some level it makes sense, but I'm not sure I totally buy that faith in faith is equivalent to faith in <insert deity here>.  I see faith in a deity is an admission, on some level, of helplessness and questing outside myself to turn that helplessness into power.  Faith in faith is something totally different to me.  Faith in faith is really faith in myself, which is the total opposite of helplessness, but invincibility.  There's certainly strength in self-reliance, but in that case I'm not gaining power by giving over to a power greater than myself, I'm gaining power by believing I am capable of power.  In the vaguest of senses, I can see the similarity, and they both could make sense as parts of a magic system, but I don't think I'd describe the latter with the words "religion" or "faith".

Anyway, since Ash doesn't try to become a man of the word in the space of the story, I'm free to speculate on it without invalidating any of the story events.  And I still like the idea that recognizing "faith" as "magic" breaks your ability to use that magic, so I'm still going to ponder that.  Cheesy

I am looking forward to picking up the book, should be fun!
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