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Author Topic: EP261: Only Springtime When She’s Gone  (Read 8748 times)
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« on: October 07, 2010, 12:00:36 PM »

EP261: Only Springtime When She’s Gone

By Eugie Foster
Read by Jason Adams

First appeared in Anaisdotmfk

---

“A takeover of your company with the state your market shares are in is not unreasonable.” Although Soaces was right, there’d be precious little profit, even after he’d liquidated all of Renewal’s assets and released the employees. But that wasn’t why he wanted it.

“You’re going to destroy us, aren’t you? Tear us apart and sell us to the highest bidder.”

“That’s the plan.”

“There’s more to the company than the money. You’ll eliminate so many people’s livelihoods. Good people. Without Renewal, some of them won’t have any other alternatives.”

“Alternative to what? Luddite jobs? Machine labor?” He chose his next words, enunciating each syllable with relish. “It’s all they’re good for, isn’t it? Can’t have the un-teched getting above their station.”

Portia dropped her gaze. “I never said that.”

“But you didn’t deny it.”


Rated PG  For mild sexual situations.


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« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 02:02:59 PM by eytanz » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2010, 12:43:59 PM »

EUGIE FOSTER STORY!

Yaaaaay!  Definitely squee-worthy.  Now to actually get around to listening to it...
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010, 02:56:45 PM »

Cool story, not sure i get the motive of the 'butler' though.
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2010, 08:34:56 PM »

While I really enjoyed the technology described in this world and would have loved to hear more about the dichotomy between the haves and have-nots, the story itself came across jumbled and flat.  Our protagonist and his motivations for wanting to destroy Renewal in the first place weren't made clear, just implied in a manner that should have made HD at the very least suspicious of Portia's change in behavior after dessert.  Soaces' actions came straight out of left field, and why on earth was Portia so dependent on her mother, anyway?

The other somewhat jarring note for me was the severe dichotomy in technology levels.  We have contact lens displays on one hand, and death by Victorian-esque industrial accident on the other.  While I can certainly see a world where both exist simultaneously it wasn't demonstrated in a way that made it feel real.

That being said, I appreciated the nods to the mystical underpinnings of the tale - pomegranates, underground living quarters, pale-as-death emotionless servant, etc., even HD's agoraphobia - all very nicely done.
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2010, 08:33:10 AM »

Oh dear, here's me out of step again! I found this corny, cliched, purple and predictable (and no, I wasn't working on getting those alliterations!). As SF, it seemed obvious to me from the outset where it was going so the only interest was in seeing how it got there, and as a love story, it was adolescent lads-mag with nothing subtle or romantic at all. Embarrassed
I did miss those wonderful references to Persephone and the pomegranates though, so I'll forgive a little of the clunk for a jolly fine under(world)pinning. Cool
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MCWagner
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2010, 09:10:18 AM »

I think I'll have to echo Dem; I'm afraid I wasn't all that entertained by this submission, though I, as well, missed the Persephone framework until it was mentioned right at the end.  Had that been more evident (or I more attentive) I think that framework would lend a nice mythic depth to what was otherwise a very predictable tale.

I have to say the delivery didn't help my impression; I found myself correcting the emphasis choices of the speaker throughout the tale, and overall I found it slightly stilted and monotone.  No offense to either author or reader, but I think this one fell flat for me, and I'm trying to puzzle out why.
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2010, 09:29:24 AM »

"Only Springtime When She’s Gone" by Eugie Foster was a good story but it felt incomplete. Generally, Foster's work is more polished than this and I genuinely enjoy anything new from her fantastic, fertile imagination.  "When Shakko Did Not Lie" is a wonderful tale and "Daughter of Botu" is one of my all-time favorites. This story, by contrast, is a bit weak.

First off, let me say that the one thing that it most certainly did not skimp on was world building. The setting was deep, rich, fascinating, and more about societal impact of technology than most science fiction is these days. I felt that Eugie was revealing just enough of this world to entice the audience and make them think without over-explaining or being blunt. I got a feeling that this would be a splendid setting for more stories and full-length novels.

That aside, the only character really explored in any depth is "H.D."  He is interesting (as most flawed characters are) and is the crux upon which all the action relies. The problem is that the other characters didn't seem very real to me. Portia's shift in personality following dessert was certainly abrupt and sufficient for me to notice that it was out-of-character but there didn't seem to be any significant background exploration in her character to explain why H.D. didn't notice it. Granted, he's completely smitten with her, but the saavy businessman archetype that he is felt undermined by his lack of suspicion that she could be setting him up to save her mother's company.

The other characters, likewise, really only get superficial examination. Information regarding Soaces was stated rather than teased out. And although I suspected he was responsible before that revelation, it still lacked a revelatory moment of "gosh, wow". There wasn't an emotional payoff in the discovery for me. Portia's mother, similarily, was just ... there. She didn't really seem to have much to her.

I think the overall problem I have with "Only Springtime When She’s Gone" was that it didn't lay background groundwork sufficiently for there to be a gradual building of tension and suspense. Perhaps it was because H.D., himself, was already so tightly-wound that anything less of full-out nuclear war would seem unlikely to faze him. On the other hand, perhaps it was that the world was so wonderfully crafted, and little time was spent exploring the characters in relationship to it and each other, that "build up" wasn't really possible.

As a Persephone/Hades re-telling, I thought it was good. I must confess that I have Teh Dumb since I didn't realize that's what this was until Mur mentioned it in the outro.

On the subject of the reading, I have to agree with MCWagner.  I found myself questioning the emphasis of the speakers on several occasions. I also was a bit distracted by several verbal stumbles in the reading that hadn't been taken out or corrected in post.

Overall, I think it's a good tale but one that needs more story in the front-half to justify the climax.

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)
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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2010, 11:26:20 AM »

You all sure have a lot to say about this one!  I'm procrastinating at work right now so all i have time to say is I thought this one was sort of boring.  I guess I just don't go for romances unless there's blaster or sword battles. Pretty shallow of me I guess.
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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2010, 12:18:59 PM »

You all sure have a lot to say about this one!  I'm procrastinating at work right now so all i have time to say is I thought this one was sort of boring.  I guess I just don't go for romances unless there's blaster or sword battles. Pretty shallow of me I guess.
Don't worry, there wasn't much romance so you can get on with a bit of decent procrastinating!
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2010, 12:23:46 PM »

There is one author I'm always pleased to see in my podcast feed. The only story of hers that I've had a less-than-stellar opinion of is the one about masks (too lazy to type title)
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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2010, 12:41:51 PM »

I felt this was a bit muddled really, it started off sounding like it was going to be a boardroom version of Dune, then it turned into 'love of a good woman melted the Grinch's heart', then it turns out that the Hooded Claw is after Penelope Pitstop and we find out at the end it's a sort of update of the old Greek myth. It wasn't bad but I did feel rather 'meh' when it was over, I didn't care enough about any of the characters to worry whether they lived, died or lived under mind control for six months of the year.
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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2010, 06:54:25 PM »

There is one author I'm always pleased to see in my podcast feed. The only story of hers that I've had a less-than-stellar opinion of is the one about masks (too lazy to type title)

I loved that story.  (I'm too lazy and forgetful to type the title.) 

I thought this one was really good too.  It's kind of a science fiction take on the drawbacks of love potions.
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« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2010, 07:25:07 PM »

  I really liked this story. I liked the world created in it, and the characters themselves. I have to admit that I did not realize that it was the Persphone story until Portia's mother started accusing HD of kidnapping; it was only then that my mind put the title and the pomegranates together.

  I wish there could have been a little more about Soaces though. I like the idea of him biding his time for years just waiting for his moment to strike, but the way his motive and knack with nanotech was covered seemed a little more like an infodump to justify his being a Chekov's gun. I know more detail about him would have been unnecessary in such a short story, but he seemed like he would have been an interesting character to know more about.
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« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2010, 08:05:43 PM »

I think it would have been better from Portia's POV
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2010, 01:13:11 AM »

Got to listen to it this afternoon. That so many of us (self included) missed the Persephone reference suggests to me that it wasn't really made all that clear. Pomegranate sorbet by itself just doesn't get it done.
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« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2010, 11:10:00 AM »

Wow, people missed the reference? Here's a brief breakdown of my listening experience:
"Ms. Sephone is here" [I think "Sephone? As in Persephone? Oh, the title is about spring-"]
"Portia?" [-groan- "Portia-sephone...so he's going to be-"]
"Haru?" "Don't call me that...call me HD" [-longer groan-]
and she won't eat at dinner, until the Pomegranate comes out [-resigned sigh-]
and her mother was named Demetra...[-longer, more resigned sigh-]

Let me step back, I'm not trying to be a troll, but this struck a peevish nerve with me. I get the whole trolling-the-classics-for-story
-tropes idea (recently "Little M@tch Girl" here and "Vainamoinen and the Singing Fish" on PC did the same thing), but it seems these classics are merely being taken and used as molds into which the modern element is poured.
What's the point of doing this? If one is going to tap the classics, you would do far better to tap the issues or concepts which the original dealt with than merely parroting the storyline. ("The lady or the tiger" did precisely this, and created, in my opinion, a vastly superior story).

When one follows the source material this closely, those who know the source material will have the story ruined, and those who don't know the source material won't care/will be confused at the plot choices.

[the grouchy devil creeps back into his cave]
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« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2010, 12:18:05 AM »

I got the mythology references, and thought they added to my enjoyment of the story quite a bit.  The mother character was shallow, yes - but she's supposed to be Demeter, and Demeter is just like that is all.  So I could forgive a lot.  But it still fell down in several places - notably Soaces role and motivation.  The name sounds like it it another corruption of a mythological character, but I can't think of which one he's supposed to be.  And without that, well, he's this uber skilled character who puts everything in motion for no understandable reason.  And the addition changes the myth quite a lot, without really saying something new and interesting with it.

Quite awhile back, Nobilis Erotica podcast ran a story called Persephone's Hunger - and it was an excellent retelling and twist on the myth.  The main thing listening to "Springtime" did was make me want to listen to "Persephone's Hunger" again.
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« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2010, 12:12:46 PM »

I missed the Persephone references.  In retrospect, I don't how I managed it, especially with all the things blueeyeddevil pointed out.  The pomegranate ice cream wasn't enough for me alone, but I should've noticed the names.

Anyway, I never really cared about any of the character's.  Portia's change came out of left field, which I guess was the point, but our hero never noted it despite its complete implausibility.  For most of it the story seemed to be about their unlikely and uninteresting romance, until the reveal of Soaces's scheme of Bond-villain oddness.  By that time I'd alread tuned out because none of the characters interested me as people, so it didn't really have much impact for me.
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« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2010, 12:52:00 PM »

I have to admit that I didn't like this one at all. I, too, found the Persehpone myth references extremely heavy-handed, which lead to a few groans and moans of my own.

What bugged me the most, however, was HD. I didn't like the sense of his being pulled ass-backwards into getting what he wants. In my mind, characters are interesting when they boldly (or reluctantly, or fearfully, or whatever) take chances and make sacrifices to get what they want and then suffer or enjoy (or both) the consequences. HD is an incredibly passive character. He doesn't end up in this situation because of something he does or doesn't do, an act he succeeds or fails at. He stumbles into it.

Portia is also passive. Demetria is passive. Nobody actually acts in this story except for the crazy Italian major-domo, they just react. The result? A story with very little fire to it, and one I didn't enjoy.

The final two points are very personal. Firstly, I don't have a lot of connection to stories that make the (in my experience, flawed) assumption that the only way things get done is by uncharacteristically selfless corporate assholes (not that all assholes are corporate or all corporates are assholes - but HD is the very image of the corporate asshole archetype). People who set out to do good - and do good purely, without getting vengeance in their humanitarianism (two great tastes that DON'T taste great together) or hiding it behind a businesslike veneer of selfishness - like Portia, fail. To me, this is not a true reflection of reality and not an interesting narrative conceit.

Secondly, I didn't enjoy HD because he was a god-damned rapist and the story never dealt with it.

The first few times I'll forgive; HD didn't know what was happening. But later on, when it says he rose from his bed, where he'd been lying with her, as he did every night... Dude, she doesn't want you, not really, and you know it. This is creepy and wrong.

That said, I'd be entirely ok with a story about that situation. A story about someone trying to say no to a twisted version of something he's wanted for years... But something that heavy has got to be the subject of the story, not an afterthought. I can take the bitter with the sweet, but only as part of the meal. Dropping it in at the end of the story only leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

See what I did there Wink?
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« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2010, 10:27:02 PM »

I imagine the story makes a lot more sense if you go into it knowing what it is.  I guessed from the title alone that it would be a Persephone retelling, and I took the constant nods, winks, and allusions as signposts and humorous nudges more than anything else.  I think the "bad taste" you mention, ElectricPaladin, is purposeful; in the end, the mythic Hades is kind of a douche and always was, and I suspect from the way the title is phrased that we are supposed to be uncomfortable with the way the situation is left in the end.  It is, after all, only springtime - happiness and life - when she's not with H.D.  Their time together is poisoned by the way it came about.
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