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Author Topic: EP272: Christmas Wedding  (Read 11594 times)
eytanz
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« on: December 24, 2010, 01:42:10 AM »

EP272: Christmas Wedding

By Vylar Kaftan
Read by Mur Lafferty

First appeared in Warrior Wisewoman
---

Today was a perfect day, with three flaws.  It was snowing here in Miami, one of her brides had trouble recognizing her, and her cummerbund wouldn’t stay up.  The cummerbund was the only problem Mel could fix.  She brushed ashes off the church office’s desk and rummaged around for safety pins. She found typed notes for an old sermon, some yellow pushpins, and three tampons.  Mel took the tampons and left the rest.  Not a single safety pin, which surprised her–for a place that looters hadn’t been through, there was little here.  Underneath the desk, Mel found a paperclip.  After a moment’s thought, she opened her pocketknife and cut two holes in the cummerbund’s back.  She unbent the paperclip, wired the cummerbund together, and attached it to the belt loop on her black jeans.

Her bridesmaid poked his head in.  “How’re you doing in here?”

Paul had a fake poinsettia flower wedged behind his ear.  Mel laughed, a tense noise that hurt her throat.  “Paul, where did you get that flower?”

He grinned and walked into the office.  Paul had been a small-town Georgia fireman, in sunnier days.  He wore a plain gray shirt that exposed his well-muscled arms and new blue jeans that fit well.  Mel wondered where he’d found them.  Paul said, “I look like a hippie, don’t I?  Well, a hippie on steroids.  You look sort of James Dean meets Roy Orbison.  I like the bow tie.”

“I told you–you didn’t have to get girly.  You can be my best man.”


Rated PG For love at the end of the world.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 264: St Darwin’s Spirituals
  • Merry Christmas!



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 06:54:59 PM by eytanz » Logged
Mav.Weirdo
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2010, 02:12:21 PM »

I thought this was an incredibly lovely story, but then I'm a sucker for weddings.
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Gia
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2010, 04:39:48 PM »

I only got forty minutes through the story and I know I'm going to get lectured by several people about what a bigoted homophobe I am for not liking the story about the lesbians, but I have to say this. I realize that not everyone believes what I do (this will probably be part of the lecture) and that not all Christmas stories have to be about baby Jesus, but did the "Christmas" story really have to be about something contrary to traditional Christian teachings? I'm not saying that I don't want any stories with gay protagonists, but I would like a little sensitivity at this time of year. Tolerance and respect do go both ways.

Also, was this story even about Christmas? I didn't finish the story, but I got pretty far I and they don't really mention Christmas. Why is this the Christmas story?
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KenK
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2010, 07:12:57 PM »

@Gia
Well at least the story had snow in it!  Grin

A holiday theme isn't really so farfetched here. It's just that Thanksgiving would have been a better choice of holidays. If Kaftan ever decides to do some additional work on her story in order to placate the Christmas traditionalists s/he should have a Tiny Tim type character pop out at the end with a hearty "God bless us, every one!"
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« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2010, 07:28:35 PM »

Gia, I hope you don't take this as a lecture.  I am also a Christian, and I have taken heat because of my beliefs regarding homosexuality, but it seems you have gone out of your way here to bring the argument to you.  Nobody is saying you have to enjoy a story about lesbians.

I also agree that tolerance and respect go both ways, but I don't think that means that Escape Pod is beholden to us Christians in its audience to produce a "classic" type of Christmas story.  They really don't need to produce a Christmas story at all as far as that goes.  It is not even a matter of being sensative to our beliefs.  They produce the episodes; and we listen to them.  This forum is definately for feedback, and that's what you have given, but any points you may have legitimately made were sabatoged by your tone, your pre-emptive rant, and your demands.

Case in point, your statement that the story is light on its ties to Christmas is correct.  To be honest, I felt the story was only OK.  Simply stating that makes your case far better than the "how dare you run a Christmas story with gays" message that you sent. 

As a Christian, I have grown to hate the sweeping generalization that we are all "homophobic bigots".  So when comments like yours come along, I especially cringe, because you are only perpetuating that perception.  Please take more time to consider your words before you post next time.

[Also a plea not to fill up this thread with reactions to Gia.  The story, the story, the story]
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« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2010, 11:32:36 PM »

The story?!  Oh yeah, that thing.
I didn't much care for it.  There was a lot of flashback and, in doing so, forced characterization.  I think part of my distaste for it lied in the fact that I had just watched the first season of Walking Dead and I think I've had my fill for the moment of post-apocalyptic stories.  That said, it was a nice little piece of post-apocalyptia to see, people taking a break from the stress of surviving to hold a traditional event, even though this was quite the perversion of that event by today's standards. (which it shouldn't be! [gasp])
Mur, as always and as expected, did a great reading.
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« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2010, 11:58:44 PM »

Tolerance and respect do go both ways.

so what you're saying is we should be tolerant of intolerance? And respectful of disresepect?

Ok that's not a very christmasy thing to say at christmas.

I'm not really sure what this story actually had to do with christmas at all. I mean it was a rather nice, touching story about people surviving in a post-apocalyptic world, but the only tie it had to he holidays was that it was snowing.

That being said, I did like it. Post-apocalypse is a well trodden path, but I thought it was well enough developed for it to work. I really felt the brutality of the world being created, which is important in a post-apocalypse. I thought the characters were interesting and, while not that much really happened, I think the protagonist really developed well. I felt myself really hating the guy who was being very insensitive about the bi woman having children, which is a good sign because it shows the characterisation has been effective.

I had a few problems with the reading; the pauses between scenes were a bit too short for me to register that it was a new scene, so I kept having to mentally adjust mid sentence to where the scene was taking place. There were also a few mistakes that could have been eliminated with some editing.
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DarkKnightJRK
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« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2010, 12:03:15 PM »

First--about the content of this story not being "traditional Christian values"--wasn't last year's Christmas story about a steampunk Santa Claus? I think expecting a story about the Baby Jesus here is kinda setting one's self up for failure.

As for the story--I liked it. Sure it was sweet and sappy, but I think even the harshest of cynics can at least get into a little bit of sap for this time of year. Smiley The post-apocolyptic stuff, while kinda standard (the fact that the first three players started in an RV reminded me a lot of the beginning of Walking Dead), was still well done--and bonus points for the hint of Red Dawn-ish action happening in the future with the Chinese.


I'm not really sure what this story actually had to do with christmas at all. I mean it was a rather nice, touching story about people surviving in a post-apocalyptic world, but the only tie it had to he holidays was that it was snowing.

Well, they said that The Day was on Christmas (there was some talk before it happening about doing something that was "subversive for two queers to do on Christmas"), and the alter had mistletoe on it. You can probably put the fact that these three women were in love and getting married with people they've grown to love and trust as a community, even with the end of the world as a pretty big Christmas Miracle.
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Gorbash
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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2010, 07:21:50 AM »

I'm a bit of a sucker for the post apocalyptic (and for a good romance), so this one hit the sweet spot for me.  I must confess I was expecting something with some more traditional Christmas trappings (such as the Christmas Mummy), so the story came as a bit of a surprise, but it was none the worse for that.

On a technical basis, I thought perhaps the global implications were rushed through a bit, but that's a minor quibble and not what the story was about.  It may be the seasonal cheer, but I think I'll listen to this one again in the future.

For the record:  I'm non-Christian, married, straight, and have no particular objection to gay marriage.
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JoeFitz
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« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2010, 02:16:06 PM »

Not a bad story, and well-written, and well-read but it left me feeling like the story was trying to do something unconventional - trying very hard -  but it fell far short. Lots of fodder, but the tropes and themes just seemed to keep coming. The story screamed "the heroes are socially progressive" but the bad guys are not in an unsatisfying way.

The super volcano apocalypse and the mental disability allowed a world and relationship to be wipped clean so the socially progressive can inherit the Earth - and have a big, white wedding. Nice to imagine and nothing says post-apocalyptia has to be dreary, gritty, depressing and regressively oppressive but it felt unnecessarily cheery.

I did like the dialogue, especially the "repopulate the world" scene when the narrator's self-righteous anger at the suggestion that her bi-sexual friend might want children and might agree to having sex with a some random guy to get pregnant is countered by that friend's own thoughts and feelings.

The roles each woman played were interestingly co-dependant but their closeness seemed somewhat contrived that I had a really difficult time thinking they'd face any adversity or obstacle they couldn't overcome.

A perhaps too sweet story and I will be watching the comments to see if the 'hot button' stuff overtakes the piece, because frankly if it's a Romance novella with some inversions, role-reversals, gender switches, won't be surprised if those changes (recognizing that calling them changes is a loaded value-judgment) are the focus instead of the story itself.

If I try to boil down what I remember about the plot - character's partner is stricken with disease that causes loss of memory, mobility yet still supportive even when new relationship comes along. Then world ends, steal an RV and some peanut butter cups (thought we'd forget when you knew it would make it memorable) and hook up with a group of post-apocalyptic hippie-types. Then a wedding.

Hmmm. Sounds like "a very special episode" of The Road TV series. Maybe a series finale Smiley
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SanguineV
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« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2010, 06:09:10 PM »

I started off disliking this story, the initial mixing up of genders with traditional roles (female groom, male bridesmaid) gave the impression this was going to be a horribly preachy story about gender/sexual equality etc. etc. (I already find the x-mas period far too preachy and so any hint of more begins a negative reaction.)

By the end I didn't mind the story/message. The ending was sappy, the characters outside the triad were two dimensional, the message was blunt, some of the delivery was predictable and unexciting, and the apocalypse was overdone. However, the sum was greater than the parts and the final message was somewhat less painfully preachy than expected. I guess if you like sappy/happy stories about love triumphing over everything, white weddings, and flowers this story would go down nicely.

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KenK
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« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2010, 09:29:52 AM »

When are we gonna be treated to Kwanza, Hanukkah, and Ramadan themed podcasts? Or alien themed holidays? Pon Far?  Grin
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2010, 10:21:50 AM »

It wasn't strictly science fiction, but I don't care. It was a lovely story. Well written, well read and well listened-to.
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KenK
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« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2010, 02:39:45 PM »

Well as I said in first post this story would have been better themed IMO to Thanksgiving. Post-apocalypse stories are usually thought of as sci-fi by most people. So there's that.
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Talia
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« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2010, 05:05:10 PM »

Well, I thought this story was really, really great, a really sweet (and in many ways sad) love story. I was very moved by the relationship between Mel and Cory and I keenly felt Mel's agony over her partner's injury and her conditions stemming from it. This wasn't so much a story about the volcano, but about Mel and Cory's relationship and how it was forever changed by the volcano. Despite all the hell, Cory was still able to get her white wedding.

Just plain great (though I wish we knew a little more about Ravenna).
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slag
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« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2010, 02:05:25 AM »

Quite frankly, I just couldn't really get drawn into this story. The stories relating to the relationships between the women were good, but overall it felt a bit too much like a only a fraction of a much, MUCH larger story, and I think that's what I, along with what seems like a few people in here, were listening for. When events like the chemical spill, the overflow of patients into hospitals, or even the raiders came up, it was only to add some texture to the world these characters inhabit.
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« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2010, 08:38:31 AM »

I think everyone has said everything I want to say:

I didn't much care for it.  There was a lot of flashback and, in doing so, forced characterization.

I really felt the brutality of the world being created, which is important in a post-apocalypse. I thought the characters were interesting and, while not that much really happened, I think the protagonist really developed well. I felt myself really hating the guy who was being very insensitive about the bi woman having children, which is a good sign because it shows the characterisation has been effective.

On that point, I felt that Jake was a very forced character -- that is, every story with lesbian protagonists has to have some guy who calls them dykes and says insensitive things. I don't think he was there for any reason other than to create additional tension, and I didn't think he was necessary. After all, we already had the preachy religious doctor who came around to seeing that the women really love each other. Now THAT was a stock character.

Not a bad story, and well-written, and well-read but it left me feeling like the story was trying to do something unconventional - trying very hard -  but it fell far short. Lots of fodder, but the tropes and themes just seemed to keep coming. The story screamed "the heroes are socially progressive" but the bad guys are not in an unsatisfying way.

There wasn't really a defined bad guy -- and I'm okay with that. Yeah, the foreign armies might be coming, but the only major villain is random people attacking the Warehouse. (They were living in a Costco, weren't they.)

I started off disliking this story, the initial mixing up of genders with traditional roles (female groom, male bridesmaid) gave the impression this was going to be a horribly preachy story about gender/sexual equality etc. etc.

Yeah, that turned me off almost IMMEDIATELY as well.

It wasn't strictly science fiction

I disagree: science (super-volcano kills the entire western half of the US) + fiction (clearly this didn't really happen). Smiley

My only original addition is: I think we should've been brought into the fact that Ravenna is the third member of what will become a poly triad marriage (or whatever the correct terminology is). At first I thought she was an adopted child, and then just a friend, and then, oh wait, she's another spouse... It felt a little out of the blue to me.

Overall I enjoyed the story as a gestalt being, but there were too many nit-picks for me to say it was a "good" story.
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Talia
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« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2010, 09:29:26 AM »


My only original addition is: I think we should've been brought into the fact that Ravenna is the third member of what will become a poly triad marriage (or whatever the correct terminology is). At first I thought she was an adopted child, and then just a friend, and then, oh wait, she's another spouse... It felt a little out of the blue to me.

I disagree with you there. Maybe its because I'm female, but it was pretty clear to me almost immediately she was a third romantic partner.
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« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2010, 10:00:13 AM »

Maybe I heard it wrong, but did they refer to Ravenna as a "typical cornfed Midwesterner Goth"? 
1.  I was surprised to hear Mel refer to one of her betrothed as "cornfed" as I've only heard that as an insult for being overweight, referring to a woman as though she were livestock being intentionally fattened in order to provide richer tasting meat.
2.  What exactly is typical about her?  I live in the Midwest and I don't know a great deal of people who I would describe as having a Goth style, and even fewer that might be described as "cornfed".  So, the way I read that was that women in the Midwest are typically both Goth and cornfed was a rather baffling statement.  Perhaps it was meant to say that women in the Midwest tend to be more likely to be overweight?  I think both men and women in the Midwest tend to weight more than in other US regions, but even then, I'm not really sure what the point of saying that was, either in the context of the story or for the character herself.

As for the story as a whole, this one didn't do much for me, I'm afraid.  Not because of the lesbian polyamory, but because:

-I don't find wedding planning, or pre-wedding jitters, all that interesting.  I've seen enough movies in which a wedding is the sole focus that I wouldn't be sad if I never saw another.  Mind you, that's not a flaw in the story so much as my tastes.  The relationship between the trio was interesting, and I could have liked it if that relationship had been a part of story that wasn't entirely focused on a wedding.  Polyamory makes for an intriguing part of a story, because I don't understand how it can work.  (I'm not saying it can't work, I just don't understand it)
-Everything interesting or tense happened in the past: the apocalypse, the meeting of Ravenna, the flight across the US to find a safe ground, the finding of the Warehouse.  Yes, we see it all in flashbacks, but there's no tension in the flashbacks because I already know where they end up. 
-The secondary characters were too much stock characters, Listener said it well "every story with lesbian protagonists has to have some guy who calls them dykes and says insensitive things. I don't think he was there for any reason other than to create additional tension, and I didn't think he was necessary"
-I didn't get that they were a trio until quite a ways into the story, as Ravenna was offstage and referred to in ways that I found rather vague.  It's possible that I'm just slow on the uptake, but I could've used some more explicit mention of her being a bride as well earlier in the tale.
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« Reply #19 on: December 29, 2010, 11:33:33 AM »

Maybe I heard it wrong, but did they refer to Ravenna as a "typical cornfed Midwesterner Goth"? 
1.  I was surprised to hear Mel refer to one of her betrothed as "cornfed" as I've only heard that as an insult for being overweight, referring to a woman as though she were livestock being intentionally fattened in order to provide richer tasting meat.
That's strange. I always thought "cornfed" had a more literal meaning to it, i.e. they live in the corn belt and thus eat lots of corn. And of course all the generalized misunderstandings of living in that area being attached to that person, but still a pejorative term. But not necessarily meaning that the person is overweight. I'd always assumed it was synonymous with "redneck".
Wikipedia and the Urban Dictionary tend to back me up on this.
2.  What exactly is typical about her?  I live in the Midwest and I don't know a great deal of people who I would describe as having a Goth style, and even fewer that might be described as "cornfed".  So, the way I read that was that women in the Midwest are typically both Goth and cornfed was a rather baffling statement.  Perhaps it was meant to say that women in the Midwest tend to be more likely to be overweight?  I think both men and women in the Midwest tend to weight more than in other US regions, but even then, I'm not really sure what the point of saying that was, either in the context of the story or for the character herself.
I agree with you on the Goth part. I would not think that people from the Midwest are particularly pale of skin and dark of hair, nor of Goth temperament. This bothered me only a little bit, but I answered it in one of two ways: alternate reality, or the author, like any good writer, did no research whatsoever. This is not meant to fault the author, Stephen King himself said that you should not stop your writing to do research, and I'm an amateur writer and I never do. It was simply more pronounced in this case (if it were indeed the case). Like I said, it didn't bother me much.
I took it to mean that Ravenna was a typical, down-to-Earth person from the Midwest. Not bothering herself too much with what could have been and what might be, but simply living the moment, like any good (I'm sorry about generalizing here) redneck farmer. This, in my opinion, went a long way toward explaining her personality, her kindness, her actions throughout the story.
Please don't call me a bigot or a racist or anything like that. I tend to think that I am not (in fact, the only people I hate for being who they are, are racists), and the views I express here are not my own, but simply how I understood the phrases. I know many people from the Midwest (my mother's family, for example) and many of them are not farmers, rednecks or partial to corn.
-I didn't get that they were a trio until quite a ways into the story, as Ravenna was offstage and referred to in ways that I found rather vague.  It's possible that I'm just slow on the uptake, but I could've used some more explicit mention of her being a bride as well earlier in the tale.
Well, when the story started out with "... and one of her brides had trouble recognizing her" I knew something was up, and when Dr. Green said that Ravenna was with Cory and Mel responded with relief and "She and Cory are great together" I knew exactly who was getting married.
Although I admit the gender swapped roles from the widely accepted "standard" threw me off balance a little, but I liked it. Like I said, I'm not one for social conventions or base assumptions (even though I made some of my own, I was glad to have been proven wrong).
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