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Author Topic: PC183: The God-Death Of Halla  (Read 1956 times)
Ocicat
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« on: November 15, 2011, 03:11:13 AM »

PodCastle 183: The God-Death Of Halla

by Tina Connolly.

Read by Jen Rhodes (of the Anomaly Podcast)*

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  Read it here!

Halla got halfway out the window, stolen brooch in hand, and then the dizzies hit.

She swore as the world rocked around her. She kicked off the sandstone wall by instinct and thumped to the ground. The gold plate stuffed down her shift knocked her ribs and all her breath whooshed out. She gasped like a fish in the humid air.

Voices.

Halla stumbled over the cut stone and clover of the landowner’s garden. Her breath rushed back with loud wheezes and she flung herself into the ubiquitous bamboo groves dividing one house from the next. A bamboo leaf sucked into her mouth and she spat.

Once her family had been guests at this very house. Her father, one of the elite liaisons between the landowners and the holy, had been deeply honored…and feared. Halla had sat on that very bit of stone in a starched white shift, praying that she wouldn’t disgrace herself. But that was ten years ago and several classes above. That memory wouldn’t save her fingers if she were caught this morning.

The landowner was a heavy woman, whose flesh swung through the gaps in her chiton as she thudded around the side of the house. Two maids trailed her. “I heard someone!” she panted. “Search the house!”


Rated PG. Contains violence and God-Deaths.

*Jen Rhodes is one of the hosts of Anomaly, an award winning sci-fi and fantasy podcast. Jen and her co-host Angela, have two goals for every episode they produce; to have fun and to offer a feminine perspective on all things geek. Recently, Anomaly has evolved into a community comprising two shows (Anomaly and Anomaly Supplemental), a successful blog, and a growing forum. You can find them online at anomalypodcast.com.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 10:46:04 AM by Talia » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2011, 10:07:09 AM »

I heard this one over on BCS.

I loved the worldbuilding in this one, as I usually do from that excellent magazine.  I like the novel nature of the gods in this story, different than any I've ever encountered before, how they manifest as urges rather than a physical presence or weather or any of the more usual manifestations.  I like how she has to figure out the details as she goes on, and the world is revealed bit by bit.

Really, no complaints about it from me.  I enjoyed it quite a lot.
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jamie
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2011, 06:32:09 AM »

I thoroughly enjoyed that - I've only just finished listening to it at work so I'm going to have to listen to it again at home where I won't be so distracted but I thought it was fascinating. If I understood it correctly1 then the only power that is available from the God is to instill a blood lust in somebody? If that's the case then it's a really novel use of the power to torture people with the dove just out of reach to force a confession.

I'll probably add more after I've had a better chance to listen to it.


1. Listening to it at work, it's quite likely I've misunderstood a lot of it
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danooli
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2011, 06:50:43 AM »

Wow, I really loved this one!  The idea of The God and their religion was unique to me and I appreciated that it didn't wrap up all sweetly, with the compulsion to kill Uncle Olin abating.

More from Tina Connolly, please?  And, more readings from Jen Rhodes as well, please?
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2011, 03:56:05 PM »

I'm afraid that I didn't like this one much when it was on BCS, and I didn't like it much here. There are too many holes - not unanswered questions, actual holes - for me to really enjoy it. For example: Halla? Worst thief ever. Who - who really hopes to be successful - just wanders around hitting random houses and places of worship without making any particular plans? Or paying attention to how panic and wariness rises and falls based on publicized crimes? I mean, it's actively stupid to rob a rich person's house in the morning and then try to rob the temple in the afternoon, because when the temple hears about the house-breaking, they will increase their security. And the temple? They like to store all their gold and jewels in this random room, unlocked, beyond unlocked external doors? How do they have any gold stuff left?

I know Halla's career wasn't the focus of the story, but I found it extremely distracting. What was most frustrating is that it would have been so easy to reimagine the same story in such a way that it would have made more sense.

Similarly, perhaps, I found Halla to be extremely inconsistent. On the one hand, she seems mostly annoyed that she was not allowed to remain in a position of privilege and power. And yet, her dialogue and internal narration occasionally includes random references to "changing things" and justice. This wouldn't be a problem - internal tension is great - but it the contradiction was never treated as a source of tension. It was just kind of there. I don't know what was going through the author's head, but it almost seemed to me as though she was trying to make an ultimately selfish character more sympathetic, but without addressing the character's essential self-centeredness.

Finally, the whole god-inspired-bloodlust thing just didn't evoke anything for me. Perhaps if the characterization had been stronger or the opening more consistent, I would have felt differently.

So in the end the story didn't really do it for me. It seemed inconsistent and a little sloppy.

The reading was great, though!
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2011, 12:56:51 PM »

Similarly, perhaps, I found Halla to be extremely inconsistent. On the one hand, she seems mostly annoyed that she was not allowed to remain in a position of privilege and power. And yet, her dialogue and internal narration occasionally includes random references to "changing things" and justice. This wouldn't be a problem - internal tension is great - but it the contradiction was never treated as a source of tension. It was just kind of there. I don't know what was going through the author's head, but it almost seemed to me as though she was trying to make an ultimately selfish character more sympathetic, but without addressing the character's essential self-centeredness.


Yeah this got me as well. I didn't buy the window dressing of wanting to change things when really she is just whining about how unfair it is that she lost her position. I don't think she really gives a hoot about those who never had status in the first place.

That said I did enjoy the story and the whole blood lust idea for the judging and the way the person being judged ended up craving the dove was really effective for me.

The question I was left with was what is the true situation with the God? Does the God not actually care what the Mouth does as long as their is judging and blood spilt and so the Mouth's abuse of his powers is irrelevant or is it that the ancient god actually doesn't exist and it is only a magical power that is being used.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 04:58:48 AM by raetsel » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2011, 09:41:11 PM »

I liked the story, but disliked the fact everyone in the story was some sort of selfish asshat. It's kinda weird.
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 08:24:25 AM »

I found it difficult to concentrate on the first part of the story and had to restart a couple of times, but that's my own fault.
I got hung up on MK Hobson's "... socially functional geek women." I was all "WHAT?! They have those? Where can I meet them?!"
But eventually I settled down and started to enjoy the story. The worldbuilding is interesting, and the story was long enough to fully flesh out the world of a theocratic society where the one in charge is corrupt and abusing his power for his own personal gains.
Totally unlike anything we have today.
But the characters bothered me.
They all seemed to be cut from the same cloth. They were all from the privileged classes, they all did stupid things and they all did them for personal gain. I found it very hard to identify with any one of them, particularly with the protagonist who came off as a slightly hypocritical self-serving brat.
The story though was very nice and quite well-told. Most of that is probably due to Jen's superb reading.I particularly loved her take on Gooseberry's modes of speech, that was probably the most alive character, in my opinion.
All in all, despite various holes and complaints, I did enjoy the story. Thank you PC for sharing another good one with me.
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 10:02:20 AM »

I keep getting behind in commenting on PC stories.

First, the reading was a veritable tour de force, especially Gooseberry's character.

I really enjoyed the concept of this story, and the reveal when the MC takes control was really well done. I actually rewound my ipod just to listen to that section again. I've never come across a theocracy quite like this one, so the intricacies of it really fascinated me.

I agree that the MC was pretty selfish, but the part that pulled me out of the story was Gooseberry's reaction after she managed to free him instead of killing him. I mean, come on! He himself has experienced the bloodlust, and his first reaction is to follow her, pleading with her to forgive him?!?* Yeah right, if he had any sense whatsoever his first reaction should have been to high-tail it out of there! He knows how strong the impulse is, so if he had any desire to preserve his life (and I seem to remember this was the case) then he should have been trying to put as much distance between them as possible.



*I think that's what he was doing, it's honestly been a while since I listened.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 06:19:44 PM »

I too am falling behind.....

This one didn't grab me as much as I think it should have. And I think that's mostly on me. I think I had trouble following the complex politics.
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eytanz
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« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2011, 12:03:17 PM »

Hah! I am falling even more behind the rest of you!

As for the story, I can more or less echo what Electricpaladin said. The reading was excellent. The world building, cool. But the actual plot and characters seemed very poorly thought out. And, like Electricpaladin said, it didn't even feel like the plot holes and inconsistencies were necessary - it would have been easy to fix them. Hell, just cutting off everything before Hallah's meeting with Gooseberry would have made this a far better story. If nothing else, it would have stopped her spending half the story trying to hide a golden plate under her clothing that plays absolutely no role in the story later.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2012, 01:42:00 PM »

I agree that the MC was pretty selfish, but the part that pulled me out of the story was Gooseberry's reaction after she managed to free him instead of killing him. I mean, come on! He himself has experienced the bloodlust, and his first reaction is to follow her, pleading with her to forgive him?!?* Yeah right, if he had any sense whatsoever his first reaction should have been to high-tail it out of there! He knows how strong the impulse is, so if he had any desire to preserve his life (and I seem to remember this was the case) then he should have been trying to put as much distance between them as possible.
that's what he was doing, it's honestly been a while since I listened.

Because he *wanted* to die.

That's what I got from it. He was so broken by what happened, He was resigned to his death and felt he deserved it, and was probably shocked when his niece refused to carry out the God-death. There could have been more to it too--I was picking up some serious incest vibes, though Maybe it's me reading into Jen's voicing the character just a little too much.

This was a good story that rang tragedy throughout. Like everyone else, the beginning sort of threw me, because the MC's thievery felt overdrawn and didn't make much sense (you're gonna steal your way back into society? Uh...okay...). It was only when she met Gooseberry and her past began to come through that I started really listening. I loved the intrigue and political maneuvering, and the whole God-lust was an intriguing concept (man, Podcastle has been on quiet the religious spree, hasn't it?)

Jen's reading was awesome, btw. Never heard a story so full of rage throughout, particularly the end. Whew!
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