Escape Artists
November 17, 2018, 08:58:57 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3 4  All
  Print  
Author Topic: PC140: Terrible Ones  (Read 12814 times)
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2680


Muahahahaha


« on: January 18, 2011, 11:49:09 AM »

PodCastle 140: Terrible Ones

by Tim Pratt.

Read by M.K. Hobson.

Originally appeared in The Third Alternative.

Someone coughed, and Zara opened her eyes and lifted her head. “Holy shit,” she said.

The Greek Chorus was back—when had they gotten on the train? They must have come from another car, creeping quietly, sliding open the adjoining doors without a squeak. Or, more likely, Zara had fallen asleep, and just hadn’t noticed them. They stood in the middle of the aisle, holding onto the grabrail above their heads, though there were any number of empty seats. They all stared at her, silently, swaying a little with the movement of the train.

Zara thought about getting up and going to another car, but what if they followed her? “This had better be a coincidence,” she said. “We just happen to be going in the same direction, right? You aren’t following me, are you?”

The Chorus did not answer, just looked at her. “So, what are you, mimes? You were plenty talkative before. Or are you just frat boys?”

Still no response.

Zara snapped open her purse (black vinyl, decorated with little silvery skulls) and rummaged until she found a mostly used-up tube of lip balm. She held it between her thumb and forefinger, took aim, and threw it at one of the Chorus member’s faces.

The tube bounced off his nose, and he squawked like a bird and flinched away.

“Just fuck off,” Zara said.

“We’ve heard things,” the Chorus said, hesitantly, half of them mumbling, none of them quite in synch. “But only from strangers. Those who carry messages have no power.”

“So you’ve got a message for me, then?” Zara said. “What is this, guerilla marketing? Viral advertising? How much do you get paid?”

“Torrents of blood will fall from the sky. Justice brings new pain; on a fresh whetstone, Fate sharpens her sword. Each charge is countered by another, and who can fairly judge between them? Yet whoever acts must be punished. Such is the law.”

“The only law you should be concerned with is the one against pissing me off,” Zara said. “If you don’t get away from me, I’m going to kick your asses, concurrently or sequentially, whichever you prefer.”

The Chorus member in front, the one she’d hit with her lip balm, said, “Go on. My heart trembles with fear.”


Rated R for: sex, language and violence.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 01:02:15 PM by Talia » Logged
iamafish
Matross
****
Posts: 261



WWW
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 07:07:09 AM »

Very fun.

However, as someone who has studied Greek Tragedy extensively, I couldn't stop myself from drawing comparisons between the way in which this story is told and the in which a Greek tragedy works. With that in mind, the entrance of the Chorus in Greek tragedy almost always happens after the first scene, rather than directly at the beginning of the play.

But I think I can let that slide because, as a fan of Greek tragedy, and indeed all things Greek, this story pressed all the right buttons. Flawed characters, Godly appearances (I could go into the distinction between Sophocles and Euripides and how this is not reflected perfectly in the story in that point, but i wont), vengeance, moral ambiguity. I especially liked the modern portrayal of the Furies and the occasional light-hearted nod at greek mythology (I actually laughed out load at the Oedipus line).

I think I'll need to listen to this one a couple of times to really get my head around it all though.
Logged

ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2011, 09:29:45 AM »

This one amused the ever-loving crap out of me. I'm a fan of urban fantasy, stylish and intense characters, slightly absurd situations, ordinary people struggling against undercurrents of the occult (and, relatedly, all-powerful assholes who get more than they're bargaining for), divine beings living incognito in the modern world, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and this story had all of those, and more. This story made me laugh, howl, scream (angrily, at Doug), and talk excitedly to my wife. The only thing that could have made this story more awesome would be if the Airship Adventures zeppelin had somehow gotten involved... but we can't have everything.

And then we'd have an argument about whether or not this story is steampunk.

Not bitter. Not bitter at all.

Anyway, I'm not sure the story would have made sense with the addition of Airship Adventures, and as the crit group is constantly reminding me, making sense is a good thing.

It's 6:22 AM when I am now and I'm a little confused. I was trying to make a point. Where was I again?

Right, Terrible Ones. Excuse me. Anyway, I also loved M. K. Hobson's reading, but then I always love M. K. Hobson's readings. Her voice has that perfect combination of acid sarcasm and hard-edged urban yrgh (6:22 AM) that really works for some stories - and yet, she can also soften her voice for some lines and deliver a totally different effect when required. I think if M. K. Hobson and Wilson Fowlie had a baby and that baby was raised by Cheyenne Wright, that child would have the most expressive, flexible, and buttery voice in the universe. Dave Thompson could do his introductions and then he could read Tim Pratt stories and the world would fall at his feet.

What the hell was that? Seriously, Paladin, what the hell was that? You know what? 6:22 AM is no excuse. It's time to stop this post before someone gets hurt. Besides, it's 6:28 AM now.

I give this story yrgh out of five zeppelins, which probably means six and a half or so. And I apologize to Wilson Fowlie, M. K. Hobson, and Cheyenne Wright (who's plenty busy with his actual child) and all of their children and spouses, now and in perpetuity. Not Dave Thompson, though - he had it coming.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
DKT
Friendly Neighborhood
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4980


PodCastle is my Co-Pilot


WWW
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2011, 12:10:16 PM »

I think if M. K. Hobson and Wilson Fowlie had a baby and that baby was raised by Cheyenne Wright, that child would have the most expressive, flexible, and buttery voice in the universe. Dave Thompson could do his introductions and then he could read Tim Pratt stories and the world would fall at his feet.

Wait...I'm the love child of Hobson and Fowlie, and Cheyenne Wright is my Jedi Master?

And the world would fall at my feet?

Well...we've all gotta have goals, I guess  Cheesy
Logged

ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2011, 12:13:59 PM »

I think if M. K. Hobson and Wilson Fowlie had a baby and that baby was raised by Cheyenne Wright, that child would have the most expressive, flexible, and buttery voice in the universe. Dave Thompson could do his introductions and then he could read Tim Pratt stories and the world would fall at his feet.

Wait...I'm the love child of Hobson and Fowlie, and Cheyenne Wright is my Jedi Master?

And the world would fall at my feet?

Well...we've all gotta have goals, I guess  Cheesy

No, no. You're their love child's announcer. Sort of Elijah to his Messiah. I guess if the world falls at his feet and you're standing next to him, though, that counts for something.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
DKT
Friendly Neighborhood
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4980


PodCastle is my Co-Pilot


WWW
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 12:15:05 PM »

Ah, I wondered if I should've clarified that pronoun.

But I like being the prophet even better! Where do I sign up?  Grin
Logged

ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1005


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 12:21:40 PM »

Ah, I wondered if I should've clarified that pronoun.

But I like being the prophet even better! Where do I sign up?  Grin

It's a done deal, man. All you gotta do is get M. K. and Wilson to get busy. The rest will fall into place. Trust me.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
Scattercat
Caution:
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4847


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2011, 02:46:57 AM »

I think that curse at the end is a lot more terrible than she makes it sound.  She's not taking stories away from him; she's taking away self-delusion, which is the near-magical power we have that lets us stay alive.  Humans couldn't get through a day without rearranging their interpretation of events (sometimes down to the level of actually physically perceiving them differently) in order to maintain our central illusions.  (To whit: "I am in control of myself," "I am competent," and "I am a good person.")  To lose the ability to lie to yourself, to see everything as it truly is... I can't think of a quicker way to cause a suicide.

There have been studies.  People take a knowledge test or a skill test or a memory test, and they are asked to rate how well they think they will do and then how well they think they've done afterward.  You know who's most accurate in judging their own skills?

Clinically depressed people.

Frankly, I think a significant chunk of the population wouldn't regard losing the ability to enjoy narrative as much of a penalty.  There are people who never even read fiction because it's a "waste of time."  In particular, I imagine that borderline schizos like the dude in the story don't really do a lot of recreational reading anyway (unless they are looking for encoded messages from the author.)

It was a fun story, regardless.  Nyx is a scary lady.  My wife made a character based on her for a roleplaying game once, and that is what convinced me that she was terrifying, even more than the myths themselves.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Ocicat
Castle Watchcat
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2858


Anything for a Weird Life


« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2011, 03:50:31 AM »

This reminded me a lot of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics, and that's a good thing.  I mean, obviously they both used "The Kindly Ones" in a modern fantasy setting - but the tone and themes are pretty similar too.  The world is just slightly off-kilter, there's the same focus on the concept of Story, and humans becoming new incarnations of immortal concepts, and Neil often splashed in a smattering of kink in his comics as well.

So ya, to me this read as almost a Sandman tribute - but as I said, that's a good thing.  I loved those books, and there's plenty of ground to cover there in different ways.  And this story was a beautiful thing.  Of course I'm a sucker for Greek myths and tragedy, so that helped too. 

Also, I used to live near San Francisco, and I think I used to visit the club Madame Zara worked for.  It's called Bondage-a-go-go. 
Logged
iamafish
Matross
****
Posts: 261



WWW
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2011, 04:04:53 AM »

I found the punishment meted out to Doug to be really horrible. As both a story teller and someone who loves stories, I found the idea of loosing one's suspension of disbelief to be a truly terrifying thing. I hadn't thought of it in the terms Scattercat put it until he did, but that adds an even deeper level of horror to it. Seems like a fate almost worse than death.
Logged

Void Munashii
Matross
****
Posts: 267


twitter.com/VOIDMunashii


WWW
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2011, 11:04:18 AM »

  I remember enough Greek tragedy from Introduction to Theatre in school to enjoy the chorus, but I never studied enough of it to be able to find any real flaws, so I enjoyed this story immensely. If there is any type of fantasy I really like, it is urban fantasy, and this was an example of urban fantasy done right.

  I like the idea of Zara as the spirit of vengeance, wandering the Earth and turning her spotlight on those who can't tell what's real. She should book a flight to Washington DC; that lot would keep her busy for weeks.


I found the punishment meted out to Doug to be really horrible. As both a story teller and someone who loves stories, I found the idea of loosing one's suspension of disbelief to be a truly terrifying thing. I hadn't thought of it in the terms Scattercat put it until he did, but that adds an even deeper level of horror to it. Seems like a fate almost worse than death.

  I too had not thought of it at Scattercat's level, but I found it horrifying enough just at the idea of not getting to enjoy fiction ever again. I can see useful parts of never being able to be deceived, but if I could not enjoy a story, a movie, or a video game ever again I am not sure how I would be able to cope with that. Of course not being able to deceive myself would probably lead to a quick and messy end to it all.

  I don't think I've ever seen that particular curse used in fiction before, but it is a nasty one.
Logged

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com
DKT
Friendly Neighborhood
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4980


PodCastle is my Co-Pilot


WWW
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 11:32:21 AM »

I found the punishment meted out to Doug to be really horrible. As both a story teller and someone who loves stories, I found the idea of loosing one's suspension of disbelief to be a truly terrifying thing. I hadn't thought of it in the terms Scattercat put it until he did, but that adds an even deeper level of horror to it. Seems like a fate almost worse than death.

Ocicat mentioned that this story reminded him of Gaiman's Sandman. For me, the curse in particular reminded me of "Caliope," in which (SPOILERS) Richard Madoc, a writer who wants to make a name for himself, traps the titular muse, rapes her, and sees all his numerous stories rocket him to fortune and glory. At the end, Morpheus curses him to never stop having ideas, which drives Madoc insane.

I found Zara's curse to be an interesting contrast to Morpheus's.
Logged

Kaa
Hipparch
******
Posts: 613


Trusst in me, jusst in me.


WWW
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2011, 01:19:46 PM »

This clenches it. I must now find and read everything Tim Pratt has ever written. I severely loved this story.
Logged

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2680


Muahahahaha


« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2011, 01:39:09 PM »

severely loved

Awesome turn of phrase.
Logged
timpratt
Extern
*
Posts: 16


« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2011, 04:11:22 PM »

As iamafish astutely notes, I took some liberties with the structure of Greek tragedy (and mythology, and other things). Partly for mere convenience, partly for other reasons. (For instance: ancient Greeks didn't wear togas, they wore chitons, but I had the Chorus wear togas because that's what people in a cheap and not terribly well-researched experimental theater performance would be more likely to have them wear.)
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2011, 09:39:40 AM »

I enjoyed this one.  The anthropomorphic personfications gave it a Pratchetty feel.  I tend to like "a god in the modern world" stories.  I am not particularly well versed in details of Greek mythology or theater, so I'm sure I missed a lot of the nods, such as the Greek chorus being an element that just made me shrug. 

That curse at the end is a terrible one indeed, for the inability to enjoy fiction, as that is the way that I unwind, but also as scattercat said about self-illusionment--a quick route to suicide.  If he does survive, he certainly could find some new career opportunities as a detective, a mediator, a judge, or any other vocation that would be enhanced by an innate ability to spot lies.

One detail that I found particularly cool was how the frozen audience wasn't literally time frozen, but trembled a bit from the effort of holding the pose.  That was a neat idea and would be one that would be cool to see in film, distinct from the usual spec fx version where the video is just frozen.  Having her compare it to an improv acting session made sense for her character, too, which is a nice touch.
Logged
Loz
Lochage
*****
Posts: 370


WWW
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2011, 02:36:43 PM »

I'm just wondering. Admittedly all I know about The Fates, like some of the people here, is what I've gleaned from their use in modern fictional settings, so is the idea that if they make a mistake and punish someone unfairly (or even have the freedom to attack and punish someone unfairly) they lose their job something that comes from the Greek myths or is it an invention of Mr Pratt?

Otherwise great story and great reading. Just the thing to keep my spirits high while walking the cold streets from work to home. And if Nikki is taking applications I've got a bucket full of wrath right here for people who don't return their library books on time or scratch the DVDs or who don't understand the concepts of 'opening' and 'closing' times...
Logged
stePH
Actually has enough cowbell.
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3906


Cool story, bro!


WWW
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2011, 04:32:27 PM »

mmmmmm.... me likey.  Smiley
Logged

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising
stePH
Actually has enough cowbell.
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3906


Cool story, bro!


WWW
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2011, 04:35:48 PM »

I think that curse at the end is a lot more terrible than she makes it sound.  She's not taking stories away from him; she's taking away self-delusion, which is the near-magical power we have that lets us stay alive.  Humans couldn't get through a day without rearranging their interpretation of events (sometimes down to the level of actually physically perceiving them differently) in order to maintain our central illusions.  (To whit: "I am in control of myself," "I am competent," and "I am a good person.")  To lose the ability to lie to yourself, to see everything as it truly is... I can't think of a quicker way to cause a suicide.

Like others here, I was also reminded of The Sandman, but specifically the scene at the "Cereal Convention" in which Morpheus does exactly this to the serial killers. I don't have the book in front of me, but he said something like "You have seen yourselves as misunderstood heroes... I have taken all the dreams from you. From now on, you will know exactly who and what you are. And how little that means."
Logged

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising
kibitzer
Purveyor of Unsolicited Opinions
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2224


Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice


« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2011, 06:10:32 AM »

Ah, crap. I don't get it. I really don't. Guess I'm the only one to think this story was kinda dull and uninteresting. Gaiman's Kindly Ones is way, way more interesting and affecting.
Logged

Pages: [1] 2 3 4  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!