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Author Topic: PC162: Gods of the North  (Read 19561 times)
Talia
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« on: June 21, 2011, 06:48:47 AM »

PodCastle 162: Gods of the North

Featuring Conan the Barbarian!

by Robert E. Howard

Read by Graeme Dunlop

Originally Published in Fantasy Fan. Read the story here!

Across the red drifts and mail-clad forms, two figures glared at each other. In that utter desolation only they moved. The frosty sky was over them, the white illimitable plain around them, the dead men at their feet. Slowly through the corpses they came, as ghosts might come to a tryst through the shambles of a dead world. In the brooding silence they stood face to face.

Both were tall men, built like tigers. Their shields were gone, their corselets battered and dinted. Blood dried on their mail; their swords were stained red. Their horned helmets showed the marks of fierce strokes. One was beardless and black maned. The locks and beard of the other were red as the blood on the sunlit snow.

“Man,” said he, “tell me your name, so that my brothers in Vanaheim may know who was the last of Wulfhere’s band to fall before the sword of Heimdul.”

“Not in Vanaheim,” growled the black-haired warrior, “but in Valhalla will you tell your brothers that you met Conan of Cimmeria.”


Rated R: Contains violence.
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iamafish
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 07:41:58 AM »

I AM THE FISH UNDER THE SEA (WHICH IS ALSO UNDER THE MOUNTAIN) BOW BEFORE MY WATERY FEEDBACK.

Conan. Awesome. Silly, cheap and fun swords and sorcery at its very best. My 14 year old self loves it, whereas the part of me that sits at the back of my brain doing the Sunday crossword and sneering at anything that does not have at least three layers of meaning and complexity just died a little bit. Good job, I get sick of that guy sometimes.
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Swamp
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 03:08:00 PM »

I loved it!  It has been a long time since I have read/listened to a Conan story, and this one was a great pick.  There was more behind the story than just Conan mowing down people with his sword, though there was plenty of that (as well as the ubiquitous heaving breasts).  While Conan stories are pretty straight forward in their story-telling, and generally similar in content, I would by no means call them cheap. (not aiming that at you personally, iamafish, just the term.  I can tell that you enjoyed the story as well.)

 Howard is an icon, and sword and sorcery holds a great place in the annals of fantasy.  Thanks for running this, Anna and Dave.
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Swamp
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 03:37:58 PM »

This story actually has an interesting publication history.  I looked it up because it seemed distantly familiar.  Turns out I was remembering Marvel's comic book adaptation of it.  Okay, now I have to get back to work.
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danooli
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2011, 05:18:17 PM »

Perfect light-hearted goodness for the Solstice  Grin  Even though this obviously doesn't take place in a summery clime, it's perfect to kick-start the summer!  (Well, that and a visit to the beach to watch the sunset.  I love the longest day of the year!) 

I've never read any Conan, I think I was turned off by Arnold Schwarzenegger when his movie came out.  (I was 8 years old in 1982 so it was before I was reading anything more serious than Beezus And Ramona.)  But, like the Carnacki story PodCastle ran a few months ago, this introduction will lead to more stories on my "To Read" list!  yay!
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zoanon
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 11:23:10 PM »

Norse mythology, fierce warriors, classic language, fantastic narration. this story is swoon material. 
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Spindaddy
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2011, 12:45:11 AM »

BY CROM! RAWWWWWWWWWWWWWR!

Haha great story! I have a collection of Conan short stories and an essay on the history of Conan's world (which honestly made more sense after a six pack than before) and I gotta admit all the stories embody an awesome lighthearted romp through imagination that really thrusts its middle finger up in the air at all the stories that require 3 PHDs to understand what the heck is going on. Don't get me wrong, I love when a story gets me thinking about action and consequence or the first thing I do at work is figure out who else listened to the story that morning to say "Damn the story was awesome today!" Too many "serious stories" with depressing plots or tragic characters start to get stale. It was a breath of fresh air to hear Conan today.

Gods of the North is particularly fun. If you want something more testosterone laden, you're gonna have to rip out the heart of a 18 year old jock.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 12:48:40 AM by Spindaddy » Logged

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LaShawn
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2011, 12:09:19 PM »

Huh. Conan. Yeahhhhhhh...

Okay, I'll admit it, I found the beginning wonderfully cheesy. I was all set to turn off my brain and just enjoy the sheer mindless violence and gore and ARRRRRRRHHHHness of it. And for the first half, I really enjoyed it. But then the Frost-Giant daughter shows up, and I was like, "uh, okay, naked white lady. Got it." And then the story went on and on, and I was like "OKAY, NAKED IVORY-LILY-WHITE LADY AND CONAN WANTS HER. I GET IT, ALREADY." And then he kills the frost giants and...um...

At that point, I stopped it, because I just couldn't really turn off my brain that much longer. Part of me thought back to Greek mythology and how much gore and rapeage happened there. But I guess I got hung up by all the descriptions of the Frost Giant Daughter and Conan's frenzied lust over her...really took me out of the story. Ugh. I did eventually finish it, but yeah, I don't have any pressing desire to read anymore Conan. And since I was never an 18-year-old boy and thus never read them as a kid, I'm glad to see I wasn't missing anything. I'll stick with the TV Conan version.

And now, for no reason whatsoever, I have a strong urge to watch Erik the Viking...
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Mirrie
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« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2011, 03:39:42 AM »


But I guess I got hung up by all the descriptions of the Frost Giant Daughter and Conan's frenzied lust over her...really took me out of the story. Ugh. I did eventually finish it, but yeah, I don't have any pressing desire to read anymore Conan.
Hi there, second time poster, I haven't formally indroduced myself yet. But, LaShawn, I'm with you there. To start off with, it was cheesy epic fun, but I started to get a tad uncomfortable around that bit. I think I said "Urgh" out loud a couple of times. Although it did remind me of this hilarious  very wrong comic strip (NSFW bit adult and silly).
http://lolpics.se/3278-snow-queen
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 03:42:54 AM by Mirrie » Logged
kibitzer
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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2011, 03:52:45 AM »

Now, ladies, I think you missed the point...

SHE WAS A NAKED LADY. AND HE WANTED HER.

Now Mirrie, with regard to your comic, it reminded me of The Reign of the Wintergod, Pseudopod number 137. It's... hurm... challenging in a similar yet opposite way. Ahem.
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zoanon
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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2011, 07:16:48 AM »

I agree, it did get a bit rape-y in the middle, but that's just how classic heroes roll. not saying it's ok to go around forcing yourself on a ice princes (even if she tried to have you killed) but it was appropriated for this type of story.
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danooli
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« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2011, 07:46:32 AM »

Women everywhere are going to hate me as a traitor for my next statement...but, thats OK.

Making men desire her was the goal of the naked lady. In all regards, she was "asking" to be chased and wants men to want her to the exclusion of all sense. At least, thats what I got from it. And, I still enjoyed the story, even though I am a woman myself.

(Edited to remove a word that didn't belong)
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 05:04:34 PM by danooli » Logged
Swamp
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« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2011, 11:34:50 AM »

Yes, I too was cringing a little bit when Conan actually got to Atali.  I kept thinking, "I hope this doesn't actually go THERE."  Let's just say that I am glad Ymir stepped in when he did.  And yes, it was Atali's intent to fire lust in Conan to draw him into a trap.  It's just no one had ever gotten past the Brothers before.  She was never at risk until then.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 02:39:09 PM by Swamp » Logged

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washer
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« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2011, 12:12:21 PM »

I've loved the cerebral stuff we regularly feature, but damn if I don't love me some hack n' slash every now and again.  This was the brutal sorbet I needed.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2011, 12:33:31 PM »

Honestly, how can you argue with a Conan story?

I'd actually seen this same story twice before, though, in the comics adaptation of Conan, both times as "The Frost Giant's Daughter".
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2011, 12:34:13 PM »

This story actually has an interesting publication history.  I looked it up because it seemed distantly familiar.  Turns out I was remembering Marvel's comic book adaptation of it.  Okay, now I have to get back to work.

Dark Horse took a whack at it too...
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Palmer
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« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2011, 11:07:40 PM »

Ummmm, hello? Why does everyone seem to be okay with the rape scene in this story? Exhibit A for why I could never get into the Consn stories. Oh, no it's cool she was really just another beautiful evil bitch out to destroy men, she TOTALLY deserves it. Good lord. Ick. Oh, and it's also cool cause Conan is just being Conan, he can essentially do whatever he wants. To go crazy feminist nut for a little bit longer, stories like these perpetuate evil stereotypes about women and men. Seriously think about it for longer than 3 seconds. Men are allowed to have whatever they can take even if it's through force and to hell with what anyone else wants? Women are beautiful evil ice queens who will literally lead you on and cause you nothing but pain? And men are allowed to do what they will with said women?  This story isn't favorable for men or women, it's just painful to listen to. Now if this were a story about the epic battle he had just fought, or even just the battle with the ice giants, that I could totally get behind for entertainment. A story about rape that has no real conclusion? Hell no.
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zoanon
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« Reply #17 on: June 24, 2011, 06:54:42 AM »

it's a story. from the 30's. obviously it will not live up to today's standards of equality.

edit.
I'm taking this story in its historical context.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2011, 08:01:42 AM by zoanon » Logged
Devoted135
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« Reply #18 on: June 24, 2011, 08:45:58 AM »

See, this is why I could never get into Conan. Granted, I'm not a testosterone-laced, adolescent boy so so I'm clearly at a disadvantage here. I tried really hard to remember when it was written and the historical context and all that, but in the end I couldn't get past the objectification of the woman. Sure, you can argue that her character was asking to be objectified, but that's silly because she is a character, written by a man for the purpose of objectifying her. (with apologies to danooli, I just can't agree with you here) No self-respecting woman would behave in that way, and even the Greek mythology that I've read hasn't been nearly so demeaning as this story! Anyway, the battle scenes were wonderfully overwrought and the interaction between the men at the end was hilariously old-school but the rest just ruined it for me. Undecided
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Palmer
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« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2011, 10:33:33 AM »

it's a story. from the 30's. obviously it will not live up to today's standards of equality.

edit.
I'm taking this story in its historical context.


Sorry I missed that part in history class, rape was a cool thing to do in the 1930s? Last time I checked rape hasn't been acceptable since caveman days and has always been used as a means to torture and assert dominance over another human being. I would have found these comments to be very different if Conan was the one being terrified, brutalized, and barely getting away.
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