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Author Topic: PC Miniature 64: Five Rules For Commuting To The Underworld  (Read 3527 times)


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PodCastle Miniature 64: Five Rules For Commuting To The Underworld

By Merrie Haskell

Read by Amanda Fitzwater

Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read it here!

Rule One:

You may not eat in the Underworld if you ever expect to leave again.

Dis Pater is an angry god. Well, not so much angry as _really annoyed_. Like many people in management, he’s been promoted past the level of his competence—and Persephone knows it. It’s always good to have a layer of ruthlessly competent middle management beneath you to keep you afloat, but you do not want said middle management to know how much you rely on them. Persephone knows; Persephone doesn’t lick Dis Pater’s boots, and that means she doesn’t consult with him when situations arise. She handles problems with iron grace, and occasionally briefs her husband afterward.

Rated R: Contains Language, and General Post-Life Unhappiness
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 09:33:27 PM by Talia »


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Reply #1 on: July 11, 2011, 10:04:40 PM
Nicely told.

The Persephone story is one of the ones I heard on my mother's knee, and then retold so many times over the years by different authors in different ways, but I've never heard it in such a refreshingly matter-of-fact, liberated, and humorous fashion.

I enjoyed Diana Wynne Jones' Tough Guide to Fantasyland, and this seemed at first to be a similar kind of text: a set of hints for prospective writers and readers of funereal fiction. But instead of navigating the common tropes of world mythologies, it sticks to the single locale, which was a surprise, and builds a consistent world from its capricious rules.

The ending was odd, though. It just stopped. It stopped on a good gag, but I think it needed a conclusion of some kind. Something to bring the five rules together, or a twist on the nature of the rulegiver, or a reflection on the inevitability of it all, or something.

That was a fine reading, which served the material very well. If you'll forgive a parochial British point of view, the Antipodean accent helped paint a picture of a tourist guide, or possibly a work mentor on some kind of gap-year overseas working holiday. I don't think a UK or US accent would have sounded as 'authentic'.  But the delivery really sold it.


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Reply #2 on: July 11, 2011, 11:18:48 PM
"the Antipodean accent helped paint a picture of a tourist guide"

Thanks :) Kinda like Phil Keoghan doing The Amazing Race, Hell Edition perhaps? "Osama, Adolf, I'm sorry to inform are the last to arrive on this leg of the race and you HAVE been eliminated."


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Reply #3 on: July 12, 2011, 10:56:20 AM
This was cute, and I loved the reading.  Perfect to listen to while we experienced a power outage at work yesterday!  Sitting in the darkened lunchroom with my headphones on, the atmosphere was great.  There was some sunlight streaming through the windows, but only enough to be able to see a bit in front of you, and it lent itself well to this mini.


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Reply #4 on: July 12, 2011, 04:02:53 PM
The Persephone story is one of the ones I heard on my mother's knee, and then retold so many times over the years by different authors in different ways, but I've never heard it in such a refreshingly matter-of-fact, liberated, and humorous fashion.

Yeah...the last paragraph about Persephone's price really rang true for me in particular. The price she pays is the parental guilt.


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Reply #5 on: July 12, 2011, 08:20:48 PM
Fun. Neat. Clever. I laughed out loud several times.

Five zeppelins.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

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Reply #6 on: July 18, 2011, 11:16:23 AM

this one felt like the author was going 'hey look, i know some stuff about mythology. it's this stuff interesting.' I prefer my fiction with some plot (yes, even my flash), not for me, sorry.


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Reply #7 on: July 18, 2011, 01:23:19 PM
I enjoyed this one for its general style and humor, though to be honest my memory of Greek mythology is lacking enough that about 80% of the references went right over my head.


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Reply #8 on: July 22, 2011, 05:37:15 PM
I thought this was a very interesting point of view story.  It feels like the 'story behind the story' sort of thing, exploring motives and motivations in a delightfully practical way.  Now, the fact that the narration was done with a non-American accent only added to the depth of feeling.

Excellent choices!

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Reply #9 on: July 23, 2011, 03:25:36 AM
I enjoyed this as well but found the accent to be a bit cumbersome, especially the pronunciation of the names. Eurydice especially confused me. I'm just being a little nit picky since I studied a lot of Greek in college though.


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Reply #10 on: October 20, 2011, 01:54:41 PM
A cute idea, but I don't think I'm really the target audience for this one.  I know just bits and pieces of this mythology, just the base of the story of Persephone and the pomegranate seeds.  I know little enough that most of the names besides Persephone and Hades meant nothing to me, and it felt like talking to someone who is trying to name-drop to impress me but where I have no idea who the names being dropped are.  I expect that I'd probably like it more if I was a mythology expert.  I got the sense that it was supposed to be funny, but also that none of the jokes were accessible to a mythology layman.

Even so, I like stories (flash included) to have some kind of plot.  This seemed more like a writer's blog post than a story.  I've liked stories before that were written in a "document" or "advice list" kind of style, but in the cases I can think of the subject material was more novel to make it more interesting, rather than a modern-style retelling of old myths.  One that comes to mind that I found entertaining was Constance Cooper's "The Team-Mate Reference Problem in Final Stage Demon Confrontation" on Escape Pod.  In that case, the details were all new to me, so that even without a plot the spinning out of those details made me want to listen further.


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Reply #11 on: January 09, 2012, 06:07:53 AM
I fell in love with this story from the first time I heard the full title. It is perfectly short and sweet, and hits all the myths of the underworld in a casual almost uncaring air that just made it that much for fun to dive into.