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Author Topic: PC165: The Paper Menagerie  (Read 32301 times)

Devoted135

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Reply #25 on: July 18, 2011, 08:58:46 PM
Such a beautiful story. It made me tear up several times, in a good way. Like many others, I loved how the origami animals were infused with so much personality. I shook my fist at my ipod when the MC's friend tore up his tiger and cheered when he came back so many years later. :)
 



yicheng

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Reply #26 on: July 19, 2011, 10:27:51 PM
I normally don't say this, but this story really should have used either a native Chinese reader or someone that could speak fluent Chinese.  While I'm sure Mr. Khanna tried his best, the Chinese language is very tonally dependent.  Being a native speaker, I honestly don't know how a non-native reader would learn the tones except by massive immersion and vocal coaching, but I have seen and talked to incredibly fluent non-natives of the language (so it's definitely possible).  I had to spend several minutes after each line trying to figure out what he said.  Normally, this wouldn't have mattered to me, but in this case, I felt that mother's words were very central to the story, and it was a bit off-putting trying to piece together what was said.  I do give him credit for trying, though.  It was on-par with the Chinese on Firefly/Serenity.

The story itself was a bit too depressing and melodramatic for my taste, although to Ken Liu's credit, this is actually pretty typical of Chinese stories and soap operas.  True love is never requited unless it's way too late and the love of your life is dying in your arms, the parent sacrificing for the child who never realizes it until the parent is dead, the dutiful child sacrificing for the parent and the parent not realizing until it's too late, etc...   

To me, the characters were a bit too one dimensional: the father was largely known by his absent, the mother was long-suffering tragic and sacrificing, and the narrator was the ungrateful brat who realizes that he's ungrateful.  They seem to make a point of asking the mother to adjust to learning how to live and act "American", and yet the father seems to get a complete free pass at marrying a foreign mail-order bride.  If I were to go to the trouble of marrying an American (which I have) and ask her to move to China, I would at least expect to meet her half way and learn the language, culture, and customs of my wife's homeland.  I also thought the Mother dying of cancer was a bit too convenient of a plot device. 

Personally I would have wished for Mr Liu to paint a less stereotypically subservient picture of the Chinese mother.  Chinese women are so much more than the docile housewives or exotic sex-objects that popular media seems to portray them as.  The Chinese women in my life are some of the most spunkiest, entrepreneurial, independent, hard-working, and (yes) fiery women I know.

Finally, I guess I was lucky that I grew up with a father that would echo the words of Tyrion Lannister, saying to me: "Never forget that you are Chinese.", meaning that I would always have to work/study harder than my american friends because the odds were against me.  To me, "fitting in" and acting "normal" was always just that: an act.  Actually being normal was never an option, so I never bothered.

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grokman

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Reply #27 on: July 20, 2011, 03:31:48 AM
I liked how the fantasy aspects of this were barely more than part of a character's feature list. We didn't have to sit through another story about how a new generation attempts to, and finally, learns the magic of the previous generation. I found it very gratifying that the boy didn't have the ability to breathe life into origami, nor even have the desire to acquire that ability. His mother's magic was not a freaky device to fear and exploit - in fact, he struggled with whether or not it even really existed or was just faulty childhood memories.

My own family dysfunctionality is too different from the family in the story, so I was not able to connect to their struggle very deeply on any emotional basis, but I can appreciate how others might.



Swamp

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Reply #28 on: July 20, 2011, 03:47:27 AM
I loved this story, though I was less affected by this than I anticipated, not that that makes the story a failure.  I think it was very well written.  I dig stories with lots of emotion in them.  

But yeah, between this story and "Hokkaido Green" by Aidan Doyle which the Drabblecast ran a few weeks back, I think the theme of "appreciate your parents while you can" has been well represented on the podosphere.


Edit: Added some verbage to help express how much I liked the story.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 04:11:42 PM by Swamp »

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Thomas

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Reply #29 on: July 21, 2011, 01:34:25 AM
Thank you, podcastle for this sweet touching story.

yes it was manipulative, but that's true of any story.

Enjoy and be nice to each other, because "WE" is all we got.


kibitzer

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Reply #30 on: July 21, 2011, 02:56:22 AM
But yeah, between this story and "Hokkaido Green" by Aidan Doyle which the Drabblecast ran a few weeks back, I think the theme of "appreciate your parents while you can" has been well represented on the podosphere.

That one was also very good. Recommended. However, it ended on quite a different note.


Talia

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Reply #31 on: July 21, 2011, 04:03:11 AM
Wonderful story, though the husband was definitely an ass for not sticking up for his wife a little.

I have a weird sort of connection to this story - I grew up in the Connecticut suburbs next door to my Chinese best friend, who was living in a bilingual household and who practiced origami herself. Heh. If any of her origami had come to life I would have been thrilled! :P



Wasn't there another Podcastle story with origami ... and a bookstore in the American frontier with a Japanese immigrant woman??


Perhaps you were thinking of this?



Contented Reader

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Reply #32 on: July 25, 2011, 12:07:58 AM
I loved the living origami animals, and the way they were described was my favorite part of this story.  But they were bonus features- this story didn't have to be a fantasy story, and if it were written as a contemporary story of a conflicted son and his sad mother, and a letter found after it's too late, the story would be just the same and have just the same effect. 

I'm not saying that's a good thing, or a bad thing.  It's just a thing I noticed.

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InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #33 on: July 26, 2011, 02:29:50 AM

Wasn't there another Podcastle story with origami ... and a bookstore in the American frontier with a Japanese immigrant woman??


Perhaps you were thinking of this?
[/quote]

Yeah, that's it, thank you.



dromeda

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Reply #34 on: August 05, 2011, 02:34:39 AM
I might be in the minority here, but I cried at this one. Hard. Sure, it may have been melodramatic, and maybe I'm just a big old softie, but it really reminded of my relationship with my mother and Chinese culture in general- something that I'm only now at the age of 25 starting to fix. So this got me right where I am and it got me hard. So, I'm just saying, I really felt it, and I'm glad I wasn't at work or driving anywhere because I'm pretty sure I would've had to pull over.



mbrennan

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Reply #35 on: August 05, 2011, 04:53:58 AM
Yeah, this one got me.  More than most stories do, in fact.  I wanted to beat the son's and father's heads in for being so freaking INCONSIDERATE of the mother -- seriously, Dad, not even one word to your son about "how's about you not be such a jackass"?  Things like the cancer were a bit too convenient, I agree, but given my visceral horror at the kid tearing up the tiger, and similarly strong reactions elsewhere in the story, I'm willing to forgive those touches.



rotheche

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Reply #36 on: August 10, 2011, 09:44:45 PM
*sigh*

Driving through traffic telling myself, "Don't cry, damn it, it's just a story..."

That was lovely, beginning to end.

And put me down on the list for living origami when we find someone who can make them.



LaShawn

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Reply #37 on: August 29, 2011, 08:44:57 PM
Dang...I...dang. My work productivity slumped to zero when I heard this. And there was tears. Dude. Duuuuuuude....

Interestingly, while listening to this, I didn't think so much on my own mixed race son, who is still at the age where race is not so strong a factor in his development (although he is noticing that girls are different--yikes!), but I thought more to my own mother, who I don't have as strong a relationship with. This story piled the guilt on thick. THICK, I tells ya! It's a good thing that my husband wasn't like the one in the story, though I also felt sorry for him. The father in the story reminds me a lot of people who adopt children from other countries, and then become surprised when those children wish to go back to those countries to explore their roots.

And thanks, Daaaaave, for the ending comments. Now I gotta go call my mother. ::sniffles::

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Listener

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Reply #38 on: August 30, 2011, 01:47:42 PM
I'm a cynical bastard, I guess.  It was a nice story, but I found it a little too overt in its attempts to pluck my heartstrings.  It just lunged right in with both fists; didn't even buy me a drink first.

On the other hand, I do tend to dislike direct sentimentality in general.  Here, Mom's letter was just... it was like getting hassled by an emotional panhandler.  "Give me some wistful tears or I'll cough on you!"  Ah, well.  The living origami was fun.  I enjoyed how it was central to the story without being the point of the story. 

Pretty much my opinion.

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Fenrix

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Reply #39 on: September 27, 2011, 02:24:13 PM
Time to call my Mom.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Unblinking

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Reply #40 on: October 27, 2011, 01:56:47 PM
Damn this story was good, probably my favorite from Podcastle in more than a year.  So sad!

I liked how the living origami was a clear speculative element, without which the story would have been diminished, but which was not he point of the story.  This is a good example of my favorite kind of speculative fiction, where the speculation serves as a tool to emphasize the human story.

I could understand every character in the story and they all seemed very believable.  As a kid I never really fit in, and I was desperate to do so, a doomed prospect since I moved to a very small town with well-formed cliques when I was about ten.  The best that can be said of those years is that they are over.  I didn't have anything so obvious to set me apart, and there were others there who had a much harder time of it than I did.  We had one African-American family that moved into the town a few years after me and plenty of rather racist long-term residents.  But I can imagine if I had been in his shoes at that age that I would have probably done the same thing as he did, or tried to, as much as that makes me feel ashamed to admit it. 

The father I related to the least, because he really should have stepped in and made his son behave as less of an ass, but even him I can understand.  Especially since he ordered the bride in the first place, it is not surprising he is not assertive enough to handle this task.

I don't understand why a couple people have said that the cancer was a convenient plot device.  It's not like cancer is that rare a disease that it must be a plot device to happen like this.  I've known at least one person who was in a situation like this, where a parent died while they were being a teenage ass and they regretted it forever.  This captured that very well.




Scattercat

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Reply #41 on: October 27, 2011, 03:42:56 PM
Yeah.  Basically, if you live long enough and avoid accidental death, you generally end up with a choice between heart failure and cancer.  Huzzah, or something.

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ElectricPaladin

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Reply #42 on: October 27, 2011, 03:45:15 PM
Yeah.  Basically, if you live long enough and avoid accidental death, you generally end up with a choice between heart failure and cancer.  Huzzah, or something.

Nah. Death is a mug's game.

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Unblinking

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Reply #43 on: October 27, 2011, 04:22:08 PM
Yeah.  Basically, if you live long enough and avoid accidental death, you generally end up with a choice between heart failure and cancer.  Huzzah, or something.

Exactly.  And plenty of people get it when they're young as well.  If it's not diagnosed in time, the survival rate is much lower, and it seems likely that neither she nor her husband would insist on her getting regular checkups, so I think that not diagnosing it early would be likely in her case.



Unblinking

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Reply #44 on: October 28, 2011, 01:33:25 PM
Was this the episode where DKT asked what our favorite childhood toys were?  I think it was.  I'll just pretend it was, at least.

For me, although Transformers have always been very high on my list of toys, there is one that tops it in my own childhood, though I certainly would not have admitted in my more self-conscious teen years:  Pooch Patrol.  

I'm not sure how widespread they were, so for those who haven't heard of it, it came out when I was in about grade school.  It was a stuffed dog toy, but the big selling point was that with a couple folds of fabric you could change the dogs mood from mellow to guard dog:






The commercial showed this being used in ways that even I as a kid knew were pretty dumb, like scaring an older brother who's terrorizing you.  I didn't have a terrorizing older brother that needed scaring, but I would've known that it wouldn't've worked anyway.  It was, however, very effective against monsters under the bed.

When I saw the commercials I knew I wanted it, and my dad got it for me for my (9th?) birthday.  He didn't get me the one that I'd asked for (there were 4 different breeds), but it was awesome all the same.  Pooch is still in my storage room with a bunch of other stuffed animals and old toys I haven't wanted to part with.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 02:10:30 PM by Unblinking »



kibitzer

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Reply #45 on: November 01, 2011, 08:38:30 AM
Was this the episode where DKT asked what our favorite childhood toys were?  I think it was.  I'll just pretend it was, at least.

For me, although Transformers have always been very high on my list of toys, there is one that tops it in my own childhood, though I certainly would not have admitted in my more self-conscious teen years:  Pooch Patrol.  

Well, God. If we're baring our souls like this, mine was a golden-haired rabbit I called "Junior". He squeaked when you squeezed his belly.


Mex5150

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Reply #46 on: January 17, 2012, 12:39:44 AM

Hi,

I'm a big roughty-toughty Glaswegian biker (complete with long hair and a silly beard), but I cried like a little girl with this one.

This was a double whammy for me, when I was growing up although my farther was always there, he was also very distant. I never really got to know him that well. After he died I started hearing stories about him, and discovered just how similar we were. The second whammy was my kids are Eurasian, so again it cut deep.

This was without doubt the best PodCastle (or in fact any of the 'pod' family) story I have listened to so far. As others have said, more from this author please.

I normally don't say this, but this story really should have used either a native Chinese reader or someone that could speak fluent Chinese.  While I'm sure Mr. Khanna tried his best, the Chinese language is very tonally dependent.
I do agree, I have commented on this before (although that was about the Thai language). I am not a native speaker of either language, but speak it well enough to be temporarily jared out of the story by mangled pronunciations, like yicheng, I am not attacking the narrator, it is VERY hard to get right.

-Mex





justenjoying

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Reply #47 on: February 05, 2012, 02:59:27 AM
Any one know how to fold an oragami tiger, or a good video on how too
I found a website and got super stuck on step 11
here's the link if anyone wants to try it and get back to me:



DKT

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Reply #48 on: February 20, 2012, 05:22:29 PM
Congrats to Ken, who is now a Nebula nominee for this story (as well as his novella: The Man Who Edited History: A Documentary).


Unblinking

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Reply #49 on: February 21, 2012, 03:19:09 PM
Congrats to Ken, who is now a Nebula nominee for this story (as well as his novella: The Man Who Edited History: A Documentary).

Always good to see an award nomination that I think is really deserving.  Usually I am just left perplexed.  :)