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Author Topic: PC169: The Duke of Vertumn's Fingerling  (Read 4731 times)
Talia
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« on: August 09, 2011, 09:25:22 AM »

PodCastle 169: The Duke of Vertumn's Fingerling

by Elizabeth Carroll

Read by Tina Connolly

Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read the story here!

After I opened my eyes they dressed me in silk. A bone-white gown slipped over my head and I raised my arms for it like a child. With my hair undone, I must have looked like a bride. I was nothing of the kind.

My gown hung on me like a sugar bag. I stood in scraps and patches of fabric. I bound ribbon around my waist, and crossed it over and over between breast and hip. I would be presentable if nothing else.

I was barely minutes old.


Rated R: Contains some violence.

« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 12:43:20 PM by Talia » Logged
Lionman
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2011, 12:12:55 PM »

This was a well-crafted story.  I liked how the story comes to a head where our Fingerling seems to be duped, her creator comes to her rescue and the two figure out a better way of life than to be left in the dubious service of another.  Of course she finds out just why she feels the way she feels, which seems to make things turn out in a satisfying ending.  The 'good guys' win. :-)
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grokman
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2011, 08:51:02 PM »

When the story first started, I had to check to make sure that I wasn't listening to PseudoPod. I've always associated humunculi with evil. Then again, THIS humunculus was an assassin... so maybe my first impressions weren't totally off-base. I found the story to be very charming, and I liked it when they were both owls - I wondered if they were the same size and if they would just live the rest of their lives as owls together. But the ending was still very satisfying, and now I want to hear more about what adventures Lil' Viola got herself into it.
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Spindaddy
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2011, 10:10:00 AM »

I liked this story a lot. Usually stories with a humunculus freak me out because they use dolls or something similar that leave me staring at toys wondering... did that just move? Are they were I left them? This story I thought was very sweet, especially given the origin of the fingerling. I found the doll house and all the clothing a nice touch as well. I especially enjoyed the revenge the fingerling took.  This was a great little love story, but in the end, if the alchemist could alter his shape so that he was barn owl, why could he not shrink himself?
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Devoted135
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2011, 08:59:29 AM »

The reading really made the story for me. Smiley I thought the relationship between the three main characters was well-drawn and I enjoyed watching Viola "grow up" though I did wonder if she misunderstood what her true nature was supposed to be. Also, the image of her "lounging in a book as though [she] were sitting in a meadow" was wonderful and made me wish I could do the same!
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2011, 11:59:50 AM »

I'll add my voice to the chorus in praise of this story. I very much enjoyed it.
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2011, 12:31:02 PM »

And...now for the voice of dissension. (Except for the part about the narration- which was excellent, really really good) I just couldn't get sucked in to this one. I had trouble with a "finglering" just waking up with all sorts of memories and human behavior but then having some serious lacks in other areas. To much like the all-to-convenient amnesia in soap operas. And then, he dies but gives her the Word which is for transformation but somehow magically allows her to conveniently heal him as well? How nice for them! For a second there I thought there would be some interesting zombie action, but no. And then, everyone can be an owl. So, why didn't he give her the word before and let her be her own transportation? And this miraculous appearing of him at the window in the nick of time? Tsk, tsk. Much to much Magic Solves All Our Inconvenient Problems here for my taste. At the end of the story it appears that no lessons have been learned no growth (other than the physically transformative kind) has been achieved. Same two people, just with their enemy conveniently dead.
Concept = interesting. World= generic. Plot= the word that beginning in "m" that must not be used.

I am on a seriously grumbly tear. And I have reached my quota of the word "conveniently". Going to grumble IRL.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2011, 03:36:15 AM »

Wonderful, loved every bit of it. I kept imagining an Incredible-Shrinking-Man-style spider fight, but, eh, you can't have everything :-)

It's odd how such a sweetness and gentleness is in the relationship between maker and creation, especially given the fingerling's purpose. But it was there, in spades, and underpinned the story. Lovely. And yes, Ms. Connolly's reading added immeasurably to the whole.
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2011, 09:44:59 AM »

I had trouble with a "finglering" just waking up with all sorts of memories and human behavior but then having some serious lacks in other areas. To much like the all-to-convenient amnesia in soap operas.

That was a plot point, actually.  She was made from his old girlfriend whom the Duke stole, and thus she had bits and pieces of that woman's memories and feelings.

---

I liked this story.  A good rendition of Thumbelina's Revenge with enough darkness to keep it spicy.  Though the title had me imagining a man in ducal garb bemusedly holding a very small potato.
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2011, 01:55:15 PM »

I had trouble with a "finglering" just waking up with all sorts of memories and human behavior but then having some serious lacks in other areas. To much like the all-to-convenient amnesia in soap operas.

That was a plot point, actually.  She was made from his old girlfriend whom the Duke stole, and thus she had bits and pieces of that woman's memories and feelings.


Mmmm. Maybe. I still would argue that later in the story it is said that she actually possesses those qualities that the magician does not have (or is not willing to use) a la Jekyll and Hyde (albeit prettier). So, from whence come the memories? The magician, his girlfriend, magic? I am attacking this from the self-discovery angle and concede that it was a good plot point as to why the magician hated the Duke. But, if you're going to make a tiny little simulacrum of your missing girlfriend -which is way creepy- and not give her the personality of the one you loved, what's the point? Irony? I guess the fairy-tale setting made me blind to irony.

Can I ask a real question? I felt in the story that I was missing something but, when he died, she would have died as well, yes? Since she would have no more of his blood? So, that wasn't really the altruistic act it seemed to be? Did I have my dunce hat on the day I listened to this? I'm beginning to think so.  Undecided

And yes, I actually cannot read the story title without picturing a Duke holding a little potato up to the light and frowning.

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« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2011, 05:27:40 PM »

I don't think he intentionally gave her the memories.  They just happened as a side effect of using his dead girlfriend's hair as a foundation for her creation.  He seemed upset and got all frowny whenever she brought up her unsourced memories.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2011, 10:05:14 PM »

I liked the pixie assassin, and I'm glad they did explain the annoying problem of how she remembers human things (as she's a clone, more or less, of her creator's lost love). All in all a pretty well-done story, though I can't help feeling sorry for the "fingerling", forever separate from company of her own. I kept expecting her to call Frankenstein's Monster on her creator's ass - "Make me a boyfriend!!!"
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LaShawn
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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2011, 04:03:30 PM »

Oh, how cute! A teeny, tiny assassin!

I liked this one, although I was a little put off near the end when suddenly, just like that, the fingerling does magic and hey, everything's okay now! I chalk it up to Tina's wonderful reading and the beautiful prose itself. Very nice indeed.
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« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2011, 02:27:36 PM »

Overall there really wasn't anything I disliked about the story except for when Viola suddenly has enough magic to heal Anton. I think I missed a few words in there somewhere.

And I think Tina Connolly is one of my favorite podcast readers.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2011, 03:03:56 PM »

This was a nice story, and I've decided I really like Tina as a reader. Thanks to the shiny new lists, I went and downloaded everything she's read.

The healing was a bit convenient, but this is PodCastle, not PseudoPod, so we need more happy endings. PseudoPod would have had him die and her waste away in starvation and go crazy. I like this story better.
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« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2011, 09:52:10 PM »

Thanks to the shiny new lists, I went and downloaded everything she's read.

Don't forget Pseudopod's sortable episode list over in Wikipedia.

Hmm. Reminder to self: must update list.
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« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2011, 10:15:42 PM »

Thanks to the shiny new lists, I went and downloaded everything she's read.

Don't forget Pseudopod's sortable episode list over in Wikipedia.

Hmm. Reminder to self: must update list.

Didn't mean to make those lists feel left out. I just already got those >.>; That final 5% eludes me
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« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2011, 01:00:31 PM »

I enjoyed this well enough.  I was waiting for some conflict to show up in the earlier parts, she was so good at her job that she never really had any obstacles, but there was enough interesting worldbuilding to string me along.  It was at the point that she was duped that I really started paying attention.  It seemed like a scam from the get-go, but with her limited world experience I can understand how she would fall for it. 

The ending with her performing magic came out of nowhere for me.  I'm still not quite sure how she's suddenly able to do whatever she wants; I suspect that I missed something.  Other than that I liked the story.
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« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2012, 07:02:08 AM »

I'm a recent new subber to PodCastle and listened to #175 the other day, at the end of which were the comments from this story. I was intrigued and had to listen. 

Enjoyed this a lot. Tina Connolly's reading style is perfect for the story (flirty, sexy, serious, sad). There was about the right amount of interest and tension for my tastes, and I liked the ending.

This reminded me of another story that I vaguely remember (it's partly why I had to listen to this in the first place), but I just can't recall the details. There were small assassins with similar weapons, possibly flying on dragonflies or small birds.  Does anyone know which story that could be?  I'd love to know  Smiley
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Fenrix
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« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2012, 11:36:09 PM »

Enjoyed this a lot. Tina Connolly's reading style is perfect for the story (flirty, sexy, serious, sad). There was about the right amount of interest and tension for my tastes, and I liked the ending.

If you dig Tina Connolly's readings, you should check out her current project Toasted Cake. Weekly flash stories for a year.
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