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Author Topic: PC178, Giant Episode: Braiding the Ghosts  (Read 3698 times)
Talia
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« on: October 11, 2011, 08:38:56 AM »

PodCastle 178, Giant Episode: Braiding the Ghosts

By C.S.E. Cooney

Read by Kara Grace

Originally published in Clockwork Phoenix 3.

That first year, when Nin was eight, she wanted her mother so desperately. But Noir was dead, she was dead, and would always be dead, thanks to Reshka.

Reshka liked to say, “I’m not above keeping ghosts in the house for handmaids and men-of-all-work. There must be ghosts for sweeping, for scrubbing, ghosts for plunging the toilets or repairing the roof, ghosts to fix the swamp cooler and to wash and dry the dishes. But,” said Reshka, “but I will be damned—I will be damned and in hell and dancing for the Devil—before I summon any daughter of mine from the grave.”

So Reshka had Noir cremated three days after her death. Afterward, she prepared the funeral feast in Noir and Nin’s small apartment kitchen.


Rated R: Contains Some Disturbing Imagery and Sex.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2011, 11:32:07 AM by Talia » Logged
Scattercat
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2011, 04:39:19 AM »

An excellent story, although I had to listen to the first fifteen minutes a second time.  There's some very rapid movement in there, which is a bit odd, considering how slow it goes later on.
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2011, 06:16:04 PM »

WOW! Very nice.

As soon as Reshka started going on about using ghosts to do household chores, I knew we were in for a different kind of ghost than I was used to.

A story about the multiple prices of magic.
The personal price that Nin paid while casting the spell, as well as the effort required in learning all the pieces of doing it, that's almost standard.
But there's also the personal price of risk that Reshka does everything she can to minimize, and ends up falling prey to after all. In dealing with that same risk, Nin gambles heavily on her relationship with her ghost. Also in the background is how Reshka pays the price for her sorcery in general by being outcast from the rest of the world, even to the point of having a child with a ghost.

On a side note, as Nin has her ghost tryst, I couldn't help but wonder if Reshka started Noir going in the same fashion....

Noir had seen the price paid by her mother, but didn't want to pay the same price herself, and so left to walk among the living.

I quite enjoyed it.
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 03:44:23 PM »

The story felt VERY long. Interesting and different, but I feel it could've been done shorter. Not a LOT shorter, but maybe a couple thousand words? Either that or it had to be a full YA novel (except for the girl-on-ghost-given-flesh sex segment). There was a lot going on here, and maybe the author is thinking about turning it into a novel, but as it is now the length just feels... off, somehow.

There was a part of the narration that suddenly got very quiet. I believe it was around the 30-minute mark of the file. Might've been my device; not sure.
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2011, 04:06:53 PM »

Loved it. Just, loved it. It was brilliant and strange and vicious and sad. I want Nin to be my character.
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« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2011, 08:06:52 PM »

Wow. I explained this story to someone by saying that it was a love story with lots of creepy and arguably inappropriate stuff thrown in for the halloween angle. Some of it made me squeamish, but overall I really enjoyed this one. Particularly the dream sequences under the willow, and most particularly when Noir's mom first meets Mason. Smiley

My only criticism was that it wasn't explained why her mom wanted her to learn everything when she herself had clearly rejected that way of life. Her mom had moved on to the world of the living, so why did she want her daughter to learn about the world of the dead?
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2011, 03:44:27 PM »

Hooray for another of my favorite CSE Cooney stories! I always enjoy the way she juxtaposes disturbing and creepy details with lush and evocative prose. And of course any story where the villain gets proper comeuppance gets bonus points from me.
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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2011, 01:09:12 PM »

I haven't finished this one, but my attention got sidetracked a few minutes into it wondering if eating human ashes would be considered cannibalism. Then I got further distracted trying to remember the term for transubstantiation. Sorry. This had nothing to do with anything, but anyway I thought it was an interesting question. So far, I'm enjoying the story. I'll finish it on my way home tonight.
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« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2011, 09:28:49 AM »

My only criticism was that it wasn't explained why her mom wanted her to learn everything when she herself had clearly rejected that way of life. Her mom had moved on to the world of the living, so why did she want her daughter to learn about the world of the dead?

I think that she wanted Nin to learn so she could overthrow Reshka.  Noir could not do it herself, because she was not strong enough, but Nin was physically stronger, so had a better chance.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2011, 11:07:55 PM »

My only criticism was that it wasn't explained why her mom wanted her to learn everything when she herself had clearly rejected that way of life. Her mom had moved on to the world of the living, so why did she want her daughter to learn about the world of the dead?

I think that she wanted Nin to learn so she could overthrow Reshka.  Noir could not do it herself, because she was not strong enough, but Nin was physically stronger, so had a better chance.

Ahh, okay that makes sense. Thanks! Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2011, 08:57:42 AM »

This was a magnificent story. I was entirely absorbed in this world where non-corporeal ghosts can manipulate corporeal objects, including the living. A twisted tale of love, hate, sex and haunted houses. Does it get any better?

Just a side note: Kara Grace did a wonderful job narrating. A large part of what immersed me so much in this story was her vivid narration. She really brought the characters to life (pun intended). This was an excellent debut, and I hope to hear more from her.
On a more technical note, it might have been just my player, but there were sections of the story that were softer and others that were louder. It was rather hard to keep up with the changes in volume, trying to hear the story on the one hand, and not blow my eardrums out the next time it got louder again. I fully understand that the narration of a long story (and even short ones) must be done in sections, and that narration of such quality means that there are many more unusable portions and that selections are constantly being clipped and pasted. However, I think a little more effort could be put into a constant recording environment, or even volume correction in post.
Maybe I'm spoiled, but the audio quality that I've come to expect from Escape Artists is rather high (that's a compliment people!). This one fell short.
But that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story.
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2011, 10:17:02 AM »

On a more technical note, it might have been just my player, but there were sections of the story that were softer and others that were louder. It was rather hard to keep up with the changes in volume, trying to hear the story on the one hand, and not blow my eardrums out the next time it got louder again. I fully understand that the narration of a long story (and even short ones) must be done in sections, and that narration of such quality means that there are many more unusable portions and that selections are constantly being clipped and pasted. However, I think a little more effort could be put into a constant recording environment, or even volume correction in post.

My take on what was happening here:  Kara was probably using a stationary microphone, rather than a headset.  As she moved around, either to emote the story, check her phone, or check on the cat that I think I heard in the background, she moved away from the mic, and back to it.  There were also parts that were clipped in at production time, but that happens every episode.  They're usually pretty easy to catch.  I like catching audio artifacts, I know one narrator (can't remember who) has a bird, and I often hear Mur's doggie walking into the room. 
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2011, 11:36:23 AM »

Man, I was so mad when Reshka killed the cat in the beginning of the story I said to myself "Man, Nin better kill this bitch. That was an awesome cat."

Anyway, I thought the story was ok and the narration was good. The weird thing about the story was how easily Reshka fell to the ghosts. I had expected her defenses would be a little more elaborate than a couple of rings of salt and a silver cloak. It seemed rather too simple to defeat her. Really? She's over a hundred years old and still going strong, but some water poured into her salt trenches defeats her... what was all that crap about enemies and other sorcerers? I would think that her paranoia about the ghosts and enemies would have made it so that she would have been safer from a few buckets of water.

Also, why bother to bind stupid ghosts to your will just to have slaves? There seems little to no point in having a slave that would destroy your house or make living conditions so uncomfortable you have to double check everything they do just so you can avoid scrubbing your own back. It didn't seem like there was much of a payoff there. "Oh boy, rats in my bed again, haha ghosts, you almost got me there. Scrub my back bitches!"

Damn, I hate pulling stories apart sometimes. I did enjoy it, but meh, it tends to make the story less enjoyable.
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2011, 12:23:01 PM »

I got hung up on the kitty killing at the beginning and it took a lot to get me to finish the story.  It could be the fact that I had a bad taste leftover from kitty, but I merely LIKED this story. 
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2011, 11:19:24 PM »

I, too, had trouble tracking the story in the beginning, and was seriously pissed off when Grandma started drowning kittens. But it turned out to be a well-done story.

I also like to note that while I found the reading itself to be very good, the reader might wish to upgrade her sound equipment. Not only where there changes in volume (which I took to be retakes), but there were odd knocks and environmental noises which were distracting.
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2011, 11:38:37 AM »

PodCastle: where we murder cats for free every week!

Geez, Scattercat should be checking for poison in his Meow Mix at this point.

Honestly, I was able to get over the wholesale kitty slaughter and enjoy the story a whole heck of a lot. I really got lost in there. When it ended I was totally taken aback that I had forgotten I was "just" listening to PodCastle and not one of my Audible books. Very interesting story with arresting sensory details. Fabulous. And yeah, I also wondered if "getting your freak on" with a ghost was going to result in another Noir-type baby. But, thankfully, this wasn't "that kind of story." Yay for the way-cool ghost story. You guys rock.

And...
Kudos on the great narration. Yes, there were a few microphone-based burbles, but overall, it was superb and I look forward to more narration from her in the future.
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2011, 10:19:31 AM »

I had a little trouble sorting things out in this one, for some reason I had trouble keeping track of which name went to which character.  I didn't much care for the kitty-drowning, but I stuck through it, and Reshka wasn't exactly meant to be a relatable character, so I guess that's okay.

In the end I enjoyed the story quite a lot.  I really rooted for our protagonist and the sex scene with the ghost was hot!  I don't think I've ever said that before...  I do find it a little hard to believe that Reshka's defenses were so frail, but it worked well enough.

On a side note, as Nin has her ghost tryst, I couldn't help but wonder if Reshka started Noir going in the same fashion....

That's the impression that I got.  It was made very clearly that Reshka had little interest in the living, so I could see her copulating with a ghost to fill some lonely time.  And that would explain why Noir was so ghostly in appearance.

Also, why bother to bind stupid ghosts to your will just to have slaves? There seems little to no point in having a slave that would destroy your house or make living conditions so uncomfortable you have to double check everything they do just so you can avoid scrubbing your own back. It didn't seem like there was much of a payoff there. "Oh boy, rats in my bed again, haha ghosts, you almost got me there. Scrub my back bitches!"

Haha, love the quote there.  For a rational mind, I think you have a point, but I don't think Reshka was all that rational.  She distrusts the dead, but they are something that she knows how to control.  She trusts the living even less, and she knows she can't fully control them (try as she might, she failed utterly here and I think she could see that coming, but she expected it to be someone not of her blood).  The one thing that sets her apart from the rest of humanity is her sorcery, so she uses that pridefully as a shield, and uses it to distance herself from all those weak and pitiful normals.  But in the end her power turns on her.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2012, 11:25:18 AM »

Awesome story! Truly enjoyed it.

I know this may be hard to believe, but there were parts where I pitied Reshka. She never related to anyone, ghost or human. Probably the closest she would consider doing something good for Nin would be drowning the cat. Why wait until the cat die on its own? Kill it now and then raise it as a ghost, and she could stay with Nin forever. Then she's taken aback by Nin's reaction, and is like, "Well, fine! Raising animal ghosts is beneath me anyway."

Truly an evil grandmother indeed.

(Though I did like that Nin made a dreamworld version of her cat...part cat, part eel.)

Nice spooky descriptive story.
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