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Author Topic: PC185: This Strange Way Of Dying  (Read 3064 times)
Ocicat
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« on: November 29, 2011, 12:30:17 PM »

PodCastle 185: This Strange Way Of Dying

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

read by Marguerite Croft.

Originally published in GigaNotoSaurus.  Read it here!

Georgina met Death when she was ten. The first time she saw him she was reading by her grandmother’s bedside. As Georgina tried to pronounce a difficult word, she heard her grandmother groan and looked up. There was a bearded man in a top hat standing by the bed. He wore an orange flower in his buttonhole, the kind Georgina put on the altars on the Day of the Dead.

The man smiled at Georgina with eyes made of coal.

Her grandmother had warned Georgina about Death and asked her to stand guard and chase it away with a pair of scissors. But Georgina had lost the scissors the day before when she made paper animals with her brother Nuncio.

“Please, please don’t take my grandmother,” she said. “She’ll be so angry at me if I let her die.”

“We all die,” Death said and smiled. “Do not be sad.”

He leaned down, his long fingers close to grandmother’s face.

“Wait! What can I do? What should I do?”

“There’s not much you can do.”

“But I don’t want grandmother do die yet.”

“Mmmm,” said Death tapping his foot and taking out a tiny black notebook. “Very well. I’ll spare your grandmother. Seven years in exchange of a promise.”

“What kind of promise?”

“Any promise. Promises are like cats. A cat may have stripes, or it may be white and have blue eyes and then it is a deaf cat, or it could be a Siamese cat, but it’ll always be a cat.”

Georgina looked at Death and Death looked back at her, unblinking.


Rated PG.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 08:15:50 AM by Talia » Logged
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 09:30:38 AM »

Ah, anthropomorphic personifications, always fun.  Particularly seeing different authors' takes on Death.

I enjoyed meeting Death and Red Death (was waiting for the other Death to creep around, but I didn't see him...).  I liked the bargain for a promise, very devious to pull that kind of bargain in a time of desperation.

But, I found the protagonist to be a self-entitled whinerbaby.  She knew the bargain she was making at the beginning, but when Death comes to collect, she whines and complains her way out of it as if she deserved it somehow.  Sweetheart, you extended your Grandma's life by 7 years by making your bargain, and then you back out when it's time to collect?  How would you have felt if Death had made a bargain and you had fulfilled your end but then he'd backed out of his?  I was honestly rooting for Death to either force the bargain or to collect with interest, perhaps by killing her immediately, or by cursing her so that she would kill anyone she touched, or maybe by making her live in the underworld until the time of her planned death.  My jaw dropped when he allowed her to talk him into spending just one day with him instead of marrying him.  Like, dude, you had a cushy bargain going that she agreed to and you're backing down?  That's like trading your Lamborghini for a Razor scooter.  It says something for the story that I was rooting FOR Death.
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Swamp
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 01:22:45 PM »

This was a good story.  I liked it.  Marrying death could have it's advantages.  I kept waiting for Death to explain all the things she would be able to do and share with him, but it never happened.  And she didn't even ask.  I agree that the Georgina was a weak protagonist in that she really didn't have any idea of what she wanted, and was quite flaky, but the concepts of the story really won me over.  I like that there was more than one Death and that they were considered siblings.

As for how I would like to see Death, I am still holding out for Mandy Patinkin from Dead Like Me, only he should appear in the guise of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride and say, "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. I have killed your fathers. Prepare to die."
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dragonsbreath
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2011, 03:43:25 PM »

A really good story. Not much to say accept to comment on the story's effect on the host. It seemed to inspire Dave Thompson to use about every known cliche about death and living.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 09:59:47 PM »

This struck me as a classic piece of Latin American Magical Realism (especially in the way Georgina is more afraid of her mother's reaction than Death himself). Reminded me of "Like Water for Chocolate", "100 Years of Solitude" & etc., As well as being a good story. Reminds me of the breadth of what we call Fantasy.

And as for who I would like to see as Death... well, that would a toss-up between Neil Gaiman's Death, and the Hunter S. Thompson knock-off Col. Hunter Gathers, snarling at me "What are doing, you unconscionable bastard?? feeling *sorry* for yourself??? You could have born with no arms or legs into some Third World sh!thole or a thousand years ago and never made it past seven!! I don't know about you. but  if I were you, I'd consider myself DAMN lucky, you crybaby!!!!"
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 02:25:38 AM by InfiniteMonkey » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 09:59:30 AM »

Oh yeah, and on the question of what Death I'd like to see, I just really like Pratchett's Death.  he seems like such a nice guy.  I want to go to his house and fiddle around with all of his faux furnishings.
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danooli
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2011, 08:54:44 AM »

Another great story, PodCastle Smiley   I also don 't have much to say about the story itself, I was rooting for Death though, even though he wanted to marry a girl he met when she was 10 (a bit icky, but whatever.)

Interestingly, I had just finished a book about a Grim Reaper, but this one ("First Grave on the Right" by Darynda Jones) was a live woman who was born to be a portal to heaven, or The Grim Reaper.  It was pretty funny and sexy and entertaining, but I think it would mostly appeal to women.  It's also the first in a series...
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Listener
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2011, 09:57:22 AM »

Oh yeah, and on the question of what Death I'd like to see, I just really like Pratchett's Death.  he seems like such a nice guy.  I want to go to his house and fiddle around with all of his faux furnishings.

What about William Sadler as Death in "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey"?

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« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2011, 09:54:08 AM »

Another great story, PodCastle Smiley   I also don 't have much to say about the story itself, I was rooting for Death though, even though he wanted to marry a girl he met when she was 10 (a bit icky, but whatever.)

But there was no proposal until she was 17, so it doesn't seem icky to me.  Tongue  Plus it's Death, who is as multicultural as you can get, so one cultures definition of ethics may not apply.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2011, 02:55:54 PM »

Not my favorite PodCastle in the world. The MC kind of drove me up the wall with her passivity, and then her final insistence on going after Death seemed really out of character. Also, is "a promise" some kind of code for marriage that I don't know about? Because I was right there with her when she protested that she didn't know what she was promising. And then she immediately made the exact same mistake by not asking the pertinent questions...

Hmm, favorite personification of Death... I must say I'm partial to that of "Come Lady Death" of PodCastle episode 1 fame. Anyone who hasn't already should make a point to go listen to our castle in the sky's very first episode. Smiley Though that "I've killed all your fathers" line from Swamp had me falling out of my chair... Cheesy
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2011, 05:00:18 PM »

Also, is "a promise" some kind of code for marriage that I don't know about? Because I was right there with her when she protested that she didn't know what she was promising.

I don't know of "promise" being a code for marriage (though I guess that would make sense, since marriage vows are a specific kind of promise).  When she asked for the bargain, he asked for a promise, and they both knew that the promise was not yet for anything specific.  Yes, it's not a fair deal, but he was not sneaky about it.  He did not trick her into the bargain.  She could choose to say "No", and her grandma would die just as she would have otherwise.  But because she chose to make an open-ended promise she was able to overcome death itself.  She even realized it to the extent that she asked what the promise was for and he spouted flowery and nonsensical poetry about cats being cats and promises being promises, that seemed to me to say "Telling the details of the promise is not part of the deal.  Take it or leave it, sweetheart."

So what did she owe him?  Whatever he chose to demand, whenever he chose to demand it.  That's what the bargain was.  He could ask her to kill someone.  He could ask her to become his assistant.  He could ask her to make him a sandwich.  He did ask her to marry him.  And by the bargain, she had to say yes.  Not fair, perhaps, but she chose to agree, and it bothers me that she got out of the deal without any real consequences that I could tell (she had a lot of angst, but that seemed to be caused by herself, not by him).


« Last Edit: December 08, 2011, 05:02:43 PM by Unblinking » Logged
LaShawn
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2012, 01:15:33 PM »

Hmm. I seem to be in the minority in that her whininess didn't bother me a bit. Her family had groomed her to become the timid creature she was, and she feared her mother more than death itself.

I found this story rather charming in the inexperience of both the MC and Death. You have Death the ruler over, uh, death, but is clueless when it comes to courting. I liked how he thought a dead pigeon would make a nice gift. And he really didn't specifiy the terms of the promise, which smacks of immaturity as well. The MC, on the other hand, is too frightened to do anything to incur the wrath of her mother, but then when her heart is taken, realizes there is more to life than being the dutiful daughter. Her going out to get her heart, and chew out death, was rather sweet. It showed me she was finally standing up for herself and taking her life into her own hands. Uh...by giving over to Death. Anyway, I liked it.
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2012, 07:56:21 AM »

Hmm. I seem to be in the minority in that her whininess didn't bother me a bit. Her family had groomed her to become the timid creature she was, and she feared her mother more than death itself.

[Getting caught up with Podcastle, been out of the loop for awhile]

I agree.  Plus what young girl wouldn't promise anything and everything to save her grandmother.  Most kids don't really understand consequences, let alone long-term ones, at that age.  7 years is forever to a child.

I've really enjoyed all of Moreno-Garcia's stories that I've heard/read.
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