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Author Topic: PC203: Buried Eyes  (Read 4272 times)
Ocicat
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« on: April 03, 2012, 10:50:04 AM »

PodCastle 203: Buried Eyes

by Lavie Tidhar.

Read by Graeme Dunlop.

Forthcoming in Postscripts.

The half-dressed girls passed silently between the lying figures, their bare feet making no sound as they stepped on the sand. Low-lying metal braziers cast a shifting glow and made the girls’ shadows move as of their own accord. Gorel of Goliris lay on his back on the thick rich carpet under the stars and what he saw no one could tell.
One of the girls stopped and knelt beside him. ‘Are you comfortable?’ she asked. She took his hand and put two long, graceful fingers against his wrist. ‘It is time for another one?’
She waited; presently, Gorel closed and opened his eyes. The girl, used to such minute communication, took it for assent.
The long thin needle was almost translucent but the nature of the material passing through it had stained it in fantastical whorls of yellows and reds . It was the quill of a small desert dweller; Gorel had captured and eaten several of its kind. The girl held his arm and her practiced fingers searched his naked flesh. Gorel’s lips moved, though little sound escaped. The girl stroked his hair. ‘Soon now,’ she murmured. ‘Soon. Hush now.’
Finding a suitable place, she pressed the needle into his arm with one practiced motion. The needle was attached by a long thin tube to a contraption of metal and glass standing upright beside Gorel and the girl. The bottom component was a glass jar filled with water. A pipe ran up and into a metal bowl. The girl moved her hand over the bowl and murmured words, too quiet to be heard. The bowl began to smoke. The smoke had a sweet, pungent smell. Everyone at the place knew it intimately. The water in the jar began to bubble. The girl took hold of a bulb attached to the side of the device and began to pump it. The water bubbled harder, and the smoke grew more intense. A sluggish substance began to drizzle down the long tube and into the needle. Gorel sighed, a weak exhalation of air, and closed his eyes. The girl continued to pump, and with her other hand stroked Gorel’s hair. ‘Better now,’ she said. ‘Everything is fine now.’


Rated R for violence, drug use.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 10:06:34 AM by Talia » Logged
Anarquistador
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2012, 09:51:44 AM »

Fish-men, lost homelands, and magical gunslingers.

Awesome.

More! I demand more stories of Gorel and his futile search for his home!

What I liked most of all were the hints of the larger universe. It really does feel like what the Dark Tower series SHOULD HAVE been. And that's a good thing indeed.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2012, 11:01:29 AM »

This story was freaking brilliant! I loved every grim, gritty, bloody moment of it. I want more! More Gorel. More six-guns and sorcery. More dust.

Give me the dust, Dave.

Anyway, there was absolutely nothing about this story that wasn't perfect. I know - it makes for a boring post. What can I do to dress it up... Oh, I know. We can celebrate the rare appearance of a completely perfect story.

TONIGHT, WE WILL GET DRUNK!

Ahem. Apparently sometimes I'm even less coherent at 8:52 AM than I am at 6:24 AM. Good to know, I guess.

Anyway, what I liked best about this story, other than the perfectly placed plot, the entertainingly gritty characters, the tone - loyal to the themes of sword-and-sorcery, but with a modern twist - the delicately evoked sense of a larger setting just beyond the horizon, and the evocatively weird elements scattered throughout. Ha ha! Fooled you! You just read a list of everything I liked about the story in detail!

Ok. I'm going to just quit while I'm ahead.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2012, 12:14:27 PM »

I really enjoyed this story, though I have to concede that I'm at a loss to say why.

I don't use drugs, so I don't identify with that aspect; I'm something of a pacifist, so ditto with the guns. And so on.

But I can't wait to read more stories about this guy. I really want to know what's up with the Pot-Bellied God...
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LaShawn
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2012, 12:01:53 PM »

Gritty...and yet, sad. I've been talking with a friend who has a family member succumbing to alcoholism, and having an alcoholic father myself whose also struggling with a gambling addiction, listening to this resonated with me. Probably the most intriguing part was when Gorel succumbs to the old man spell and for a brief time, is happily married (though, with all the the sex parts, I couldn't help thinking "she's not real, she's a...ewwwwww..."). But then the addiction rises in him and breaks the spell, which saves him, I guess. So which is better: to be caught in a spell free of addiction, or in real life suffering from cravings and withdrawal?

Anyway, great story. Would love to hear more.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2012, 12:10:07 PM »

By the way, the addiction-as-worship metaphor is really bouncing around in my head right now. I mean, why not? Wouldn't the experience of the divine be sublime, attractive, even addictive? And why wouldn't the most selfish and short-sighted of the gods be willing to turn their followers into vegetables to reap the benefits of that most intense of worship, that most complete of sacrifices - the sacrifice of a life that goes on and on and on? What kind of power could those foolish gods gain from this shortcut, and what would be the consequences for the other gods?

Oh, man. I'm totally stealing this one. Sorry Lavie. It's mine now Tongue.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2012, 12:47:18 PM »

(with all the the sex parts, I couldn't help thinking "she's not real, she's a...ewwwwww...").

I wasn't entirely sure, until later, whether she was really a ... 'ewwwwww' ... or just an illusion. When it became clear, that was another reason I should have disliked the story, but still didn't.
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2012, 04:34:58 PM »

This was a really well-executed old-school sword-and-sorcery story in everything but its setting, which deviated from the mould slightly. It's not my favourite sub-genre of fantasy, but when it's done as well as this, I really do enjoy it a lot, and this was no exception.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2012, 05:12:41 PM »

Wow. It's like "Tower of the Elephant" directed by Sergio Leone. It's sword-and-six-shooter spaghetti sorcery!

(and it didn't try *too* hard to shoehorn itself into U.S. chronology or, really, much of U.S. anything....)
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danooli
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« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2012, 05:39:06 PM »

Way cool!!  Loved it, everything.  I didn't think I'd be the only one either  Grin  So glad that there's more of this out there, I might need a fix.

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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2012, 11:41:19 AM »

Swords Guns and sorcery at it's creepiest! I loved how there was so much going on behind the scenes but we only got the most tempting glimpses of it sprinkled throughout. Also, the imagery when Gorel was forcing his vision to switch back and forth between reality and the illusion was really compelling. I loved how the behavior of the people within the illusion was quite realistic, and yet just a bit off. For me, this was brought home after he gouged out his "wife's" eyes: the townspeople stared at him in horror, but stood still and didn't resist when he gouged their own eyes out.

I'd love to hear more about the "previous adventures of Gorel and Jericho" as well as about Gorel's travels on his way back home. I have a feeling there are a lot more adventures where this one came from!
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2012, 07:59:06 PM »

"Ghost town."  Oh, Lord.
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2012, 09:22:54 PM »

Game, Set, Match. I liked this one all around.

Rarely do I feel that sex adds much to stories, and this wasn't an exception I don't know that it added much to my thoughts on Gorel, its certainly added to the creepiness and added some eww and even a hint of black humor as even beyond the lack of needing it, the continuation of the sex beyond or or two iterations kind of broke the effect. This is a small nitpick really.

The mixture of drugs and religion, as well as having the addiction actually prove helpful just blew me away. In a similar fashion as non-neurotypical thoughts saved folks in Counting Cracks, this takes something we don't usually see as being presented in a useful light.

And digging a wee bit deeper into drugs and addiction and religion. If one would feel the touch of a god, or a God, as it were and was part of everything connected to the very lifeblood of their universe how could ones normal life compare? Even the briefest hint that there was so much more and one might be ruined. I think it would be great to see that idea explored further.
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Djinndustries
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« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2012, 11:11:40 PM »

So, while the story was interesting and good, what blew me away was Graeme's reading. Holy shit, you've got range that you don't usually use, Graeme. That was an amazing reading. I was really, really impressed. I'd like to hear you do more stories that have the broad range of characters that you went through in this one. Cheers.
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AliceNred
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2012, 09:11:50 AM »

I am going to try and find a copy of the story. I think it needs to read. That is not to say that Graeme's reading wasn't amazing. It was. Loved the Clint Eastwood quality he gave to the gunslinger.

I love Cross-genres. A good story has many elements: love, danger, sex, sacrifice, tragedy, humor. What can I say, I am a gluten. I want it all, and this one gave me a lot to saver.

I love a story where a setting is solid. Too many stories out there are set somewhere in our modern, white bread world. A setting is culture.

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benjaminjb
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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2012, 09:59:37 AM »

Like everyone else in the multiverse, I enjoyed the story and Graeme's reading (at first I thought Gorel's voice was a little too gritty, but I, first, got used to it, and second, understood why he made that choice and felt it fit the character).

But I would like to hear more about Dave's comment about why this version of guns & sorcery/the weird west resonated with him. There were certain elements that I found interesting and thematically promising--a Western land of diffuse godhood and sorcery (not just the drug-worship connection but the fish-men god's fall and transformation--which dovetails in some ways with Gaiman's account in American Gods of America as a land inimical to divinity (wonder if Gaiman/Tidhar's Englishness/Jewishness colors this in any way)).

But in some other ways, this seems pretty standard guns & sorcery setting. Mind you, I don't think that's a bad thing absolutely. The dance of genre is often about repetition and differentiation, and a slightly used setting can be used to show off some new work in other ways; here, I almost think the "drugs saved my life" angle is the important issue. (But I'm suffering from a cold, therefore oxygen-starved, so I might read this tomorrow and disagree totally.) 
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2012, 12:30:02 PM »

I was totally remiss, above, in not mentioning Graeme's excellent reading. Very nicely done, Graeme!
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LaShawn
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« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2012, 02:26:12 PM »

Ditto, ditto Graeme! Well done on the reading!
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bluetube
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« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2012, 03:48:53 PM »

I liked this one, mostly. The beginning had me confused... was it the fishman who attacked the place where was Gorel living? When he found Gorel, the Fishman didn't know it was him at first. Surely he was looking for Gorel, since he needed Gorel's services for his expedition. Or did I miss something there?

The rest of the story kept my attention, generally. The obvious American western theme was less appealing... I just can't see why it's necessary in a fantasy... but no big deal.

I liked the idea of Gorel breaking out of the sorcerer's spell through his craving for the drug. The gratuitous sex, earlier, seemed unnecessary and out of place... it could just as easily have been a loving reunion with wife and children, with the promise of more. That said, I guess Gorel's having been intimate with a withered corpse did add to the revulsion factor. I suppose the sorcerer was having fun manipulating Gorel's mind.

With the spooky corpse village and the two warnings earlier, I did wonder if this story was more suited to PseudoPod.

Overall, enjoyable and I'd like to hear more from these characters.
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rotheche
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« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2012, 03:57:02 AM »

Elric meets Roland Deschain Smiley

I got a real kick out of this.  There's something larger than life about westerns - archetypes striding across a magnificent landscape - and that can meet up with sword and sworcery. (Conan as a gunslinger would be interesting.)

I've also just gone and picked up Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God on my e-reader, so there's another one on Mount To-Read.

And more kudos to Graeme for the reading.
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