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Author Topic: PC208: Fable From a Cage  (Read 3864 times)
Talia
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« on: May 15, 2012, 12:35:31 PM »

PodCastle 208: Fable From a Cage

by Tim Pratt

Read by Dave Thompson

Originally published in Realms of Fantasy

Let me tell you a little fable, a story I crafted while sitting inside this dangling cage, where the rooks shit on me and steal my bread all day, and the smoke from your town fires stings my eyes all night.

Did you know the owls feed me? They bring me rats, mice, squirrels, and I eat them. That’s why I haven’t died yet. I’ll never die, not here, wait all you like.

My fable? Yes. Oh, yes. It will, most assuredly, have a moral. Hunker down and listen for it, boys.


Rated R: Contains Violence, some of it gristly.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
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danooli
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 07:29:41 AM »

I haven't finished the story yet, but i am curious about the article Ms. Hobson mentioned. Is the link available?
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Leishalynn
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2012, 11:36:42 AM »

Thanks, I needed that. <burp!>
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DKT
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2012, 01:08:01 PM »

I haven't finished the story yet, but i am curious about the article Ms. Hobson mentioned. Is the link available?

I think this is it.

Happy reading!
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2012, 09:14:52 AM »

My, that was certainly gruesome!

I will say that if it was Pratt's intention to have the identity of the narrator be a twist ending, he didn't succeed. He telegraphed it too much. But I don't think that was his intention. I do have to wonder how reliable the narrator is in first place, in fact. Given his situation. Is in all the fey witch's fault that he's where he is? Or is he making excuses for himself? Was he bad to the bone to start with? Or is it a case of power corrupting?

Though, frankly, hoarding hamburger freaked me out more. Go Figure.
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Listener
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2012, 10:52:41 AM »

This was a weird, disgusting, and somewhat disturbing story. Well written and well told, but not really groundbreaking, I think -- I kind of felt like Pratt has set the bar a little higher for himself and didn't quite hit it with this story. That said, the ending was pretty good -- I wasn't expecting the Thief to attack the Innkeeper's Grandson (the Smith's Son) through the iron bars; I'm not sure if there was enough foreshadowing for that to happen, or if it's a new power the Thief learned over the years (to get around iron even if he can't touch it).
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olivaw
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« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2012, 05:02:43 PM »

Substantial overlap with 'Gingerbread and Ashes' from a couple of weeks back, but while that one was full of revulsion and regret, this had hungry ambition running through it from the start.

I wonder, though, why the narrator told his audience exactly what they had to do to defeat him? Or was that where he was being particularly unreliable?
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2012, 08:02:17 PM »

I do have to wonder how reliable the narrator is in first place, in fact. Given his situation. Is in all the fey witch's fault that he's where he is? Or is he making excuses for himself? Was he bad to the bone to start with? Or is it a case of power corrupting?

Well, he did turn to thievery, only protested a tiny bit when the fey killed the innkeeper, and really she didn't kill the boy more out of being in a hurry than anything else, I'd say he wasn't exactly a boyscout to begin with and having all the time in the world to feel all powerful and immortal, well he could afford to feed his urges.

The topics involved were gruesome though I think Pratt did a fine job of giving one the feel of how icky it was without being overly detailed, and that is exactly why this doesn't qualify as horror, in the same fashion that the fable of Bluebeard is still a fable, despite the barrels of body parts.

I think that is what I liked the most about this story, it had the feel of folklore out there where the magic elements tend to very dark, eating something to gains its power is fairly common, I don't recall seeing eating everything elsewhere but certainly the heart.
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danooli
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2012, 06:00:48 AM »

I haven't finished the story yet, but i am curious about the article Ms. Hobson mentioned. Is the link available?

I think this is it.

Happy reading!

Thanks Dave!

Boy, that was a dark story.  I love me some Tim Pratt, normally, but this one was a hair too...dark...for my particular tastes.  That is certainly not to say that it was bad, or poorly written.  It was neither.  Just dark.
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timpratt
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2012, 01:22:48 PM »

I kind of felt like Pratt has set the bar a little higher for himself and didn't quite hit it with this story.

Well, it was only my second professional story sale ever, but I'm fond of it, so I was happy to see it here.

No twist ending intended. And I wouldn't believe much of anything the narrator says.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2012, 09:14:17 AM »

I enjoyed this one a lot, and having the context of it being only Tim Pratt's second sale makes it even better in my memory. (thanks so much for stopping by! Cheesy) Also, Dave's reading was fantastic as usual.

Like others I figured out about halfway through that the thief and the narrator were the same person, but instead of reducing the suspense it actually made me more curious to see how he ended up in the cage. I also really liked the pacing of the major reveals. One moment that really sticks out in my mind is when the fey woman pauses to wonder what those "sumptuous furs" in the pit had really been. *shiver*
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« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2012, 10:05:58 AM »

I enjoyed this one.  Not one of the best I've heard from Pratt, but that bar is pretty high these days, and the fact that this was his second publication isn't shocking.

I didn't see the ending as a twist.  I'd figured from the beginning that he was telling a story about himself just from the way he chose to tell it.  This was especially true when he gave further clues like this other person having a beard just like his, and then especially with the mention of the iron cage.  The details of the Fey woman felt novel to me even though much of it felt very familiar. 

To me the most interesting part was a particular detail: He was a man without morals from the very beginning, but he had one line in the sand--he refused to eat human flesh.  However, he did not have a problem eating Fae flesh, and once he ate her he took on some characteristics of her, and one of those characteristics is that she has set herself no such boundary and so by eating some inhuman flesh he thereafter has lost his own last moral boundary.  That was a neat detail (even though it may all be lies anyway).
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2012, 11:05:47 AM »

I really enjoyed the moral degeneration in this piece. The character gradually sinking into depravity and madness was really neat. I appreciate that, ultimately, it was his victimization that led to him becoming a victimizer. It was a cycle of violence and suffering that reminds me of real-life abusers, and of White Wolf's Changeling: the Lost.

One thing I want to point out is that, as the narrator is unreliable, we also don't know how bad he was before the fae lady (she, by the way, also reminded me of RPG material - the fae in White Wolf's Exalted) got to him. His current morally wretched state leading him to downplay whatever virtues he once possessed. I got the feeling that his primary failing was cowardice - failing to marry the woman he had loved and stand up to her father - and, later, a lack of conviction that led him to seek out the path of least resistance - petty theft.
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« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2012, 01:31:11 PM »

I really enjoyed this one, which was reassuring, as I'd been kind of disappointed in the last half-dozen Tim Pratt stories at various venues.  I was worried that all was lost.  I like a good antihero, and the foreshadowing throughout was highly entertaining.

And it's true: flying IS the fastest way to get to the blood.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #14 on: May 31, 2012, 01:35:47 PM »

I really enjoyed this one, which was reassuring, as I'd been kind of disappointed in the last half-dozen Tim Pratt stories at various venues.  I was worried that all was lost.  I like a good antihero, and the foreshadowing throughout was highly entertaining.

And it's true: flying IS the fastest way to get to the blood.

It's certainly faster than UPS.
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eytanz
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« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2012, 05:29:51 AM »

This one falls in the category of "something decent to listen to, but not particularly great". No real problems with it, just never really got hooked into it.

One thing I puzzled a bit about was that there was a strong implication that the thief had gotten the Captain's daughter pregnant, and I wondered what happened to the child - but as it was never brought up, I guess they were just caught In flagrante delicto and this was a society where known non-virgins couldn't marry?
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LaShawn
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« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2012, 12:54:29 PM »

I don't think I ever heard anything dark from Sir Tim. All I got to say is, "Me Likey!"

But then again, I've always been a sucker for evil fae tales. The ending was nice and chilly too, thanks to Sir Dave. Remind me not to stumble across you in a dark alley just as you're about to change into an owl.

::tucks iron in her purse just in case::
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« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2013, 02:44:51 PM »

This story made the final four in the Podcastle Best of 2012 Poll!  Voting is open until March 28th.
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