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Author Topic: PC221: A Hunter in Arin-Qin  (Read 13793 times)

Talia

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on: August 14, 2012, 03:02:58 PM
PodCastle 221: A Hunter in Arin-Qin

by Daniel Abraham.

Read by Amal El-Mohtar.

Originally appeared in Leviathan Wept, and Other Stories.

At first, when the lights of my home still glimmered in the darkness behind me, the cold only chilled. Then, pressing through the snow with the effort of the chase keeping me warm, the cold bit.
At the end, it comforted.
It meant the worst kind of danger, but with fear itself a distant thing, even danger failed to seem dangerous. Snow cracked under my feet and caked the wool of my leggings. I wrapped my father’s hunting cloak tight about me. I walked because I could no longer run. Before me, the beast’s tracks softened under new-fallen snow, and with every moment, new flakes conspired to hide them further. The sword strapped to my back grew heavy, and I doubted my strength, even if the opportunity came. My daughter’s doom whispered with every pine branch that brushed against me. Gone. Gone. Gone.
Slowly, the hunter within me–hard as stone and untouched by years of a different woman’s life–woke. Her eyes saw the fading edges of the beast’s track as time: two hours ahead of me, then three hours, then four. Her mind evaluated my shuffling stride and leaden hands. She tried to smile with my numbed lips; I felt her grim amusement. She knew a dead woman when she saw one.
I fell without knowing that I fell. My foot touched the snow. My knee touched it. My hip. My shoulders. The soft white filled my mouth and nose and eyes. It tasted like rain. I pressed my hands down, trying to rise, and the earth passed through my fingers like fog.


Rated R for violence.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: September 04, 2012, 03:48:04 PM by Talia »



Swamp

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Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 09:07:03 PM
Really, I am the first one to post on this one?  Wow, I never do that.

Well, I guess it's a good thing that I happened to really enjoy this story.  Daniel Abraham continues to impress.  The storywas was rich in culture, and by that I mean, the hunting culture in which the main character (and her daughter) were raised, apart from society at large, by choice as well as by funtction.  The reveal was magnificent,, as well as the backstory and the relationship between the two hunting companions.  I actually also felt an empathy toward The Beast and its motivations.  It was a tale well told.

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Reply #2 on: August 16, 2012, 03:05:28 AM
I don’t know if it was just me or where my head was at the time, but I had trouble paying attention to this one until chapter 5. That recollection of the abduction, in my opinion, should have begun the story as told, or at least should have been described earlier than it was. After hearing that, I rewound 20-odd minutes and was able to follow it from the beginning.

That aside, I enjoyed it, and I echo everything that Swamp said. The nonlinear structure was a little irritating in a story that didn’t call for it, but still, I liked everything else about it.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 09:29:52 PM by Frungi »



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Reply #3 on: August 16, 2012, 11:28:07 AM
I actually also felt an empathy toward The Beast and its motivations.

Indeed.  We have seen the monster, and it is us.

My sympathy was completely for the hunter following her lost daughter...until we find out how despite the monster's pleas to spare her children, she kills and eats them.  Years later, the hunter's daughter is responsible for the monster's death.  Talk about not being able to catch a break.

We don't know what the monster will do with the children ultimately, but I like to think she kidnapped the children not to harm them, but prove a point instead.  Perhaps the intent was to slay the kids before their parent's eyes, but we'll never know that now will we?  We never find out what sin the hunter's companion committed either.  I can't say the kidnappings were justified, but if the companion committed an act anything akin to the hunter, it's at least understandable.


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Reply #4 on: August 16, 2012, 12:06:26 PM
I did enjoy this one, but I found myself unable to figure out when we were in "the present" and when we were in "flashback." One minute, the woman and her companion were hunting the Beast, and found their children's clothing, and the next, the woman is killing the beast's eggs. I kept saying to myself, "Wait, what happened to the children? Where is the dude? TELL US WHAT HAPPENED!"

Then the 'flashback' was done and I belatedly figured out that I had managed to miss the transition. I think this is yet another story that "suffers" from the audio format in that there is really no good way to let the listener know the scene has shifted and that the time frame has changed.

Still, I enjoyed it even if it took two and a half commutes. (Which probably didn't help the whole "scene shift" part.)

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Reply #5 on: August 16, 2012, 04:04:07 PM
If anyone's interested, Daniel Abraham goes into what was behind the inspiration/challenge of writing this story on his blog Lizard Brain.


Then the 'flashback' was done and I belatedly figured out that I had managed to miss the transition. I think this is yet another story that "suffers" from the audio format in that there is really no good way to let the listener know the scene has shifted and that the time frame has changed.


FWIW, I believe the chapter breaks are indicators that the timeline is shifting/flashback. I know sometimes people are frustrated by chapters in short stories particularly), but I'd argue this is a pretty excellent way to use them (again, particularly in audio).


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Reply #6 on: August 16, 2012, 04:46:23 PM
Another great story. I was really surprised by the twist of the daughter slaying the beast. I may have missed it, was her age ever mentioned? I guess I assumed she was younger than a teen, or at least not old enough to save herself. However, that added to the twist.



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Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 07:16:18 PM
I may have missed it, was her age ever mentioned?
I don’t believe so.



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Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 11:24:44 PM
This was one of the rare times when a story was too long for me. It was a nice dark tale of endless cycling vengeance, but it was a little *too* endless in places.

I was also glad that Dave explained this was a "challenge" story at the end, because for me it was the other shoe dropping. I'd been thinking what a highly mannered (perhaps stylized is a better term) story this was, unlike a lot of Abraham's other stories. Now I see why. Sometimes these challenges can bring good results.. sometimes, not so much.



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Reply #9 on: August 17, 2012, 02:24:05 PM
Wow this story was long.  And the nonlinear structure, where a nonlinear structure was not at all needed, made it a hard trudge.

Like Frungi I was having trouble paying attention until Chapter 5, when the actual kidnapping took place.  At the beginning when she's saved from freezing to death, I had not learned enough to care what happened to her.  When she's hunting the monster I didn't really care about that until I found out why this monster was her focus right now.

I'm really sick of stories that jump forward and backward and forward and backward like this.  Except for stories that are particularly well-suited to it, I find the technique clumsy and ineffective.  Stephen King's "It" does well with it, because the child and adult stories are essentially parallels, and so are told in parallel.  In this case, and in most cases, it was just irritating because:
1.  The past scenes have no tension, because we know the outcome of what's going to happen.
2.  The past scenes kill the momentum of the present story.  Which in this case actually HAD a lot of momentum.
3.  This format tends to make the story much much longer than it ought to be, rather than just telling us what we need to know in the present.
4.  At least to me, I tend to view the prose as a filter to see the character's thoughts.  If it's a single POV like this that constantly shifts in time backwards, it gives me the distinct impression that the character is not living in the present, but instead is staring blankly into the distance while they think back in nostalgia.  Which doesn't really work when the present time has such time-critical tension to it.

I started really paying attention about the time that the flashback showed the taking of the daughter.  The twist where the daughter killing the monster was a good turning point that came much too late in a much too long story.

And in the end I really felt for the monster much more than I felt for the protagonist.  I would rather the monster have killed the protagonist and let the daughter go to show that she has the compassion to spare the children.  Even if the child would then come back and hunt the monster when she was grown, I would find that more fitting.



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Reply #10 on: August 19, 2012, 06:09:53 PM
Long time listener, first time poster.

I can't say that this was a good one. The twist was just a clumsy Deus Ex Machina. I don't mind a long story, but with the amount of time investment that this one required, I'd have liked something more then, "And then an unarmed girl single-handedly defeats the monster that slaughtered hundreds of soldiers. Somehow."

And why would the Beast not have detected the protagonist's approach and moved to defend her eggs rather than begging them to be spared from a minor distance?

I liked the world building and the concepts it was trying to explore but both conflict points with the Beast needed better plot design.



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Reply #11 on: August 20, 2012, 02:44:50 PM
I really liked this story.  I loved the twist at the end.  I loved how the story made me wonder what I might have done in the past that could make me appear as a "beast" to others. While I understand where other people didn't like how the story jumped around, I felt that by using chapters, it helped me keep track of where the story was at.  I've heard other stories on Podcastle|Pseudopod|Escape Pod that have flashbacks and have been terrible to follow.

The talk of the hunter observing the protagonist? in the beginning kind of had me confused until I realize that the hunter was a part of herself now returning to her (for reasons made obvious later in the story).  I really liked that and felt it added to the story.

In the end, describing her daughter as a monster more fearsome than the beast they hunted was great.  In the middle of the story, I was wondering what would happen if she finally caught up with the monster only to find that her daughter had killed it.  I pushed that thought off because the story had not told of the child's age.  Imagine my surprise when that's what ended up happening.

Great Story!



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Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 11:03:53 AM
I was not really that into this story, as it was just another one of those things that tries to make itself cool by jumping around in time, making it difficult for the listener to keep up, and being an artificial way to Keep information from the listener.
Then, for most of the story, I amused myself by wondering just how much of a single parent thing this was going to be. I mean, The Hunter talks about her relationship with her father, without even so much as mentioning that she had a mother, and her own daughter's father seemed to be there just to sire the daughter and then die. There's no talk of how she met her husband, or their relationship together, or of the husband with the daughter, or much of anything.
Then the end hit, and I did not see that coming. That was an excessively cool moment. Wow.
But in the end, it was an awesome moment in an OK story. Not enough to make the story great.



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Reply #13 on: August 22, 2012, 12:27:52 PM
Well, that story happened.

I had to shut it off after the first five minutes, unfortunately. While I generally enjoy this narrator, I felt the reading was too slow to keep my attention, with far too many pauses. And since I'm not a huge fan of epic fantasy, it would've been an uphill climb to get me to stick around with this particular reading and the fact that the entire episode was upwards of an hour. After I switched over to a Pseudopod episode from April (and that's not even my most backlogged podcast!), I tried to think if I had any epic fantasy on my bookshelf. Other than Lord of the Rings, nothing springs to mind. For me, epic fantasy has to be funny -- not all the time, but in general. My ideal epic fantasy series is the Moonworlds by Sean McMullen. Had this story been funny, or at least witty, in the beginning, I might have stuck with it longer.

Ah well. Perhaps next time.

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Reply #14 on: August 22, 2012, 02:04:40 PM
So...what was the word?

It's a point that stuck in my mind and I've been trying to puzzle out. The word that has no direct translation in the narrator's language, that means the world is permanently out-of-balance? I had it in my head that the man she met might have been European, as her world has a sort of Asian feel to it, so the word might have been "vendetta" or "omerta" or one of those Romance language words that says a lot in a few syllables.

Anyone else have a theory?

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Reply #15 on: August 22, 2012, 02:18:04 PM
Well, this was certainly a bite to chew! The alternating present (odd chapters) and past (even chapters) did not work for me, especially since the author broke that rule for a "middling time" for chapter 5 (?- I think it was 5?). Also, perhaps I need a new definition for "epic fantasy?"

Overall, I think there was a lot to like, especially the atmosphere of the piece. That last funeral scene was particularly affecting for me. As the MC was describing it, I kept on saying to her "your little girl better be at that funeral!" And she was, so I was satisfied. ::)



Frungi

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Reply #16 on: August 23, 2012, 12:19:12 AM
For me, epic fantasy has to be funny -- not all the time, but in general. … Had this story been funny, or at least witty, in the beginning, I might have stuck with it longer.
You didn’t miss much here, then. I enjoyed it, but I don’t recall any humor in it.



Frungi

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Reply #17 on: August 23, 2012, 12:39:00 AM
I just went to re-listen to part of this episode, and found that the link in the forum post is broken. It’s missing the “-Qin”.

So...what was the word?

It's a point that stuck in my mind and I've been trying to puzzle out. The word that has no direct translation in the narrator's language, that means the world is permanently out-of-balance? I had it in my head that the man she met might have been European, as her world has a sort of Asian feel to it, so the word might have been "vendetta" or "omerta" or one of those Romance language words that says a lot in a few syllables.

Anyone else have a theory?
I didn’t get the impression that the author had any actual word in mind. The way the MC described its use, it seems to me it could be translated as something like an authoritative “We [don’t have time/don’t have the resources/don’t want] to sort out this conflict in a satisfactory way, so just shut up and move on.”



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Reply #18 on: August 23, 2012, 03:04:26 AM
I just went to re-listen to part of this episode, and found that the link in the forum post is broken. It’s missing the “-Qin”.

Fixed!



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Reply #19 on: August 25, 2012, 03:29:39 PM
I also loved this one -- I'd call it one of my top five favorite Podcastle episodes. I would have enjoyed it with the ending I had anticipated, but it managed to completely surprise me, which always means more points in my book.



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Reply #20 on: August 30, 2012, 05:35:10 AM
First time poster.

I couldn't finish this one. I really wanted to like it, but I had to hit stop less than 1/2 way through.

I was not pulled into the character, so nothing that she did interested me. I didn't understand her motivations, who this father figure was, etc. I couldn' t keep my attention focused on it, so I couldn't really follow the plot.
The use of cliche made me cringe; black as ink, simile, simile, almost a nice metaphor hampered by another tired simile, teeth like razors, followed by another cliche.
The reading was very hard for me. She carried things on her "bock" and that made my eye twitch every time. I'm not a fan of feigned 'accents' and this just felt so forced.

That all being said, I have loved many a PodCastle story & I hope that this author puts something else out there that i can love.



amalmohtar

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Reply #21 on: August 30, 2012, 09:15:57 AM
Hello.

I'm sorry my reading didn't hold your attention, but I'm not feigning an accent. That is how I speak.

Not sure what else to say about that, really.



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Reply #22 on: August 30, 2012, 09:42:35 AM
I was delighted to have been asked to read this story. I loved it completely, and was pretty dazzled to learn that every thing that had struck me as unusual and unique about it had been part of that initial Challenge by Cat Valente: the very few lines of dialogue; the absence of "to be" verbs, which weighted every sentence with muscle; the protagonist herself. I just loved it.

I loved that this was a story where a man and woman become allies without any romance. I loved that it was a story in which we got an illustration of communication without words, that main characters spoke languages they didn't understand, and there was no "Common Tongue" cop-out. I loved that it was a story about a woman's love for her father and her love for her daughter, and that both relationships are weighted equally, and that we have a sense of how complex she is herself. I loved that it was okay for her and her daughter to fall back into their life of solitude and needing only each other. It was a very physical story; I felt the cold, the fatigue, the sense-sharpening near danger, all of it.

I'm sorry to see I enjoyed the process of reading it more than people seem to have enjoyed the listening of it. I'd suggest finding it in print if my narration didn't work out, because I think it's just that brilliant and effective.

About the daughter: I totally bought that she could kill her kidnapper. The creature wasn't expecting her to be able or willing to fight -- neither was her own mother. The line "my daughter, who waited for her opportunities, and took them" was all the explanation I needed.

Possibly the thing I loved best, thought, was the ending that reflected on its own injustice. The protagonist knows she did a terrible thing, and regrets it. The articulation of "the world has no place for justice" was this amazing gutpunch. It was such a stark, honest self-awareness.

In short, and at the risk of being redundant, I loved it.



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Reply #23 on: August 30, 2012, 12:30:40 PM
Then the 'flashback' was done and I belatedly figured out that I had managed to miss the transition. I think this is yet another story that "suffers" from the audio format in that there is really no good way to let the listener know the scene has shifted and that the time frame has changed.

FWIW, I believe the chapter breaks are indicators that the timeline is shifting/flashback. I know sometimes people are frustrated by chapters in short stories particularly), but I'd argue this is a pretty excellent way to use them (again, particularly in audio).

Oh. For what it's also worth, I never noticed a chapter break until I heard the fifth or sixth one? So perhaps the whole 'commute' thing detracted more than I thought. :)

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Reply #24 on: August 30, 2012, 01:15:50 PM
Hello.

I'm sorry my reading didn't hold your attention, but I'm not feigning an accent. That is how I speak.

Not sure what else to say about that, really.
At the risk of sounding like an ass-kisser, I for one, love your "accent" and your narrations.



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Reply #25 on: August 30, 2012, 02:37:38 PM
First time poster.

I couldn't finish this one. I really wanted to like it, but I had to hit stop less than 1/2 way through.

I was not pulled into the character, so nothing that she did interested me. I didn't understand her motivations, who this father figure was, etc. I couldn' t keep my attention focused on it, so I couldn't really follow the plot.
The use of cliche made me cringe; black as ink, simile, simile, almost a nice metaphor hampered by another tired simile, teeth like razors, followed by another cliche.
The reading was very hard for me. She carried things on her "bock" and that made my eye twitch every time. I'm not a fan of feigned 'accents' and this just felt so forced.

That all being said, I have loved many a PodCastle story & I hope that this author puts something else out there that i can love.


Hello.

I'm sorry my reading didn't hold your attention, but I'm not feigning an accent. That is how I speak.

Not sure what else to say about that, really.

This reminds me of back when Good Will Hunting came out, and some people at my college criticized Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's lame attempts at Boston accents.

"You...know they grew up in Boston, right?" I asked.

"Uh, whoops?" was the response.

--

This is coming up in this thread, after piscean's comments, so I want to stress that this is not aimed at piscean. It's more something I've been thinking about the last few months, and this seems like as good a time as any to mention it.

Unfortunately, PodCastle and Escape Artists as a whole do not (yet) pay our narrators. (I say "yet" because I am hopeful this will change, and hopefully soon.) We rely on volunteers to read our stories, simply because they love reading them. We have a diverse group of volunteer readers that we rely on to bring the best audio experiences. They put in literally hours of their free time just because they want to help tell awesome stories to our audience. So, I always get a twitch more defensive when our readers are criticized, or worse - raked across the coals. (FWIW, I don't think piscean was raking Amal across the coals. But I've seen it done to other readers from other stories, and, well, like I said. It makes me twitch. I'm defensive of our readers.)

Now, I am not saying, "Don't be critical." This is a forum for discussing fiction, so by all means be critical. But please be thoughtful, also. Remember The One Rule. A lot of time goes into this that you don't see, particularly on the side of our readers.

One of my favorite parts of doing PodCastle is reading a story in text, and trying to match it with the right voice. Maybe this isn't always successful - for instance, the surfer dude, who read that Ragnarok story - I don't know what we were thinking. But Amal's reading upped my love for a story I already loved, and I'm grateful for that.


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Reply #26 on: August 30, 2012, 03:00:14 PM
Then the 'flashback' was done and I belatedly figured out that I had managed to miss the transition. I think this is yet another story that "suffers" from the audio format in that there is really no good way to let the listener know the scene has shifted and that the time frame has changed.

FWIW, I believe the chapter breaks are indicators that the timeline is shifting/flashback. I know sometimes people are frustrated by chapters in short stories particularly), but I'd argue this is a pretty excellent way to use them (again, particularly in audio).

Oh. For what it's also worth, I never noticed a chapter break until I heard the fifth or sixth one? So perhaps the whole 'commute' thing detracted more than I thought. :)

Ha. I hear that :)


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Reply #27 on: August 30, 2012, 06:57:26 PM
I can’t place the reader’s accent, but (or maybe because of that) I think it goes well with the story where the two protagonists speak unfamiliar languages.



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Reply #28 on: August 31, 2012, 01:35:39 AM
First time poster.

I couldn't finish this one. I really wanted to like it, but I had to hit stop less than 1/2 way through.

I was not pulled into the character, so nothing that she did interested me. I didn't understand her motivations, who this father figure was, etc. I couldn' t keep my attention focused on it, so I couldn't really follow the plot.
The use of cliche made me cringe; black as ink, simile, simile, almost a nice metaphor hampered by another tired simile, teeth like razors, followed by another cliche.
The reading was very hard for me. She carried things on her "bock" and that made my eye twitch every time. I'm not a fan of feigned 'accents' and this just felt so forced.

That all being said, I have loved many a PodCastle story & I hope that this author puts something else out there that i can love.


Hello.

I'm sorry my reading didn't hold your attention, but I'm not feigning an accent. That is how I speak.

Not sure what else to say about that, really.

This reminds me of back when Good Will Hunting came out, and some people at my college criticized Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's lame attempts at Boston accents.

"You...know they grew up in Boston, right?" I asked.

"Uh, whoops?" was the response.

--

This is coming up in this thread, after piscean's comments, so I want to stress that this is not aimed at piscean. It's more something I've been thinking about the last few months, and this seems like as good a time as any to mention it.

Unfortunately, PodCastle and Escape Artists as a whole do not (yet) pay our narrators. (I say "yet" because I am hopeful this will change, and hopefully soon.) We rely on volunteers to read our stories, simply because they love reading them. We have a diverse group of volunteer readers that we rely on to bring the best audio experiences. They put in literally hours of their free time just because they want to help tell awesome stories to our audience. So, I always get a twitch more defensive when our readers are criticized, or worse - raked across the coals. (FWIW, I don't think piscean was raking Amal across the coals. But I've seen it done to other readers from other stories, and, well, like I said. It makes me twitch. I'm defensive of our readers.)

Now, I am not saying, "Don't be critical." This is a forum for discussing fiction, so by all means be critical. But please be thoughtful, also. Remember The One Rule. A lot of time goes into this that you don't see, particularly on the side of our readers.

One of my favorite parts of doing PodCastle is reading a story in text, and trying to match it with the right voice. Maybe this isn't always successful - for instance, the surfer dude, who read that Ragnarok story - I don't know what we were thinking. But Amal's reading upped my love for a story I already loved, and I'm grateful for that.



No, I'm not raking anyone over the coals; I appreciate the time & effort from everyone involved...and that's why I said it was hard for me (certainly not saying it doesn't work for others). There have been times in the past that I've loved the story & reading, but others didn't agree. We're all different and we all like different things.

Also, I'm not claiming to know the accent...maybe the reading just didn't feel natural to me. I'm not claiming that someone doesn't sound like the "right" place, so comparing me to the 'silly little plebes' who don't know a Boston accent is, quite frankly, offensive.

Anywho, maybe I'll have to give it another listen and see if maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind the first time I tried.



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Reply #29 on: August 31, 2012, 02:50:32 AM
I dug the dearth of dialogue. There were some great concepts here. Unfortunately, the story couldn't consistently wrest me from the travails of the day, and my mind kept wandering and I'd lose the thread. Due to the temporal shifts, this story requires solid focus from the listener, which I was unable to devote.

As to the accent discussion, if I recall correctly, Amal is Middle Eastern (Lebanese?) and I suspect the English she learned was from someone more strongly versed in French. I'm going with the pronunciation of short "a" sounds longer than 'mericans do. At least that's what I've got in my head.

Amal, I'm sorry this reading didn't capture me. It's not you, it's me. If it's any consolation, in particular, I love your reading on the "Call of Cthulhu" segment of "5 Ways Jane Austen Never Died".

I'm really sick of stories that jump forward and backward and forward and backward like this.  Except for stories that are particularly well-suited to it, I find the technique clumsy and ineffective.  Stephen King's "It" does well with it, because the child and adult stories are essentially parallels, and so are told in parallel. 

The temporal jumping also fits well with the frame narrative, which has adults recalling specific details they had forgotten about their past. The reader gets to experience the restoration of the memory along with the character.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #30 on: August 31, 2012, 02:55:21 AM
As to the accent discussion, if I recall correctly, Amal is Middle Eastern (Lebanese?) and I suspect the English she learned was from someone more strongly versed in French. I'm going with the pronunciation of short "a" sounds longer than 'mericans do. At least that's what I've got in my head.

She is "A Canadian-born child of the Mediterranean...."


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Reply #31 on: August 31, 2012, 02:57:35 AM
As to the accent discussion, if I recall correctly, Amal is Middle Eastern (Lebanese?) and I suspect the English she learned was from someone more strongly versed in French. I'm going with the pronunciation of short "a" sounds longer than 'mericans do. At least that's what I've got in my head.

She is "A Canadian-born child of the Mediterranean...."

I'm sticking with the French bit then...

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


amalmohtar

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Reply #32 on: August 31, 2012, 05:50:30 PM
Danooli, Dave, Frungi, Humanus: You're all super kind. Thank you.

Fenrix: It's totally cool! Honest, I completely understand and appreciate that enjoying a narration is fully as subjective as enjoying a story, and that the intersection between narration and story is a chancy thing; there are stories that are improved by a reading and stories that are perhaps obscured by a reading. I sincerely do urge you (and anyone else!) who found it difficult to follow in audio to seek it out in print, because that is, after all, how I first experienced it, and I just think it's fabulous and worth checking out.

Piscean: A few things.

1) Where did you get the "silly little plebes" quote? I don't think anyone called you or the people in Dave's anecdote that, so I'm not sure where your offense is taken from. You didn't specify where you thought my accent is from, but you did say you thought it was feigned, so the comparison is valid.

2) It's totally fine if the narration didn't work for you -- as I said to Fenrix, it's a very subjective experience, and I'm not by any means offended by someone finding it forced or unnatural-sounding. I do, however, have a problem with your assuming that an accent unfamiliar to you must be in some way artificial, and would appreciate your owning up to that.

To everyone speculating about my accent -- please, guys, stop. I'm right here! It's weird to read about you trying to figure out my accent's origins based on my bio as if I'm not participating in this conversation.

For what it's worth, I'm often startled by my accent's hybridity. It's a fluid thing. I speak three languages in varying dialects and they all intersect with and influence each other. I was born in Ottawa, grew up in Quebec, lived in Lebanon for a while, came back to Quebec, went to uni in Ottawa, lived in the UAE for a while, and for the last four years have been living in the south-west and then the north-west of the UK. I speak differently now than I did four years ago; listening to a recording of myself from that time is a profoundly dislocating experience.

It may also amuse you to know that most Brits assume I'm American, most Americans assume I'm British or Australian, and Canadians tremulously express their confusion by asking me where that accent's from before blinking in disbelief when I present my Canadian credentials.

So! How aboot that story, eh? (See what I did there. O the cleverness of me.)



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Reply #33 on: August 31, 2012, 10:22:12 PM
Canadians tremulously express their confusion by asking me where that accent's from before blinking in disbelief when I present my Canadian credentials.

I can understand their confusion. You can pronounce the letter "o". Can you prove your Canadianism by enjoying poutine?

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #34 on: September 01, 2012, 03:46:33 AM
To everyone speculating about my accent -- please, guys, stop. I'm right here! It's weird to read about you trying to figure out my accent's origins based on my bio as if I'm not participating in this conversation.
Ha, sorry about that! I for one posted more for the benefit of whoever happened to read it than actually expecting an answer. I was wondering though, so thanks for explaining!



amalmohtar

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Reply #35 on: September 01, 2012, 09:05:47 AM
Canadians tremulously express their confusion by asking me where that accent's from before blinking in disbelief when I present my Canadian credentials.

I can understand their confusion. You can pronounce the letter "o". Can you prove your Canadianism by enjoying poutine?

That is only one small part of the elaborate ritual of proving one's Canadianness, and it, like Tim-Bits, is being phased out on account of its enjoying widespread appeal. While I am unable to divulge the complexities to non-Canadians for reasons of national security, I will merely state that it is possible that maple syrup, Great Big Sea, Slings & Arrows, and accompanying a seal out on to the dance floor after a vigorous bout of ice hockey all have a place within it.



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Reply #36 on: September 04, 2012, 12:15:56 AM
Wow this story was long.  And the nonlinear structure, where a nonlinear structure was not at all needed, made it a hard trudge.
I'm really sick of stories that jump forward and backward and forward and backward like this.  Except for stories that are particularly well-suited to it, I find the technique clumsy and ineffective.  Stephen King's "It" does well with it, because the child and adult stories are essentially parallels, and so are told in parallel.  In this case, and in most cases, it was just irritating because:
1.  The past scenes have no tension, because we know the outcome of what's going to happen.
2.  The past scenes kill the momentum of the present story.  Which in this case actually HAD a lot of momentum.
3.  This format tends to make the story much much longer than it ought to be, rather than just telling us what we need to know in the present.
4.  At least to me, I tend to view the prose as a filter to see the character's thoughts.  If it's a single POV like this that constantly shifts in time backwards, it gives me the distinct impression that the character is not living in the present, but instead is staring blankly into the distance while they think back in nostalgia.  Which doesn't really work when the present time has such time-critical tension to it.
And in the end I really felt for the monster much more than I felt for the protagonist. . 
Unblinking, why don't the writers read your posts and save us the time?  So many of the writers we get these days  seem to have come off the same boring printing press.  So often with the flash backs so we can start with action.  Then long and intricate exposition through the flash back.  Could you start blogging the recurrent problem themes and then make a link back to your blog when writers transgress?  I expect finally to see " okay story but suffers from Unblinking's standard problem #1, #3, and #5.   
Why cant they just send the story to you first?
Thank you.



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Reply #37 on: September 04, 2012, 01:49:05 PM
Unblinking, why don't the writers read your posts and save us the time?  So many of the writers we get these days  seem to have come off the same boring printing press.  So often with the flash backs so we can start with action.  Then long and intricate exposition through the flash back.  Could you start blogging the recurrent problem themes and then make a link back to your blog when writers transgress?  I expect finally to see " okay story but suffers from Unblinking's standard problem #1, #3, and #5.   
Why cant they just send the story to you first?
Thank you.

I appreciate the vote of confidence.  The thing about art is that the judging of it is entirely subjective, and so any rules about it are even more subjective.  I hate 2nd person, but I loved "The Button Bin", for instance.  And my list of rules are entirely different from other people's lists of rules, so if I made rules and someone cited them, others would probably just ignore it anyway, and rightfully so because I am no authority to anyone who likes stuff that I don't.  :)

On the other hand, I don't think I've written a blog post about that particular quibble I have with writing style.  So I think I ought to.

And thanks again for the vote of confidence.  I do like to rant about fiction--that's what I'm here for.  :)



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Reply #38 on: September 04, 2012, 01:51:30 PM
For what it's worth, I'm often startled by my accent's hybridity. It's a fluid thing. I speak three languages in varying dialects and they all intersect with and influence each other. I was born in Ottawa, grew up in Quebec, lived in Lebanon for a while, came back to Quebec, went to uni in Ottawa, lived in the UAE for a while, and for the last four years have been living in the south-west and then the north-west of the UK. I speak differently now than I did four years ago; listening to a recording of myself from that time is a profoundly dislocating experience.

It may also amuse you to know that most Brits assume I'm American, most Americans assume I'm British or Australian, and Canadians tremulously express their confusion by asking me where that accent's from before blinking in disbelief when I present my Canadian credentials.

For what it's worth, I enjoyed the narration, which I sometimes forget to say because Escape Artists in general does such a good job of finding good readers.

And your story reminds me of a guy I met at WorldCon this weekend who I would've pegged as having a stereotypical California surfer accent, but who has never lived in California.  he said that it was just a mix of a bunch of places he's lived, including Seattle, North Dakota, and somewhere in New England that I forget.  Interesting how that can happen!



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Reply #39 on: September 04, 2012, 01:57:16 PM
Unfortunately, PodCastle and Escape Artists as a whole do not (yet) pay our narrators. (I say "yet" because I am hopeful this will change, and hopefully soon.) We rely on volunteers to read our stories, simply because they love reading them. We have a diverse group of volunteer readers that we rely on to bring the best audio experiences. They put in literally hours of their free time just because they want to help tell awesome stories to our audience. So, I always get a twitch more defensive when our readers are criticized, or worse - raked across the coals. (FWIW, I don't think piscean was raking Amal across the coals. But I've seen it done to other readers from other stories, and, well, like I said. It makes me twitch. I'm defensive of our readers.)

I was talking with Mur about criticism of readers at WorldCon this weekend (that was so cool and surreal to meet in person she who has kept me company on so many commutes), and how some readers have been criticized for not having perfectly fluent Chinese pronunciation, and how it's not exactly trivial to find an English-speaking person fluent in Chinese pronunciation who is willing to read stories for a fiction podcast for free.  I certainly wouldn't want a story with Chinese words in it to be rejected due to that, so I am content to listen to a narrator try their best at the pronunciation so that I can hear the story.

Again, I thought Amal did a fine job with this story.  Her voice fit the role well for me, and I didn't have any problems with it.  So I'm just making this commenton the topic of finding narrators ingeneral.  And as a challenge, that if anyone here has a friend with an unusual accent or language pronunciation skills that might like to read fiction, encourage them to drop Escape Artists a line.



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Reply #40 on: September 11, 2012, 11:37:38 AM
I have always thought that accents add tremendous charm and character to a narration (and to life in general).  Even if the accent (or other elements of the speaking style) make me work harder to listen, I'll take character over bland every time.



 ::) Hear, hear!


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Reply #41 on: September 14, 2012, 07:15:55 PM
I thought there were problems in this story. The mother-motivated-to-fight-because-her-child-was-stolen is an old and tired trope -- it reduces women to only fighting because of maternal instinct.

I definitely sympathized with the poor monster. The ruthless actions of the protag in flashback did not engender any like for her or her daughter (whom I had also imagined to be much younger and more helpless than she was, apparently).

I didn't get many good visuals of the world: maybe because it was snowing? All I got was blankness and people walking.



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Reply #42 on: September 14, 2012, 11:14:49 PM
The mother-motivated-to-fight-because-her-child-was-stolen is an old and tired trope -- it reduces women to only fighting because of maternal instinct.


I dunno if the qualifies as the trope

A) The character is fairly decently painted as a fighter and a hunter, it's not just the threat to her offspring that brings out this side to her
B) The male in the story is performing the same action with the same single mindedness. The only difference is that the protag's training makes her a better hunter.



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Reply #43 on: September 17, 2012, 01:51:36 PM
The mother-motivated-to-fight-because-her-child-was-stolen is an old and tired trope -- it reduces women to only fighting because of maternal instinct.


I dunno if the qualifies as the trope

A) The character is fairly decently painted as a fighter and a hunter, it's not just the threat to her offspring that brings out this side to her
B) The male in the story is performing the same action with the same single mindedness. The only difference is that the protag's training makes her a better hunter.


I agree with that.  She was trained by her father to be a badass monster hunter before her child ever disappeared.  Nowhere near a trope.  And some things are tropes because they have a basis in truth--these things tend not to bother me.



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Reply #44 on: October 03, 2012, 04:46:37 PM
I really loved this story, but I had to listen to it twice to get the full impact of it. Amal did a glorious job of reading it, and I LOVED the dialogue restriction...Daniel managed to put so much emotion into the heroine's internal dialogue. Keep 'em coming, guys. You save my sanity.



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Reply #45 on: October 19, 2012, 04:28:56 PM
Hmm...have to agree with everyone in saying that I didn't get caught up in the story until when the monster captures the hunter's child, and then I was all ears. And I can listen to Amal FOREVERRRRRRR...

I think what really impressed me about this story was that the main character and the male companion never have sex while they are tracking their children down. I've seen too many stories where you got two people and "Oh, got nothing else to do. Hey, let's tumble in the furs to get our minds of things!" While it's obvious that she finds the foreigner attractive, and she regrets his leaving towards the end, there was never a move by the author to get the two of them together in a neat, romantic package. She was a hunter, and he had another life somewhere else, so while they could have worked it out, neither was inclined to, but the main character was still left with "what if I did?". It enabled me to share in the MC's regret in a more realistic way.

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Reply #46 on: October 25, 2012, 04:51:48 PM
Hmm...have to agree with everyone in saying that I didn't get caught up in the story until when the monster captures the hunter's child, and then I was all ears. And I can listen to Amal FOREVERRRRRRR...

I think what really impressed me about this story was that the main character and the male companion never have sex while they are tracking their children down. I've seen too many stories where you got two people and "Oh, got nothing else to do. Hey, let's tumble in the furs to get our minds of things!" While it's obvious that she finds the foreigner attractive, and she regrets his leaving towards the end, there was never a move by the author to get the two of them together in a neat, romantic package. She was a hunter, and he had another life somewhere else, so while they could have worked it out, neither was inclined to, but the main character was still left with "what if I did?". It enabled me to share in the MC's regret in a more realistic way.

I agree!  It seems like a foregone conclusion in much fiction that the leading male and leading female will hook up, but it doesn't always work that way in real life, so it shouldn't in stories.