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Author Topic: PC222: The Secret Beach  (Read 6030 times)
Talia
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« on: August 22, 2012, 10:07:20 AM »

PodCastle 222: The Secret Beach

by Tim Pratt

Read by Dave Thompson

Originally published in Fantasy Magazine. Read the text here.

I pushed through the overgrown shrubs, barely making out a trail, and reached the fence, where I found the chain-link had been cut apart and then re-closed with fuzzy pipe cleaners, green and red and blue. (Does anyone use pipe cleaners to clean their pipes anymore, or are they produced exclusively as arts and craft supplies for children?) I carefully untwisted them and squeezed through the gap, snagging my sagging belly-flesh on a sharp end of wire and sucking in a hiss of air through my teeth.

Once I was through, I stood up, under a sky that was noticeably bluer and more cloudless than the one on the other side of the fence, and stared at the closest thing on Earth to infinity:

The ocean. Or, at least, an ocean.


Rated PG.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 11:06:58 AM by Talia » Logged
Ojak
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2012, 10:42:49 PM »

Hi,
This is my first post to any forum. I normally love most of the stories on PodCastle and this one is no different. But that is not what made me get online. After the story Dave Thompson very apologetically did some self-promotion for a Tim Pratt book he read on Audible. As far as I'm concerned you can do as much self-promotion as you like, it's only fair with the amount of free entertainment/pleasure you give us.
I'm starting to get my head above water and will be able to donate soon, I'm just so grateful that when I couldn't afford much I was still allowed to escape with you.
So THANK YOU and promote yourself and the other artists with out the need to apologise.
Ojak
Brisbane, Aus
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danooli
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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2012, 04:53:50 PM »

Squee!  Dave's news is so freaking exciting! 

There was also a killer story, one with a twist that I must admit, took me by surprise. When the punch was thrown, I thought that the narrator was being a jealous child throwing a tantrum because the older sibling got to stay up late. Then he took out the oar, and woah.  In thinking back, it shouldn't have been a surprise.  The narrator sounded like an ass to begin with, and when I heard the line "Story of my life: I was nothing but part of the story of someone else’s life"...well, I knew he really just felt sorry for himself.  As he pointed out though, he wasn't a doer, so I was surprised when he suddenly DID. 

Another Tim Pratt story that I love. Someday, he has to write something I'm at least lukewarm about.  Statistically speaking, of course.

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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2012, 08:08:43 PM »

Short and sweet.  I'll admit this did NOT go where I thought it was going, and I'd like to think I wouldn't do what the narrator did (overall the story reminded me of Destiny with a Side of Blackberry Sauce, PodCastle 197, because of the ending). What it made me meditate on was the old saw that everyone is the hero of their own story. And this guy certainly wasn't going to be left out of the heroic - or at least questy - stuff.

I wonder what will actually happen to him when he reaches the other end of the journey. After all, he isn't *really* the Chosen One. Will the Dragon of Wisdom eat him, or the Princess find him repulsive, or whatever the ultimate end was? Or *was* he fated to be the one to make the journey (I hope not, for the sake of the guy he seems to have killed....) ??

(and I, too, have wondered about pipe cleaners myself)

P.S. Congrats on the audio book gig, Dave!
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Evolution13
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2012, 10:11:21 PM »

The most disturbing thing about this story is that, I think I would have done the exact same thing as the protagonist. Other that that, it was awesome!
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2012, 03:23:56 AM »

Yay! A Tim Pratt story!

Short and sweet with a nice surprise ending.
But it makes me wonder...
What will happen to a man who goes cold turkey on his anxiety medicine while on a flimsy inflatable raft in the middle of a strange ocean with no clear idea of where he is going or what he will do when he gets there?
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DKT
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2012, 09:50:34 AM »

But it makes me wonder...
What will happen to a man who goes cold turkey on his anxiety medicine while on a flimsy inflatable raft in the middle of a strange ocean with no clear idea of where he is going or what he will do when he gets there?

The island will judge him, and the smoke monster will be summoned, naturally!

Oh, also: NOT PENNY'S BOAT!
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lisavilisa
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2012, 11:11:59 AM »

The most disturbing thing about this story is that, I think I would have done the exact same thing as the protagonist. Other that that, it was awesome!

I'd like to think I wouldn't have done the same thing.

However, there is no way in h*ll I'd let that interloper take my lucky charm key with him. If he wants access to it he'll have to take me along. That entitled sailor was in no position to say the MC had to give him the key and leave.
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2012, 08:26:14 AM »

I heard this on the Fantasy Magazine podcast just a few weeks ago.  Smiley

I enjoyed this for the twist, that I somehow didn't see coming.  I can't say that he's definitely not the chosen one, since everything did line up for him to have this opportunity.  It could very well be an Oracle-like thing--he doesn't necessarily learn the truth, but learns what he needs to hear to do what he needs to do at the appropriate time and place.

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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2012, 11:40:52 AM »

Thank you all for all the kinds words about the audiobook! They really made me happy  Cheesy

I just heard from ACX that it's available now at Audible. Also, I created a thread over here for anyone to discuss the Briarpatch audiobook.

Thus ends my schilling, at least in this thread Smiley Thanks again to you for your encouragement!
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acpracht
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2012, 09:29:09 AM »

To start, I'm a sucker for stories where the hook is one thing out of place that you could easily overlook - in this case the teenagers wet and sandy in bathing suits miles from the ocean. It's something that you could overlook, if you weren't paying attention to it. It gives me the feeling that I could run across something magical, if I just thought about it right and realize it.
That being said, I wasn't super-excited by the early promise of the story. A secret... beach? There's real, actual beaches here in our own world... what's so amazing about that?
But I should have trusted Mr. Pratt - When it came to the part about the magical quest and the items coming one by one, I was hooked.
I was a bit... surprised by the protagonist's action at the end, but when it came right down to it, well, I found that I understood it.
Reading fantasy and science fiction has always been somewhat akin to being the protagonist in this story, I think. You get to hear about all the exciting things that have happened and anticipate what is going to happen. You never get to participate. You never get to affect the world.
So if given the chance to lock the Pevensies out of the room and go through the wardrobe myself, give Bilbo a scone and tell him to wait in the pantry while I claimed to be a burglar, or to steal Harry's Hogwarts letter right out of his hand... would I? Could I go as far as this man?
It's a scary thing to say... "I don't know..."
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Devoted135
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« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2012, 11:43:08 AM »

The setting descriptions in this story really drew me in: I felt the "hum drum" of the main character's life, and his jealousy in seeing the sand-covered young couple. When he eased through the fence gate, I was excited that he had found something special, and could almost smell the salt tang in the air and hear the crash of the waves. I love taking walks on the beach (sorry for the cliche!), and part of the enjoyment is discovering new things, so I was disappointed with him for not wanting to share the beach with the other man. However, the other man seemed friendly enough so it was fun to meet him and learn about his quest right up until the main character betrayed me by bashing in the guy's head. What was up with that?!? I mean, I wouldn't want to give up my lucky key either, but I'm thinking that was an overreaction. Roll Eyes



To start, I'm a sucker for stories where the hook is one thing out of place that you could easily overlook - in this case the teenagers wet and sandy in bathing suits miles from the ocean. It's something that you could overlook, if you weren't paying attention to it. It gives me the feeling that I could run across something magical, if I just thought about it right and realize it.

What a lovely thought. Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2012, 07:21:26 AM »

I'm glad this was a shorter story. It meant I didn't have to make such a harsh decision up front as to whether I was going to like it and finish listening to it in the first place. It started out pretty maudlin, kind of like the "woe is me" stuff I tended to see a lot of in the writing group I'm no longer part of -- because, seriously, how many times can you read the first chapter of a novel that explains just how crappy the thinly-veiled-version-of-yourself-protagonist has it? And I did feel a lot of that in the opening. But the concept of a secret beach and a guy waiting for a year for the items he needs to go off on a quest is pretty darn cool. Pratt could've told this story in the hot-right-now present-past-present-past style, but he didn't.

I saw the twist coming about two minutes before it happened, but it was still a good twist.

Overall a good story, and thankfully a brief one, because I am sooooo behind on my podcasts. Like, seriously, I have 15 that I haven't even downloaded yet because I'm out of room on my phone. It's that bad.
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timpratt
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2012, 02:42:37 PM »

So glad people seem to like the story. It's one of my favorites.

I will note that the sad-sack narrator is not a thinly-disguised version of me, though we both live in Berkeley, and I am known to drink the occasional scotch and soda. His life sucks and my life is currently totally awesome. (And made more awesome by the lovely reactions here.)
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Lisa3737
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2012, 06:30:20 PM »

Totally did not anticipate the narrator swinging the oar to bash the poor guy's brains in!   Shocked   Good to be surprised....
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Fenrix
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2012, 07:19:30 PM »

For those who enjoyed this, I would suggest they pop over to the Drabblecast and check out Mr. Pratt's Jubilee. Another awesome dark beach story.

I liked this. I was expecting something more heartwarming like Impossible Dreams and was pleasantly surprised by the dark turn. Cheers to you, Tim.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2012, 02:33:00 PM »

So glad people seem to like the story. It's one of my favorites.

I will note that the sad-sack narrator is not a thinly-disguised version of me, though we both live in Berkeley, and I am known to drink the occasional scotch and soda. His life sucks and my life is currently totally awesome. (And made more awesome by the lovely reactions here.)
I think I've mentioned this before, but I need to say it again.
One of the major things about an author that decides whether or not I like him or her is his or her touch with reality, and the fans. So if, for example, an author pops into a discussion thread every now and then to add his 2 cents to the discussion on his story, or simply to thank the fans for liking it, that makes an awesome author in my book.
(Another stellar example is Neil Gaiman who not only feels the obligation to take pictures of himself in weird situations (lying behind a "FREE" sign) but also feels that he can share it with the world.)
It shows that no matter how good the writing is, or what the reactions from the fans are, the author is still a human being and can be connected with.
So thank you Mr. Pratt.
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ThomasTheAttoney
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« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2012, 07:04:26 PM »

Good story.  Tim Pratt quality.  Pratt does not need to rely on twists, so this was an unusual twisty treat.

Narrator guy, please don't apologize for your advertising.  Just advertise.  The apology makes it drag on longer.  And you can talk as long as you want after the story.  Long intros get fast forwarded through.  A long outro is more often heard in its entirety if it was a  good story.

Thank you.
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« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2012, 09:03:15 AM »

I commented also, in the Briarpatch thread, but just briefly:  Dave, you don't need to apologize.  You've kept us all company on many a commute.  We're all friends.  I want to hear of the success of friends.
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acpracht
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« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2012, 01:20:50 PM »

The setting descriptions in this story really drew me in: I felt the "hum drum" of the main character's life, and his jealousy in seeing the sand-covered young couple. When he eased through the fence gate, I was excited that he had found something special, and could almost smell the salt tang in the air and hear the crash of the waves. I love taking walks on the beach (sorry for the cliche!), and part of the enjoyment is discovering new things, so I was disappointed with him for not wanting to share the beach with the other man. However, the other man seemed friendly enough so it was fun to meet him and learn about his quest right up until the main character betrayed me by bashing in the guy's head. What was up with that?!? I mean, I wouldn't want to give up my lucky key either, but I'm thinking that was an overreaction. Roll Eyes



To start, I'm a sucker for stories where the hook is one thing out of place that you could easily overlook - in this case the teenagers wet and sandy in bathing suits miles from the ocean. It's something that you could overlook, if you weren't paying attention to it. It gives me the feeling that I could run across something magical, if I just thought about it right and realize it.

What a lovely thought. Smiley
Some examples would be "Impossible Dreams", "The '76 Goldwater Dime" (which had me digging in my loose change for weeks), and even the novel "The Magicians" to a certain extent. I love the intersection of the mundane and the fantastic.
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