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Author Topic: PC223: Five Bullets on the Banks of the Sadji  (Read 2749 times)
Talia
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« on: August 28, 2012, 10:14:46 AM »

PodCastle 223: Five Bullets on the Banks of the Sadji

by Keffy R.M. Kehrli.

read by Rajan Khanna.

Originally appeared in the anthology River, edited by Alma Alexander.

My city is at the fork of two rivers, where the Sadji, river of my people, flows into the Koretl, a river that brings the rest of the world to us, brings empire to us, brings new spices and fabrics and magics to us, and flows away with our old selves, shed like snakeskin on the banks.

Sadji water runs thick with silt; it is the same red-brown as clay and the four unripe cocoa beans that my younger brother, Naje, brought to us from the north. Naje is dead now, dead of five bullets, one for each of the Northern Houses, the past-due payment earned by traitors.

The Koretl is a deep and sodden green, the color of glaciers tempered by the additions of a hundred southern rivers, each devoured by the hungry waters until they run as one. My older brother, Esha, said the color of it was more beautiful than the Sadji. He is also dead now, having caught a fever from the sick men he tended.

And now I am the last surviving brother, too violent to heal and too soft to fight, fishing from Sadji’s waters with my hands gone calloused from the nets.


Rated R for violence.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 01:39:30 PM by Talia » Logged
Anarquistador
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2012, 02:51:25 PM »

Interesting story. A nice variation on the whole "industrialism versus nature" theme. I liked how subtle and understated the use of magic was in this world, like it's just another art or discipline, living side by side with firearms and factories, with forbidden techniques (fishmancy? Why is that illegal, anyway?) and all kinds of mundane applications.

Although I did find myself trying to associate this society with a real-world counterpart (that's mostly my fault, I guess). I had kind of a turn-of-the-century Tsarist Russia in my head, though I'm not sure if that's what the author was going for.

And the introduction made me realize how much high school history knowledge I've lost. "Okay, four river valley civilizations! Egypt, Sumer...SHOOT! Somewhere in Asia...erm...crap." Mr. Cullity would be ashamed if he were still alive.

I need to get back to the library. Excuse me...
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 10:51:57 AM »

This was a good story that made me think about the family members of history. Did Harriet Tubman have family members who suffered for her work? I know Hitler had an Irish nephew who later changed his name.

I like the imagery behind the "river magic", the details of everyday life, and how the author didn't really give up what our narrator could go until the very end, magnifying the effect.
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ThomasTheAttoney
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2012, 07:07:58 PM »

Poor story.  Did not finish it. 
A lot of intricate world building for no payout.  I don't care about a neighbor's back story if it does not alter the main story.  Maybe it did, but then I will never know, because it was not good enough to invest the time to find out, because I did not care about the characters.  Starting with the character's personal tragedy does not make the reader invested in them, it makes the character a statistic.
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Listener
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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2012, 09:15:07 AM »

I think the story went on for an awfully long time just to get to the scene at the end where the MC makes a wall of water. I don't normally say stories should be longer, but I think we needed a little more here.
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2012, 10:44:43 AM »

Poor story.  Did not finish it. 
A lot of intricate world building for no payout. 

How do you know there's no payoff if you didn't finish it?
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2012, 08:45:34 AM »

Poor story.  Did not finish it. 
A lot of intricate world building for no payout. 

How do you know there's no payoff if you didn't finish it?

Good question!

I did listen to the end, but found it too long for its content so that I had trouble really listening to the words.  This may have had something to do with the fact that I met Rajan Khanna in person for the first time at WorldCon, and in this story I kept imagining him reading it rather than a disembodied voice.  But I think it was more that I found the story unengaging and my attention wandered, rather than Rajan's voice being the source of the distraction.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2012, 09:22:07 AM »

I had a really hard time focusing at the beginning of the story, so I had to restart it a few times to get the set up to stick in my brain. I'm glad I did though, because I really liked this story! There was enough spelled out so that we could understand the urgency of the situation at hand, but also tons of little hints at the broader world. I nearly jumped at the MC's reaction to being called a fishmancer: "What did you call me?" As if it was either an insult or a really dangerous brand to be labeled with, and I instantly wanted to know why being a fishmancer was forbidden. Plus, Rajan Khanna always does a wonderful job so that made it even better. Smiley


A note about the intro: I thought the information was great/relevent/etc, but there's a line between being excited about presenting material and talking down to your audience. Personally, I feel this intro fell on the wrong side of that line.
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John_in_Calgary
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2012, 04:23:44 PM »

Like others here I really didn't connect to this story. I cannot say a week later that I even remember what the conclusion was...
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2012, 08:49:49 AM »

I always love it when Anna does the intro, and in this case, even though I thought the intro was a little bit condescending, it was much better than the story.
Really, I couldn't get into this one at all. And I listened through the whole thing.
There was so much backstory that didn't get explained, so  much worldbuilding that needed to happen and such one dimensional characters that this seemed to me to be more of a rough draft or outline for a story than a completed work.
Fortunately it was over in 25 minutes.
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ThomasTheAttoney
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2012, 10:28:27 AM »

Poor story.  Did not finish it. 
A lot of intricate world building for no payout. 

How do you know there's no payoff if you didn't finish it?

There is no way the intricacies of the past family relations of his neighbor would have to do with the story.  I agree with another commenter, this was more like a rough draft.  Might have been the beginning of 3 or 4 other stories.  This writer would benefit by teaming up with an editor or a friend whom the writer respects to read the story.  The listeners should not be saying that the story was difficult because of poor development.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2012, 11:53:20 AM »

This writer would benefit by teaming up with an editor or a friend whom the writer respects to read the story.  The listeners should not be saying that the story was difficult because of poor development.

The writer did team up with an editor.  Two, even.  Anna  Schwind and Dave Thompson.  If Anna and Dave didn't like it the way it was they wouldn't have laid down cash for it, and they wouldn't have taken the time to have it read and produced for the podcast.  This wasn't self-published by the author on Kindle or something where there would be no third party judging the quality.

So I don't get your criticism here.  This wasn't produced by a sole person in a vacuum.  If you don't agree with Dave and Anna's choice, that's fair enough.  I don't always agree with their choices either.  That's art for you.  But the author did get someone else's opinion or it wouldn't have been published here.
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Kaa
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« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2012, 01:03:06 PM »

The writer did team up with an editor.  Two, even.  Anna  Schwind and Dave Thompson.  If Anna and Dave didn't like it the way it was they wouldn't have laid down cash for it, and they wouldn't have taken the time to have it read and produced for the podcast.  This wasn't self-published by the author on Kindle or something where there would be no third party judging the quality.

So I don't get your criticism here.  This wasn't produced by a sole person in a vacuum.  If you don't agree with Dave and Anna's choice, that's fair enough.  I don't always agree with their choices either.  That's art for you.  But the author did get someone else's opinion or it wouldn't have been published here.

Not to mention the editor of the original anthology in which this was published.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2012, 08:44:18 AM »

Not to mention the editor of the original anthology in which this was published.

Yes!
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MDS
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2012, 02:01:52 PM »

Very beautiful and melancholy. It feels like part of a larger novel -- I want to find out more about the relationships between the two peoples and what kind of magic the little old woman taught the main character.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2012, 10:58:28 PM »

I thought it was a really good contemplative story.  Lots of navel-gazing followed by a bad-ass magic spell.  Thumbs up!

I appreciate a good, subtle piece of world-building, too.  (Glass-squeal howls are an imaginary sound I won't be getting out of my head anytime soon.)
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« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2012, 02:13:46 PM »

The wall of water at the end reminded me a bit of Avatar and the water bending.

Nice story overall.
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