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Author Topic: PC229: The Tonsor’s Son  (Read 5886 times)
Ocicat
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« on: October 10, 2012, 07:58:03 PM »

PodCastle 229: The Tonsor’s Son

by Michael John Grist.

Read by Steve Anderson (of SGA Creative).

A PodCastle original.


I knew from the moment I saw him that his beard was full of evil.

He walked into my shop carrying a copper-hilted cane, clopping its burnished tip smartly on the hair strewn tonsory floor with his every step. He wore camel-hide gloves with the hair turned inwards, so his hands seemed a milky mother-of-pearl white, as though agapornic. His eyes were a sharp hazel-brown, intelligent, intent upon the tonsory around him, absorbing the details, finally settling on me.

He walked flush up to me, busy as I was sweeping lopped brown locks into a scuttle, and smiled tightly, extending one of those sickeningly pale hands towards me. His thinly sliced moustache bristled as his upper lip curled back, and I knew the evil was in there too, peering out at me from each follicle end. I could feel the waft of his past deeds emanating from the light down of his cheeks.


Rated R for violence, gore.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 08:40:16 PM by Talia » Logged
chemistryguy
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 01:59:53 PM »

I gotta love how this one went in no direction I could possibly anticipate.  Truly bizarre and twisted.  The dialogue was positively luxurious, and Steve Anderson's reading put this over the top.

At the end, I'm still not sure what these beings are, but it doesn't matter.  It also doesn't matter if any facts regarding the sharpening of blades is true or not, because I bought it all.

It was a bonus to add the word tonsor to my vocabulary.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2012, 01:01:43 PM »

Quite good, though the opening line made me hope/expect a more Kelly-Link-ish story than it actually turned out to be.  I enjoyed it regardless, once I got used to the idea that it wasn't going to keep on tossing out weird nuggets and veering abruptly to the left, but rather was going to build on the premise it had.
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2012, 03:01:55 AM »

The tone of this story threw me off a bit, admittedly.  The way the Tonsor's son was just murdered so suddenly, along with (for the sake of naming the antagonist whilst totally not covering the fact that I have a terrible memory for such things) the Bearded Man's playful tone of slaying the son, had me thinking this story was better suited for a PseudoPod release.  What was even more confusing for me was how the Tonsor didn't really give much of an emotional response to seeing his son brutally slain right before his eyes.

I was, on the other hand, pleasantly surprised at the story's twist toward the end, though I wasn't really 100% in favor with how the story led up to this ending.  In an attempt to not give away too many spoilers, if anyone has ever seen the 1999 David Cronenberg film eXitenZ you'll know what I am talking about, as there is a similar instance of this happening in the movie.  All in all, I have to say I really enjoyed this story and I'm glad I stuck with it to the very end, because it's the ending that makes this more than worthy to be a PodCastle release, which is why I love PodCastle!
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danooli
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2012, 05:32:49 AM »

Was the son actually another brother? That's the impression I got...

Good creepy story for October. I've heard of epic beards but never evil.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 06:04:38 AM »

Good creepy story for October. I've heard of epic beards but never evil.

Oh, I assure you.  Evil beards do exist.

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lowky
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 08:24:53 AM »

almost gave up on it, glad i didn't
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Scattercat
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 09:35:15 PM »

Good creepy story for October. I've heard of epic beards but never evil.

Oh, I assure you.  Evil beards do exist.
(image)

Cheese it, it's the fuzz!
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 08:20:01 AM »

I loved the opening, and the first parts, up until the Gentleman killed the Son. Then I was like...



Yeah. The story went off in a completely different direction, and I don't think there was enough in the beginning to justify the ending. It's almost like there were two different stories here. I liked both, but not together.

Great reading, especially in the beginning with the "evil beard".
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 09:27:48 AM »

Quote
I knew from the moment I saw him that his beard was full of evil.

I'm kind of jealous that I didn't write this opening line.  One of my favorite opening lines ever!


I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. 

I loved pretty much all of the ideas, a repented demon barber wielding Excalibur brand razors forces other demons to repent their evil ways, and then raises them as his own kin.  How could I NOT love it?

What I have mixed feelings about is the manner of finding all of this out.  If I was in the Tonsor's POV, then I should know these things ahead of time.  But the reveal was good enough, that the annoying manner of the reveal, I guess I can forget about that.

Was the son actually another brother? That's the impression I got...

I definitely think that's the implication here.  I'm guessing that other brothers will come and get shorn, and one will kill this one and continue the cycle.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2012, 10:09:27 AM »

I agree with the consensus that that was a killer first line. Also, beards can definitely be full of evil!

I too was completely taken aback by the tonsor's reaction to the murder of his "son." In retrospect it makes complete sense, but that raises Unblinking's problem of POV. I feel this would have been a much stronger piece if it was told from the point of view of the evil brother (loss of the first line notwithstanding). The audience would find out about the tonsor's master plan as it played out without feeling cheated due to important information being withheld. The evil brother would be arrogant enough to be taken in by the tonsor's apparent fear of objecting to the murder, and we wouldn't have the surreal nonchalance of a gruesome murder. Also, the murder wouldn't seem as out of the blue since we would have seen the brother's murderous intentions coming a little sooner. My two cents.
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danooli
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 10:24:59 AM »

So why wouldn't evil beard brother recognize the "son" as his own brother?
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Devoted135
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 10:27:28 AM »

So why wouldn't evil beard brother recognize the "son" as his own brother?

I thought it was because the "son" didn't have an evil beard. But I could be way off base.
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DKT
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 10:44:07 AM »

So why wouldn't evil beard brother recognize the "son" as his own brother?

I thought it was because the "son" didn't have an evil beard. But I could be way off base.

I think that's pretty close to my take on it - his connection from the root had been severed, thus he was no longer a demon, but a mortal.

For the curious, I'll admit that when this story came in, and I got to the part where the "son" was murdered, I was horribly upset - particularly at the tonsor's reaction as he just continued to go about his gig. I couldn't believe he wasn't reacting more. And then I kept reading. So...it's kind of fun to read other people had similar reactions Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 12:27:13 PM »

So why wouldn't evil beard brother recognize the "son" as his own brother?

I thought it was because the "son" didn't have an evil beard. But I could be way off base.

Yeah, i think so.  After the evil brother gets his beard chopped, I think that there is a comment in the story that he now looked like he could be the brother of the son, or at least that they appeared to be the same age now.  The beard makes them look older and generally different, and the circumstances themselves would make it unlikely that he would ever recognize him--he wouldn't expect an evil brother to be acting as the man's son.
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MJG
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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2012, 08:21:06 PM »

Thank you all for such great comments, and for sticking with the story, even though the POV seems to have thrown a few people around the murder of the son. I can agree that that is a tricky point, but am glad everyone here read on, and most found it to make sense.

Also thank you to podcastle for hosting this story, and to Steve Anderson for such stunning voice work. When I wrote the bad guy had a voice that sounded like he had curds comfortably lodged in his throat, I never really imagined quite what it would sound like. Steve nailed it- grotesque, rich, threatening. Thank you Steve.

MJG (author)
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lowky
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« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2012, 09:30:51 PM »

cool another author has shown up in the forums.  welcome.  Hope to hear more stories from you in the future.
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eytanz
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« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2012, 12:51:12 PM »

I really enjoyed this story, which took twists and turns I never expected. In retrospect I sort of see the complaints by people about how deliberately obscure the narrator is being here- and I agree that it's a rather artificial device when presented as simple third person narration. A framing story that would give him motivation to only slowly reveal what he knows would perhaps have helped. But that didn't bother me while I was listened - or indeed, until I came to the forum and my attention was turned to this - so I don't think I can complain about it *too* much.
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Balu
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« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2012, 05:59:24 PM »



Oh, I assure you.  Evil beards do exist.



Diabolical is the word which springs to my mind.

And it isn't even Movember yet.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2012, 12:07:30 PM »

I really enjoyed this story, which took twists and turns I never expected. In retrospect I sort of see the complaints by people about how deliberately obscure the narrator is being here- and I agree that it's a rather artificial device when presented as simple third person narration. A framing story that would give him motivation to only slowly reveal what he knows would perhaps have helped. But that didn't bother me while I was listened - or indeed, until I came to the forum and my attention was turned to this - so I don't think I can complain about it *too* much.

Yeah, generally authors get a pass for "fridge logic".  Smiley
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