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Author Topic: PC236: Architectural Constants  (Read 3114 times)
Talia
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« on: November 29, 2012, 09:26:34 AM »

PodCastle 236: Architectural Constants

by Yoon Ha Lee

Read by Graeme Dunlop (of Cast of Wonders)

Originally Published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  Read it here!

Eskevan Three of Thorns had dropped his lensgear in the gutter. Twice he had been splashed by murky water while determining the best way to retrieve the lens. He had another hour before the water started circulating. Having sullied the yellow-trimmed coat that declared him a licensed librarian, Eskevan felt doubly reluctant either to remove his gauntlets or to plunge them into the water.

There the lensgear gleamed, polished and precise. Enough dithering. He would have to hope that no one questioned his credentials tonight. The master archivist always said a shabby librarian was no librarian at all, but it could not be helped.

Other parts of the city boasted libraries of indexed splendor. Other librarians handled nothing more threatening than curling vellum and tame, untarnished treatises. Eskevan did not aspire to any such thing. In the dimmest hours, he admitted that he exulted in the wayward winds and the grime underfoot, the heady knowledge of the paths words traveled.

He had heard the whispers up and down the city’s tiers, and the whispers distilled into a single warning: The Spider ascends. Eskevan, who lived merely three tiers underground, a child of the chasm’s kindly shallows, could not fathom the depths to which the city descended or the vast distances that the Spider must traverse.


Rated R: Contains some violence, and Disturbing Imagery

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: December 18, 2012, 04:17:03 PM by Talia » Logged
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2012, 12:09:45 PM »

I read this way back in BCS's debut issue, and then again on the BCS podcast.

This story really made me appreciate the writing of Yoon Ha Lee more than any other story I've read by her.  Throughout the whole thing I'm never entirely sure that I understand what's happening, but the images and the events are still very interesting.  I particularly enjoy the half-man who can be dispersed in the wind if his less-real side faces it.

Good stuff!
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2012, 06:53:30 AM »

I really tried liking it.  It seemed like the kind of fanciful, abstract story that would appeal to me.  But in the end, I was left with an unsatisfied confusion. 
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 04:09:32 AM »

I saw this story as more of an excuse to do some truly excellent world-building than as a story in its own right.
And the world building was magnificent. It's a beautiful world I would want to revisit, perhaps in a full length novel.

I caught on pretty quickly to the idea of several different characters all converging on the Nexus (get it?) at the right time to ensure that the Architect can begin fixing the City.
At first I was confused as to the purpose of the Librarian. Really? He was there to throw a thingy at the bad guy?
But then I realized that his job was perhaps the most crucial. If the Architect is in charge of the physical buildings, the Guard is to protect the City and the Silhouette is to be its conscience, what's left for the Librarian? He has the most important job of all. He must fix the City's narrativium. Without it, the City and all its inhabitants would crumble, face chaos and be destroyed.

All in all, an excellent story and an excellent reading (as always) by Mr. Dunlop. (Even though he had a little snrrk in there).

Also, I want a lensegear for <insert winter gift-giving holiday here>.
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 10:19:44 PM »

Yes, this was a very interesting world indeed. I really enjoyed the separate-tales-all-coming-together style like the movies "Go" or "Pulp Fiction", it worked very well here. The prose was strong and the the twist at the end that the Guardian Captain, or whatever he was, had the Silhouette's face because he'd stolen a part of the man was very interesting. (Maybe it's the other way around and the Silhouette had the Guardian's face, I can't remember) I was a little sad that the Spider was just an old woman, not an actual spider, at least not in form at that point in the story. With how crazy this world was, she probably literally was a spider, but I was hoping to see that. Oh well, didn't diminish the story any.
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flashedarling
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 11:12:16 PM »

Liked the setting and flavor. Really reminded me of Autochthon in the Exalted tabletop RPG. Sadly though it felt like an introduction that immediately skips ahead to the conclusion and deus ex machina. The listener doesn't even learn of the problems the city has until they are described as they are being solved. Really would be better if it had been a longer story.
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eytanz
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« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2012, 07:14:29 AM »

I agree with flashedarling about the issues with the pacing - there was some great world building, and some great ominous hints about something being wrong and the fact that the captain was planning a trap for the Spider - and then she showed up and it turned out she was in control of the situation all along and it was really very easily resolved and none of the urgency of the various character's actions mattered at all.

But still, I ended the story thinking I want to hear more about this place. It's not a bad story, by any means, it's just a story whose conclusion doesn't live up to the potential of the setup.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2012, 11:51:30 AM »

I love the format of this story, which different characters being introduced under the heading of the role that they are going to have to play. It helped me keep track of the seemingly unrelated characters until all the strings came together. Honestly, I think this was a successful short story, but would really love to read a very expanded novel-sized version as well. Smiley
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Umbrageofsnow
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2012, 03:15:35 PM »

I would generally list Yoon Ha Lee as my second favorite living short story author after Ken Liu. But this story fell flat for me, along with "Conservation of Shadows" from Clarkesworld last year, it is the only story of hers I have disliked.

Which is not to say that I hated it, just it was a very solid "meh".  The prose was good, the world building was good, but I didn't really get any emotion from it, or have much investment. I understood what was happening, but I was never invested, and just like "Conservation of Shadows" it was a pleasant sureality with nothing else there for me.

I'd love to see more from Yoon Ha Lee on Podcastle/Escape Pod, but this didn't do much for me.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2012, 09:25:10 PM »

All in all, an excellent story and an excellent reading (as always) by Mr. Dunlop. (Even though he had a little snrrk in there).

...for which I apologise, unreservedly. I am mortified.
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2012, 10:21:50 PM »

All in all, an excellent story and an excellent reading (as always) by Mr. Dunlop. (Even though he had a little snrrk in there).

...for which I apologise, unreservedly. I am mortified.
For what it's worth, it made me chuckle...

These things happen. Wink
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2012, 03:02:39 AM »

All in all, an excellent story and an excellent reading (as always) by Mr. Dunlop. (Even though he had a little snrrk in there).

...for which I apologise, unreservedly. I am mortified.
For what it's worth, it made me chuckle...

These things happen. Wink
Yup.
That's one more person I can scratch off my "possibly a robot" list. Wink
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2012, 02:18:45 PM »

All in all, an excellent story and an excellent reading (as always) by Mr. Dunlop. (Even though he had a little snrrk in there).

...for which I apologise, unreservedly. I am mortified.
For what it's worth, it made me chuckle...

These things happen. Wink
Yup.
That's one more person I can scratch off my "possibly a robot" list. Wink

Internal release notes for Unblinking 2.0:
Now capable of snrrking.  The purpose of snrrking in the biologicals is unknown.  It seems to be some kind of primitive communication medium, like a biological's "status update" to put the other biologicals at ease.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2012, 02:59:46 PM »

All in all, an excellent story and an excellent reading (as always) by Mr. Dunlop. (Even though he had a little snrrk in there).

...for which I apologise, unreservedly. I am mortified.
For what it's worth, it made me chuckle...

These things happen. Wink
Yup.
That's one more person I can scratch off my "possibly a robot" list. Wink

Internal release notes for Unblinking 2.0:
Now capable of snrrking.  The purpose of snrrking in the biologicals is unknown.  It seems to be some kind of primitive communication medium, like a biological's "status update" to put the other biologicals at ease.

Oh gawd  Grin Huh Roll Eyes  Rosie returns.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2012, 04:31:29 PM »

All in all, an excellent story and an excellent reading (as always) by Mr. Dunlop. (Even though he had a little snrrk in there).

...for which I apologise, unreservedly. I am mortified.
For what it's worth, it made me chuckle...

These things happen. Wink
Yup.
That's one more person I can scratch off my "possibly a robot" list. Wink

Internal release notes for Unblinking 2.0:
Now capable of snrrking.  The purpose of snrrking in the biologicals is unknown.  It seems to be some kind of primitive communication medium, like a biological's "status update" to put the other biologicals at ease.

Oh gawd  Grin Huh Roll Eyes  Rosie returns.
Really? Snrrking is a whole number release? In my software that would be a dot dot version (a.aa.aaa), released as a software patch.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2012, 01:58:14 PM »

I found myself struggling to get invested in this world with a new character introduced every 5 minutes or so. Finally, more than 20 minutes in I get excited when the spider to finally ascends, and it's all over with a whimper instead of a bang. I spent most of the first 20 minutes to decide whether this was a clever sendup of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" (what other spider ascending song could it be?) or if this was a treatment to try to sell a novel or RPG video game. The world building was compelling, but the story was not.
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danooli
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2012, 07:12:31 PM »

This wasn't my favorite episode, but, that's ok. I am still interested in more from this author.  The narration was wonderful, even with.  Grin 
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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2012, 09:57:03 AM »

Really? Snrrking is a whole number release? In my software that would be a dot dot version (a.aa.aaa), released as a software patch.

Snrrking is, of course, but one of the incredible new features included as part of Unblinking 2.0.  Marshmallow-toasting, Mega Man playing, and now it can drive itself (90% of trips guaranteed to not end with a crash).
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2012, 01:43:37 PM »

You sure this wasn't by China Mieville?  Wink

I liked the imagery, but the multiple character narration made it disjointed and hard to follow.

My biggest disappointment is as a librarian, I wanted to hear more about them.

And Dave, you're right. 2012 sucked. Burn, baby, burn.
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2013, 06:48:50 PM »

Ah I recall the great snrrking of 2012...which was during an interesting little tidbit about a world I'd love to know more about. I think people hit it right on the head that there is more going on here than we are seeing and that it'd be great to learn more about it.

Hmm I wonder if there are any good story collections where every story is happening at the same time, are stand-alones still, but all add together into something bigger. I feel like Steven Kings Dream Catcher was like that, in that it felt like several smaller novels at the same time, though I don't think he was particularly successful with that one.
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