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Author Topic: PC237: Crossroads  (Read 2131 times)
Ocicat
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« on: December 05, 2012, 02:35:06 AM »

PodCastle 237: Crossroads

by Laura Anne Gilman

Read by Malcolm Charles.

Originally appeared in Fantasy Magazine, August 2011. The text is available.

John came to the crossroads at just shy of noon, where a man dressed all in black stared up at another man hanging from a gallows-tree. No, not hanging; he was being hung, the loop still slack around his neck, his body dangling in mid-air. That, John thought, his pack heavy on his shoulder and his hat pulled low, was not something a wise man would get involved in. And yet, he could not resist asking, “What did he do?”

The man in black turned around and glared at John. “He asked too many impertinent questions.”

The man with the rope around his neck laughed at that, a rueful, amused sound, and John decided he liked the dead man.

“You might want to move on,” the man in black continued in a voice that wasn’t a suggestion. “This is a bad place to be for a lone traveler.”


Rated PG.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!

Edited by DKT: 'cause we messed up the episode number. Sorry!
« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 12:43:59 AM by Talia » Logged
danooli
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2012, 12:06:34 PM »

still listening, but wanted to come in to congratulate Dave!!!  That's wonderful!  May your growing family forever be joyous!  (And, Daniel is a wonderful name, don't you think?  Daniel Hook Thompson sure does have a ring to it...)
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Listener
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2012, 06:10:09 PM »

Okay, that story... happened.

I think my problem was that this story was too short, and that's coming from someone who usually complains that PC episodes had been averaging 45-60 minutes for a few months. There wasn't enough in here for me to really wrap my head around the world, and I also had difficulty following the narration and remembering who's who. I needed more exposition, or at least more details. Sorry, but this one did not work for me.

Give your child at least one geek middle name (like Molly Miyaki Worf O'Brien has). That's my suggestion.
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rintaun
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2012, 03:20:22 AM »

I don't think I agree about the length; it seemed to be just right for the content. It told the story, and it did it well, in my opinion. And though I certainly wouldn't be averse to hearing more about this world (I'd love to, actually), I think this story showed me just enough to let my imagination fill in the details.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2012, 02:14:27 PM »

I'm a bit mixed on this story.  It had a lot of cool ideas, and some cool magic details.  I liked the reaction of the protagonist when told that he couldn't use the magic and his reaction was something like "Who said I wanted to use it?"  I liked that, in that it showed a strategy that the wizards in all their wizard wisdom did not consider--that someone might go to the trouble of taking the magic not in order to use it but to withhold it from others.  It felt like something a spaghetti western sheriff might say.

Where I'm a bit mixed is that the story didn't really evoke any emotion in me.  I didn't really care who won or how it turned out.  My main interest in reading fiction is to get emotionally engaged with the story.  In that respect it didn't do much for me.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2012, 02:56:54 PM »

I'm feeling pretty dull-witted lately, as this the 2nd Podcastle story in as many weeks that I went away feeling a bit confused.  I had a general understanding of what was going on, but the details eluded me (perhaps got distracted while driving?).  Despite not getting all of it, it still managed to entertain.

On another note, congratulations Dave.  Two was enough for me, personally, but enjoy your expanded family unit.  My son was only able to pronounce my daughter's name as Izzy (McKenzie) and that is essentially how all of our family refer to her four years later.  The nickname becomes the name.  Give Hook a trial and see how it suits ya Smiley
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2012, 03:00:42 PM »

Oh yeah, and congratulations!  In a year or two Heather and I could come out to visit and Captain Hook and Giblet could have a playdate.  Smiley
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Cutter McKay
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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2012, 01:40:47 PM »

First, the story. I'm with Listener in that I struggled at times to recognize who was speaking, also there were several places where I wasn't sure if a particular statement had been dialogue or narrative from the Sheriff. I think a lot of that stems from the reader using the same voice for both narration and dialogue. Not that it was poorly read, but varying one's voice from narration to dialogue, even if just slightly, goes along way to helping the listener differentiate between the two.

The tale itself was interesting and I enjoyed it. I liked the delayed revelation of the Sheriff's identity because it kept me wondering for the whole story what his stake was in all of it. I do agree with Unblinking that there was little emotional involvement, though. Part of that disconnection I think comes from the hidden identity of the Sheriff. As much as I like that part, not understanding his stake in the tale makes me not care if he succeeds or fails. I wonder if there would be more emotional payoff if we were told up front that he's the sheriff and we understand what he's fighting for.

Second, Congrats Dave. I have two myself and we're planning a third sometime in the near future. As for name suggestions, Cutter McKay is my never-to-be-used name of choice for my own son. I came up with it years ago, Cutter being a video game character's nickname, McKay is my own middle name. Unfortunately, my wife hates the name and refuses to name any child of hers "Cutter". SO, I have been forced to take it as a sort of pseudonym, naming at least one character in every story I write some variation of the name. For instance, for those who read my EP flash fiction contest entry, there was judge McKay in the courtroom.

That said, I think people should just start naming their kids with gamertags and save them the trouble later on.  Wink 
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2012, 07:35:14 PM »

Interesting short and to the point story. Liked the purity of water and silver, and the identity of the observer.

Oh, and Dave - take a cue from the other Man in Black. Name your boy Sue.   Wink
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DoWhileNot
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« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2012, 10:43:36 PM »

I for one loved this story.  It pulled me in and made me want to read a whole book with these characters.  I didn't spend much time looking for little details that could have been improved because I was enjoying myself too much.  Great job.

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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2012, 03:47:24 PM »

I kept thinking that The Man in Black was good ol' Walter O' Dim. And that carried me through most of the story.
I kept trying to decide if the hanged man was Roland or if John was.
When I finally managed to persuade myself that neither of them was, I immediately caught on to where the story was going, and didn't really care how it ended.
This story won't stick with me, but didn't bore me.
On a lighter note, congrats Dave! I think that you should name him Thomson. Thomson Thomson. Or perhaps Justin T. Thomson. Just Thomson.
Because why pass up this excellent opportunity to embarrass your kid?  Wink
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Devoted135
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2012, 09:29:54 AM »

Congrats Dave! Just remember it's zone defense, not man-to-man from here on out! Cheesy

I really enjoyed this story! I loved the details like wizards taking their names from the directions of the compass, and the use of silver and water. And the parting goodbye to everyone at the crossroads? Gave me chills.


The tale itself was interesting and I enjoyed it. I liked the delayed revelation of the Sheriff's identity because it kept me wondering for the whole story what his stake was in all of it. I do agree with Unblinking that there was little emotional involvement, though. Part of that disconnection I think comes from the hidden identity of the Sheriff. As much as I like that part, not understanding his stake in the tale makes me not care if he succeeds or fails. I wonder if there would be more emotional payoff if we were told up front that he's the sheriff and we understand what he's fighting for.

I think this is a really good point, and can't decide if I would prefer to find out the identity of the observer earlier in the story. On the one hand, it would likely have allowed me to listen through instead of having to rewind every few minutes because I felt like I had missed an important detail. On the other hand, that reveal is just so good at the end!
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Lionman
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2012, 11:57:44 PM »

I like the weird western genre.  It feels sorta like an American version of steam-punk.

So...more, please.
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2013, 06:56:12 PM »

I think I enjoyed the magical ephemera of the story more than the real story, the silver, the water, the methods involved. But by the end I got what the Sheriff was doing, but then again I didn't get why he was doing it, and if he was just doing it be doing it, would the story have been much different if the other party wasn't so disconnected to the other actors? Especially with the focus on how wizards are wizards and other are others I didn't understand why he would be there at all.
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