Author Topic: PC245: On the Acquisition of Phoenix Eggs (Variant)  (Read 5701 times)

Talia

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on: February 01, 2013, 08:56:33 PM
PodCastle 245: On the Acquisition of Phoenix Eggs (Variant)

by Marissa Lingen

Read by Tina Connolly (of Toasted Cake)

Originally published in Lightspeed Magazine. Read the story here!

The usual bidders were there, of course: Dame Eleanor in her sensible pantsuit, Miss Hawes and Miss Singh in their black leather jackets, the full brocade skirts of Mrs. Perriwhite. For whatever reason, we women have always made up the majority of phoenix egg collectors, and nowadays we did not have to send male proxies to do our bidding for us; now we could cordially hate each other directly.

There were other women, less serious than we five, and three men in the auction room: the auction house manager, Mr. Samoilenko himself, and John Weadsleigh. John was one of us, and we accorded him the respect of cordially hating him without regard to his gender. Even Miss Hawes, whom I suspect of hating men in general, did John the courtesy of hating him individually, as a competitor for phoenix eggs rather than as a man, which may be the most generous thing I have ever known her to do.

This was not a situation that encouraged generosity.


Rated PG.

Find out more about Lakeside, the Jay Lake documentary, here.

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Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 01:23:33 PM by Talia »



Umbrageofsnow

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Reply #1 on: February 01, 2013, 11:05:11 PM
I am the King Under the Mountain and...

I didn't like this story very much. I originally listened to it on Lightspeed but gave it a start of a relisten, and I'm still not impressed. I honestly couldn't finish it today, because I just remember not liking it before and 10 minutes in, felt like I was wasting my time because it wasn't improving with age. Which is why I don't have more insightful commentary as to why I didn't like it, and posting this early, I feel like I should have more substantive criticism.

That said, Tina Connolly's reading seems excellent as always.

Wish I could post first on one of those stories I loved and everyone else hated. :-\

I'm honestly not a fan of Podcastle (or Pseudopod or Escape Pod) running reprints that already saw an audio release. For major award nominees I don't mind, because it can be fun to see another take on the narration, but in general I wish more stories could get an audio treatment, rather than multiple attempts for authors who are aware of all the podcasts out there.

I think "A Memory of Wind" is an exception, because:
a) Tor.com is a bit obscure, although I had actually heard that one there, and
b) the original tor.com podcast was corrupt when I last tried to download it to get a friend to listen, and the last 10 minutes were chopped off, so it was nice to get another full version that works.

Neither of those were the case here, the Lightspeed one is pretty popular and it works, so I feel a bit bored with this as my new Podcastle for the week.  I don't like to see all these repeats of already podcasted stories, but it does allow me more time to catch up on Beneath Ceaseless Skies, so I can perpetuate the cycle of being an over-exposed podcast addict.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 11:15:58 PM by Umbrageofsnow »



chemistryguy

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Reply #2 on: February 04, 2013, 11:58:17 AM
It was a fun listen, even though I had no empathy whatsoever for the main character.  When the egg hatches and she sees her mistake, I think tough cookies toots.  I thought you didn't want a variant, but I guess if it's a blue variant that's something altogether different.  Maybe if we were given some idea of just how bad a variant can be.  In my mind, there's still a lot of unknowns with this blue variety.  

Anyway, two other gripes questions spring to mind:

She states earlier that it is peculiar to keep the phoenix after it has hatched.  What's done with them normally, and why hang onto this one?

If she ran the risk of ruining her rep based on selling faulty "merchandise", what's going to be thought of her now that she's a f*&king phoenix thief?




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Reply #3 on: February 04, 2013, 03:27:50 PM
I personally don't mind if one of the casts runs a story that was already in audio elsewhere.  I don't generally re-listen to them, though.  I listen to the intro and outro and go on to the next track.  If I've only read a story in text I will listen to it to see how audio changes it.

So I had heard this one on Lightspeed. I generally liked it, a well-fleshed out group of collectors.  They felt like real people to me.  That being said, I didn't really have a lot of sympathy when it went wrong, if you are a collector who has shloads of money to spend on things for the sake of collecting and you do so, I find it hard to have sympathy when it goes sour.



benjaminjb

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Reply #4 on: February 04, 2013, 04:04:12 PM
Yeah, put me in the cabinet of curiosities with the other eggs that generally liked this story, but felt the protagonist's switch from collector to phoenix-raiser was undermotivated.



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #5 on: February 04, 2013, 05:59:34 PM
Nothing really to add here.
Superb reading, story full of unanswered questions and a few frayed edges. Not plot holes , more like thin, worn out areas in the plot. I mean, if you poke it it'll turn into a hole, but right now, from a distance, it looks fine. Did I take this metaphor too far?

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kibitzer

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Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 01:14:15 AM
Did I take this metaphor too far?

Not at all. In fact, I look forward to seeing how far you can run with it :)


Listener

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Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 06:53:28 PM
I found this story interesting, if a bit too much "rich people who are actually related to each other are rivals and hate each other until they need to pull together" and a bit light on the magic part of things. Which is fine; not all fantasy needs to be glaringly-magical. But it was brought up a lot in the beginning that Louisa and Eleanor are magic experts, and I don't know that it was adequately paid off what with all the discussion of phoenixes (phoenices?). Also, I think the story went on about 30% too long -- the whole thing where Terence and Eleanor helped Louisa rescue the blue phoenix just felt like add-on (similar to the scenes in the English version of Dragon Tattoo, after the climax with the villain, Mikael, and Lisbeth -- and also in the novel). And, finally, I needed a little more to tell me about how easily the blue phoenix bonded with Louisa.

That said, this was an interesting world and a fairly well-told tale. No complaints there, or on the reading.

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InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 07:23:08 PM
What struck me about this story were the themes of wanting what you can't have and the grass always being greener (ok, in this case, bluer) on the other side of the fence. Also greed, regret, and caveat emptor.

I'm going to assume that Russians are involved because of the links to the Firebird myth. But that was my major trip-up. Phoenixes rise from their own ashes. Why do they need eggs?



chemistryguy

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Reply #9 on: February 06, 2013, 03:20:34 AM

I'm going to assume that Russians are involved because of the links to the Firebird myth. But that was my major trip-up. Phoenixes rise from their own ashes. Why do they need eggs?

New phoenix have to come from somewhere


Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #10 on: February 06, 2013, 08:37:50 AM

I'm going to assume that Russians are involved because of the links to the Firebird myth. But that was my major trip-up. Phoenixes rise from their own ashes. Why do they need eggs?

New phoenix have to come from somewhere
Yeah, this bothered me a little too. But then I decided that when the bird goes up in a fiery inferno and leaves behind a small pile of ashes, those ashes either serve as a cushion for an egg, during the fiery incident the bird is consumed by flames and turns into the egg or the ashes come together to form an egg.
Or maybe, the bird lays an egg containing an embryonic clone of itself, and to save the embarrassment of having to live in a world with its own clone it bursts into flame.

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Listener

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Reply #11 on: February 06, 2013, 01:28:11 PM
Or maybe, the bird lays an egg containing an embryonic clone of itself, and to save the embarrassment of having to live in a world with its own clone it bursts into flame.

That's a very Pratchett-ian explanation.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

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Reply #12 on: February 06, 2013, 02:38:05 PM
A phoenix rising from its ashes is a method of reincarnation and rejuvenation, but not of reproduction.  If that were its only means of reproduction, there could only ever be one phoenix.  And who's to say that phoenix can't die in other ways even if they can't die of old age--they need to have wee phoenix babbies to offset that.



Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #13 on: February 06, 2013, 11:29:02 PM
A phoenix rising from its ashes is a method of reincarnation and rejuvenation, but not of reproduction.  If that were its only means of reproduction, there could only ever be one phoenix.  And who's to say that phoenix can't die in other ways even if they can't die of old age--they need to have wee phoenix babbies to offset that.
Ugh, stop being so logical and boring:P

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Reply #14 on: February 07, 2013, 02:26:45 PM
A phoenix rising from its ashes is a method of reincarnation and rejuvenation, but not of reproduction.  If that were its only means of reproduction, there could only ever be one phoenix.  And who's to say that phoenix can't die in other ways even if they can't die of old age--they need to have wee phoenix babbies to offset that.
Ugh, stop being so logical and boring:P

I think it's fun applying logic to fantasy settings.  If you find it boring that's your problem.  :)



Moon_Goddess

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Reply #15 on: February 07, 2013, 02:33:01 PM
Overall I didn't really care for any of the characters in this they all seemed unlikeable

But it didn't detract from me enjoying the story because I really loved the world it was set it.

The world seemed to have a so much stuff going on that we just glimpsed a corner of, and it made me wish to see it fleshed out, actually I'd really really love it fleshed out as a setting for a tabletop RPG,

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Devoted135

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Reply #16 on: February 11, 2013, 04:15:43 PM
I tend to agree with the rest, on the whole the characters were selfish and petty, yet they seemed to get their way regardless. I had some sympathy for Louisa when the egg got sold back to the guy who gypped her. I sort of had some sympathy when the egg promptly hatched into a beautiful phoenix. However, I didn't have any sympathy for her selfish tantrums and demands that the world go her way. Sorry. :-\



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Reply #17 on: February 12, 2013, 04:15:06 AM
Phooey on all of you. I LIKED this story and it was a fun listen. I enjoyed Tina's reading separate from the story, as it was excellent as always. But the story itself was enjoyable to me. I didn't waste time questioning phoenix reproduction; I just took it as part of the story world that phoenixes (phoenices?) lay eggs, and that's that.

It made me laugh out loud in several places, and I didn't mind that the three main characters were a bit on the unlikeable/unreliable side.

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Reply #18 on: February 15, 2013, 01:40:51 AM
This story was hilarious.  Laugh-out-loud-while-alone-in-my-car funny.  I am reminded of some of the more arch moments in Wodehouse; yes, it's a story about rich people having rich-person tantrums and facing only mild rich-person consequences, but the characterization and energetic exchanges are just too fun not to enjoy. 

I would agree that the action-adventure half is weaker than the gloriously affected and mannered beginning, but it was still entertaining, and allowed for a happy ending of sorts.

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flashedarling

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Reply #19 on: February 16, 2013, 06:55:38 PM
I could have liked this story but the main character was just so repulsive I couldn't enjoy it by the end. She didn't even have the redeeming quality of being entertaining. Her self-absorbed tantrum and sense of self-righteousness made me hate her even more.  I liked the story up until she acts like a petulant child and decides to steal it back and the story seems to take her side on this. I mean until then it was a tale about not judging books by their covers, she underestimated the Russian Merchant because she looked down on anyones magical ability outside her elite circle. She disdained the variant because it offended her perfectionist sensibilities. Then when it seems like it will end with a lesson about not having your head up your ass and keeping an open mind it becomes "I should get what I want because who the hell does this peasant think he is?"

It's like the inverse Ugly Duckling.



Talia

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Reply #20 on: February 25, 2013, 01:53:33 PM
I also found the main character to be petty and unlikeable, but I enjoyed the story as a whole so much that that was OK. I find collector culture very interesting, personally, so seeing it surrounding a fantasy object kept my attention. I thought it was a good pairing of a contemporary cultural phenomenon (collecting) and the fantastic.

Although, if this universe has any competent law enforcement at all, she'll totally be going to prison before too long.



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Reply #21 on: March 28, 2013, 06:28:26 PM
I really enjoyed this story.  I liked that it kept going to show the main character's transformation and the thieft of the phoenix.

I had no problem with her change.  I think seeing the beautiful blue phoenix made her realize just how shallow she'd been all along and that led to a life-changing transformation.  She's an unreliable narrator.   We see this in things like her male cousin's magic ("flogistics"!) being much more useful/powerful than she initially discusses.  All that we know of her cousins is clouded by her perceptions.  My take is that they are pretty good people who have barely tolerated their cousin's ill behavior for years.   When she finally realizes how rotten she's been, her cousins gladly help her.

I also have no problem with "reprints."  The Escape Artists are the only podcasts I have time to listen to.  I trust the editors to pick whatever stories they feel should be shared.  Just because a story might be available elsewhere is no reason for Podcastle, Pseudopod, or Escape pod to not run it.  In fact, I was surprised that it was even mentioned and apologized for.



childoftyranny

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Reply #22 on: May 29, 2013, 02:17:10 PM
Oddly enough I didn't find these people all that repulsive, they are rich snobs of course, but for being rich snobs they keep pretty much all their snobbery amongst themselves, I mean if they wanna be petty with other that's much better than if they spend all their time looking down their noses at others!

I recall early on in the story is was mentioned that there were collectors who raised phonecians(wait that isn't it..)  but were somehow a totally different group than those who collected the eggs, so the transition seems pretty normal to me, in that the eggs appears to be collected for their beauty/rarity/prestige but that actually taking care of napalm birds might require a bit more love for the birds.

Though to be honest I suspect she was just throwing a momentary hissy-fit if the birds song itself wasn't flogistically influencing her and will be back to collecting eggs or something similar soon enough.