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Author Topic: EP388: Trixie and the Pandas of Dread  (Read 6245 times)
eytanz
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« on: March 21, 2013, 03:39:13 AM »

EP388: Trixie and the Pandas of Dread

By Eugie Foster

Read by Mur Lafferty

--

Trixie got out of her cherry-red godmobile and waved away the flitting cherubim waiting to bear her to her sedan chair. She wasn’t in the mood for a reverent chorus of hosannas, and the sedan chair desperately needed re-springing. She felt every jostle and jounce from those damned pandas. A day didn’t pass that she didn’t regret adopting giant pandas as her sacred vahanas. Sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time. They were so cute with their roly-poly bellies and black-masked faces, but they were wholly unsuited to be beasts of conveyance. The excessive undulation of their waddling gaits was enough to make Captain Ahab seasick, and their exclusive diet of bamboo made them perpetually flatulent. The novelty of being hauled along by farting ursines in a stomach-roiling sedan chair had gotten very old very fast. But there wasn’t a lot she could do about it now. It was all about the brand. Pandas were part of her theology. If she adopted new vahanas, she’d likely end up with a splitter faction, possibly even a reformation. Such a pain in the ass.

So she’d started walking more—well, floating really, since gods weren’t supposed to tread the earth. Appearances and all.

Drifting a hairsbreadth above the pavement, Trixie pulled out her holy tablet and launched the Karmic Retribution app. The first thumbnail belonged to a Mr. Tom Ehler, the owner of the walkway and the two-story colonial house it led to. She unpinched two fingers across the screen to zoom up Mr. Ehler’s details.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2013, 06:02:13 AM »

As much as I'm drawn to the idea of a deity whose sole job is ridding the world of dickheads, I found this tale a bit too cutesy for my tastes.  By the middle of the story, the accumulation of god puns just became annoying.

And with all the references to tablets/apps/etc, this one is bound to sound extremely dated in 10 years time.


On another note, where did the feedback disappear to?
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2013, 06:24:56 AM »

I liked it. We definitely need a god/dess of righteous badass. Just.... well, pandas? Really? The god/dess of righteous badass should like phoenixes or something.
When the story first started out I was reminded a lot of Zelazny's Lord of Light. Which I absolutely love. This I liked differently. It wasn't as well-formed as a full length novel (duh) but what I liked more about it is that the people are people. One can easily identify with them.
Especially with the goddess of punishing ass-hattedness stuck in cordially backed up traffic.

Chemistryguy: the feedback was obviously devoured by the evil geek who has somehow escaped the PP dungeons.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 06:47:56 AM by Max e^{i pi} » Logged

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epilonious
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2013, 06:53:15 AM »

Yes yes yes yes yes YES YES YES YES YES YES OH GAWD...  Time to stuff my face with Pepperidge Farm...

Sorry for the mess, Eugie Foster always seems to give me storygasms.  I remember first hearing Tanuki Kettle on the way to work and almost wrecking the car in fits of glee.  And this story was no different... From the puns to the pandas to the choice of Trixie's godly friends.  I just smiled more and more.  I can see why some people might be put off by the sweetness alongside the viscera in several of her stories... But for some reason I revel in it.

Time for me to issue positive reinforcement in the form of a bigger-than-usual donation to Escape Artists.

*off to paypal*
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 Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 07:14:20 AM »

Sorry for the mess, Eugie Foster always seems to give me storygasms.  I remember first hearing Tanuki Kettle on the way to work and almost wrecking the car in fits of glee. 

That's interesting.  I've been working my way through all of the archived PCs and I'd just listened to Tanuki Kettle the other day.  I'd not noticed that was the same author.

I'm sorry to say I guess I just don't go for her writing style.  Ah well.
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matweller
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2013, 08:15:31 AM »

On another note, where did the feedback disappear to?

I didn't get it in time for me to upload the episode Wednesday night. My understanding is that the episode is supposed to be there for people on Thursday morning, so if it doesn't hit then, it's because I don't have the host spot or I don't have the story or something heavy fell on me.

Perhaps we'll double-shot the feedback next week if Sir Nathan can work a good segue between the two.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2013, 09:01:38 AM »

On another note, where did the feedback disappear to?
Perhaps we'll double-shot the feedback next week if Sir Nathan can work a good segue between the two.
I have no doubt in his capabilities. Sir Nathan is the captain of the Segue Monkeys. In the spirit of this puntastic episode...
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2013, 09:24:41 AM »

On another note, where did the feedback disappear to?

I didn't get it in time for me to upload the episode Wednesday night. My understanding is that the episode is supposed to be there for people on Thursday morning, so if it doesn't hit then, it's because I don't have the host spot or I don't have the story or something heavy fell on me.

Perhaps we'll double-shot the feedback next week if Sir Nathan can work a good segue between the two.

I figured it was something like that.  I  found it humorous that Alasdair's outro is asking us to "choose feedback", then just ends the episode with a closing quote.
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2013, 11:05:16 AM »

I basically enjoyed the hell out of this. My commute was a bit longer than usual today (Thanks, Atlanta!) so I was able to fit in the entire story...even if doing so meant I had to sit in the car in the parking lot for about five minutes to work in that last part.

I've been a fan of Eugie Foster for a while, and this story doesn't change that. I giggled or laughed aloud pretty much all the way in. One man's too-cutesy puns are another man's tasty breakfast cereal. Apparently.

Anyway...I have decided to give up atheism and become a devotee of Trixie, long may her winged pandas be non-flatulent. Luckily, we're all safe from her wrath here on escapeartists.net.
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2013, 06:56:29 PM »

I usually don't go for stories like this, but it was Eugie, so I listened longer, and it won me over with its humor.  My ultimate favorite line:

Quote
Cheek-turning simply wasn't her Gospel.  She was more of an 'Eye for an I-Blow-Your-Head-Off' type.

Extremely funny!
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« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2013, 07:41:06 PM »

I enjoyed this story on my way to work this morning, which made the protagonist deity's commute particularly entertaining to me.

I think that while the deityPad accoutrements may prevent the story from aging particularly well, it was a good piece that was worth my time.

It's also gotten me to resolve to myself to actually get more on the feedback bandwagon, as I often have thoughts about this or that story, but rarely get up the gumption to actually share them with potentially interested parties.  So, hi from a sometime and hopefully former lurker!
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epilonious
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2013, 07:14:39 AM »

I basically enjoyed the hell out of this. My commute was a bit longer than usual today (Thanks, Atlanta!)

Well Hello to the Fellow Atlantan... Ahhh, Atlanta: always moving.  Slower than you want, faster than you need.
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 Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2013, 03:52:42 AM »

First, let me apologize (great way to start eh?). I don't enjoy criticizing an author's work, especially knowing it takes a lot of time and effort to write a story. You put yourself into a story and when someone attacks it, it's like they are attacking a part of you.

That said, I did not enjoy this story at all. More than just that, it really grated on me, probably more than any story I've listened all the way through on Escape Pod (and there are only a handful I don't stick with to the end). It bothered me so much I actually registered to comment on it. Admittedly, it's kinda lame I because there have been so many truly amazing or very interesting stories I thought about commenting on and then just didn't get around to it. Hopefully I'll do better in the future.

Secondly, I do want to say I thought the story had a good premise. I think it had a lot of potential, but I found the execution (pun alert?) to be quite lacking.

Why the negative vibes, you ask? Let me count the ways:

1.I didn't get the point. Or if I did, I found it disturbing.
So the girl has godlike powers, goes around killing people she sees as jerks and then one day finds that ruthless smiting is losing its luster. So she goes to some kind of stripper bar with her fellow goddite and is encouraged to just cheer up and believe in herself more (a mantra our culture loves to throw around all too often and one that seems strange advice to a god), she then shows up at the wedding of a smitee's (yes, I just made that word up) son and, after being insulted by a child, basically annihilates everyone but the wedding party. She gives the couple some blessings and feels much better about herself and life in general. The end.

So what does this story tell us? That the world would be a better place if we could just kill all the mean people? Wow! Even if we're just talking about racist people, which is the kind of people this story seems to be judging the most harshly, is that really what would make the world better? Who would be left? I think if we're honest we'd have to admit we all hold some pretty serious prejudices and certainly every one of us has misjudged another at some point. Thankfully, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day and not Malcolm X day. Because mercy is not only better, but more also effective than wrath.
Or is this some kind of commentary on religious deities? If so, it does an incredibly poor job of representing the ones most people believe in.
Perhaps the only conclusion I might agree with is that if a bunch of us suddenly got god-like powers the world would be a pretty rough place to live in. Still, I think the author seems to condone Trixie's actions, not condemn them.

2. The two god characters we meet were reprehensible. I think Greek mythology is fascinating and one thing that seems to stand out about it is the gods being a lot like us but with way more power. The story seemed to play off of that idea, but to its detriment. The god characters seemed so ungodlike and much more like really awful college kids with crazy superpowers and a few limits on their use. What kind of Pantheon chooses these people? The characters had no depth to them and I found very little to admire about them. Have I ever been angry at insensitive, judgmental people? Sure, heck I've even wished their nonexistence I time or two, but I look back on those feelings with regret, not admiration.

3. The story has some very outrageous assumptions. For example: what normal human being, no matter how they might dislike their family, is totally chill if they all get torched in the middle of their wedding? It's just so messed up, I don't know how to comprehend it. Those who have lost a family member they were at odds with don't typically get happier (maybe in cases of extreme abuse) they regret the fact that things were never made right before the end. A happy family is one that finds reconciliation, not retribution.
And another one: it's perfectly fine to kill children as long as they're mean, selfish and unreasonably judgmental? I guess we're in for a serious death toll then, because sometimes even the best parents find themselves with some pretty nasty little whippersnappers. Heck, they're kids for crying out loud. But they still keep loving them and teaching them what is right and wrong, they certainly don't burn them to death because of a lack of character.

4. The thing that bothered me the most is that there was no redemption, for anyone. Trixie never really changed, and maybe that's why I stuck it out to the end, because I was hoping something would break her hard, judgmental, wrathful heart. She didn't give anyone a chance to repent. In her own words, she was neither just nor merciful. Only angry. That's one thing I find singularly amazing about the Bible, it takes the lowest, the scumbags, the people society has completely given up on as too sinful to be saved and it gives them hope, transformation and life when there was none. And, lest the "righteous" think everything is fine and dandy with them, it puts everyone in their place (let he without sin cast the first stone). It condemns wickedness while offering forgiveness to the wicked who repent. Justice with mercy makes for a much better story.

Final thoughts:
-Though this doesn't bother me as much as it does most people, I'd hardly label this as a sci-fi story. The godOS device was barely scraping it by, and it really worked about the same as a modern iPad, but for gods. Mostly, the story just didn't have that sci-fi feel to it. It was lacking all the things that I think makes sci-fi great. Fantasy though? I'd say it fits like a magical unicorn glove, but that'd be a silly thing to say.

-I get that this is a work of humor (can't say I appreciated that aspect of it), but even humor must be taken seriously because it's still giving a message. Just because it's funny doesn't make it right.

Thanks for reading this lengthy rant. I look forward to your responses, whether you agree or think I'm in need of a good smiting myself.
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2013, 06:00:30 AM »

I basically enjoyed the hell out of this. My commute was a bit longer than usual today (Thanks, Atlanta!)

Well Hello to the Fellow Atlantan... Ahhh, Atlanta: always moving.  Slower than you want, faster than you need.

That makes three of us. Fortunately my commute time only changes if there's an accident on the road. Otherwise it's not too bad.
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2013, 06:04:15 AM »

As everyone knows, the quickest way to my heart is via fart joke, so this story hooked me right away. I thought it was funny and clever, although I do agree with the person who said the tablet thing would be a bit dated -- however, they do have iPads (basically) on Star Trek, so one never knows. If I had a problem with the story, it was in the church scene when Trixie explodes. I almost didn't feel like there was enough for that to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Trixie's life as a goddess is full of drudgery -- smite this guy, smite that girl, etc -- and while I got the point, from a story perspective I almost would've liked another beat, rather than the scene in the Junkyard (ha. ha. ha., by the way).

I also think that a narrator of color might have been optimal, because until the little girl said that Trixie wasn't white, my mental picture of her was with caucasian skin tone. I'm not saying that Mur's narration affected my enjoyment of the story, but it may have changed the way I perceived Trixie's anger at the end.
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TheArchivist
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2013, 01:20:02 PM »

It bothered me so much I actually registered to comment on it.
I've only recently registered, and this is the first story I've commented on, too. Just not for that reason.

1.I didn't get the point. Or if I did, I found it disturbing.
...
So what does this story tell us?
No, I'd say you didn't get the point, or you wouldn't ask that question. Mind you, my logic there also extends to why I think Alasdair completely missed the point, because in his outro he insisted on trying to make it all deep and meaningful social commentary. No, Alasdair, not everything is deep, not everything demands your so-called wisdom! Sorry, I'm not going to get into a rant on why I intensely dislike Alasdair's outros, I just feel that this was a fun, humorous story. It doesn't need to tell us anything! It was fun! That's all it needs to be and it did it well.

2. The two god characters we meet were reprehensible.
Yes. That entirely fits with the concept of a pantheon. As I had to be reminded at the last meeting of my local writers' group, gods in fantasy pantheons do not need to be like the Christian God, because they are not Him. They are not real, so why care? The ancient Greek gods were pretty reprehensible.

3. The story has some very outrageous assumptions.
Well yeah! It's got a pantheon of random gods in it! What do you expect? See my response to your point 1.

4. The thing that bothered me the most is that there was no redemption, for anyone. Trixie never really changed,
I think she came to accept the truth (within the context of the story!) and thus achieved some closure. That's enough redemption, I think.

-Though this doesn't bother me as much as it does most people, I'd hardly label this as a sci-fi story.
No, I'd agree there. It's clearly fantasy and probably belongs on PodCastle, but hey, I'm not subscribed to that so I'd have missed it there, so I'm not complaining.

-I get that this is a work of humor (can't say I appreciated that aspect of it), but even humor must be taken seriously because it's still giving a message. Just because it's funny doesn't make it right.
Errr... I totally disagree with you here. Totally. If it's a work of humour and declares itself as such (and hey, that title is a dead give-away) then being funny is really all it needs to achieve. If it had failed in that then it would have failed (like an awful lot of what passes for comedy these days). But I found it fun and even laughed aloud a couple of times. I'll say it again: it DOESN'T NEED TO HAVE A DEEP MESSAGE.
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Max e^{i pi}
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2013, 04:23:15 PM »

GAH! All you "stories with tablets won't age well" people are pissing me off.
First of all, so what? When you write a story you write a story for now. Who cares that in two hundred years when we all have implants and nobody uses tablets anymore that the story won't sound up to date? Honestly, you guys are just being narrow minded.
And second of all, do stories with fountain pens age poorly? Or stories with gas lanterns? How about carriages? And knights? What about people wearing togas and sandals? Nobody reads a story and says to themselves "Ha-ha! The people in this story were so backwards and ancient that they used stone and chisels to write with!"

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go feed some pandas and offer a carefully worded and grammatically correct email to a certain goddess.
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eytanz
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2013, 09:46:14 PM »

No, I'd say you didn't get the point, or you wouldn't ask that question. Mind you, my logic there also extends to why I think Alasdair completely missed the point, because in his outro he insisted on trying to make it all deep and meaningful social commentary. No, Alasdair, not everything is deep, not everything demands your so-called wisdom! Sorry, I'm not going to get into a rant on why I intensely dislike Alasdair's outros, I just feel that this was a fun, humorous story. It doesn't need to tell us anything! It was fun! That's all it needs to be and it did it well.

TheArchivist - please rethink your tone when posting. You can disagree with other posters, and with Alasdair's approach to this outros, without being confrontational about it.
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« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2013, 08:41:06 AM »

This was a cartoon, wasn't it, where all the characters were 12 years old? (and damn difficult to narrate as a result so well done, that Mur Lafferty). Whether it had a message buried in its farty blasty humour is kinda down to the reader. I didn't think so, at least not beyond reinforcing my view that all gods are capricious and not to be trusted and I brought that with me. Should there have been? I don't think there should be too many 'shoulds' in writing but if anyone needs a message well, we're all in here banging each other over the head with frying pans and leaving our face imprints in doors and walls so something must have happened Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2013, 04:33:05 PM »

. Just because it's funny doesn't make it right.

Thanks for reading this lengthy rant. I look forward to your responses, whether you agree or think I'm in need of a good smiting myself.

Yes Lambear, you are right, absolutely right.  The problem with this story is that it could only really work for someone who at some level thinks that racism is worse than murder, and as you so succinctly say - making it funny doens't make it right.

In terms of it's technical content it was a pretty good story, and I enjoyed the Pandas and deities teme (which somehow reminded me of Disney's treatment of Hercules) - yes that was all good fun, but there was something wrong about this story. What's wrong is that it's very revealing about what current political fashion says are the worst things wrong in (Western) society at the moment. Racisim, sexism, in fact any kind of "ism" are viewed as about the worst thing out there at the moment. Not murder (which the 'hero' of this story commits multiple times over) not poverty, not violence (unless it's in the context of gender and sexual orientation); and that's what bugged me about it. It wanted me to adopt a worldview that I think it twisted and unbalanced. There's no sense of perspective.

And hear me here please, racism - WRONG, sexism - WRONG. Discrimination - WRONG. Absolutely. Absolutely, but really, murder? VERY WRONG.



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