Author Topic: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku  (Read 13240 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« on: March 24, 2013, 02:03:49 AM »
Pseudopod 326: Bunraku

By David X. Wiggin.

“Bunraku” was originally published in BETE NOIRE MAGAZINE #8

DAVID X. WIGGIN spent the earliest years of his childhood in Japan and was lucky enough to see a bunraku show live. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his very much flesh-and-blood wife. His fiction has appeared in STEAMPUNK MAGAZINE, STEAMPOD, THEAKER’S QUARTERLY FICTION and ALT HIST MAGAZINE.

Your reader this week - John Chu - has had short fiction published in markets including BOSTON REVIEW, ASIMOV’S SCIENCE FICTION and TOR.COM. He blogs HERE.



“’They make her look like just another beautiful young woman,’ the old man said, ‘but really she’s more beautiful than any woman could be. I suppose it wouldn’t be fair to expect a drawing to capture what even photograph couldn’t. She’s at her most beautiful when she’s moving. When she’s still, it’s like admiring an unbent bow or an unsheathed sword.’

Now Shizuo recognized the old man as Kinoko’s puppeteer. The thought of this shriveled crab with his claw in her back, pulling strings and turning knobs, filled him with loathing. He wanted any reminder of that ugly truth out of his sight. He kept his eyes on the poster. The old man went on.

‘I noticed you in the crowd. You caught my attention immediately- your eyes did. I saw real love in them for Kinoko. I’ve always said that the truest proof of her perfection would be if someone fell in love with her. I’ve seen all sorts of eyes in the audience. Lustful, admiring, jealous, curious… but your eyes were the first I ever saw with love.

‘Would you like to meet her?’

Shizuo still could not bring himself to look at the puppeteer but he nodded.”



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Frungi

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2013, 08:57:35 PM »
I’m sorry, but I found this reading simply unlistenable. The way the dialogue is read makes it sound like all the characters are brain-damaged or something, and every Japanese word sounds like it belongs on a language-learning CD. Does anyone have a link to this story so I can read it?

Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 10:01:49 PM »

Listener

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2013, 07:48:27 AM »
I agree that there were some issues with the narration -- mostly that it sounded like he was yelling whenever the old man was speaking.

The story was interesting enough.
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Frungi

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2013, 11:49:50 AM »
I decided to give it another chance, and fortunately, I’d already gotten through most of the dialogue by the time I first stopped listening. Most of the rest of the story was narrative, which the reader read just fine (except for the odd Japanese word). I wish I knew the story behind the reading. Like, does he think that’s how Japanese people sound or something?

As for the story story, it struck me more as weird fantasy than horror, might fit better on The Drabblecast than here. And aside from the fact that the woman was a puppet (which ended up being somewhat less of a factor than I might have expected), it was just a run-of-the-mill love triangle crime of passion.

Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2013, 01:58:31 PM »
Quote
As for the story story, it struck me more as weird fantasy than horror, might fit better on The Drabblecast than here.

I'll mention that to the DRABBLECAST guys sleeping in the next bunk in our enormous gymnasium/co-ed dorms.

Alasdair5000

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 02:24:20 PM »
HEY! KEEP IT DOWN OVER THERE! SOME OF US ARE ON UK TIME!;)

(And at the far end of the dorm every genre fiction podcast shares, Scott Sigler cranks up the AC/DC and laugh and laughs and laughs)

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2013, 07:23:45 PM »
Loved the story (though I really wanted it to delve a little more into the intriguing conceptual space of a consciousness that arises as an emergent property of the interaction between the puppet and the puppeteer).

But ye gods, I almost couldn't make it through the reading.  I'm not sure what Mr. Chu intended (and it was clearly intentional, as he sounded perfectly pleasant and normal in the narration and when reading the other characters) but the old man SAID.  EVERYTHING.  WITH A.  DIAPHRAGM.  PUNCH.  AND IT.  WAS.  REALLY.  HARD.  TO LISTEN.  TO.  It was doubly a shame because the old man was quite a central figure, and if he'd had some more expressiveness, it would have really made that early part's beauty shine through.  Those of you who pay attention to me know that I really, really don't normally comment on the readings, as I tend to focus heavily on the words rather than their tone (unless the reading is particularly skillful).  This one emphatically did not work for me.

Story was still tops, though.
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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2013, 08:16:12 PM »
Y'know, I didn't find the narration that bad. In fact, I felt it added to the oddness of the story.

Frungi

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2013, 10:32:45 PM »
he sounded perfectly pleasant and normal in the narration and when reading the other characters
Are you sure? I seem to recall every character shouting staccato syllables. (Whee, alliteration.) I don’t remember much of the main character’s dialogue, but I know the old man’s apprentice was read the same way.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 10:44:10 PM by Frungi »

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2013, 11:14:22 PM »
What I found particularly interesting was how the apprentice found that once he was puppeting the girl, he couldn't make her love him, any more than, say, your amygdala can plot against your dog.  But he could "make her kill" the husband, just like a mental illness can make you act against your own interests.  In a way, the apprentice was Kinoko's depression, giving her insomnia and taking away her interest in her daily life without altering her fundamental inclinations...
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Listener

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2013, 07:28:22 AM »
he sounded perfectly pleasant and normal in the narration and when reading the other characters
Are you sure? I seem to recall every character shouting staccato syllables. (Whee, alliteration.) I don’t remember much of the main character’s dialogue, but I know the old man’s apprentice was read the same way.

The narration was handled very well. The dialogue is where I had trouble.
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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2013, 09:26:27 AM »
I'm easily taken out of a story by SFX or "bad" narration but for some reason the oddness of this one worked for me.  It was like he was speaking English as a second language.  I was afraid it would run throughout but the rest of the narration was "normal" and the odd voice of the old man just seemed to add something to his character...

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2013, 05:07:16 PM »
I too did not mind the narration. I found parts of the story difficult to follow. I do not think that was the narrator, but rather some awkward flow in the story. Overall, I enjoyed it.

The narrator sounded similar to that used in an espcape pod episode a while back regarding Chinese New Year and a plague... but I did not catch the narrator's name on that episode.

People mentioned the story sort of had a drabblecast vibe... which is true, but I think there was no mistaking it for anything but horror.

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2013, 12:43:19 PM »
it's been a while since I listened to Pseudopod due to a number of circumstances, and it's a shame that this is the first story I listened to to get back into it.  The story itself was hardly of the horror genre, more of a bizarre fantasy, yet not Podcastle material.  The narration wasn't horrible, but it did take a little bit to get the feel for the story.  The dialog, though, oh, the dialog!  I felt like someone was poking an ice pick in my ears every time the old man spoke - or rather, WISHED someone would poke an ice pick in my ears!  Although, in retrospect, it's a good thing no one did otherwise the last thing I would remember would be that horrid affectation of a voice.

Frungi

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2013, 02:48:34 PM »
Mr. Chu, if you’re out there, please tell us what was up with that!

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2013, 12:30:50 AM »
it's been a while since I listened to Pseudopod due to a number of circumstances, and it's a shame that this is the first story I listened to to get back into it.  The story itself was hardly of the horror genre, more of a bizarre fantasy, yet not Podcastle material.  The narration wasn't horrible, but it did take a little bit to get the feel for the story.  The dialog, though, oh, the dialog!  I felt like someone was poking an ice pick in my ears every time the old man spoke - or rather, WISHED someone would poke an ice pick in my ears!  Although, in retrospect, it's a good thing no one did otherwise the last thing I would remember would be that horrid affectation of a voice.

Oi.  This is a warning.  Posts like these are NOT tolerated.  This is purely mean-spirited and useless in terms of constructive criticism.  I'd like to point you to our One Rule.  Read it, follow it, or you're out.
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CaroCogitatus

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2013, 12:32:15 AM »
[SPOILERS AHEAD - YE BE WARNED]

So am I the only one who was skeeved out that the protagonist repeatedly had sex with a wooden doll whose every action was controlled by either an old man or a 10 year old boy?

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Well, okay, except for the clearly illegal register-as-a-sex-offender-for-the-rest-of-your-life part. If the overly forced dialogue style didn't kill it for me, that certainly did.

I couldn't help thinking that Kinoko’s puppeteer needed some transgender counseling, since he stayed in character while Shizuo was at work all day. And wasn't this story done better by Lars and the Real Girl (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805564/)?

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2013, 12:47:01 AM »
For some above - not enough to be a horror story...

For others - too much disturbing implication to be enjoyable horror...

Thus, in some inverted way, we have achieved our goal!

Frungi

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Re: Pseudopod 326: Bunraku
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2013, 12:41:55 AM »
So am I the only one who was skeeved out that the protagonist repeatedly had sex with a wooden doll whose every action was controlled by either an old man or a 10 year old boy?

No. No, you are not. And I imagine that was one of the factors that put it into Pseudopod. =P