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Author Topic: PC253: Virtue's Ghosts  (Read 2955 times)
Talia
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« on: March 27, 2013, 08:01:00 AM »

PodCastle 253: Virtue’s Ghosts

by Amanda M. Olson

Read by Amanda Fitzwater

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

For two weeks after she moved into our house, no one could convince me
that Aunt Victoria was not a ghost. With soundless steps, she drifted
from room to room in a dress the same blue-gray color as the pendant
around her neck.  When she cried, I heard nothing.  Once, as Mother
tried to calm her, Aunt Victoria opened her mouth as if screaming and
broke a plate against the wall.  There was no sound from the glass
until it hit the floor.

It was ten days past her coming-of-age ceremony when she came to live
with us, after a week of urgent telegrams and hushed dining room
conversations between Mother and Aunt Lily.  This _was_ a boarding
house, Aunt Lily pointed out, and Victoria would take up one of the
rooms without paying rent.

Aunt Victoria was bad for business.  In the early days, more than
once, we would find her in a room with a knife, hacking desperately at
the ribbon around her throat. It never took the slightest damage,
though Aunt Victoria managed to cut her fingers more than once.  Other
times, she would stand at her window and stare out, causing more than
one potential boarder to start at the eerie sight and promptly take
themselves over to the less-respectable Mrs. Harper’s.  I hid behind
Mother’s skirts when Aunt Victoria came into the room.  I remember
wishing that I, too, could move in with Mrs. Harper.

Rated PG.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 07:43:43 AM by Talia » Logged
Kaa
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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2013, 11:05:12 AM »

I listened to this one twice because I kept getting distracted. I wanted to like it more than I do. I found the world more fascinating than this story told in it. I want to know more about the pendants and the why and how and less about these characters. And I guess the choice of an 8-year-old narrator didn't help me, because it seemed like it was a way for the author to deliberately withhold information from the reader/listener by having her be ignorant of things that an adult narrator would have caught onto more quickly.
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LadiesAndGentleman
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2013, 07:32:39 PM »

I liked this one.  Interesting cast of characters and cool world building.

I love characters like Aunt Victoria. I hope she finds a way to talk again, one day.
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LMGrey
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2013, 07:59:18 PM »

Really, really liked this one. It was haunting--with all of the gothic creepiness of Jane Eyre and just enough originality to leave you wondering what your own virtue would be--and how it would be a blessing, and how a curse.

It also reminded me of my confirmation to the Catholic church. An element of the process I remember vividly is that you were encouraged to chose a gift of the Holy Spirit (there were seven). I chose understanding... and much like a superpower, it is fascinating to 'try on' the gifts. Like beautiful pendants, really... that you can never take off...
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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2013, 08:10:35 PM »

It also reminded me of my confirmation to the Catholic church. An element of the process I remember vividly is that you were encouraged to chose a gift of the Holy Spirit (there were seven). I chose understanding... and much like a superpower, it is fascinating to 'try on' the gifts. Like beautiful pendants, really... that you can never take off...

Strongly agree.  I definitely thought about Catholicism when I heard the ritual described.  Being that I'm not Catholic myself, I had no idea about the practice of getting a gift from the Holy Spirit.  That sounds even stranger to me than the world of this story!
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 12:56:20 AM »

I liked the way this slowly unreeled until you're finally given what Aunt Victoria's Gift - i.e., sin to be counteracted -was. I thought it was quite well laid out.


My only wonder is --- did you need an Anzac narrator? (I'm right about the narrator being a New Zealander, yes? and not South African?) Because I picked up a reference to 4th of July, and I didn't think any other English speaking countries acknowledged that date.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 02:47:05 PM »

I really enjoyed this one! I thought that having the POV character be an older child was a great choice by the author. Old enough to eventually pick up on things and have a basic understanding of how the world works, but young enough to still be naive and innocent of certain family "truths." I also really enjoyed watching Aunt Victoria grow into her virtue. Isn't it the truth that sometimes we take a bit longer than might be hoped to learn life's lessons? Smiley
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 06:15:32 AM »

My only wonder is --- did you need an Anzac narrator? (I'm right about the narrator being a New Zealander, yes? and not South African?) Because I picked up a reference to 4th of July, and I didn't think any other English speaking countries acknowledged that date.

The reference threw me as well.  I'd assumed up to this point that the story was not taking place in the U.S.

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LMGrey
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2013, 02:55:42 PM »

No criticisms from me on the narrator--As a midwesterner, I eat up the accents! I'd listen to a story in that accent set in the American Revolution Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2013, 08:40:39 PM »

I hope this is one of those situations where a lack of response just means everyone enjoyed it and can't think of much to say. 

*I* liked it a lot, anyway.  I tend to be fascinated by anything involved conceptual vs. perceptual self, though.  If I had any complaint, it would be that I didn't really feel that the role of the Virtues was quite enough to justify the terror of having one installed; if there had been a whole community of Luddites who objected on more philosophical grounds but were being forced into it anyway, the extreme steps taken to avoid it would make more sense.  Having it just be that one family's weird halfway-serious attempt to avoid it rather weakened the impact and made the ending a bit of a trail-off instead of a resounding closure for me.
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zoanon
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 05:19:34 PM »

loved the concept of the story,
I hope there is a sequel where aunt Victoria swoops in on silent wings to rescue Rose from her coming of age ceremony Smiley

p.s also loved the narration, Amanda Fitzwater is one of my favorite readers Smiley


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FeloniusMonk
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 05:41:00 PM »

I enjoyed the story - the filter of a child narrator always makes for interesting pacing in my opinion.
It didn’t kick in during the story but afterwards I developed a real creeping horror feel when thinking about a state/religion that controls its citizen’s in this way. I’d love to know more about this world.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2013, 10:40:22 PM »

My only wonder is --- did you need an Anzac narrator? (I'm right about the narrator being a New Zealander, yes? and not South African?) Because I picked up a reference to 4th of July, and I didn't think any other English speaking countries acknowledged that date.

I don't personally know Amanda's nationality but her accent is pure NZ, yes.
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2013, 11:05:32 AM »

To emotionally support people (and add one more post to my count--come on, next level, where are you?), I'll say that I liked this story all around and can't think of much to say.
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Biscuit
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2013, 10:13:52 PM »

Yus, I is a New Zealander Smiley

Amanda

PS: *blush* Thanks zoanon
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Talia
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2013, 10:54:22 PM »

Enjoyable if vaguely depressing. I hope that populace stages a rebellion against their evil pendant overlords someday.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2013, 02:15:51 PM »

This one I had trouble following and had to read along. But it was worth it. Wonderful story, and the world is interesting, if indeed a little chilling. I also found it very interesting that Brandon's parents helped him with the falsehood.

Also: "Floral explosion of a sofa". I think I used to have something like that.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2013, 08:54:30 AM »

I enjoyed this one a lot.  The information was played out at a good pace that allowed me to understand the setting without it being fed to me in one big lump.  Before I fully understood the setting the puzzle of it kept me interested, and afterward the conflict caused by the setting did the same.  I especially appreciated the note from the aunt who said that the ribbon doesn't change who you are.  Underneath it all you are still you.  We all have to wear different hats to fill our roles in society, and it strikes me as an oddly reassuring thought for a child before their coming-of-age to understand that.  You may be a mother, a father, an engineer, a brother, a sister, a volunteer, a governor, and you'll act somewhat differently to fit the roles, but underneath it all you're still you.

It also makes me wonder what my ribbon would represent.  If I had to guess at a personality flaw for myself, I'd guess absentmindedness, so if that's the case then I guess my ribbon would represent mental acuity.  Probably to the annoyance of others when I remember all the things that they said that they didn't really mean.  Tongue
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staubfinger
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« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2013, 07:46:10 PM »

I absolutely adored this one. The concept, the world, the characters, all of it! It pulled me in slowly and built up until I was deeply engrossed in the story. My one quibble would be the ending. I can understand and accept it but... I felt as if I'd just gotten the hang of how things were going. What I really want is for this to be extended into a full-length novel because I am kind of obsessing about this right now.
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Umbrageofsnow
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« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2013, 04:33:42 PM »

I was kind of lukewarm on this one.  I loved the last lines, with the missing silver, but I otherwise found myself a bit bored with it.  It's an interesting world, I like the fight over whether or not the virtues define you, but I felt like it didn't explore that as much as I would have liked, particularly how our child protagonist feels about it, the concept of running or whether the running was misguided.  I'm not opposed to an ambiguous ending, but I found this one a bit too vague to be satisfactory.
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