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Author Topic: PC257: The Queen and The Cambion  (Read 3816 times)
Talia
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« on: April 23, 2013, 09:55:38 PM »

PodCastle 257: The Queen and The Cambion

by Richard Bowes.

Read by Wilson Fowlie (of the Maple Leaf Singers).

Originally appeared in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2012.


“Silly Billy, The Sailor King,” some called King William IV of Great Britain. But never, of course, to his royal face. Then it was always,“Yes, sire,” and, “As your majesty wishes!”

Because certain adults responsible for her care didn’t watch their words in front of a child, the king’s young niece and heir to his throne heard such things said. It angered her.

Princess Victoria liked her uncle and knew that King William IV always treated her as nicely as a boozy, confused former sea captain of a monarch could be expected to, and much of the time rather better.
Often when she greeted him, he would lean forward, slip a secret gift into her hands, and whisper something like, “Discovered this in the late king your grandfather’s desk at Windsor.”

These generally were small items, trinkets, jewels, mementos, long-ago tributes from minor potentates that he’d found in the huge half-used royal palaces, stuck in his pocket, and as often as not remembered to give to his niece.

The one she found most fascinating was a piece of very ancient parchment which someone had pressed under glass hundreds of years before. This came into her possession one day when she was twelve as King William passed Victoria and her governess on his way to the royal coach.

His Britannic Majesty paused and said in her ear, “It’s a spell, little cub. Put your paw in mine.”

Victoria felt something in her hand and slipped it into a pouch under her cloak while the Sailor King lurched by as though he was walking the quarterdeck of a ship in rough water. “Every ruler of this island has had it and many of us have invoked it,” he mumbled while climbing the carriage steps.

She followed him. “To use in times of great danger to Britain?” she whispered.

He leaned out the window. “Or on a day of doldrums and no wind in the sails,” he roared as if she was up in a crow’s nest, his face red as semi-rare roast beef. “You’ll be the monarch and damn all who’d say you no.”


Rated PG.

Special thanks to M.K. Hobson – our Guest Editor and Host this week!

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: May 15, 2013, 09:45:18 AM by Talia » Logged
Frungi
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2013, 09:02:58 PM »

So does anyone else think Her Majesty M.K. should guest-host every episode?
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2013, 11:30:01 PM »

I really liked this; in fact, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would when it started. I like the way one British monarch is woven into the life of Merlin. I like the fact the author resisted the temptation to go whole-hog into the minutia of the Victorian Era and instead chose to focus on Victoria the woman. And I like the way Merlin's asynchronous life is hammered out in the end, the order he was living in.



So does anyone else think Her Majesty M.K. should guest-host every episode?

But then Her Majesty would never get off Her Royal Microphone and write more books....  Smiley  But she is always welcome here. IMHO.
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Frungi
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2013, 02:05:45 AM »

I’ve never been one for history, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of this story, but that doesn’t leave me incapable of enjoying a historical fiction piece. I definitely enjoyed this one, especially with the excellent reading. The way the magic summons apparently had no respect for time, and so he first met her when he was young and she was middle-aged, reminded me of The Time Traveler’s Wife (read the book; I don’t think the movie makes much sense on its own), and I find myself wondering if it influenced this author.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2013, 02:09:47 AM by Frungi » Logged
mkhobson
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2013, 09:13:43 AM »

But then Her Majesty would never get off Her Royal Microphone and write more books....

... And also, sooner or later, I would get the itch to invade France and then we'd all be hosed.  Grin

Frungi, you're not the only one who was reminded of The Time Traveler's Wife. I wondered if Rick was paying it a little sly homage.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2013, 09:23:19 AM »

The way the magic summons apparently had no respect for time, and so he first met her when he was young and she was middle-aged, reminded me of The Time Traveler’s Wife

That was the first thing I thought of.  I enjoyed it a lot, partly due to this.  

« Last Edit: April 29, 2013, 03:36:20 PM by chemistryguy » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2013, 10:56:51 AM »

It didnt rock my socks, but it was a decent story, charming language, well-narrated. I liked how Merlin's timeline was out of whack with Victoria's, although it did make me think about how much free will she really had, constantly listening to his advice.

I enjoyed the intro and outro as well!  Smiley
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LadiesAndGentleman
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2013, 12:09:55 PM »

Eee, M.K. Hobson mentioned my comment for "Throwing Stones" in the outro! Sure, she disagreed, but I can't help fanning myself.  Grin

The Queen and The Cambion was cute!  As an American, the fact I don't want to be ruled by a monarch doesn't keep me from obsessing over the British royal family from afar, hopelessly misguided anglophile that I am. But I wonder what British listeners think of this one?  Camelot and Victorian England are firmly trodden ground in state-side fantasy, so how do they feel about this particular histori-fantasy remix?  Too much?  There's also the end-of-the-monarchy prediction to boot...  It feels like more than a few sacred cows being grilled up for burgers but, firmly grounded in 'MURICAN CULTURE, I can't say this for sure.

The idea of Merlin "aging backwards" has shown up elsewhere, but, continuing on the theme of Britishness, this particular spin felt similar to a contemporary story arc of Doctor Who.  If Queen Victoria wasn't already featured in the revived 2005 series, this story would make a perfect candidate for an episode.

It didnt rock my socks, but it was a decent story, charming language, well-narrated.

I would agree, but the playful approach to Merlin and Victoria's relationship--specifically when he helps her pick a husband and, later, when he appears as a boy to keep her company in her widowhood--is done so well. No, not an instant classic, but it was all very sweet.  Their relationship plucked my heart strings just right.
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2013, 03:35:26 PM »

I liked how Merlin's timeline was out of whack with Victoria's, although it did make me think about how much free will she really had, constantly listening to his advice.

Incidentally, that’s a question that frequently comes up for both leads in The Time Traveler’s Wife (though they try to avoid thinking or talking about it so it doesn’t drive them crazy).
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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2013, 03:14:45 PM »

This episode is so full of win! Gleeful hosting by M.K. Hobson, brilliant narration by Wilson Fowlie, and a fantastic story to hang it on!

I am a huge fan of historical fiction (caveat: when it isn't romance in disguise), and I love British history and Arthurian legends, so basically this story was written for me. Grin

One thing that I particularly liked was how Victoria was a strong, independent woman who also loved deeply; unlike Elizabeth I, she was able to be a strong ruler and a wife at the same time (though I don't blame Elizabeth, I blame the 16th century). I also felt that the story had a great sense of time. All the little details about which monarch did/didn't call on Merlin were really cool and the nod to the future George VI was a great "fangirl" moment for me. I can just imagine him calling on Merlin to help him give speeches in spite of his stutter!
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2013, 12:58:24 PM »

I can just imagine him calling on Merlin to help him give speeches in spite of his stutter!

Devoted, that would make a GREAT story! One could even imagine remaking "The King's Speech" with the minor alteration of Geoffrey Rush's Lionel Logue being Merlin in disguise. I liked that movie fine to begin with, but I would have liked it even better with that twist!
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2013, 01:48:14 PM »

I really liked several things about this story: that it didn't hem-and-haw about who the cambion was; that we got to see a glimpse of the future, both the future for Victoria and the future for us.

I also liked the episodic structure, tied together by the feeling of melancholy and friendship. If anything, I wanted to hear even more about that thread that connected the episodes. The weaving of fantasy and history was done with a very gentle hand.
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Just Jeff
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2013, 08:48:59 PM »

A pleasant tale. I like the development of the title characters' relationship.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2013, 09:31:13 PM »

I can just imagine him calling on Merlin to help him give speeches in spite of his stutter!

Devoted, that would make a GREAT story! One could even imagine remaking "The King's Speech" with the minor alteration of Geoffrey Rush's Lionel Logue being Merlin in disguise. I liked that movie fine to begin with, but I would have liked it even better with that twist!

Yes! That would make a great movie even more fantastic! (haha, get it?)
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MCWagner
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2013, 05:17:40 PM »

... And also, sooner or later, I would get the itch to invade France and then we'd all be hosed.  Grin
Just don't try to invade Russia.  That never goes well.
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« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2013, 09:56:26 PM »

Just don't try to invade Russia.  That never goes well.

I so wish this forum board had "like" buttons  Cheesy
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« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2013, 01:15:42 PM »

Well, the worst part about this was the story, and that was very good.
I love it when Her Majesty the Microphone Tyrant shows up and I love it when Wilson Fowlie narrates, he always does an excellent job.

I think the only thing missing in this story was tension, but that didn't stop me from sitting in my driveway for ten minutes to hear the end. It was a rather simple tale, about surprisingly simple people. I simply loved it Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2013, 12:45:24 PM »

This one didn't do it for me, I'm afraid.  I've never been a fan of third-person-omniscient, and it just seemed really haphazard here, wandering randomly from viewpoint to viewpoint.  None of the characters seemed particularly real to me, possibly because of that.  Though things like, for instance, Merlin snapping at Victoria for interrupting his tortoise spell (and the narration informing us that he really was annoyed) and then deliberately stretching out the suitor-scanning process when he already knew which one he was going to recommend just made the whole thing feel thin, like it was an excuse.  Darned if I know what it was an excuse for, exactly, given how meandering it was; maybe someone really enjoys the Arthurian legend and/or Queen Victoria?  (Both of which rank relatively low on my personal list.)

Just not my thing, I guess.
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« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2013, 01:00:21 PM »

I enjoyed it.  I'm not particularly fanatic about either British monarchy or Arthur legends, but I know enough bits and pieces from both (such as Victoria's mourning of Albert) to appreciate the weaving of them together.  I thought both characters seemed real to me, although I don't think scattercat is wrong that the 3rd person omni didn't do the story any favors.
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« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2013, 07:36:59 AM »

I don't usually enjoy stories where there's no clear conflict, so it was a surprise to me how charmed I was by this. 
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