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Author Topic: PC275: El Alma Perdida de Marguerite Espinoza  (Read 3050 times)
Talia
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« on: August 30, 2013, 08:00:55 PM »

PodCastle 275: El Alma Perdida de Marguerite Espinoza

by Jeremiah Tolbert.

Read by Brian Lieberman.

Originally appeared in Lightspeed Magazine. Read the text there.

Marguerite Espinoza took her last breath as the sun slipped behind the Salt Mountains outside the expansive windows of her third floor bedchamber. Alvardo nearly missed the moment, eavesdropping to the gathered family’s whispered conversations. He had falsely predicted her passing four times in the past three days, but the passing was unmistakable. As Maestro Eusebio had said many times, “When the moment comes, you will know.” And he did.

The color from her eyes drained, leaving only pale white marbles that matched Alvardo’s own. Before the vessel could expel its final breath, Alvardo covered her lips with his own and inhaled sharply and deeply. There was no emotion in the act. It was a fact of his training, something that he must do.

The aching emptiness within his vessel filled with the sloshing of the elderly woman’s soul. The alma struggled against the barrier of his lips, then changed tactic and coursed to the back of his throat. Alvardo shakily retrieved the filter plugs from the pocket of his robes and lodged one firmly in each nostril. This is fear, he understood. The emotion had been described to him by the maestro.

But he also remembered this emotion, dimly, from a time that had been locked away deeply in some part of him. With the alma filling the crevasses within, memories awakened from his life before becoming the soulless custodio.

Fear was what he had felt scraping at his insides when he was just a boy and Maestro Eusebio had come to measure and examine him. To take him away from his parents, to separate him from his natural-born soul, then sell it off to some needy merchant family. Oh, yes. He remembered fear.

To be absolutely certain of the soul’s safety, to allay his new fear, he slipped the oil-soaked cloth mask from around his neck and over his mouth. He needed this job to go well, and he would not take risks. Feeling the soul struggle and send out waves of feeling, he knew that he never wanted to be empty again. He could not truly avoid it, of course, but if he was successful here, it would be a small step towards earning the money to buy back his own soul.


Rated R for violence.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 09:21:23 PM by Talia » Logged
flintknapper
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« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2013, 11:32:10 AM »

Fun story. Cool setting and the "alma" or souls as commodities of value was interesting. It does not surprise me that Tolbert is writing more in this setting. This piece feels a lot like a bit in a much larger story of intrigue. It will be interesting to see what happens as he goes in search of his birth soul.



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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2013, 02:14:10 AM »

I must admit that as much as I enjoyed the story, I didn't see the science fantasy part of this fantasy...
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jpv
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2013, 11:46:47 AM »

I liked it. Certainly something to put on my list of future reads, to see where else he goes with this universe.

Perhaps I missed it, but the mechanics of the soul swapping and what happens when you don't have one / have an animal soul could have used a bit more detail. Like, do you have a human and animal soul? Are souls bound with intelligence / self-awareness (are the dog souled less 'human')? How long can you survive without one / what is that like?
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flintknapper
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2013, 12:29:14 PM »

I must admit that as much as I enjoyed the story, I didn't see the science fantasy part of this fantasy...

I could be wrong, but I took the science fantasy aspect to be the things they kept on their mouthes. There is part I cannot quote right now, but where they are definitely wearing what appeared to me like a breathing apparatus which kept the soul in, but I agree with you. I think this piece does not have to fall under the sci-fantasy subgenre. I think it fits nicely with the stories podcastle typically runs.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2013, 05:22:52 PM »

I must admit that as much as I enjoyed the story, I didn't see the science fantasy part of this fantasy...

You don't think clockwork guns are science fantasy? Clockwork carts? Kind of a mild steampunk wash over the whole.
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evrgrn_monster
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« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2013, 07:57:37 PM »

I enjoyed this story, though the switching between the word "alma" and "soul" kept throwing me form a loop.

Besides that, I found this to be a pretty engaging piece with some excellent, believable characters. I loved that, in the end, there was no real "bad" guy; just people in tough situations doing what they feel they need to in order to survive in a harsh world. I would've liked a bit more exploration into what an "alma" actually is, and some more interactions with people with animal souls, but to be honest, I'd rather read that explanation and more into this world in a book then have it given to me short story style. (Nudge, nudge, Mr. Tolbert. Smiley )
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Devoted135
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2013, 03:45:59 PM »

I enjoyed this story, and really felt for the main character here. How terrible to have been sold out by your parents, no matter how desperate their circumstances. For all the talk of souls, I feel like there is real heart in this piece.
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Kaa
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2013, 09:37:28 AM »

At the risk of "me, too"ism, me, too. I enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to more from this world. And I second the novel-nudge.

The ambiguous . . . for want of a better word, "morality"? . . . of everyone in the story, as someone above me said, doing what they have to do to survive in a harsh world drew me in, as well. The MC's parents sold him for a better life for themselves and later children; the ungrateful son arranged to sell his mother's alma to preserve family dignity; the bandits probably have their own stories. I took away that in this world a human body with its original soul/alma is a rare thing, and yet this bandit is one such. I want to hear HIS story. Smiley
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rlzack
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2013, 07:06:40 PM »

I'm not sure I can say I liked this story. It was certainly well done. But what a horrible world to live in!

Or do we already inhabit such a world, unknowingly? I certainly know some rat-people!
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Moritz
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2013, 01:43:49 AM »

This took me some time. I had to listen to it three times to really get it. Well, maybe I shouldn't do so much casual listening while commuting. In any case, I really liked the setting and would like to hear more of it.
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2013, 08:40:11 AM »

My memory of this one has grown a little vague, but I think I liked it.  Good character, neat speculative ideas.
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LaShawn
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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2013, 11:54:28 AM »

More please, MORE PLEASE!! Ahhh, I loved the setting, the worldbuilding, the language. And I want to know more about how keeping souls work in this world. MORE PLEEEEEEEASE!!!
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danooli
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« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2013, 11:58:54 AM »

More please, MORE PLEASE!! Ahhh, I loved the setting, the worldbuilding, the language. And I want to know more about how keeping souls work in this world. MORE PLEEEEEEEASE!!!
And now you can do something about it!! Belated congratulations! :-)
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Fenrix
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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2014, 12:04:57 PM »

It took me a bit to figure out that "alma" meant soul, particularly since I think they also used the word "soul". Consider this a gentle request for title translations, as knowing this was a story about lost souls would help with the initial orientation. In fact, it adds a little more layer to the story overall, as there are more lost souls than just Marguerite's.

The worldbuilding was really great, particularly at the hints about how theology is fully intertwined in the economy in a pretty non-judeo-christian way.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2014, 10:21:12 AM »

It took me a bit to figure out that "alma" meant soul, particularly since I think they also used the word "soul". Consider this a gentle request for title translations, as knowing this was a story about lost souls would help with the initial orientation. In fact, it adds a little more layer to the story overall, as there are more lost souls than just Marguerite's.

The worldbuilding was really great, particularly at the hints about how theology is fully intertwined in the economy in a pretty non-judeo-christian way.

I second that request.  Maybe just a mention in the intro of the English translation, without offering any interpretations, just the text? 
If I were reading the story on an HTML page I'd probably hop over to a translation page to get a ballpark translation, but the thing about podcasts is that many of the listeners are going to be absorbing the stories while they can't devote anything to the story besides their ears--on commutes or etc--so a hand with the title would be helpful.
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ChrisKelworth
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« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2014, 11:53:45 AM »

Hope it's okay that I revived this one, it was one of many I listened to on the way to the TNEO workshop this year, and I enjoyed it a lot. Was chatting about it with a writer friend yesterday who listened to it last year.

The one thing I'm most curious is which came first out of two parts of the premise, in this world. Did the abandonment of 'El Dios Tacaño' happen first, and then people learned how to redirect the almas into new bodies from new necessity, giving rise to the 'custodios de alma'? Or did mortals learn the forbidden secrets of redirecting souls first, and that was what prompted the abandonment?
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