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Author Topic: PC283: Right Turns  (Read 6639 times)
Talia
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« on: October 26, 2013, 07:12:20 PM »

PodCastle 283: Right Turns

by Tim Pratt

Read by Marguerite Croft

Originally published in Faultline.

We talked, in our tiny apartment, with the kitchen so small we couldn’t even pass each other on the way to the refrigerator, with our pipes that howled and clanked when we tried to turn on the hot water. I’d just gotten a promotion, and though it meant less teaching and more administrative work, there was also more money coming in. The housing market was good, for buyers. There were a lot of great places to choose from, but none we liked more than the labyrinth house.

“I don’t see the downside,” my husband said, leaning against me companionably in bed. “Really, the whole thing is just more space, square footage we’re not even paying for. The labyrinth could be extra storage, even.”

“What if there are bugs? Rats?”

“Then we brick up the entrance. Looks like it’s been done before, so we can do it again.”

We bought the house. We moved in. We didn’t go into the basement often, just to do laundry, and we didn’t go into the labyrinth at all. Not at first.

I’m not sure when my husband started his explorations. I didn’t find out for a while.

There are a lot of things from those first months I don’t remember.


Rated PG. We guess.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: November 15, 2013, 09:57:35 AM by Talia » Logged
Moritz
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2013, 01:33:14 PM »

OK, I am a sucker for labyrinths, so basically I loved this story. Good reading, nice metaphors, maybe a bit dark, but this is Halloween, so why not. Sure, it could easily been a pseudopod story, but who cares. What did distract me a bit was that the premise and what it was saying reminded me a bit of my favorite novel, House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.
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jenfullmoon
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2013, 03:52:04 PM »

Erm...this one drove me a little nuts. Everyone's lost in the labyrinth and forgetting...and then there's no ending or resolution. People get into a problem and then that's it....? Argh.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2013, 07:09:02 AM »

Not one of my favorites.  I did like the metaphors, but the rest of the story didn't carry any punch.  No sense of desperation from the wife.  No feelings of suffocating claustrophobia that I know I'd be having. I understand the story was from the viewpoint of the woman as she began to lose her memories, but it sounded as if her emotions were being drained as well.  Perhaps that's how it was intended to be, but the slow ride into emptiness left me wanting.

Perhaps this story has nothing whatsoever to do with a labyrinth?  Is the whole story a metaphor about loss and coming to terms with that loss?  I like it better that way.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2013, 08:37:49 AM »

I liked this story as it was going, though it peaked early with the moment the realtor announces they have a labyrinth in the basement.  The husband disappearing into it was expected by the time it happened, and her following was also expected (especially since we'd already been told memory loss was caused by the labyrinth and she'd mentioned forgetting her husband's name).  After that there were some interesting details, but overall it was more of the dreary same: 
I am lost.  I am still lost.  Yup, still lost.  Oh crap, my husband ran out of chalk.  And blood.  I haven't found my way.  I doubt I will ever find my way.  I am lost.  I am still lost.  The End.

It is an interesting setting/character, the evil memory-stealing labyrinth, but this particular story of it I thought was a wee too inevitable, predictable, and because of that, long.

Perhaps this story has nothing whatsoever to do with a labyrinth?  Is the whole story a metaphor about loss and coming to terms with that loss?  I like it better that way.

Anything can be a metaphor if you believe it is!
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Varda
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2013, 10:34:08 AM »

I read this episode as a metaphor for the small choices that create huge differences in longterm relationships. You move from the early stages, with that passionate, head-over-heels in love feeling, and eventually that settles into a comfortable familiarity that looks like stagnation, but really isn't. Both people are still changing and making choices, but they assume they have the other person figured out. The labyrinth makes you forget because life makes you forget what you once knew about the people you love and rely upon - that they're unpredictable and changeable and full of surprises and the ability to choose. That they are separate from you, and not just an extension of yourself, even though longterm relationships can feel that way sometimes.

So when her husband up and disappears into the labyrinth, the hints are there that he wanted to have an adventure (all those references to how they used to go camping, but don't now), but she didn't pick up on it until it was too late. She thinks she knows him well enough to catch up to him, thus her decision to always take the righthand branch once the chalk markings run out. Her journey is about rediscovery, both of what her husband's like (as she wonders over the objects she finds in the labyrinth) and herself. Eventually she has to stop making decisions based on what she guesses he wants, and follow her own interests (the flowers). She stops following his trail and leaves one of her own (flashlight batteries), in hopes that he too loves her enough to come after her, like she did with him. And this is the right decision, because she walks out into sunlight at the end (previously there's been only moonlight). The point being that you can't and shouldn't stagnate, and that you should trust the people that you love to love you even through radical change.

Also: Dave, thanks for the shout-out! Cheesy Proud to be supporting Podcastle however we can. We're keeping that beer cold for you, next time you find yourself in the neighborhood.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 05:49:46 PM by Varda » Logged

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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2013, 10:58:35 AM »

Ah!   Well that totally makes sense, Varda, and I can totally get that metaphor.  I've been with my wife for 13 years as of last week, so that gives a lot of food for thought.

I didn't get any of that from the story.  I have been known to be dense about such things, so this does not surprise me in any huge way.  Though I do think that a story heavily based in metaphor is best if it works with or without understanding the metaphor while reading--which it didn't for me.  That's a personal preference, in any case.
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Varda
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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2013, 11:21:38 AM »

Hey, congrats to you and your wife! Here's to many more years, and may every year be better than the one before! Cheesy

Regarding metaphors, I hear ya. It's undoubtedly better if a story stands on its own without the metaphor to back it up. Purely as a story, this one does meander and seems in want of a nice, memorable bit of action in the middle of the labyrinth to bring the whole thing to a crescendo. It would have ruined the metaphor, though, which is probably why it doesn't. I guess we can file it under "contemplative pieces that will either work for you or not, depending on your expectations and personal tastes."
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Moon_Goddess
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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2013, 08:04:29 AM »

Did anyone else have Audio problems with this episode?

The intro is fine but as soon as it got to the reader it was staticy

I couldn't even listen.
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DKT
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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2013, 08:50:22 AM »

Do you mean there was a noise beneath the narration, or no narration at all?
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2013, 09:52:20 AM »

Did anyone else have Audio problems with this episode?

The intro is fine but as soon as it got to the reader it was staticy

I couldn't even listen.

I don't recall having any static problems on listening.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2013, 09:52:57 AM »

It would have ruined the metaphor, though, which is probably why it doesn't. I guess we can file it under "contemplative pieces that will either work for you or not, depending on your expectations and personal tastes."

Yeah, I think that's a fair assessment.  Smiley
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Moritz
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2013, 11:16:43 AM »

Did anyone else have Audio problems with this episode?

The intro is fine but as soon as it got to the reader it was staticy

I couldn't even listen.

I don't recall having any static problems on listening.

I didn't have any issues with the audio either. I usually listen to the stories on my walk to work and only have little noise distraction.
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Lionman
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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2013, 01:02:34 PM »

Did anyone else have Audio problems with this episode?

The intro is fine but as soon as it got to the reader it was staticy

I couldn't even listen.

Yeah, I had the same problem.  The only track on the audio I could year from the podcast is the static.  I did hear an occasional word or two, but otherwise it was all just static.  No significantly discernible audio.
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Lionman
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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2013, 01:03:36 PM »

Did anyone else have Audio problems with this episode?

The intro is fine but as soon as it got to the reader it was staticy

I couldn't even listen.

I don't recall having any static problems on listening.

I had the same issue, Unblinking.  It was all static, no useful audio.
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Moon_Goddess
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2013, 01:04:24 PM »

Do you mean there was a noise beneath the narration, or no narration at all?

Noise beneath the narration... I'll redownload tonight and see what I get, thanks.
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Dane Train
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« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2013, 04:47:53 PM »

this one felt more like a horror stories than a fantasy story.  don't get me wrong, it is so fancy, but I felt this would have been better for pseudopod. There were some really interesting Ideas here. Loss of the memory, the mystery of the house and the labyrinth itself. I kind of wish there was more to it. There lies the problem I have with this, there wasn't enough for me. Now, I do enjoy an open ended story but this one left me wanting more details about what's going on. I thought the ending was fine, but I still did not have the character investment to make me really care.
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danooli
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« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2013, 05:33:32 PM »

I downloaded through itunes and had no audio issues...

Anyway, I had read the story in Antiquities & Tangibles just recently but I liked it well enough then.  (I am admittedly a huge Tim Pratt fan so there's that.)  I loved the audio version.  The slow and mad way Marguerite Croft narrated it was perfect in my opinion.
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Procyon
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« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2013, 05:46:01 PM »

Bleak story! It starts out with a nice creepy vibe that seems perfectly appropriate for a twilit evening in late October, but after a while this story just becomes sad and dismal. I expected a descent into madness, but instead I think I've gone on a descent into hopelessness. Not that I didn't like it, but it was a little jarring.

The narration was wonderful, and did a great job conveying isolation. In particular, the line "He must know I'm looking for him. Wouldn't he have come looking for me?" struck one on the ol' heartstrings. This is, I think something we all want to believe, and the poor narrator is finding out that, essentially, he wouldn't.

I understand the criticism that some are expressing along the lines that the plot in this tale consists entirely of some people getting lost in a labyrinth. This isn't something that bothers me, and I've said before I don't mind stories where, well, nothing happens (cf. "Nightfall in the Scent Garden").  But I'd refine that critique to say that all that really happens to the narrator is that she's looking for her husband. Always making right turns. Only at the end do we see a glimmer of how being lost in an infinite maze of possibly malefic intent is actually affecting her. Psychologically this could be traumatizing, heartbreaking, fury-inducing, emboldening, any number of things, and I wish there had been more of that.  But all-in-all a fine, if unexpectedly despair-filled, story.
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bizbrig
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« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2013, 11:12:58 PM »

The audio was fine for me (via play button on the website).
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