Escape Artists
November 17, 2018, 09:18:51 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
Author Topic: PC286: The Calendar of Saints  (Read 4944 times)
Talia
Moderator
*****
Posts: 2680


Muahahahaha


« on: November 15, 2013, 10:01:42 AM »

PodCastle 286: The Calendar of Saints

by Kat Howard

Read by Amal El-Mohtar

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

The first time I used a blade to defend a point of honor, both the blade and the honor were mine. I was perhaps eight, and Rosamaria Sandro had accused me of copying her mathematics exam. The next time we were in the salle, I told her I would prove her a liar with my blade. She stopped laughing at the idea when I hit her for the third time with the blunted end of my sword and made her tell our mathematics instructor the truth. The pomp and ceremony of today’s events have nothing in common with that juvenile scuffle but the blade.

The blade, of course, is what matters. It is as sharp, as edged, as fatal as truth.

The subject of this Arbitration stands to the left of the dueling grounds, tiny white teeth sunk so deep into her lip that it, too, whitens. Her fiancé hovers close by, as if to shield her from the events or perhaps from their consequences. I wonder if he will put her aside if I am defeated. I want to think that he will stay with her, that his protective posture is a sign of genuine attachment rather than a signal of possession. Laurelle is beautiful, and wealthy. The things that have been whispered about her would never have been said so viciously if it were otherwise. So it is possible he stands at her back because of reasons other than love, but I do not wish to believe in them.


Rated R. Contains swords, which are sharp, edged, and fatal.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: December 05, 2013, 10:44:48 AM by Talia » Logged
InfiniteMonkey
Lochage
*****
Posts: 483


Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2013, 12:47:33 AM »

Has this story been read as a podcast somewhere else? Because it sounded awfully familiar, esp. the names of the saints the author gives us.

Also, I may be thick, but I'm uncertain as to the nature of the conflict. Our Lady of the Sword was clearly acting as an enforcer of honor (and don't get me started on the inherent illogic of having a religion that *both* accepted science as God's Truth and simultaneously thought duels reflected God's will) but what was the conflict? It wasn't clear why this was a troublesome case.

Amal El-Mohtar gave a very polished, classical reading, and I liked that.
Logged
danooli
Moderator
*****
Posts: 1511



WWW
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2013, 06:40:51 AM »

I haven't listened to the story yet but I just quickly looked at the text...those ARE real Catholic saints and their respective feast days Smiley
Logged
InfiniteMonkey
Lochage
*****
Posts: 483


Clearly, I need more typewriters....


« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2013, 04:33:37 PM »

I haven't listened to the story yet but I just quickly looked at the text...those ARE real Catholic saints and their respective feast days Smiley

Some of them are, and some of them aren't...
Logged
Varda
Rebound
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2710


Definitely not an android.


« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2013, 07:07:31 PM »

Also, I may be thick, but I'm uncertain as to the nature of the conflict. Our Lady of the Sword was clearly acting as an enforcer of honor (and don't get me started on the inherent illogic of having a religion that *both* accepted science as God's Truth and simultaneously thought duels reflected God's will) but what was the conflict? It wasn't clear why this was a troublesome case.

It seems she was put into the position of having to duel on the side that was anti-scientific truth. It seemed unclear to me, too, even after going back to skim the text, but that's the only explanation that fits her reaction. If she wins the duel, then the anti-science faction gains a foothold. If she loses, she dies (which is why she asks the head of the order if they wanted her to throw the match). Furthermore, if she loses on purpose, it's dishonorable to her own moral code. That's why the draw and double death is the only way out of the situation that preserves her honor and preserves the church's acceptance of scientific discovery.

Anyway, I loved this story, especially its structure incorporating the different saints. I think hagiography is such a blast, and historically speaking, an interesting storytelling medium, what with its larger-than-life figures and really gory iconography. It's like reading the police's crime blotter in the newspaper, except instead of criminals you get religiously themed superheroes. Aside from the dueling thing, God Herself sounds like a sensible deity, nice and pro-science. I wonder who the patron saint of speech-language pathologists would be in this world, cuz I want a medal! Cheesy
Logged

Medical Microfiction: Stories About Science
http://rckjones.wordpress.com
Just Jeff
Palmer
**
Posts: 71


« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2013, 04:01:17 PM »

I love the story and the structure, although I had doubts about it at first. However, I need to listen to the second half again to understand her decision at the end.
Logged
chemistryguy
Matross
****
Posts: 261


Serving the Detroit Metro area since 1970


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2013, 10:01:47 AM »

The character of Jeanne, the world she inhabits, the insertions of saints (be they real or be they not) weaved into the story and suburb reading by Amal made this one of my favorite podcasts.  The addition of the perfect intro just makes it all the better.

The story nicely outlines the double-edged sword that is ritual.  On the one hand, messy legal disputes are very quickly resolved.  On the other, Jeanne has to kill her opponent because of her "blasphemy" on the sacred ground.  Ritual is efficient.  Ritual is wasteful.  Ritual is kind.  Ritual is brutal.

I could blather on, but I'll just end here saying I wish to adopt St. Jeanne of the Knife as my patron saint.

Logged

Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1038


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2013, 10:19:23 AM »

I was casually listening to this when suddenly I heard St. Tycho Brahe. I thought "I'm pretty sure he wasn't a saint.... oh. I see what you did there."
And then I got to thinking what an awesome world it would be if we didn't have church-mandated dark ages.(Yes, it wasn't fully the church's fault. But persecuting scientists is really bad for world-improvement.)
A lot of the story blew by me while I was thinking this, but enough sunk in that I liked the ending.
Quote
A forfeit is not truth. A draw, however, is.
Absolutely beautiful. It resolves everything.
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

l33tminion
Palmer
**
Posts: 42


« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2013, 03:06:04 PM »

I thought that was a great story.  The ending is a perfect resolution of the paradox the story presents:  How can one believe in divine justice without surrendering to blind faith?

The narration was also excellent.
Logged
Procyon
Palmer
**
Posts: 51


« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2013, 06:01:29 PM »

A duelist! I love duelists. Despite not knowing anything at all about actual fencing, I enjoyed the strange and unsettling feeling of being inside a master sword-fighter's head while she goes about her grim, divine work. The execution scene in particular was chilling.

I had a very similar "see what you did there" moment to Max e^{i pi} -- which actually created a strange tension within me. At the same time that I wanted to commend the Church for canonizing Galileo, Tycho Brahe and all the rest, but the practice of using duels to determine justice seems barbaric. Hope my case doesn't go up against Jeanne!

I suppose without the importance of duels in this society, the religion vs. science conflict and its resolution don't really work. But to be honest, I would have just as happily listened to the story of this sword saint, her trials and tribulations, her place in this strange church, without the Clausius challenge and self-sacrificial ending. I will admit I didn't initially understand why she forced a draw. I thought she was representing the pro-science side of the challenge (i.e. which was why the Ignatians recruited her). Sometimes I get distracted while listening and fill in the gaps myself.
Logged
bounceswoosh
Matross
****
Posts: 305


« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2013, 11:28:31 PM »

Has this story been read as a podcast somewhere else? Because it sounded awfully familiar, esp. the names of the saints the author gives us.

Also, I may be thick, but I'm uncertain as to the nature of the conflict. Our Lady of the Sword was clearly acting as an enforcer of honor (and don't get me started on the inherent illogic of having a religion that *both* accepted science as God's Truth and simultaneously thought duels reflected God's will) but what was the conflict? It wasn't clear why this was a troublesome case.

Amal El-Mohtar gave a very polished, classical reading, and I liked that.

It made sense to me ... let's see ... it was a basic tenet of the religion in this world that science is truth.  So challenging a scientifically-deduced theory on the grounds of heresy is, itself, heretical.  If "science" won, it would defeat religion.  If "religion" won, it would defeat science. Both are anathema, because the official position of the religion was, as you say, that science is God's Truth.  She chooses to have neither win or lose, thereby preserving the current belief system.

Also, I'm a sucker for stories where the protagonist kills his/herself for a bigger belief.

All that being said, it seems way too easy to topple this religion simply by bringing more spurious challenges to the dueling yard.
Logged
Just Jeff
Palmer
**
Posts: 71


« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2013, 12:04:45 AM »

It made sense to me ... let's see ... it was a basic tenet of the religion in this world that science is truth.  So challenging a scientifically-deduced theory on the grounds of heresy is, itself, heretical.  If "science" won, it would defeat religion.  If "religion" won, it would defeat science. Both are anathema, because the official position of the religion was, as you say, that science is God's Truth.  She chooses to have neither win or lose, thereby preserving the current belief system.
If it is as you describe, then I don't follow the logic of her choice, unless all beliefs held by the various factions of the church must be held as truth. And it's clear earlier in the story that she doesn't believe that.
Logged
Moon_Goddess
Palmer
**
Posts: 50



« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2013, 09:47:58 AM »

Ok, First I know I keep only posting about stories when they personally effect me, and Second I know you posted it on the 15th, it was my own fault I didn't listen to it till the 17th of November.

But my word you guys talking about the significance of birthdays, ON MY BIRTHDAY was creepy!



With that out of the way, I'm honestly more interested in the world of this story than the story itself.   A world where religion accepted science all along, and feminism appears to have happened long long ago, and yet they resolve conflict by having women swordfight to the death?    This world is both awesome and horrible at the same time. 

Nice place to visit, probably wouldn't want to live there.
Logged

Was dream6601 but that's sounds awkward when Nathan reads my posts.
Procyon
Palmer
**
Posts: 51


« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2013, 11:07:39 AM »

With that out of the way, I'm honestly more interested in the world of this story than the story itself.   A world where religion accepted science all along, and feminism appears to have happened long long ago, and yet they resolve conflict by having women swordfight to the death?    This world is both awesome and horrible at the same time. 

Nice place to visit, probably wouldn't want to live there.

Totally agree. I think this is what I was trying to say in my rambling comment. If this is what, say, Catholicism looks like in this world, definitely makes me wonder what the rest of the planet looks like.
Logged
Hilary Moon Murphy
Palmer
**
Posts: 76


Proving the inherent superiority of purple hair


« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2013, 04:20:18 PM »

I'm grateful to Bounceswoosh for the explanation, because I was one of the many who got confused by this story.  The heroine's suicide did not make sense to me, because I could not figure out which side she was fighting on.  I did multiple listenings, trying to figure it out, but was still lost. 

On the other hand, I must say that I was enamored of the concept of the scientist saints and the idea of scientific truth being divine truth nearly made me swoon.  (Except then I thought: is there truth in science?  How does one *really* prove a theory?)

Except for the whole battling to the death over insults thing, this world really appealed to me.

Logged

LadiesAndGentleman
Palmer
**
Posts: 26



« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2013, 03:37:35 PM »

This story was very pretty and had a lot of lovely description.  Not having grown up in the religion myself, Catholicism and canonization appear absolutely mystical to my uninformed agnosticism.  The description of Galileo's sainthood is well done; perhaps that's what caused this universe to branch off from our own?  Really interesting thought experiment.

But.

I'm with those who feel that Jan's climactic conflict was a bit muddled.  I understood her urge to uphold honor, and that killing both her opponent and herself also satisfied her pride, but the exact actions and thought processes were difficult to track.  Also, at that last battle, it occurred to me that we didn't have much world building to explain why fights like this were settled with sword duels. Unless I missed something.  By the end, while the swordfights were also pretty, I'm afraid they felt tacked on, too.
Logged
ancawonka
Palmer
**
Posts: 47


« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2013, 12:39:34 PM »

I enjoyed listening to this story because of the reading, but the thinking about the worldbuilding really messed with my brain. 

This is a world where the church accepts science as God's Law, canonizes people who ask uncomfortable questions, yet resolves disputes by claiming that individual skills and actions do not determine  the outcome of a swordfight. Strange.

In the end, of course, it's Jeanne's use of her free will that actually settles the matter, thus putting her in charge of the outcome.



Logged
Max e^{i pi}
Hipparch
******
Posts: 1038


Have towel, will travel.


« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2013, 03:03:57 PM »

In the story of this world there is no dichotomy of god's law versus science.
Look at it this way. God made the laws of nature and they govern the universe. Maxwell's equations are the word of god. Newton's laws of motion are god's law. And so on and so forth.
And just like god's word is perceived as a bunch of fiendishly difficult differential equations, it can also be perceived by the swing and slash of a sword.

I used to look at how people would resolve issues and questions of righteousness via a duel as rather stupid and downright crazy. How is someone's skill in swordplay or quick-draw any way to resolve a question of morality?
But in a universe where god is seen as acting through the well-defined and understood laws of nature, it works. During the course of the battle there are thousands of variables and millions of outcomes. Things that people have no control over: wind, loose stones, the sun coming out from behind a cloud or a spectator leaning just right to reflect the sunlight. But if the universe you live in is governed by god's word via science, then the outcome of the battle is known only to her. And she will make sure that the right person wins. Perhaps with enough supercomputers and knowledge of all the variables you could work it out, but that would take too long.
Logged

Cogito ergo surf - I think therefore I network

Registered Linux user #481826 Get Counted!

albionmoonlight
Matross
****
Posts: 213



« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2013, 10:09:44 AM »

I happened to be listening to this story at night while driving to a friend's new house out in the country down several unlit and poorly marked country roads.  I was having to give a lot of attention to my navigator and my attempts not to miss any poorly marked turns (and end up like the guy in The October Witch).  So, when the story started taking some of its cool turns, it really threw me.  "Wait?  Saint Galileo?  Oh, alternative reality.  Neat.  But then what have I missed so far?  Were those other people all really Saints . . . ?" Then Suddenly: IN 1 AND A HALF MILES, TURN LEFT ONTO HIGHWAY 210.

All of which is to say I like a nice complex story, but I really need to give this one another listen to do it justice.  Smiley
Logged
Cutter McKay
Hipparch
******
Posts: 952


"I was the turkey the whoooole time!"


WWW
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2013, 11:00:32 AM »

I think Max nailed it here. That's how I interpreted things. One thing I really liked was the inclusion of the saints' little wiki bios, not for the bios themselves, I honestly spent most of the story wondering what the point was of the different holiday breakdowns. Then we get the last one, about Jan, and I went "Aaahhh, I get it. Very cool."

As a religious person myself, my beliefs are fairly close to this tale in that I believe God created science and works through science for the most part. So this society is not a far stretch for me at all. I have no desire to instigate a religious debate here, I'm just saying this worked for me.
Logged

-Josh Morrey-
http://joshmorreywriting.blogspot.com/
"Remember: You have not yet written your best work." -Tracy Hickman
Pages: [1] 2  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!