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Author Topic: PC295: The Gunner's Mate  (Read 1955 times)
Talia
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« on: January 22, 2014, 03:33:30 PM »

PodCastle 295: The Gunner’s Mate

by Gene Wolfe

Read by C.S.E. Cooney and Dave Thompson

Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

“There’s something about this island—“ Muriel began.

Liza shook her head.  “I don’t like it either.”

“I didn’t mean that.  I didn’t mean that at all.”  Muriel put down her piña colada.  “It feels, well, welcoming.  It keeps telling me I’m home, that it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

“You’d better quit drinking this pineapple stuff.”

“I’ve only had one,” Muriel protested.  “This is my second.  You’re on your third.”

“Kirk drank my first one.  Can’t you feel the hostility?  The terrible loneliness?  It’s like – I don’t know.  It makes me think of a haunted house fifty miles from nowhere.”


Rated R. Really, this pretty well straddles the line of dark fantasy/horror.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 09:20:08 AM by Talia » Logged
Unblinking
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 12:42:50 PM »

Not a fan of this one, I guess.  It seemed like the ending was meant to be some kind of shocking twist, but the pirate possessing the boyfriend was pretty much a foregone conclusion from 10 minutes in, wasn't it?  Maybe I just made one of those unsupported leaps of logic that I seem to often make and actually landed in the right place for once.  I actually thought it had already happened in the middle when he showed up distracted and talking about his dad's funeral--I thought he made up the funeral to justify the distraction caused by him not actually being himself.

If that was really the point of the story, it sure took a long time to get to that point.

If I had cared about any of the characters, then the length would likely have not been a problem.  The pirate dude was little more than a greedy force of nature.  The protagonist seemed to entirely lack self-volition, to the point that she never really seemed like more than a plot element--I mean, yes, she did things to further goals but those goals were never hers, it was never clear exactly why she suddenly adopted these goals out of nowhere, and she pursued them to ridiculous degrees again without really supporting why she would (oh sure, I'll take the job where the previous person had at the LEAST a major psychological breakdown and where I'm doomed to failure in the very short term, what a great idea!).  The boyfriend was barely present even when he was present. 

I really wanted to feel like I understood why she'd want to stay so badly even when the only job opportunity is at best doomed to failure and at worst seriously dangerous to her.  I never felt like I got there.
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2014, 12:27:59 PM »

I'm afraid I have to agree with Unblinking- He Who Doesn't Like Many Stories These Days.  I kept waiting for the something to happen...but there was no something. Just an obviously dead pirate and a struggling hotel and some girl who was very attractive to parrots. I simplify, but, I do feel like it was an over-telegraphed story that lacked the element of mystery I would normally associate with this sort of ghost story. Its rare at the end of a Podcastle episode that I am truly "meh". But, I was definitely "meh" and disappointed because it was more like looking at a photograph instead of like watching live action film that I am accustomed to.

Dave, you make a very nice pirate. Or a scary pirate. Anyway, pirate + you = good.
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2014, 10:54:14 AM »

I'm afraid I have to agree with Unblinking- He Who Doesn't Like Many Stories These Days.  

Ha!  It could be due to lack of sleep these last two weeks between a baby that has had both teething and a nasty ear infection, and a dog with some kind of as-yet unpinpointed condition which makes him cough incessantly for a half hour at a time.  And both of those little creatures are within audible distance of each other as they sleep, which doesn't help.

But I don't really think it's that.  It seems like with any publication, but with Podcastle in particular for some reason, the editorial taste seems to match mine in waves--there will be a string of stories that I find amazing and then a string of stories that I find lackluster.  *shrug*  Maybe it's just that Dave and Anna's tastes are broader than mine, and they try to kind of match the styles from week to week so that my tastes match theirs only on the positive portion of the sine wave.

A few stories that I did find amazing recently on any podcast:
The Clockwork Soldier
Scry
The Cardinals of Ever June

And I'm almost done writing up my Best Of 2013 list for all of my podcasts--it was hard to weed the EA casts down to a concise list for each.  Smiley
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 10:56:08 AM by Unblinking » Logged
DKT
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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2014, 11:28:52 AM »

It seems like with any publication, but with Podcastle in particular for some reason, the editorial taste seems to match mine in waves--there will be a string of stories that I find amazing and then a string of stories that I find lackluster.  *shrug*  Maybe it's just that Dave and Anna's tastes are broader than mine, and they try to kind of match the styles from week to week so that my tastes match theirs only on the positive portion of the sine wave.

Heh. Well, that's probably pretty close. No two people alike, etc. Smiley (You should see some of the fistfights, uh, I mean discussions Anna and I get into!) FWIW, I don't expect that every listener will love every story every week, or that even an individual listener will love every story every week. Also, we do intentionally try to showcase as many different kinds of fantasy as possible. So, this week Gene Wolfe. Next week Marla Mason. Soon Ken Liu and E. Lily Yu and Lavie Tidhar and Jim C. Hines Smiley (Among others...)


A few stories that I did find amazing recently on any podcast:
The Clockwork Soldier
Scry
The Cardinals of Ever June

And I'm almost done writing up my Best Of 2013 list for all of my podcasts--it was hard to weed the EA casts down to a concise list for each.  Smiley

Cool, thanks for that. I've been meaning to check out Clockwork Soldier in particular. And always look forward to your LISTS! Smiley

ETA: (And yes, I'm well aware mentioning Marla's name strikes fear into the hearts of some listeners, be it for ill or pleasure Smiley Fear not! Conan lurks on the horizon. Surely that'll cheer everyone up.)
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 11:44:58 AM by DKT » Logged

Fenrix
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2014, 12:14:24 PM »

This is the first Gene Wolfe story that did it for me. Nice pick! I think the uncertainty of someone in their 20's was nicely captured. This also couples really well with Sand Castles, except with a darker turn. Also yay Virginia Kidd Agency!


It seemed like the ending was meant to be some kind of shocking twist, but the pirate possessing the boyfriend was pretty much a foregone conclusion from 10 minutes in, wasn't it?  Maybe I just made one of those unsupported leaps of logic that I seem to often make and actually landed in the right place for once. 


From my frame of reference, your second conclusion seems more valid.
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2014, 12:58:31 PM »

I certainly agree with the others who feel the relationship between the ghost and the boyfriend was confusing. I did like Muriel's hard-to-explain attachment to a place that other's find dark and unpleasant.  I have enough Byron-via-Lovecraft in me that I too have an inexplicable attraction to strange, dark, lonely places.

Primarily, I just wanted to thank Dave for not introducing the story as being Rated AAARRRRRR!
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Ocicat
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2014, 05:46:31 PM »

Primarily, I just wanted to thank Dave for not introducing the story as being Rated AAARRRRRR!

I'm pretty sure that primarily you just wanted to punish us with that one.  Roll Eyes
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Devoted135
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2014, 11:47:19 PM »

Hmm, Dave as a creepy pirate ghost should equal a win, but for some reason it didn't here. I think perhaps the dreamlike quality of the story made it seem less immediate and more removed from the listener? I didn't get why she was attracted to the island. Or maybe I did, but "the pirate ghost, um, cast a spell on her" seemed too distant. Also, his threats seemed vaguely menacing, but I never felt any real suspense. Honestly, the highlight for me was the poor woman's psychotic break (wow, that's a weird sentence...).

I did like the dual reading. Smiley
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Varda
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2014, 09:08:18 AM »

Wow, Dave's been bringing his A-game to the intros as of late! Second week in a row I nearly choked to death from all the involuntary laughter! Cheesy

As for the story, I liked it. It was the creepy/funny (I have a sick sense of humor) luxury resort plus pirates mashup I've been waiting for my whole life. Yes, slow-moving, but I think the fun of it was the clash of the elements, since those sorts of places always play up the pirate cheese while glossing over just how unpleasant pirates really were (and still are, in parts of the world).
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2014, 02:59:31 PM »

I don't know...something about this story just didn't grab me, right from the get-go. After the third time I realized I had been driving for several minutes and not paid attention to the story, I skipped to the outro.

I guess I'm just not the audience for this one.
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2014, 08:13:53 AM »

I was grooving with the pretty standard ghost story, and then suddenly she's throwing away her life to be on an island (which I hadn't even known she had a life to throw away until she started explaining it to the hotel manager, who btw total creeper taking her out for coffee for no apparent reason wat), and then suddenly the boyfriend who we'd explained why he wasn't there showed up for... not a very good reason and nowhe'sapirateghosttheend. 

Well.  Uh.  Okay.  So.  That happened.

I dunno.  I felt like I was listening to a story while a ten-year-old played the plot on an old record player.  (33.5 rpm.... 33.5 rpm... okay now 78 RPM!  33.5 again... Okay now I'm just putting my finger on it and stopping it!  Now BACKWARDS!!!  Wheee!)
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