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Author Topic: PC316, Giant Episode: The Meaning of Love  (Read 7130 times)
Talia
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« on: June 20, 2014, 07:07:10 AM »

PodCastle 316, Giant Episode: The Meaning of Love

by Daniel Abraham.

Read by M.K. Hobson.

Originally appeared in Rogues edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

The name Sovereign North Bank referred to a strip of land along the river Taunis within the great city of Nevripal, but not of it. It existed first as an accident of politics. When, centuries before, the wizards of the Hanish Empire sued for peace after the War of Ten Emperors, the lands surrounding the slow, dark river were ceded to the Council of Nestripon, but an exception was made for the Hanish winter palace and its grounds which were the favorites of the Empress. In a sentimental gesture of good faith that often follows wars between monarchs who are also family, the land remained technically within the Hanish Empire, though no official or citizen remained there. The mayor and burgers of Nevripal, not sharing the familial fondness for their defeated enemies, declared that the Sovereign North Bank was, in essence, its own problem. With no Hanish to oversee it and no Nestripon willing to take responsibility, it became that rarest of all places: an autonomous zone where the law protected and enforced lawlessness.
Over the ages since, the north bank had become a curiosity. The detritus of a dozen cultures found their way there, or were forced to it when there was no other refuge. The sluggish, dark waters of the Taunis carried barges and rafts to the muddy shores. Criminals and debtors fled to it, refugees of wars national and domestic, the addicted and the poverty-lost. And like the vast and mindless organism that it was, the Sovereign North Bank grew.
That there were no magistrates did not mean there were no planners, no architects, no geniuses or madmen. Rather it meant there was no restraint to those who lived there and invented.


Rated R for violence, strong language and sex.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: July 11, 2014, 08:36:07 AM by Talia » Logged
InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2014, 10:25:00 PM »

Oh, lord, another Giant episode??? !!!

But..... written by Daniel Abraham? (and that anthology does sound pretty awesome)

And read by M.K...... oh, oKAY, then I guess....   Smiley Smiley

Actually, it was quite a good story, and I think Asa's responses to "Love Is..." make up for a lifetimes' worth of sappy cartoons.

And I actually didn't think Asa was a woman; I assumed he was a he. Though his hesitation in seduction made me wonder if the lady in question was in for a surprise in Asa's pants.
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Moritz
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2014, 05:25:42 AM »

I also didn't think he was a woman either, reminded me of the Arab "°Isa", which means "Jesus".

I generally liked the story, although I don't really care for rogues, and the setting seemed a bit generic. Huge thanks for Podcastle managing to have an episode come out at the same time as this epic book.

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Scott Spath
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2014, 10:19:09 AM »

Hi everyone! This is my first post on one of the Escape Artists podcast episodes, although I've been listening for quite some time.

I'm always a fan of M.K.'s readings, and this was no exception. The story, however, didn't fully hold my attention the entire time. I like trickster characters, but I think the man Asa was infatuated with seemed so boring that I just wasn't interested in him. I started getting into it more near the end where it seemed like there was more action, and I was pleasantly surprised when Asa (who I erroneously assumed was a woman simply because it was M.K reading) willingly slept with another woman. I'm always excited when there's representation of the LGBTQ community in these stories.

So when, during the outro, Dave explained the confusion about Asa's gender that led to M.K.'s reading, I could not have been more pleased that M.K read the story anyway. I hadn't really been thinking of the gender-fluidity of the Loki/trickster character during this story, and I definitely did not hear the pronoun "he" (probably because I wasn't paying enough attention). This sort of fully realized queer personality is really great to see in my entertainment. Keep these characters coming!
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DKT
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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2014, 10:41:03 AM »

Oh, lord, another Giant episode??? !!!

But..... written by Daniel Abraham? (and that anthology does sound pretty awesome)

And read by M.K...... oh, oKAY, then I guess....   Smiley Smiley


Wasn't "Scry" our last Giant, back in December? I know we've had a couple long ones since then, but none of 'em Giants (though some came close to an hour).

Seems like lately Escape Pod's been poaching our Giant Juice, and doing some strange thaumaturgy with it  Wink
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Richard Babley
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2014, 01:31:24 PM »

Am I the only one that associates Asa as a man's name?  Come on people, Simpsons, the Flying Hell Fish, Asa Phelps is dead and Monty Burns and Grandpa Simpson are the only two left..  Around season six I want to say.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2014, 05:02:47 PM »

Ou, I found this to be a very intriguing world and set of characters. Smiley Since we're reporting in, I also assumed that Asa was a male throughout and had a moment of wondering if he was a eunuch when he warned the girl that she might be surprised by what she found under his clothes.

I like how this was sort of an ensemble story with many characters all working together to pull off a fairly intricate heist. I can only hope that the girl turns out to be all that the young hero believes her to be!

I also agree with InfiniteMonkey that the anthology really does sound cool.
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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2014, 08:18:33 AM »

I associate Asa as a mans name, though that might be because I've written a story with a male Asa in it--I found the name somewhere, though I don't remember where.  But Hobson reading it made me assume Asa was a woman--I think it's exceedingly hard to pull off a mixed-gender character in audio because your reader's gender is on the table already. 

Anyway, I really enjoyed the Love Is metaphor banter--that's a fun thing about metaphors is that with a basic beginning you can make it go anywhere you want.  Reminds me of the Flight of the Conchords song "Rambling Through the Avenues of Time": 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2CiJ5U6x24&feature=kp

The rest of the story, I don't know.  It's not that I hated it.  It held my interest.  But I wasn't really sucked in by it.  I just watched with some interest until the story was over and then didn't really feel the need to think about it afterward.  I wonder if I would've noticed the gender mix if it had been in print--maybe not, but I think I would've had a little better chance.  I thought Asa went to pretty large lengths (including permanent brain damage on the two hunters) to do a favor for her crush.  I never really felt that motivation because I didn't find her crush even remotely interesting.

I didn't really see it as a Coyote story as I was listening, so for me the author's note at the end doesn't really change that.  Even thinking back, that description doesn't really fit my personal imagining of a Coyote story.  While Asa acted as a trickster, I never felt that Coyote would allow himself to be manipulated in return and I felt like Asa was kind of the butt of the crush's goals.
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2014, 10:38:10 AM »

Thinking on it further, there was one specific part of the story where I was particularly certain Asa was a woman.  After the sex scene, her crush showed incredulity and disgust when he realized Asa'd bedded the woman.  From the way he reacted and the way Asa described his reaction I got the impression that his reaction was due to him not being willing to entertain the notion of lesbian sex as something that happens.  If Asa's not a woman, then I have no idea where his reaction is coming from where he can't imagine Asa bedding the woman--is there something else about Asa that makes Asa apparently not a viable candidate for lady-sex from his admittedly biased point of view?
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DKT
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2014, 10:57:56 AM »

Well, for me it was that he considered Asa one of his best friends. I read it as more of a feeling of betrayal than anything else - not that lesbians are gross.

Like I mentioned in the outro, my impression of Asa as a woman originally stemmed from thinking the story was going to be featured in Dangerous Women, not Rogues (another Martin/Dozois anthology). I'd also assumed Asa was a woman posing as a man - Arya Stark-like. At that time, the thing with Asa saying what was in his pants might surprise the prince's true love just added to that interpretation, and it stuck. I still think there's something to that, and so was kind of relieved when Daniel Abraham emailed me his response to it all Smiley
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Devoted135
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« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2014, 10:59:23 AM »

Thinking on it further, there was one specific part of the story where I was particularly certain Asa was a woman.  After the sex scene, her crush showed incredulity and disgust when he realized Asa'd bedded the woman.  From the way he reacted and the way Asa described his reaction I got the impression that his reaction was due to him not being willing to entertain the notion of lesbian sex as something that happens.  If Asa's not a woman, then I have no idea where his reaction is coming from where he can't imagine Asa bedding the woman--is there something else about Asa that makes Asa apparently not a viable candidate for lady-sex from his admittedly biased point of view?

Maybe Asa is a hermaphrodite? You raise a really good question that is further bolstered by Asa's warning to her. At the time of listening, I thought the young hero's reaction was more of a "how could you - my protector and friend - betray me and also despoil the beautiful flower that is my young princess?" So, more on a morality level, as well as a complete denial or lack of understanding of where this girl has come from.


Edit: Dave posted while I was typing, but I'm going to go ahead and leave my reply as-is. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2014, 11:18:54 AM »

Well, for me it was that he considered Asa one of his best friends. I read it as more of a feeling of betrayal than anything else - not that lesbians are gross.

Like I mentioned in the outro, my impression of Asa as a woman originally stemmed from thinking the story was going to be featured in Dangerous Women, not Rogues (another Martin/Dozois anthology). I'd also assumed Asa was a woman posing as a man - Arya Stark-like. At that time, the thing with Asa saying what was in his pants might surprise the prince's true love just added to that interpretation, and it stuck. I still think there's something to that, and so was kind of relieved when Daniel Abraham emailed me his response to it all Smiley


Hm, that wasn't what I got at all.  Especially with her mentioning that there were a thousand worse things happening in the city that day or something like that--I thought Asa was saying "Dude, women have sex with each other.  It's just a normal thing that happens.  Deal with it."  I'd have to peruse the words more carefully in the exchange, but looking back on it the wording doesn't seem to support that he was upset at the betrayal of a friend though I can't quite say why.  Maybe that's just the coloring of retrospect.

It probably also says something about what I thought of the guy's personality that I thought an "ew lesbians" reaction was not out of character.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2014, 11:27:43 AM by Unblinking » Logged
bounceswoosh
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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2014, 02:04:43 PM »

The princeling was in love with what's her name. Of course he'd be pissed - he wanted her to be pure for him. There's even a reference somewhere about how he'd never believe she'd slept with others.
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mkhobson
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2014, 02:56:59 PM »

Yeah, I definitely interpreted Strepan's reaction as "how dare you sleep with the girl I sent you to go obtain for me!" I wouldn't even dignify his response by classifying it as "a friend, betrayed"; I don't think the Prince was capable of an emotional response of that depth and nuance. His reaction reminded me of a spoiled child hearing that someone else has played with one of his toys.

I didn't think much of the Prince, in case you didn't get that. I had to struggle to keep him from coming across like a mopey medieval Zap Brannigan.  Cheesy
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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2014, 03:30:57 PM »

I didn't think much of the Prince, in case you didn't get that. I had to struggle to keep him from coming across like a mopey medieval Zap Brannigan.  Cheesy

Haha, yeah I don't think the author was aiming for anyone to declare the prince an awesome person.  Smiley  He did kind of come across as a mopey medieval Zap Brannigan, but not because of any failing in your reading--his words did just fine on their own!
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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2014, 03:43:51 PM »

I didn't think much of the Prince, in case you didn't get that. I had to struggle to keep him from coming across like a mopey medieval Zap Brannigan.  Cheesy

WHAT?!?! I am shocked, Hobson. SHOCKED!

Yeah, he was a spoiled twat. Although I took him to be more of a sweet, naive one, and not an entitled Bro-esque asshole. Somewhere between Humperdink and (young) Tristran Thorn.
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Richard Babley
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« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2014, 06:08:04 PM »

But Hobson reading it made me assume Asa was a woman--I think it's exceedingly hard to pull off a mixed-gender character in audio because your reader's gender is on the table already. 

Here's a funny story, up until a couple years ago, i thought that "Day dream believer" by the monkeys was sung by a woman that they hired or something...

Moral of the story: next time that you have an androgynous part, hire Davy Jones.

Come on podcastle, get on it!
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DerangedMind
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2014, 12:28:44 AM »

I associate Asa as a mans name, though that might be because I've written a story with a male Asa in it--I found the name somewhere, though I don't remember where.  But Hobson reading it made me assume Asa was a woman--I think it's exceedingly hard to pull off a mixed-gender character in audio because your reader's gender is on the table already. 

I interpreted Asa as male in the story.  However, if I had been thinking about it, I probably would have assumed the name to be female, as most names I know with a terminal 'a' are female (Roberta, Helena, Diana).
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« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2014, 08:22:21 AM »

I interpreted Asa as male in the story.  However, if I had been thinking about it, I probably would have assumed the name to be female, as most names I know with a terminal 'a' are female (Roberta, Helena, Diana).

If I hadn't already looked up that name before, I probably would've made the same assumption.  In some languages especially, the form is very consistent.  Italian comes to mind, with Mario/Maria etc.
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Varda
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2014, 11:09:32 AM »

This was a really fun story--great worldbuilding, nice and gritty and dark, and I do love me some roguish characters! Cheesy

I'm on Team "I thought Asa was a guy". Not really sure why, looking back on it. I actually assumed he was gay and not bi at first, because of his relationship with the Prince, and was really surprised when he and the girl got it on as a result. But then I thought, "Well, that's what I get for making majority assumptions about people's orientations!" and looked forward to how the Prince would take the whole thing.

And Hobson's narration? Fantastic from start to finish. I always look forward to her readings. Easily one of my favorite narrators at Podcastle. Smiley Can we have Hobson and Fowlie do some sort of narration cage match to the death, or would that just cause the world to implode from sheer awesomeness?
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