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Author Topic: EP460: The Ink Readers of Doi Saket  (Read 12846 times)

eytanz

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on: September 03, 2014, 09:54:54 PM
EP460: The Ink Readers of Doi Saket

By Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Read by Mat Weller

The Ink Readers of Doi Saket has been previously published by
Tor


---

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 02:46:48 PM by eytanz »



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #1 on: September 04, 2014, 12:22:03 AM
Hm... beautifully written, but it never quite resolved into sense for me. Perhaps I didn't give it the attention it deserved, but the story's failure to catch my attention was part of it. I won't pile criticisms on the story, because I didn't really get it... but then again, I didn't really get it because the story didn't grab me and make me want to get it, and that is, in a sense, a critique.

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ToooooMuchCoffeeMan

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Reply #2 on: September 04, 2014, 07:34:50 AM
This was a very affecting story with a wistful, elegiac tone. But how was it sf? It's something I would've expected to hear on PodCastle, maybe, more than EP.

I have to say also that the reading detracted from my enjoyment - it was hurried and flat, I thought. (Plus there were a number of editing glitches, but I tend be forgiving of that.) The reader didn't seem to be paying all that much attention to what he was actually reading and where the grace notes of the story were.



eytanz

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Reply #3 on: September 04, 2014, 07:49:20 AM
This was a very affecting story with a wistful, elegiac tone. But how was it sf? It's something I would've expected to hear on PodCastle, maybe, more than EP.

It's a Hugo Nominee, which means EP will run it, regardless of genre.



Listener

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Reply #4 on: September 04, 2014, 11:51:51 AM
It took me a couple of minutes to get used to the way the story was being told (the text, not the narration; Mat's voice is nicely wry enough to pull off a narration like this), and after that I was in. I think the conceit of taking a... can't think of the word, but let's go with "ceremony" or "tradition"... like the "write your wishes down and put them in a river" and monetizing it is pretty cool, and the characterization was interesting. Overall enjoyable.

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matweller

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Reply #5 on: September 04, 2014, 06:34:18 PM
I have to say also that the reading detracted from my enjoyment - it was hurried and flat, I thought. (Plus there were a number of editing glitches, but I tend be forgiving of that.) The reader didn't seem to be paying all that much attention to what he was actually reading and where the grace notes of the story were.

I accept the criticism and apologize that my style detracted from your enjoyment. I will say that this is a very challenging piece for a narrator. If you read the original out loud to yourself I think you'll note the number of asides and run-ons, plus the fact that this is a translation and the language is not always the best it could be, and go, "ew, there are some really rough patches in there."

My tone is what it is. I've always tried to emulate Ben Phillips' and Phil Rossi's style a bit in that I generally read text flat so that it brings more animation and differentiation to the voices when they are used. In a piece like this without many spoken parts, it does tend to make it a bit more monotone.

As for the edit, I'll listen through again and make some corrections if I can. I was confident enough in my first edit that I may not have reviewed it as closely as I should. Thanks for calling that out, and if you notice it happen in future episodes and are in a place where you can make a not of the time the glitches appear and let me know, it will help me get to them more quickly.

Thanks for your comments!


UPDATE: The missed edits have been fixed and uploaded in a revised file. I can't apologize enough for those misses. Thank you for pointing them out!
« Last Edit: September 19, 2014, 03:09:53 PM by matweller »



InfiniteMonkey

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Reply #6 on: September 05, 2014, 02:58:22 AM
Eh.

I'm not sure what the Hugo voters were thinking with this one. It's an interesting story, a lot of overtones of magical realism, but, really, not much magical happens in this story.

I had a uncharitable thought. I cynically couldn't help wondering of this was an attempt at inclusion and diversity (and I certainly don't know enough about Thailand to know how well this did in that respect). And I wondered if a Garrison Kellior style magical realism story in a wholly Christian context would have merited the same attention or consideration by the Hugo committee.

Lastly, Alasdair, if your comment "rolling, rolling, rolling" was referring to the song "Proud Mary", that song was written by John Fogerty for Creedence Clearwater Revival, NOT Bruce Springsteen. And as far as I know, Springsteen is still a completely lapsed Catholic. Can't speak for Fogerty.

(perhaps we Yanks all sound alike ;-)  )



Alasdair5000

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Reply #7 on: September 05, 2014, 05:29:12 AM
Thanks for the tip. The version I grew up
With was a Springsteen cover in which case. That and ALF where I heard it for the first time:)



matweller

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Reply #8 on: September 05, 2014, 12:16:51 PM
I think it's safe to say Fogerty's lapsed, I just don't know if he was ever Catholic.



skeletondragon

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Reply #9 on: September 06, 2014, 12:40:03 AM
This story exoticized Thailand in a way that really didn't appeal to me. Story-wise, it was trite and predictable and never really clicked.



Warren

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Reply #10 on: September 06, 2014, 01:14:04 AM
The writing was obviously done with great care, and the fairy tale atmosphere was well evoked, but when it got to fifteen minutes and I cared not a jot for any of the characters and nothing of note had happened, I gave up. Guess I'll never know why that kid - forgotten for at least ten straight minutes - had to be shoved into the mud, nor whether they survived.

I recognize it's a Hugo nominee, and so the fault must somehow be in me, for failing to recognize the exceptional quality of the story. But it just did nothing for me, and after a while I stopped extending it credit.



wundercapo

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Reply #11 on: September 06, 2014, 06:24:12 PM
My comments mirror most of what others have said so far: It just didn't grab me, and the story didn't have enough to get me through the difficulty in keeping track of who was who and what was going on, which I admit is more difficult with stories that are translated and have names and places that are a little less familiar.

As ElectricPaladin said, I also noticed a beautiful quality of the writing, but was unable to sustain that sense through the whole story.

Props to matweller -- I did notice that much of the problem was the writing (translation?) in this one, and applaud you for your effort. Thanks for pointing out the difficulty in the text of the original and for taking responsibility for what was under your control. My sense when listening was that it really was the text that was off, not the narration.



wundercapo

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Reply #12 on: September 06, 2014, 06:50:52 PM
I followed up my earlier comment by looking up the story on Tor.com. I was surprised to find out it was written by someone from the Netherlands. (Yes, I didn't really listen to the authors name or information in the podcast...sigh) I wonder if this was actually translated at all, or written in English. I don't see any note of a translator, and only an editor. That could be one of the issues.

With all of the glowing comments on the text of the story, I wonder if this one is also a story that does not "translate" well to a podcast format. Some stories flourish when so treated, but this one might be an exception. The notes provided in the text also perhaps provide some context that enlivens the interest in the story that doesn't really get off the ground when it is read aloud.

Anyway, interesting to look into the story a bit more and see perhaps why it was Hugo nominated.



wundercapo

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Reply #13 on: September 06, 2014, 06:55:09 PM
Ok, last one on this I promise. I was incorrect... Looks like it was originally published in Dutch. Still unclear about who translated the text -- strange that it doesn't say it on Tor.com)

http://nl.oldeheuvelt.com/wp-content/uploads/De-Inktlezers-van-Doi-Saket-Thomas-Olde-Heuvelt.pdf



kagillogly

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Reply #14 on: September 06, 2014, 10:01:51 PM
I just had to log in and comment.
I found the narration good, I rather liked the contrast of the 'flat' narration in contrast to what was going on in the story.
But, once again, I plea - if the author went through the trouble of setting the story in a place that really exists, please pronounce the name of that place correctly!  'Mai' in Chiang Mai is not pronounced like the name of the month May. The ai is pronounced as the personal pronoun 'I.' Chiang Mai is a well-known tourist destination, it can't be that hard to figure it out!
Lots of the other Thai names and terms were terribly mispronounced - not surprising. Again, I offer my services to narrators reading stories set in Thailand. I will give you free pronunciation training! It would be my pleasure! I understand that most people will not understand that phuu yai baan is pronounced pu yay ban (the /ph/ indicates a soft /p/ as opposed to an aspirated /p/).  (And yet, our narrator sometimes pronounced it fuu and sometimes puu ...)
As for the exoticism mentioned by InfiniteMonkey - it was actually quite well-done in terms of Thai culture. Loi Krathong is a real ceremony in which people send their SINS down the river on little boats made of leaves and bamboo and styrofoam with lotus flowers and little coins. Getting rid of the sins also gives one the chance to get merit and get what one desires.  This was a very nice twist on the Thai ceremony - and takes note of the fact that, in fact, poor kids downstream often fish the boats out of the river to take the money. It's considered very sinful, as you are now getting the sins of the person who send the boat downstream in the first place. But I liked the twist of making these desires.
Which leads to something that just kept on bugging me. These are Buddhists. Desire is tanhaa, it leads to sin. Desire is the source of evil.  I was waiting for the author to more explicitly pull that in. It was ironic that the act of making people's dreams and desires come true led to nice results for many of the people, if not for the protagonist - I suppose his ending was the most Buddhist of all the stories, in that it demonstrates that life is transient and ephemeral. 
So, for me, this was a strange fusion of some of the features of Thai ceremony and Buddhism but all within a very Western framework of magical realism.  I don't know if I liked that or hated that. It is hard to listen to a story that is set in a place that one knows very well and let go of disbelief. 



Zelda

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Reply #15 on: September 07, 2014, 06:17:59 PM
I think it's safe to say Fogerty's lapsed, I just don't know if he was ever Catholic.

Tina Turner's Buddhist. (Although not at the time she recorded this song, I think.)



Listener

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Reply #16 on: September 08, 2014, 12:29:36 PM
I recognize it's a Hugo nominee, and so the fault must somehow be in me, for failing to recognize the exceptional quality of the story.

I never allowed myself to subscribe to that theory. We are readers, and we have the right not to like things no matter how well-pedigreed they are. I mean, think about all the classics we were forced to read in high school and college? Most people didn't care for them, but that didn't make them classics.

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Max e^{i pi}

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Reply #17 on: September 08, 2014, 06:46:25 PM
This story didn't grab me either, but I made it through and came out the other side unscathed.
I think the ending did it for me. It took a rather mediocre story and gave it just that little bit of oomph it needed to maybe stick in my head for more than a few hours.
It's a prime example of speculative fiction. Here is a world with cell phones and magical phallic statues with the power of... well, it's a phallic symbol. Everybody sincerely believes that sending wishes down the river or up in a balloon will make them come true. But here is a tiny little village with a corrupt establishment intent on getting rich off it. It's a perfect con. All the hard work is done by religious zealots and all you need to do is go through the motions. The swimming underwater for three days and making up crap wishes motions, but hey, you get to take it easy the other 362 days of the year.
And then, just when you (the reader) has it all figured out, wishes actually come true. Is it the magical properties of religious artifacts? Is it the halfhearted attempts of the con men? Is it karma? A river god? Or is it just coincidence? It. Does. Not. Matter. You wish, and it comes true or it doesn't, but the world is a better place for it.

Also, Mat, this episode was not child-safe and we probably could have used a warning.
Just saying.
Also great reading. I liked it.

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matweller

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Reply #18 on: September 08, 2014, 07:00:35 PM
But, once again, I plea - if the author went through the trouble of setting the story in a place that really exists, please pronounce the name of that place correctly!  'Mai' in Chiang Mai is not pronounced like the name of the month May. The ai is pronounced as the personal pronoun 'I.' Chiang Mai is a well-known tourist destination, it can't be that hard to figure it out!
Lots of the other Thai names and terms were terribly mispronounced - not surprising. Again, I offer my services to narrators reading stories set in Thailand. I will give you free pronunciation training! It would be my pleasure! I understand that most people will not understand that phuu yai baan is pronounced pu yay ban (the /ph/ indicates a soft /p/ as opposed to an aspirated /p/).  (And yet, our narrator sometimes pronounced it fuu and sometimes puu ...)

That's an outstanding offer, thank you! By all means, update this document with some phonetic spellings and I will re-record the narration as soon as possible. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fDbWOQHXAtlej_J1uLK9ER_rJnaKwSbVJveasxUFP7Y/edit?usp=sharing

Also, Mat, this episode was not child-safe and we probably could have used a warning.

You shall have it, sir! Thanks for the heads up. I thought I had tagged this one "explicit," but I definitely did not include a warning. It shall be rectified.

I have to say also that the reading detracted from my enjoyment - it was hurried and flat, I thought. (Plus there were a number of editing glitches, but I tend be forgiving of that.) The reader didn't seem to be paying all that much attention to what he was actually reading and where the grace notes of the story were.

I'm not changing my tone, but I did note three editing glitches and two inflection changes that I mean to change upon re-recording. The missed edits embarrass me more than any of the rest of this, and for that error I cannot apologize enough.


UPDATE: The warning has been added to the beginning and the missed edits have been fixed. I can't apologize enough for those misses. Thank you for pointing them out! As promised, I will also re-record the narration with pronunciation changes when/if kagillogly is able to find time to help me out.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2014, 03:12:40 PM by matweller »



albionmoonlight

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Reply #19 on: September 09, 2014, 01:24:05 PM
Like many of the commenters, I, too, did not find this story very engaging.  I kept finding myself distracted and having to re-listen to sections.

It seems to read more like philosophy than story.  I appreciated the opportunity to be transported to another culture and another worldview.  And I really appreciate kagillogly's comment that helped me to place this story into a real life context.  I also liked that the story was sprinkled with dry humor throughout.

Overall, though, I cannot say that this was one of my favorites.



ElectroSquid

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Reply #20 on: September 09, 2014, 04:21:55 PM
I found this hard to follow and thought the sex was a bit crass. Quite surprised it won a Hugo award really. It wasn't awful, but not great.



DKT

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Reply #21 on: September 09, 2014, 05:42:47 PM
This story was nominated for a Hugo Award. The Water That Falls On Your From Nowhere (by John Chu) won the Hugo Award.


pborenstein

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Reply #22 on: September 10, 2014, 08:23:56 PM
The boy and I listened to this, and at the end we had the same question: What was SF about this?



SpareInch

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Reply #23 on: September 11, 2014, 08:51:08 AM
The boy and I listened to this, and at the end we had the same question: What was SF about this?

All together now, and work on those harmonies...

This was a Hugo Nominee
That's why it was on EP
Every year they run the nominees
But Hugos are open to fantasies
So in Hugo month you get fantasy
Sometimes running on EP


I guess it's just one of those things. The Hugo nominees this year were clearly slanted more towards fantasy. Deal with it!

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


Alasdair5000

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Reply #24 on: September 11, 2014, 09:21:40 AM
From http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-categories/


Science Fiction? Fantasy? Horror?

"While the World Science Fiction Society sponsors the Hugos, they are not limited to sf. Works of fantasy or horror are eligible if the members of the Worldcon think they are eligible."



That's why this story got nominated for a Hugo. The fact it got nominated for a Hugo is the reason we're running it here. If there's any way for the Mods to sticky this post to the top of the topic? And indeed every single Hugo nominated short story topic from here on out? That would be great.