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Author Topic: PC345: Makeisha In Time  (Read 8453 times)
Ocicat
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« on: January 06, 2015, 02:23:20 AM »

PodCastle 345: Makeisha In Time

by Rachael K. Jones

Read by K. Tempest Bradford

Originally published in Crossed Genres, Issue #20, August 2014. Read it here!

Makeisha has always been able to bend the fourth dimension, though no one believes her. She has been a soldier, a sheriff, a pilot, a prophet, a poet, a ninja, a nun, a conductor (of trains and symphonies), a cordwainer, a comedian, a carpetbagger, a troubadour, a queen, and a receptionist. She has shot arrows, guns, and cannons. She speaks an extinct Ethiopian dialect with a perfect accent. She knows a recipe for mead that is measured in aurochs horns, and with a katana, she is deadly.

Her jumps happen intermittently. She will be yanked from the present without warning, and live a whole lifetime in the past. When she dies, she returns right back to where she left, restored to a younger age. It usually happens when she is deep in conversation with her boss, or arguing with her mother-in-law, or during a book club meeting just when it is her turn to speak. One moment, Makeisha is firmly grounded in the timeline of her birth, and the next, she is elsewhere. Elsewhen.

Makeisha has seen the sun rise over prehistoric shores, where the ocean writhed with soft, slimy things that bore the promise of dung beetles, Archeopteryx, and Edgar Allan Poe. She has seen the sun set upon long-forgotten empires. When Makeisha skims a map of the continents, she sees a fractured Pangaea. She never knows where she will jump next, or how long she will stay, but she is never afraid. Makeisha has been doing this all her life.


Rated R. Contains violence.

Editors’ Note: Please hang out after the episode for an announcement from Dave and Anna. Additionally, you can check out Dave’s blog here.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 09:15:38 AM by Talia » Logged
Ocicat
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2015, 02:43:49 AM »

Regarding that announcement: I've preemptively split the thread.  This thread is for the episode itself.  Any comments on the annoucement or to the editors should go over here: Podcastle editorial announcement (split from PC345)
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2015, 02:11:25 PM »

Full disclosure: I'm married to the author, so I'm totally biased in the story's favor.

Having said that, I listened to this on my way into work this morning, and even though I've read every draft of the story since it was first conceived, I still got choked up listening to Bradford's reading.  It's good stuff.
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2015, 02:57:40 PM »

[Comments on the announcement pre-emptively snipped]

...as far as this story went, man I loved it. I've been saying this for a long time. I hate how we let these entirely fictitious ideas about history - motivated by racism, sexism, and all around human asshattery -  warp our ideas of where we came from. And in the genres of science fiction and fantasy? Don't get me started. If I have to read one more snooty Elf monoculture, I am going to vomit. Forever. I will drown the world in puke.

I don't read a lot of fantasy that I haven't vetted yet. You're all welcome.

But this story was great.

The only other thing I want to point out is how this story really got into the meat of how our terrible way of erasing and warping our history is so caustic to our relationships. Makeisha's relationship falls apart because she is driven to visit the past, and she's driven to visit the past because of the terrible injustices she sees perpetrated on her relationships (and, it's implied at least a little, she is sent to the past in order to correct these injustices). You can't build a life or a relationship on a foundation of lies and spite.
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2015, 09:31:24 PM »

Full disclosure: I'm married to the author, so I'm totally biased in the story's favor.

Having said that, I listened to this on my way into work this morning, and even though I've read every draft of the story since it was first conceived, I still got choked up listening to Bradford's reading.  It's good stuff.

After hearing that story, I'm jealous of you! 
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2015, 10:40:48 AM »

Since people in this thread seem to be about full disclosure, I'll start with that: about a year ago I unsubscribed from PC because I had missed two months when my son was born, and haven't had the time to catch up, or listen to new episodes. But the Metacast brought me back, and this story was a great thing to come back to.
Also, I listened to this while driving in an unfamiliar city, so the story was, appropriately enough, broken by Mrs Waze giving directions and warning me about hazards reported ahead. These constantly threw me out of the story, but it was still a great listen. I managed to persevere without multiple suicides and thoroughly enjoyed the story. I'm familiar with some of the author's works, and was happy to hear that this one is in no way, form or fashion inferior to any of them.
That's all the commenting I'm willing to do on my phone, I'll probably add more stuff later.
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2015, 06:03:01 PM »

When I first saw a draft of this story in crit group, my initial reaction was: "Wow, that was a great story." That's still my reaction, though I've read it several times, now.  And the narration added another layer of depth to an already well-layered story.  So, great job, all around, to everyone involved in the PodCastle production.

I think the story's central theme points to a real problem -- the erasure of marginalized people in history has real consequences in the present. I've seen that most clearly in religious discussions, wherein the "fact" that it "was not the practice of the early church to ordain women" has been used to lock women out of leadership roles in the present day. Archeology effectively rebutting this claim, along with evidence that the text of the Bible itself was altered to place male names into certain leadership roles in later manuscripts, was an important part of opening ordination to women in many Protestant denominations.
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2015, 11:08:32 AM »

Makeisha is badass.  If she weren't living in the future, and also weren't imaginary, I'd want to hang out with her all the time.  Wise beyond her years, super skilled in a wide variety of vocations, super knowledgeable about random crap in history that I know nothing about.  It might take some getting used to, suddenly having her go from super focused to dazed and distant, but if you understand what she goes through on those trips it's easy to understand why she reacts that way.  (And I'd wish for her to be President, having wisdom of many lifetimes and a detailed memory of various periods of history in vivid detail.  Although I'd wish for her to be President, I wouldn't wish that on her, I think that being President would suck, even though she'd be awesome at it)

I thought it was a super fun speculative element with both its up and downsides, typical of the best superheroes.  I would happily subscribe to a Makeisha in Time comic book series.  This should be a thing that happens.

One thing that I love about this particular story (and much of Rachael's work in general, but this story in particular) is that it has it all.  It brings the feels.  There is plenty of stuff happening to keep the attention.  It has a protagonist that is unbelievably powerful in some ways but still has challenges that she has difficulty surmounting.  There's fun speculative premise.  And there's themes that are relevant to everyday life.   It's all there.

I was afraid that the story was going to end with Makeisha committed suicide from her main life to try to escape to the future which was a logical if highly risky progression from her backwards jumps.  If she had done this I would hate the story forever.  Sooooo...  I'm glad she found another way to move in the forward direction.

I haven't made a focused effort to decide what I'm going to nominate for Hugos this year.  The only one I'm sure of is Ken Liu's The Clockwork Soldier.  But this one is certainly a contender.
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2015, 08:03:19 AM »

Overall I liked this story, but I have a little issue with the ending (or with how other people (Dave) seem to have understood it).
I think that when Makeisha pulled the future towards her she probably died. Or fell off the edge of the universe, which amounts to the same thing.
We see no evidence that in her past lives she jumps even further back. When she jumps back, she's there for the whole business, until she dies. So there is no reason to support the theory that when she dies in the "present" she will jump forward to her body in the future.
When she pulls towards the future she's basically doing what she did for the entire second part of the story, she's killing herself over and over again to try and live "in the moment". Why? Well, the reason that she gives is because she wants a "normal" life, and constantly getting interrupted by 40 years as a warlord can get in the way of that. But that didn't work for her either, she still couldn't seem to fit in.
So, she tries to change the way people perceive history, specifically POC and women in history. That is an admirable pursuit and I was totally rooting for her, but that didn't work either. And when she's finally had enough of it, she tries the last thing she can think of: suicide. For real this time.
Pulling the future towards her isn't some kind of hopeful escape into a better tomorrow, it's the only way she can think of to actually end it. She's lost her sense of self, her sense of reality, her faith in humanity and everything else people generally have to live for.
The thing is, she has committed suicide hundreds (thousands?) of times in the past, it never ends anything for her. It just causes even more confusion. Who's to say that if she commits suicide in the "present" she won't come to herself in the future? She doesn't want that.
And she definitely can't control these jumps, otherwise she would have avoided them altogether in her pursuit of a normal life.
No. I think that when she pulled the future towards her, she was racing towards the end of the universe, the Big Crunch or Big Freeze or whatever our universe has in store for us. She wanted to end it, and she did.
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2015, 08:52:51 AM »

I think I preferred this in audio to when I read it in the Crit Group. And it was pretty damned good then. Smiley

It makes you want to find out how many of your own preconceptions are based on doctored historical evidence.
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2015, 09:58:02 AM »

Overall I liked this story, but I have a little issue with the ending (or with how other people (Dave) seem to have understood it).
I think that when Makeisha pulled the future towards her she probably died. Or fell off the edge of the universe, which amounts to the same thing.
We see no evidence that in her past lives she jumps even further back. When she jumps back, she's there for the whole business, until she dies. So there is no reason to support the theory that when she dies in the "present" she will jump forward to her body in the future.
When she pulls towards the future she's basically doing what she did for the entire second part of the story, she's killing herself over and over again to try and live "in the moment". Why? Well, the reason that she gives is because she wants a "normal" life, and constantly getting interrupted by 40 years as a warlord can get in the way of that. But that didn't work for her either, she still couldn't seem to fit in.
So, she tries to change the way people perceive history, specifically POC and women in history. That is an admirable pursuit and I was totally rooting for her, but that didn't work either. And when she's finally had enough of it, she tries the last thing she can think of: suicide. For real this time.
Pulling the future towards her isn't some kind of hopeful escape into a better tomorrow, it's the only way she can think of to actually end it. She's lost her sense of self, her sense of reality, her faith in humanity and everything else people generally have to live for.
The thing is, she has committed suicide hundreds (thousands?) of times in the past, it never ends anything for her. It just causes even more confusion. Who's to say that if she commits suicide in the "present" she won't come to herself in the future? She doesn't want that.
And she definitely can't control these jumps, otherwise she would have avoided them altogether in her pursuit of a normal life.
No. I think that when she pulled the future towards her, she was racing towards the end of the universe, the Big Crunch or Big Freeze or whatever our universe has in store for us. She wanted to end it, and she did.

I, uh... don't see any textual evidence for that position.

I mean, it's perfectly logical, but it would also be within the logic of this story to say that by pulling the future towards her she was going to disappear from our stupid racist/sexist era and reappear in a future where we don't treat people like that anymore. Or it could mean that she was applying her time-and-reality-bending ability to force the world to become less stupid. Or maybe pulling the future towards her is a metaphor for rededicating herself to her cause (ie. she "bent reality" in the same way that all of us bend reality, by applying her will to it through action).

Or maybe it was just a poetic way to end the story and had no literal truth. Not everything in a narrative is narrative.

Saying "Makeisha killed herself" is about as logical as me saying "so, Luke has a psychotic break at the end of the last Star Wars movie, because he's seeing ghosts, so obviously his occasional delusions of voices have gotten bad enough that he's in real trouble now." You can sloppily glue real world logic onto speculative fiction all you want, but if it runs counter to the logic established in the fiction, you're talking nonsense.
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2015, 10:14:53 AM »

I'm with ElectricPaladin on this one.  She even considered suicide near the end as a means to travel to the future and rejected that path.  If she had committed suicide I'd hate the story forever.

I read it as her jumping forward to find a future where the problems she's been dealing with don't exist, or maybe even choosing a branching path in the timeline that leads specifically to that. 

Has she shown that level of directed control before?  Nope.  That's why it's the climax of the story, she has found a new facet of her abilities.  For all her life her time travel has been like a reflexive twitch of a muscle that only she has--when she's in a certain mindset that muscle twitches and she moves--like an extra appendage that only exists in the time spectrum that kicks off against a wall and knocks her into history.  At the end of the story she has gained enough experience, and has the purpose and the drive to choose to flex that muscle on purpose and to try to direct where it propels her. 
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2015, 10:20:18 AM »

RE: Max's suicide interpretation

Quote
But no. No. The self-murders were never for herself. Not once. Makeisha is resilient. She is resourceful, and she has been bending the fourth dimension all her life, whether anyone recognizes it or not.

A woman who has been pushed her whole life will eventually learn to push back.

Makeisha reaches forward into the air. With skillful fingers that have killed and healed and mastered the cello, she pulls the future toward her.

She has not returned.

- See more at: http://crossedgenres.com/magazine/020-makeisha-in-time/

I think the ending specifically refutes suicide as an option. Suicide was only done to try to minimize the impact of her jumps on the people around her in the Present. The "has" in the last line implies Makeisha's agency. "Will not return" or "Can not return" would remove agency and support Max's interpretation.

The last line can also be nicely metaphorical. Either in the "you can never go home" sense where the world changes and you can never return to a previous point. Or it's a metaphorical call to action and she becomes a warrior in the present taking action to right wrongs instead of a passive historian.
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2015, 12:21:11 PM »

I, uh... don't see any textual evidence for that position.

I mean, it's perfectly logical, but it would also be within the logic of this story to say that by pulling the future towards her she was going to disappear from our stupid racist/sexist era and reappear in a future where we don't treat people like that anymore.

So, based on this interpretation she suddenly has powers that she never exhibited before (Unblinking's climax) and can now control what she has been unable to control for (30? 40? 50?) years.
That doesn't jive with how I see here character developing.

Throughout the story she is slowly losing her sense of "self". She doesn't know who she is, because she so many people. She could try to be the sum of those people, but her "canonical" self is broken, it has no sense of continuity due to the frequent jumps. The past lives are more real to her because they had a beginning, middle and end. With no temporal discontinuities in between. Whereas her present self, her canonical self, cannot finish a sentence without getting lost in time.
So, she tries to not be the sum of her past lives but instead just "this" life, the canonical one. She does that by killing the past lives as soon as possible, before she can forget what she was doing in the canonical life.
So at this point in her life she has put aside her sum-of-lives approach and is trying to live just this one life.
Quote
All of it – the self-imposed silence, the suicides, the banishing of her fantastic past to the basement of her brain – these are the price of a normal life, of friendships and a marriage and a steady job. Mundane though it is, Makeisha reminds herself that this life is different from the other ones. Irreplaceable. Real.
That fails as well. Why? Because even though she is trying to live just the one life, the past lives are still a huge part of her. And you can't repress such a large portion of your life without consequences. You are the sum of all your experiences, if you decide that a lot of those don't matter, aren't important, are less important than who you think you are now, then you lose a large chunk of who you are.
Quote
Still, she misses the past, where she has lived most of her life.
And then, suddenly her past lives, which she has tried so hard to repress, surface in such a way as to negate her existence.
Quote
When she gave up time travel, she never thought she had surrendered her legacy, too.
So she tries to prove to herself (and to the world) that her past lives existed, they mattered.
She leaves messages that constantly get misinterpreted, attributed to others, lost or forgotten. She invests so much time and effort into proving that her past lives happened, that they mattered, that they are a part of herself that she loses touch with her present life, the one that used to be irreplaceable, real.
Quote
She is fading from the present. She forgets to eat between jumps, loses weight.
Her present self, the one she used to think was the real one, is fading, just like her past lives.
Quote
Makeisha wonders how many decades or centuries until this signature is also altered or lost or purposely erased, but she touches pen to paper anyway.
She no longer knows who she is or when she is.
Quote
Perhaps it is not the past that is yanking her away. Perhaps the present is crowding her out. And perhaps she has finally come to agree with the sentiment.
So what are her options? She could try to kill herself
Quote
But no. No. The self-murders were never for herself. Not once.
That is a very difficult line.
First of all, the "never for herself" part. She thought that she was doing it to have a normal life.  If she wasn't doing it for herself, then who was she doing it for? The other people in her life? That seems like a lot of effort to appear to being normal, and it never even worked. And why would she care what other people thought about her if not for her own well being? Therefore I propose that she was doing this for herself, but the self that she was doing this for no longer exists (or never existed).
Second, why is this here? It seems very strange. "Oh no, I don't think I belong here anymore, what should I do with myself? I'll kill myself. No. I've never killed myself for myself before". How is not doing it for herself a reason not to kill herself? Therefore I propose that she needs to do something for herself. For her self. Only... she has no idea who that self is anymore. Perhaps she never did.

So, here she is, the shattered remains of her self identity lying in pieces around her, marked off by crossed out sections in history books. She needs to do something for herself, for her own good. She needs to somehow assert her identity to herself. The past never seemed to work, and neither did the present.
So what does she do? She pushes herself into the future. Why does she do that? Why does she use some previously untried power? Because she has nothing left to lose. She has lost herself in the past and present, and has nothing to look forward to in the (mundanely reached) future. She needs to perform some act that is hers, and hers alone. So she tries to jump to the future.
Does she succeed? We don't know. I think she did not. There was nothing in the story to support the fact that she could willingly jump anywhen, let alone to the future. Of course, she has not returned. Which means that she clearly left the present.
Did she not return because she doesn't want to? Or because she can't? We don't know. But I think that she can't return, because she is lost to time. She hardly seemed to be in the proper frame of mind to control some sort of ephemeral power that she has never been able to control before. And to control it so well that she can willingly find a place in time where racism and sexism no longer exist. She had a lot of push and drive to be gone, but not a lot of "oomph" to actually be able to control it. That's why I think that she was successful enough to push herself out of the present, but not successful enough to actually land anywhen.
And somewhere, inside her, she knew that that would be the result. She spent her entire life trying to find out who she is, and she finally found an answer: she is a person who can bend the fourth dimension. And that is all she is. So now she is lost, in the fourth dimension.
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« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2015, 07:33:02 AM »

So, here she is, the shattered remains of her self identity lying in pieces around her, marked off by crossed out sections in history books. She needs to do something for herself, for her own good. She needs to somehow assert her identity to herself. The past never seemed to work, and neither did the present.
So what does she do? She pushes herself into the future. Why does she do that? Why does she use some previously untried power? Because she has nothing left to lose. She has lost herself in the past and present, and has nothing to look forward to in the (mundanely reached) future. She needs to perform some act that is hers, and hers alone. So she tries to jump to the future.
Does she succeed? We don't know. I think she did not. There was nothing in the story to support the fact that she could willingly jump anywhen, let alone to the future. Of course, she has not returned. Which means that she clearly left the present.
Did she not return because she doesn't want to? Or because she can't? We don't know. But I think that she can't return, because she is lost to time. She hardly seemed to be in the proper frame of mind to control some sort of ephemeral power that she has never been able to control before. And to control it so well that she can willingly find a place in time where racism and sexism no longer exist. She had a lot of push and drive to be gone, but not a lot of "oomph" to actually be able to control it. That's why I think that she was successful enough to push herself out of the present, but not successful enough to actually land anywhen.
And somewhere, inside her, she knew that that would be the result. She spent her entire life trying to find out who she is, and she finally found an answer: she is a person who can bend the fourth dimension. And that is all she is. So now she is lost, in the fourth dimension.

This is closer to where I am on this story. Makeisha is a fundamentally tragic character, and the most tragic thing is that the author didn't seem to realize it. Here we have a woman who is blessed with the ability to live dozens of lives, yet she never seems to mature past the mentality of living for other people's praise and recognition. She becomes a feudal warlord and Viking pillager in order to make her mark on history (that is, she literally becomes a murderous bastard in service to the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history), and ends up a bitter and disappointed divorcee, because she's allowed her happiness to be held hostage by the people around her. Her many past lives have given her no sense of perspective. I don't know where she ended up going at the end, but it's clear that wherever and whenever it is, she won't be happy.
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« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2015, 09:45:41 AM »

This is closer to where I am on this story. Makeisha is a fundamentally tragic character, and the most tragic thing is that the author didn't seem to realize it. Here we have a woman who is blessed with the ability to live dozens of lives, yet she never seems to mature past the mentality of living for other people's praise and recognition. She becomes a feudal warlord and Viking pillager in order to make her mark on history (that is, she literally becomes a murderous bastard in service to the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history), and ends up a bitter and disappointed divorcee, because she's allowed her happiness to be held hostage by the people around her. Her many past lives have given her no sense of perspective. I don't know where she ended up going at the end, but it's clear that wherever and whenever it is, she won't be happy.

It's probably worth pointing out that this piece echoes a lot of the ideas that Kameron Hurley discusses in her essay "We Have Always Fought" (which PodCastle ran as a special episode a few months ago).  The central thesis of both pieces is that marginalized groups get erased from history by the people who write the chronicles.  Saying that Makeisha is tragic because she can't be happy with her own knowledge of her accomplishments misses the point that this is a personalized story about a systemic problem.  Makeisha represents a very real longing that many people have to be recognized as players in the tapestry of civilization, and it belittles that longing to say that she's tragic because she can't get over it and be happy for herself.
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« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2015, 11:55:00 AM »

This is closer to where I am on this story. Makeisha is a fundamentally tragic character, and the most tragic thing is that the author didn't seem to realize it. Here we have a woman who is blessed with the ability to live dozens of lives, yet she never seems to mature past the mentality of living for other people's praise and recognition. She becomes a feudal warlord and Viking pillager in order to make her mark on history (that is, she literally becomes a murderous bastard in service to the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history), and ends up a bitter and disappointed divorcee, because she's allowed her happiness to be held hostage by the people around her. Her many past lives have given her no sense of perspective. I don't know where she ended up going at the end, but it's clear that wherever and whenever it is, she won't be happy.

It's probably worth pointing out that this piece echoes a lot of the ideas that Kameron Hurley discusses in her essay "We Have Always Fought" (which PodCastle ran as a special episode a few months ago).  The central thesis of both pieces is that marginalized groups get erased from history by the people who write the chronicles.  Saying that Makeisha is tragic because she can't be happy with her own knowledge of her accomplishments misses the point that this is a personalized story about a systemic problem.  Makeisha represents a very real longing that many people have to be recognized as players in the tapestry of civilization, and it belittles that longing to say that she's tragic because she can't get over it and be happy for herself.

I'm well aware of what the central thesis was. Even without the intro, the story was far from subtle. But I disagree that this was a personal story about a systemic problem; there was nothing personal about it. Makeisha was not treated as a person, but rather as a poster-child for The Central Thesis. She is not allowed a single thought or sentiment apart from The Central Thesis (case in point: she takes umbrage at her pirate queen persona being called a whore, but she isn't fazed for one second that she was a murderer and thief). Her experiences are not allowed to change her at all. Despite living dozens of lifetimes as a ruler, warrior, artist, etc. in the distant past, she emerges from it all with the same ultra-modern mindset she started with, because she is not a person; she is the embodiment of The Central Thesis.

I get that The Central Thesis is an important issue, and needs to be addressed in real life. But as presented in the story, it wasn't an idea that uplifted or inspired, but only destroyed. Makeisha's endless persuit of righting a legitimate wrong cost her friendships, a marriage, and even turned her into a murderer, until she eventually abandoned her friends and family in selfish pursuit of a world where that wrong had been righted. Am I belittling that longing? In her case, yes. It needed to be belittled, because it had grown so large by the end that it consumed her.
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« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2015, 12:15:30 PM »

First of all, the "never for herself" part. She thought that she was doing it to have a normal life.  If she wasn't doing it for herself, then who was she doing it for? The other people in her life? That seems like a lot of effort to appear to being normal, and it never even worked. And why would she care what other people thought about her if not for her own well being? Therefore I propose that she was doing this for herself, but the self that she was doing this for no longer exists (or never existed).
Second, why is this here? It seems very strange. "Oh no, I don't think I belong here anymore, what should I do with myself? I'll kill myself. No. I've never killed myself for myself before".

The examples she gave did seem fairly selfless to me--she was trying to be there for her husband and for her friends and she knew if she lived a lifetime in the past that she would be unable to do so. 


How is not doing it for herself a reason not to kill herself?


That's a reasonable question.  I don't know that I have a super meaningful answer, but it felt right to me, although I guess for me personally her choice to not commit suicide in the present is because rather than a route from one life to another it's a route from the known into certain death.


Did she not return because she doesn't want to? Or because she can't? We don't know. But I think that she can't return, because she is lost to time. She hardly seemed to be in the proper frame of mind to control some sort of ephemeral power that she has never been able to control before. And to control it so well that she can willingly find a place in time where racism and sexism no longer exist. She had a lot of push and drive to be gone, but not a lot of "oomph" to actually be able to control it. That's why I think that she was successful enough to push herself out of the present, but not successful enough to actually land anywhen.

I don't really disagree with any of that.  I think her survival is uncertain at best.  She might be lost, she might be dead.  While I think she in that moment was trying to flex that muscle that she'd only reflexively twitched before, that doesn't mean this movement isn't dangerous.  She was probably in the wrong frame of mind to ease her way into the movement.


But...  I wouldn't call what she did suicide.  It was bold, rash, probably even unwise to jump blindly without feeling her way along first.  To me the difference between suicide and what she did was the difference of cutting your wrists and charging into the wilderness with just a knife.  The latter might get you killed, it might be unwise, but it's not the same thing as suicide.
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« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2015, 12:27:36 PM »

I'm well aware of what the central thesis was. Even without the intro, the story was far from subtle. But I disagree that this was a personal story about a systemic problem; there was nothing personal about it. Makeisha was not treated as a person, but rather as a poster-child for The Central Thesis. She is not allowed a single thought or sentiment apart from The Central Thesis (case in point: she takes umbrage at her pirate queen persona being called a whore, but she isn't fazed for one second that she was a murderer and thief). Her experiences are not allowed to change her at all. Despite living dozens of lifetimes as a ruler, warrior, artist, etc. in the distant past, she emerges from it all with the same ultra-modern mindset she started with, because she is not a person; she is the embodiment of The Central Thesis.

I get that The Central Thesis is an important issue, and needs to be addressed in real life. But as presented in the story, it wasn't an idea that uplifted or inspired, but only destroyed. Makeisha's endless persuit of righting a legitimate wrong cost her friendships, a marriage, and even turned her into a murderer, until she eventually abandoned her friends and family in selfish pursuit of a world where that wrong had been righted. Am I belittling that longing? In her case, yes. It needed to be belittled, because it had grown so large by the end that it consumed her.

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until she eventually abandoned her friends and family in selfish pursuit of a world where that wrong had been righted.

Abandoned is a strong word.  They could understand her the way she was.  I don't blame them, being on the other end of that would be hard, especially when you don't understand what's happening.  The marriage in particular was ill-advised to begin with unless she could find a way to tell him about her other lives and make him believe--she would be living a lie the rest of her life if she stuck in that.

Selfish is also a strong word.  She is not the only one who has to live with the way the world is now--she is going to great effort to make the world into what she sees as a better place for everyone in it.  Of course she wants to live in that better world, but I think it's a stretch to call someone selfish because they want to make the world a better place for everyone and then live in it themselves.

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Am I belittling that longing? In her case, yes. It needed to be belittled, because it had grown so large by the end that it consumed her.

I don't disagree that her longing consumed her, and that much of her story is tragic.  But that doesn't mean that her longing is meaningless.  Far from it.  She could've been happier if she'd just been able to shrug it off and live without focusing on it, no doubt.  But history is often made by people who get angry about what they see all around them and push to change.  Whether they succeed or not, their longing for a better world is not meaningless.  It can be tragic, it can glorious, it can be right or it can be wrong (for some definition of right and wrong that varies from person to person) it can be all kinds of things, but not meaningless.   I don't buy that.

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« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2015, 10:34:00 AM »

Although I liked the setting and the point of the story, I thought the writing was a bit distant and made it difficult to follow this as prose. The view of history the characters have was bit confusing, as if in that world postcolonial theory and constructivism didn't exist, but I might be personally biased.
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« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2015, 11:04:54 AM »

You know, what's interesting about this thread is the way that it so closely mimics a lot of the conversation around sex and race in the broader world. I'm curious to read more, for example, about why some folks perceive Makeisha as "selfish" or described her quest as purely destructive, simply because it wasn't successful.

I feel that when we have a story with a male protagonist, we don't seem to have the same conversation. Looking back over the recent threads that I've read, it seems to me that when a male character is driven to right wrongs and it costs him his relationships, his livelihood, and his stability, we post about his sacrifice, how noble and tragic he is. I think it's very interesting that when we have a female character who is driven to right global or historical wrongs and it costs her in the same way, we have a conversation about her selfishness. I think it speaks to a double standard, where men are expected to go out and sacrifice and achieve, while women are expected to have more balanced lives, to be relationship and practicality-focused, so it jars when they make other demands.

Personally, I'm really troubled by the idea that there is anything wrong with Makeisha's quest for recognition. It's incredibly unfair to say that she "never seems to mature past the mentality of living for other people's praise and recognition." I don't know your background, RDNinja, but I'm going to say that that's an incredibly privileged position. Assuming that you're white and male - a pretty good, if not foolproof, assumption on a spec fic board - you have never had to look at the world and see your people erased from history. White males can live for themselves, untroubled by the quest for "praise and recognition." For people who have been completely erased from history, told for their entire lives that their people have contributed nothing of worth to the world, the "recognition" part can be very important.

Most importantly, this story is allegory. Seriously. It's an allegory for a real and hideous injustice, a lie that has been perpetrated upon all of us. I think Makeisha is an interesting character with completely realistic motivations, but even if she wasn't, the characters in a tale with an element of allegory sometimes aren't entirely three dimensional - sometimes they're more like 2.3 to 2.7 D. I understand that it's an uncomfortable allegory if you have been the beneficiary of this lie, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.
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« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2015, 04:07:47 PM »

Most importantly, this story is allegory. Seriously. It's an allegory for a real and hideous injustice, a lie that has been perpetrated upon all of us. I think Makeisha is an interesting character with completely realistic motivations, but even if she wasn't, the characters in a tale with an element of allegory sometimes aren't entirely three dimensional - sometimes they're more like 2.3 to 2.7 D. I understand that it's an uncomfortable allegory if you have been the beneficiary of this lie, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.

The story is allegory like a bad Star Trek episode is allegory.  Or, bad Star Trek fanfic, given how Makeisha turns into an omnicompetent Mary Sue in her past lives.  Or (brr) Tumblr fanfic.

That half-assed omnicompetency is what annoys me most about the story, I think.  "Oh, now I'm a pirate queen!  Oh, now I'm going to establish a feminist monarchy!  But they don't believe me, and I can't doooo anything about it!  I'm leaving this horrible world!"  The story mentions two desultory attempts at making a mark, and then she becomes just unable to cope.  Pah.  She should damn well set up and cultivate a secret society dedicated to maintaining these proofs, with a prophecy that in the year N a woman named Makeisha will arrive in X looking like insert description, and she will give them instructions to reveal their hidden knowledge to the world.  The story then ends with Makeisha quitting her job and booking a flight to Europe.  Maybe she will succeed, or maybe she will find out that those are all hallucinations during petit mal seizures.  (Seriously, does no one else see the "Warning: Unreliable Narrator" sign over in the corner?)  But at least the story is moving to some sort of conclusion, whether we will read it or not.
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« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2015, 05:14:40 PM »

Most importantly, this story is allegory. Seriously. It's an allegory for a real and hideous injustice, a lie that has been perpetrated upon all of us. I think Makeisha is an interesting character with completely realistic motivations, but even if she wasn't, the characters in a tale with an element of allegory sometimes aren't entirely three dimensional - sometimes they're more like 2.3 to 2.7 D. I understand that it's an uncomfortable allegory if you have been the beneficiary of this lie, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.

The story is allegory like a bad Star Trek episode is allegory.  Or, bad Star Trek fanfic, given how Makeisha turns into an omnicompetent Mary Sue in her past lives.  Or (brr) Tumblr fanfic.

That half-assed omnicompetency is what annoys me most about the story, I think.  "Oh, now I'm a pirate queen!  Oh, now I'm going to establish a feminist monarchy!  But they don't believe me, and I can't doooo anything about it!  I'm leaving this horrible world!"  The story mentions two desultory attempts at making a mark, and then she becomes just unable to cope.  Pah.  She should damn well set up and cultivate a secret society dedicated to maintaining these proofs, with a prophecy that in the year N a woman named Makeisha will arrive in X looking like insert description, and she will give them instructions to reveal their hidden knowledge to the world.  The story then ends with Makeisha quitting her job and booking a flight to Europe.  Maybe she will succeed, or maybe she will find out that those are all hallucinations during petit mal seizures.  (Seriously, does no one else see the "Warning: Unreliable Narrator" sign over in the corner?)  But at least the story is moving to some sort of conclusion, whether we will read it or not.

First of all, I think the story was very clear about where her multiple competencies came from. Between her childhood and her early adulthood, she used to live entire lives in the past. By the time she was in her twenties, she had probably lived for several hundred years, subjectively, and her multiple competencies made perfect sense to me.

Second, I don't see where you get the idea that she only tried twice, during her second period of giving into the jumps. The story is very clear that between the museum and the conclusion of the story, through the disintegration of her marriage, she goes back to jumping through time frequently. The narrative makes it obvious that she made many attempts, though perhaps only two were detailed.

I also don't think that the idea of starting secret societies would have helped much. The whole point is that the historical record was changed - and this is, in fact, more or less accurate - to minimize the impact of certain cultures as well as women of all cultures. She already had access to a great deal of knowledge. She could tell archeologists where to dig to find her hidden tomb, but that wouldn't change the fact that first, there's a good chance they'd have already found her warrior-queen tomb and re-interpreted its contents to fit their paradigm, and second, how would she convince them? She's setting herself up against the weight of a terribly unjust history of deception and willful misinterpretation. I don't see a lot she could have done in the past to change that. Makeisha was doomed because as much as she can go into the past, she can't change peoples' opinions about it - that's why she reaches for the future instead.
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« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2015, 10:49:12 PM »

Electric Paladin, thank you so much for articulating (twice, no less!) what I've been struggling with when reading the comments here. In fact, I've been reluctant to comment just because I found the conversation taking a rather trollish and offensive turn. Jkjones, I know you know this, but there is no need to defend this story. It is self-rescuing, just like Makeisha.

I loved the story. It really drew me in. I felt for Makeisha, to have lifetimes of experience and yet only be seen as someone who isn't reliable in her own time. I loved that she didn't just accept either life, that she constantly experimented trying to find a way to merge the two. I also appreciated that this wasn't just a time travel story where the hope gets to go back and score some babes and basically live out the male fantasy. Makeisha lived the life she was given (when she chose) with gusto and also with thought. And yes, a pirate is a thief and a murderer, but a successful pirate has nothing to do with prostitution. She didn't sleep her way to piratical success. She earned it.

As far as grasping the future. Perhaps it was literal. It seems to me, Makeisha was often called out of time during periods of stress, when she was grasping for an answer, etc. Perhaps by seeking a future she is just consenting to live in the present, using her original lifetime to make the changes she wants to see. Gasping the future could just be owning the present. Or it could be a magical wonderful journey out of time. I didn't get the feeling that she wanted to leave her life behind, just perhaps start living as herself and not trying to resurrect her past.

Kudos to Ms Jones. I feel like I'll someday be saying "I was there when it all started at the PodCastle Flash Fiction Contest.."
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« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2015, 02:23:30 AM »

ElectricPaladin, I'm a little surprised that you didn't pull out this line

the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history

since I think it nicely works with your comment about how the comments parallel the story's target. For a certain class of people, there's the obvious truth of received wisdom--gold is money, women and minorities are non-actors in history, slurs can't really hurt people, etc.--and any attempt to change that status quo is (pick one or several): against God's plan (popular with 19th century goldbugs), a slippery slope to thought police or national failure, an overcorrection to a problem that we've already solved (the "yes, slavery was bad, but there's no more racism" point), or, as here, simply something that's trendy. "Trendy" carries its own host of connotations, from "not really true" to "will fade in time" to "just something the eggheads invented to make themselves feel better and to beat us up with."

Now that I think about it, I love that the story gets paralleled in the comments, which is a nice reminder of how the story's promise of something better, something else, is still a ways off, in the future.
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« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2015, 12:38:15 PM »

ElectricPaladin, I'm a little surprised that you didn't pull out this line

the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history

That's a very good get - kudos! I completely missed that line. You're right, of course. Since when is seeking a better, more accurate understanding of our human history "trendy?" Well, when it's the history of women/people of color, of course. That's "trendy." The history of white men, though, that's just history, not some flash-in-the-pan "trend" in the zeitgeist.
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« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2015, 04:10:32 PM »

ElectricPaladin, I'm a little surprised that you didn't pull out this line

the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history

That's a very good get - kudos! I completely missed that line. You're right, of course. Since when is seeking a better, more accurate understanding of our human history "trendy?" Well, when it's the history of women/people of color, of course. That's "trendy." The history of white men, though, that's just history, not some flash-in-the-pan "trend" in the zeitgeist.

If you had read all of what I wrote, you also would have seen where I said that recognizing people of all genders and races in history is a good thing, and an issue that needs to be addressed in real life. But it is trendy at the same time, because it has only gained broad popularity in recent years (especially on the timescale that Makeisha is operating in), and this story in particular was explicitly said to be influenced by an award-winning essay written only a couple of years ago. Would this story and its theme have been as well-received 10 years ago? 30 years ago? Or in the pre-modern eras in which Makeisha spent most of her lives? That's what I mean when I say it's trendy, and it's not meant to imply that the idea is not worth pursuing in general. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a poor, ignorant white man, right?

And thanks for the (very) thinly veiled accusations of racism. It's always nice to feel welcome in a new place.

I think it's very telling that when I criticized aspects of the story and Makeisha's choices and character development, no one went to the text to provide counter-points or different interpretations of the actual story. Instead, people assumed I was attacking the idea and philosophy behind the story. I thought it was pretty safe to point out that becoming a Viking pillager or feudal warlord just to get your name in the history books was an objectively immoral thing to do, but apparently not.

So you're right about one thing, ElectricPaladin. This thread does bear a striking resemblance to recent conversations on race in the broader world. Specifically, it reminds me of the debate surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre, in which people lined up to make excuses for the crimes of mass-murdering sociopaths (of color), by insisting they were goaded into it by the racism of white men.

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« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2015, 05:47:14 PM »

I guess, RDNinja, as I did with your comments on "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" ("seems to be nothing more than a violent revenge fantasy against bigots") and "The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere" (a "cliche" coming-out story), we will just have to disagree on the relative merits of this story.

And I sincerely hope that this story spurs you to write your own version, whatever that might be: "person with time travel powers steadily uplifts the past by transferring little bits of knowledge to ancient societies, thus advancing progress," perhaps? That would be a fun story.

Now, I might read that story and think it's a little simple in its understanding of history: that one person could, say, eliminate pillaging from Viking culture seems like a conservative fantasy about the importance of the Great Person vis-a-vis society. Which is, by the by, why I don't bother arguing with you about Makeisha's historical jaunts and how she contributes to history as it is currently known, i.e., taking part in Viking raids rather than introducing the Vikings to, I don't know, solar powered energy.

(Because isn't part of the story about how Makeisha isn't all that exceptional, that women have been leading war-parties and practicing medicine throughout history, and that their presence has been systematically erased? Which is why she takes part in history in many of her jaunts.)

Also, dude,
It's always nice to feel welcome in a new place.
, you've been here since August. That should be long enough to know how these forums roll, I'd say.

(P.S. I am absolutely serious about you writing a story, by the way. We may differ in politics (just a guess), but one of the great things about sf/fantasy is the way that the stories are in conversation.)
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« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2015, 06:36:20 PM »

Moderator note:

That's what I mean when I say it's trendy, and it's not meant to imply that the idea is not worth pursuing in general.

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And thanks for the (very) thinly veiled accusations of racism. It's always nice to feel welcome in a new place.

RDNinja - you don't get, in the same post, to complain about how someone is reading implications that aren't there to your words and then base your entire comment on similarly unsubstantiated implications of that person's words. If you want to be judged by what you say and not by what other people think that implies, fine, that's a fair request. But then you must also extend the same courtesy to those people.

More generally, and this goes to everyone here - let's tone this down. Keep the discussion to the story - which can include the cultural background it came from and is resonding to - but no more negative comments, attacks or passive aggressive barbs against any other posters. If you can't say what you want to say in a manner that is respectful of other forum members, regardless of whether you agree with their views of either the story or the world, don't say it.
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« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2015, 06:42:18 PM »

ElectricPaladin, I'm a little surprised that you didn't pull out this line

the very modern and trendy goal of recognizing women and people of color in history

That's a very good get - kudos! I completely missed that line. You're right, of course. Since when is seeking a better, more accurate understanding of our human history "trendy?" Well, when it's the history of women/people of color, of course. That's "trendy." The history of white men, though, that's just history, not some flash-in-the-pan "trend" in the zeitgeist.

If you had read all of what I wrote, you also would have seen where I said that recognizing people of all genders and races in history is a good thing, and an issue that needs to be addressed in real life. But it is trendy at the same time, because it has only gained broad popularity in recent years (especially on the timescale that Makeisha is operating in), and this story in particular was explicitly said to be influenced by an award-winning essay written only a couple of years ago. Would this story and its theme have been as well-received 10 years ago? 30 years ago? Or in the pre-modern eras in which Makeisha spent most of her lives? That's what I mean when I say it's trendy, and it's not meant to imply that the idea is not worth pursuing in general. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a poor, ignorant white man, right?

And thanks for the (very) thinly veiled accusations of racism. It's always nice to feel welcome in a new place.

I think it's very telling that when I criticized aspects of the story and Makeisha's choices and character development, no one went to the text to provide counter-points or different interpretations of the actual story. Instead, people assumed I was attacking the idea and philosophy behind the story. I thought it was pretty safe to point out that becoming a Viking pillager or feudal warlord just to get your name in the history books was an objectively immoral thing to do, but apparently not.

So you're right about one thing, ElectricPaladin. This thread does bear a striking resemblance to recent conversations on race in the broader world. Specifically, it reminds me of the debate surrounding the Charlie Hebdo massacre, in which people lined up to make excuses for the crimes of mass-murdering sociopaths (of color), by insisting they were goaded into it by the racism of white men.

I do think it's interesting that you think I'm accusing you of being, personally, a racist. I never said that. I don't know you. You could be white or black or Asian, a man or a woman, or even a potato uplifted to human intelligence by bizarre scientific experiments and wired into an old iMac. I have no idea. I do think, however, that jumping to that conclusion is basically a sideways ad hominem attack. You're insinuating that I have personally attacked you by connecting you to a deplorable social ill. I have done nothing of the sort. I have attempted to undermine your ideas based on what I believe you were expressing. If I mischaracterized you, well, that's bound to happen in any conversation. If what I wrote caused you to see a link between your words and the words of people who are rightfully deplored, well, perhaps that's something you should examine. I can't tell you to what degree your mind has been parasitized by racist ideation - that's something only you can unpack and examine, but I'm not going to shy away from dissecting ideas that I have a problem with.

I would argue that "trendy" is a poor choice of words to describe this nascent trend, for all the reasons that myself and benjaminjb noted in our posts. If it doesn't actually reflect your beliefs, well, that's your business. I'm glad you corrected our misunderstanding. Again, however, nobody is calling you a "poor, ignorant white man." As I wrote above, for all I know, you're a potato.

I'd like to wrap up this part of the post by saying this: if your skin is too thin to deal with someone pointing out how something you said might maybe be a bit racist without taking it as an accusation that you, personally, are a racist, then you're probably not ready to have this kind of conversation. Heat, kitchen, and all that. Racism is hard. Dealing with the ways it creeps its tentacles into your brain and perverts your thoughts is hard. As a rough guideline, however, unless someone says "you are a racist," there's at least a chance that they don't mean to attack you personally.

I also think that it's interesting that you wrote:

I think it's very telling that when I criticized aspects of the story and Makeisha's choices and character development, no one went to the text to provide counter-points or different interpretations of the actual story...

Because that's just not true. I know for a fact that my responses have repeatedly included references to the text and that those points have not yet been responded to. For example, I responded to R W H's comments by pointing out an explanation for Makeisha's many competencies. The same is true of many of the other posts I've read so far.

Now, onto your second-to-last point...

I thought it was pretty safe to point out that becoming a Viking pillager or feudal warlord just to get your name in the history books was an objectively immoral thing to do, but apparently not.

This is an interesting one, because I do agree with you, to a point. It does say something not entirely positive about Makeisha's personality that she was willing to indulge in a little historically-contextualized violence as part of her quest to become recognized. I do want to point out four corollaries, though.

First, if I recall correctly, it's interesting to me that Makeisha didn't start to indulge in destructive violence until much later in her quest. Her earliest violent life was as a Bavarian warlord, and although that life was certainly violent, the goal was in cultivating a new and better order. She was forging a state, and when you do that you sometimes have to crack a few heads. I'm not saying that it was excused, but I think we can all agree that it's more complicated than that. I think you can see Makeisha's increasing reliance of violence as a statement about her increasing desperation.

Second, none of Makeisha's violence really was purely destructive. Frankly, in real history, very little violence really was. Premodern raids and warfare were basically part of the economy. Historical pirates weren't the freedom-loving rogues of "Pirates of the Caribbean," they were a combination of the losers of an early war for independence, escaped slaves, and oppressed minorities (there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition) looking for revenge and to enrich themselves and provide stability for their families at the cost of people they rightfully hated, which is a pretty legitimate way to go about your life, if you ask me. Anyway, the point I'm making is that it's unfair to hold historical figures to purely modern standards.

Third, I don't think Makeisha really sees the past as real - that's why she's able to kill herself in it. It's certainly interesting that Makeisha doesn't view her jaunts into the past as really part of her real life while at the same time being dedicated to achieving recognition for that past, but for me that's a paradox that drives the story, rather than undermining it.

Four - and this is the most interesting - I wonder if Makeisha would be getting the same flack if she were a man. We expect more violence from men. On Escape Pod we hear our fair share of military sci-fi stories about bold space troopers blasting away at aliens or space conquerors forging stellar empires, and in my experience thus far, most people are able to swallow their violence and domination in the story's context. That's not to say that there isn't a moral event horizon beyond which we start to lose sympathy for these characters, but I think that female characters - and Makeisha - get treated very differently.

I'm reminded of a musical I saw recently called "The Fourth Messenger." The story was basically about what might happen if the Buddha had the same life story, only in a modern context, and if the Buddha were a woman. The part where the Buddha abandons his wife and child, for example has a very different impact when the Buddha is female... but why should it? Why would we give Siddhartha a pass but not "Mama Sid?"

Anyway, to your final point, I haven't actually heard anyone saying that the violence against the French magazine was excused. What people are saying is that it's important even in the wake of this violence to examine the fact that Muslims and Arabs in general are a shat-upon minority in France and in most of Europe, that magazines like Charlie Hebdo do express the scorn that the majority holds for that minority, and that maybe there's a problem with this situation. Now, maybe you are in the unfortunate position of being surrounded by morons who actually are trying to excuse the massacre, but I have been lucky enough to avoid such nonsense, and until now I hadn't been aware that it existed.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 06:44:32 PM by ElectricPaladin » Logged

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« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2015, 07:31:17 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

And eytanz, sorry to make your work here harder. I'll try harder to be on track and polite
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« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2015, 07:33:08 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

Hang on... there was a whole book about it on Amazon...

[I don't remember all the stories, myself, because I haven't taught Hebrew School in years...]
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« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2015, 07:34:00 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

Hang on... there was a whole book about it on Amazon...

[I don't remember all the stories, myself, because I haven't taught Hebrew School in years...]

Here we go!
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« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2015, 08:06:29 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

Hang on... there was a whole book about it on Amazon...

[I don't remember all the stories, myself, because I haven't taught Hebrew School in years...]

Here we go!

 Shocked

WANT.
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« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2015, 08:39:46 PM »

(there are some amazing stories about Jewish pirates preying on Spanish shipping following the Inquisition)
gimme, gimme, gimme (please)

Hang on... there was a whole book about it on Amazon...

[I don't remember all the stories, myself, because I haven't taught Hebrew School in years...]

Here we go!

AHHH and my local library has it! Except tomorrow's MLK Day and it will be closed... arrrgh... Tuesday then...

Let's all take a moment to lust after this TOC together:

Columbus and Jamaica's chosen people
Adventuring in the New World
The king's essential heretics
Samuel Palache, the pirate rabbi
Amsterdam, the new Jerusalem
Zion warriors in the new world
Exodus to heretic island
Cromwell's secret agents
The golden dream of Charles II
Buccaneer island
Epilogue: Searching for the lost mine of Columbus.
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« Reply #35 on: January 19, 2015, 12:03:27 PM »

I apologize for my earlier intemperate posting. It was uncalled for.

Let me try to rephrase my critiques now that I've had a chance to ruminate and distill my thoughts:

This story falls into two of the common pitfalls of didactic fiction. First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.

Secondly, because the story is intended to promote one particular ethic, other ethical considerations are swept under the rug. The designated hero is not bound by ordinary morality, because she is promoting the lesson of the story. She neglects her marriage and it falls apart, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. She abandons her friends and family to (theoretically) travel to the future utopia, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. She goes back in time and kills people just to see her name in the history books, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. Fictional atrocities are excused, because they service a real-world good. But the end result is that the champion of that virtue the author wanted to promote has become the villain of the story, and it makes that virtue look worse than it did before.
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« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2015, 12:47:23 PM »

I apologize for my earlier intemperate posting. It was uncalled for.

Let me try to rephrase my critiques now that I've had a chance to ruminate and distill my thoughts:

This story falls into two of the common pitfalls of didactic fiction. First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.

Secondly, because the story is intended to promote one particular ethic, other ethical considerations are swept under the rug. The designated hero is not bound by ordinary morality, because she is promoting the lesson of the story. She neglects her marriage and it falls apart, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. She abandons her friends and family to (theoretically) travel to the future utopia, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. She goes back in time and kills people just to see her name in the history books, but that doesn't matter, because it's promoting the lesson of the story. Fictional atrocities are excused, because they service a real-world good. But the end result is that the champion of that virtue the author wanted to promote has become the villain of the story, and it makes that virtue look worse than it did before.

She didn't necessarily want her name in the history books, though I'm sure it would be nice to have your name in there, but just to have women and black people recognised for the parts they have played in history.

And wanting your people's contribution to history recognised is not a liberal ethic. It's just human nature. To say that there's something intrinsically unbelievable in a black woman wanting black people and women to be recognised for their contributions makes no sense to me. You surely can't think that up until the late 20th century, the black and female population had no interest in such things, can you?
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« Reply #37 on: January 19, 2015, 02:18:17 PM »


First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.


What do you think is the modern liberal ethic that she devotes her multiple lives to? I don't recall a strong message about universal health care or anything that leaned towards an Occupy vibe. One could read into your statement that it's a modern liberal position that black people and women accomplished things before the 1960s. I don't think you made yourself as clear as you thought you did.
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« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2015, 03:20:56 PM »


First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.


What do you think is the modern liberal ethic that she devotes her multiple lives to? I don't recall a strong message about universal health care or anything that leaned towards an Occupy vibe. One could read into your statement that it's a modern liberal position that black people and women accomplished things before the 1960s. I don't think you made yourself as clear as you thought you did.
I'm referring to the idea that the poor recognition of women and minorities is a problem that should be (or even could be) addressed. I don't think she was likely to pick up such ideas from her 7th-century Viking berserker friends, or the soldiers in her medieval Bavarian army, or her Japanese feudal lord, or while hunting in the Cenazoic wilderness, etc.
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« Reply #39 on: January 19, 2015, 03:42:07 PM »


First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.


What do you think is the modern liberal ethic that she devotes her multiple lives to? I don't recall a strong message about universal health care or anything that leaned towards an Occupy vibe. One could read into your statement that it's a modern liberal position that black people and women accomplished things before the 1960s. I don't think you made yourself as clear as you thought you did.


I'm referring to the idea that the poor recognition of women and minorities is a problem that should be (or even could be) addressed. I don't think she was likely to pick up such ideas from her 7th-century Viking berserker friends, or the soldiers in her medieval Bavarian army, or her Japanese feudal lord, or while hunting in the Cenazoic wilderness, etc.


So you feel her actions in the past were driven out of a desire to improve the recognition of women and minorities? That she manufactured and manipulated events during all those past lives to please Present Makeisha?

I think it's easier to believe that she went a-viking (etc, etc) because that was a thing that people did. Including women.
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« Reply #40 on: January 19, 2015, 03:53:36 PM »


First, the main character is required to have a particular viewpoint, because it is required to draw attention to the issue the author wants to deal with, even when such a viewpoint doesn't make sense given the character's experiences. Makeisha spent the vast majority of her life living in pre-modern, pre-liberal eras, but manages to not only pick up and maintain, but even to devote her numerous lives to, a modern liberal ethic. When her modern life is experienced only a few weeks at a time, broken up by decades-long lives in other periods and locations, it simply doesn't make sense for her to go through it all with such a modern mindset.


What do you think is the modern liberal ethic that she devotes her multiple lives to? I don't recall a strong message about universal health care or anything that leaned towards an Occupy vibe. One could read into your statement that it's a modern liberal position that black people and women accomplished things before the 1960s. I don't think you made yourself as clear as you thought you did.


I'm referring to the idea that the poor recognition of women and minorities is a problem that should be (or even could be) addressed. I don't think she was likely to pick up such ideas from her 7th-century Viking berserker friends, or the soldiers in her medieval Bavarian army, or her Japanese feudal lord, or while hunting in the Cenazoic wilderness, etc.


So you feel her actions in the past were driven out of a desire to improve the recognition of women and minorities? That she manufactured and manipulated events during all those past lives to please Present Makeisha?

I think it's easier to believe that she went a-viking (etc, etc) because that was a thing that people did. Including women.


From the story:
Quote
A woman unafraid to die can do anything she wants. A woman who can endure starvation and pain and deprivation can be her own boss, set her own agenda. The one thing she cannot do is to make them remember she did it.
 
Makeisha is going to change that.
 
No more suicides, then. Makeisha embraces the jumps again. She is a boulder thrown into the waters of time. In eighth century Norway, she joins a band of Viking women. They are callous but good-humored, and they take her rage in stride, as though she has nothing to explain. They give her a sword taller than she is, but she learns to swing it anyway, and to sing loudly into the wind when one of the slain is buried with her hoard, sword folded on her breast.
 
When she returns to the present, Makeisha has work to do. She will stop mid-sentence, spin on her heel, and head for the books, leaving an astonished coworker, or friend, or her husband calling after her.

So yes, it was explicitly stated that she joined the band of Vikings for the purpose of getting into the history books. No suggestion of Viking-relevant motivations.
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« Reply #41 on: January 19, 2015, 04:01:54 PM »

I don't think that that's the only way to interpret that segment (though I can see why that reading is consistant with the text). I took the fact that she joined the band of Viking women to be just the type of thing she always did, which seems to be go back to history and do something violent. That's her old pattern, she's just returning to it. What her newfound determination affects is not her actions in the past, but what happens when she returns to the present - before, she never really tried to engage with her legacy, now she is determined to do so, and make sure that her actions are remembered.
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« Reply #42 on: January 19, 2015, 04:20:01 PM »


I don't think that that's the only way to interpret that segment (though I can see why that reading is consistant with the text). I took the fact that she joined the band of Viking women to be just the type of thing she always did, which seems to be go back to history and do something violent. That's her old pattern, she's just returning to it. What her newfound determination affects is not her actions in the past, but what happens when she returns to the present - before, she never really tried to engage with her legacy, now she is determined to do so, and make sure that her actions are remembered.


I'm with Eytanz here. I see it as the character's transition from avoidance and passivity to acceptance and active pursuit. I saw the primary decision to stop running away, to stop being untrue to herself, and to stop living for other people.

I can see how the interpretation of her motivations could be made. However, the interpretation of the text is as a much a reflection of the reader as of the words set before us. I've looked at my ink blot and I'm happy with what I see.



What can you see?
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« Reply #43 on: January 19, 2015, 05:10:02 PM »

What can you see?

The foot positions for the first three steps of an Argentinian Tango, as danced by a pairing of a housecat and a squid. I'm assuming that's what everyone sees.
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« Reply #44 on: January 19, 2015, 05:19:41 PM »



What can you see?

Alan Moore's nihilism.
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« Reply #45 on: January 19, 2015, 05:34:44 PM »

Alan Moore's nihilism.

You, sir, are today's winner of the internet.
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« Reply #46 on: January 19, 2015, 06:34:53 PM »



What can you see?

Alan Moore's nihilism.

"This forum is afraid of me. The accumulated filth of their politics and their didactic fiction will foam up about their waists, and they will look up and shout 'Save us!' And I'll look down and whisper, 'no.'" - commenter Rorschach21
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« Reply #47 on: January 20, 2015, 09:16:10 AM »

I'm referring to the idea that the poor recognition of women and minorities is a problem that should be (or even could be) addressed. I don't think she was likely to pick up such ideas from her 7th-century Viking berserker friends, or the soldiers in her medieval Bavarian army, or her Japanese feudal lord, or while hunting in the Cenazoic wilderness, etc.

I didn't see that as being the result of any ethical decision in Makeisha's modern life, but rather the result of her putting whole lifetimes into achievements of which she was, rightly or wrongly, proud. And then finding those achievements being credited to other people.

Imagine if you had invented a new sort of car engine that ran on sunshine and lettuce leaves, then six months later you found GM fitting it to all their new models and claiming that Fenrix had invented it. You'd be justified in demanding recognition for what you had done, wouldn't you?

I think Makeisha is in the same situation. She did all the work to create a stable Bavarian state, and some nonexistent bloke gets all the credit.

I don't know about you, but I'd be miffed.
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« Reply #48 on: January 20, 2015, 10:21:40 AM »


Imagine if you had invented a new sort of car engine that ran on sunshine and lettuce leaves, then six months later you found GM fitting it to all their new models and claiming that Fenrix had invented it. You'd be justified in demanding recognition for what you had done, wouldn't you?


I'm actually now working on one that runs off coffee grounds and despair, because it would get a better LEED certification due to its improved sustainability.
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« Reply #49 on: January 22, 2015, 11:02:25 AM »

I really loved this story! That's two hits in a row from Varda! Grin

One of the elements that made the story for me was the tension between Makeisha's perception that her present life was her only "real" life and the reality that she couldn't actually live her present-day life in any meaningful way. She can be (and typically is) fully engaged in each of her past lives and live them to the absolute fullest, but because she can't engage her present-day life in the same way she ends up feeling like a shell of a person. Of course, each of her past lives have deep meaning regardless of whether history remembers them properly, but what is more human than her desire to see her footprint in history? Therefore I understand her desire to escape the pattern, but I think the story is purposefully ambiguous about the success of her attempt to find a better future.
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« Reply #50 on: January 26, 2015, 10:43:41 AM »

Wow, lots of posts in this thread since I was last around.  I think it's really interesting how much of the conversation about this story parallels the kinds of conversations that spurred the need for stories like this.




What can you see?

Alan Moore's nihilism.

Ha!  As an odd and meaningless coincidence, I just read Watchmen for the first time on vacation last week, so is a funny coincidence to see this particular inkblot here just a couple days later.
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« Reply #51 on: January 26, 2015, 06:19:30 PM »

Ha!  As an odd and meaningless coincidence, I just read Watchmen for the first time on vacation last week, so is a funny coincidence to see this particular inkblot here just a couple days later.

Wow. First time? I'd be real interested to know how you experienced it -- did you enjoy, did it seem ground-breaking, whatever. (Maybe in another thread?) I read it a few years after it came out and I was completely obsessed by it -- blown away. Of course at the time, it WAS ground-breaking.
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« Reply #52 on: January 26, 2015, 08:20:57 PM »

Ha!  As an odd and meaningless coincidence, I just read Watchmen for the first time on vacation last week, so is a funny coincidence to see this particular inkblot here just a couple days later.

Wow. First time? I'd be real interested to know how you experienced it -- did you enjoy, did it seem ground-breaking, whatever. (Maybe in another thread?) I read it a few years after it came out and I was completely obsessed by it -- blown away. Of course at the time, it WAS ground-breaking.

Probably should take to another thread--I don't have time now, but I'll try to remember later.
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« Reply #53 on: January 27, 2015, 09:12:28 AM »

Wow. First time?

Yes, off topic but you asked...

I read Watchmen years before 9/11, my wife read it after. She described it as a very different kind of punch in gut ending from how I remembered it.  Mostly based around how much clearer it was for her how the worlds good will was available and then squandered. 
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« Reply #54 on: January 28, 2015, 01:12:13 AM »

The central thesis of this story is something I very deeply agree with (as a student of history who focuses, among other things, on issues of sexism and racism in Ancient Greece), and the premise really had some potential-- the parts about her random jumps, and her isolation in the present because of them, were definitely the strongest part of the story for me (and am I right to see an homage to Octavia Butler's novel Kindred in the particular mechanism of the time travel here? Given that was a novel that also dealt with issues of history and race and gender and history's reverberations into the present, I really liked that connection, although I think that ultimately Butler had a very different, in some ways more pessimistic take on the issue).

I do think, though, that the story had some big flaws in its execution. Makeisha complains at one point that history books are all about great men like George Washington, when there are tons of people just as important who aren't remembered by history. But her most fondly remembered past life is one where she's a powerful queen, which is another "great man" type of figure-- she's not white or a man, but she has much more power than the vast majority of people throughout history. And while studying and rediscovering women and people of color (and of course women of color!) in positions of power in history is great, too much focus on people in positions of power tends to reinforce, rather than contradict, the great man theory of history. It's also important to focus on the common people, the people who had no power and didn't get a chance to have power because they were oppressed for their gender, or their race, or their disability, sexual orientation, etc.

I guess this is me just wanting the story to be a different story than the one that was actually written, but I would've found it much more powerful, and much more effective in getting its point across, if the lives that had been dwelt on in most detail were the ones where she was not a powerful queen, but a more average person who did some awesome things we might not expect a historical woman to do, in terms of things that the modern stereotype thinks of as purely masculine, but also farmed and cooked and wove and took care of children, and still managed to have powerful friendships and/or love affairs with other women, the way Makeisha did in the queen storyline. Because that's what I find most compelling in academic works of history, a focus on trying to unearth the lives of the majority of people, and the things they did both in line with and contrary to our expectations. And at least in women's history (I know less about POC history beyond the actual period I study), that seems to be what the trend is in scholarship in the last decade or two at least-- rather than studying singular, notable women like Joan of Arc or Eleanor of Acquitaine, scholars will study, say, women beer brewers, even though that study is based on much scantier evidence. (Seriously, though, everyone should read Judith Bennet's work on brewsters-- i.e. female brewers-- in Medieval England. And I would love to hear a Podcastle story about medieval brewsters!)

Anyway, part of this is me being a stodgy history student and scoffing at the idea of polygamous lesbian weddings in medieval Germany, when historical accuracy doesn't really seem to be the point per se-- that section of the story had a sort of fairy-tale quality to me, and if I think of it as a fairy tale rather than a plausible history I like it a lot more. (And who knows, history is a long time and the world is a big place, and I would be thrilled if there actually was a polygamous lesbian wedding in medieval Germany that time erased). But I think the focus on the medieval queen story over other past lives really detracted from the story's point; I would've much preferred the focus to be on her life as a Viking raider woman or a poet or something-- someone who did achieve greatness and do things that certain types of modern people scoff at and say women-- and especially black women-- definitely didn't do, even though recent re-examinations of the evidence (in our world; apparently not in the story's world) say that they totally did do these things, and that there were probably more women who were Viking warriors or Renaissance poets for whom the evidence has been entirely erased. I think a focus on that story line would've been more in keeping with the thesis of Kameron Hurley's (awesome!) essay, too.

I know I'm mostly just complaining that this story wasn't written the way I would've written it-- but to me, it had lots of potential and deeply intriguing possibilities, but ultimately many of those potentials were unrealized.
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« Reply #55 on: January 28, 2015, 11:17:59 AM »

Interesting points, Ariadnes-thread.  I'm not sure how the story could've worked without major overhauling if it hadn't had some focus on the queen figure.  The reason that one was particularly important was that Makeisha wouldn't have been able to find out in the present how she was represented as Viking # 173 or Beer Brewer #68, there'd be no reality check.  For her to be able to look up information about a past life, it would have to be a famous past life to have any surety about the reference.

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« Reply #56 on: January 28, 2015, 12:31:43 PM »

That's a really good point, Unblinking; I hadn't thought of that but you're totally right. It could've focused on, say, archaeologists finding Viking-Makeisha's tomb and assuming it was a man because of the weapons, but that would really change the focus of the story-- plus I'm not sure what the logistics would be in terms of her many dead bodies from the past existing in the present; that creates all sorts of different time-travel paradox type questions.

And I really do love the queen storyline if I think of it as more fantasy than history; the details of it just stretch credibility a bit too far if it's supposed to be real history in our world. And maybe I'm making the story's point by saying that. I also took issue with the relative lack of acknowledgement of the huge amount of sexism and racism that did exist in the past. Women and POC did do more things in the past than we give them credit for, but we are kidding ourselves if we deny that sexism and racism ran deep in every historical society-- at least in Europe-- all the way back to antiquity.

(And I've just looked it up and apparently there are some people who argue that the church did perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in the early Middle Ages. Which is fascinating, and I'm definitely going to read up a bit on that debate, and I stand somewhat corrected on the marrying women point).
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« Reply #57 on: January 28, 2015, 01:49:03 PM »

I also took issue with the relative lack of acknowledgement of the huge amount of sexism and racism that did exist in the past. Women and POC did do more things in the past than we give them credit for, but we are kidding ourselves if we deny that sexism and racism ran deep in every historical society-- at least in Europe-- all the way back to antiquity.

I didn't feel like the story downplayed that aspect.  It seemed to me more that that aspect is something that's so acknowledged by the general population in this day and age as to not need to be stated explicitly.  That part is to at least a large degree in the history books--sections about segregation, women's suffrage, etc.   I'm not saying that the history books are all accurate, but I don't think that most people have a problem with acknowledging that racism and sexism were big problems in past times.  ("Fear of the other" is encoded into our lizardbrains as a defense mechanism--it's something we have to choose to overcome with higher level thinking in large part by recognizing that those groups of people are not other, they are us)  I don't think that Makeisha focused on this because she heard it in history class too and most people wouldn't dispute her on this point.  Instead she focused on the blind spots,  the things she could spot in the books that were just blatantly wrong, not what people could see in the books themselves.

That's my take on it anyway.
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« Reply #58 on: January 28, 2015, 02:44:22 PM »

I didn't feel like the story downplayed that aspect.  It seemed to me more that that aspect is something that's so acknowledged by the general population in this day and age as to not need to be stated explicitly.  That part is to at least a large degree in the history books--sections about segregation, women's suffrage, etc.   I'm not saying that the history books are all accurate, but I don't think that most people have a problem with acknowledging that racism and sexism were big problems in past times.  ("Fear of the other" is encoded into our lizardbrains as a defense mechanism--it's something we have to choose to overcome with higher level thinking in large part by recognizing that those groups of people are not other, they are us)  I don't think that Makeisha focused on this because she heard it in history class too and most people wouldn't dispute her on this point.  Instead she focused on the blind spots,  the things she could spot in the books that were just blatantly wrong, not what people could see in the books themselves.

That's my take on it anyway.

Fair enough. That wasn't quite my take on it, but those are all very good points.
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« Reply #59 on: January 28, 2015, 03:39:47 PM »

I didn't feel like the story downplayed that aspect.  It seemed to me more that that aspect is something that's so acknowledged by the general population in this day and age as to not need to be stated explicitly.  That part is to at least a large degree in the history books--sections about segregation, women's suffrage, etc.   I'm not saying that the history books are all accurate, but I don't think that most people have a problem with acknowledging that racism and sexism were big problems in past times.  ("Fear of the other" is encoded into our lizardbrains as a defense mechanism--it's something we have to choose to overcome with higher level thinking in large part by recognizing that those groups of people are not other, they are us)  I don't think that Makeisha focused on this because she heard it in history class too and most people wouldn't dispute her on this point.  Instead she focused on the blind spots,  the things she could spot in the books that were just blatantly wrong, not what people could see in the books themselves.

That's my take on it anyway.

Fair enough. That wasn't quite my take on it, but those are all very good points.

By the way, welcome to the forum.  I hope you stick around.  Cheesy
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DKT
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« Reply #60 on: January 28, 2015, 04:27:51 PM »

And I would love to hear a Podcastle story about medieval brewsters!

Just wanted to pop in and also welcome you, as well as say I'd read the hell out of a story about medieval brewsters. Someone write that story STAT!  Smiley
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« Reply #61 on: January 29, 2015, 03:00:45 AM »

Thanks for the warm welcome, both of you!
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albionmoonlight
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« Reply #62 on: February 09, 2015, 09:24:43 AM »

Wow.  Now that's a discussion.  Makes me glad in a way that I am behind on listening.  I LOVE the story's attack on our idea of "if I could only go back in time and change this one thing," I would go and make it better.  The idea that the forces of prejudice that keep re-writing history a certain way are so hard to overcome.  As the story says, there is a deafening chorus of voices drowned out by history.  This really helped to demonstrate that idea.  Great, great story.
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UnfulredJohnson
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« Reply #63 on: February 18, 2015, 07:48:44 PM »

Oh man, gotta love the smart people arguing. It's like chess with words. Well done you guys.

I liked the story. I can't say I'm crazy about stories that are trying too hard to push some moral and what not (I'm more or a swords and 'splosions guy myself), but honestly I just liked the story and I thought it would have stood up just fine (maybe better) without the 'we have always fought' preface. I thought it was cool that she got to be kind of immortal, living 1000 plus years. I was kind of hoping that she would go back enough times and do enough cool and crazy shit to actually change things, maybe she could sit in on some history lecture in the present and the woman rocket scientist would point at some white guy on her projector and say: 'Men are pigs.' And they all live happily ever after. Sorry. That's a joke.

Also it was kind of quantum leapy. I love quantum leap. Setting right the wrongs that once went wrong or something. I can see why people are saying it's a bit rich that she's being all moral about women's lib and then slaughtering people in past, but this really didn't occur to me when I listened to it. I just thought it was a fun story.

I also thought it was cool that she tried to kill herself a bunch of times. I love characters with grit. And I think it was just good writing. The ending was what got me. It was a fantastic finish, and I just smiled to myself and thought, you can't argue with that. I think it speaks to Rachel K Jones strenght as an author that she could make me like a story that I really would have prefered not to like.

Good job.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2015, 07:53:52 PM by UnfulredJohnson » Logged
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #64 on: February 19, 2015, 09:35:06 AM »

I was kind of hoping that she would go back enough times and do enough cool and crazy shit to actually change things

I've been thinking back on the story and wondering--CAN she actually change anything?  In some time travel narratives, changing the past is impossible, in others it's not.   She certainly changes with each jump back, but does the world?  Of course once she goes and comes back if she had been famous enough she can look up what history says about her, but maybe history had already said that about her before she left? 

I don't know if I prefer it better one way or another, if the past is immutable it perhaps could just add a layer to her sense of futility with the struggle.  Could maybe even be a metaphor for how hard it would be for a single person (even in multiple lifetimes) to change history.
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Ocicat
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« Reply #65 on: April 05, 2018, 01:57:23 AM »

This episode was voted the second best PodCastle story of our first ten years, and was re-aired as PodCastle 516d.

Please do not abuse the castle time-turner to attend the birthday celebration multiple times. It's rude.
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TrishEM
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« Reply #66 on: April 11, 2018, 01:18:53 AM »

This was such an amazing story. I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if it had been voted the all-time favorite.
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Katzentatzen
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« Reply #67 on: April 23, 2018, 09:51:12 PM »

I've never forgotten this story. One could become drained trying to discover how many women and people of color have been forgotten by history. Makeisha has been given a great gift, but it comes with so much suffering. She's my historical hero, but I'm happy that she has not returned, after the story.
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"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."
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