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Author Topic: PC345: Makeisha In Time  (Read 16360 times)

Unblinking

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Reply #50 on: January 26, 2015, 03:43:41 PM
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.



kibitzer

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Reply #51 on: January 26, 2015, 11:19:30 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.


Unblinking

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Reply #52 on: January 27, 2015, 01:20:57 AM
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, 02:12:28 PM
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. 



Ariadnes-thread

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Reply #54 on: January 28, 2015, 06:12:13 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.



Unblinking

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Reply #55 on: January 28, 2015, 04:17:59 PM
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, 05:31:43 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).



Unblinking

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Reply #57 on: January 28, 2015, 06:49:03 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.



Ariadnes-thread

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Reply #58 on: January 28, 2015, 07:44:22 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.



Unblinking

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Reply #59 on: January 28, 2015, 08:39:47 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.  :D



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Reply #60 on: January 28, 2015, 09:27:51 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!  :)


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Reply #61 on: January 29, 2015, 08:00:45 AM
Thanks for the warm welcome, both of you!



albionmoonlight

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Reply #62 on: February 09, 2015, 02:24:43 PM
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.



UnfulredJohnson

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Reply #63 on: February 19, 2015, 12:48:44 AM
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 19, 2015, 12:53:52 AM by UnfulredJohnson »



Unblinking

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Reply #64 on: February 19, 2015, 02:35:06 PM
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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Reply #65 on: April 05, 2018, 06:57:23 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.



TrishEM

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Reply #66 on: April 11, 2018, 06:18:53 AM
This was such an amazing story. I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if it had been voted the all-time favorite.



Katzentatzen

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Reply #67 on: April 24, 2018, 02:51:12 AM
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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