Author Topic: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home  (Read 3518 times)

Talia

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PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« on: February 03, 2015, 08:17:26 PM »
PodCastle 349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home

by Monidipa Mondal

Read by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Hosted by LaShawn M. Wanak

A PodCastle Original! Welcome to Artemis Rising!

A few hours after the Majestic Oriental Circus rolls into Deoband, Johuree steps into our tent and whispers, “This is the place where I took you in. It was here.”Outside, it looks just like one of the many small towns we wind our way through, halting for a week or two to put up a show. It has been raining for days. The university dome in the distance glistens with dark moss against the ponderous sky. The fairground is all mud, sludge and clumps of grass, sucking in our tent posts like a fumbling, ungainly monster. A group of local men, hired to dry up enough ground to put up the main circus tent, have been working since the morning. So why does this miserable earth feel like a familiar taste, again?We wonder if Johuree would like a cup of tea. He agrees. There is no milk, but he sips the dark brown brew in silence.We watch.“There is a cottage at the far end of the town. Little more than ruins now, I presume. Would you like to visit?”Johuree never goes anywhere. We don”t recall him ever stepping out into the daylight. We don”t recall much anything. Though we travel far and wide with the circus, we have never left the camp site and gone “sightseeing”, as some others in the troupe are in the habit of doing.

Nor has he.


Rated R. Contains some violence, disturbing imagery.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!

jkjones21

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2015, 03:02:39 PM »
I have to say that I didn't realize I needed to hear a story featuring Gregor Mendel and jinni until I heard this one.  I liked the whole digression where Mendel eats a toe off one of the mandrakes to regain his health, and is so horrified by the experience that he can't do it again.

As typically happens when I'm listening to stories, I had trouble focusing for the first part, and then as I got interested in what was going on I paid better attention.  Consequently, I missed a lot of the characterization of Johuree and Shehzad Marid from early on that suggested they were kind of unpalatable people, so when they do all the awesome stuff at the end I was just thinking, "these guys are pretty nifty."  Thinking back though, I feel like the narrator and her sister (they are both girls, right?) didn't get much characterization at all, which was a little disappointing (given this is a part of Artemis Rising, I was hoping that there'd also be really dynamic non-male characters in the stories; perhaps I need to give the story another listen, but I wasn't entirely sure why there couldn't have been more active female or nonbinary characters in this story).
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Julychildren

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2015, 08:09:07 PM »
I'm thinking I have been saying 'Thank you so much!' entirely too many times, but then, you know.  :)

My plan was to put across the narrators as somewhat ambiguously genderless. Sascha and Elia should both be diminutives of male names (Alexander, Elijah) in German. I find it interesting each time they come across as female – which has been pretty much every time, really – and which kinda gives me fodder to think about how we write masculinity (or gender), even in children.

If you blinked out the part where I told you I was several people, you've missed the only thing I've ever said that was true about me.

bounceswoosh

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Re:
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2015, 02:29:50 AM »
I thought there was a reference to a brother early on, but I was still getting my footing in the story, so I'm not sure.

jkjones21

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 11:35:37 AM »
I went back and re-read the beginning of the story to check, and there doesn't seem to be any definitive reference to the children's genders.  I also noticed that the narrative voice seems like it's meant to be a sort of collective perspective where the children think of themselves as a unit, but they differentiate voices in the one scene where they speak between themselves.  It's interesting.  I think maybe I picked up they were girls from LaShawn's closing thoughts, but I suppose you're right that they could be diminutive German male names, especially given Mendel's their father.  Maybe their genders are supposed to be ambiguous since they're plant-people?
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SpareInch

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2015, 03:32:21 PM »
Wasn't there something about how the mandrakes have to wear makeup when they go outside so they can pass as male or female, black or white? I'm sure they said they'd go out as one of each, by which I assumed they meant gender, and one black and one white. Or am I misremembering? It's been an odd day today.
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jkjones21

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2015, 03:41:58 PM »
You know what, that does make sense.  I guess it just went over my head that they would wear the makeup to pass as human (I assumed that because they're also circus performers they meant their costume makeup).
Jason Jones
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Ariadnes-thread

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2015, 06:49:31 AM »
I went back and re-read the beginning of the story to check, and there doesn't seem to be any definitive reference to the children's genders.  I also noticed that the narrative voice seems like it's meant to be a sort of collective perspective where the children think of themselves as a unit, but they differentiate voices in the one scene where they speak between themselves.  It's interesting.  I think maybe I picked up they were girls from LaShawn's closing thoughts, but I suppose you're right that they could be diminutive German male names, especially given Mendel's their father.  Maybe their genders are supposed to be ambiguous since they're plant-people?

I also really liked the collective perspective of the narrators-- it's rare that a story can pull off a first person plural narrator, but this one comes close (and I say "comes close" rather than "pulls it off" only because technically Sasha is the narrator, not both of them together).

As for the children's genders, I think I assumed they were girls just because the narrator was a woman-- one of the drawbacks of hearing rather than reading it, I guess, because in print I probably would have read them as ambiguous. And I thought that the sibling was also a girl because, before the reveal, I was thinking they were identical twins of some sort, maybe even conjoined twins what with the circus thing. I really like your idea, though, that plant-people don't necessarily have gender. Because why would they?

Ariadnes-thread

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2015, 06:58:23 AM »

 (and I say "comes close" rather than "pulls it off" only because technically Sasha is the narrator, not both of them together).

Actually, looking back at the text, I take that back-- the bit at the beginning where they're talking to each other is the only part where they're really differentiated, and they're both in the third person there. The story as a whole is a true first person plural narration, and it is very well done!

Unblinking

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2015, 04:53:28 PM »
I had trouble getting into this one, I'm not sure why.  It seemed to have a lot of interesting ideas with the mandrakes pretending to be humans and everything--I think I might've had trouble parsing the present and the flashbacks into a coherent whole.  It's been a very distracting and scattered week in my life so I don't think it's necessarily anything in the story at all, just that my brain isn't focusing enough right now.

AM Fish

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2015, 03:37:06 PM »
So, a bunch of sub-plots got together and made this wonderful story!  I especially liked how the back story was given by two characters as they walked to the site where the action of the story would take place.  And those two back stories were nothing alike but fit together so perfectly.  I listened to the first two-thirds of the story several times before I heard the story to the end.  I enjoyed picking up more detail about the characters and understanding them differently as I went through.  Even so, I had simply assumed to the two children were female.  I should not have been so lazy when one suggested they go out "one as each."  I am looking forward to reading the rest of this collection.

Dwango

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2015, 09:21:48 PM »
It was a hard story to follow, but well worth the second reading.  I did not even notice the children's gender as the total sum of the stories were so much more interesting.   Besides, they are plants, so are neither boy nor girl, just as Sponge-bob is asexual (look it up ;-) )  There was politics, science, magic, circuses, botany, Germany, India, and djinn.  What more could one ask for in kaleidoscope of a story.

Moritz

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2015, 09:04:59 PM »
I had troubles getting the story, although I should have liked it with the setting. I think the story within a story kind of threw me out that day. It was also a bit strange, because I was waiting for a tram to meat a guy named Shehzad when the story started...

nitpicks:

Sascha and Elia should both be diminutives of male names (Alexander, Elijah) in German.

In Russian, but certainly not in German. Also, Moravia is in modern Czech Republic and therefore Central European and not "Western".

Unblinking

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2015, 03:40:33 PM »
In Russian, but certainly not in German. Also, Moravia is in modern Czech Republic and therefore Central European and not "Western".

"Western" is a relative term, yeah?  Czech Republic would be Western to those far enough East, right?

Devoted135

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2015, 03:54:09 PM »
I actually listened to this one a second time after reading the comments because I felt that I had missed too much in my first listen. Even though I knew where it was going, I still felt that the sections were sort of bolted together with not quite enough glue in between. I'm still not certain how a benevolent djinn, Mendel, a couple mandrakes, and a circus all fit together...


Besides, they are plants, so are neither boy nor girl, just as Sponge-bob is asexual (look it up ;-) )

They could be gendered, are mandrakes gymnosperms or angiosperms? :D ::)

albionmoonlight

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Re: PC349: This Sullied Earth, Our Home
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2015, 03:49:57 PM »
I had trouble getting into this one, I'm not sure why.  It seemed to have a lot of interesting ideas with the mandrakes pretending to be humans and everything--I think I might've had trouble parsing the present and the flashbacks into a coherent whole.  It's been a very distracting and scattered week in my life so I don't think it's necessarily anything in the story at all, just that my brain isn't focusing enough right now.


It was an interesting story, but it did require a bit more focus than normal.  I also thought that it picked up as it went on.  Not one that grabbed you from the first line.

Others have already commented on this, but I liked how this story pushed the envelope a bit in terms of language.