Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: PC350: Who Binds and Looses the World With Her Hands  (Read 6420 times)

Talia

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
on: February 11, 2015, 04:54:43 PM
PodCastle 350: Who Binds and Looses the World With Her Hands

by Rachael K. Jones

Read by Marguerite Croft

Hosted by Kameron Hurley!

A PodCastle Original! Welcome back to Artemis Rising!

1. Stranger

On days when Selene locked me in the lighthouse, an old familiar darkness would well up within me, itching my skin like it had shrunk too tight to contain my anger any longer. I had grown accustomed to the rage’s ebb and flow, sometimes bubbling near the surface, sometimes dormant as a seed awaiting the right time to break open. But it always rose to high tide on my days of confinement.


Rated R. Contains some violence and disturbing imagery.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: March 03, 2015, 02:41:14 PM by Talia »



Father Beast

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 516
Reply #1 on: February 12, 2015, 02:32:56 AM
Oh my gosh, how wonderful a story!

Both the main character and her wife/captor are deaf, and this is reflected in their isolation. The main reason that deaf people form their own society while blind people hang with the rest of us is that deaf people speak a different language. When the sorcerer came to the island to try and capture the girl, his big mistake was in teaching her the principles of sorcery. because he knew how to work the magic, but didn't really understand it at its core (which is fairly common. how many computer wizards these days truly understand the basic workings of microchips?), so he tried to teach her vocal speech, knowing that it would always be foreign to her as a deaf person, and therefore inept with it, or at least not as good as he. He didn't understand that the magic worked by communication, and so would respond to her talking with her hands. Therein lay his downfall.

I also liked that, as whatshername said in the outro, many of the signs were described so as to give the listener a sense of how some words and meanings were made similarly to each other. this made it more immersive into the deaf world, by immersing us in their language.

Cons? um, I didn't like the abusive relationship between Selene and Dori.

This is a good one.



Julychildren

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Democratic Micronation
Reply #2 on: February 12, 2015, 02:48:59 AM
I heard/read this story in the morning and the part about Selene's death (spoiler? I hope not!) made me feel entirely desolate. This story worked very well for me. Loved the language, and totally did not see the turnaround coming.



Cons? um, I didn't like the abusive relationship between Selene and Dori.


I enjoyed the fact that both the would-be captors were abusive towards Doriane – it probably sheds light on how people view/treat monstrosity. The way Selene might want to have a relationship with Doriane despite knowing her true nature probably also speaks somewhat for the complex and ambiguous nature of human emotions.

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.


Father Beast

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 516
Reply #3 on: February 12, 2015, 11:20:37 AM
Also, I was thinking that the reveal that Doriane was this big thing that the other sorcerers tried to control was not unwelcome, but totally unnecessary. It's just icing on the cake. the true climax was Doriane freeing herself after learning to use sorcery with her own language. It is a bit sad that she probably wouldn't have freed herself from Selene if Selene hadn't died first.



Khaalidah from Vega

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 24
  • K from Vega
    • Khaalidah
Reply #4 on: February 14, 2015, 02:58:27 PM
There is so much to love about this story. It tackles so many timeless questions and ideas in such a seamless way. What was most significant for me were the aspects of abuse, where the victim often blames themself. And also the duplicity. Each sorcerer vying for the trust of this one person, and both of them are liars. I found myself feeling somewhat bereft at this part in the story where loyalty and love is tested and there don't appear to be clear cut answers.
The integration of sign language here was absolutely ingenious and described so fluidly that the switch and mixing of language never caused me to lose the thread of this marvelous story.
This is one of the best stories that I've heard in a while.

K from Vega


slic

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 727
  • Stephen Lumini
Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 04:01:14 AM
Normally a story makes me feel one way or another, but I felt nothing or rather I felt such opposing emotions that the cancelled each other out.  The author took my feelings of concern for Girl, and distaste for Selene, and in less than a minute turned them upside down.  And then proceeded to tell basically another story of an evil freed - and did it all while using a perspective rarely seen in fiction - a deaf person.

I felt that it really helped the story that the author took the time to flesh out the ending.  I have been really consistent at picking the last sentence of a story,and in this case, I was very happily way off.  Most short stories find a point that finishes the action, but doesn't end the story.  Although, I look forward to another visit to the world of Girl (forgive me, Doriane), I feel satisfied with what I know.  It happens so rarely that I didn't remember how good that feels until this story reminded me.

This really is a thematic stew that used so many elements perfectly - I will listen to this one a couple of times.

Kudos to the author!  An unexpected twist, a protagonist of unique characteristics, and a very compelling tale.  I look forward to more great stories.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8727
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #6 on: February 18, 2015, 02:35:54 PM
Solidly told, making great use of Deaf culture, which admittedly I mostly have any awareness of because of conversations with the author.  Everyone in the story felt very human in their strengths and weaknesses no matter what they were capable of--the pining for the abuser, the freed captive reaching her true terrible potential to seize absolute control after all that has been done to her. 



Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3899
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #7 on: February 24, 2015, 04:25:08 PM
Every time you start to sympathize with a character, the threads are frayed making each of them awful in their own way. Great stuff, and great use of the nonverbal to add depth and texture to the story.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #8 on: February 26, 2015, 08:37:38 PM
This story was a real roller coaster for me.

At first, I feared that it was going to go the same direction as Rockwerk or Drowning in Sky, where abuse/sexual abuse is downplayed, and I'm expected not to notice because the characters are both women. Then, when I realized that no, the story was taking Selene's awfulness seriously, I started to warm up to it. I was a little bit bummed when I realized that the shipwrecked sorcerer was, in fact, going to be a bad guy (well, at least ambigusouly bad), because I like stories of heroism, but that was okay because at that point I still thought Dori was going to be a hero.

Then, towards the end, when it became apparent that Dori was, in fact, not even human, but was actually a malicious spirit intent on world domination, I started to drift away from the story again. It's not that I've got a problem with evil spirits, mind you. Some of my best friends are evil spirits. It's just that this left me with nobody to like anymore. Now, I don't need to like the main character of a story, but I usually need to like someone. For this sort of story to succeed, I need to either like someone else (In the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, for example, for most of the series I liked everyone but the main character) or I need to dislike the main character in an interesting way. Dori turning out to be actually a malicious spirit flattened the character out, so that she became just a problem I hoped someone in this world would solve before it was too late.

On the other hand, the wordplay and world-building of this story were absolutely excellent, and that's something. This is one where the author did an excellent job of creating the sense of a wider world full of magic and wonder, despite the limited scope of short fiction.

What ultimately tipped this story squarely into do-not-want territory, however, is how it tripped on the Evil Dead Lesbian trope. This particularly hateful narrative quirk was popular in the old days, and has fortunately become quite rare. It's last living example is Joss Whedon's epic screw-up when (and how) he killed Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and what happened next. The outline of the Evil Dead Lesbian trope is that you have two women (or, more rarely for some reason, two men) who are in a relationship, and then one of them dies, and then the other one becomes evil. The implication is that gay people are all perversely obsessed with each other, so they can't possibly just move on in a normal manner when something bad happens to their lovers. You can read more about this trope over on TV Tropes (though they're calling it Bury Your Gays now). I know TV Tropes is normally a scum pit of cynicism, but they're actually pretty right about this one.

Now, I'm not actually accusing Rachel K. Jones of outright homophobia. That's why I wrote "tripped" above. Whedon "tripped" in the same way. However, I do think that it's the author's responsibility to do his/her best to stay aware of these awful, hurtful tropes. I'm also not saying that every gay relationship in fiction has to end well, but this one was just so on the nose. The relationship is dysfunctional. One of them dies. The survivor becomes universally malicious in an entirely unrelated way (as opposed to just being motivated to seek revenge, for example). Uncoupling any of those events - making the relationship not so overtly abusive, having the other partner suffer a fate other than death, making the survivor somewhat less universally and intrinsically malicious - would have helped the story to avoid this particular pit.

So overall, I can't say that I loved this story. It was certainly interesting and very well achieved, but I didn't find it very gripping, and the Evil Dead Lesbian trope really left a bad taste in my brain.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3899
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #9 on: February 26, 2015, 09:01:06 PM

What ultimately tipped this story squarely into do-not-want territory, however, is how it tripped on the Evil Dead Lesbian trope. This particularly hateful narrative quirk was popular in the old days, and has fortunately become quite rare. It's last living example is Joss Whedon's epic screw-up when (and how) he killed Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and what happened next. The outline of the Evil Dead Lesbian trope is that you have two women (or, more rarely for some reason, two men) who are in a relationship, and then one of them dies, and then the other one becomes evil. The implication is that gay people are all perversely obsessed with each other, so they can't possibly just move on in a normal manner when something bad happens to their lovers. You can read more about this trope over on TV Tropes (though they're calling it Bury Your Gays now). I know TV Tropes is normally a scum pit of cynicism, but they're actually pretty right about this one.

Now, I'm not actually accusing Rachel K. Jones of outright homophobia. That's why I wrote "tripped" above. Whedon "tripped" in the same way. However, I do think that it's the author's responsibility to do his/her best to stay aware of these awful, hurtful tropes. I'm also not saying that every gay relationship in fiction has to end well, but this one was just so on the nose. The relationship is dysfunctional. One of them dies. The survivor becomes universally malicious in an entirely unrelated way (as opposed to just being motivated to seek revenge, for example). Uncoupling any of those events - making the relationship not so overtly abusive, having the other partner suffer a fate other than death, making the survivor somewhat less universally and intrinsically malicious - would have helped the story to avoid this particular pit.

So overall, I can't say that I loved this story. It was certainly interesting and very well achieved, but I didn't find it very gripping, and the Evil Dead Lesbian trope really left a bad taste in my brain.

I don't see that at all. Maybe if I tilt my head and squint a bunch. Maybe. I think that's your Rorschach blot.

I saw that Dori was always evil, the thing imprisoned on the island. Through chicanery, we are led to believe it's Selene, because she's pretty awful. We just don't get informed of this until the end. Dori learns magic and breaks the bonds holding her. This is a much a trope of a prison break where the jailor and accomplice are killed. I was happy with it, as I was looking for the bad guy the whole time, and was rewarded with it being everyone.

Admittedly, it could be my Rorschach blot, because arguments like this is exactly the reason I despise TVTropes. We really don't have to catalogue everything, especially in infinitely tiny nesting boxes.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #10 on: February 26, 2015, 09:09:56 PM

What ultimately tipped this story squarely into do-not-want territory, however, is how it tripped on the Evil Dead Lesbian trope. This particularly hateful narrative quirk was popular in the old days, and has fortunately become quite rare. It's last living example is Joss Whedon's epic screw-up when (and how) he killed Tara in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and what happened next. The outline of the Evil Dead Lesbian trope is that you have two women (or, more rarely for some reason, two men) who are in a relationship, and then one of them dies, and then the other one becomes evil. The implication is that gay people are all perversely obsessed with each other, so they can't possibly just move on in a normal manner when something bad happens to their lovers. You can read more about this trope over on TV Tropes (though they're calling it Bury Your Gays now). I know TV Tropes is normally a scum pit of cynicism, but they're actually pretty right about this one.

Now, I'm not actually accusing Rachel K. Jones of outright homophobia. That's why I wrote "tripped" above. Whedon "tripped" in the same way. However, I do think that it's the author's responsibility to do his/her best to stay aware of these awful, hurtful tropes. I'm also not saying that every gay relationship in fiction has to end well, but this one was just so on the nose. The relationship is dysfunctional. One of them dies. The survivor becomes universally malicious in an entirely unrelated way (as opposed to just being motivated to seek revenge, for example). Uncoupling any of those events - making the relationship not so overtly abusive, having the other partner suffer a fate other than death, making the survivor somewhat less universally and intrinsically malicious - would have helped the story to avoid this particular pit.

So overall, I can't say that I loved this story. It was certainly interesting and very well achieved, but I didn't find it very gripping, and the Evil Dead Lesbian trope really left a bad taste in my brain.

I don't see that at all. Maybe if I tilt my head and squint a bunch. Maybe. I think that's your Rorschach blot.

I saw that Dori was always evil, the thing imprisoned on the island. Through chicanery, we are led to believe it's Selene, because she's pretty awful. We just don't get informed of this until the end. Dori learns magic and breaks the bonds holding her. This is a much a trope of a prison break where the jailor and accomplice are killed. I was happy with it, as I was looking for the bad guy the whole time, and was rewarded with it being everyone.

Admittedly, it could be my Rorschach blot, because arguments like this is exactly the reason I despise TVTropes. We really don't have to catalogue everything, especially in infinitely tiny nesting boxes.

Oh, I agree that we don't have to categorize everything. That's why I'm not a "troper." I don't really like TV Tropes and I certainly don't hang out there. I just think that in this particular case it does a decent job of explaining a trope that really does exist more eloquently than I could.

It's certainly true that this could be my Rorschach. I care pretty passionately about how disadvantaged people are represented in media. It bothers me when authors fall into tropes that have been used to hurt people in the past, even when it's an accident, and I feel compelled to point it out. Like I said, I don't think it was intentional - in fact, I'm quite certain it wasn't. I still can't help but want to mention it.

Though, I do think that we found the real fundamental disagreement. I don't mind stories that don't have a villain as long as there's a hero; perhaps you could be characterized as having the opposite preference? As I wrote above, I could have forgiven the story if Dori was interestingly wicked. I mean, she didn't descend into evil. Her character didn't develop. She wasn't a person. She didn't turn into a monster; she was a monster all along.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3899
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #11 on: February 26, 2015, 09:33:17 PM

Though, I do think that we found the real fundamental disagreement. I don't mind stories that don't have a villain as long as there's a hero; perhaps you could be characterized as having the opposite preference? As I wrote above, I could have forgiven the story if Dori was interestingly wicked. I mean, she didn't descend into evil. Her character didn't develop. She wasn't a person. She didn't turn into a monster; she was a monster all along.


Dori is the prison cell and the monster is digging it's way out. The chrysalis has not been fully shed by the end of the story.

I recently relistened to Magdala Amygdala, so maybe I'm hearing the resonance of the same pupal stage. 

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #12 on: February 26, 2015, 10:32:52 PM

Though, I do think that we found the real fundamental disagreement. I don't mind stories that don't have a villain as long as there's a hero; perhaps you could be characterized as having the opposite preference? As I wrote above, I could have forgiven the story if Dori was interestingly wicked. I mean, she didn't descend into evil. Her character didn't develop. She wasn't a person. She didn't turn into a monster; she was a monster all along.

Dori is the prison cell and the monster is digging it's way out. The chrysalis has not been fully shed by the end of the story.

I recently relistened to Magdala Amygdala, so maybe I'm hearing the resonance of the same pupal stage. 

That was a brilliant story, wasn't it?

Anyway, I don't really see it that way. Magdala Amygdala had a much clearer sense that the POV character's perspective was slowly draining away so something awful and atavistic could take its place. The fact that some tiny nugget of identity remained at the very end didn't seem to invalidate that. In this story, I got more the sense that the darkness inside Dori was Dori's real nature, and at the end it was expressing itself more. Remember what the sorcerer said: the "great power" was transformed in order to be bound, not bound into a person who was then, furthermore, bound to the island. At least, that's my take on it.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Dwango

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
Reply #13 on: February 27, 2015, 08:52:47 PM
We don't really know the full story of how she was trapped on the island.  We have a wizards view of what happened and we don't know the full story.  She may be finally taking back control of her life in a world that has treated her badly from the get go.  It does not sound like the surrounding world is a kindly place, with wizards who lie and trick to gain power.  She also has been abused by her "wife".  She has no reason to trust or build trusting relationships, as she has been treated so poorly.  It may be she is a monster created by the world she lives in.



Father Beast

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 516
Reply #14 on: February 28, 2015, 11:39:17 AM
Doriane recalls that she was more or less purchased by Selene's father as a companion, and then Selene chose her purchased companion as a life partner. Early on, I assumed that Doriane was chosen because she was deaf like Selene, but that junk at the end where she is revealed to be this big thing that other sorcerers try to control brings that into question.

So, was it that Selene was made deaf by her father in order to match Doriane?

Is it that there never was a Selene's father and the whole early memory thing is just implanted memories or something?

Is it that Selene and her father somehow bound this thing into the form of a deaf girl for the purposes of controlling her?

I can't seem to make it make sense, so it increasingly looks like this wonderful story of a girl freeing herself by learning to use magic in her own language, which has this weird thing tacked on to the end which retcons the whole story.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8727
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #15 on: March 03, 2015, 03:49:24 PM
To me this story didn't trigger any tropes--I was unaware of the Bury Your Gays trope until EP brought it up but it doesn't seem to fit that either.

To me I didn't think that Doriane was evil by nature.  Maybe she was evil before her imprisonment, but with the memory reset I think that history is basically irrelevant to her current state.  She is not evil by nature, she is taught to be evil by the method of her imprisonment.

I think that Selene did awful things to keep Doriane trapped because that was what worked to keep her trapped, and Selene was chosen specifically because she was willing and able to do these awful things.  As long as it keeps working, then Doriane is not a force in the world and the sorcerers can do what they want without fear of her.  And as long as Doriane and Selene are isolated, this plan works out well enough--but a new catalyst throws everything out of balance and Doriane prevails, and now that she's free she embodies the lessons she learned in captivity.  If they had wiped her memory and NOT treated her like crap, I don't think it's inevitable that she would've ended up being the master of puppets.




Devoted135

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1252
Reply #16 on: March 04, 2015, 04:35:04 PM
I thought this was a brilliant story! I really appreciate how evocatively the various hand signs were described and this became a key element of the story.

I interpreted Doriane as an existing malignant spirit who had been captured and memory wiped, which is why she can't remember anything before the island. However there was already a clue that the memory wipe wasn't 100% successful; Selene and her father didn't think she could remember her name but that bit of her true identity still remained. It's tragic, because I think the story leaves room for the conclusion that Doriane could have been taught to be good if only Selene had treated her well. Instead, like every other prison, the trap must eventually be sprung and then heaven help the captors.


Meta note: was anyone else as amused as I was when Kameron Hurley (who btw was an excellent guest host) read Varda's comment in the feedback section, clearly not realizing this was the same person whose commentary-via-story she had just been presenting? :D



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #17 on: March 04, 2015, 04:52:39 PM
Meta note: was anyone else as amused as I was when Kameron Hurley (who btw was an excellent guest host) read Varda's comment in the feedback section, clearly not realizing this was the same person whose commentary-via-story she had just been presenting? :D

*Raises hand*

I wondered if anyone else would notice that! Thought it was kind of awesome :)


Varda

  • Rebound
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2710
  • Definitely not an android.
Reply #18 on: March 04, 2015, 05:02:48 PM
Meta note: was anyone else as amused as I was when Kameron Hurley (who btw was an excellent guest host) read Varda's comment in the feedback section, clearly not realizing this was the same person whose commentary-via-story she had just been presenting? :D

/delurks

Yeah, that was weird and kinda neat! :D It's like an Easter egg just for EA forumites who've figured out the Varda/RKJ connection. :P

And if you think that's weird, I was REAAAAALLY afraid my guest host spot over at Escape Pod at the beginning of February was going to get paired with episode feedback for my own story "Mercy of Theseus". Thankfully, it was feedback for the story that ran the week *after* "Mercy". But it was close, and it would've been strange, especially since Nathan does all the feedback independently of the host spots. It's possible nobody would've put two and two together until the actual episode aired. :)

/relurks

Medical Microfiction: Stories About Science
http://rckjones.wordpress.com


albionmoonlight

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 213
Reply #19 on: March 27, 2015, 01:20:26 AM
So many awesome images . . . The name being a fist . . . the master forcing the puppet to act as the master at the end . . . the hands being used to manipulate and produce language and manipulate through language . . .

And then, while hitting us with all those images, the story manages to, in my mind, explore abusive relationships AND explore deaf culture AND still manage to be a trapped Wizard fantasy story.

Yeah, I liked it.  A lot.