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Author Topic: PC364: Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart  (Read 3425 times)


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on: May 19, 2015, 01:28:59 PM
PodCastle 364: Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart

by Cat Rambo
read by Dave Robison
Originally featured as part of Cat’s Patreon Campaign.

Phlogiston, the most precious material in the world, capable of fueling marvelous machines like himself. Artemus carried a scraping of it, small as a fingernail clipping, deep in his midsection. Once a year, it was replaced, but it was valuable enough that he’d had people try to kill him for it before.

So far none had succeeded. And if it seemed that someone was about to, he held, secret in another internal pocket a sliver of terra fluida, a substance that, when combined with phlogiston, would explode. He would do that rather than be taken.

Rated PG-13.

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and, four collections (one forthcoming) and her debut novel, Beasts of Tabat, to be followed by Hearts of Tabat this fall.  A World Fantasy, Endeavour, and Nebula nominee, she is the current Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). For more about her, as well as links to her fiction and her online classes, see

Dave Robison’s voice work has appeared on audio fiction podcasts across the internet, including the Drabblecast, Starshipsofa, Tales to Terrify, and all the Escape Artist Podcasts. He’s been contracted – through his production company, Wonderthing Studios – to do the audiobook narration for Tim Ward’s novel “Scavenger: Evolution” and Terry Irving’s “The Day of the Dragon King”. In addition to hosting the fabulous “Roundtable Podcast”, Dave just launched a new venture… Vex Mosaic, an e-zine featuring essays on culture and society through the lens of pop-culture media. You can check that out at

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!


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Reply #1 on: May 21, 2015, 06:54:43 AM
Ooo! RoboCop Vs HAL in a Weird West setting. Could anyone want more?

I liked the seamless way Artemus came to realise that he was fooling himself when he claimed not to love his partner.

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


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Reply #2 on: May 22, 2015, 05:48:04 AM
I liked this story and thought the narration was superb.  There were a lot of components to the plot line that kept me engaged and my imagination found itself immersed in the eloquent details of Cat Rambo's world.  The characters, in particular, were very interesting and--someday--I would like to hear the same story from  Elsbeth's, Eisenbacher's, and the house's points of view. 

What motive would Elsbeth have to love Artemus, especially since he was never human like a 'clank'?  Is their relationship similar to fandom's love affair with Data from STNG?  Did she see him as an ideal, something that she would never find in flesh and blood? 

What was Eisenbacher's relationship with his mother like, did they share a closeness or was she more interested in her machines than her child?  If Mrs Eisenbach loved her machines more, why did the house have such a strong desire to marry Eisenbach to Elsbeth and to take care of the kids?  Or did the house share Mrs Eisenbach's love for all her creations--human and clockwork?   

Many questions in my mind as I reflect back on the story.  The one part I did not fancy completely was the ending.  It seemed forced as Elsbeth conveniently saves Artemus by outwitting the House and the clockwork hummingbirds choosing to help him.

On a side note:  I talked to my kids after listening to the podcast and they couldn't help comparing it to "Monster House" and the "Escape from Mystery Manor" episode of Scooby Doo Mystery Inc. 


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Reply #3 on: May 22, 2015, 06:11:22 PM
Now that was really fun. Great story, great narration. And of course the tributes to the TV show Wild Wild West were much appreciated. I wish that show was still being shown somewhere.


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Reply #4 on: May 27, 2015, 06:03:36 PM
I have the same complaint about every Cat Rambo story....

I need a million more stories set in this universe!!!

Was dream6601 but that's sounds awkward when Nathan reads my posts.


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Reply #5 on: May 28, 2015, 01:50:21 PM
I liked almost all of it, good setting, good characters, good gradual reveal as the house pulls them in.  I thought the love angle between the two detective characters was an interesting angle, her affection for him accepting him as a human being and him not even being able to accept himself in the same way, thinking that his lack of capacity for love must clearly be so self-evident.

But the ending was  out of nowhere.  I mean, I wasn't sad to see Elsbeth turn out to save him rather than him saving her, but it was kind of a hopeless situation and then she shows up happy ending hooray, didn't really match the buildup before it, to me.


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Reply #6 on: May 28, 2015, 09:46:13 PM
This story just might push out The Coffeemakers Passion as my favorite Cat Rambo story. I'm not sure which story has more deceptive robots in it.

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


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Reply #7 on: May 31, 2015, 02:02:07 PM
I have the same complaint about every Cat Rambo story....

I need a million more stories set in this universe!!!

I couldn't agree more! This was a fun story, and I think I would love to hear more about the Pinkerton agents!


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Reply #8 on: June 05, 2015, 01:08:39 AM
I absolutely loved this story, for all the many reasons already listed, right up until the end.

As I was sitting in my garage, listening to Artemis preparing to commit suicide to prevent Elsbeth from being trapped in a hellish existance, and coming to terms with his own feelings for her almost in spite of himself... suddenly god showed up and plucked them out of danger to live happily ever after.

It felt like a copout. I didn't catch even a hint that the house was that gullible.

That said, I still love it. I'll forgive the deus ex machina ending because I really didn't WANT either of them to die.

"You don't fix faith. Faith fixes you." - Shepherd Book


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Reply #9 on: June 20, 2015, 03:30:33 PM
I really enjoyed this story! Artemis is a fascinating character, he thinks he's so self-aware but still doesn't understand everything about himself yet. Actually, the same could be said about pretty much every character in this story, and by the end each had learned something important about themselves. The ending did feel like a giant deus ex machina, but I'll forgive it if I can hear more stories in this world.... *clears throat* Cat! More please! *clears throat*