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Author Topic: PC399: The Authenticator  (Read 1597 times)
Talia
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« on: January 20, 2016, 03:00:55 PM »

PodCastle 399: The Authenticator

by Greg van Eekhout

read by Gregory Austin

Originally appeared in Flytrap Issue #11, May 2014.

Now it’s my turn to be surprised. The homes of thrift shop queens no longer phase me. I’ve met collectors and pack rats and hoarders, and I’ve seen walls so covered by commemorative dishes and tobacco-stained oil paintings that you couldn’t find so much as an inch of plaster between them. But Edelle Bradford’s trailer is something else. It’s a cave of bone. The walls are a mosaic of leg bones and knuckles and teeth and knobby bits. More of the same in curio cabinets, mixed in with the pots and pans in the kitchen, everywhere my eye falls. The bones are stained dark, coffee brown, the color of bones from the La Brea Tar Pits, the richest source of magic bones in Los Angeles. I have to duck under a chandelier of ribs to enter the room, and I am not a tall man. Her coffee table is an arrangement of tusks with a plywood slab on top.

Rated PG-13.

Greg van Eekhout is the author of stories and novels for adults and middle-grade audiences. His work has been nominated for the Nebula, Andre Norton, and Locus Awards.

His most recent work is the Daniel Blackland trilogy from Tor Books — California Bones, Pacific Fire, and Dragon Coast — about wizards who get their powers from eating the bones of extinct magical creatures. “The Authenticator” and “The Osteomancer’s Son” (previously featured on PodCastle) take place in the Daniel Blackland universe.

Gregory Austin balances time between writing and voice acting in Buffalo, NY. As a writer, he’s contributed to various comedic websites including Collegehumor.com; he’s a writer, treasurer and performer for Aural Stage Studios, a Buffalo based audio drama company, and is also a blogger for hire.

As a voice artist he has narrated half a dozen audiobooks and shared his talents on podcasts, where he’s done anything from narrating stories to relating personal musings. Previously, he was head writer and featured performer for a fun-loving improvisational group called The Human Touch, which wowed slightly inebriated audiences across smoky club scenes in the “second city” he called home: Chicago, Illinois.

Gregory also enjoys sandwiches, comics and genuine people. Find him on his website, on Twitter @BuffaloGregNY, or on his Facebook pages for voice acting and freelance writing.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
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BoojumsRCool
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2016, 06:50:48 PM »

 There are some themes here that work well in the story and the characters are well written, I should love it. All I can come up with is meh. What am I missing?
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Unblinking
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2016, 11:34:36 AM »

There are some themes here that work well in the story and the characters are well written, I should love it. All I can come up with is meh. What am I missing?

I'm on the same page here.  I don't know if your reasons are the same as mine, but to me this seemed like it was a sample chapter from early in a novel, something to establish the setting and characters and motivation, but not actually carrying enough of an arc on its own to be a full fleshed story.  Knowing that this takes place in the same world as the author's novel, I wonder if that's how it started and never really grew beyond that.

The characters were interesting, the glimpse of the worldbuilding was interesting.  But to me there was no real tension.  The authenticator shows up, explains the difficulty in proving authenticity without provenance and why that means the price she's been offered isn't at market value, he asks her nicely while explaining his situation and she chooses to sell it to him. 

I'm glad that he chose to just be upfront with her instead of hiring someone to rob her.  I'm glad that she chose a path that would help out the protagonist whose past decision has crippled someone else, to allow him to try to make up for his mistake.  But the resolution just felt way too easy for me.  A negotiation/bargaining that is resolved by telling the truth.  I realize that negotiating by telling the truth is often not the norm, because one can often maneuver for advantage using falsehoods, but there are times when being upfront is to one's best advantage and this turned out to be one of those times.  Especially given the way that she refused other reasoning and was more interested in meaning than in money, upfront truth that might gain her sympathy seemed like the most obvious strategy to try, he did, and it worked.  It was a smart thing for him to do, to tell the truth, but I didn't really find it riveting because it felt too easy.




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BoojumsRCool
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« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2016, 01:49:29 PM »

Quote
I don't know if your reasons are the same as mine, but to me this seemed like it was a sample chapter from early in a novel, something to establish the setting and characters and motivation, but not actually carrying enough of an arc on its own to be a full fleshed story.
That is it exactly, I am glad it wasn't only me I would love to read the whole story.
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danooli
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2016, 01:13:47 PM »

I haven't read the whole series, but I did read, and enjoy, California Bones, so I am familiar with the world here. (It's been a long time since I listened to The Osteomancers Son, but I am going to give that a relisten.)

This story was also enjoyable, but I am afraid I find myself agreeing with BoojumsRCool and Unblinking in that the story feels a tad bit incomplete. I like what we have so far, though...Edelle is a truly fun character that I would love to meet in real life. I'd love to visit her trailer! I would also like to see an artists rendering of The Authenticator. His injuries are horrific sounding!
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2016, 04:54:07 PM »

I just finished reading the whole series not so long ago so had a different listening experience than most. I was excited to be dropped back into this world and that smoothed over a bit of the sense that this was a vignette and not a "whole piece". I do wish that the cause of the injuries, etc etc didn't quite feel so rushed. I swear I turned around to do something and when I turned back it was over and I'd missed the whole reason for the story! I think there could have been a dialing back of the room descriptors to leave a bit more breathing room for the real emotional revelation there at the end. Overall, a fun set-piece but not a lot of meat on those bones.  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2016, 02:05:00 PM »

I liked this story, how the writer brought us around to understand why the main character was as he was, and what motivated him to his actions.  Plus, it leaves you wondering about his success, and filled with the hope that perhaps he did succeed.

Now, the fact that it's in this most interesting world setting...that's just an awesome bonus!
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Devoted135
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« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2016, 10:27:08 PM »

I haven't read the whole series, but I did greatly enjoy the other stories in this world that have run here. I have to agree with the criticism that this was a bit too much of a vignette for a standalone story, but it was nice to revisit this universe.
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Ariadnes-thread
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« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2016, 09:36:58 PM »

This was a bit heavy on infodumping and light on story, action, and character development, in my opinion. But I really liked the world it was set in. I'd been meaning to pick up California Bones for a while now, and this story might just be the push I need to actually do so.
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