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Author Topic: PC 405, Artemis Rising: Beat Softly, My Wings of Steel  (Read 2131 times)
Talia
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« on: February 29, 2016, 08:53:15 AM »

PodCastle 405, ARTEMIS RISING: Beat Softly, My Wings of Steel

by Beth Cato

read by Elizabeth Green

Hosted by M.K. Hobson


A PodCastle Original!

My horse was beautiful, yet still undeniably the raw work of a mere squire. Visible seams crisscrossed its body like  stitches in a quilt. The mismatched metal patches were proof I had pieced it together from a hundred different carcasses. Likewise, the completed wings against the nearby wall contained hundreds of feathers in a warm metallic array that stood in bold contrast to the steel bones. The full equine form had some sinuous grace–a cupped chin, tapered ears–but overall, like any Cavalry mount, it was built for strength and endurance.

I picked up the metal heart, stroking it. I would soon know this soul with intimacy unlike any I had known. I crouched to place the heart in the chest cavity, and sang to Atanta all the while. I made the final connections within the body and stood, my hand on the halter. The enchantments I had pounded into metal and pressed into rubber thrummed to life like a swarm of bees. Onward I sang.


Rated PG-13.

Beth Cato is from Hanford, California, and resides near Phoenix, Arizona. She’s the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown steampunk fantasy novels from Harper Voyager. Her brand new alt-history steampunk series starts with Breath of Earth this August. For book news and bountiful cookie recipes, please visit BethCato.com.

Elizabeth Green as been reading stories for Podcastle through each of her different life changes: including teaching history of science at a liberal arts college, designing knitting patterns, doing freelance graphic design, and now working as the graphic designer for Girl Scouts of Central Texas. On weekends you can find her and her son playing samurai in the Legend of the Five Rings RPG. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2016, 03:08:27 PM »

Really? No comments yet? How strange.

I enjoyed this very much. As a former horse-crazy girl child, it evoked enough horsiness for me to become nostalgic. I thought the premise of using souls of the deceased horses to animate pegasi was fantastic and well-executed. I am a little over the whole, war is bad because bad people make war phenomenon so that arc was a little grating. (I am not saying this isn't plausible, it just seems like I'm being beat over the head with the theme lately.) I was most impressed by how finely drawn the world was and how the characterization was not overly sentimental in what could have been a pretty melodramatic scenario in someone else's hands (computer?). I really loved that while the ending wasn't completely positive, there was a ray of hope. Sometimes I just like to have a little hope.

Anyway, author, narrator, fine work. Sorry more people haven't spoken up. They're probably all down at the Contest.
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2016, 08:40:53 PM »

Really? No comments yet? How strange.

I enjoyed this very much. As a former horse-crazy girl child, it evoked enough horsiness for me to become nostalgic. I thought the premise of using souls of the deceased horses to animate pegasi was fantastic and well-executed. I am a little over the whole, war is bad because bad people make war phenomenon so that arc was a little grating. (I am not saying this isn't plausible, it just seems like I'm being beat over the head with the theme lately.) I was most impressed by how finely drawn the world was and how the characterization was not overly sentimental in what could have been a pretty melodramatic scenario in someone else's hands (computer?). I really loved that while the ending wasn't completely positive, there was a ray of hope. Sometimes I just like to have a little hope.

Anyway, author, narrator, fine work. Sorry more people haven't spoken up. They're probably all down at the Contest.

<chagrined> Yup... I've been obsessively tracking the vote count on my story since its group release. (swaps tabs, hits F5)

This was a really cool story, and I was only halfway through it when I got to work that day. That's as close as I've come to being late because I decided to sit in my car and finish as story as I've ever been.
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2016, 09:00:27 PM »

Also - our narrator is not new to Escape Artists: http://escape-artists.wikia.com/wiki/Elizabeth_Green

If anyone would like to hear her read more.  Grin
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This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2016, 12:00:36 PM »

Oh hell yes. 

This story was great.  The idea had me right from the start, getting me interested in this whole horse-soul business and using it as a means to escape, finding one of the enemy and finding you have a lot in common and becoming friends, etc.  This story was very very muchI love science fantasy stories and this was right up there with my favorites of the subgenre--resurrecting dead horses into robo-horses who then become robo-pegasus.  Instilling souls into robot bodies by using prayer.  I didn't expect the death of the protagonist to happen when it did, but it's internally consistent and it managed to be a kindof hopeful ending despite that. 

Great great stuff.
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Lionman
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2016, 10:32:34 AM »

[Imagine my typical comment here.]

I liked this story.  It was an interesting world in which we find ourselves, one that makes me want to know more.  The story is compelling and makes me wonder how it really turned out.  Which, I think, aside from evoking emotion, is really what makes a good short story good...you want to see how the writer would have written the ending, if this was more than just a short work

Hopefully there will be more stories around this turn of historical events in this world!
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shanehalbach
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2016, 09:18:08 AM »

I was really excited to listen to this, since I read an early draft and wanted to see how it looked as a finished product!

The world-building in this one is just tremendous. Although the story didn't feel like it was part of a longer work, as it was completely self-contained, I think the world certainly could support a novel-sized story (get to work, Beth, I know you were just dying for more novel projects!) I think the ending is perfect, straddling the line between the ridiculous (everything works out for everybody and they all ride happily into the sunset) and the depressing (everybody dies, life is full of woe). Instead we get a little of both. Bittersweet.

We also get magical robot war-pegasi, which is even better.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2016, 08:27:09 PM »

Back to commenting on the actual stories after the contest....

I loved this one! The world-building was so well done that we got a full picture of the world without ever feeling like we were getting giant info dumps. Hard to do with such a complex and foreign world. One of my favorite parts was the android, and his destruction was actually really sad for me! As other commenters have mentioned, the ending did an excellent job of retaining some hope while still being realistic in that we don't get a fairy tale ending. That didn't make it any harder to swallow at the time of listening, though!
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