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Author Topic: PC426: Sweeter Than Lead  (Read 1144 times)
Ocicat
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Anything for a Weird Life


« on: July 26, 2016, 01:39:16 PM »

PodCastle 426: Sweeter Than Lead

by Benjamin C. Kinney

read by Jen R. Albert


A PodCastle original!

I stood atop the wall and stared at the shifting black towers of the Nameless City, as if this time I might spot the shadows of its bygone masters. I flexed my toes against the rampart’s top, the basalt as cold and solid as ever. Only the wall and my vigilance held the City in check, but one of those would not last. Two months remained until my mandated retirement: the end of my prophecies, the end of my power.

Rated PG.



Benjamin C. Kinney is a neuroscientist by day, speculative fiction writer by night. He has left the business of creating cyborg monkeys, and contents himself with scanning and stimulating mere human brains. He lives in St. Louis with two cats, while waiting for his wife to return from Mars. 2016 marks his first year of professional fiction sales, and his stories have already appeared twice in Strange Horizons, forthcoming in Flash Fiction Online, and now here in Podcastle. He’s a member of the Codex writers’ group, a graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop, and a slush reader for PodCastle’s evil twin, Escape Pod.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: July 26, 2016, 10:28:10 PM by Ocicat » Logged
Father Beast
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 05:23:24 PM »

While listening to this, I got caught up in the many worlds idea, and that the Nameless City (Apparently not named Makkathran), can show people visions of alternate realities that can give them guidance.

When she talked about how one of those alternate worlds might still hold the city's creators, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that of course it did, and the narrator's own world is one of the alternates that the city creators have avoided.

I got so caught up in this idea that I totally failed to care about the relatively insignificant concerns of these inhabitants of a shadow world.

Neat ideas, though.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2016, 02:19:03 PM »

I liked the story, but I loved the world it took place in... Honestly, I'm pretty concerned that the narrator is falling sway to the power of her position and is being influenced by the city's creators to bring about the catastrophe she's supposed to prevent. Two visions in one day when that is never done? And then completely sabotaging her successor so that a new one will have to be chosen and trained? She's sure breaking a lot of rules all of a sudden. This is why we have term limits, people!
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bounceswoosh
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2016, 03:38:28 PM »

I liked the story, but I loved the world it took place in... Honestly, I'm pretty concerned that the narrator is falling sway to the power of her position and is being influenced by the city's creators to bring about the catastrophe she's supposed to prevent. Two visions in one day when that is never done? And then completely sabotaging her successor so that a new one will have to be chosen and trained? She's sure breaking a lot of rules all of a sudden. This is why we have term limits, people!

Yes, I think that's right. She thinks she's the exception to the requirement to retire, but she's just proof of the need for that rule.
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TrishEM
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2016, 03:55:32 PM »

I liked the story, but I loved the world it took place in... Honestly, I'm pretty concerned that the narrator is falling sway to the power of her position and is being influenced by the city's creators to bring about the catastrophe she's supposed to prevent. Two visions in one day when that is never done? And then completely sabotaging her successor so that a new one will have to be chosen and trained? She's sure breaking a lot of rules all of a sudden. This is why we have term limits, people!

Yes, I think that's right. She thinks she's the exception to the requirement to retire, but she's just proof of the need for that rule.

Ditto! Not quite an unreliable narrator, I suppose, since she apparently sincerely believes that what she is doing is best, but certainly a biased narrator and probably a manipulated narrator.
But I really liked this story.
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Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2016, 09:23:48 AM »

I liked the use of the visions of alternate worlds to guide change in the world.
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bounceswoosh
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2016, 01:09:54 PM »

I liked the story, but I loved the world it took place in... Honestly, I'm pretty concerned that the narrator is falling sway to the power of her position and is being influenced by the city's creators to bring about the catastrophe she's supposed to prevent. Two visions in one day when that is never done? And then completely sabotaging her successor so that a new one will have to be chosen and trained? She's sure breaking a lot of rules all of a sudden. This is why we have term limits, people!

Yes, I think that's right. She thinks she's the exception to the requirement to retire, but she's just proof of the need for that rule.

Ditto! Not quite an unreliable narrator, I suppose, since she apparently sincerely believes that what she is doing is best, but certainly a biased narrator and probably a manipulated narrator.
But I really liked this story.

Nitpick, but I think that's one of the types of unreliable narrator. And not to use wikipedia as a primary source, but they have a non-exhaustive list of types of unreliable narrators - I think this would fall somewhere between Madman and Naïf.

ETA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unreliable_narrator
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bckinney
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2016, 06:30:44 PM »

I am a bad bad author for commenting on this thread, but I'm glad y'all enjoyed it! Even those who preferred the worldbuilding over the story, because that is for sure its greatest strength. I wrote this piece in a 3-day, 1000-word binge of worldbuilding, and there's even more that didn't make it into the text.

Apparently I can't post links, but if you check my author webpage I have a list of What Else Is Going On In This World. Definitely a novel's worth of stuff, but EvilTimelinesVerse is the second on my waitlist of Novels I Gotta Write After This One!
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Escape Pod assistant editor, SFF author, neuroscientist.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2016, 11:46:25 PM »


I am a bad bad author for commenting on this thread,


Absolutely not. Welcome!


Apparently I can't post links, but


That's just a secondary protection against spambots. After you've made a post or two (show another author some love!) and the system thinks you're mostly real then link posting becomes enabled.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2016, 08:57:26 AM by Fenrix » Logged

I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2016, 09:27:03 AM »

I am a bad bad author for commenting on this thread, but I'm glad y'all enjoyed it! Even those who preferred the worldbuilding over the story, because that is for sure its greatest strength. I wrote this piece in a 3-day, 1000-word binge of worldbuilding, and there's even more that didn't make it into the text.

Apparently I can't post links, but if you check my author webpage I have a list of What Else Is Going On In This World. Definitely a novel's worth of stuff, but EvilTimelinesVerse is the second on my waitlist of Novels I Gotta Write After This One!

Authors are welcome here, Benjamin!  Welcome welcome!
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2016, 04:33:42 PM »

I LOVED THIS STORY! Holy cow, it was great. It's really rare that I find a good story about prophecy (or time travel, for that matter) but this one held together. Also, the creeping horror of the city and what it could do to you - what it DID do to the POV character - was really compelling. And the sense of looming existential dread...

It was great.
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