Escape Artists

Escape Pod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: eytanz on June 02, 2015, 08:54:58 AM

Title: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: eytanz on June 02, 2015, 08:54:58 AM
EP494: The Retgun (

By Tim Pratt (

Read by Rachael K. Jones (

This story was published in a Unidentified Funny Objects 2.


If you find yourself squatting over a pit toilet while wearing stiletto heels, you’ve made a few bad choices at some point during the evening. I could have taken off my shoes, but then I’d be barefoot, in the woods, in the half-light of a lantern dangling from a tree branch, standing in whatever you can expect to find on the ground around an artisanal hand-excavated poop hole.

Apparently there was a fashion for high-and-low cultural juxtapositions in this particular dimensional node, hence a full fancy-dress party being held in and around a homemade earth-and-sod house lit only by torches. The hors d’oeuvres were processed cheese foam sprayed on mass-produced crackers, served on silver platters passed around by leggy supermodels dressed in hair shirts and stinking rags, plus prune-wine brewed in a ramshackle still and passed around in crystal goblets. Let me tell you something: prune wine goes right through you, so I didn’t even have to pretend I needed to use the facilities when the time came to get in position.

The pit toilet was well back in the woods, some distance behind the sod house, but it nevertheless came equipped with a scrupulously polite bathroom attendant–he was standing on the lowest branch of a nearby tree–dressed in a green velvet tuxedo and prepared to offer towels, breath mints, and cocaine on demand. Interdimensional travel is often way more boring than you’d expect, but this was not one of the boring times.

Earlier, when I was mingling among the partygoers–the worst human beings this node had to offer–a guy wearing a moth mask had lunged over to me drunkenly, tried to touch my cheek and slurred, “Your skin . . . so beautiful . . . like porcelain . . .”

I’d knocked his hand aside and said, “My skin is like the stuff toilets are made out of?” Proving that I’d had a way overly optimistic idea about the quality of the local toilets.

( Listen to this week’s Escape Pod! (
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: SF.Fangirl on June 05, 2015, 02:00:32 AM
Nice! I think this is the most enjoyable EP story I heard in a while.  Funny, humorous, heroic.

It wasn't until the very end, I realized it had been lots of talking/explaining rather than action, but the dialog / storytelling was funny and interesting and even the "Curtly said curtly" wasn't over used.  It probably that the narrator did sound incredibly awesome - too awesome to be the sidekick.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: FullMetalAttorney on June 05, 2015, 02:22:25 AM
Oh, my Glob, I just started this and I don't know whether I can finish it. She sounds like she's got a piece of hard candy in her mouth. Don't know whether the story is worth powering through that.

Edit: 5:44 and I'm done. I can't listen to this voice. Time to skip to episode feedback.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: SpareInch on June 05, 2015, 09:43:29 AM
Well personally, I liked Rachael's reading, but there are other narrators who have their own fans, but whose voices drive me up the wall.

I thought this reading really nailed the main character's character (Sorry, it's infectious.) perfectly.

On the story front, I really liked the blurring of the concepts of hero and villain. Especially the way everyone sees themselves as the hero and everyone else as villains.

Just like life, really.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: Unblinking on June 05, 2015, 01:32:41 PM
I thought Rachael's narration was fine--I didn't have any trouble understanding her voice and I thought she conveyed the character well.

This was fun.  I liked the concept of the Retgun, as well as its limitations.  I thought Curtly was fun to root both for and against at different parts of the story, and I like that their big plan at the end was to invent the organization that Curtly had just made up in the first place.

Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: mb on June 05, 2015, 01:36:20 PM
omg, I loved the story. one of the best ones in a while (there was a bit of a drought for stories matching my teaste - not saying they were bad, just not my thing).

but note, that I said story: while I loved the story, I found this was the most painful story to listen to in a while.
the narrator sounded as if she was either drunk or sucking sweets while reading :) she also does very stranges things in terms of speading up and concatenating syllables... very weird...
I can deal with differnent accents, but this was just awkward to listent to, up ot the point where stopped listenting to it and actually read it.

anyway, just me, mabye...
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: DKT on June 05, 2015, 02:35:41 PM
Hey everyone: a note on commentary/criticism.

Criticism is always very much appreciated. However, we have one rule  ( on this forum, and that's to be civil and respectful. Some of the comments in this thread are very difficult to read that way. Suggesting that someone sounds drunk, or has something in their mouth is not respectful or polite. That's how we lose people volunteering hours of their time to EA.

We would like to avoid losing the volunteers who make these shows happen.

So, feel free to be critical of the stories and narrations, but please be respectful of the people who spent a lot of time making these stories and episodes possible.

Thanks  :)
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: shazdeh on June 05, 2015, 10:51:07 PM
Wow wee! What a lovely and fun story!
I didn't like the recent stories so I approached this one with some skepticism but i was hooked just after the first few paragraphs. I only wish it was longer, or a sequel maybe? :D
The only part bothering me was the "sorry" parts after "Kirtly curtly" bits, I think it was clever and didn't need the "sorry" part. That breaks the fourth wall which is a turn off for me.
Narration was nice as well, lovely voice, and enjoyable.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on June 07, 2015, 04:24:57 PM
I really enjoyed this story, but it took me a couple of tries.
While I appreciate Rachel's attempts to inject the right tone into the story, in my opinion this came at the cost of legibility (can you use the word legibility in connection with audio?). After 10 minutes of story and many rewinds I gave up and went to the site to read it.
But I didn't enjoy that nearly as much as listening to Rachel's snarky take on the story. So I ended up listening with the text in front of me. That was excellent. The right tone to the story and no missed words.
While I understand that not everybody can do this (podcasts are for when you can't read), I strongly recommend it.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: Unblinking on June 08, 2015, 02:40:38 PM
That breaks the fourth wall which is a turn off for me.

I would often agree with you on that one. In this case, "Kirtly curtly" made me giggle every time, so I didn't have a problem with it in this particular case.  :)
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: eytanz on June 08, 2015, 08:50:10 PM
Moderator note: The discussion of whether particular commentary is disrespectful or not has been moved to its own thread ( Please feel free to continue that debate there and keep this thread on the topic of the episode itself.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: Myrealana on June 10, 2015, 04:50:56 PM
It was light. It was fun. I wasn't sure what was going on towards the middle, but I went along for the ride and I wasn't disappointed.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on June 10, 2015, 05:24:56 PM
And in all the excitement I forgot to mention anything about the story. ::)

I really like stories with ambiguous moral sides. It makes it easier to understand the villain and root for the good guy. And if it turns out that you were wrong? That's even more fun. And being wrong multiple times in one story? I love these kinds of surprises.
Tim's stories sometimes make these kind of promises and fail to deliver. I'm glad that in this case he succeeded in giving us some will fleshed-out characters with intriguing back stories, and surprising me more than once.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: TwoXForr on June 11, 2015, 01:13:54 PM
Good stuff, but can our hero and Curtly both wield the Retgun and keep the new story straight. 
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: Fenrix on June 16, 2015, 03:27:42 AM
Great story, and totally stoked that Rachael got to narrate a Pratt. Fun stuff. Tucked away for a future listen.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: Devoted135 on June 22, 2015, 09:21:46 PM
This was such a fun story, and the narration really captured the tone of the narrator perfectly. I was particularly amused by the "yeah, when hiding from us you might want to hide where other people are..." suggestion. I was going to say that this was a fun, low-stakes romp, but now that I'm thinking about it the stakes were actually quite high. So, this was a fun, high-stakes romp I guess. ::) :D
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: Windup on June 28, 2015, 03:23:36 AM
This one cracked me up repeatedly, and reminded me of why I love Tim Pratt.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: TrishEM on June 29, 2015, 12:20:26 AM
I just loved this story, the playing with ideas of who you have been, are, and choose to be, or if you don't get a choice, how you play out the hand that's been dealt to you. It was so entertaining, and ultimately hopeful!
As for the narration, I love the variety of narrators we get here, and I thought Rachael's tone was perfect for this snarky viewpoint character. And if some words weren't paced or pronounced exactly as I would have, well, I haven't lived through a bunch of different realities, and I can see how that might affect speech patterns!
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: eytanz on June 30, 2015, 04:01:31 PM
Moderator notes: A new discussion has started that is more on topic to the thread split off here, so those posts were moved there. Please keep the discussion here to be about the episode - reactions to moderator reactions, and reactions to reactions to moderator reactions, belong in metachat. Thank you.
Title: Re: EP494: The Retgun
Post by: CryptoMe on September 10, 2016, 04:28:33 AM
I liked this story. And I agree with Devoted135, it seemed like a light and fluffy romp, but still managed to pack in some weighty considerations. Well done. I have never been much of a Tim Pratt fan (yes, sacrilege, I know), but I will have to look up some more of his stuff.