Author Topic: PC012: Barrens Dance  (Read 28831 times)


  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 62
Reply #25 on: June 18, 2008, 11:26:12 PM
i've always wondered about uber-powerful magic with specific requirements (in this case, open space and free movement). what's protecting him from a sucker punch or a well placed net?

This seems a problem with the story to me.  The evil wizard spends and awful lot of time on horseback for a guy who has to shuffle his feet to do his thing.  Seems like if this guy spent so much time wandering about and terrorizing the countryside some farmboy with a bow would have taken him out pretty early on.

Overall I like high fantasy but the magic chipmunks and evil dancing man-child were sort of lame.

As to the introductions, I prefer to know as little about the story itself before listening as possible.  I like to hear about the author, where else the story has appeared, the title of the story, and that's about it.  An anecdote connecting the story to an element in the author's own life in the outro can be very good, but no spoilers in the intro please.


  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 45
    • Comic Book Thoughts
Reply #26 on: June 19, 2008, 04:38:46 AM
Two points (or questions, really):

1.  I have no criticism at all of the reader.  He did a fine job.  But while the story was "high fantasy," the words didn't present themselves to me as being spoken by a person using that particular "I am an American from the Knights of the Round Table!" accent.  The sentence structure seemed to often lend itself to a more folksy accent -- say Southern or Minnesotan (from the North).  Sure, its an old guy telling a story, but it wasn't an old guy Thespian from Summer Stock.  Did anyone else feel like the accent didn't match the writing style?

2.  And speaking of the "old guy" narrator, was it an old guy?  I mean, is it explicit anyone inside the text that the speaker is male?  Thinking back, I couldn't recall anything in particular, and the fact that "he" switches places with the woman made me wonder.  As I thought about it afterwards, I couldn't help but wonder if the narrator -- who is always speaking as a close friend -- had not replaced the woman in other ways that just form after the switch.  And that would make more sense if the narrator were female, also.  Then again, I could be off the reservation completely with that one.

3.  Finally, I completely agree with the comments about the intro saying that the wizard wasn't evil.  As I listened, it totally jumped out as an inconsistency, but I forgot that it was in the intro, and thought that the story itself was inconsistent.  Giving away plot points is bad, but completely contradicting the story might be even worse.


  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #27 on: June 19, 2008, 03:22:01 PM
2.  And speaking of the "old guy" narrator, was it an old guy?  I mean, is it explicit anyone inside the text that the speaker is male? 

Yes - at least, I'm almost certain that very early on the narrator refers to himself as an old man.


  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 358
Reply #28 on: June 20, 2008, 10:22:18 AM

One thing I feel I should point out is that while I may sound really like I'm being really critical about this, it's because this is the sole fly in an otherwise exceptional ointment for me. In 12 weeks, Podcastle has already become my favorite Escape Artists podcast, quite a task given how much I love the other two as well. So I think that you and Ann and everyone else involved is doing a wonderful job, and I'm not griping because I'm unsatisfied, far from it. I wouldn't be complaining if I didn't think my complaints are valid, but I don't want the fact of my complaining to overshadow how great I think this podcast is.

Oh, and happy wedding :)

Well said, eytanz, and I agree completely. When I started to hear a summary of the plot before the story even began I cringed and felt that I was being talked to as if I were three years old. "Now honey, you'll like this story because it has magic, and don't worry, the wizard isn't really evil..." I hate to harp on this as the rest of the intro was fine, but that's a little like saying "But Mrs. Lincoln, you haven't said a word about whether or not you liked the play..."

However, as eytanz said, I absolutely love Podcastle and I applaud the job done by all involved - hip, hip, hurray! And congrats and happy wedding, Rachel!


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 199
Reply #29 on: June 20, 2008, 11:48:33 AM
I don't mind a bit of an intro to the story if there are concepts we might need to understand. For example, if 'Hotel Astarte' was more in line with the Ishtar and friends stories (e.g. a retelling or a continuation of a standard myth) it might be appropriate. However, it's never okay to give one's interpretation of a story beforehand, because that's up to the listener to do. Guides can be given (this is an important part of the narrator's job) but you simply can't go giving explicit clues unless they're really necessary.

Another time I wish the editor kept their opinions to themselves was the recent EP story 'Elites.' Steve started off by telling us about the effect the story had on him. I figured a story that good needed to wait until I could give it proper attention. When I finally did, though, I was quite disappointed. In the outro Steve explained why the story had that effect on him. Those reasons didn't apply to me. If I hadn't have heard the beat up first, I would have enjoyed the story far more.


  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
Reply #30 on: June 23, 2008, 06:53:35 PM
1.  I have no criticism at all of the reader.  He did a fine job.  But while the story was "high fantasy," the words didn't present themselves to me as being spoken by a person using that particular "I am an American from the Knights of the Round Table!" accent.  The sentence structure seemed to often lend itself to a more folksy accent -- say Southern or Minnesotan (from the North).  Sure, its an old guy telling a story, but it wasn't an old guy Thespian from Summer Stock.  Did anyone else feel like the accent didn't match the writing style?
The story was okay. It wasn't the best, but it was far, far, far from the worst I've heard in the EA family of podcasts. Put it this way: I liked it a lot better than "Revolution Time" (still listening to "No Tomorrows"). Actually, my biggest complaint was Steve's reading. I KNOW! I can't believe i just said that either! :o But i really felt like it should have had a more modern, conversational tone, like the tone Steve uses in his intros. But i kinda agree with Ragtime: it was sorta stuck in between "high fantasy" and "conversational" without being convincingly either one.


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 221
Reply #31 on: June 23, 2008, 07:13:40 PM
The story was a bit plodding and slow for me.  The dancing wizard and "shookrees" (yes, pokemons!) very gimmicky to me, and did not do enough to save a very predictable plot line.  We know almost next to nothing about Carcharos, other than he's a pretty bad guy.  At once sociopathically uncaring about anyone but himself and apparently powerful beyond mortal-imagination, he comes across as a cardboard cut-out of yet another evil villain.  The author might as well have called him Mister Boogieman or Voldemort for all it mattered.  The ending seemed foregone well ahead of the story's actual conclusion, and the half-hearted attempt at a semi-happy ending seemed a saccharin and cartoon-like.

I'm not sure what it is, but I listen to podcasts mostly at work or when I'm playing games at home, and there are certain stories that just lose me somehow until I suddenly find myself hanging at the end of a plot-twist and having to rewind.  To roughly paraphrase someone else, this story was guilty of too much "telling me" and not enough "showing me".  All those interjections of "now hold on while I drink my tea", or "no one's sure of this but I was there" just got in the way for me.  It's already patently obvious that we're listening to someone spinning a tale.  Why redundantly state this?  Perhaps this may have worked in the written form, where the reader is able to actively imagine the characters or alter the pace of his/her reading, and such interludes serve as a release in the tension.  It may have also worked in a first-person "theatrical" spoken form, where the audience can see the storyteller's body-language, face, and read all the nuances.  For me, it doesn't work as a podcast for some reason, and ends up feeling a bit like watching a TV show about someone else watching a show (and not in the good Mystery Science Theater 2000 way either).


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 166
Reply #32 on: June 30, 2008, 07:50:16 PM
I like the flow of the story, as the dancing wizard kept determining how he could steal the wife.  I found myself surprised at times with the actions of the characters, the evil wizard attempting to woo the girl and the transformations.  The shookree's were an interesting breed of creature and should have more time in thier explanation.

As mentioned in previous posts, the narrator gets a lot of presence in the story, for the obvious reason of his reveal.  But I think there is more there than the straight readings suggest. I doubt the narrator is what he claims and I have reason to believe that he may be the protagonist.  His terrible actions on an object of growing affection may have given him the worst thing a villian can have, a conscious.  This may have warped his senses and the claims of what "should be" explain his shift in viewpoint.  He is strangely kind to the protagonist toward the end of the story, considering his reveal.  If true, this shifts the story to a darker, sadder plane of regret.


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #33 on: July 01, 2008, 05:14:17 AM
This story moved me - nay compelled me - to actually register and write in to comment.

Yes, it was that bad.

I began as a listener to Psuedopod (from the 1st ep), liked it well enough to find out more about Escape Pod, and naturally jumped into Podcastle when it began.  Never before was I moved to write in, for good or bad reason. 

This story took me half the month to get through, because I just couldn't keep my interest up.  The names were difficult to follow and associate with characters.  There was too much description, and not enough dialogue, for this type of story.  The characters didn't seem to really be who they were supposed to be - in the sense that we were told they were certain things or behaved in certain ways, but never really seemed to act that way in the moment of the story (kind of like the guy in high school that was regarded as a badass, but no one could think of how he proved to be such a badass).  And Steve's reading just didn't do it for me this time.

But I finally perservered, getting through to the end. 

I knew I could - I'd read the 1st Thomas Covenant series.

Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Reply #34 on: July 05, 2008, 04:22:04 PM
Because I'm lazy, I didn't seek out actual information on Mr. Beagle, and as a result, I had the impression - based on my exposure to the tropes of "The Last Unicorn" and the tone and style of "Come Lady Death" - that he was more of a Tolkein-era writer.  This was reinforced by the awe with which the editors have evinced when referring to Mr. Beagle.  He does come from the generation between my parents and grandparents, so he's not "young", but he is more modern and contemporary than I thought he was, and my expectations were tailored accordingly.

Because of this, his story-telling style hits my brain in a different way.  I started Barren's Dance expecting more of that drawing-room sensibility of Lady Death; I painted an internal picture of Gandalf as the narrator; I came at it with the presumptions of an English sensibility when I listened to his geographical descriptions.

Since I weighted my expectations with all of this baggage, the story felt lighter, more progressive, and less reliant on modern pop-culture to me.  For example, I didn't associate it with "Pokemon", because my mindset was back in the age before that garbage existed.  It felt very forward-thinking, since I was assuming it was written so long ago.

Of course, now I can understand that I was coming at it as if it were an old classic, and it makes me wonder: would some of you have been less put off if you had approached it in a different way?  We tend to brace ourselves when we know a story is "like" another story or genre; we expect a certain "something" when we are told that something is cyberpunk or steampunk, and something else when we are told that something is sci-fi versus fantasy.  This is part of the problem when people start bringing up the old "is it/isn't it" argument; expectations vary, and people feel cheated when those expectations aren't met.  (Or they feel overly enthusiastic, depending on what those expectations were!)

I could elaborate, but I've already babbled on too long, and I'm informed it is now lunchtime.  So....

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
Reply #35 on: July 07, 2008, 01:45:18 AM
I liked this one for what it was worth. I was a little disappointed that the narrator did not turn out to be the wizard talking to his 'acquisition' of a little white-furred rodent on a leash.

Fine just the same, though I'd love for the intros to be much, much shorter.


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 13
Reply #36 on: July 13, 2008, 09:39:46 PM
I gave up halfway through. This could have been any old story about some guy who fancies another blokes wife, and is strong enough to try to force her away, but is resisted by husband and animals. This just happened to be about a wizard. Maybe something happened later that made the wizard bit relevant, but I'll never find out.


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 772
  • Fun will now commence.
Reply #37 on: July 19, 2008, 03:33:10 AM
I was somewhat disappointed by the story. I felt cheated by the ending, given that there was very little hint of the Shookrees' abilities by way of setup.
At the beginning I thought they were some kind of horse-like creature (which grazed in herds on the Barrens), but I had to keep revising my mental image of them, making them smaller and smaller as it went on.

About evil/not evil wizards:
Quote from: Oscar Wilde
It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
He was definitely tedious.

I feed The Pod.
("planish" rhymes with "vanish")


  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #38 on: January 08, 2010, 04:13:23 PM
I didn't make it all the way through this one.  Way too much telling, without telling me anything that was particularly interesting.  It seemed to be relying on dancing as a medium for magic as its hook, which would be cool if I hadn't already seen it elsewhere.  One of my first exposures to fantasy was Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Death Gate Cycle, in which an entire race of people (the Sartans) performs magic by forming runes on the ground with their dancing.