Author Topic: PC047 Giant Episode: Bright Waters  (Read 18417 times)


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on: April 08, 2009, 01:48:34 PM
PC047 Giant Episode: Bright Waters

by John Brown.
Read by Wilson Fowlie.

He looked at their leg tattoos. Mohawk. One of the Iroquois tribes. Well, he couldn’t kill them then.

Not that he’d want to. They were, after all, just boys. Still, Indian boys weren’t like the lads back in Rotterdam. It had been small Abenaki lads, just like these, that tried to take his scalp the first year as a trapper. He’d killed them all with the blood flowing down the side of his face and a chunk of his scalp flapping about like a wig.

And so he’d need to be ready. Hunting knives hung from the belts at their waists. But none carried a war club. Only one held a bow.

Jan sneaked back the way he had come and then up and around in front of them so that the boys would walk right up the trail into him. The path bent around a hill where the river willow grew thick. He waited for them there.

He withdrew rope and a knife from his pack. He couldn’t kill them, but he could tie them up and scare them into good Christian men.

Rated R. Contains some sex and some violence and some fun battle scenes.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


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Reply #1 on: April 08, 2009, 07:20:47 PM
This is a great story.  I must say this is one of the best PC has run.  I found myself engaged from the beginning to the end.  I could see the end a mile away, but it did not detract me from enjoying it. 

My only problem with the story is that the fantasy element, (a magic tattoo) was a little weak. 
Good job PC, another winner along the lines of Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge.


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Reply #2 on: April 08, 2009, 09:00:07 PM
Fabulous giant. Well read, well put together I saw the happily ever after ending and enjoyed the ride up to it. I sort of wished there had been better descriptions of the people that inhabited this tale, as they struck me as somehow diffrent then my "typical" image of native peoples of the same time period. The accents the narrator used threw me time and time again- but over all it was well read.

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Reply #3 on: April 09, 2009, 03:51:27 AM
I found this delightful. Just a little dash of fantasy to it. Most of the delight for me was just the sweet love story between this awkward guy and the woman.

I didnt find the fantasy element weak, personally.. I did find it sort of an extra, though. It certainly is NOT the centerpoint of the story.. that was the relationship that developed between this guy and the woman, which obviously wasn't influenced by the magic at all.

Which was the whole point.


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Reply #4 on: April 09, 2009, 12:18:02 PM
A very enjoyable story.

The only things I could say against it:

* The reader, I think, used TOO many different voices. The one for Lancaster, in particular, jolted me out of the narrative.
* Was it already time for another Giant Episode?
* The author used "and then he/and then she" way too many times.

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Reply #5 on: April 09, 2009, 02:13:18 PM
Excellent. I enjoyed it! I think this is the best podcastle yet.

I do agree, the fantasy element was quite weak. still enjoyable. I'm glad it was published.

I also liked how the religious elements were handled. very subtle, very nice that they weren't the point, just character traits.

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Reply #6 on: April 09, 2009, 05:23:54 PM
  Getting the beating a dead horse out of the way first. Osaka's first comment upon the end of the episode was "What was fantasy about that?". I reminded her of the tattoo, and then had to explain to her again what it was supposed to do. So yeah, the "fantasy" in this is a bit iffy, but it was still a great story, and certainly a better one than the last Giant.

  I liked the reading alot, and really enjoyed the way the battle scene was written and read. I didn't feel the accents were over-done, but that they differentiated the character's nicely. I wouldn't mind hearing more stories read by Mr. Fowlie.

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Reply #7 on: April 10, 2009, 06:58:17 PM
Not a bad story, and very well read. But for a large part of the story I was just pissed off that once again there is so much emphasis given to physical appearances.

Why is it such an important trope of the genre? why is it so often that in fantasy stories the protagonist can only find his/her love after undergoing some magical improvement, be it a love potion, an elixir to make them more beautiful or make others see their inner beauty or make them younger or thinner or in some way overcome their ugliness by doing great deeds or something of the sort.

Obviously, in this story the point was that the main character finds his love in the end not because she is magically tricked into thinking he is more attractive than he really is (although I don't think we ever find out she is immune to the magic of the tattoo), but because she is just as much an outsider in society and awkward as he is and they get along very well, etc etc. .... Ok, fine. But that does not change the fact that people in their environment seem  to put a lot of emphasis on physical appearances, otherwise he would not have been given the tattoo in the first place. It is just getting a bit annoying to see it being such a driving factor in the genre that I am starting to resent it a bit.


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Reply #8 on: April 13, 2009, 02:13:44 PM
Really well researched (seemingly, since I don't know much about the history) and such an interesting combination of cultures intermingling. I agree that it didn't feel like fantasy, but I'm not sure I really care about that. 


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Reply #9 on: April 14, 2009, 09:03:35 PM
Gets a thumbs up from me.  And I think it easily qualifies as fantasy.  The magical element was important - actually pretty central - to the story.  That it's just one element of fantasy made it stronger.  Adding Iroquois Werewolves or something would have diluted the effect. 

And I like any story that treats Native Americans in a fair and interesting fashion without resorting to turning the European settlers into round eyed devils. 


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Reply #10 on: April 15, 2009, 03:40:02 PM
I don't have a lot to add except that I really loved this one. More colonial American fantasy, I say.


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Reply #11 on: April 16, 2009, 03:41:39 PM


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Reply #12 on: April 16, 2009, 04:08:02 PM
I enjoyed the story, but the i felt the fantasy element was so weak as to be near nonexistent. There wasn't anything to suggest to me that the tattoo actually worked on Whatsername. I prefer to think that it didn't; so if that's the case, then the only fantastic part of the story was that it seemed to work on other women he had no interest in. To me, the whole tattoo thing could have been taken out completely and the story wouldn't have gained or lost anything. So, while i enjoyed it, the strong support from everyone else makes me worry that we'll get more stories that can barely be defined as fantasy. While i certainly don't mind it if it's a good story, i'd prefer it not be overdone.

For what it's worth, i feel like this first year of Podcastle has spanned the genre quite nicely (this one included)!


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Reply #13 on: April 16, 2009, 05:43:47 PM
I liked this one.  But I'm partial to historicals (not just the ones in feudal Japan, although they are a favorite).

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Reply #14 on: April 16, 2009, 06:13:13 PM
Uh-oh, stePH and I both liked this one.  Is that a bad thing?

Now that I have a little time, I'd like to say more than just, "Fabulous".

This story could have gone on for another hour and I wouldn't have minded.  The ending was a little abrupt, but I don't think that hurt the story at all.  I enjoyed Jan and his awkwardness with polite society.  Here is a man who is confident in his abilities, but take him out of his element and he's nervous and ruffled.  I don't think he would have cared what anyone else thought about him if not for the fact that he was interested in Shannon.

This and Moon Viewing are why I like Giants, and 2 of the top 5 stories PC has run.


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Reply #15 on: April 17, 2009, 12:53:41 AM
Forgot to mention, mine cut off at the end, right in the middle of the closing quote.

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Reply #16 on: April 18, 2009, 10:05:15 AM
Not much to add here. Fascinating story, interesting, multi-dimensional characters and cultural treatments, and an overall excellent treatment of a rarely-used setting.


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Reply #17 on: April 18, 2009, 02:22:35 PM
I really liked this story. It flowed well, and the voice work was really great!  The setting was interesting and detailed enough.  If I were going to have to say there was a 'downside' the story was that the description of the fighting scenes got pretty bloody.  But, gee, let's was a BATTLE!

Well done.

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Reply #18 on: April 18, 2009, 04:58:32 PM
I was a fan of Jan's super-intricate Medieval-style cursing. "By Prince Williams' beard!" hee hee.

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Reply #19 on: April 25, 2009, 05:33:00 PM
While it was nice to have a story in which something happened for once it didn't really keep my attention. I listened to it after lunch and fell asleep for the second third of the story and, on waking up, it didn't really sound like I'd missed anything.


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Reply #20 on: May 01, 2009, 07:43:21 PM
I have a slight historical quibble about this.  I'm pretty darn sure (though I'm not about to listen to the whole thing again to correct my memory on it) that the protagonist at one point referred to a king of the Netherlands, when he was discussing or thinking about the cession of New Netherland to England.  The Netherlands didn't have a king until after 1800, well after that happened.  Before then, it was ruled by either the Stadtholder or some representative form of government.  The entity which finally ceded New Netherland to England was the States-General, a representative form of government.

I know, minor, but it stuck in my head when I listened to the story.  One could argue that it's set in a different history, but this was the only divergence I noticed from our world's history.

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Reply #21 on: May 01, 2009, 09:40:18 PM
I have a slight historical quibble about this.  I'm pretty darn sure (though I'm not about to listen to the whole thing again to correct my memory on it) that the protagonist at one point referred to a king of the Netherlands, when he was discussing or thinking about the cession of New Netherland to England.  The Netherlands didn't have a king until after 1800, well after that happened.  Before then, it was ruled by either the Stadtholder or some representative form of government.  The entity which finally ceded New Netherland to England was the States-General, a representative form of government.

You piqued my interest, so I looked this up.

From 1689 to 1702, William III was not only Stadtholder of the Netherlands, but also King William III of England, so the author may have been referring to that.

However, the Netherlands relinquished New Amsterdam (in exchange for Suriname) in 1674, at which time it was renamed New York.  At that time, William had only been Stadtholder for about 2 years and wasn't yet king.

However, he would eventually become king.  Someone referring to him once he did - even referring to an event that occurred before taking the crown - might refer to him with that title.  (Though he wasn't the protagonist's king!)

More to the point: since the story explicitly takes place in 1718 - 34 years later! - I'm not sure why Jan (the protagonist) "still could not bring himself to call it York."

He must be quite old (particularly for that period in history).  No wonder Woman With Turtle Eyes ran away!

I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he said, "Yeah, but in our world, Native Americans didn't have magic powers, either, so maybe it's not ours."  That seems more likely.  :)

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Reply #22 on: May 03, 2009, 09:58:08 PM
So, I listened pretty raptly, wondering about the resolution of things.

And then the story ends, and I'm left hanging. Am I just supposed to assume that things worked out, or that the tattoo had no effect, or something else?

that sort of ending is more suited to a miniature than a regular story, and certainly not a giant.

as opposed to Moon Viewing, where it wrapped everything up, didn't leave me wondering, and was quite satisfying.


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Reply #23 on: May 07, 2009, 02:14:53 AM
These are all good questions.

Jan doesn't call it "York" because there is still a bit of rivalry between the English and Dutch. I wanted to capture the feel of an early America characterized by many different and pronounced ethnicities. I just love that about early America. It was so different from what we have today. Besides, 34 years is not so long. How many years did it take for "Yankeee" to disappear from general usage in the South? I imagined a Dutchman who is not on the forefront of change with a lot of pride. My main purpose was to hint at the continuing frictions between Dutch, English, French, Abenaki, Mohawk, etc.

Jan calls him "King" because it's a higher and more recent title. The usage would be the same if Colin Powell were to become president. Very few would refer to him after that as "General Powell." Of course, there are times when "General Powell" would be appropriate. No, he wasn't ever Jan's king, but he was king over the English. And that was enough. :)

As for the ending. Know that the original manuscript ran for one more page than what you have here. I've posted below. It does make the resolution more clear. However, the editor for the first publication thought it was redundant. I think it's a matter of taste. I go back and forth between the two myself.


"I believe that our Lord rains his gifts on the heathen as well as the just." She reached for the patch again.

This time he let her move it aside.


"See," she said. "No harm done." Then she touched it. "It's fading."

He looked down at her. Deep inside he could feel this was an opportunity that would not come again. "I've got a fine green dress in my log house," he said. "I think it might suit you."

"I've never had a man offer me a dress. I don't know that anyone but a husband should offer such things."

"You're probably right about that." Jan didn't know how to say what he wanted to, but he knew he must say something. "Would you like the dress? You can try it on for a while and see if it's comfortable."

She looked him in the eyes. "I'm not a house keeper," she said. "I don't own even one serving set."

"I eat out of a wooden bowl," he said.

Then he took her hand in his good one. What did he have to lose? He raised it to his mouth and gently kissed it. "I'm not a polished suitor," he said.

She smiled, and the warmth in her face filled him with light.

"As long as I can keep my corn stick around," she said, "I think you'll do."
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 02:35:07 AM by JohnBrown »


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Reply #24 on: May 07, 2009, 02:41:55 AM
Thanks for popping in!

I can see going either way with the ending.

I was one of the gushers, so I'll stop here.