Author Topic: PC098: Sun’s East, Moon’s West  (Read 5482 times)


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on: April 06, 2010, 03:08:07 PM
PodCastle 98: Sun’s East, Moon’s West

by Merrie Haskell.
Read by M.K. Hobson.
Originally appeared in Electric Velocipede.

I shot the sparrow because I was starving. Though truthfully, I was aiming at a pheasant; the silver snow and the silver birches played tricks with the light, and as if by magic, pheasant turned into sparrow.

When I saw what my arrow had done, I cried with empty eyes, too dry to make tears. The sparrow wouldn’t amount to a mouthful of grotty bones–and even a starving woman knows songbirds are sacred to at least one goddess.

My knees plowed into the snow beside the small creature. “How, how, how?” I fretted. “How did you become a sparrow, pheasant?” The bird did not answer, but when I reached to remove the arrow piercing its body, the accusatory glare of a beadish eye stopped me. A trickle of blood slid from its nares, and the bright eye closed.

“Do not be dead!” I cried. “I would give anything for you not to be dead.”

And while the breath-mist of this rash statement still hung in the air, a bear-god waddled out of the forest, lumbering and large.

The bear-god said: “The sparrow will not die, if you live as my wife for a year and a day.”

I licked my lips, tasting the clear, salty snot that comes of crying, and said, “I already have a husband.”

The bear-god regarded me with placid eyes. “And I already have a wife.”

I stared at him, the dying sparrow lying in a bloody lump between us, struggling to breathe.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, anything.”

Rated R for cross-species connubial arrangements.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 01:15:41 PM by Heradel »

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Reply #1 on: April 06, 2010, 04:19:30 PM
I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this story was the sense of wit underlying the tale. While it wasn't overtly humorous aka 'Another End of the Empire,' there were amusing details here and there that made me grin. Like Pheasant, the fire-breathing dragonsparrow. Best pet ever - I want one! :p I

I do think its the underlying wit that makes this more than just a mishmash of various tales. Rather, its a mishmash, but one that's tongue-in-cheek. A fun listen!


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Reply #2 on: April 07, 2010, 02:59:19 PM
This was a delight to listen to. It had just enough irreverent meta-humor to keep me smiling while not abandoning story and narrative and character and world. A good fairy tale well-told.

And where do I get me a fire-breathing sparrow?

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Reply #3 on: April 08, 2010, 05:36:58 AM
My sister had this book.  Because it was given to her and not to me, my six-year-old brain assumed it was a "girl's story."

This was a fun retelling, and I'm thankful that we didn't have the rapidly-becoming-a-stereotype-in-its-own-right "Strong Woman Makes Her Own Path" ending as such.  Yes, she makes her own path, but she doesn't have to spurn love, even the love of an imperfect and possibly rather chauvinistic man.  I was nervous for a bit there that she'd go all Fantasy World Single Mom at us.

(P.S. - Now find a retelling of the book *I* got as a present at the same time my sister got "EotS, WotM," i.e. "Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like."  I loved that book to pieces.)


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Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 12:55:27 PM
I liked the story for what it was: a somewhat-light tale that mashes together dozens of fairy-tale tropes. I wasn't such a fan of the trope of "female narrator who somehow handles all adversity without ever being affected by it in such a way that she loses sight of her goal", but then, that's a fairy-tale trope too. I also think it went on a tad too long. Not my favorite PC, but a good one.

The reading was fine.

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Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 01:26:41 PM
Not too bad. 

To echo some comments, the unique parts of the story, like Pheasant, were enough to keep me listening past the cliches.  And as scattercat said I'm glad it didn't turn into Fantasy World Single Mom plot.

So, not bad.


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Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 01:27:38 PM
Ooh, only 2 weeks til 100!  I wonder what memorable story our fine editors have tracked down?


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Reply #7 on: April 10, 2010, 01:52:25 AM
One of my personal fantasies has always been to marry an enchanted bear-prince. Seriously.


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Reply #8 on: April 10, 2010, 12:50:38 PM
One of my personal fantasies has always been to marry an enchanted bear-prince. Seriously.


this is another one i truly enjoyed, despite the cliches or because of them I'm not sure.  It had me giggling often and I found myself really caring about what happened to the characters.  Picturing the combat scene between the Troll Princess and our pregnant narrator was tremendous fun.  I do wish we knew how she was able to spin straw into gold though.  Can that be learned?  I have some straw out back...


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Reply #9 on: April 10, 2010, 08:43:38 PM
Fantastic! The wit and joy managed somehow to coexist in a dark "adult" world, the narrator was good, and the plot kept going instead of stumbling. Gorgeous story, I'd love more like this.

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Reply #10 on: April 19, 2010, 08:15:03 PM
I thought this was a fun story.  It played on the typical fantasy elements without making mockery or satire he whole point of it.  Ms. Haskell used those elements as a tool for building a unique and engaing story.  I don't think the "bear sex" scenes were superfluous, but were a natural part of the narrative.  Contrast that with the less satisfying "I'll Give In" which provided little plot and seemed to be written in order to feature the "minotaur sex" scene.  The whole point of this story was not the sex, but the relationship and its bearing on the plot.  Well done.

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Reply #11 on: April 25, 2010, 12:05:22 AM
Hee.  Fairy tales are one of my dear loves, and seeing them handled with this kind of wit and grace is especially fun.  (My favorite lines were the "traditional headgear" crack and the "Yes, I'm the harlot" response.)

I felt the story lagged just a little bit during the quest period, in between the bear vanishing and the arrival at Sun's East, Moon's West, but on the whole I enjoyed all the little touches enough that the lagging was only a minor flaw.