Author Topic: PC155: Tending The Mori Birds  (Read 8121 times)

Ocicat

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on: May 03, 2011, 07:44:01 AM
PodCastle 155: Tending The Mori Birds

by Caroline M. Yoachim

Read by Rajan Khanna


Originally Published in Fantasy Magazine (Read the story here)

Prem sucked in just enough air to mumble curses as he exhaled.  Every day it was harder and harder to force his tired old body up the stairs.  He was grateful for the cool breeze when he finally reached the roof.  Orange light from the setting sun spilled through the railing, casting sideways shadows like prison bars on the dusty ground.  A Mori bird waited for him on the railing, its claws wrapped around the wood.  The dying light accentuated the patch of red feathers at the base of its slender neck, the only color on an otherwise black bird.  A bloody-throated Mori bird, harbinger of death.  It smelled like licorice.

From the wire cages to his right, other Mori birds cooed to welcome their returning friend.  Prem approached the bird and picked it up. The black feathers had absorbed the day’s light and were warm in his hands.  A folded slip of paper was tied to the bird’s leg.  It held only a name, Kurec.


Rated PG: Contains Death
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 07:46:24 AM by Ocicat »



Listener

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Reply #1 on: May 03, 2011, 12:16:20 PM
I don't think the plot held anything we haven't heard before -- as is generally wont to happen with shorter stories, because if they're not just set-pieces then IMO they depend upon the twist ending -- but the mori birds hint at a larger world with a very intriguing mythology, and that kept me interested. I'm curious as to what other strange and odd fauna this world has to offer.

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HomespunDreamer

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Reply #2 on: May 04, 2011, 12:36:32 AM
Wow, just wow, such a beautiful peaceful ending. I don't quite agree with the philosophy, but when that's all I have to say against a story-- it's gotta be pretty well nigh perfect.

I love stories that leave me replaying the ending for several minutes afterwards, this was one. Very nice.



kibitzer

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Reply #3 on: May 04, 2011, 09:33:47 AM
Only "bad" thing about this -- too short. The ending reminds me of a ghost story I read when I was... what... 15? Similar concept but not with birds -- chilled me to my young bones. Lovely.


mrsmouse

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Reply #4 on: May 04, 2011, 12:23:00 PM
Yesterday I had my dog put to sleep. She was in constant pain with no hope of getting better, and so tired.
Today this story came into my life. There were two phrases that particularly resonated...

"They're waiting." and "When you're ready."

Thank you for writing this. It was a kindness to think that my dog might have been just waiting to not be tired and in so much pain, waiting patiently for us to be ready to let her go.



Caroline M Yoachim

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Reply #5 on: May 04, 2011, 04:40:57 PM
Thanks, everyone, for the kind comments.  Rajan Khanna did a fantastic job with the reading, and this story has always been a particular favorite of mine.

Mrsmouse, I'm glad the story came to you at a time when it could help.  So sorry for your loss.



danooli

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Reply #6 on: May 04, 2011, 09:05:46 PM
Delightful.  Well...as delightful as a story about death can be....

I do wonder what the birds do whilst they wait for the names to be read  ???  ;D



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Reply #7 on: May 06, 2011, 01:35:15 PM
Delightful.  Well...as delightful as a story about death can be....

I do wonder what the birds do whilst they wait for the names to be read  ???  ;D
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ElectricPaladin

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Reply #8 on: May 06, 2011, 03:17:07 PM
I enjoyed listening to this one, but I don't think it's going to stick with me. It was interesting, but there wasn't a lot to it. I'm also young, yet (28 is still young, right?), so stories about mortality don't always get to me. In any case, I deeply enjoyed the idea of the Mori Birds and the customs their society had built around them. I also enjoyed the non-Western fantasy aspect. I don't know exactly which region (or regions) the author was aiming at, but she did a good job of evoking a fascinating culture that I don't already know.

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Devoted135

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Reply #9 on: May 10, 2011, 03:49:02 PM
I liked the concept of this one, and thought the execution was quite good as well. In a short space of time I cared for the MC and was sympathetic to both him and his obsession-from-afar for his neighbor.



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Reply #10 on: May 11, 2011, 12:47:18 AM
Interesting premise, but the ending was obvious from the first paragraph. This isn't always a bad thing, but I felt like the protagonist wasn't very bright for not seeing it coming. Not a serious flaw, but a longer version that explores the setting a little more and doesn't telegraph the ending as much might be nice.

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kibitzer

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Reply #11 on: May 11, 2011, 02:39:43 AM
...I felt like the protagonist wasn't very bright for not seeing it coming.

I see what you're saying but my feeling was he was actively avoiding thinking of that kind of issue. He didn't even want to be the mori bird keeper to start with so perhaps he's always put off thinking of himself.


Talia

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Reply #12 on: May 11, 2011, 03:35:41 AM
...I felt like the protagonist wasn't very bright for not seeing it coming.

I see what you're saying but my feeling was he was actively avoiding thinking of that kind of issue. He didn't even want to be the mori bird keeper to start with so perhaps he's always put off thinking of himself.

Denial or suppression are pretty common defense mechanisms in my experience.



iamafish

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Reply #13 on: May 11, 2011, 12:31:10 PM
really enjoyable. Short, simple, bitter-sweet. I loved the melancholy of the ending. The very idea of the mori-birds was really great and i loved how the concept was thought through so that it felt very natural in the world. I really thought the reading of this one brought home the very understated and melancholy way in which this story was. Good work all round.


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Reply #14 on: May 13, 2011, 02:24:42 PM
Enjoyable, with a wonderful setting.  I knew where it was going, but enjoyed the trip.

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Reply #15 on: May 18, 2011, 01:00:39 AM
This was a great story.  A sad and fantastic ending.  What more could you ask from a great short story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.



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Reply #16 on: May 25, 2011, 11:14:25 PM
I enjoyed this story, but the ending was sadly predictable. I really like the idea that everyone has a bird they're given at birth and when that bird "come home" that is the end of each person's life. I love the terrible idea of the man struggling with his responsibility of "killing" someone like his father, and while he deliberated people suffered.

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Reply #17 on: June 16, 2011, 04:55:06 PM
Very nice. I was on the opposite side of Palmer and did not see the ending coming. I thought it would be one of the family members he sent away. I will echo other comments in that it almost felt too short. I wanted to hear more about this interesting land. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt, no...it was the right length. Well done!

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FireTurtle

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Reply #18 on: June 22, 2011, 06:34:07 PM
Charming, absolutely charming! Loved this little tale. I often care for people who are nearing the end of their days. This story really reflected my own ideas about the peaceful surrender that can be found at the end of life. A "good death" is as hard to find as a "good life". Not only was the message oddly comforting, but the writing was exceptional. I genuinely cared for the MC and his life-path and, like LaShawn, I at first felt the story was too short, but then realized that it was one of those rare Goldilocks stories. Just right.

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Reply #19 on: August 22, 2011, 11:18:06 PM
Nice concise story. I will join the minority on not seeing the ending coming, but it's clear on a second listen that her arrival is to take over the job of Tender, which I found nicely subtle on the first listen.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #20 on: October 20, 2011, 01:46:36 PM
A very neat idea.  I could certainly relate to the protagonist, which goes a long way toward me liking a story.  I liked the way that the circumstances set the neighbor up as his successor in the Bird tending business.  She even gets to practice a little bit before it's hist turn to go.

I think I would've liked the story better if there had been some attempt to change the status quo.  Apparently this is the way the world has always been, and will continue to be, so there wasn't a great deal of tension for me.  It seems that there's enough evidence that this system works, that reading the name is tied with the moment of death.  But since there was no challenging of the system in the story, my mind is more occupied with testing how the system works, by finding out what happens if:
--A person is never named.
--A person is named, but their name is not given to a Mori bird.
--The name slip is burned before being read
--Someone illiterate is the only one to see the name
--The wrong name is written on a slip

As it was, it was a well-written bittersweet little tale about death and unrequited love, but I don't think it will linger in my mind as long as it would have if there had been something to raise the tension.