Author Topic: PC020: Cup and Table  (Read 46785 times)

stePH

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Reply #50 on: August 20, 2008, 03:19:27 AM
I do have to say that  I was really lukewarm about this story until the end.  I liked how everyone who wanted to find the cup for his or his own purposes didn't get to it.  Instead, the one person who had no idea what he wanted out of God found it and the only thing he could think of was to ask God to stay.  I loved that ending. 

That reminds me of the Revolutionary Girl Utena manga (and to a lesser extent, the anime.)  All those who wanted to win the Rose Bride ultimately failed; Utena only wanted to set her free, and succeeded.

I think I like the end of this story a little better now.

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JoeFitz

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Reply #51 on: August 24, 2008, 09:12:30 PM
A little jarring for a story in audio format but fairly well played and enjoyable.

I'm happiest with an ambiguous reading of the ending - as in Sigmund was simply getting ready to ask his real question or command.

Frankly, however, the Arthurian reading did positively zero for my enjoyment of the story. It struck me as an exercise for literary analysts. Sometimes, Sigmund, a cigar is just a cigar. [Obtuse mixing intentional]




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Reply #52 on: August 28, 2008, 12:42:43 AM
I liked this one a lot.  Then again, that's not saying much.  After "Impossible Dreams," all you have to say is Tim Pratt, and I'm there. 

I liked this one a lot too, but for me it's the opposite reaction.  After "Impossible Dreams" all you have to say is Tim Pratt and I groan and whimper.  Still, this story was awesome on a staggering number of levels, and very satisfying.  So I guess I can upgrade Tim Pratt from "God no, not again, please, someone help me" to "Damn he's either going to hit it out of the park or make me want to claw my eyes out.  Wonder which it will be this time?"

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Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #53 on: August 28, 2008, 12:49:57 AM
Quote
So I guess I can upgrade Tim Pratt from "God no, not again, please, someone help me" to "Damn he's either going to hit it out of the park or make me want to claw my eyes out.  Wonder which it will be this time?"

Impossible Dreams isn't my cup of tea either (I read it in Asimov's when it was initially published, and was not wowed. Later, when I found out it was a Hugo winner, I was confused). I strongly recommend you pick up Pratt's collection HART & BOOT. He has a lot of strong work; he's extremely good at plotting and writing stories that are compelling and neatly written, while grabbing and keeping the attention. I think he's an extremely accomplished storyteller.



Windup

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Reply #54 on: August 29, 2008, 09:29:48 PM

This was awesome, especially the end.  I don't have much to add to what's already been said, but I do have a question: Is the world we're living in the original timeline of the story, or the new one created when God stays?

I also throughly enjoyed the intro on this one.  I've geeked out a bit on the Arthur stories a bit in my time -- among other things, I've performed a version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Tennyson's Sir Galahad from memory on stage. (And yes, I realize those are both very late additions to the story collection -- I had audience accessability to consider.) When I last left the discussion over the origins of the Arthur tales, the exact origin of Le Morte D'Arthur was unknown, or at least highly debateable.  The sources I remember all allowed for the possibility that Mallory's self-description of "translating a French book" was correct, but at that time, no one had identified the original text.  Is that a change in the last 20 years or so?

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hautdesert

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Reply #55 on: August 29, 2008, 09:54:18 PM
  The sources I remember all allowed for the possibility that Mallory's self-description of "translating a French book" was correct, but at that time, no one had identified the original text.  Is that a change in the last 20 years or so?

Maybe?  I know there's some question about Chretien--did Malory claim he was translating?  Chretien certainly did claim he was working from an older book, one that's never been found--specifically, he made that claim for the Lancelot, saying, if I recall correctly, that his patron Marie de Champagne had given it to him.  I don't recall hearing that there was much controversy about Malory's source being (largely) the Lancelot-Grail (or, as it was called when I started reading about the subject, the Vulgate Lancelot).

SGGK is one of my faves, guess that's kind of obvious.



Windup

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Reply #56 on: August 29, 2008, 10:18:55 PM
  The sources I remember all allowed for the possibility that Mallory's self-description of "translating a French book" was correct, but at that time, no one had identified the original text.  Is that a change in the last 20 years or so?

Maybe?  I know there's some question about Chretien--did Malory claim he was translating? 


That's how I remember it, but it has been a while and I can't recall a specific source for that comment.

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hautdesert

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Reply #57 on: August 30, 2008, 02:36:14 PM
I don't know the text of Malory as well as I know Chretien.  I do know that the two Quests for the Holy Grail are close enough that I'd be surprised there was any sort of controversy over the Queste (the Lancelot Grail's Holy Grail volume) being the source for Malory's.  And the same with the Morte--the last book of the LG.

The wikipedia entry on Le Morte D'Arthur (Malory's, not the last volume of the LG) says he also used some English sources, and also added his own stuff.

The question of Chretien's source, on the other hand, is, I'm pretty sure, still an open question.

Eyes may glaze over, here, so, be warned.

Chretien claimed in the introduction to "Lancelot, or, The Knight of the Cart" that he had his story from Marie de Champagne.  I seem to recall he'd said she'd given him a book, but my translation, now I look at it, only says she'd given him the material.  At the time he was writing, it was fashionable to claim that you had some ancient source--it gave your work authenticity and weight, the idea of being "original" wasn't valued the same way we tend to these days.  So there's every possibility that there never was any such book.  Add in the fact that this happens to be the first appearance of Lancelot--Chretien obviously did a lot of inventing.

But Chretien didn't make the story up--it's the abduction of Guenevere, and there are at least two older versions.  Neither of them includes Lancelot, of course.  Either or both might have been Chretien's source, but there's no way of knowing for sure.  One is a Life of Gildas, and the other is actually only a carving in the wall--an archivolt, actually--of a church in Modena, so that one probably wasn't his source, exactly, but the artist obviously got the story from somewhere else.

Tanget time!  The Modena Archivolt has no sign of Lancelot--but Gawain is there.  And Gawain appears in Chretien's Lancelot.  He attempts a rescue, but fails. It strikes me as likely that Gawain was the original hero of the story Chretien was working from. Interestingly, the same is true in Chretien's Perceval--Gawain is also out looking.  Chretien never finished it, but in the later continuations and adapatations, including the version most commonly known now, Gawain fails.  Sometimes miserably.  There was a time when Gawain was the supreme knight, the model of courtesy and bravery, but as time went by he became less admired. In the Lancelot Grail, he's treated very badly.

(In a part of the intro that Steve cut, I said that most Arthurian enthusiasts I'd run into had a favorite knight.  Mine happens to be Sir Gawain.  So I have little patience with the way the author of the LG (and ultimately Malory) makes Gawain's courtesy a sign of corruption,  a sign that he's too bound up with the world to recognize spiritual things.  The Gawain of the LG is venal and vengeful, rather that courteous and brave.  It's done partly to make Galahad--the invention of the LG author--look better.)

No one's ever found a source for the Grail story, either, beyond Chretien.  But I wonder if he had a source, and if Gawain was originally the hero of that story?  There's no way of knowing, really, but it's interesting to ponder.  If the topic interests one, of course.  ;)





Hilary Moon Murphy

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Reply #58 on: September 03, 2008, 04:08:23 AM
Quote
So I guess I can upgrade Tim Pratt from "God no, not again, please, someone help me" to "Damn he's either going to hit it out of the park or make me want to claw my eyes out.  Wonder which it will be this time?"

Impossible Dreams isn't my cup of tea either (I read it in Asimov's when it was initially published, and was not wowed. Later, when I found out it was a Hugo winner, I was confused). I strongly recommend you pick up Pratt's collection HART & BOOT. He has a lot of strong work; he's extremely good at plotting and writing stories that are compelling and neatly written, while grabbing and keeping the attention. I think he's an extremely accomplished storyteller.

Oh my Goodness, I am laughing at the "Wonder which it will be this time?" comment.  I went to Clarion with Tim, and came to three conclusions:

1) He's annoyingly fast and prolific.  (At Clarion, he turned out most of his short stories in two hours or less.  It was... frightening.)   :D

2) He is not only an awesome writing God, but a darn sweet person too.

3) He is always pushing out of his comfort zone as a writer -- this means that he is continually experimenting.  While some of his experiments do not work for me, he has turned out some absolutely amazing stories that just warp with your head. 


This one warped with my head in the best way possible.  Thank you so much for running it.

Hmm


Ragtime

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Reply #59 on: September 05, 2008, 03:51:09 PM
With August a very busy month, I am way behind, but the wonder of the podcast is that it will sit on my Ipod forever, so . . .

Anyway, the title "Cup and Table."  Kind of odd since we are talking about the "Grail", and there is not actually a table of any significance involved.

The first thing I thought of was an old episode of the TV show "Good Times," in which the youngest son (Michael?) makes the argument that standardized tests are racist, and gives the example that poor, black people don't know the word "saucer" (because they don't own them), so get the question "cup and ______" wrong -- picking "cup and table" instead of "cup and saucer".

Yeah.  So that has absolutely nothing to do with the story at all, but I expected it to.  Because of the title, which, while I can see that it is clearly related to the subject matter, is kind of a weird title based on the contents.



wintermute

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Reply #60 on: September 05, 2008, 04:59:41 PM
Anyway, the title "Cup and Table."  Kind of odd since we are talking about the "Grail", and there is not actually a table of any significance involved.
Only if you don't count The Table, the organisation that all the characters work for, and is probably intended to be descended from the Round Table

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stePH

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Reply #61 on: September 05, 2008, 08:28:34 PM
Anyway, the title "Cup and Table."  Kind of odd since we are talking about the "Grail", and there is not actually a table of any significance involved.
Only if you don't count The Table, the organisation that all the characters work for, and is probably intended to be descended from the Round Table
Wht h sd.

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« Last Edit: September 05, 2008, 08:39:34 PM by Heradel »

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robertmarkbram

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Reply #62 on: December 28, 2008, 02:38:15 AM
Phage, witch, time traveller, golem made of evil and mystic librarians - what a team!

My favourite character was Carlsbad, with the line: "That's it then. Only the evil in YouTube is keeping me alive".

Brilliant!

Definitely my favourite PodCastle of all time, and in my top 5 of any Escape Artist story. The pure fancy of it all is astounding - for me, Tim Pratt captured the very essence of speculative fiction within a relatively modern day Earth setting in a way that pushed all the right buttons for me, just like a few others I remember: Pseudopod 045: Goon Job (by G.W. Thomas, read by Ben Phillips), Pseudopod 052: That Old Black Magic (by John R. Platt, read by George Hrab) and Pseudopod 77: Merlin’s Bane (by G.W. Thomas, read by Ben Phillips).

The Aurthurian roots of this story give it an edge that could easily place this story in Psuedopod as well, just like the three I mentioned above. The Table appears as an ancient, venerable secret and shrinking society that has essentially come to ruins. Its ultimate purpose having been waylaid by the vicissitudes brought on by the need for making money and the disparate goals of the latest members of the group.

I must say that Stephen's reading of this was good, but not right for this story. This story really wanted a little more production - I know, not a thing Escape Artist fiction goes for. Variant Frequencies would have done a top notch job on this story. I kept re-winding this story every ten minutes because the action was so fascinating, the characterisations so enthralling, that I needed to hear them again and again before going on, just so that I could try and fix in my mind what things would look and sound like. This part from Ray really set me off: "Ray popped a wasp into his mouth, chewed, swallowed ... his voice was accompanied by a deep angry buzz, a sort of wasp whispering that was in harmony with the normal workings of his voice box." The description of his voice was screaming out for a touch of special effect underneath. :)

And who wouldn't love to see Carlsbad in a movie with this scene? "And then he did what the Table always counted on him to do. He swelled. He stormed. He smashed. He tore Ray to pieces, and then he tore up the pieces." Wow!

Rob
:)
« Last Edit: December 28, 2008, 03:55:35 AM by robertmarkbram »



stePH

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Reply #63 on: December 29, 2008, 02:19:24 PM

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Heradel

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Reply #64 on: December 29, 2008, 03:13:46 PM
Wht h sd.

Mod:Disemvoweled

Why?  ???

One too many "What He Said"'s in a short period makes Heradel grab for the disemvoweler. A post to agree with someone is fine, but a bunch of three word ones in a spurt just starts to give the impression of cruft. Wasn't just you, this is just the one that put me over.

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


Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #65 on: January 08, 2009, 10:15:48 PM
I figured Heradel was also pointing out the limits of disemvoweling. I laughed when I saw it because the point of disemvoweling is supposed to be to make the post unintelligible, right? But it's a cinch to know what Steph meant. ;)

Best,
R



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Reply #66 on: December 31, 2009, 09:17:56 PM
Now that I've caught up on Podcastle, I can say that this is my favorite Podcastle episode yet.  It works on so many levels and I am simply in awe.  I'm sure much of the reason for it is that X-Men is my favorite superhero universe so teams of superpowered people gets me interested right away.  And then to make those people the less-than-moral knights of the modern Round Table--Fantastic!  Each of the characters was interesting and not yet cliched by superhero stories (which is hard to think up sometimes).  I especially enjoyed the phage's borrowed powers--where do I sign up?  Non-chronological tellings are often tricky, usually leaving my poor brain addled and confused, but this one was not only intelligible, but the ordering really enhanced the story, allowing past events to be played without resorting to a dozen flashbacks (they're not flashbacks if we experience them in the same order as the protag).  And, as if that all wasn't enough, then the ending just had me floored.  Okay, I didn't understand the import of his words the first time through, and had to rewind and listen again, but THEN it floored me. 

Epic win!



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Reply #67 on: January 04, 2010, 12:20:19 PM
This made #1 on my list of Best of Podcastle stories on my new post.  :)

http://www.diabolicalplots.com/?p=990



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Reply #68 on: October 06, 2014, 08:49:33 PM