Author Topic: EP517: Budo  (Read 4617 times)


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on: January 22, 2016, 03:00:02 PM
EP517: Budo

By Tade Thompson

read by Suyi Davies Okungbowa


“Being desirous, on the other hand, to obviate the misunderstanding and disputes which might in future arise from new acts of occupation (prises de possession) on the coast of Africa; and concerned, at the same time, as to the means of furthering the moral and material well-being of the native populations;”

General Act of the Berlin Conference on West Africa,
26 February 1885


There is a story told in my village about the man who fell from the sky. The British also tell this tale in their history books, but it is a mere paragraph, and they invert the details.

In October 1884 I was a Yoruba translator for a British trading outpost. This man from the sky, we called him Budo. He was in the custody of the English, who questioned him. They tortured him with heat and with cold and with the blade, but they did not know what answers would satisfy. I know this because I carried their words to him, and his silence back to them. His manner was mild and deferent at all times, but they held him in isolation. For good reason they considered him dangerous. I will explain this later.

One afternoon while most of the English were sleeping a white man arrived at the gate demanding admission. One of the Sikh sentries told me he was a scout, and appeared bruised, half-naked and exhausted. He was too out of breath to speak, although he seemed keen to give his report. Kenton, the NCO of the military contingent, asked one of my brothers to bring water while he soothed the scout. The man took two gulps, splashed some on his face, then looked up at Kenton. He said one word.


The scout vomited over the floor.

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!


  • Palmer
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Reply #1 on: January 24, 2016, 11:25:06 PM
I liked this a whole lot.  I missed the intro where it mentioned the author writes steampunk, so I was trying to figure out whether Budo was a time traveler at first. I enjoyed the directness of the prose and the reading really added to it.  I wonder if there are more stories set in this world.


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Reply #2 on: January 29, 2016, 10:24:37 PM
I enjoyed this as well, despite having the exact same problem as the first commenter in missing the Steam Punk connection. Nonetheless, it was absolutely enjoyable in an of itself. Not particularly deep, but entertaining. I AM EXTREMELY GLAD that Budo's love interest (sorry I don't have the next at hand) escaped and there was no rapey/female in jeopardy stuff, just the implication that she was a badass in her own right.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


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Reply #3 on: February 01, 2016, 03:53:25 PM
I didn't get the steampunk implication either.

I thought the story was fine, but was one of those that my mind kind of kept wandering away from as I listened.  Often I don't have a clear idea why my mind wanders with a particular story.  It may have just been that this had nothing to do with the story but more to do with what my mind was wandering to.  But I don't have a super concrete opinion about the story as a result.


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Reply #4 on: February 02, 2016, 06:14:46 AM
Now that's what I call steampunk. I caught the mention of steampunk in the intro which came in very useful.

I was glad Budo's girlfriend escaped with him at the end but what happened to her six children . . . ?


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Reply #5 on: February 04, 2016, 10:30:06 AM
This story was interesting, but I had to pause it and yell after the British soldier asked the translator not to hate him, because he's human, he has a wife and child back home, and I was going OH REALLY, WHAT ABOUT THE WIVES AND CHILDREN YOU SOLDIERS MASSACRED IN THE VILLAGE WHEN IT RESISTED SLAVERY (I mean "labor conscription") -- WERE THEY HUMAN TOO? HUH?
But I respected that the translator let that pass without comment, because, really, what CAN you say to someone as blinkered as that?
Anyway, I appreciated the perspective of the story, and I'm glad that at least a couple of the characters got a happy ending out of it.


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Reply #6 on: February 04, 2016, 02:34:03 PM
Not to mention, that soldier's answer would have been "no." The translator would know it's not a point worth raising with someone who exists on a plane inhabited by only their own ego.

Chairman Goodchild

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Reply #7 on: February 09, 2016, 08:17:40 AM
Good story.  I don't usually like science fiction mixed into historical drama, but this was an unusual take from an unusual perspective, and it managed to grab my interest despite my expectations. 

There was a problem with the audio quality with this one which was a bit distracting, but nothing I couldn't listen around. 


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Reply #8 on: February 13, 2016, 08:31:15 AM
I also enjoyed the story. The audio quality got me worried in the beginning, but I didn't notice it after a while.


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Reply #9 on: February 19, 2016, 05:44:58 AM
Like others, I enjoyed this story.  However, the audio either quality or narrator, (or some mix thereof), made me struggle to stay tuned in and focused on the story.  I get that it's told from the perspective of a native whose learned English as a second language, but maybe it felt like it could have been a better recording.  I think that would have made it better, to feel more audibly understandable.

On the other hand, that could have changed the whole feeling of the piece.

Failure is an event, not a person.


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Reply #10 on: February 28, 2016, 04:19:28 PM
I liked this one, though in more of a "I respect the quality" than in a "it was fun" sort of way. I felt extremely bad for the time traveler who now appears to be stuck centuries before his time. And of course the horrors of colonialism/slavery were horrific.


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Reply #11 on: November 14, 2017, 04:23:22 PM
So, I guess I am the only one who thought that Budo was an alien? Okay, then.
That said, I did enjoy the story. The best part was the viewpoint of the colonized. That was fairly novel for me. The rest of the story was mostly a vehicle for that perspective IMHO, but in that role it did very well.