Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smokestacks Like the Arms of Gods

Short Story by Ben Burgis
PodCastle's First Ever Original Story! Read by Ben Phillips

In a fantasy world where one big corporation owns everything, maintains an army, fights wars against goblins, and keeps its Irish-American-named workers from revolting by employing vampire security guards, a few steel workers organize a labor union.

Ben Philips does another great job of narrating in this one, and it somehow avoids the feeling of being too obviously just real life with generic fantasy elements added to it. Which was the most obnoxious thing about Narrative of a Beast's Life. While this is just labor unions with magic and vampires and goblins, the world building leaves a bit more unsaid, and by implication gives a grander scale to things.

The steel workers are taken seriously enough that the whole thing doesn't come off as hackneyed as it might have had the vampires been used for parody. This is a serious tale, not a Pratchett or Pratt wannabe. Which is good, because I frankly don't think Burgis could compete in that arena. My main criticism is that the whole thing was a bit obvious, and particularly, while I liked the very ending, it was easy to see coming as soon you knew what was going to happen to the guys. It was a great, but obvious, ending to a good, but obvious, story. The best part of the story was probably the goblin war, but that was all tangential to the tale being told, and was rightly kept to a minimum.

Still a good story with some nice imagery to live up to the title, and a great ending. 3.5 out of 5 steel factory foremen have green blood running through their veins.

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