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Author Topic: EP109: Squonk the Apprentice  (Read 12664 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: June 07, 2007, 09:31:58 AM »

EP109: Squonk the Apprentice

By P.M. Butler.
Read by Stephen and Anna Eley.

“What’s a ‘prentice?”

Without thinking, Wendel answered. “An apprentice is young person who wants to be a wizard, so they find an older wizard to teach them.”

The moment the words left his mouth, Wendel’s heart stopped and his eyes went wide. If he’d known a spell that could grab those words and stuff them back down his throat, he would have cast it.

Instead, those words scampered all the way across his bedroom, as words are inclined to do, and rushed into the ears of the dragon in the window. Wendel watched in horror as the words sunk into Squonk’s brain. Squonk’s eyes grew wide, his mouth dropped open, and before Wendel could think of anything to say–

“You can learn to be a wizard?! That’s awesome! I wanna be a wizard! Lemme be your ‘prentice!”


Rated G. Warning: It’s a children’s story about a dragon raised by a bluebird. Set content expectations accordingly.


Referenced Sites:
EP070: Squonk the Dragon
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman
2007 Hugo Nominees



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!


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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2007, 10:13:30 AM »

WOOHOO!
I haven't listened yet, but I already love it. Wink
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DKT
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2007, 01:13:56 PM »

I love that the guy who wrote the Squonk stories also wrote Lust for Life.  Hearing this is really nostalgic for me, because the first Escape Pod (and actually the first podcast) I ever heard was the original Squonk.  Today also happens to by my daughter's 2nd birthday and I'm looking forward to sharing these Squonk stories with her one day soon.  So a big thanks to Mr. Butler for writing them and Steve (and Anna) for running them!
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FNH
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2007, 01:33:11 PM »

It was a real pleasure to hear another Squonk story.  These are wonderful.  I especially enjoyed the reading and am really glad that the same voices were used as this means I can make a set!

Good reading you two!
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eytanz
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2007, 02:54:25 PM »

This was a lot of fun. I don't have children, but I hope that when I do and they reach the age they can appreciate a story of this length, Escape Pod will still be around so that I can download it and play it to them.
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oddpod
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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2007, 03:37:04 PM »

fab!
my kids love squonk,
as do i
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2007, 04:24:30 PM »

That was a good kids' story.  Fun, funny, likeable charcters, with some good, simple lessons.

It reminded me of Beatrix Potter, with the silly names and the quirky talking animals conversing about their woodland business.  I can imagine being really endeared to them if I were a bit younger.  Good stuff.

I actually liked "Squonk" better than "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," the Hugo-nominated story Steve couldn't get...
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2007, 09:25:29 PM »

Children, feh!

This is quite simply a wonderful story told wonderfully.  It's got it all: dragons, wizards, talking animals, quests, puzzles, angry robins, hats...and such wonderful (I'm overusing the word, but...I can't help myself) turns of phrase.
Quote
"Squonk felt the Cheepideeps flinging more devastating silence his way." . . . "The Cheepideeps now bore down with a tight, penetrating silence that pierced his head." . . . "The Cheepideeps were piling on the heavy, crushing silence."
That's about when the tears started to flow.  It reminded me of Douglas Adams:
Quote
She waited in the other room, firmly reading a book.

I haven't enjoyed a story this much in a long time.  I mean, I always have fun with Escape Pod stories--it's what brings me back week after week, after all: the fun.  I find myself smiling or even--dare I say it?--chortling with amusement as I listen to quite a few of them.  But I have never--and I can say this with authority, being myself--giggled until I cried while driving home from work.  I was a danger to other drivers.  Luckily, it's Atlanta, so no one noticed.

Wonderful story, and performed wonderfully by Steve and Anna.  Wonderful!

More Squonk! More! MORE! Smiley
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eytanz
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2007, 09:56:50 PM »

After thinking of it a bit, I decided the only thing I didn't like about the story is the ending. Not because it was bad, but because (spoiler warning) with all the other animals learning to become wizards, I feel that it might be harder to write a sequel that focuses on the Wendel/Squonk interaction as neatly as the first two stories did, and I really love how the two characters play off each other.

Still, when my reaction to a story is "The only thing I didn't like is that I might not get more of the same", I know it's a winner Smiley
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madjo
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« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2007, 05:01:22 AM »

I really love this story..

Made me wish I had kids to read it to. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2007, 07:56:08 AM »

Excellent!

I find it interesting that things I would criticize about regular stories, I find charming in children’s stories. For example, some degree of predictability is part of the set of conventions for children’s stories. This isn’t because children are stupid. Instead, making stories slightly predictable is a subliminal part of teaching children to read critically. So when a kid listening to this story thinks, “Ah! Slowfingers could help Squonk get the flowers,” he is rewarded a few minutes later with the confirmation of his inferences.  The process of inference from a story and testing of that inference is what much science fiction attempts to do for adults, but in the world of SF, the rules of cause and effect can be alien and the inferences can be difficult. Although it’s not what the “science” part of SF is supposed to refer to, the hypothesis testing in science fiction is what makes it enjoyable for me, so much more so than the technology.
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2007, 09:56:28 AM »

I told my nine-year-old daughter that there was a new Squonk story.   She was stoked.

...and I loved the Raccoon.  Cheesy
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« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2007, 10:58:36 AM »

Children, feh!

This is quite simply a wonderful story told wonderfully.  It's got it all: dragons, wizards, talking animals, quests, puzzles, angry robins, hats...and such wonderful (I'm overusing the word, but...I can't help myself) turns of phrase.
Quote
"Squonk felt the Cheepideeps flinging more devastating silence his way." . . . "The Cheepideeps now bore down with a tight, penetrating silence that pierced his head." . . . "The Cheepideeps were piling on the heavy, crushing silence."
That's about when the tears started to flow.  It reminded me of Douglas Adams:
Quote
She waited in the other room, firmly reading a book.

More Squonk! More! MORE! Smiley

For me it was when Squonk asked, "What's a Prentice?"  I couldn't stop thinking "What's a Nubian?"

Yeah, I could definitley go for more of these stories Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2007, 04:04:27 PM »

Of course, I loved the Squonk story!  I also thought having all of the forest animals wanting to be apprentices was a bit much, probably could have just left it at Squonk and the racoon.

But what I have to say is that I was so glad to hear Anna's voice back on EP.  We've missed you, girl!
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zagreus
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« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2007, 07:17:49 PM »

After hearing that I going to go back and re-listen to the first one

I LOVE SQUONK
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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2007, 07:47:08 PM »

Man did I enjoy this story.
Every bit as good as the first one.
I wish I were young enough to have this read to me as a bedtime story.

Afterthought:
So, Steve announced at the end of the cast that the new fantasy podcast has been named and staffed, does that mean that the next "Squonk" (because there will be a next Squonk) will be on there?
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eytanz
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« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2007, 09:19:46 PM »

Afterthought:
So, Steve announced at the end of the cast that the new fantasy podcast has been named and staffed, does that mean that the next "Squonk" (because there will be a next Squonk) will be on there?

Hmmm... A good question - but really, does it matter? I mean, who here - especially anyone who enjoyed this story - is seriously considering not subscribing to the new fantasy podcast?
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Simon Painter
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« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2007, 03:52:01 AM »

A hefty dose of silly fun Smiley  There's not too much more to say, it does pretty much everything a story should, the characters are well defined (bearing in mind it's a kid's story), the plot moves along well and most importantly, it's entertaining!

I'm rather looking forward to the third part.

I am a little curious to know whether Squonk was named for the song or the creature, though.

Simon Painter
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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2007, 08:15:27 PM »

After having a terrible day dealing with airports, bus drivers and incompetent TSA people, this turned my day around.   I can't wait to order the stories in print to give my 7 year - old son to read.
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2007, 04:08:29 AM »

I smiled the whole time, except when he was sad.

Now I can make my boy a tape with a Squonk on each side.
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