Monday, January 30, 2017

AE Reads Skiffily Episode 3: "The Lord of Discarded Things" by Lavie Tidhar

For your listening pleasure, episode 3 of AE Reads Skiffily is ready to tickle your ears and inspire your imagination. If you are new to the
podcast (and, let's be honest, you likely are), this scifi podcast involves readings from excerpts of science fiction stories by me, AE, along with helpful sound effects. This episode features a groundbreaking first for the podcast.
Episode 3 of AE Reads Skiffily is the first in which I read the entire story. Thus, you will find the experience of this science fiction audio podcast a little less confusing. I say a little, because the story I’m reading for episode 3 is "The Lord of Discarded Things" by LavieTidhar. This story was first published in the October 2012 issue of Strange Horizons, but apparently makes more sense as part of a larger collection of stories that take place in the same setting. Generally, a location in Israel called "Central Station" takes prominence, and the stories I've read of Tidhar’s tend to take the slice-of-life form wherein nothing major happens, but the reader learns something about the people and (especially in science fiction) their relationship to the world around them.

Something I appreciate about Tidhar's worldbuilding is the asteroid pidgin that is clearly based on Tok Pisin. When a character says "Nem blong mi Kranki," it's easy to identify the etymology from the lexifier language, English:

nem comes from English name. It appears to have the same meaning as in English
blong comes from English belong, with the schwa elided. It's clear that that this is a sort of grammaticalized word, marking possession in the same way that of does in English.
mi – comes from English me. It's likely, because this is a creole language (with leveled grammar), that mi also translates to all forms of the first person singular pronoun (such as I and my).
kranki – could come from English cranky, but I would think it would be ⟨krenki⟩ instead. This could either be a spelling pronunciation or it could have an etymology just as elusive as the word is in Tok Pisin. While Ibrahim translates kranki as "crazy" or "odd," the Tok Pisin word means "wrong" or "foolish." I suspect Tidhar knew this and allowed for a sort of semantic shift of words, which can happen over the course of decades or centuries. It's pretty easy to get from something being incorrect to something being odd. This linguistic nuance is a nice touch.

Click play button below to begin listening to my science fiction podcast in your browser or on your phone. As you listen, feel free to imagine that you yourself are at the Palace of Discarded Things. How would you treat the robotniks and other discarded and forgotten people of Central Station?


For those of you who prefer to listen to me reading science fiction on the go, the direct download of the episode is here (run time 0:23:31). I should warn you that episode 3 periodically includes the voice of a “child” that is actually just me using South Park filters, since I don’t know any children and no women were available during the recording of this podcast. That may change with Episode 4.

Thank you all for listening to my podcast and feel free to leave a comment, whether to give your thoughts on the story, the audio, or express your support. If you are so inspired, please share a link to your art on Instagram or Facebook, either tagging me (@aeusoes1) or using hashtag #skiffily. You can also find me on Tumblr here. Happy listening and keep reading!

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