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EP071: The Capo of Darkness

By Laura Resnick.
Read by Evo Terra (of The Dragon Page) and Sheila Unwin (of The Dragon Page With Class).

Eve looked startled. “You used to be in Heaven? And now you’re working for the Lord of Flies?”

“He don’t go by that title no more. He didn’t like the novel, thought it showed him in a bad light. And don’t call him ‚ÄòBeelzebub,’ neither,” I advised, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to give these underdressed kids a little help. “He’s gotten real sensitive about it. He thinks it makes him sound like a character in an English comedy.”

Rated R. Contains religious satire, gangster satire, and profanity. Not for those who take their hellfire too seriously.

Referenced sites:
Destructomundo

Comments (20)

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  1. Shawn says:

    Hmmm…I don’t know what to say about this one. I found my mind wandering in and out of the story and I was not pulled into the character’s at all. I really can’t say as to why though. Maybe someone can help me out. – S.W.

  2. Leon Kensington says:

    I liked it, I was just wondering if Yawa, was supposed to actually be God or something else. Really different from a lot of other stories, but kinda like “Free Will Baby” or whatever it was called. Overall it was perdy good.

  3. Chris says:

    I’m going to comment, not on the story, but on Doctor Who.

    Like Steve, I got into Doctor Who when I was a kid. Seriously got into it. Then, of course, I drifted away for a year or ten.

    When I got back into it, I have to admit I was surprised at what good sci-fi it was. Forget about the special effects, the lavish costumes, and the “epic” storylines! Instead, you have good actors, solid stories, and I will have to admit, even all these years later, the Daleks still manage to chill me. The new series did nothing to quell that.

    Another thing that’s really unique about the Doctor is that he can regenerate, which means he’s been played by different actors. I’ll always be a Tom Baker fan (sorry, Steve), but every actor brings something different to the role, while still capturing the character’s essence.

    Oh, and if you think the effects are cheesy *now*, just wait until you see the classic series!

  4. Colin F says:

    We’re also dedicated watchers of the new “Who” – my son (6) wouldn’t let it be any other way. I actually find the new series a bit hit-or-miss. Some episodes are fantastic and others make me cringe because the dialogue and/or plot are so bad.

    Still, it’s good to find a sci-fi series that the whole family watches and enjoys on different levels. It’s just like Saturday nights when I was growing up.

    And yes, Tom Baker will always be THE Dr Who for me too. I think it’s a generational thing.

  5. Simon says:

    On The New Who:

    I’m an Englishman, and as such have a different sort of relationship to Who, it’s been there – lurking in the background – my whole life. I loved Baker (the classic) and McCoy (the best from my childhood era, Colin Baker and Peter Davison were terrible).

    I have real problems with The New Who, mainly because i can’t stand the twee cute bits that are obviously the work of Russell T Davis. Episodes entirely constructed round a guest appearance by some tired BBC hack comedian, episodes hinging on sexual tension between Billy and The Doctor.. Dalek was possibly the best episode of Who ever, and of course it wasnt Mr Davis..

    I’m reluctant to watch any more who until they pry that mans hands off the production. Everything he touches turns to cute…

  6. Icepick says:

    As an avid escape pod listener, I have made the observation that there are times when the reading takes away from the story. This time, I just found the story kind of uninteresting and, while a huge fan of Evo’s, didn’t find Evo and Sheila’s performance very satisfying.

    That being said, Steve, keep up the great work (overall) and Doctor Who is absolutely fantastic. I’m just working my way through Season 2 by teleporting to London from Maryland.

  7. S.T.U.N. Runner says:

    Some Escape Pod stories make me reach for the Pause button so I can ponder a point made or a particularly vivid bit of imagery; and some, not nearly as many, make me reach for the Pause button so I can ponder what else I have on my iPod to listen to.

    The Capo of Darkness falls rather into that latter category. I got as far as the characters going back and forth about what the forbidden apple tasted like, and I couldn’t take any more.

    It doesn’t help that I’m not a fan of science fiction stories that try to turn popular mythology on its head, and am particularly irritated by having the myths explained to me as if I would likely have forgotten them at some point.

    For future reference, here’s a tip for SF writers: if it’s already been spoofed on The Simpsons Halloween Special, give it a pass.

    But I’m sure next week’s story will hit it out of the park, as many Escape Pod stories do.

  8. I’m not too impressed by this one, though I can honestly say that I would be IF Laura Resnick had been the first person to write this story.

    It’s a problem that, so far as I know, is unique to humorous stories riffing on Christian mythology. It’s not just that it’s been done so many times, it’s that it’s been done so many times in a humorous context, and that a lot of that humor is fairly intelligent. Simultaneously the strength and weakness of intelligent humor is the way it makes insights into elements of our everyday lives. Once enough intelligent humor has been produced along the same lines, though, those insights become more and more obvious, eventually becoming commentative and even instructive.

    The end result of all the intelligent humor that fantasy and science fiction has produced around Christianity is that we hear the same message each time we are presented with such work: “The fundamental mythology of Western religion is riddled with inconsistencies, loose ends, and gaping holes that can only be excused through immense folly on the part of its integral characters.” I’m not even a Christian, and even I find that a little bit depressing.

    I have to admit that “The Capo of Darkness” is a good story on its own, but I’ll thank Escape Pod to pass on any more Jesus Is My Homeboy humor, at least for a while.

  9. Michael King says:

    Steve, let me preface this by saying that I’m a life-long Christian (who has studied plenty of different religions and denominations over the years). I don’t use my Bible as a club, and I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve. It is not my place to do so. One’s religious walk and personal relationship with The Almighty is exactly that — personal.

    All that being said, I loved the “Mr. Yahweh” vs. “Mr. Lucifer” comparison — and I love science fiction that doesn’t take religion too seriously.

    In my mind and in my heart, I know that God (however and whoever one believes Him/Her to be) has got to have the most wicked sense of humor ever encountered by anyone. And I’m sure that He got a huge charge out of “The Capo of Darkness.”

    As for the new “Doctor Who”, I’ve been in love since the new series kicked in with Eccleston (though I’ve been a long-time Who-fan dating back to the 70s – WTTW Chicago began running Pertwee episodes while I was still in junior high in Indiana). I, too, have seen all of season two, and despite telling others that I’d have to kill them if I told them where I got them (though I think you and I got them from the same place, Steve), I keep telling them all that season two is just as good as season one with only one real dog of an episode, and one other that I’d consider marginal.

    The rest of the season was simply fantastic, and well worth the price of admission. Most everyone who enjoyed watching season one on SciFi will love season two as well, once it starts airing next month.

  10. Tom says:

    I really had a good time with this episode. I like when an author looks at a story and creates a back story or behind the scenes look. As long as she stays within the structure provided by the original. This is also why I don’t like Oliver Stone’s “Historical” movies and Star Wars Episode I, II, and III.

    The five books of Abraham in the Bible, the books where Yahweh first presents himself to humanity, were written and rewritten over 450 years by four different writers. In these books Yahweh is described as everything from a mischievous Imp to the almighty, all powerful all knowing God we are more familiar with. This not so serious and older version of Yahweh fits very nicely with Ms. Resnick’s story. This older version might get into a poker game and gamble with the tree of knowledge.

    The Bible tells us that Yahweh took the step most others Gods didn’t. He said, and put in stone for Moses, “have no other Gods before me.” At the time people went to whatever God promised what they needed. Having only one God was a radically new idea. Yahweh wasn’t just collecting worshippers. He was enforcing exclusivity. Essentially trying to run all the other God’s out of business. Looking at it from this angle it’s easy to see how Yahweh would be happy with Tel-evangelists as long as they just pointed more people in his direction.

  11. George says:

    I think this is one of those stories that is on the “What We See Too Much Of” lists posted by Asimov’s, F&SF and other specfic publications. At any rate, it’s full of tired tropes and didn’t offer anything new.

    A production note: it’s a bad idea to rely on volume variations as a special effect (Satan’s inaudible grumble, Eve shouting loud enough to overwhelm her microphone). This is incredibly annoying when you’re trying to listen to the story without constant recourse to the volume control.

    On the other hand — special effects like Wichita used in his production of “Head of State” — those were truly outstanding. And appropriate.

  12. smacky says:

    First my positive comments: LOVE the Doctor. Like Steve, my husband and I have been watching the new series on the “please don’t ask me how” plan, too. (Then Sci-Fi aired it and now BBC America will be airing it, too. I guess it’s going over well here in the states – hooray!) We have also gone through all the episodes from Pertwee through McCoy. It is quite an undertaking, and at 2-3 episodes a night it took us well over a year. Good luck to you, Steve. It’s well worth the time invested. I must say that Tennant is my favorite Doc, but mostly cuz he’s just so dishy. I have enjoyed Dr. Who, even knitted my husband a Dr. Who scarf while working my way through all the series. I must admit I snoozed through much of the Pertwee years…something about 1970′s telly (action by HAVOC!)that puts me right to sleep…but a great series for all the reasons already mentioned. Also looking forward to the return of Captain Jack in Torchwood, which will most likely only be available from the “PDAMH” plan. Maybe it’s the constant mention of it throughout Season 2 that has me all brainwashed for it.

    Now my neagative bits (though that seems to have been covered here already.) I’ll admit it up front: I’m a nitpicker and that’s why I didn’t like this story so much. Mostly every time they said “Yawa” I would get frustrated because it’s yah-way or yah-vay, but never yah-wuh
    http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/yahweh) and it’s easy to find that out. Then again I’m a frustrated former theatre student who doesn’t have the guts to record or perform for strangers, so it’s easy to criticize the people who do.

    Love the podcast. Keep ‘em coming, I’ll take the good and the bad and love you all the same!

  13. Dave says:

    I’ve been a Christian for most of my life. That being said, I love religious satire. Good Omens, Dogma, all that stuff. This story had its ups and downs, but the clencher for me was “And that’s how we got Tele-Evangelism.” That was a great line.

    The part that I felt was tired was the Adam and Eve relationship — Adam being an idiot and Eve being the smartest thing in the universe. I’m tired of that sitcom set-up and if it’s Eve’s fault we’re stuck with tele-evangelism, then I’d say she got off pretty easy in the book of Genesis :P

    But yeah, for the most part, I enjoyed this story and am looking forward to what you guys put out next. Keep up the good work.

  14. Pavlina says:

    I really enjoyed this story. The author and the story, neither one, took herself too seriously. It was fun, and I especially enjoyed the performance by Evo and Sheila. Maybe I am a twisted person, or maybe I can just enjoy stories with feeling the need to over analyze. Keep up the good work Escape Pod.

  15. Archie says:

    Not subtle but very funny. I’m a Roman Catholic – and I even go to church – but I wasn’t offended in the slightest.

    Very entertaining with the bickering between Adam and Eve the highlight – “Seduced?!” I was by the comedy. Well done.

  16. Tim says:

    I laughed through the whole thing. The story was entertaining, and Evo’s narration had me in stitches. I thought the ending where it was explained that this was how televangelists came to be was great.

    PS, I also am a church-going Catholic, and I loved this podcast.

  17. Just one correction

    Adam and Eve made themselves the fig leaf clothing but God clothed them in leather before He sent them out of the garden.

    Genesis 3

  18. Brian Reilly says:

    I loved it. A good piece of lighthearted satire, and the way Eve turned the tables on Satan was fantastic. I liked the idea of Lucifer as a mafia boss. It kind of makes me think of a cross between Dogma and the Screwtape letters. Is the author a Christian poking fun at her own faith, or a secularist poking fun from outside? The fact that it is hard to tell the author’s own stance is what makes it good satire.

    Oh, and I love Dr. Who. The intense moral dilemma episodes more than the farting aliens and wisecracking shapeshifters, but I don’t blame Davies for all the cute elements. It is supposed to appeal to a wide audience. Has anyone her seen the spin-off, Torchwood? Its edgier, and lays off on the cute. Just ignore the B-movie rip-off episode with an alien who has sex with men to drain them of energy, it gets far better from then on.

  19. Nora says:

    That was hilarious. The televangelism line was, as previously stated, hilarious. I had to pause my game of katamari damacy so I could giggle and slap the futon.

  20. scatterbrain says:

    Personally I believe the story should have ended after the televangelism line.

    The story was enjoyable, but I’m sure that we’ve already seen this kind of plot too many times before.