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EP137: Citytalkers

By Mur Lafferty.
Read by Deborah Green.
Closing Music: “O Come All Ye Faithful,” performed by Twisted Sister.

Gloria blinked. “Why do the people in Cleveland love Christmas more than anywhere else?”

Toby grinned and spread his hands on the bar, unadorned fingers splayed. He stared at them, “I didn’t say Cleveland’s people loved Christmas. I said Cleveland.”

“And you’re saying Charlotte doesn’t like Christmas?”

Toby took a deep breath and let it out. “Oh, no. I’m saying Charlotte flat out hates Christmas.”

Gloria kept her voice level, the best thing to do when dealing with a crazy person. “And why do you think this?”

“I’m an urban shaman. A citytalker. I’m here to talk to Charlotte to find out why it’s unhappy.”

Rated PG. Contains moderate violence and stronger weather.

Referenced sites:
Heifer International
Podsafe Music Network (Terms of Use)

Comments (20)

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  1. I loved this story! Mur, you never ceases to delight.

  2. I can’t help wondering how consciously Ms. Lafferty included the theme of messianic sufferer in this shamanistic Christmas tale of weal and woe.

    Of course, the people who “died to save” the city were unsuspecting victims, not voluntary substitution-sacrificers of themselves, and the city’s “wrath” was pent-up psychic dysfunction (sort of like GhostBustersII), not Divine Justice against sinners…
    And the city’s “incarnation” in the main character contains all kinds of Christological heresies.

    But it was good fiction! And with all the Christ-haunted archetypes so creatively (if not unconsciously) embedded, O’Connor and Jung would be proud.

    But maybe the real reason Charlotte hates Christmas is because it was settled by Scots Covenanters (radical Presbyterians) who refused to celebrate that ‘Roman Catholic’ holyday!

  3. […] have the Christmas story in Escape Pod for the third year in a row – Citytalkers is a tale of Charlotte, NC, the city of my birth. And […]

  4. Vance says:

    Great story. Near the middle, before the hostage situation I was afraid it would devolve into a horror flick, but everything turned out ok. Sometimes a happy ending works best. Very imaginative and engaging. Can’t wait til next years story!

  5. Good story, good reading, though I did find it a bit of a continuity jolt when strange men started handing out guns.

    Merry Christmas everyone! Here in Sweden we celebrate C. Eve and pay little attention to C. Day, so while you guys are getting your last bit of shopping done, we’ll be opening presents and stuffing ourselves. Swedish Christmas food is just one big sampler of lo-tech food preservation methods, BTW.

  6. Legatic says:

    I feel Mur’s dig on the hockey team from North Carolina that “no one really cares about” was a little unwarranted.

    The Carolina Hurricanes were the 2005/06 Stanley Cup Champions, after all :-P

    Other than that I enjoyed the story.

    Escape Pod really helps keep me going while I’m away from my home (North Carolina). I’m staying in South Korea for a year, and it’s always nice to have a weekly dose of something that’s familiar.

  7. […] become a tradition over there to send out a Christmas story from Mur Lafferty, and this one, “Citytalkers,” was every bit as good as I’d hoped. It was the perfect way to spend what would […]

  8. […] @SFEley & mur @mightymur thanks for the excellent xmas-themed story citytalkers http://escapepod.org/?p=259 – loved it […]

  9. […] also make the holiday better. If you need a little sci-fi in your holiday spirit, try Mur Lafferty’s “Citytalkers” at EscapePod (free MP3 download). This is a great take on people pulling together for their city during the […]

  10. phignewton says:

    …a pathetic fallacy on a grand scale, thank you internet for teaching me that term just in time to put it to use…

  11. Audita Sum says:

    This story arrived at an interesting time for me, because I’d just listened to an episode of Shrink Rap Radio about the psychological power that places exert over us. I thought “Citytalkers” was well-written and entertaining anyway, though the reference to Heffer was a little jarring. I was happy to see a happy ending for once, too.

  12. Cayce says:

    Wonderful story! I loved the idea of Cities having personalities and being sick or well according to it’s occupants. It was very creative and very well written! Great job Mur!

  13. I dug it. I think this one would be great as a short video ep or miniseries on Stranger Things or Web Serials or something.

    I actually don’t care for Mur’s nonfiction essays (been not-reading them in KoDT for a while), but maybe I’ll give her podio books another look, since clearly her fiction doesn’t suck.

  14. rubso says:

    At last a Mur story that I can listen to and understand… without having to go back to the written version…

  15. scatterbrain says:

    Good urban fantasy.

  16. I liked the idea, Ii like the voice that told it, and story in its whole was pretty good too.

    What would my city personally be like?
    Vancouver = Male, Over achieving child trying to show off its newest trophy even thou you have seen it a thousand times.

  17. Fred McDonald says:

    (Recently discovered Escape Pod and I’m working my way through the archives …)

    Of course now I’m thinking seriously of starting a roleplaying campaign based on the idea of various ___talkers. It’s a fun concept and unique concept at the very least!