Pale Nations of the Dead by James Lecky

Tell us what you thought of the September 2009 issue!

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Post September 22, 2009, 01:39:28 PM

Pale Nations of the Dead by James Lecky

I enjoyed this a great deal. Use of flowery and archaic language, rather than being a distraction as it is sometimes, served the piece well in establishing context.

The one issue for me was I would've liked a better developed arc for the protagonist's transformation from seducer to seduced.

Well done, worth checking out.


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Post September 24, 2009, 12:11:24 AM

I liked this story as well. Good atmosphere, good twist at the end. However, I thought that I would have been sadder, or more chilled, at the ending, if the story had been longer, and the language simpler. If there were more scenes in the story, it would give readers more time to become invested in the characters. As it was, it was pretty, but felt I didn't get to know Alois (main character) well enough to really care what his fate was.
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Post September 26, 2009, 10:04:33 AM

Pale nations of the Dead

There are several devices used in this story which were refreshing. One such device was the use of ideas and terms from several different cultures to tell the story. ‘Die Sterben Sonne’ being German, the ‘Necropolis’ being of Greek origin, the basic tale of the crying woman who wanders is of Spanish origin, and the author is from Ireland.

This story was very descriptive: “At length, as the last rays of Die Sterben Sonne gave way to the brittle light of an apathetic moon…”
“The angels and demons that decorated its crypts and sepulchers were mostly faceless things, their features scoured away by the elements.” I can picture the scene perfectly – when hunting for genealogical information with my mother, the gravestones over a certain age were definitely like this.

“The dead know many things, for the tomb is a great teacher.” Very nice.

Towards the end of the story, Engarten says, “I would know more, if you would tell me.” It seems that one of the ways a ‘great seducer of women’ can win a woman’s heart is to be interested in her story, instead of blathering on eternally about themselves.

A couple of minor corrections in a very well-thought-out piece: 6 paragraphs from the end, should be: If she could not thrill him… And paragraph 21 from the beginning probably should be, “Where is the man I would love,” the Llorona asked, turning her dead-sun eyes to the crowd.” Maybe not.

Overall, I enjoyed this myth. Myths, especially very ancient ones, often tell us something about ourselves. I definitely enjoyed the meter of the words. I had a friend who died, who was honestly a grand-nephew of Rudyard Kipling. When we were at the bar, I loved to listen to him tale tall tales of odd happenings in the mountains of Appalachia. He called them, “tales thrown over the bar at midnight.” It was comforting to hear that kind of speech again, through this story.

Very nice. Good job.


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Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Post September 26, 2009, 09:38:34 PM

Re: Pale nations of the Dead

Just an aside, not that is has been mentioned
bottomdweller wrote: ‘Die Sterben Sonne’ being German

One of the entertainments modern software technology has given us are translation engines. Take a text in a language of your choice, run it through a series of translations
in the end returning to the original language, notice the resulting distortions, have fun.

Having taken the phrase mentioned above to google translations translating from german to english I got what I believe to be the intented english meaning . Translation back to german, I got what would be proper german for that. So contrary to the general behaviour the phrase actually seems to profit from the translation cycle. Might be an easter egg.

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