PC021: Hallah Iron-Thighs and the Change of Life

By K. D. Wentworth
Read by M. K. Hobson
First appeared in Chicks in Chainmail (Baen)

“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you,” I called after him. “This pass is dangerous. You never know when you’re going to run into a bunch of low-down, dirty, skulking ban–“

“And just who are you calling `dirty’ there, ducks?” a familiar male voice called down from the rocks above. “Actually, I’m thinking the two of you could do with a bit of spit and polish your own selves.”

“Lomo, you skunk!” Corpsemaker’s hooves clattered as I pulled her up.

“That’s Lomo, King of the Bandits, to you,” he said haughtily.

I leaped out of the saddle, my sword Esmeralda in hand. “I thought I split your thieving head open the last time you waylaid us!”

“That,” he said loftily from his unseen perch, “was merely a clever ruse on my part.”

“Rats and eels, I hate it when they won’t stay dead!”

Rated PG. Contains scantily clad barbarians of the female persuasion.

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17 Responses so far

  1. 1

    Benjamin said,

    August 19, 2008 @ 11:47 am

    While the story did towards the end provoke my lips to form a slight smile – once – I can’t say that I found this story very amusing.
    It seemed too preoccupied with convincing the reader/listener that it was funny to ever just relax and be genuinely funny. It reminded me a bit of Terry Pratchett’s kind of humor and I’ve always found him to be trying to hard to be funny, too.

  2. 2

    Max Sol (writing as Grogg) said,

    August 19, 2008 @ 3:45 pm

    Grogg, as a caveman, emerge from cave only few times, mostly to hunt wooly mammoths. But, one day, Grogg find bright shiny object. Grogg knows not what this could be, so Grogg brings round soft circles to his ears, and presses down on the bright shiny object.

    Suddenly, Grogg, hear talking, but Grogg know not where it come from. Wherever it come from Grogg likes what he hears. It is story about fighting ladies, and bandits who like confessings. Funny fighting ladies trick bandits, and Grogg is shocked, Grogg could not have seen that plot development coming a mile away, because Grogg is a caveman.

    The story makes Grogg laugh many times, but Grogg wonders if anyone who is not a caveman could like it. Grogg thinks and thinks, and ’cause thinking’s hard, it takes him a long time. Finally Grogg realizes that no, no one who has IQ above 24 could possibly like story, because it is very predictable, with thinly defined characters that no one could identify with. But Grogg is still happy, because he is a caveman, and as such, just stupid enough to like this story.

  3. 3

    SFFaudio » Blog Archive » PodCastle - Hallah Iron-Thighs And The Change Of Life by K. D. Wentworth said,

    August 19, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

    […] the fantasy fiction podcast, has a new old/story out that has drawn my eyes, and ears… it’s a story first published in the highly arousing […]

  4. 4

    Hyperion said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 6:14 am

    I refuse to believe than anyone with mammalian DNA would not laugh at this story. It was hysterical!

    As a boy I read every sword and sorcery tome I could lay my hands on, and K.D. Wentworth has perfectly captured that Hyperborean oversincerity. The real genius, however, is mating the Conaneque tone to the droll post-modern wink of Sunday School kitsch and menopause. I laughed so hard when I heard “Nearer My Isis to Thee” that I spit purple drink all over the laptop screen. What more can you ask from a story than that?

    Normally I’m not a big fan of stories that flog you with the metaphor. Let me figure it out myself, I grumble. Hallah Iron-Thighs outflanks that position, though, by jumping head first into the “message.” Making the modernity obvious was a master (or mistress) stroke, and allowed me to relax and just enjoy what I heard. I sure hope Hallah and Lomo and the band show up again soon.

    Well done.

  5. 5

    JT Shea said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 10:15 am

    Hmmm.. Ever shrinking Chain-mail bikini…. I’ll be in my Bunk.


  6. 6

    thomasowenm said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 2:43 pm

    Another estrogen fest? With that being said I sort of liked the story. No depth or any socially redeeming value, just a quick tongue-in-cheek story. I could have done without all the various religions showing up at center stage; oh my isis, nearer my druid, or any other such nonsense. It was jarring everytime I heard a standard hymn title with a reference to a different religion each time. Just pick a religion and go with it.

  7. 7

    Rachel said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 8:16 pm

    “Another estrogen fest?”

    In deference to the chromosomal makeup of approximately half the population, approximately half these stories feature female protagonists. I’m not going to get into a huge debate here; I’m just stating the editorial position, which I’m afraid is not going to change.

  8. 8

    Benjamin said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 2:43 am

    “In deference to the chromosomal makeup of approximately half the population, approximately half these stories feature female protagonists. I’m not going to get into a huge debate here; I’m just stating the editorial position, which I’m afraid is not going to change.”

    Right on, Rachel! While I wasn’t a fan of the story I have no beef what-so-ever with the fact that its protagonists were women. Quite the opposite. Fantasy and Sci-fi have been male dominated realms for so long and why should that be?

    Skewering the chain-mail bikini is a nice start (although the caveman section of my brain doesn’t mind the image). So is featuring women who are dealing with the indignities society places on aging (albeit only humorously so far).

    And I have faith that when the editors of PodCastle have to choose between a good story featuring a male protagonist and a so-so story featuring a female protagonist, the better story will always win out, regardless of gender. I’ve no reason to complain so far anyway!

  9. 9

    Dave said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 5:17 pm

    This was a pleasant change of pace. The story was amusing though admittedly far more of an Anthony or Asprin style farce than a Voltaire or Swift style satire. That it was “low” humor doesn’t matter; the story entertained and that is the highest criteria. (Though the puns on song names were as tiresome as Anthony’s Xanth puns).

    I agree with those who don’t care about the gender of the protagonist. As long as the character is active and not a passive victim of the story, I’m content.

  10. 10

    Ragtime said,

    August 22, 2008 @ 9:46 am

    I think your “First Appeared” link above in wrong. It links to the similarly-titled anthology: “Chicks ‘N Chained-Males,” which appears to contain a different “Hallah Iron-Thighs” story.

    Good for the Hallah completist, I guess.

  11. 11

    aaron said,

    August 22, 2008 @ 11:12 pm

    Not sure why but I just couldn’t get interested in this story and gave up about 10 min in.

  12. 12

    V said,

    August 25, 2008 @ 6:09 pm

    That’s funny, I thought change of life meant hot flashes.

  13. 13

    D.Junker said,

    August 26, 2008 @ 12:02 am

    So many of the short stories available seem to fall somehow into the model of the Oddessy: heros overcoming great obstacles. It may be chain mail. It might be laser swords. But still it is Overcoming. Or perhaps, falling off the cliff due to a tragic flaw. But still the Hero.

    This Hero thing. I didn’t have high hopes for Podcastle. If it is going to be a Hero story, I prefer spaceships to unicorns. But this bold direction that the Podcast is taking is extremely refreshing. Science fiction themes deals mostly with Human relationship with Technology. Somehow the Hero driven plot line seems to go well with such themes. The nice thing I see evolving about Podcastle is the remarkable turn it has taken away from the Hero model.

    I suppose if you surf over to the selections from the New York Times short story archive, you’ll find plenty of stories that are not just echos an shadows of Odisseus.

    Podcastle is evolving into another such place.

    Pc019: Galatea, Pc016: Magnificent Pigs, Pc014: The Grand Cheat, Pc011: Fourteen Experiments In Postal Delivery, and one of my favorites Pc010: Magic In A Certain Slant Of Light all are cut from a different cloth. What makes them successful isn’t the customary Hero model. The plot devices and the themes that drive the characters is more about Human relationship with emotion and Human relationship with society.

    A jiggling jaunt into chicks in chain mail however suits me just fine though. (Just what *was* she wearing *underneath* that came bursting forth when she freed herself from the shrinking mail?).

    As long as you can laugh.

  14. 14

    scatterbrain said,

    September 2, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

    This somewhere between meh and average: barely original, vaguely enthralling, but I’m getting sick of ‘middle-aged wimmin’ stories anyway.

  15. 15

    Spork said,

    September 22, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

    I felt like I was listening to a bad episode of a mediocre show like Xena, as written by the hacks at SNL.

  16. 16

    Recent Links Tagged With "chainmail" - JabberTags said,

    October 10, 2008 @ 5:04 am

    […] public links >> chainmail PC021: Hallah Iron-Thighs and the Change of Life Saved by RandomFlicks on Wed 08-10-2008 6 ways to beat the ban, chillax & have some fun […]

  17. 17

    Sabre Runner said,

    March 24, 2009 @ 8:01 am

    The story is entertaining and an interesting take on the chicks in chainmail idea but it wasn’t overly hilarious or overly… anything else. It’s a nugget not a cake.

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