Episode 89: BMSE-Dax Plays Faire by Void Munashii

A demon hunter is missing. Now Dax is assigned to find her, and destroy the shape shifter she was after. This time, he might be in for more than he can handle.

Also, Big and Rish talk about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie reboot, and some advice that Tobias Buckell passed on to beginning writers.

Special thanks to Juliet Bowler, Rich Girardi, and Lizanne Herd for lending their voices to today’s episode.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.


Related Links:
Void Munashii’s Blog
Void Munashii’s Mallville – A Journal Of The Zombie Apocalypse
Juliet Bowler’s Site
Rich Girardi’s Lady Jade’s Lair
Lizanne Herd’s Site
For Wendy
Some sound effects were provided by freesound.org.
Music was Rezolution by Mister M and Beyond the Veil by Excess Pressure.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License


14 Responses to “Episode 89: BMSE-Dax Plays Faire by Void Munashii”

  1. Great story I liked it lots.

  2. I wanted to like this story a lot. I like metaphysical conflicts, especially when the protagonists are morally gray. I like the Armenian concept of Heaven and Hell at war. I like watching people struggle against bureaucracy in an effort to get things done.

    But I didn’t enjoy this at all. The plot felt really, really thin. Why did the demon not send the two agents to Hell immediately? It makes no sense to keep them around, since he gains nothing in secrecy (they already know something is up; that’s why they’re sending agents) and the agents present nothing but liability where they are. Why bring them to the ceremony? If he must have them at the ceremony in order to gloat, why not put them in restraints that would MATTER instead of handcuffs that the demon must know they could escape at any time? This is a freshly-built town! There has to be a concrete mixer around somewhere. Encase them in concrete and leave their heads out so they can watch you crown yourself in glory and be unable to do anything to prevent it.

    Then the protagonist is completely superfluous. Dax does nothing to advance the plot or resolve the conflict. All he does is provide a camera POV for us to watch events unfold. He walks in, exhibits poor investigative skills, gets captured, and then watches the climax. The female agent who was already captured had the foresight to conceal her weapon and the gumption to use it, and Dax’s presence didn’t alter that one jot. Why not have HER be the hero? (Other than “Because then there wouldn’t be a ‘mystery’ to ‘solve.'”) She’s the one with the plan and the tools. (Though why would the demon assume that she had ONLY the standard two weapons? Why not strip her naked while you have her helpless and thus ensure she has nothing that can harm you? And why did the demon allow her to approach in the first place, since she was basically jumping up and down shouting “I have a plan for how to kill the demon!” and her excuse for approaching was, um, she kind of didn’t have one? She’s somehow pretending to be a reporter despite the fact that the demon knows she isn’t because he captured her and stole her mystic weapons.)

    There is no reason for the townspeople to spend as long as they do pretending to be normal, since Dax suspects them from the first, and they don’t take him down by stealth or surprise, but instead just overwhelm him with force. If all they were going to do was rush him until their sheer numbers took him down, why pretend at all once it was clear he was an agent? It’s not like he discovered anything useful and had to be dealt with urgently; the only ‘lead’ he had was just the demon jerking him around.

    Also, Dax is surprised when the shapeshifter demon has the ability to mind-control people, but this power is never actually explained within the story. The demon says s/he has “learned a lot” because s/he is an immortal being and has lived for a long time, but if mind-control is a power that anyone can learn, why would Dax – an expert at demon-hunting – be surprised that the demon has learned it? It seems like the first thing any would-be world-dominator would get ahold of.

    The SWAT team at the end was just the final straw for me. If Purgatory has strike team abilities AND is willing to use them with so little provocation, then what on Earth is the point of sending out agents equipped with only one gun and one knife in the first place? It seems like a ridiculous, arbitrary approach to take. I’d be willing to swallow Hell/Purgatory sending out agents without supplies or backup because of the bizarre rules of the eternal War in Heaven, but at the end they just ignore all that and come charging in with helicopters(!), so obviously this isn’t a case of “We literally can’t do more to help.” It all felt very much like the author just wanted to have a certain sequence of events and contorted the plotline to match up to the standard Tom Clancy formula without having any clear rhyme or reason to the situation.

    I hate to be so negative. It feels icky. But this – especially after the intriguing “Cenizas” last episode and the recent non-BMSE hits (like “Tattletale” and “Devil’s Fauna”) – was a real letdown.

  3. Nathaniel, I think perhaps you were overthinking this one a bit. :P

    This wasn’t a phillisophically deep story. This was a fun little action flick of a tale, and I thought it succeeded admirably in that regard. I really, really enjoyed it. Neat concept, neat setup and really fun to listen to. I had a mental image of David Boreanaz as Dax, for some reason. Would happily listen to more tales of Dax’s exploits. :)

    • I don’t believe in overthinking stories. That is, I don’t think it’s possible. If it’s worth thinking about, it’s worth thinking about to exhaustion.

      I also think that you need to meet a story where it is. Dax Plays Faire was a plotty, action piece. If Nathan had issued a lengthy critique of the character, you could say that he was sneaking up the story with its pants down, attacking it unfairly, and expecting it to have qualities it never claimed to have. However, saying that the plot and setting of a plot-heavy, neat setting story were kind of weak is totally fair.

      And, now I’m going to go and piss all over my own argument :p.

      My biggest problem with the piece was that Dax was such a non-character. He did everything he did for his organization. We never find out anything about how he died, how he ended up working for Purgatory, or how he feels about this. He exists solely as a mouthpiece for the author, to explicate plot and get hit by a truck.

      I’m not saying that I wanted Dax to be a hugely three-dimensional character with tons of real emotional depth… I just would have liked him to be more than a locus of experience with a vague sense of style attached and a neat name.

      I agree that the stor has lots of potential, though. I’d like to see more in the universe… but I think the universe needs to be a little better thought out, and the main character replaced with someone who contains emotional and narrative content.

  4. I totally caught the “hey, is this LAST YEAR’S topic?” vibe early on, but I didn’t mind it because the rule wasn’t “DON’T do last year’s topic” but “do this year’s topic any way you want”.

    This was a certain type of story — supernatural being in some sort of supernatural continuum coming to earth to stop some sort of evil force from taking over a small town — and as that type of story, it succeeded. I did see some of the plot holes from the first comment, but if this story was trying to be something other than what I just said it was, then I could’ve drawn attention to them. But because of the type of story it was, my brain says “okay, these aren’t so important in the grand scheme of things”.

    I would’ve liked a little more variety in the word choice — although I too have a lot of difficulty not using “headed to” in context of a character going from place to place. And I really didn’t like Dax’s first name. But that’s a minor quibble.

    Mostly I enjoyed listening to the story, although I did feel it went on a tad too long.

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the acting of Emily’s character; I feel she needed to be less brash. Unless of course that’s what the author intended, in which case I guess I got it completely wrong.

  5. I enjoyed the story. Nathaniel’s issues didn’t bother me. As for how the protagonist helped, Emily said at the end Dax being there distracted the demon so it didn’t see her as a threat.

    The boy who played Glen did a great job! After working with kids for Cenizas, I know how tricky it can be.

    I agree about having layers to stories that people might not pick up on the first time. The trick is to have everything there so the ending makes sense and doesn’t come out of nowhere, while also not giving it away. It’s a fine line. I thought it was done well here.

    Great job, everyone!

  6. Cambodia Carl Says:

    I’m actually looking forward to the new “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” movie. Hopefully this time it will be more faithful to the book. Maybe they’ll get the costume right this time.

  7. I was listening to your comments on the Buffy film. A few TV producers/directors/writers who are/were relatively famous that you didn’t mention, just off the top of my head, Chuck Lorre, Stephen J. Cannell, Donald Bellisario, Mike Judge and Matt Groening.

    Personally, loved the original Buffy movie (and Kristy Swanson), but the show was excellent as well.

  8. I’m with Nathaniel – I really wanted to like this story, too, and did until the last third or so. The back ground and set up is great and I would certainly like to see more, preferably in a longer form, with the same characters and agency, but the ending seemed very throw away to me. It was a shame as by then, when Dax starts running, everything has been building nicely to have a relatively weak ending.

    If I was to pick a word for this story it would be ‘promising’.

  9. Thank you to everyone who commented, whether you liked the story or not (although I am happy to see that most people did seem to enjoy it). I personally love how it all turned out, even if, while listening, I found even more bits that I want to edit in the story itself.

    This is actually the second Dax story, and I do have ideas for more which will reveal more of the nature of Purgatory, how Dax ended up there, and the rather frustrating way in which the organization is run. Hopefully the results of those efforts will answer many of the questions I am seeing asked, and be of high enough quality to be published here.


    I want to thank you for the time you spent critiquing the story. Your comments clearly show that a lot more thought was put into taking the story apart than it probably deserves. While I was not intending to create a work of great depth here, you have still brought a few things to my attention that will be useful in the future.

    While it is completely intentional that Dax gets the story stolen out from under him, and that the demon is a bit of an idiot, the fact that it appears than Reg leads in the strike team without provocation is a huge issue to me, and one that will need to be addressed in future revisions to the story.

    • I could tell that the demon being an idiot was intentional; I just didn’t think it was a good idea. I don’t find it satisfying when a plot resolution relies on someone being dumb and losing rather than someone being clever and winning.

      I’m willing to consider stories wherein the hero isn’t heroic, but it didn’t work for me here because it didn’t really resonate on the meta-narrative level. Dax isn’t arrogant and there is no comeuppance to his uselessness. He just ends up being a very odd choice for POV character, since he already knows too much to make him a useful means of exposition for the reader yet isn’t active enough to make him an effective avatar for an action movie sequence. There’s no reason I could see for Dax to be involved in the story at all, in other words, yet he’s in the title. If he’s ostensibly the hero of a series of stories, then he should be interesting and capable enough to carry that off. Unless the stories are published in a linked manner, then each time Dax comes on screen, he’s going to have to justify his protagonist chops to his audience, and if he fails to do that, then whatever story that is will feel weird because it will have someone whose label reads “main character” but whose contents don’t match up. Does that make sense?

      I tried really really hard not to write that initial rant. As I said, it makes me feel icky to be so unrelentingly critical (though I do love ranting). But in the end I just couldn’t restrain my need to lecture and explain. I’m glad that some of it was useful to you; at least it wasn’t just noise.

      • A good example of the sort of thing you seem to be aiming for with the Dax stories would be Roger Zelazny’s “Dilvish, the Damned” and the follow-up novel “The Changing Land.” Initially, Dilvish was just the hero of one short story that riffed on some fantasy tropes in an entertaining way, but then Zelazny kept coming back to him and moving his story further along. Eventually, he wrote so many stories that they gained a plotline of their own and he put them in a book, then wrote a full novel to wrap up that plot. It ends up being a really cool thing to read through, especially since it wasn’t ret-conned and some of the details that got lost between stories remained lost when they were re-collected. (Dilvish has an invisible sword for a while but then, ironically enough, it kind of disappears and doesn’t get brought up again. This is what happens when you haphazardly write vaguely-connected standalone stories over the course of several years.)

        There are even a couple of stories in the first book in which Dilvish is, indeed, either shown up rather badly or a bit of a bystander when all it said and done, but because Dilvish has strong motivations and a few clear character traits that guide him, it ends up working well (for the most part; they’re not all winners. I think the first invisible-sword story is fairly weak, for instance.) In those stories, there is still plot movement and a reason for the camera to follow Dilvish, in other words. I’d recommend the books on general principles, but in particular as an example of the sort of project you seem to want to involve Dax in.

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