Escape Artists

PodCastle => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Talia on May 15, 2014, 05:43:53 PM

Title: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Talia on May 15, 2014, 05:43:53 PM
PodCastle 311: La Madre Del Oro (

by Jeffrey Ford (

Read by Phil Gigante

Originally published in Dead Man’s Hand (, edited by John Joseph Adams

“I been instructed by the honorable Sheriff Fountain to deputize you gentlemen for a government posse with the mission of apprehending George Slatten, a.k.a. Bastard George, in connection with the commission of murder in the first degree and the heinous act of cannibalism. You will be given four dollars a day, to be paid in full upon the capture of the guilty party. If we return without him, you will be paid two dollars a day. Anyone who shoots him dead will receive a bonus from me personally of an extra dollar. Gentlemen, I’ll make it clear now, I aim to kill the Bastard. We’re gonna gun this dog down and get back here as soon as possible with the body. You with me?”

We nodded.

“Good, then meet me at the stable at dusk and we’ll saddle up and head out. Be prepared to be gone for about four days, I figure. Any supplies you might need, ammunition, a blanket, whatever, head on over to Malprop’s store across the street. The governor of the Territory, Mr. David Meriwether, personally wants this dog done away with, and he’s willing to pay the bill. He’s got some relation to Miss Gates, I believe I’ve heard. So stock up, within reason. We’ll travel tonight into the Jornada. I hope you like the heat.”

Rated R: Contains six-shooters, monsters, and lots of blood.

( Listen to this week’s PodCastle! (
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Listener on May 19, 2014, 01:19:51 PM
I enjoyed this story as a "round up the posse and go kill the bad guy" tale that took a dark turn. The reading was good. Not sure I'd put it on the best-of-2014 list, but it kept me listening.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Unblinking on May 19, 2014, 02:10:08 PM
Enjoyable.  Matched what it said on the tin for what I expect from a Weird Western, starting with a tried and true Western format and giving it a horror twist.  I wouldn't say it was terribly remarkable in the long run, and wasn't my favorite Weird Western, but was enjoyable.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: slic on May 20, 2014, 12:59:27 AM
I might have been hoping for too much, but 20+ mins into the story before anything if real interest, let alone weirdness made this a very disappointing story.  The whole setup of the posse and finding Bastard George's body feels like it could have taken 5 mins.

I found the reading to be impressive - I liked the way the reader changed his voice for each character without really making it sound odd.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: DerangedMind on May 20, 2014, 04:42:19 AM
I'm not normally interested in Weird Westerns, but this one kept my interest.  For me, the fact that it didn't start off weird helped.  It built the world setting and the environment, and while there was certainly a sense that something weird was present, it didn't throw it in your face immediately.

The creatures described didn't hit any mythological buttons for me -- anyone recognize them?

One question I had was about Bastard George.  It seemed pretty clear that everyone thought he had killed the girl in town.  In a very distinctive manner.  And he was killed in the same way, presumably by the creatures from the mine.  (Seems straightforward enough so far).  But, that means that either he must have known them in the past (the story that was told of him being born in the mine comes to mind), so why did they just randomly kill him?  Did I miss something?
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Devoted135 on May 20, 2014, 06:15:15 PM
Well, that was weird! :D Weird Westerns aren't typically my favorite, exactly because they usually have a horror bent to them and I scare easily. That said, this was a good story and certainly belonged here.

I also didn't recognize the monsters as anything I've heard of before. However, I suspect that Bastard George was not the one who killed/ate the girl at the beginning of the story. Perhaps he was living out in the wasteland and had awakened them. I took it that he was visiting her and the monsters followed him; he got away but couldn't prevent them from killing the girl.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Devoted135 on May 20, 2014, 06:15:52 PM
Oh, and I want to second the props for the reading. Masterfully done!
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: benjaminjb on May 20, 2014, 10:23:59 PM
I enjoyed the story, though as a 19th-century nerd (er, a nerd for the 19th century, not from the 19th century), part of me got a little sad towards the end when the Indians gave the narrator "folded American money"--because there's no such thing as folded (paper) American money between 1836 and 1861.

What you had instead was state banks, local banks, or just plain people issuing their own paper money, which was as good as the bank and redeemable... only at that bank. So, basically, you might get your money from a Mississippi bank, go to New York and find that your $50 bill would be redeemed at $40 or less. And don't even get me started on counterfeit bills and counterfeit detectors! (Basically: big books with descriptions of the banks and their money and how valuable it was.)

This is one of those things that historical writers often get wrong and it makes me a little sad.

Still, a fine monster-hunt in the west story.

(P.S. "Goyathlay" was the Mescalero-Chiricahua name of Geronimo. Easter Egg?)

Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Richard Babley on May 21, 2014, 11:44:43 AM
This was my first weird western, and I was expecting not to like it.

To my pleasure I found the story fun, the characters were interesting enough and the story was a good length.  It was just a bit too superficial for me. 

It was extremely well read.  I can tell that the narrator is talented and would like to hear more from him, but I failed to understand why a man from the East named Franklin had a Southwestern accent.  In the end, I was able to look past that and enjoy the story.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Listener on May 22, 2014, 12:02:57 PM
I failed to understand why a man from the East named Franklin had a Southwestern accent. 

That's an excellent point. I can't believe I missed that.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: InfiniteMonkey on June 09, 2014, 02:21:33 AM
Really liked it, partly because it resembled some weird Roger Corman film. Bloody, but a kick.

I also appreciated the "19th Century flavor" was well-done.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: eytanz on July 01, 2014, 10:07:00 AM
I found the buildup to this story really engaging, and I liked the different characters and how they played off each other. But once they reached the mine and the story got to its resolution I was dissatisfied - it sort of felt like everything built up before didn't really matter, and the considerably less interesting "The white men delved too greedily and too deep and found a balrogsome sort of underground demon-thingie" narrative. I wanted to hear more about Sandro and Fat Bob, not have them be killed off off-screen.

The narration was excellent, even if the accent was not consistent with the character's biography.

One thing this story did remind me is the following (webcomic):
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Fenrix on July 11, 2014, 03:45:48 PM
For those looking for the mythology, I would like to point you at The Valley of the Lost ( by Robert E. Howard. One of Howard's recurring things is a race of degenerate snake-like people who live deep underground. If memory serves me correctly, The Worms of the Earth and The Dwellers Under the Tomb are also both part of this mythic tradition.

I would be willing to go all in that The Valley of the Lost had an influence on the author. I shouted at the intro for Dead Man's Hand played at the end of the episode when it was indicated that Weird West goes all the way back to the 60's. They corrected it before the end, but weird and horror comics and pulps definitely laid the foundation.

Don't misunderstand that I'm calling this derivative. This is a great addition to a solid tradition. The most gruesome violence happening off screen lets our imaginations fill in the details. I find this tends to be better than anything that can be explicitly described to me, because my brain can more effectively screw with me than anyone else's.

I think there is an interesting question regarding Bastard George. Was he running because he knew he had no way to prove his innocence and that no one would believe him about the snake people? Or was he running in fear from the monsters?

Or was he realizing that he was a bastard child of the snake people? His cannibalistic episode could very well have been his awakening a la Pickman's Model and so now he's running off to the desert to join his ghoul brothers in bacchanals of blood on Copp's Hill. But if that's the case, why did they eat one of their own?

And why are little blue men hitting me with fish? Mysteries abound!
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: DKT on July 11, 2014, 04:50:40 PM
Dang, Alex. This comment came about two days later to feature in the feedback! But lots of excellent stuff here to think about. I hadn't actually made the connection with Valley of the Lost before (probably because I haven't yet read it).

I actually dug that there were about 10 different reasons Bastard George would be running, and there was never a clear answer as to which one was accurate.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Fenrix on July 11, 2014, 05:31:03 PM
It's Gaiman's fault. He's been making me listen to his audiobooks instead of staying current.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: DKT on July 11, 2014, 05:44:53 PM
I tend to blame all my lateness on the audiobooks I'm listening to :)

Are you listening to Gaiman's own books, or stuff from Neil Gaiman Presents?
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: Fenrix on July 11, 2014, 06:24:22 PM
Most recently, The Graveyard Book. It's the mashup of The Jungle Book and The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath that I never knew I needed. Listened to it as a pair with the Jungle Book. I'll go back in September and listen to the full cast version he's doing.

Has Gaiman done any weird west (long or short)? I would totally move that near the top of the pile if he did.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: DKT on July 11, 2014, 08:10:14 PM
Oh, yeah. I loved listening to the Graveyard Book.

I don't think Gaiman's done a Western - not one that I remember, at least.
Title: Re: PC311: La Madre Del Oro
Post by: APLemma on July 15, 2014, 02:55:29 PM
This story was so good it inspired me to pick up Dead Man's Hand at my local Barnes & Noble (for a fantastic $8 used paperback).  It's at the bottom of my current stack but I anticipate getting to it.  Props to Phil Gigante, his reading gave this story that classic western feel which reminds me of long car trips with my father as we listened to riveting short stories on these things called cassette tapes?  I thought the monsters could have used a bit more screen time but they reminded me of all the potential weird westerns can have.  I look forward to delving in for some more.