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Author Topic: Pseudopod 520: Dermot  (Read 976 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: December 11, 2016, 02:01:15 PM »

Pseudopod 520: Dermot

by Simon Bestwick.

“Dermot” was first printed in Black Static, Issue 24 August-September 2011.

‘Simon Bestwick is brilliant,’ the Guardian says; he thinks they’re probably wrong, but being British, also thinks it would be very impolite to disagree with them. Originally from Manchester, he now lives on the Wirral with his long-suffering wife, the author Cate Gardner. By now he’s responsible for five novels, four short story collections, and a chapbook, Angels Of The Silences. A new collection is in the works.

He has two new novels out in December: The Feast Of All Souls, a supernatural/urban fantasy novel from Solaris Books, and Devil’s Highway, the second book in the post-apocalyptic Black Road quartet. It and the first book, Hell’s Ditch, are both available from Snowbooks.

Visit his Website, follow his Facebook Author Page or on Twitter @GevaudanShoal

Your narrator is the Keeper of the Big Red Button – the Man of Words himself!



Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here.



The bus turns left off Langworthy Road and onto the approach to the A6.  Just before it goes under the overpass, past the old Jewish cemetery at the top of Brindleheath Road and on past Pendleton Church, it stops and Dermot gets on.

He gets a few funny looks, does Dermot, as he climbs aboard, but then he always does.  It’s hard for people to put their fingers on it.  Maybe it’s the way his bald head looks a bit too big.  Or the fishy largeness of his eyes behind the jar-thick spectacles.  The nervous quiver of his pale lips, perhaps.

Or perhaps it’s just how pale he is.  How smooth.  His skin- his face, his hands- are baby-smooth and baby-soft.  Like they’ve never known work, and hardly ever known light.  

All that and he’s in a suit, too.  Quite an old suit, and it’s not a perfect fit- maybe a size too large- but it’s neat and clean and well-maintained.  Pressed.  Smooth.

And of course, there’s the briefcase.

It’s old-fashioned, like something out of the ‘seventies, made out of plain brown leather.  He doesn’t carry it by the handle.  He hugs it close against his chest.  Like a child.





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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Scuba Man
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2016, 02:34:11 PM »

Dang... I was about to spew the plot here... I'm sorry for my past posts to EA forums...

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Alright, back to generalities: this story had me hooked (mind you, I just finished Clive Barker's most recent work, the Scarlet Gospels [I was softened up, as it were... hooks and all... yeah...  Tongue ]).  Mister Keeper Of The Big Red Button, I appreciate you having the courage... and taking on this challenging narrative.  Your modulation of loud voice... pause... whisper caused me to stop and glare at the loudspeaker many times.  Bravo.

What surprises (?) me is that I find stories like these LESS disturbing than a recent episode that contained animal cruelty (dogs, cats, bunnies [for sport... not food]).  I'm getting used to the warnings (of extra nasty content) at the beginning of EA podcasts.  I appreciate them when they have a wry tone to them.
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DerangedMind
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2016, 05:36:29 PM »

Cool I didn't know you could put spoilers in!  Thanks!
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DerangedMind
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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 05:45:18 PM »

I enjoyed the story.  I almost ditched it because of the warning label, but decided to stick with it until I needed to bail.  And I'm glad I stuck with it.

This story struck chords with me reminding me of a half forgotten story I had read "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K Le Guin (I had to google the plot to find it....). It made me think about what price we will pay for safety.  And wonder who is all aware of the cost.  Clearly at least a good chunk of the police force is aware, which makes me suspect that, at best, its an open secret.

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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 09:51:20 AM »

Dang... I was about to spew the plot here... I'm sorry for my past posts to EA forums...

FWIW, I figure that if someone comes to the thread for discussion of a particular story, that they should expect spoilers as a matter of course.  We can't really be expected to discuss a story without discussing what happened in the story, right? 
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« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2016, 09:59:56 AM »

I found this story very unpleasant, and not in an enjoyable-horror way. 


Part of it was that I thought it focused on awful lot on Dermot's odd appearance, as though that was very important.  I've worked with a guy who looked pretty much like described, and I've often thought about how it must suck to have to overcome people's kneejerk reaction to your odd appearance every damned time you meet someone, and it felt like this story was reinforcing the general attitude that if someone looks a little bit odd then they're probably a horrible person too.  So I did find the focus on his appearance frustrating, when he was obviously going to turn out to be a horrible person.  (the guy in question was a pain in the ass to work with, but I have no reason to think that he was a predator).

I think that part of it is that there was nothing to hope for, nothing to root for in the story, it was just unrelenting unpleasantness from beginning to end.


Anyway, not my kind of story, I guess.

I don't know if there was any way to avoid this, but it seemed like the story was kindof dependent on the reveal, but the reveal was pretty telegraphed by the trigger warning.  I think a trigger warning for that content is appropriate, but at the same time, it pulled that punch.  I don't know, I guess it was done as well as it could be done, but I was waiting for the whole story for the trigger content, and since the focus was "What will Dermot's price be?", the most obvious answer was "his price is the systemic exploitation of children as per trigger warning".


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Sgarre1
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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2016, 10:31:36 AM »

Quote
I don't know if there was any way to avoid this, but it seemed like the story was kindof dependent on the reveal, but the reveal was pretty telegraphed by the trigger warning.  I think a trigger warning for that content is appropriate, but at the same time, it pulled that punch.  I don't know, I guess it was done as well as it could be done, but I was waiting for the whole story for the trigger content, and since the focus was "What will Dermot's price be?", the most obvious answer was "his price is the systemic exploitation of children as per trigger warning".

Yes, this is a modern problem we haven't figured out how to solve yet. I have my opinion but it is not the popular consensus. Similar examples coming in the future, no doubt.
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Scuba Man
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2016, 12:48:08 PM »

Dang... I was about to spew the plot here... I'm sorry for my past posts to EA forums...

FWIW, I figure that if someone comes to the thread for discussion of a particular story, that they should expect spoilers as a matter of course.  We can't really be expected to discuss a story without discussing what happened in the story, right?  
I'm from the Compuserve, BBS-era. I'm overzealous with my netiquette.  I'd also like to add the spoiler alert for really crude or disturbing content. And if I need to cuss to illustrate a point.  I'm a high school science teacher & swearing's been (figuratively) beaten out of me.  My quirk, sorry.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2016, 11:10:02 AM »


Part of it was that I thought it focused on awful lot on Dermot's odd appearance, as though that was very important.  I've worked with a guy who looked pretty much like described, and I've often thought about how it must suck to have to overcome people's kneejerk reaction to your odd appearance every damned time you meet someone, and it felt like this story was reinforcing the general attitude that if someone looks a little bit odd then they're probably a horrible person too.  So I did find the focus on his appearance frustrating, when he was obviously going to turn out to be a horrible person.  (the guy in question was a pain in the ass to work with, but I have no reason to think that he was a predator).


I got the impression that something about him felt unnatural. Like he was a monster wearing an ill-fitting human suit, maybe one size too large. I'm not sure I can articulate why I got this impression, though.
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dagny
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2016, 04:23:37 PM »

This was a rough listen. I thought it was an excellent story, though, and Al did a superb job with the reading.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2016, 10:26:07 AM »


Part of it was that I thought it focused on awful lot on Dermot's odd appearance, as though that was very important.  I've worked with a guy who looked pretty much like described, and I've often thought about how it must suck to have to overcome people's kneejerk reaction to your odd appearance every damned time you meet someone, and it felt like this story was reinforcing the general attitude that if someone looks a little bit odd then they're probably a horrible person too.  So I did find the focus on his appearance frustrating, when he was obviously going to turn out to be a horrible person.  (the guy in question was a pain in the ass to work with, but I have no reason to think that he was a predator).


I got the impression that something about him felt unnatural. Like he was a monster wearing an ill-fitting human suit, maybe one size too large. I'm not sure I can articulate why I got this impression, though.

I think that's the impression we were supposed to get.  But I found it more disturbing in the sense that it is apparently implied that anyone who looks different must be assumed to be an evil-hearted monster.  Maybe this is underscored by the fact that I grew up in rural South Dakota, where the norm was very Scandinavian in heritage, so (for instance) anyone with dark skin would've fallen under the category of "different than what is expected".  I think that I was supposed to be disturbed by his appearance, but I found myself more disturbed by the apparent implication that a different appearance is supposed to telegraph his evilness.
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