Author Topic: PseudoPod 649: Whatever Comes After Calcutta  (Read 744 times)

Bdoomed

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PseudoPod 649: Whatever Comes After Calcutta
« on: May 25, 2019, 11:08:42 PM »
PseudoPod 649: Whatever Comes After Calcutta

Author: David Erik Nelson
Narrator: Rish Outfield
Host: Alasdair Stuart

“Whatever Comes After Calcutta” first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in November 2017, and was included in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten.



Content warning:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)



Show Notes
Exerpt from interview of David Erik Nelson about “Whatever Comes After Calcutta”.  Full interview can be found here.

This is one of those stories that I think may have accidentally taken on a lot of political overtones that weren’t intentional. I guess that’s for readers to determine; I wrote it mostly in early 2016, well before a lot of what it feels like it’s about actually happened. This story was locked up well before the election.

Nonetheless, when I go to sum up the story in a Big Picture way, I end up saying the same thing that I said about that election:

I totally hear where folks—angry, aggrieved, not-gonna-take-it-anymore folks—are coming from, because I totally agree with them: They are getting screwed. We just totally disagree on who is screwing them, or what is a sensible way to address that.

This story is about that, in a fundamental way.




It was late in the day when Lyle Morimoto saw the hanged woman and almost crashed his Prius.

He was somewhere between Calcutta, Ohio, and whatever the hell came after Calcutta. For hours he’d been sipping warm Gatorade and cruising the crumbling two-lane blacktop that sliced up the scrubby farmland separating Calcutta, Cairo, Congo, Lebanon, East Liverpool, East Palestine—in southern Ohio, apparently, you could circle the globe without ever crossing the state line.





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Lisa3737

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Re: PseudoPod 649: Whatever Comes After Calcutta
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2019, 01:00:14 PM »
This was a marvelous--tho' chilling--story.  Perfect match of narration! 

Scattercat

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Re: PseudoPod 649: Whatever Comes After Calcutta
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2019, 01:05:57 PM »
I was really, really hoping that she wouldn't turn out to be a witch.

I know that the story explains that you have to want to do the evil before the witch can make you do it, that you have to choose to submit to her guidance, but I was still disappointed.  It feels like a cheat to let these redhat assholes get off with a "the devil made me do it" excuse.  As we can see in the news around us every day, they clearly don't fucking need any supernatural encouragement.  And then none of them even has to suffer any consequences!  The only target of punishment is (of course) that darned cheating wife and her silly emotions that she let get out of hand.  (Speaking as a depressive/anxious person married to an anxious/depressive person, it can be really hard living as the partner to someone who is in a deep depression and not getting the treatment they need, which is clearly where Lyle is at the start of the story.  That's the sort of thing that kills marriages like a pyrethoid on an arthropod.)  I feel where the author was trying to go, but I'm just not happy about any of this.

The reading, however, was superb.  Rish has really developed as a narrator since the last time I listened, and he was already very good.  That's a man who can (and should, in a perfect world) make a living on his voice talents.

As a side note, did y'all know that the Sovereign Citizen movement is (surprise!) also super racist?  One of the core ideas baked into their stale, chalk-laden English muffin of a legal theory is that the 14th Amendment made all black people citizens of the USA (which they consider to be a horrible fate) but white people are still secretly sovereigns and can claim their millions of dollars of back fees in gold by filling out random forms and using punctuation weirdly.  That whole mess is a wild corkscrew of a rabbit hole if you're ever bored and need something to wince about while you spend a day off reading articles on the Internet.
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Metalsludge

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Re: PseudoPod 649: Whatever Comes After Calcutta
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2019, 11:44:23 AM »
Yeah, it was a bit predictable that she would indeed be a witch. Also got kinda tiring hearing how people from the main character to his wife and others didn't have clear motives or desires etc. Come now, most people want to do stuff and do it, or not. But in this story, you can shoot someone in the face and then be all, gosh, don't know why I did that. Oh well!

Those issues aside, I thought it was mostly well written. As for the politics, gosh where to begin or end? Around the time of the election, there was perhaps more empathy for people feeling left out of prosperity or forgotten. But since then, it's as if the very people you may have felt sympathy for really just want to go on a "Fuck your feelings." style era of ignorance and lawlessness directed at anyone who isn't them, with the point being demagoguery more than solving problems. People less aggrieved will eventually lose patience with that in their own right. We are probably most of the way there already, judging from the midterm election results.

But blaming our problems or divisions on middle America may be kidding ourselves. There are plenty of redhatters in North Eastern states. I recall the dismay from some in Pennsylvania when their state went red in the the 2016 election, while some states south of them did not, to say nothing of pockets in up state New York etc. America's divisions run a lot deeper than country versus city.


Bdoomed

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Re: PseudoPod 649: Whatever Comes After Calcutta
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2019, 08:47:58 AM »
I agree -- country vs city is a myopic view of larger sociopolitical issues, but I don't think that's what this story was about, nor would I fault the author for not fully expounding on social theory within the confines of a short story
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Metalsludge

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Re: PseudoPod 649: Whatever Comes After Calcutta
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2019, 05:19:41 PM »
I agree -- country vs city is a myopic view of larger sociopolitical issues, but I don't think that's what this story was about, nor would I fault the author for not fully expounding on social theory within the confines of a short story

Yes, I didn't mean to put all that weight on the story. My literary criticisms were more in the areas I touched on earlier in my post. Just wanted to add this other issue to the broader discussion the story seems to have inspired here though.