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Author Topic: Pseudopod 79: Ice  (Read 9339 times)

Bdoomed

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on: February 29, 2008, 08:17:48 PM
Pseudopod 79: Ice

By Heather Hatch

Read by Elie Hirschman

Johnson looked out at the glistening white expanse, glad for the barrier between him and the snow covered ice. He noted the research ship’s position and speed in the log book – along with the calm emptiness of the Antarctic wasteland – and turned to Ivers, the man at the radar.

“Still no sign of Dr. Fenton?” Johnson asked.

“Nope. Nothing from Saunders – how much longer are we waiting out here?”

Johnson shrugged. “Captain says another day.”. 



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deflective

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Reply #1 on: March 03, 2008, 12:02:11 PM
titles of recent podcasts seem to create a narrative:

pressure friction ice tumble

this hints of a hidden malevolence quietly influencing the ever widening podcast audience; pushing our collective subconscious towards self-harm. one shudders to think of what awful, preternatural urgings you would hear if daring overcame caution and you played these episodes reversed.



Grayven

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Reply #2 on: March 03, 2008, 05:30:03 PM
Maybe its just me, but IT felt like another lecture on global warming.



eytanz

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Reply #3 on: March 03, 2008, 06:01:11 PM
I didn't see that, mostly because I feel antarctic monsters defrosting is pretty low on the list of problems we might face if the global warming scare is justified.

The story didn't make much of an impact on me, positive or negative.



Kaa

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Reply #4 on: March 03, 2008, 07:42:30 PM
I found this one extremely hard to follow.  I listened to it a total of four times up to the point where the main character had his leg broken because the transition between the dream and reality was, in my humble opinion, not done all that well.  That entire dream could have been left out and the story would have been better for it.  It sounded to me like it was only added to get the word-count up to some threshold.  If it was intended to be foreshadowing, then I think the story needed to be longer and have some more plot. As it was, the "foreshadowing" was followed instantly by the thing it was foreshadowing.

While I thought the story itself left me wanting, the reading was very well done.  As soon as I heard the language being spoken by Dr. Walsh(?), I thought, "A-ha. This is going to be Lovecraftian, and something with tentacles is going to rise from the ice."

I wasn't disappointed, which was disappointing in a way.

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Russell Nash

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Reply #5 on: March 05, 2008, 10:37:09 PM
Shortly after the Korean War when all of his friends were getting drafted into the army, my father and his best friend managed to get their asses drafted into the navy.  My father's buddy ended up stationed in Cuba before Castro when it was a resort island.  My father got sent on Operation Deep Freeze II to Antartica.

This story reminded me of my old man talking about the ice.  The ice and storms were the really scary part of the story.  Something happens down there in a storm and there is no help and there is no surviving in the elements.  The monster at the end was very unneccesary.  They were dead.  The monster just helped put them out of their misery a little earlier.



Listener

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Reply #6 on: March 06, 2008, 01:14:44 PM
Maybe its just me, but IT felt like another lecture on global warming.

I disagree.  I didn't get that feeling at all.

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Listener

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Reply #7 on: March 06, 2008, 01:18:23 PM
The story started out very slowly and very boring-ly (I know that's not a word), which sucks because there's a lot of great story potential in the frozen tundra.  (And I'm not just talking about Green Bay.)  It got better, but I didn't get enough of a horror/scare element in the beginning to really appreciate the payoff at the end.  The threads were just too thin.

Johnson wasn't really a sympathetic character; the whole thing with his wife felt forced, like, "hey, care about me!"

The best part, IMO, was the description of Johnson and his team going out onto the deck to face the storm and try to get the antenna.

I think this story would be better if it was rewritten to eliminate the supernatural elements.  The ending could be similar without the monsters, or Walsh (?) and Johnson could be the last two survivors and have to trek to the Russian station, and maybe have to fight the monsters on the way.  It just felt incomplete, I guess.

The reading was okay, but I think the narrator tried too hard, and unless my iPod was deceiving me, he stopped at one point and then restarted, and there was a difference in audio quality.  But again, that might just have been me.

I give the story an A for setting, a B for effort, but a C for execution.

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Kaa

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Reply #8 on: March 06, 2008, 04:08:48 PM
Another problem I had with the story was the MacGuffin of the lost team.  I kept expecting that to be an actual plot item, and it just...petered out in favor of chanting in a weird language and tentacles coming out of the ice.  Why even bring up the lost team? They didn't advance the plot at all.

In fact, if I were critiquing this story at Critters, I would have to tell the author that she had a couple of great scenes, but the story itself needed major work, either to turn it into a flash story by eliminating all the hanging threads or lengthen it to something a little more fleshed out.

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bolddeceiver

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Reply #9 on: March 06, 2008, 05:00:30 PM
OK, I know it's all Lovecraft homage, but I'd love to call for a moratorium on the whole chanting-to-ancient-evil-in-unpronouncable-eldritch-language thing.



gelee

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Reply #10 on: March 06, 2008, 08:47:23 PM
The story started well, but by the end, I actually didn't care for this one much, and I usually enjoy stories of the Cthulu mythos.  The story didn't flow well, and the pacing seemed choppy.
I liked the way the author depicted the hostility of the environment, but the story lost me at the dream sequence (which seemed unnecessary) and I never really got back on.



deflective

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Reply #11 on: March 07, 2008, 05:12:19 AM
The best part, IMO, was the description of Johnson and his team going out onto the deck to face the storm and try to get the antenna.

I think this story would be better if it was rewritten to eliminate the supernatural elements.

i recently heard a reading of Jack London's To Light a Fire.

this was the first time since grade school and i was surprised how many horror elements it had. subtle, but stronger for it.



Anarkey

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Reply #12 on: March 07, 2008, 04:46:40 PM
Two thumbs down from me.  From the massive infodump at the beginning, to the (as Kaa and gelee said) badly handled dream sequence, to the red herring of the missing team, to the story's ambivalence about whether we were supposed to fear the ice or the defrosting critters, to the complete lack of tension, this story did not work for me.

I couldn't have been less interested, and to be scared or disturbed, I have to be interested.

Curiously, part of my problem with the piece was the detached empirical descriptions, which according to the outro is supposed to be what's so great about it.  Huh.


ETA: the reading was pretty good, though.  I should mention that.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2008, 04:49:50 PM by Anarkey »

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Brokensea

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Reply #13 on: March 07, 2008, 09:20:52 PM
I like Elie Hirschmann's reading voice.  He's got a nice delivery



Ben Phillips

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Reply #14 on: March 07, 2008, 10:04:47 PM
Well, I got the distinct impression that the lost crew was preyed upon by these creatures which had already begun to break loose and attack ships.  Of course, I am assuming a bit there, since I'll agree that more could have been done to draw that connection explicitly by the end (the only thing we ever really see taking down a ship is a storm).  But once you swing with the idea that this is what happened, you have to admit it makes the story outline make a lot more sense.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #15 on: March 08, 2008, 02:16:19 PM
I thought it was just me having a "hard time concetrating" day, but Kaa, gelee and Anarkey capture the possible cause of my troubles very nicely. 

My mind kept following the loose threads, and when the story left them dangling, I was still wandering off, making up my own stories instead of listening.

Then I'd realize "Oh, I'm missing it!"

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goatkeeper

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Reply #16 on: March 09, 2008, 01:09:33 AM
I swear, gelee steals my thoughts first every thread, here and at drabblecast.
I too was thrown by the dream sequence.  Also, I think the the last thing a Lovecraftian story needs in reading are goofy voices.



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Reply #17 on: October 15, 2009, 09:07:44 PM
Didn't really get into this one.  I did listen all the way through because I was interested in the superstitions of malevolent ice, but I was kind of hoping the ice itself was malevolent, not something frozen inside it.

I agree with the others that the dream sequence was totally unnecessary, and the character was so flat I found I had no interest if he lived or died.  And in the end, it seemed the story was written entirely to give a message:  "Global warming is bad, mmkay."  Now, I don't mind an underlying message, but I like it to be more subtle than this.  It didn't piss me off like the ending of The Ring (okay, so that wasn't a message so much as a the punchline to a really unfunny joke), but it did elicit a groan.



Millenium_King

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Reply #18 on: July 26, 2010, 09:33:32 PM
This was another story I felt was trying to be Lovecraftian, but just not managing to pull it off.  (In fact, I am pretty sure this was a Mythos story - some of the muttering of the crew referenced some Mythos motifs, right?)  The notes are there, but there is no music.

Firstly, the story lacks Lovecraft's pulpy thrust and directness of plot.  I feel like it meanders in the beginning.  Losing its way.  There is little plot to be seen and only a vague attempt to build the ice up into a nemesis.  I felt the story particularly failed at this: the ice, the environment never felt threatening.  Compare this to a story like "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursela Le Guin and see what I mean.

Secondly, the Lovecraft elements felt tacked on.  Creatures emerge from the ice shelf, yes, but their dicovery is made neither dreadful nor monumentous.  I felt the idea of a primordial thing frozen in ice is so overused it has basically become self-parody at this point (Giant Octopus vs. Mega Shark, for example).  There was nothing of the awe or majesty embodied in the discovery of the nightmare Plane of Leng in "At the Mountains of Madness."

Thirdly, the narrator suddenly seems to know that these creatures and the "big daddy" one will destroy the world.  That seemed an unlikely jump.  In "call of Cthulhu" the world-shattering power of the deity is slowly built up, but in this one it's just sort of tossed in.

Fourthly, and I would admonish all Lovecraft-imitating authors to remember this, Lovecraft never let the horror be the horror.  He always made the horror the final piece in a puzzle that implied much, much worse.  Here we have a monster.  In "Call of Cthlulhu" when the big guy appears, we know that here is not just a monster, but the slumbering doom of mankind.

Fifthly, another thing I would remind all Lovecraft imitators to remember is that the horror should never be the final horror.  There should always, always be implications of far worse.  In "At the Mountains of Madness" the unfortunate scientists discover the horrible, black mountain range covered in the ruins of an aeon-dead civilization and still host to the last of their monstrous progeny.  Yet even these horrors are TERRIFIED of the purple mountain range, even larger, even more distant.  Always let the secret of the abyss be that, at its heart, it conceals an even deeper, blacker abyss.

In summation, I felt the author invoked a lot of Lovecraftian concepts - but that's it.  She did not do the heavy lifting required to transform them from "Boo! A monster!" to the cosmos-shaking doom of stars.

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Millenium_King

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Reply #19 on: July 26, 2010, 09:50:53 PM
I also wanted to mention, after listening to the outro and reading some comments, that the "academic" voice of this one fails precisely because it does not analyze the things it should be analyzing.  Lovecraft used the academic voice to project an aura of disbelief.  A man confronted with such obvious horrors as those in "The Whisperer in Darkness" would immediately leap to the conclusion that monsters abound.  If he were to deny it, we would think him foolish.  But Lovecraft invokes the academic voice to allow him to build the horror, even as his character believeably denies its existence - such irrational notions as Cthulhu and Yuggoth have no place in the rational, ordered world of the academic.  This allows Lovecraft to suspend disbelief and stretch it to the breaking point, only allowing the tension to snap when the final piece of the puzzle (the reveal of the horror itself) is made known.

This story uses an academic voice clumsily.  It wastes times analyzing mundane items (which Lovecraft only ever touches on as a matter of versimillitude) and never delves into the nascent horror - crying, of course, all the while "pish-posh!  Monsters in the ice?  Such ideas are foolish superstition!  Even if there is a library of old books naming them, and this strange little idol I founds, and Johnson's been missing for a day now and...  well it's just crazy to even think that, right?  Surely there are rational explainations for all that has been going on."

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