Author Topic: Pseudopod 88: The Guardian  (Read 14549 times)


  • Peltast
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    • Bad Foodie
Reply #25 on: August 06, 2008, 07:51:07 PM
Once again, I was struck bu how Not-Horror this story seemed to me.

Sure, it was about a terrible dystopian future, but is that horror?

At the end, I found it just sad. Three people died to bring a sick kid a box of sugary cereal. That's not scary, it's pathetic.

"You don't fix faith. Faith fixes you." - Shepherd Book


  • Palmer
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Reply #26 on: May 01, 2009, 11:13:24 PM
  Drabblecast did this story this week if you want to revisit the awesomeness. 
The narration and sfx/music compliment it nicely.

I listened to it on Pseudopod today also.  Big difference having a female narrator. 

Aside from the rat thing, which was kind of an eye-rolling moment, I didn't have issue with cliches or anything.  Sure, dystopian/apocalyptic is a world that stories operate in a lot, but stories can still be successful when they are set in that world. 

I take more of an issue with "done before" when it's a story with big ideas/speculation at it's center rather than characters or action, like this story.  Great story
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 11:15:03 PM by BethPeters »


  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
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    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #27 on: October 20, 2009, 06:38:19 PM
At the end, I found it just sad. Three people died to bring a sick kid a box of sugary cereal. That's not scary, it's pathetic.

To me that's where the horror lies in this story, that these poor kids are risking their lives for something meaningless.  Then again, maybe the placebo effect will kick in!

I didn't see the twist coming, and I enjoyed the journey it took to get there.  I'm a sucker for a story about a quest, and to have the object of the quest suddenly revealed as Cap'n Crunch was a great moment for me.  :)


  • Lochage
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    • Ankor Sabat
Reply #28 on: July 21, 2010, 12:08:11 AM
This one gets a negative reaction from me.  From a technical point of view, it is quite lacking.  Essentially, it's one long action sequence - which is fine - but I did not find any of the action handled well.  From weird perspective wobbles ("they ran toward them" - how about they ran toward her?); to inappropriate digressions (her uncle, the captain - I thought this was tense?); to out-and-out errors (the "mutie" grabbed her arm - yet she dodged it?  Don't you mean grabbed AT her arm?) - it was just amatuerish in feeling.

Plot wise, it was weak.  Girl finds MacGuffin, narrator withholds information about MacGuffin to build false tension, girl is rescued by versimillitude shatteringly friendly Deus Ex Machina (the "Dead Boys" gang who, unlike the others, are chivalrous for some reason?).  Final revelation is that the heretofore purposely undescribed MacGuffin turns out to be useless - a bad way of manufacturing false tension and a good way to leave the reader feeling cheated.  In my opinion, it would have been a stronger story had it opened with the girl taking the cereal from the shelf and describing it.  She may not have known what it was, but the readers would have.

See Robert Bloch's "Notebook Found in a Deserted House" for a good way to use the uninformed perspective of a child to instill horror in the reader.  He may lack the worldly knowledge to know it's a trap - but we do not.  So we cannot help but feel the dread he does not.  That could have worked with this story too.

I have a real personal dislike of the speculative fiction story which leaves itself intentionally vague.  It opens with a vague train of thought about a vague item needed for a vague purpose for a vague little boy.  In speculative fiction especially, directness is called for.  The story will stand if you tell it well, regardless.  Some people call the vague approach "immersive" - I regard it as a good way to make sci-fi and fantasy inaccessable and confusing to most audiances.

Finally, I want to remark that this story brings absolutely nothing original to the table.  It's essentially a total remake of "The Underdweller" by William F. Nolan (1957).  A disaster has killed all adults, leaving the world run by children.  This concept was famously re-used in the ST:TOS episode "Miri" (1966).  All of those things, of course, are based on their granddaddy "The Lord of the Flies" (1954).  To say this is well-worn ground is an understatement.

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