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Author Topic: Pseudopod 89: Wounds  (Read 9380 times)

Bdoomed

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on: May 10, 2008, 05:15:57 AM
Pseudopod 89: Wounds

By Celia Marsh

Read by Mur Lafferty

I cut myself when I was younger, trying to make my outsides match my insides. I slit my wrists in the bath the night that my mother told me she’d only asked for custody so my father couldn’t have me. Slit them the right way, palm to elbow. I passed out from blood loss, but woke when the water grew cold, pale new skin glowing beneath the dried blood, beneath the murky water. I could cut myself and watch it heal, almost before I put the knife down. Once I let the knife dig deeply while cooking dinner at my father’s house, through the bone in my thumb. Even the nail was back by morning.

I’ve pierced my ears so many times I’ve lost count. If I sleep without earrings in they heal over before morning, and I must redo them before class, or go without earrings that day. Tattoos last longer. The colors melt back into my skin within a month, white and yellow first, blue and the black outlines last. By the time I moved back to my father’s house, the tattoo I would have gotten to annoy my mother would be all but gone. By the time I came back to her house, she would have forgotten it completely.


This week’s episode sponsored by The Shadow Pavilion by Liz Williams, out now from Nightshade Books.


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DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #1 on: May 10, 2008, 08:31:53 AM
It's not bad--it's a good story, but I really don't see how this is considered "horror."



deflective

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Reply #2 on: May 10, 2008, 08:52:27 AM
big thumbs up. capturing a visceral emotion in metaphor is something that horror short fiction does best.

Chuck Palahniuk did this story's image well in Lullaby but it's much stronger being separated & concentrated.

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« Last Edit: June 01, 2008, 06:39:09 PM by Russell Nash »



bolddeceiver

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Reply #3 on: May 11, 2008, 08:34:03 AM
Wow, this was my favorite PP story in a while.



eytanz

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Reply #4 on: May 11, 2008, 09:06:36 AM
I enjoyed quite a bit about this story. It was sort of an inverted horror story - it starts from rather distrubing body horror, and then everything gets better. I thought that was quite an interesting twist, and I liked the writing and found the protagonist sympathetic and empathy-inducing.

It did feel to me, however, that the story suffered from over-plottedness. In the course of 2-3 days, not only does the girl meet a guy and start feeling comfortable socially, but also her father suddenly shows up and helps her resolve some of her parent issues. Either one of these would be quite a big step forward, both at once is not just implausible, it feels utterly constructed.




Listener

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Reply #5 on: May 12, 2008, 10:09:22 AM
I agree with eytanz's criticisms.

The reader really managed to capture the world-weariness of the main character very well.

One thing I wasn't sure about... was she just a person who happens to be uber-fast-healing (Claire in Heroes), or was she some sort of construct?  I'm thinking the former but I could've sworn I heard something that made me think about the latter.

Good story, though.  I enjoyed it.

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Void Munashii

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Reply #6 on: May 12, 2008, 07:47:00 PM
  I liked this story a lot, it's not my favourite Pseudopod, but it would probably be in the top ten. I enjoyed it so much that it took a while after it was over to finally ask whether it was really horror or not. I guess it would fit as a "Twilight Zone", but not necessarily horror... maybe more fantasy.

  My take on her abilities, and apparent loss of them at the end, was that her body internalized all of her hurt, and because of her not letting her pain show, it also did not leave external wounds. She was losing her ability at the end because she was finally opening up to other people, finally acknowledging her wounds instead of hiding them. Because of that her body was rejecting the physical items that symbolized her happy memories, as well as finally being able to show physical injury.

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Chivalrybean

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Reply #7 on: May 13, 2008, 11:48:39 AM
I liked the story a lot. Nice symbolism, made sense, and I liked the people in the story. I got a little confused right at the end with this story because (unless I am thinking of a different story) the audio changed right at the end, like it had been re-recorded and the tone was off, and it seemed a little rushed. Otherwise, everything else was spot on, and I didn't miss the ending, I was just thrown off for a moment.

This story wasn't horror to me, felt more like a Podcastle story, but that didn't effect how much I liked it, and having just listened to Crescent by Phil Rossi, my freak out meter was filled up already.

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deflective

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Reply #8 on: May 13, 2008, 06:32:30 PM
i don't understand this general opinion that the story isn't horror. what do people think horror is?

it has elements of a parable so it has a fantasy feel (and, incidentally, is why i have no problem with the plot's shortened timeline. it captures a mindset and life lesson, realism is secondary) but just because it has elements of one genre doesn't exclude it from another.



eytanz

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Reply #9 on: May 13, 2008, 07:29:27 PM
i don't understand this general opinion that the story isn't horror. what do people think horror is?

I think I said this once before in another thread, but for me, any story which is about things starting bad and getting better isn't horror. Not to say that there can't be horror with happy endings, but those would be happy endings despite the thrust of the story. This story, about a character discovering that (shock!) people care about her, and (gasp!) she can care about them back - not so horrifying.

That said, as I said in my post above, I do think this story works well in PP because it's starting point - emotional distance and body horror imagery - are elements of horror stories. That it subverts the genre and turns them to another use means it may not be horror, exactly, but it is clearly a story that is in dialogue with the horror genre, and that's good enough for me once in a while for variety's sake.



DKT

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Reply #10 on: May 13, 2008, 07:31:35 PM
i don't understand this general opinion that the story isn't horror. what do people think horror is?

it has elements of a parable so it has a fantasy feel (and, incidentally, is why i have no problem with the plot's shortened timeline. it captures a mindset and life lesson, realism is secondary) but just because it has elements of one genre doesn't exclude it from another.

I'd say the "Is this horror?" question pops up here slightly less frequently than the "Is this SF?" question does over at Escape Pod.

I love the wide variety of horror Pseudopod gives us.  I'm pretty sure that's why I still listen every week.


JoeFitz

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Reply #11 on: May 13, 2008, 08:15:04 PM
i don't understand this general opinion that the story isn't horror. what do people think horror is?
I think I said this once before in another thread, but for me, any story which is about things starting bad and getting better isn't horror. Not to say that there can't be horror with happy endings, but those would be happy endings despite the thrust of the story. This story, about a character discovering that (shock!) people care about her, and (gasp!) she can care about them back - not so horrifying.

I missed your earlier posting on the genre - but I like this description. This story, is the inverse of that description and, as such, while it has some body horror (reminding me of PP 83: Heartstrung), it was not particularly horror, for me.

I'm speculating that I would have liked it had the story continued. Perhaps something bad could happen to her new friend, and she would "regress" and cut herself with the knife and cut off a piece of him (like she did the shark tooth) under her skin.



deflective

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Reply #12 on: May 13, 2008, 09:57:54 PM
I think I said this once before in another thread, but for me, any story which is about things starting bad and getting better isn't horror.

fair enough, i haven't spent much time with pseudopod recently. this was the first story i really enjoyed for quite a while.

my comment really wasn't directed at you since you had qualified your post, it was the unconditional agreement that followed. my personal definition of horror closely resembles general use and i wasn't aware it was redefined here.

Quote from: eytanz
This story, about a character discovering that (shock!) people care about her, and (gasp!) she can care about them back - not so horrifying.

that was secondary for me. i saw it as someone who was withdrawn into the past, fixated on objects. dead things. letting those objects go, letting yourself feel, changes your perception.

the objects became cheap baubles, tokens that actually distracted from the very people they represented.



sirana

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Reply #13 on: May 14, 2008, 08:51:14 AM
I don't think I ever wished for a story to have a happy ending as much as for this one and I was surprised and happy that it actually got one (this beeing Pseudopod and all).
This was probably my favourite Pseudopod story, which might mean that I am not really a horror person (I wouldn't classify the story as horror either...)
Beautifully read by Mur, who is still THE BEST READER IN THE WORLD.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #14 on: May 16, 2008, 03:06:32 AM
Personally, I could give a crap about the classification.  I'm just happy there are three of these podcasts every week instead of just one.  Call it whatever you like, you just tripled my chances of hearing a really cool story.  :)


THIS story was surprising to me.  Once I figured out what was going on with the cutting, I expected it to veer into either some kind of superhero scenario (a la Wolverine) or into some kind of self-topping grossout.  It did neither, and I was really moved by the theme of healing.  Maybe that isn't "horrorfying" enough for the thrill crowd, but it pushes my buttons!

Mur's delivery does a fair bit of pushing, too.  ;)

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Steven Saus

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Reply #15 on: May 21, 2008, 10:36:42 PM
I really enjoyed this story - and while I had the "but is it horror" moment myself, I also realized I didn't care.  Which is good, isn't it?

Beautifully read by Mur, who is still THE BEST READER IN THE WORLD.

I'm agreeing, but for some reason her reading of this story kept reminding me of GlaDoS, which was extremely appropriate.

And Alistair?  Excellent commentary.  Many kudos.

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Alasdair5000

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Reply #16 on: May 21, 2008, 10:38:42 PM
Thanks Uriel:)  Always appreciated:)  This is a story I'm very fond of, and if I did a good job with it then so much the better:)



CammoBlammo

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Reply #17 on: May 29, 2008, 11:41:15 AM
I think I have to agree with eytanz here. I loved the first 80% of the story, right up until the father turned up. Then everything started to go right for the girl, and the story ended. It didn't finish. It just stopped.

To be honest, when I realised the story was somewhat parable-like I felt like I'd been duped a little. It was like I've built up a great rapport with a stranger down the road, only to realise he's been talking to me in order to sell me something. It's not cheating, but I would have been happier if everyone had been honest about their intentions from the start.



wakela

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Reply #18 on: June 11, 2008, 12:29:59 AM
I think I have to agree with eytanz here. I loved the first 80% of the story, right up until the father turned up. Then everything started to go right for the girl, and the story ended. It didn't finish. It just stopped.

To be honest, when I realised the story was somewhat parable-like I felt like I'd been duped a little. It was like I've built up a great rapport with a stranger down the road, only to realise he's been talking to me in order to sell me something. It's not cheating, but I would have been happier if everyone had been honest about their intentions from the start.
I think that sums up my feelings nicely. 

I also felt like I do in those movies where the nerd girl takes off her glasses and lets her hair down and she is suddenly gorgeous.  It's been my experience that non-social people have a hard time, y'know, socializing, and they often make other people uncomfortable.  It takes more than just, "Hey, come meet my friends" to bring someone back into society.

Horror can be many things, but I think fundamentally it needs to be scary or at least creepy.  And not emo-kid-no-one-understands-me scary but my-god-it's-still-in-the-basement scary. 






Sgarre1

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Reply #19 on: July 07, 2008, 11:35:18 PM
This was okay.  Well-written, nice ending.  Not horror, though, more like humanistic sci-fi.  Making it more squishy would have edged it closer to horror but also undermined it's nicely deployed point.  Good story but not a horror story.

Thanks for listening.

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Unblinking

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Reply #20 on: November 03, 2009, 06:31:05 PM
I think I have to agree with eytanz here. I loved the first 80% of the story, right up until the father turned up. Then everything started to go right for the girl, and the story ended. It didn't finish. It just stopped.

To be honest, when I realised the story was somewhat parable-like I felt like I'd been duped a little. It was like I've built up a great rapport with a stranger down the road, only to realise he's been talking to me in order to sell me something. It's not cheating, but I would have been happier if everyone had been honest about their intentions from the start.

Well put.  And I did think the coincidence of the things all going right within a day or two was a bit much. 

I also agree with wakela that it takes more than an invite to hang out to bring someone in from the social outskirts.



Millenium_King

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Reply #21 on: July 20, 2010, 10:14:23 PM
This one gets a negative reaction from me.  The pace felt plodding and the events barely hung together.  It felt like one of those "then a bunch of stuff happened" or "slice of life" stories where, at the end, the character has a wistful revelation whilst crumbling toast or some such nonsense (in this case, whilst getting a paper cut).  In short: the plot never felt engaging.

But I think the story's largest flaw is it's rather antique plot, consider:  at the heart of this, we have the classic tale of a passive, withdrawn female protagonist who only experiences change and personal growth at the hands of a charming young man who "just won't take no for an answer." This plot is as old as the hills and, perhaps, just a little sexist to the modern ear.  Furthermore, except for hum-drum weirdness of the cutting, this tale plays the tired old trope absolutely straight.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that I positively LOVED Al's outro - really helped put the story in perspective for me; but, coincidentally, it also led me to realize how antique - and perhaps even insulting - the plot was.  I'm no feminist, but a passive girl who is rescued by (a) her father and (b) a forceful gentleman caller sends up red flags for even one as obtuse as I.

Secondly, I LOVED the reading.  The narrator had an amazing and very distinct voice.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2010, 10:20:02 PM by Millenium_King »

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