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Author Topic: Pseudopod 90: The Exhibition  (Read 8314 times)

Bdoomed

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on: May 18, 2008, 06:14:07 PM
Pseudopod 90: The Exhibition

By Melinda Selmys

Read by Heather Welliver

This was the first time in over a century that Garnet had found the courage to attend an exhibition. In those days the fashion had been deliberate deformity; men made with the faces of beasts, or misshapen into the likeness of a turning screw. The art of it had been to make the most severe possible departure from the human form, without creating something too monstrous to be viable; apparently, things had grown worse in a hundred and fifty years.

“Give us a blessing, little mother,” the man standing next to Garnet said to her. He clearly fancied himself a critic of the arts, dressed in the new-style – layers of expensive cloth and furs draped so that they loudly proclaimed the wealth of one who could afford natural fabrics, while doing nothing to clothe or obscure the body of the wearer. His laugh was as joyless and acerbic as bubbling vinegar.

“That one only blesses monsters,” his companion, who was neither male nor female, sipped its wine and ran its fingers along the surface of the blood-drenched ice.


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



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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eytanz

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Reply #1 on: May 18, 2008, 09:17:43 PM
This one fell rather flat for me. It started out pretty gruesome, and I was both horrified and wondering where it was going, but then it quickly became boring and stayed that way.



Chivalrybean

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Reply #2 on: May 19, 2008, 05:39:56 PM
I really did not get this at all. People made of clay? Huh? I have heard of putting yourself into your art, though. I just listened to The Picture of Dorian Gray. Anyways... Other than remonding me of a previous PP episode about ritual body mutilation to make a scapegoat, this didn't do much for me at all. I wasn't able to follow the religion other than 'be nice to people' which is always a good thing, but that was about it. I didn't know why people were made of clay and other substances, so that didn't do much either. It seemed like something had happened to cause this, but was not revealed.

Overall, didn't hate it, but didn't like it. My favorite part of the episode was mention of a shoggoth on a treadmill.

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eytanz

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Reply #3 on: May 19, 2008, 07:08:07 PM
Overall, didn't hate it, but didn't like it. My favorite part of the episode was mention of a shoggoth on a treadmill.

Speaking of which: http://www.thefump.com/fump.php?id=1046



JoeFitz

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Reply #4 on: May 22, 2008, 02:30:27 AM
An interesting series of images, but it just didn't come into focus for me.



cuddlebug

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Reply #5 on: May 22, 2008, 09:19:20 AM
I really enjoyed this story and I seem to be the only one so far, hhmmm? Wonder why. It wasn't perfect, it certainly was flawed, but I loved the way it created a world in which textures and materials, their consistency and strength, seemed to matter more than anything else. The way flesh and clay etc. were described really brought the images to life for me.

... and speaking of clay, when I discovered that people were made of clay and they created monsters themselves, monsters who barely had the capacity speak, I was somehow reminded of 'golems' (in a reversed and somewhat twisted way in this story, for a good modern take on it I can recommend Cynthia Ozick's Puttermesser ... something, which is set in New York) or the idea of the 'homunculus' (is that from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (?) or Faust yet again) maybe?. (Guess I have to research that one a bit?)

And the fact that GARNET, which is actually a gemstone, a rather hard one, as the name used for the main character who is a brittle as they come, was a nice touch.



Steven Saus

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Reply #6 on: May 24, 2008, 12:22:24 AM
This sounded wonderful, artistic, and lyrically beautiful.  It was gorgeously read.

And it repeatedly lost me in its lyric-ness.   *sigh* 

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Kaa

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Reply #7 on: May 24, 2008, 04:43:37 PM
This one fell flat for me, too.  It reminded me--as it was supposed to, I'm rather certain--of walking through an art gallery and looking at the items on display. But that's all it was for me. I was merely watching. Nothing in the story reached out and grabbed me and pulled me in.

Moving on to the next exhibit....

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Sylvan

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Reply #8 on: May 25, 2008, 06:26:51 PM
Knowing that scary stories can be my un-doing, I have avoided listening to PseudoPod for some time, now.  This was, in fact, my first story.

I liked it and did not like it, for different reasons.

I felt that the true horror of the tale was due to both the inhumanity of the narrator as well as what was happening to the humans on display.  The only problem with this was that the nature of the narrator was never fully explored in sufficient terms for me to gain a grounding in the story.  In that regard, it was hard to really feel the horror of the situation:  I could only appreciate the gore and grotesquery of it all.

Even then, however, it was a distant sort of grotesque.  It never sat up and slapped me in the face.

This is the type of scary story in which the reader/listener needs to understand the motivation of the narrator as well as the situation in which the events transpire.

If horror of this type is to be successful, I think we have to identify with a character other than the victim and understand their surroundings.

Were the main creatures on this alien world golems?  What was the nature of the captives?  How much did the human exhibits understand their situation?

To see horror in the affectations of the idle rich -of the upper class making art exhibits out of the suffering of others- is, indeed, a frightening prospect.  I only wish that we had more of a connection with it than we got in the narrative.

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Listener

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Reply #9 on: May 27, 2008, 12:50:11 PM
This one fell flat for me, too.  It reminded me--as it was supposed to, I'm rather certain--of walking through an art gallery and looking at the items on display. But that's all it was for me. I was merely watching. Nothing in the story reached out and grabbed me and pulled me in.

Moving on to the next exhibit....

Yup, that's about how I felt about it.

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bamugo

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Reply #10 on: May 28, 2008, 08:47:17 PM
This one didn't really do it for me. I don't think I really understood it, and though the reading was lovely, I was extremely distracted by its only flaw: the mispronunciation of the word "monster" as "munster". That's as bad as "hut dog" "robut" and (shudder) "melk".



zZzacha

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Reply #11 on: May 29, 2008, 10:05:31 AM
I was extremely distracted by its only flaw: the mispronunciation of the word "monster" as "munster". That's as bad as "hut dog" "robut" and (shudder) "melk".
Depends on where you're comin' from! In Holland it's both written and pronounced "melk". Doesn't shudder me  :)

As for the story: that didn't bring any shudder to me. Not in a bad way, not in a good way. The story started out fine, it just didn't 'go' anywhere. Which, of course, doesn't have to be the case all the time. As Stephen King says, the story is not about the ending, it's about the journey to that ending. I agree with that in part - of course you read the story for the story, otherwise you could just read the end and be done - but the ending does matter. Without an ending, I easily dismiss the story. As a story junky, I need that satisfaction that gives me shudders and gets me to listen to another one.

The depiction of the exhibition was nicely done though, enhanced by the reading of Heather Welliver, great voice! That did shudder me! In a good way :]

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Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #12 on: May 31, 2008, 09:49:19 PM
I swear I listened to this one... I was mowing the yard, and I remember the opening images and the main character's name... but I can't for the LIFE of me remember what happened!

Take that however you like (as a critique of the story or of my brain), but it's profoundly unsettling.  :(

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Ben Phillips

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Reply #13 on: May 31, 2008, 10:11:20 PM
Were the main creatures on this alien world golems?  What was the nature of the captives?  How much did the human exhibits understand their situation?

The story briefly mentions that a process had been invented a century or two back by which people's bodies could be reinforced or replaced by clay, leading eventually to a scarcity of clay (or, presumably, the right kinds of clay).  The fallen soldiers in the exhibit were imported from a distant battlefield where (I interpret that) people were less economically privileged and therefore entirely flesh.

There's a lot crammed between the lines, and I agree it's a challenge to follow it as a result.  I'd personally like to see this expanded into a longer work, probably a novella at least -- I think you'd see a lot of these complaints addressed by a more in-depth telling of the story of the struggle which in this story acts only as background.  But I get the impression there's enough there that it would be hard to do it justice in 6000 words or less.  Although, who am I to say!



wakela

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Reply #14 on: June 11, 2008, 12:14:46 AM
I liked this one.  Not much happens, but the world was rich and interesting and bigger than what was in the story.  I don't disagree with the above criticisms, though.  But I liked wandering around this creepy place and not really getting what I was seeing.



Sgarre1

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Reply #15 on: July 09, 2008, 01:55:58 AM
This one falls into that strange area for me - stories I think I'd like better if I read them myself.  Same thing happened with "The Language Of Crows".

I'm not one for world-building (I think true horror works best as little alterations in the real world) but you could definitely feel this writer was serious, so I appreciated the focus.  Still, so much interiority is tough to bring across in a reading.  Not that the reader wasn't good, just that, as I said above, it's tough to beat the experience of reading some types of stories.

Solid

Thanks For Listening

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Unblinking

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Reply #16 on: November 03, 2009, 06:24:24 PM
The world building in this one was really quite excellent.  I don't disagree with the criticisms made above, but overall the world really made it work for me.  I love golems so seeing a society where golems are the race in control was very interesting, and to see them torturing humans and calling it art is downright freaky!



Millenium_King

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Reply #17 on: July 16, 2010, 11:11:46 PM
I definately did not like this one; which is really too bad since the imagery and setting was pretty impressive.  Unfortunately, this one got all wrapped up in its world, in its little moments and forgot to stick to a plot.  There seemed to be a semblance of one, but it was deeply obfuscated:  "her chance to redeem the world had passed by centuries ago, she had given it up for a handful of dust..."

It's my opinion that this one "put the horse before the cart" (not a typo) - which is to say, it got caught up in world-building, but not actual plot.  In a novel, it might be acceptable to know every little detail of these golem-people, but in a short it's best to dispense with every single detail not important to the main thrust - even if you spent hours dreaming up just how an imaginary society works.  It's my opinion that anything so outre needs to be grounded firmly in an engaging plot (Star Wars is a good example) or else run the risk of becoming inaccessible to most audiances.  A good example is the "high priest" golem who was once a "demigod" but then sold bits of his body - very interesting, yes, but relevant?  No.

This piece read like a quick overview of golem society - interesting, perhaps, but not very entertaining.  A better take on this would have been to focus on the drama, rather than the aftermath.  The story of her trial seemed much more interesting to me than the sort of non-story we got here.  A more direct telling of Garnet's betrayal and subsequent prosecution would have been more engaging - rather than a vignette about a grotesque art display (which hardly seemed to connect with the plot anyway).

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