Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: Pseudopod 94: The Skull-Faced Boy  (Read 29737 times)

Bdoomed

  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5319
  • Mmm. Tiger.
on: June 14, 2008, 01:01:53 AM
Pseudopod 94: The Skull-Faced Boy

By David Barr Kirtley

Read by Ralph Walters

He turned his eyes back to the road, and in the light of the high beams he saw a man stumble into the path of the car. Without thinking, Jack swerved.

The car bounced violently, and then its left front side smashed into a tree. The steering column surged forward, like an ocean wave, and crushed Jack’s stomach. Dustin wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. He flew face-first through the windshield, rolled across the hood, and tumbled off onto the ground.



This week’s episode sponsored by Audible.com, who has extended their generous offer of a free audiobook download of your choice from their selection of over 40,000 titles.



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 01:25:03 AM by Bdoomed »

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Chivalrybean

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 158
    • The Space Turtle
Reply #1 on: June 14, 2008, 01:43:43 AM
If Land of Reeds was a 10, and it was, Skull-Faced Boy is a 9. It is only a 9 because I felt the story was a bit too short. Not because I wanted more of the same, but because I wanted to know what happened with the father and that house.

The whole smart zombie aspect was brilliant. Not done before as far as the extent that my zombie experiences reach.

Commanzomdos. How cool is that?

There is so many stories that could be told in this world.

Incidently, www.thetakeover.com is a great zombie/office audio drama.

The Space Turtle - News that didn't happen, stories to entertain.


Sylvan

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 78
    • The Darken Hollow
Reply #2 on: June 14, 2008, 02:08:02 AM
This was perfect timing and I suspect it was planned.  I mean, really, it came up just on my drive to work on "Blog Like It's The End Of The World" day!

The interpretation of the zombies' intellect was very well done as well as the differing viewpoints of the main characters as they slipped into what they saw as their "pre-defined" roles in the Zombie Uprising.

It was especially chilling to think of how it ended; that's the kind of stress and horror that's very personal.

Kudos; this was a keeper!  :)

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)



deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #3 on: June 14, 2008, 02:34:04 AM
this story is everything pseudopod! a classic scenario with a twist. an action driven plot with the hint of meaning. just right for audio, well performed audio at that.



Yossarian's grandson

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 47
  • Wisdom is knowing when to jump
Reply #4 on: June 14, 2008, 08:25:00 AM
I didn't care for this one. Everything just sort of happened, without any of the characters exhibiting something like an ' inner life'. It was basically: he goes there, does that, then he goes somewhere else and does another thing. All very 2-D.

Also, I didn't get the sense of the world in which the story plays. What actually happened, to make the dead rise? Why doesn't anyone seem to wonder?

One thing about the reading, though: WHAT A VOICE!



Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #5 on: June 14, 2008, 11:21:13 AM
The reader had a great voice for this story.  Actually, he sounds a lot like our commercial producer at work, so much so that when I first heard him (on a Scott Sigler promo, I believe) I thought it WAS him.

Anyway, I don't know that I liked the story so much at first, but once we got past the "we're dead, now we're zombies, WTF is going on" phase, the telling was pretty good.  I was able to get into it.  And the ending, while somewhat predictable, was still strong.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


petronivs

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 16
Reply #6 on: June 14, 2008, 05:27:01 PM
This was a good overall work.  Unfortunately, none of the characters really popped out at me as sympathetic, but I don't think that detracted from the story much.

As someone else mentioned, there really needs to be more done on this.  Maybe turn it into a novel, or a series of short.  Of course, I felt the same way about The Postman (the novel, not the move.  definitely not the movie).



Schreiber

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 129
Reply #7 on: June 16, 2008, 12:38:50 AM
I didn't feel this piecepacked the emotional punch that it should have.  There were definitely strong moments, but I think the author got ahead of himself in the rush to tell the story he wanted to tell.  I usually don't like making overly specific suggestions, but I think one major weakness was that we did not see enough of Ashley to make the ending hit home.  It's not that we had to know all that much about her character, but we had to at least imagine her.  What she looked like, the expressions on her face when she spoke, the way her lips formed words, and so on.  I'm not saying that the author needed to give us those details, but he should have given us more of a chance to fill them in for ourselves, because it would have made the end all the more horrifying.



Cerebrilith

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 62
Reply #8 on: June 17, 2008, 12:22:51 AM
I liked this story very much.  I felt for the main character and what he felt he had to do at the end.  It felt sort of like those old romances where the guy goes off to join the foreign legion at the end just to get away from the love he can never have.

I agree with the sentiment that this story would have been better if it were longer and more fleshed out in some areas.



deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #9 on: June 17, 2008, 12:54:20 AM
I agree with the sentiment that this story would have been better if it were longer and more fleshed out in some areas.

there's something to be said for its terse, barefaced honesty.



Void Munashii

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • twitter.com/VOIDMunashii
    • Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse
Reply #10 on: June 17, 2008, 03:01:12 PM
  I am a sucker for zombie tales, and so I did enjoy this one. My enjoyment stems mostly from the ideas in it than the actual story itself. The smart zombie concept is not one seen too often in zombie fiction, so that was nice, but the story itself seemed a little flat, maybe too abbreviated.

  Dustin seemed a little two dimensional to me, a little too eager to snuff out humanity. Maybe he was a complete and utter bastard before death, but there was not enough of that shown to establish it for me. I did like the bit with him spouting anti-living propaganda that the living want to exterminate the dead. The overall effect of his character was quite chilling, if a little underdeveloped.

  While this was not the best zombie story ever, it was quite enjoyable, and I would love to hear more.

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com


Bdoomed

  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5319
  • Mmm. Tiger.
Reply #11 on: June 17, 2008, 03:41:18 PM
I agree with the sentiment that this story would have been better if it were longer and more fleshed out in some areas.
ha. flesh.

This story seems like it should be part of a miniseries or something, maybe one of the first.  And then he can Tarantino it to how the outbreak started :)
I love the idea of smart zombies intermingled with the regular, instinctual ones.  Imagine a zombie that can actually open a door or window instead of just slapping against it!
and zombies with guns! that's the worst!

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #12 on: June 17, 2008, 04:40:08 PM
Another winner from David Barr Kirtley, IMO.  I loved a lot of what was going on in here, changing up the genre, the looming, haunting presence of the Skull-Faced Boy (just a kick ass image, really), and what happened to Ashley in the end.  Terrible, great stuff.

I do also wonder what happened to Jack's father, but maybe that's another story.

I do have a complaint, though.  Alasdair, how DARE you criticize 28 Days Later?  Flawed?  Geez, you probably like watching the Village!  ;)


Josh

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 28
Reply #13 on: June 17, 2008, 06:16:04 PM
I do have a complaint, though.  Alasdair, how DARE you criticize 28 Days Later?  Flawed?  Geez, you probably like watching the Village!  ;)

Yes, I had this same thought, destructomundo (great podcast if you're not familiar) said the same things about 28 days vs. weeks, so I have to say this somewhere. I don't understand why people liked weeks over days, 28 days later was acted incredibly, all reactions, I thought, were very genuine. I was looking forward to watching 28 weeks later, but was very disappointed; they are rebuilding an entire city and their big emergency plan was to stick everyone in a tiny room with no lights secured by zombie-breakable locks?? I would think they would have put a little more thought into a plan that important, so that a SINGLE zombie couldn't ruin the entire thing. You didn't get to know any of the characters so it didn't really matter when anyone got eaten and the only scare tactic they used was surprise and that is just cheep; I felt genuinely upset when, in 28 days, Frank gets infected and screams at his daughter to get away from him, now THAT is scary.

Please, I would like to know what people saw in 28 weeks later.

Oh ya, great story, I really enjoyed it; a fresh new way to look at a zombie invasion. :)



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #14 on: June 17, 2008, 10:11:17 PM
My response to this story can be summed up in three words:

More zombies. Yawn.

Really, that's all there is to say. Sure, there was some nice character work, but adding interesting elements to a zombie story is like adding mustard to a McDonalds hamburger. It might make it a bit different on the surface, but underneath, it's really just more of the same mass-produced stuff it always is.

« Last Edit: June 17, 2008, 10:13:02 PM by eytanz »



Listener

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #15 on: June 18, 2008, 08:38:17 PM
My response to this story can be summed up in three words:

More zombies. Yawn.

I never really got into zombie stories, but when I wrote my first horror story that I plan to sell, it was a zombie story.  A very personal zombie story, but a zombie story nonetheless.

If PP ever buys it (I haven't submitted it yet, but I may someday), I hope you don't yawn at it too. *grin*

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


Cerebrilith

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 62
Reply #16 on: June 18, 2008, 11:08:56 PM
I'm not sure why there seems to be a strong opinion that there's anything new or unique about having intelligent zombies.  I have no more then a casual interest in zombie related tales and I can think of two movies off the top of my head that involved them.

There's Romero's "Land of the Dead" movie from not too far back that included zombies becoming more intelligent over time and then there was this truly awful movie "Night of the Living Dorks" that included teenagers turned into zombies with no apparent change in their intellect.  I'm sure others could come up with far more examples then I.



deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #17 on: June 18, 2008, 11:40:58 PM
I love the idea of smart zombies intermingled with the regular, instinctual ones.  Imagine a zombie that can actually open a door or window instead of just slapping against it!

ever read i am legend?
the book i mean, not the movie.

Edit: fixed link
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 10:09:27 AM by Russell Nash »



DKT

  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #18 on: June 19, 2008, 12:50:27 AM
I love the idea of smart zombies intermingled with the regular, instinctual ones.  Imagine a zombie that can actually open a door or window instead of just slapping against it!

ever read i am legend?
the book i mean, not the movie.

Weren't those vampires?  Although maybe they were some kind of hyrbid.  It's been a looooooong time.


deflective

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1171
Reply #19 on: June 19, 2008, 01:14:21 AM
yeah they're vampires, kinda the point of the title, but the difference between a smart zombie and a feral vampire gets pretty muddled. i don't want to talk about it openly since the ending makes the story (an ending that was completely ignored in the movie). this may have unwanted hints.

select below for spoiler discussion
you had living vampires and dead vampires. the living ones were typically powerful & smart. the dead ones acted more like zombies, swarming cities and acting solely on instinct.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2008, 01:22:35 AM by deflective »



Boggled Coriander

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 545
    • Balancing Frogs
Reply #20 on: June 21, 2008, 03:40:18 AM
Awesome, awesome, awesome voicework from Ralph Walters.  The accents of the secondary characters were a bit jarring given the Maine setting, but that's a really minor quibble.

I really like the idea of a zombie story told from the point of view of an intelligent, articulate zombie.  Are there any others out there?

"The meteor formed a crater, vampires crawling out of the crater." -  The Lyttle Lytton contest


Ocicat

  • Castle Watchcat
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3293
  • Anything for a Weird Life
Reply #21 on: June 23, 2008, 08:15:49 AM
Okay, I'm not a horror fan.  Half the time I turn off Pseudopod before it's done.

But that was a classic!



JoeFitz

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
Reply #22 on: July 03, 2008, 02:35:03 AM
It took a while to get into this, but then I was there. And then it ended. I thought the ending was a little abrupt and the "defacing" of the girl a little too lightly treated. I would have liked this story to be a little longer to flesh things out (as it were). Still a good PP, imho.



bolddeceiver

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 226
  • Plunging like stones from a slingshot on mars...
Reply #23 on: July 06, 2008, 05:08:43 AM
I don't care much for zombies.  I liked this.  Maybe the same reason a few zombie-fan commenters seem a little cold about it?

I'll disagree on the skull-faced boy image being powerful; I couldn't imagine any image that wasn't really cheezy and slapstick when it came to a skull with eyeballs.



Void Munashii

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 267
  • twitter.com/VOIDMunashii
    • Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse
Reply #24 on: July 09, 2008, 12:36:22 AM
I'll disagree on the skull-faced boy image being powerful; I couldn't imagine any image that wasn't really cheezy and slapstick when it came to a skull with eyeballs.

  I pictured the poster for "Evil Dead 2", but not as dried out or old looking. More bright white bone and remaining red gore (which actually doesn't make much sense at the end of the story now that I think about it)

"Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse"
http://mallvillestory.blogspot.com