Author Topic: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus  (Read 6958 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« on: October 03, 2008, 12:14:16 AM »
Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus

By Michael Savastano

Read by Ben Phillips

A tiny slit in the yellow protective suit killed her.

Ridley Means slammed down the quarantine lever, locking the room that would soon become Joella Henney’s tomb. Pale blue warning lights flashed. Joella swerved toward the window and peered with panicked eyes. Her head darted to each side, inspecting her body, arms outstretched.

She won’t see it. You never see the one that gets you.

She charged toward Ridley. The coiled air hose straightened behind her. Her gloved hands laid flat against the glass. She mouthed something. It looked like, “Please.”




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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Zathras

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2008, 07:26:44 PM »
You got your Escapepod in my Pseudopod!

I like this one a lot.

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2008, 10:08:44 PM »
Not bad. Down right Creepy. But, somehow I think I wanted one more good "creepy scare" beat at the end.
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yicheng

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2008, 08:04:32 AM »
Anyone notice that the Admins sound very much like the voice from Jyhad over Innsmouth?  Cthulthu in space?

Listener

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2008, 07:36:35 AM »
I'm not only the president of the Alien Virus Club for Men... I'm also a client!

The story was suitably creepy, if a bit over-gory, but the reveal at the end -- that Means was the carrier of the antibody -- came as a bit TOO much of a surprise for me. And then... Means knows how many people have died from this. Surely he was ill-used, but he never mentioned that he had loved ones waiting for him back on Earth... just debts. He had Joella on the station, and apparently was about to boink her. Of course he's upset, but he could kill an extremely dangerous virus. Why NOT just let the Admins get it from you? The needs of the many and all that.

So, in other words, I don't understand Means's negative motivation when he found out what happened to him.

I think Ben overplayed the world-weariness of Means a bit too much.

As for the Outro... I love Sector General. Though the O'Mara origin story, when he's working on the construction crew, fell a bit flat for me, and SPOILER the fact that O'Mara actually has a can't-lie caterpillar tape in his brain that affects his mindset and deus ex machina's a lot of his behavior END SPOILER ruined the ending a tad, but James White created aliens and got into their brains like nobody's business. I hope that when Kage Gray eventually makes it to print I have done something even 1/3 of the way as well as White did when getting into alien heads.
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eytanz

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2008, 12:58:19 PM »
The story was suitably creepy, if a bit over-gory, but the reveal at the end -- that Means was the carrier of the antibody -- came as a bit TOO much of a surprise for me. And then... Means knows how many people have died from this. Surely he was ill-used, but he never mentioned that he had loved ones waiting for him back on Earth... just debts. He had Joella on the station, and apparently was about to boink her. Of course he's upset, but he could kill an extremely dangerous virus. Why NOT just let the Admins get it from you? The needs of the many and all that.

I agree with your comments entirely, except that I understood the ending differently - the admins knew what the vaccine they fed Means; they don't need him anymore. When he said "they're not coming for me", he didn't mean "they're coming for me, aren't they?" but literally "no-one is coming, right?" The admins decided to just maroon him behind to die once oxygen runs out or something, and he decided that if he's going to die, he might as well go to see the planet first.

What I'm curious about is whether the breach was engineered - was each staff member fed a different vaccine, and the admins rigged Joella's suit to break? Does that explain the mysteriously appearing gash? If so, does this actually explain why the virus breaches when it shouldn't? Maybe the admins have been engineering breaches for a while. Not enough information in the story to answer all these questions, I'm afraid.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2008, 01:00:45 PM by eytanz »

gelee

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2008, 07:56:51 AM »
I enjoyed this one too, but I got stuck on the urge to go planet-side.  I mean, yeah, oxygen starvation sucks, but I got the impression that he had a compulsion to get to the surface.  Perhaps the compulsion was driven by the alien antibodies staving off the virus?  Maybe the antibody was not quite a proper antibody, but simply something that kept the virus from killing it’s host.  I believe it was stated that the spurlings, who where apparently not killed by the virus, carried no antibodies for them. 
That was the impression I got.  Good one.  SF and horror have gone hand in hand for a very long time.  Aliens was the pinnacle for me, but there are dozens of great examples, going all the way back to War of the Worlds, as far as I can tell.
I'm not familiar with Sector General.  Perhaps I'll have to look it up...

Zathras

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2008, 08:25:35 AM »
The story was suitably creepy, if a bit over-gory, but the reveal at the end -- that Means was the carrier of the antibody -- came as a bit TOO much of a surprise for me. And then... Means knows how many people have died from this. Surely he was ill-used, but he never mentioned that he had loved ones waiting for him back on Earth... just debts. He had Joella on the station, and apparently was about to boink her. Of course he's upset, but he could kill an extremely dangerous virus. Why NOT just let the Admins get it from you? The needs of the many and all that.

I agree with your comments entirely, except that I understood the ending differently - the admins knew what the vaccine they fed Means; they don't need him anymore. When he said "they're not coming for me", he didn't mean "they're coming for me, aren't they?" but literally "no-one is coming, right?" The admins decided to just maroon him behind to die once oxygen runs out or something, and he decided that if he's going to die, he might as well go to see the planet first.

What I'm curious about is whether the breach was engineered - was each staff member fed a different vaccine, and the admins rigged Joella's suit to break? Does that explain the mysteriously appearing gash? If so, does this actually explain why the virus breaches when it shouldn't? Maybe the admins have been engineering breaches for a while. Not enough information in the story to answer all these questions, I'm afraid.

While listening, I expected a smart virius.  After the reveal, I feel that it was all engineered by the Admins.

eytanz

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2008, 08:33:47 AM »
While listening, I expected a smart virius.  After the reveal, I feel that it was all engineered by the Admins.

I don't know enough about the world, but from what I could get from the story, the Admins were in charge of creating human colonies, and Spurling's virus was preventing this colony's creation, thus cutting into their profits (whether monetary or whatever it is that they want).

Of course, that's always the problem when we get a story that's part of a larger universe - the backstory isn't actually present, and maybe there's more going on here than was clear. I haven't read the other story(s) that the author wrote about this setting, so I have no idea - you could well be right.

Zathras

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2008, 11:13:52 AM »
I realized that my statement could be taken a few different ways, so just to avoid confusion:

I meant that the cases of the virus breaking containment were orchestrated by the admins.


eytanz

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2008, 01:06:40 PM »
I realized that my statement could be taken a few different ways, so just to avoid confusion:

I meant that the cases of the virus breaking containment were orchestrated by the admins.


Oh, in that case, I agree 100%.

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2008, 05:34:56 AM »
I enjoyed this one too, but I got stuck on the urge to go planet-side.  I mean, yeah, oxygen starvation sucks, but I got the impression that he had a compulsion to get to the surface.  Perhaps the compulsion was driven by the alien antibodies staving off the virus?  Maybe the antibody was not quite a proper antibody, but simply something that kept the virus from killing it’s host.  I believe it was stated that the spurlings, who where apparently not killed by the virus, carried no antibodies for them. 
That was the impression I got.

I think you're right about this.
At one point he mentions how being infected feels like having millions of bugs crawling all over you. That comment seemed out of place at the time, so I took it to mean that the virus wasn't so much a virus as a swarm of micro organisms.
I thought the story was that since he was the last human on the station they spared/possessed him in order to get back to the surface.
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gelee

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2008, 07:12:06 AM »
I enjoyed this one too, but I got stuck on the urge to go planet-side.  I mean, yeah, oxygen starvation sucks, but I got the impression that he had a compulsion to get to the surface.  Perhaps the compulsion was driven by the alien antibodies staving off the virus?  Maybe the antibody was not quite a proper antibody, but simply something that kept the virus from killing it’s host.  I believe it was stated that the spurlings, who where apparently not killed by the virus, carried no antibodies for them. 
That was the impression I got.

I think you're right about this.
At one point he mentions how being infected feels like having millions of bugs crawling all over you. That comment seemed out of place at the time, so I took it to mean that the virus wasn't so much a virus as a swarm of micro organisms.
I thought the story was that since he was the last human on the station they spared/possessed him in order to get back to the surface.
That makes sense too.  He seemed to have a lot more empathy for the Spurlings after he'd been infected.

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2009, 02:40:29 PM »
I enjoyed this one too, but I got stuck on the urge to go planet-side.  I mean, yeah, oxygen starvation sucks, but I got the impression that he had a compulsion to get to the surface.  Perhaps the compulsion was driven by the alien antibodies staving off the virus?  Maybe the antibody was not quite a proper antibody, but simply something that kept the virus from killing it’s host.  I believe it was stated that the spurlings, who where apparently not killed by the virus, carried no antibodies for them. 
That was the impression I got.

I think you're right about this.
At one point he mentions how being infected feels like having millions of bugs crawling all over you. That comment seemed out of place at the time, so I took it to mean that the virus wasn't so much a virus as a swarm of micro organisms.
I thought the story was that since he was the last human on the station they spared/possessed him in order to get back to the surface.

Hmmm... that's an interesting idea that I didn't come up with at all.  It seemed like he was fleeing so as not to be captured by the Admins to have his super-secret antibodies removed, but this makes more sense.  And I didn't consider that the Admin were engineering breaches to perform their antibody tests, that makes this story so much better.

Overall, I thought it was pretty good, though I didn't really get his motives for running at the end.  This is one of those cases where I like a story more after reading thread comments about it.  :)

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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2010, 11:17:04 PM »
I really liked this one. The pacing was good as there was a solid building dread. Multiple layers of dread built upon each other first with the other victims, then the cutting of the suit, and finally the realization of the multiple betrayals.

The impression I got was that the humans were experimenting on the Spurlings in order to try to determine a cure to the disease. The admins were experimenting on the humans (including controlled breaches) in order to determine a cure to the disease. The humans were as expendable to the admins as the Spurlings were to the humans. So the realization that he's the monkey in the test clinic makes him more sympathetic with the rats in the test clinic.
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Re: Pseudopod 110: Spurling’s Virus
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2010, 03:37:08 PM »
Eh.  This one was alright.  I felt it descended into melodrama and downright goofiness at some points.  It felt like a weak version of The Andromeda Strain that played the "killer virus" trope straight, but without breaking any new ground.  The whole setup, from remarkably human alien Admins to the transporters, felt lifted straight out of Star Trek.  We all knew the main character would either die from the virus, or be immune to it - I was hardly surprised it was some sort of scheme by the Admins.

In short, this felt like a mess of cliches that was not told interestingly or originally enough to warrant anything beyond a shrug of the shoulders.
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