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Author Topic: Pseudopod 115: Clockwork  (Read 11123 times)

Bdoomed

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on: November 07, 2008, 03:38:11 PM
Pseudopod 115: Clockwork

By Trent Jamieson

Read by Ben Phillips

Some places you visit in dreams again and again. Some places visit you. Fourteen and it found me.

I stood knee deep in grass, brittle, yellowing, summer grass. The citadel rose above me, its clockwork beat roaring in my head; gears and wheels rumbling, ticking, tocking, groaning under the weight of all that time.

On the furthest buttress from me, though I dared not look, I knew he would be there, a single figure hanging, broken-necked, spinning in short circles, dancing on the dry hot wind.

And because I was doomed, because the dream was a tide and inevitability, I walked towards the citadel.

When I was near, so close that I could almost touch it, the ground shook and the brass doors at the tower’s base flung open like the wings of an iron dragon and I stared into the guts of the machine.




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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


Alasdair5000

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Reply #1 on: November 07, 2008, 05:35:37 PM
Contrary to what it sounds like, this week's endcaps were not, in fact recorded in a bucket.  What they were recorded on was a very, very poorly mike.  Next week should, hopefully, sound better.



DKT

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Reply #2 on: November 07, 2008, 06:07:55 PM
Have not read this yet, but I really dig Trent Jamieson's stuff.  He wrote one of the best stories I think Murky Depths has yet published and "Tumble" was nuts.  So, looking forward to this.


600south

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Reply #3 on: November 08, 2008, 02:38:06 AM
This one didn't quite chill me but I liked the overall theme, having had a few similar existential crises myself. If only I could turn them into successful comic series like he did...



deflective

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Reply #4 on: November 08, 2008, 07:03:08 AM
lol, man. did Alasdair5000 type 'time' into a lyrics engine to prep for the outro?



Alasdair5000

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Reply #5 on: November 08, 2008, 09:19:21 AM
That is actually the level of trivia I retain, seriously.  I read the story and the neural map looked something like this:

Clockwork
Citadel of clocks
Steampunk?  No I don't know it well enough, I'll look like a tool.
Time-Mick Jagger-Fallen-House.  Time is on my side.
Hugh Laurie and Mick Jagger are English-Malcolm Mcdowell-Time is the fire in which we burn.
Kind of grim and this kind of isn't.  Been researching Bond a lot recently and ha!  Louis Armstrong!  We Have All The Time in the World!

Aaaaaand rest:)



Cerebrilith

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Reply #6 on: November 08, 2008, 03:10:18 PM
Alasdair's wrap-around work was the best part of this story.  The story itself didn't do anything for me.  The protagonist just seemed kind of whiny and obsessive.  I'm sorry his dad killed himself but that didn't seem really connected to the big scary clock tower.  The happy shiny ending put me off too.  A lifetime of mental obsession just isn't done away with in a moment.



Sgarre1

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Reply #7 on: November 09, 2008, 07:22:00 AM
I felt this story was written in a style reminiscent of the excesses of Vertigo comics circa mid 90's, which is understandable given the comic book aspect in the story (my framing it like that to myself is understandable, I mean to say).  A fixation on ostensibly "dark" symbols disconnected from broad general concerns and more of an exploration of a particular character's psyche.  But what do WE, the reader, get out of that exploration?

I guess one way to approach it is to realize that it falls more into the camp of Dark Fantasy than horror.  As annoying as some people may find this endless genre dickering, distinctions like that are important to me as they help me gauge my expectations in regards to a story.  Approaching this as dark fantasy gives the story more latitude in regards to poetic writing and some aspects of Symbolism.  But I do have to say that I usually find such exercises to be artistically interesting but emotionally disconnecting.

I mean, in the end, this is a story with no real threat.  This guy is just obsessed with this singular thing he saw as a kid because it ties in with some emotional complex about his Dad and eventually he lets go of it.  Good for him. Scary? Not really.  The tone is more one of dark musing than anything stronger.  And that's fine.  There's obviously an audience for such stuff.  But I'm not that audience.

Why the story treated the fact that it took place in Australia as a mystery to be solved by the reader is beyond me.  "in the Southern Hemisphere" made me start wondering until Brisbane showed up. Did I miss some whopping great indicator much earlier on?

Thanks for listening.

"The important thing is that man is lost in time, in the moment that immediately precedes him - which only attests, by reflection, to the fact that he is lost in the moment that follows"
Andre Breton



deflective

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Reply #8 on: November 09, 2008, 07:43:04 AM
I felt this story was written in a style reminiscent of the excesses of Vertigo comics circa mid 90's, which is understandable given the comic book aspect in the story (my framing it like that to myself is understandable, I mean to say).

i totally imagined the cathedral like something out of Sandman.



leaaah

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Reply #9 on: November 09, 2008, 12:21:39 PM
I felt this story was written in a style reminiscent of the excesses of Vertigo comics circa mid 90's, which is understandable given the comic book aspect in the story (my framing it like that to myself is understandable, I mean to say).

i totally imagined the cathedral like something out of Sandman.

Same!

I really enjoyed the story--the horror was something that isn't supernatural (which made it all the scarier), but the tower made it seem otherworldly. Definitely one of my favourite Pseudopods so far.

Also, I can't speak for Aussies, being a Brit myself, but the lack of accent didn't bother me in the slightest.



eytanz

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Reply #10 on: November 09, 2008, 08:58:31 PM
I enjoyed this story - it was well written and gripping, and - even though it was essentiallya story about how someone gets better - it was effective as horror as I was never sure what direction it would take, until the very end.

I wish I lived near a clockwork citadel. Anyone feel like building one in Leeds or something?



JoeFitz

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Reply #11 on: November 09, 2008, 10:21:42 PM
This story didn't really grab me. Perhaps it was just a little too fluid of an audio piece. Too subtle, maybe? I just didn't care that this guy was obsessed with a clock tower. Too bad, because the writing was solid.




gelee

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Reply #12 on: November 10, 2008, 02:10:55 PM
I have to confess to mixed feelings about this one.  The 'story' itself was so-so.  What I really enjoyed was the language.  This had a very lyrical feel to it.  Unfortunatley, the jumping back and forth between the protags past and present left me pretty confused at points.  The beautiful lush language that made this a joy in some parts just overloaded my ears in others.  I kept having to stop the playback and back up a few seconds to hear something a second time, just to make sure I understood what was being said.
So, 4/5 for me.  Gorgeous language, but a little baroque for me sometimes.  Outro was great too.



DKT

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Reply #13 on: November 10, 2008, 06:17:07 PM
This one really connected with me.  I loved the imagery, the clockwork stuff, the way bits of the comic were interspersed throughout the story (like Sgarre1, I also thought of Sandman, which didn't bother me in the least), and the dynamic of a man trying to free himself of his past and hold onto his family and his future.  Great stuff, and a great reading by Ben. 


MacArthurBug

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Reply #14 on: November 12, 2008, 02:26:17 PM
It may well be that I'm a total Fangirl- but this felt sandman-esque to me as well.  Despide sounding as if they were recorded inside a bucket (or perhaps a very echo-ey clocktower...) the into-outro this week were genuis.  Al's geekdom is fantabulous - and really a bit more pip pip cherrio wouldn't hurt much... would it? I know, as someone who loves and adores accents in ways that may well be illegual in some states, I'd appriciate it.

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


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Reply #15 on: November 12, 2008, 06:42:41 PM
Made it to 7:27 before giving up.  Came here, read the comments, decided not to give it another go.  Guess I'm gonna blaspeme twice in one day:  I'm not a fan of Neil Gaiman, so all the Sandman comparisons turned me off to the idea of a second shot.  I couldn't understand the intro (hearing issues).

This was like trying to catch a greased pig.  A whole lot of effort to hold it, but it slips away none the less.



Raving_Lunatic

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Reply #16 on: November 12, 2008, 08:40:29 PM
This is exactly how I would have written a horror story, if I had the time/inclination/skill. Plot with existential philosophy as a nice side dish. In fact, the more recent creative writing I've done has more depressive asides than actual speech.

As for what I thought of the story- thumbs up. Didn't chill me to my core exactly, but I liked and related to the main character, with his bouts of existential despair. It comes to us all, ect.

Oh and Macarthur, most Brits actually talk similar to the way Alisdair does. I know I do.



Alasdair5000

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Reply #17 on: November 12, 2008, 09:12:04 PM
It may well be that I'm a total Fangirl- but this felt sandman-esque to me as well.  Despide sounding as if they were recorded inside a bucket (or perhaps a very echo-ey clocktower...) the into-outro this week were genuis.  Al's geekdom is fantabulous - and really a bit more pip pip cherrio wouldn't hurt much... would it? I know, as someone who loves and adores accents in ways that may well be illegual in some states, I'd appriciate it.

Apologies for the bucket:)  And leave the extra 'pip pip cheerio' with me...



Listener

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Reply #18 on: November 13, 2008, 02:57:44 PM
I desperately wanted to enjoy this story. But I just couldn't. The main character didn't inpire any sympathy in me -- accidentally meets a pretty girl at a comic convention? like that's never happened in literature before -- and the time-shifts were a little too wide-ranging and a little too jumps-from-here-to-there to really work in audio.

The stuff with the Horologe (sp?) comics worked really well, I think, but I was less impressed with the children's book bit that was put in, perhaps because Ben overplayed the voice a little.

Loved the outro.

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Sgarre1

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Reply #19 on: November 14, 2008, 12:55:33 AM
I should point out, just to clarify, that I wasn't referring to SANDMAN (with which I have no particular problem) but with related and generally forgotten also-rans like SCARAB or, jeez, I forget most of them now, Ann Niocenti's KID ETERNITY, maybe.  GHOSTDANCE.  Things like that.

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #20 on: November 14, 2008, 03:49:37 PM
Raving:

This is something that- logically- I know.  I grew up with BBC, and really there's very little pip pip etc.  In fact the only real Pip I ever heard of was a kiwi, a Pip Balentine.. going off track here

But you know a odd fangirl like me needs her dreams where brits say "pip" and "'ello luv" and whatnot- germans are all naughty and militant voiced  and every american is as sweetly southern as myself. ;)
'cause I substitute my own reality.

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


Dwango

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Reply #21 on: November 17, 2008, 08:25:15 PM
The imagery of the clock tower was interesting to listen to and I liked much of the story until the ending.   I didn't have the problem of sympathizing with the character.   His troubles and memories were rather poignant and his dreams held up his fears nicely.  But, in the ending, it was pretty much some hand waving and he was cured.  I'd think it would have been more dramatic if getting over it was more difficult at the end.  Such mental obsessions are not something you get over in one moment or a simple dream.  You can spend your entire lifetime fighting them off and on.



DKT

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Reply #22 on: November 17, 2008, 08:35:11 PM
But hadn't he spent most of his lifetime fighting it off?


Ben Phillips

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Reply #23 on: November 18, 2008, 09:35:02 AM
The stuff with the Horologe (sp?) comics worked really well, I think, but I was less impressed with the children's book bit that was put in, perhaps because Ben overplayed the voice a little.

Heh, a very polite way to put it.  I was wondering how that bit was going to go over.  A children's book narrator I am not.



mudguts

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Reply #24 on: November 24, 2008, 07:10:14 PM
I found that I didn't really get this story.  It caused me to have to rewind and listen to certain parts over and over again.   It just didn't catch my attention and keep me glued like other Pseudopod stories have.

Maybe it was the character.. but I think that it was the setting that did it.

3.5/10

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Unblinking

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Reply #25 on: October 30, 2009, 05:13:45 PM
Loved it!

After I listened to the story I realized that... not a lot really happened, which is usually something I complain about.  But the philosophy and the comic snippets kept me enthralled. 

Am I the only one that now wants to buy the complete Horologe collection?  :D

Lots of great imagery, the flashforwards and flashbacks worked well with the cyclical time theme.

And, my new favorite quotation:
"The moment of my death signifies nothing, except that I have lived."




Fenrix

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Reply #26 on: March 21, 2010, 04:44:12 AM
The stuff with the Horologe (sp?) comics worked really well, I think, but I was less impressed with the children's book bit that was put in, perhaps because Ben overplayed the voice a little.

Heh, a very polite way to put it.  I was wondering how that bit was going to go over.  A children's book narrator I am not.

*shrug* That part worked for me just fine. Very dark Seussian. Like the narration for the Grinch. Or maybe that creepy-ass Seuss segment of The Maxx. Then again I have a soft spot in my heart for children's literature, and if it happens to be dark all the better. The story was pretty, but a little too much Dream Cycle in my Maxx for my tastes.

I think it's also worth mentioning that this is one of the stories bumped by Wil Wheaton.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2010, 04:46:50 AM by Fenrix »

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Millenium_King

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Reply #27 on: June 29, 2010, 08:17:38 PM
If there are two things I like most in horror, they are:

(1) Nightmare edifices.
(2) Unspeakably grotesque monsters.

This story did the nightmare edifice justice, with a wonderful fake background story and a compelling image.  The story reminded me of the Victorian Age idea of "influencing machines" (particularly the "Air Loom") in the way the Citadel had a strange, remote hold over the protagonist.

Likewise, I appreciated the message: stop fretting and analyzing your life, or you'll never live.  A good message about overcoming the fear of death.  Something we should all take to heart.

All that being said, there were some parts that I didn't like: the fear of death alone providing the motivating force made this story heavy on imagery, but light on plot.  A more direct source of tension, such as inheriting the same disease as his father, might have helped.  I also thought the comic book scenes made the story goofy and undermined, rather than illuminated it.

An okay piece, but not great.

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