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Author Topic: Pseudopod 118: Lala Salama  (Read 9903 times)

Bdoomed

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on: November 26, 2008, 05:41:59 PM
Pseudopod 118: Lala Salama

By Gill Ainsworth

Read by Heather Welliver

“You are lucky; I have already imparted that to you. It is the life inside you that is suffering.”

“The hospital doctor looked at my baby through my tummy. It’s happy and normal. Asifiwe Bwana!”

“You may praise The Lord, but He cannot alter this, Madam. I have told you that!” For the first time, Ess noticed anger in the Mganga’s voice. He swatted at flies again, taking his vengeance out on the insects. “The Lord will thank you if you kill it,” he said in a more gentle tone.

Ess stood. “Kill my baby! For what?” She dropped a couple of shillings at his feet, and then stomped across the dirt track to her car and Kazungu who was waiting to drive her home. As she climbed into the vehicle she shouted, “To keep you and your stupid superstitions in business?”

“Madam,” Kazungu said, as he put the car into first gear, “you should show Mganga respect. He is a very wise man.”


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Zathras

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Reply #1 on: November 28, 2008, 06:14:11 PM
It was ok, I can't really put my finger on the exact problem with it.  The reading was great, but the pace seemed too slow to me.  The ending was not surprising, and was, IMO, the weakest part of the story.  The folk lore was the strength of this piece.



Ellspacer

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Reply #2 on: November 28, 2008, 07:46:35 PM
It was ok, I can't really put my finger on the exact problem with it.  The reading was great, but the pace seemed too slow to me.  The ending was not surprising, and was, IMO, the weakest part of the story.  The folk lore was the strength of this piece.

Yeah, pretty much that ...... I thought that the end was a bit rushed, but maybe the rest of the story was too slow. I'm not sure that the end couldn't have been made more cursory. Awesome reading, though.
I can't get Stiff Little Fingers out of my head!



csrster

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Reply #3 on: December 01, 2008, 12:51:40 PM
It was ok, I can't really put my finger on the exact problem with it. 

"Finger" being the operative word, presumably! I had to read the pseudopod blog to "get" the ending myself - something I don't think
I would have had a problem with on the printed page.  I liked this one in general but it was a bit slow-paced. It was fairly neat
how the apparent "filler" material about the scanning and the baby's sex turned out to be crucial at the end.



gelee

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Reply #4 on: December 01, 2008, 10:42:16 PM
It was ok, I can't really put my finger on the exact problem with it.  The reading was great, but the pace seemed too slow to me.  The ending was not surprising, and was, IMO, the weakest part of the story.  The folk lore was the strength of this piece.
My thoughts exactly.  I would have a hard time telling you exactly what failed to grab me, short of saying that nothing grabbed me.  Just didn't stand out. 



cubiksrube

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Reply #5 on: December 02, 2008, 06:44:51 PM
I thought it was okay, and couldn't really see why it shouldn't have been more engagingly creepy than it was, either. I think the pacing was just a bit off, and I didn't really get any increasing levels of dread creeping over me as it went on, as may have been the idea.

The general theme of "superstition trumps science" grated a little at times, too - that's probably not really fair, as superstitions are a great source of a lot of effective horror tropes, and a policy against magical or paranormal story elements would drastically cut this podcast's output. For some reason it didn't feel like it was all that well handled to me, though. Maybe I'll have clearer ideas once I've given it more time to mull over.


Raving_Lunatic

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Reply #6 on: December 02, 2008, 07:03:03 PM
Didn't grab me, although maybe I didn't give it a chance.



MacArthurBug

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Reply #7 on: December 03, 2008, 01:59:03 PM
I wasn't sold on this.  Solid "meh"

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.


Zathras

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Reply #8 on: December 03, 2008, 03:47:58 PM
Maybe it couldn't grab you because it tried to use it's left hand.



DKT

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Reply #9 on: December 05, 2008, 05:06:25 PM
It was ok, I can't really put my finger on the exact problem with it.

::UGH::   ;D

Like Zathras, I really liked the folklore bits of this.  Not that I didn't like the rest of the story, mind you, that part just really stuck for me.  I thought the reading was pretty solid, too.


Sgarre1

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Reply #10 on: December 07, 2008, 11:32:25 PM
Well, I liked this better than the last few weeks.  An old-fashioned story, but I mean that in a good way, with developed characters and some nice pacing.  Could have used more local color, what with it being Africa and all.  In the end, it does suffer from what most of these type of stories (I always lump them under Kipling's "Mark Of The Beast" but I'm sure there are earlier examples) suffer from - non-locals violate "primitive" belief and pay consequences far beyond what's warranted (at least in Kipling the main character openly mocked a god and performed an act of sacrilege).  So, because this lady happens to live in a universe where you shouldn't move chameleons, her child is born deformed.  And was that (finger for a penis, was it?) enough reason to smother the kid?  What would parents of Thalidomide children think?

So, while the details of the story didn't work me, I do have to say that the writing itself was pretty darn tight.  Nice, deft handling of the dream sequences and non-cringe-inducing writing in the sex sequences. Gill Ainsworth will be someone to watch for.

Transition silence gaps still seemed a little abrupt.

Thanks for listening

“He seriously thought that there is less harm in killing a man than producing a child: in the first case you are relieving someone of life, not his whole life but a half or a quarter or a hundredth part of that existence that is going to finish, that would finish without you; but as for the second, he would say, are you not responsible to him for all the tears he will shed, from the cradle to the grave? Without you he would never have been born, and why is he born? For your amusement, not for his, that’s for sure; to carry your name, the name of a fool, I’ll be bound – you may as well write that name on some wall; why do you need a man to bear the burden of three or four letters?”
Gustave Flaubert, NOVEMBER (1842)



DigitalVG

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Reply #11 on: December 08, 2008, 11:00:43 PM
I found this one creepy, but probably not the way it was intended.

I found the 'folklore' very creepy and racist.  I couldn't find a reference to that exact story anywhere, though it had elements borrowed from some other stories, but the creepy part is that I can imagine a legend like that being spun in South Africa.  Control people through superstition, make them okay with their class.  Much more real, visceral, and frightening than any story of the supernatural.

I also found the people creepy.  BREED!  MUST HAVE _SON_  SON MAKE OGG BEAT CHEST!  OOK OOK OOK!  OGGETTE FEEL BAD SHE NOT GIVE OGG SON.  Horrifying because I realize that these people actually exist.  Worse than that, they're common.

This story reminds me of some of the Old Time Radio adventure-horror radio programs of the 1950s.

So.  Congrats.  Aside from the supernatural stuff, this was one of the most horrifying and sickening stories I've heard on pseudopod.  It was frighteningly all too real.



Listener

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Reply #12 on: December 09, 2008, 02:27:40 AM
I think this was too subtle. The payoff at the end was too weak to support the rest of the story.

I agree that the transition gaps were WAY too short. I felt that the whole thing took place in much less time than it actually did until the phrase "the past seven months" was used. I think in its written form the use of S's belly as a time indicator would've worked much better.

Am I the only one who thought Michael didn't really exist, or had been the one mauled by the lioness and was existing only in S's head? And speaking of mauling, was it that important that the other dude had his nads chewed off? Honestly?

What kind of a name is "Ess"? Short for Essie?

Reading was decent. Not great, not too bad, though the boisterous voices were pretty overdone.

Overall not terribly thrilled. I expect more from a longer story.

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fuzzygnome

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Reply #13 on: December 09, 2008, 02:42:26 AM
I really dug this story, although I agree with Listener that the payoff at the end was too subtle.  Granted, a demon baby did get strangled, but still....



eytanz

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Reply #14 on: December 12, 2008, 08:38:09 PM
I got bored about 10 minutes in and skipped 20 minutes ahead to the ending. I think I missed a bit of explanation of why the kid had a finger for a penis, but as far as I could tell - and reading this thead and the blog didn't change my mind on this - I understood all I needed to about the story.

Any story where you can skip 60% of it and still get the point suffers from an editing problem.



umamei

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Reply #15 on: December 20, 2008, 09:49:50 AM
I think this was too subtle. The payoff at the end was too weak to support the rest of the story.

I agree that the transition gaps were WAY too short. I felt that the whole thing took place in much less time than it actually did until the phrase "the past seven months" was used. I think in its written form the use of S's belly as a time indicator would've worked much better.

Am I the only one who thought Michael didn't really exist, or had been the one mauled by the lioness and was existing only in S's head? And speaking of mauling, was it that important that the other dude had his nads chewed off? Honestly?

What kind of a name is "Ess"? Short for Essie?

Reading was decent. Not great, not too bad, though the boisterous voices were pretty overdone.

Overall not terribly thrilled. I expect more from a longer story.

Yeah, I was waiting for WAY more creepy things to happen here, mostly with Michael.  While it's creepy that that guy had his nads chewed off, it was completely irrelevant to the story except for providing some imagery about the location/setting and the dangers of Michael's job.  It seemed like foreshadowing to me, as if something bad was supposed to happen to Michael too.

I expected something creepier, honestly.  Demon child with a finger for a penis might be a creepy image, but it took up about 10 seconds of a rather long story.  Maybe I've been exposed to too many creepy images, but it just didn't seem that creepy to me.  Sad, more like.

And regarding DigitalVG's comments earlier about the racism of the chameleon folklore, I agree.  I found it pretty creepy too, though not in a horror-story-good-creepy kind of way.  The message I got out of this story was far creepier than the demon baby's "finger".



robertmarkbram

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Reply #16 on: December 27, 2008, 03:09:52 AM
I really, really enjoyed this story. The ending was creepy, but somehow not shocking. It seemed to fit, to show that in the end, she realised the warnings she had been given were valid; the magic was black.

The way Gill Ainsworth portrayed the magic was very effective - the dream and time warp, well done.

But my favourite aspect of this story by far was Heather Welliver's reading. She made me *feel* for the character so much - her voice was perfectly pitched: so happy when she announced the new baby, even though I knew it was going to go wrong.

Another of my favourites..

Rob
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600south

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Reply #17 on: December 27, 2008, 11:40:35 AM
yeah, I agree with you guys: the story itself was pretty chilling but the ending made me giggle. But then again, the ending of Rosemary's Baby made me laugh a bit too, and this story was somewhat similar. I enjoyed both.



robertmarkbram

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Reply #18 on: December 28, 2008, 08:49:39 AM
Yeah, I was waiting for WAY more creepy things to happen here, mostly with Michael.  While it's creepy that that guy had his nads chewed off, it was completely irrelevant to the story except for providing some imagery about the location/setting and the dangers of Michael's job.  It seemed like foreshadowing to me, as if something bad was supposed to happen to Michael too.

Now that I think about, I agree. The first use of that incident was well done: "black magic? Pfffhhhh... oh, one of our workers had *what* bitten off?" But the poor guy didn't need to be brought back into it because he didn't help to build any further part of the story.


robertmarkbram

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Reply #19 on: December 28, 2008, 08:54:01 AM
I also found the people creepy.  BREED!  MUST HAVE _SON_  SON MAKE OGG BEAT CHEST!  OOK OOK OOK!  OGGETTE FEEL BAD SHE NOT GIVE OGG SON.  Horrifying because I realize that these people actually exist.  Worse than that, they're common.

This story reminds me of some of the Old Time Radio adventure-horror radio programs of the 1950s.

So.  Congrats.  Aside from the supernatural stuff, this was one of the most horrifying and sickening stories I've heard on pseudopod.  It was frighteningly all too real.

I understand where you are coming from, but I think you exaggerate the level of this particular feeling in the story. It was not as though he was rejecting the child if it was a girl - he was still ok with it being a girl, he was just hoping for a boy because he had a few dreams built up in his head..

There is a big difference between hoping for a boy (and loving a girl too) and the rather more real and disturbing issues of aborting girls etc.


JoeFitz

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Reply #20 on: January 14, 2009, 08:15:17 PM
I was disappointed with this story. Post-colonial settings are tricking things, and this one doesn't work for me.

The writing craft was fairly solid - and some aspects were engaging (dreams were very vivid), but I found a lot of it bordering on offensive.

An alcoholic Jane Eyre kills her baby, who has a finger instead of a penis because Jane touched a chameleon. Huh?



Unblinking

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Reply #21 on: November 01, 2009, 04:58:57 AM
This one had an interesting premise, but I didn't like it overall.  I think it's for a few reasons:

1.  Stories where the resolution is provided by infant strangling are always going to have an uphill battle with me. 
2.  The origin story that considered Africans inferior to all other races, told by an African himself, really bothered me.  Is this really a belief held by anyone there or was this made up for this story?  If it's really held there, it's sad that they've learned to be prejudiced against themselves to such a degree.
3.  It followed a well travelled horror path in which the more technologically advanced culture ignores the wise native's warning



Millenium_King

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Reply #22 on: June 28, 2010, 11:42:59 PM
I thought the story was well told, and exceptionally well narrated.  That being said, for such a slow-paced story that felt describing just how two types of flowers smell together was worth it's time, I found the wife pretty under-developed.  She didn't seem to have any outside interests besides being a wife.  What exactly does she do all day?  The servants take care of the house - so it's not housework.  Did I miss something?

Likewise, for such a "slow boil" story, the payoff was not worth it.  A lot of leading up with very little actual horror.  I thought maybe the kid would at least be half-chameleon or something.

Visit my blog atop the black ziggurat of Ankor Sabat, including my list of Top 10 Pseudopod episodes.