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Author Topic: Pseudopod 126: The Ashen Thing  (Read 11460 times)

eytanz

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Reply #20 on: February 06, 2009, 01:06:11 PM
It was.  It was an acronym.  Can't remember what it stood for.

I know the behavior of the dog was a little inconsistant in the story.  I figured it was either:
A) Nuts.
B) Not actually trying to eat the guys foot, but just playing with it.  You know how dogs get sometimes.  The big ones can accidently cause some minor harm, especially with no feedback from the foot in question.

The inconsistency didn't bother me, as it was stated that the dog was insane. What bothered me was how selective his behavior was - he seemed to only take aggressive turns when it made a concrete difference.

There are plenty of possible explanations - maybe the creature was somehow controlling the dog - but there was no clear indication of this in the story.



Sgarre1

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Reply #21 on: February 07, 2009, 12:14:09 AM
Quote
It was.  It was an acronym.  Can't remember what it stood for.

Really? It wasn't an Alfred Jarry reference?  I'm shocked!



Chadwicked

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Reply #22 on: February 08, 2009, 03:57:42 AM

[/quote]

I thought the dog's name was Ubu?
[/quote]

Yeah . . . my bad.

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gelee

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Reply #23 on: February 10, 2009, 02:29:20 PM
It was.  It was an acronym.  Can't remember what it stood for.

I know the behavior of the dog was a little inconsistant in the story.  I figured it was either:
A) Nuts.
B) Not actually trying to eat the guys foot, but just playing with it.  You know how dogs get sometimes.  The big ones can accidently cause some minor harm, especially with no feedback from the foot in question.

The inconsistency didn't bother me, as it was stated that the dog was insane. What bothered me was how selective his behavior was - he seemed to only take aggressive turns when it made a concrete difference.

There are plenty of possible explanations - maybe the creature was somehow controlling the dog - but there was no clear indication of this in the story.
True, but I don't think the writer could have tipped his cards without comitting an even bigger faux pas, such as the dreaded "Expository Monologue."



fuzzygnome

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Reply #24 on: February 12, 2009, 04:54:22 PM
Dunno why, just couldn't stick with this one.



eytanz

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Reply #25 on: February 12, 2009, 06:23:05 PM
There are plenty of possible explanations - maybe the creature was somehow controlling the dog - but there was no clear indication of this in the story.
True, but I don't think the writer could have tipped his cards without comitting an even bigger faux pas, such as the dreaded "Expository Monologue."

Sure he could have - he could have added a sentence or two speculating about it, or indicated it in some way (the create waved its appendages and the dog suddenly changes behavior, etc.). It didn't need to be signposted, only hinted at, to turn it from a plot hole to a plot device.



Listener

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Reply #26 on: February 16, 2009, 04:27:03 PM
Suitably disturbing. For a while I thought the dog or the monster were shapeshifters.

I wonder if Tom kept the dog.

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Russell Nash

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Reply #27 on: June 10, 2009, 12:55:01 PM
There are plenty of possible explanations - maybe the creature was somehow controlling the dog - but there was no clear indication of this in the story.
True, but I don't think the writer could have tipped his cards without comitting an even bigger faux pas, such as the dreaded "Expository Monologue."

Sure he could have - he could have added a sentence or two speculating about it, or indicated it in some way (the create waved its appendages and the dog suddenly changes behavior, etc.). It didn't need to be signposted, only hinted at, to turn it from a plot hole to a plot device.

There was a line about the creature following the smell from the ball to get to his victims.  The dog seemed to be similar to a witch's familiar.

Still catching back up.



Unblinking

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Reply #28 on: August 28, 2009, 07:36:31 PM
It was.  It was an acronym.  Can't remember what it stood for.

I know the behavior of the dog was a little inconsistant in the story.  I figured it was either:
A) Nuts.
B) Not actually trying to eat the guys foot, but just playing with it.  You know how dogs get sometimes.  The big ones can accidently cause some minor harm, especially with no feedback from the foot in question.

The inconsistency didn't bother me, as it was stated that the dog was insane. What bothered me was how selective his behavior was - he seemed to only take aggressive turns when it made a concrete difference.

There are plenty of possible explanations - maybe the creature was somehow controlling the dog - but there was no clear indication of this in the story.

I figured that the creature had trained the dog just like a human would train a dog.  Instead of teaching it to sit and roll over, it teaches the dog to bring the ball to food sources and help defend it.  That being said, it doesn't explain why the dog didn't defend the creature at the end, but perhaps it was just too scared.

I really liked this story, partially because the man's helplessness really added to the tenseness, and partially because I love dogs and thought the dog was a great plot element in this one. 

My one real complaint is, as someone else stated, that the wife didn't seem to put up any fight.  She must have heard him screaming, and heard the terror in his voice, so I doubt she could've been asleep by the time it got to her, and her kicking feet going around the corner suggest she was still awake at that point.  I found that hard to believe.  She should have easily been able to get to her feet and evade the legless little thing, maybe even ran to the bedroom and locked it out or something.

I'm not sure if this was the intent or not, but I got the impression that the creature was the little girl who had died.  That would explain why the dog is its friend (if the girl had a dog), and why the dog hung around the house later on.  Also, at the end, the protag's dreams sounded like he was seeing through the monsters eyes, so maybe he's turned into a new incarnation of the monster and his conscious mind is just dreaming away in the back of the body.  That made the story all the more horrific, whether or not it was intended at all.



Millenium_King

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Reply #29 on: June 25, 2010, 12:07:43 AM
I'm unsure about the Giger reference.  Part of me thinks that any 19th century writer would just have easily referenced Bosch or someone and this is the modern equivalent of same.  Part of me thinks that modern society, at least in America, is so culturally fractured that almost any reference to anything outside of the main-mainstream comes off as a bone thrown to a niche group.  Undecided.

It was a reference to H. R. Giger.  http://www.hrgiger.com/  You are familiar with him, even if you think you are not: he designed the creatures in the Alien movie series.  I thought it an appropriate reference.

As far as the story goes, it gets a lukewarm reaction from me.  I usually enjoy grotesques, but this one just sorta fell flat for me.  Its descriptions were somewhat weak and its initial appearance is robbed of any impact by an overly-long description which slowed the frantic pace.  Overall, I think this story suffered from a lack of proper pacing.  The monster never really seemed all that scary to me because there was no sense of frantic flight.  It just leisurely crawled after our hero, always giving him more than enough time to crawl away and call out for his wife.  The idea of crawling away from a terror that crawls after you at the exact same pace is a scary one, but it did not come across effectively here.

And, of course, the pretty wife was devoured.  I was mostly disappointed by that scene.  It was totally expected and unecessary.

I also felt the buildup took far too long.  A long sequence of characterization without much to interest me in an actual plot.  Ho hum.  It's one of the story formats I enjoy the least: looooong sequence of characterization with a few hints of story followed by the appearance and swift resolution of "the horror."  For exaple, "Acceptable Losses" does the same thing.

I've mentioned this before, but Lovecraft knew what he was doing: he always worked to telegraph the ending a little so that the buildup became all the more tense.  There are other methods, of course, but I sometimes get tired of listening for the umpteenth time about some suburban couple's relationship (cf. "Infestation") for half a story before something comes to devour them messily.

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Sgarre1

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Reply #30 on: June 25, 2010, 12:43:43 AM
Oh, I know who Giger is - I worked for one of his relatives just a few years ago.  What I was trying to get across is that I don't know if the inclusions of such pop-culture references are usually successful or merely "look at me, I like this thing" moments for the reader - it's not a question that there's any objective answer for, of course, just subjective responses, but it's a particular aspect of fiction writing that I find interesting.

In particular, the question comes down to "would the character (not the author) know and make that reference, given what we know about them, character and setting wise?", which sometimes is hard to answer.  Reference "The Simpsons"?  Sure, general popular culture.  Reference Giger, probably not unless we're told the character specifically likes dark artworks or, just as believable, was a fan of ALIEN.  But as a geneal reference by "an average guy"?  Not really sure but it seems unlikely.  The problem, though, as I said, is that popular culture in general is now so fractured that its hard to feel like anything beyond the most ubiquitous examples could be realistically referenced by "an average guy".  The origins and making of an "Exquisite Corpse" is probably about as well-known as H.R. Giger, in a general sense of outre popular culture, but see how well the former went down, unexplained, in the flash contest.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 12:56:22 AM by Sgarre1 »



Millenium_King

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Reply #31 on: June 25, 2010, 05:59:18 PM
Ah, sorry, I didn't mean to imply anything.  It just looked like maybe you were not familiar with it.

Here are my thoughts on it: this is a quasi-Lovecraftian story ("The Shunned House" anyone?). Lovecraft, especially in his early days, would compare landscapes to paintings done by well-known painters (including by his contemporary, Clark Ashton Smith) or to descriptions by well-known authors (including Poe and Milton - particularly in "Dagon").  I thought maybe this author was attempting the same thing.  That assertion, I think, is backed up by the Lovecraftian nature of the story.

That being said: I agree that it felt like it came out of left-field.  Lovecraft's academic tone made comparisons to literary, artistic and classical greats fit right in - this story does not have the proper tone for that sort of comparison (especially when it's attempted objectively in the narrative).

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