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Author Topic: Pseudopod 129: Bottle Babies  (Read 14149 times)

Bdoomed

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on: February 14, 2009, 04:08:54 AM
Pseudopod 129: Bottle Babies

By Mary A. Turzillo

Read by Ben Phillips

Allie first saw the fairies in the flower garden beside the driveway, and they were naked. But maybe they would be her friends. She didn’t have any friends because Mom and Dad didn’t want people to come into the house and discover Bobby. How to make friends with them, when they were almost invisible? She thought the spicy-fragrant petunia blossoms were small enough to make skirts for them; she knew they were girl-fairies because of their long hair, lavender, pink, and pale green, but her eyes weren’t good enough to see if they had nipples, like her own, which must be concealed. Perhaps a tiny cloverleaf could cover each breast, though she wasn’t sure how to keep them in place. “Mom,” she said, “May I borrow some thread?” Mom’s sharp gray gaze flicked away from her needlework, a scene of a Japanese garden. Mom had all sorts of hobbies. “You may have that black spool that’s almost gone.” Allie chewed the end of her braid. “Colors would be better.” Mom threw down her needlework, annoyed. “I want to make little clothes.”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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MacArthurBug

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Reply #1 on: February 14, 2009, 06:52:23 AM
This was an odd piece. I was really awestruck by some of the ideas presented. Children put in bottles and boxes. Such neglectful and awful parents weren't so much the fright- it was what they were capable of doing to their children. Many times, until they very end, I was sure the fairies were conjured up by the mind of a very sad and lonely little girl. I'm almost always a sucker for the "innocent in danger" type of story. However, Koonz has altogether lost my attention with his constent attention to the theme. And there were moments this almsot lost my attention with the obvious nature of the subject matter. But then there were bottles, and boxes and evil fairies. It was interesting and odd, and I was left wondering "what happned next?" - and this is a great way to make the story stay with me past the initial telling.

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Raving_Lunatic

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Reply #2 on: February 15, 2009, 10:50:13 PM
I loved this story- the world created was just mindblowing. Some amazing writing going on here.



DKT

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Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 04:30:16 PM
I've written about this story a few other places, but I'll just add in here: I think it's one of the best stories Pseudopod has run.

I listened to it on my commute and it hooked me right away with its bizarre baby in the bottle -- I was leaning over my steering wheel listening to every word. Ben Philips did an excellent job narrating (of course) but I dig that this was, I dunno, a very different kind of horror than I'm used to him narrating. Not a tough guy in sight and his voices for both Bobby and Allie were perfect.

And the story. GEEZ. It hit me absolutely perfect - Allie felt like a pitiful 8 year-old with all her plans for what kind of jobs she and Bobby would get when they ran away, how much money she had saved up. The fairies were brutal and malicious. I loved how subtle the gardening was dropped in there and how Turzillo built on it. And the metaphor of trying to place/trap kids in a mold their parents created...just Amazing. I loved everything about this story.

Well done to Mary Turzillo, Ben, and Al. I love this podcast, but you all really outdid yourselves here.


Zathras

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Reply #4 on: February 16, 2009, 04:47:36 PM
I agree with DKT.  There were levels of subtlety here that really impressed me.

I had to double check after listening that it actually was Ben doing the reading.



Swamp

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Reply #5 on: February 16, 2009, 06:05:15 PM
Wow!  I don't listen to Psuedopod regularly, but I do drop in occasionally to sample the stories.  I know they are mostly of good quality; it just doesn't always go with my tastes.  When I read DKT raving about this story on LJ, I figured I better come have a listen.  I am glad I did.  What a great story!

It was creepy, and bizarre, and touching.  I cared for this girl from the start.  I had to see what happened to her.  **Spoilers** Naughty faires seemed to only cause her more greif, but helped when it tickled their fickle fancy.  The strangeness of the brother in the bottle; the fact that she could have run away to safety. but returned to rescue Bobby; the deranged parents. **Spoilers**  All of it very compelling and masterfully put together.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2009, 06:42:09 PM by Swamp »

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Poppydragon

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Reply #6 on: February 17, 2009, 08:08:32 AM
This was SO uncomfortable to listen to. I've just finished the morning commute and am now not sure that I actually want to start my day, I think perhaps going somewhere quiet to re-listen to this would be better, to catch all of the little pieces that made this so good. There are so many ideas going on in here, from the obvious, moulding your child and the mother's (the scariest wanabe mom) bonsai/needlepoint obsession reflecting her need to twist and bend her children's lives, to the whole idea of the language being used by our children being somewhat of a mystery.

I loved the fact that it never gave away whether the little girl was making it all up or not, even right at the end it could have still been her delusion rather than reality. The claustraphobia of her fear was all but palpable in the second half of the story.

And then faeries...and to misquote CS Lewis, they were not tame faeries. Possibly my favourite Pseudopod so far. Brilliant.

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Sylvan

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Reply #7 on: February 17, 2009, 01:33:12 PM
At first, I was about to make my usual observation of "But was this a horror story and not just 'Dark Fantasy'?" before the fullness of the parents' horrific deeds were revealed.  At first I was unsure of what year this was taking place.  Initially I was put in a mind of the early 20th century and the era of the Cottington Faeries; perhaps the elder brother was merely the victim of quackery rather than horrific child abuse.  Then, I began to think of the era as being closer to a modern day and age...  Certainly the outdated trope of Mother not wanting her daughter to wear glasses for fear of how it would make her look seemed to fit the bygone 1950s rather than the modern day and age.

But gradually, as we see the traditional capriciousness of the faeries blended with the cold, twisted nature of the parents, the true horror of this story came to the fore.  And, like any good horror story, even though we get a happy ending, the audience is left with a question mark at the end.  This is not just "are there more faeries out there, scheming and poaching the brains of my neighbor's dog" but, rather, "how much do I really know about my neighbors and how they treat their kids?"

This story, like last week's "Bone Mother", is a keeper:  I'll be listening to it again and again.

Perfectly creepy, disturbing, and suspenseful with some very well-done moments of true horror for those of us who remember how powerless it feels to be a child in an adult's (and monster's) world.

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)



Ocicat

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Reply #8 on: February 18, 2009, 07:42:32 AM
Yes, it was a great story.  Almost ruined for me by my familiarity with one website, that I just couldn't get out of my head for the first half the reading...

Bonsai Kitten.





The story did eventually grab me and I stopped giggling about it about when the fairies started turning nasty.



Swamp

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Reply #9 on: February 18, 2009, 04:41:46 PM
Yes, it was a great story.  Almost ruined for me by my familiarity with one website, that I just couldn't get out of my head for the first half the reading...

Bonsai Kitten.

The story did eventually grab me and I stopped giggling about it about when the fairies started turning nasty.

That is just sick and wrong!  Yes, I am being judgemental, and in this case it is warranted.  Why would anyone that isn't deranged and demented form thier pets into shapes.  I feel bad enough taking my dog to get fixed.  There are some sick people out there.  It's one thing to read it in a fictional horror story, but to think that there is actually a website out there to help you with the "art" of molding your kitten in a jar and super-glueing its anus.  And if it works with kittens, why not move up to babies?  I'll say it again, sick and wrong.

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Zathras

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Reply #10 on: February 18, 2009, 04:51:51 PM
Please tell me that site is a farce



DKT

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Reply #11 on: February 18, 2009, 04:52:20 PM
Please tell me that site is a farce

That's what I was hoping...


Ocicat

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Reply #12 on: February 18, 2009, 05:55:57 PM
It's a farce.



Zathras

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Reply #13 on: February 18, 2009, 06:07:10 PM
I didn't look around at the site long enough to even guess whether or not it was a farce.  I glanced at the first page and looked at the pictures.  It seemed odd there were no "final product" pictures, and a few other things didn't jib, but I was afraid it was a legit site. 



DKT

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Reply #14 on: February 18, 2009, 06:11:35 PM
It's a farce.

That's kind of what I was hoping since you were laughing...but then again, you never know with all the sickos that listen to PP ;D


Swamp

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Reply #15 on: February 18, 2009, 09:12:03 PM
It's a farce.

My relief overwhelms my humiliation at falling for it.  It was the first thing I looked at this morning.

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Listener

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Reply #16 on: February 20, 2009, 04:06:46 PM
The first thing I thought of when I realized Bobby was in a bottle was also Bonsai Kitten. (And by the way... Snopes is an invaluable resource before mounting the "holy shit that's horrible let's do that to THOSE people and see how they like it" horse. Just saying.)

Ben's reading was far and away better than some of his other ones. Perhaps he liked this story more?

I only had three issues with this story, and they're all minor:

1. The syndrome Bobby supposedly had: I'd like to have heard more about how it convoluted Dad's thought processes to think his son needed to be in a bottle.

2. It seemed to be just about five minutes too long.

3. The details of the Studebaker and Allie not knowing to call 911 (if it even existed) were too out-of-place for me and took me out of the story. I would have needed to know much more in advance what era this was in, either through details or exposition. Maybe something as simple as a new song on the radio...

A very disturbing story, well-told. I enjoyed it, even though it was horror. I think horror with a happy ending goes over better, but then, that's because I have a white-knight complex.

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goatkeeper

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Reply #17 on: February 22, 2009, 11:57:49 PM
This was, by far, miles above any other, the most engaging story PP has ever had IMO.  I didn't finish it on my way to work and thought about it all day, waiting to get off, so I could run to my car and see how it ended.  I just can't say enough good things about the writing and storytelling here.  Bravo!



RKG

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Reply #18 on: February 26, 2009, 06:43:55 PM
Well written and well read.  Thoroughly engaging, creepy and entertaining, with an ambiguously happy ending ftw.  Kudos to all!

rkg  101010


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Reply #19 on: February 28, 2009, 08:38:49 PM
At first I wondered what the fairies were doing in the story, as they didn't really add anything, nor were they particularly interesting. Then the parents' cruelty became much clearer, and the fairies seemed to be a coping mechanism for a horribly mistreated little girl. Toward the end, I didn't care about the fairies any more--I just wanted the children to be saved.

For me, this is one of the most disturbing stories PP has ever run.



JoeFitz

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Reply #20 on: February 28, 2009, 08:59:34 PM
Very disturbing, well narrated and fairly tightly structured. A few quibbles as noted above, but overall great episode.



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Reply #21 on: March 01, 2009, 08:38:24 PM
I'm catching up on my story backlog, and I reached this one. I don't have much to add to the general sentiment - this was a very effective story, though it perhaps left too many background details unclear.


1. The syndrome Bobby supposedly had: I'd like to have heard more about how it convoluted Dad's thought processes to think his son needed to be in a bottle.


Williams Syndrome is a real condition, though it is not very accurately represented in the story, and as far as I know, confinement (of any type) has never been suggested as treatment. Research on people with Williams Syndrome has (and still is) been instrumental in advancing the study of language and the brain. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William%27s_syndrome
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 08:40:27 PM by eytanz »



cuddlebug

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Reply #22 on: March 01, 2009, 08:50:59 PM
I'm catching up on my story backlog, and I reached this one. I don't have much to add to the general sentiment - this was a very effective story, though it perhaps left too many background details unclear.


1. The syndrome Bobby supposedly had: I'd like to have heard more about how it convoluted Dad's thought processes to think his son needed to be in a bottle.


Williams Syndrome is a real condition, though it is not very accurately represented in the story, and as far as I know, confinement (of any type) has never been suggested as treatment. Research on people with Williams Syndrome has (and still is) been instrumental in advancing the study of language and the brain. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William%27s_syndrome

Interesting site and podcast on Williams Syndrome can also be found here. (on the wnyc website)



Loz

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Reply #23 on: March 05, 2009, 08:41:41 PM
I wonder if there was some link between the 'elfin appearance' that Wikipedia claims and the elves that I'm just not smart enough to see?

All in all, I'm on the fence on this one. I found the child protagonist to be fairly uninteresting, although that might just be because you had Ben Phillips trying to be a young girl, perhaps it might have worked better with a female narrator. It was also difficult to see much by way of logical reasons for what everyone did, everyone works on logic, even if it's crazybrokenlogic that tells you that your Cat is from Saturn and channelling the voice of God telling you to kill all the dirty women, here it seemed to be people and creatures doing weird things for the sake of making the story seem weird and so was less interesting. That said, the story wasn't long, didn't linger and had action happen at a fairly steady clip, so even if I wasn't engaged I wasn't bored, at least there wasn't much "my angst, let me show you it".



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Reply #24 on: April 06, 2009, 02:48:39 AM
A fantastic story, right up my alley. I have known of plenty of parents that keep their children in bottles, though they are not made of glass. One of my top three in a year of listening.