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Author Topic: PC120: Some Zombie Contingency Plans  (Read 24347 times)
Posts: 28

« Reply #80 on: October 20, 2010, 01:07:46 PM »

Was anyone else reminded of Denis Johnson's "Two Men" short story? It's up at the New Yorker fiction podcast. I think this story similarly has an unfolding and strange narrator that gets more disturbing as it goes, in a delicious way.
Posts: 221

« Reply #81 on: November 01, 2010, 10:16:45 AM »

Upon a second listen, this story makes a bit more sense.  First, it's apparent that the main character (Soap/Will/Art/Wolverine) is Sociopathic.  He thinks nothing of lying to other people, and from the narration of the story, feels very disassociated with everyone.  I noticed that through-out the story, there is no talk of motivations of any of the characters.  Things just "happen".  People just do things, apparently without much logic or reason.  Even when it's obvious to the reader, e.g. when Carly all but invites him to bed with her, the main character seems utterly oblivious.  "Soap" is the first name that we know him as, a name that denotes cleanliness, forgetting, innocence.   Nothing sticks to Soap.  Blood and dirt just washes off.  Things happen, and Soap just rinses off, and comes out clean, only he's worn a tiny bit smaller.

So, I think "Zombies" represents everyone to the main character.  Zombies are the original metaphor for our consumer-focused culture.  We stumble around in a society that makes us faceless and meaningless with conformity, mindlessly consuming mass-produced media/food/clothing/cars/furniture/desire that never makes us feel satisfied, all the while stumbling around our daily jobs and roles.  So, basically everyone that the main character meets is a Zombie.  He wants to fit into society, but he knows that he can't really, and sooner or later we're going to overwhelm him with our sheer numbers, drag him down, and eat him (thereby making him one of us): which is why he's always thinking of contingency plans for escape.

And that's where I run in to the frustration of the unreliable narrator, where because we know the person telling the story is a natural liar, the entire story becomes utterly unreliable.  So, basically we don't know anything about what happened.

Overall, I give this story props for subtlety and creativity.  It was so surrealistically weird that you can't help but remember it.
Posts: 550

Writer Mommies Rule!

« Reply #82 on: December 08, 2010, 11:48:23 AM »

I know it's late in the game to comment on this. I had a bunch of Podcastle episodes my mp3 player decided to skip over on my playlist, so I'm just now getting this one. But still:

Gosh, I love me some Kelly Link! Her stories always mash my brain into jello, but it's cherry jello, so it's all right 'cause it's my favorite!

I think this is the first time I've listened to a Link story. The weirdness was superb, as always. I had a feeling that Soap/Art/Will...whatever was just not to be trusted, so his actions at the end didn't surprise me as much, though I still found it chilling. All said, I don't think he will hurt Leo. Overall, I don't think it's his nature. I think it's more that he just take things/stuff/people whenever it catches his fancy.

It was also interesting in that this is the first Link story I heard that had a black female character. In fact, the way Soap consistently pointed out the race of the kids in the story made me wonder if he was black himself. Very interesting.

All the details did get a little overwhelming at times, but I agree with everyone that Norm totally rocked the narration. If you guys ever buy Link's story "Lull", I nominate Norm to do that story too. It's my favorite!

Visit LaShawn at The Cafe in the Woods:
Another writer's antiblog: In Touch With Yours Truly
Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
Posts: 3735

I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.

« Reply #83 on: March 22, 2011, 03:20:07 PM »

I don't think we have any "outside" confirmation of his painting's existence. He shows it to Carly, but she has one contact out and can't see well. Maybe it exists and maybe it doesn't. Maybe he *did* hang it on the wall, but it followed him when he left and he'll discover it in his trunk next time he goes in there. Maybe it's a clever metaphor. Maybe it's just chicanery.

Early in this thread there seems to be some thought that Soap was seducing Carly. I think yicheng two up has a more solid interpretation, as Carly was doing all the work. I think she was throwing the party to rebel from being the good girl. What better way to cap that than find the most dangerous person at her party (she became much more interested after he said he had gone to prison) and then sleep with them in her parent's bed?

I constructed a reason in my head for the kidnapping while half listening to the outro. I think Soap might have done it to help Carly become President by giving her some real adversity to overcome. Give her a good story. Or maybe Leo is as real as the painting.

Random filler comments: Great reading by Norm. Great storytelling by making the truly mundane seem interesting. And fantastic characterization through him renaming himself every time he was called something different. Also, it's been too long since I drug out the "FUCK ART LET'S KILL" shirt.

Also, if you dug this, make sure to pop over to PseudoPod and check out Everything is Better with Zombies. You'll be glad you did.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 03:23:55 PM by Fenrix » Logged

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
C.S.E. Cooney
Posts: 1

« Reply #84 on: June 23, 2011, 04:11:24 PM »

"I don't think that soap went to prison for stealing art.  I don't think there is a painting...

I think that he went to prison for kidnapping and killing children (if he went to prison at all).  Asking about a "zombie contingency plan" is simply a way of testing out what is someones best defense when people like Soap come around.

Soap lied to every single person and every single moment, so I found stealing the child at the end a very plausible part of his character... I think this was more of a psuedopod story, although, i suppose if I had been expecting horror, the O-Henry ending wouldn't have been so fantastic."

This one! I agree with this one!

This is the first time I've participated on this forum, but the Kelly Link story left me so breathless and queasy I wanted to see what everyone else thought of it. So far, I've had this sick-gut from only two stories: Shirley Jackson's THE WITCH and Joyce Carol Oates's WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

The melancholy and sense of unease throughout I'd attributed (until the end) to a lonely, isolated, sad narrator. When the end curved and the kidnapping happened, I didn't feel so much betrayed by the sense of WTF (or Oh, Henry!, if you prefer), but as if the tilted, tinted world of the narrator had become suddenly and hideously clear.

"No WONDER!" was the thought that immediately followed, "Oh, no. Oh, NO!"

The painting was fantastical element enough  that I could see this as a borderland-fantasy story, but since I've only experienced this sense of dread in what I think of as "horror stories" I'm can more easily get behind the story as a pseudopod episode. Not that fantasy and horror are or should be two completely separate and sacrosanct entities.

Phew. Anyway, this really rattled me. You know, like art is supposed to. Bad, bad pun intended.

Posts: 6101

« Reply #85 on: June 23, 2011, 04:22:18 PM »

"I don't think that soap went to prison for stealing art.  I don't think there is a painting...

I think that he went to prison for kidnapping and killing children (if he went to prison at all).  Asking about a "zombie contingency plan" is simply a way of testing out what is someones best defense when people like Soap come around.

This one! I agree with this one!

The problem with this theory is that people who go to prison for kidnapping and killing children don't tend to get out of prison when they're still young. It's sort of the type of thing you end up spending some time in prison for.

Which doesn't dismiss the emotional reaction or the basic point that Soap is entirely unreliable when it comes to his past. Just that from what we know based on other characters' reactions to him, he's too young to have been in prison for anything involving child murder.
« Reply #86 on: December 13, 2011, 05:19:59 AM »

I'll be honest, I think most of these stories can only keep my attention going if Norm Sherman is reading.  Maybe it's my attention span or maybe it's the clear attention Norm pays to the craft of story telling.  I can't really put my finger on why, I started listening to Escapepod because they are always plugging it over at Drabblecast.  There have been a few exceptions but most of the stories on Escapepod/Podcastle just don't seem well read unless that guy reading.  I think he's an OK host-- he cracks me up sometimes, but he should clearly be a full-time reader.  Just my 2 cents, for whatever that's worth.  He makes a story come to life. 

I loved this story!  Did not see the end coming at all.  I love that I'm still not even sure how I feel about the ending.  The story somehow sold me on kidnapping, and I can't really say thank you on that!
Posts: 1514

« Reply #87 on: December 17, 2011, 02:10:10 PM »

Norm's awesome, NO doubt.  But there are a LOT of really amazing story tellers here at the old 'Castle.  You should give more a shot.
Posts: 144

« Reply #88 on: January 16, 2012, 01:37:29 PM »

This hit an odd cord within me. Having been both the party crasher and the young stupid party thrower. I loved
the soul painting and made me look at what mine might look like. The ending was perfect for the story, but whenever I think
of what he took, I want to hunt him down and kill him myself. You could have gotten lots else and you took one of the most
precious things any older sister has!
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 06:55:09 AM by justenjoying » Logged
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