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Author Topic: Pseudopod 143: The Looking Men  (Read 6323 times)

Bdoomed

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on: May 22, 2009, 07:36:09 AM
Pseudopod 143: The Looking Men

By James R. Kristofic
Read by BJ Harrison of The Classic Tales podcast

Hiram knew his father, Jonah, could not refuse the Looking Men on the night they asked him to help kill William the Reeve.

Jonah had been the first villager of Corfe to speak to the captain of the Looking Men, the one called Sir Ethan the Red Greaves, after the Looking Men and their tall war-horses arrived by the main road to examine the first deaths from the Black Hand. The wandering friar of Corfe, a red-faced, balding man who had summoned the Looking Men, rode behind them on a bony mare. The friar had briefly addressed the free peasants who’d gathered at the mill and promised he would explain all in the morning after the Looking Men had rested. Hiram knew what everyone else knew about The Looking Men: they served the Church and bore scars from the Crusades to the Holy Land. But they were also knights loyal to their King Henry of England, so they could be trusted. And the friar promised they had come for the good of Corfe.

But the friar had died that night when the Black Hand had laid itself upon him.



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?


Listener

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Reply #1 on: May 26, 2009, 01:05:05 PM
Good story.

That's all I got. Sorry.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


MacArthurBug

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Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 07:50:20 PM
BJ Harrison has an excellent reading voice, my only minor issue with it is he tends to.. drone a bit. Sometimes words become  nothing but capsules for his interesting voices etc.  This can lead to a difficult time for a body like me who can get caught up in vocies and loose track of a story all together. Overall: I enjoyed this quiet semi-dark story, and I enjoy mr. Harrisons readings.. mayhap I listned when I was too busy with other things and my attention drifted too much.

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 #3 on: May 27, 2009, 11:06:07 PM
Fantastic, all the way around!  If I had to find something bad to say, it would be that the twist was predictable and the end seemed a bit abrupt.

As I was listening to this, I was thinking that I would love for this story to be 20 to 30 hours long.  I've listened to a rare few audio books of that length that kept me enraptured the whole time.



eytanz

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Reply #4 on: May 28, 2009, 07:24:28 AM
I really liked this - I really liked the dual layering of the horror, with the supernatural horror combined with the callous attitude of the looking men to the villagers' lives. It kept me guessing the whole way through - I could tell there was going to be a twist, but I didn't know if it will be the actual one, or whether it will be that there is no supernatural evil, or that the looking men themselves are somehow responsible.



goatkeeper

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Reply #5 on: June 05, 2009, 06:40:47 AM
really?  2 weeks and only 4 comments for this?  Wonderful story read wonderfully by the wonderful BJ Harrison?
I know EA forum activity has been in a drought but c'mon!!
This story rocked HARD, and I hope PP gets a few more pats on its scaly serpentine back for this production.
NS



Russell Nash

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Reply #6 on: June 05, 2009, 02:29:44 PM
I really liked this one, but the simple fact it was on PP hurt it.  If this wasn't on PP, you'd think, "great, these people have the plague and these morons are on a witch hunt."  Because it's PP, you know they're going to find a creature.  The twist never had a chance.  I was just sitting there waiting for it.

BJ was the perfect choice to read this one.  His voice combined with the writing style gave a classic story feel to this ep.



eytanz

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Reply #7 on: June 05, 2009, 02:48:07 PM
I really liked this one, but the simple fact it was on PP hurt it.  If this wasn't on PP, you'd think, "great, these people have the plague and these morons are on a witch hunt."  Because it's PP, you know they're going to find a creature.  The twist never had a chance.  I was just sitting there waiting for it.

Really? I sort of felt the other way around. A witch hunt would have been a lot scarier than a creature; pyschological/historical horror is a lot more effective than supernatural horror at getting under my skin.



Sgarre1

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Reply #8 on: June 05, 2009, 03:38:52 PM
I don't think Russell is saying that one option is scarier than the other, simply that the revelation that a supernatural being is involved is predetermined by the forum in which the story appears.  Kind of like how 19th Century stories with "and at that, the individual disappeared into thin air" endings (IE - he was a g-g-g-ghost!), that may have originally appeared in some general reading magazine like Blackwoods, are made entirely moot by being placed in a collection called GHOST STORIES.

I this case, I'm not sure that's entirely true.  If the story had progressed in such a way that it was obvious to the reader that it was nothing but a virulent infection, and yet the looking men rain holy, Inquisition-like repremands down onto the village (for obviously being such a den of iniquity that such a disease, an obvious affront to God, could have been spawned there), it would still be a horror story, just a different kind of one.  But that's not what the author chose to do.



eytanz

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Reply #9 on: June 05, 2009, 05:45:48 PM
I don't think Russell is saying that one option is scarier than the other, simply that the revelation that a supernatural being is involved is predetermined by the forum in which the story appears.  Kind of like how 19th Century stories with "and at that, the individual disappeared into thin air" endings (IE - he was a g-g-g-ghost!), that may have originally appeared in some general reading magazine like Blackwoods, are made entirely moot by being placed in a collection called GHOST STORIES.

I this case, I'm not sure that's entirely true.  If the story had progressed in such a way that it was obvious to the reader that it was nothing but a virulent infection, and yet the looking men rain holy, Inquisition-like repremands down onto the village (for obviously being such a den of iniquity that such a disease, an obvious affront to God, could have been spawned there), it would still be a horror story, just a different kind of one.  But that's not what the author chose to do.

Oh, I agree that the place of publication makes a difference - but my point was that pseduopod publishes all sorts of horror, not just supernatural horror, and that the story could have left out the monster and still remained a horror story - perhaps a more chilling one. Publishing this story on Podcastle would have been sufficient to spoil the twist - but I don't think being on pseudopod was sufficient grounds to expect a monster.



Ben Phillips

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Reply #10 on: June 06, 2009, 01:17:24 PM
pseduopod publishes all sorts of horror, not just supernatural horror, and that the story could have left out the monster and still remained a horror story - perhaps a more chilling one. Publishing this story on Podcastle would have been sufficient to spoil the twist - but I don't think being on pseudopod was sufficient grounds to expect a monster.

By the by, this is all part of my evil plan, and I'm happy to see it keeps people guessing.  ('Course there's also the fact that if I demanded a speculative element in every story, we'd have to turn down a good serial killer / crime story.  Screw that.)



Zathras

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Reply #11 on: June 06, 2009, 03:31:22 PM
I'd like more stories like Me and My Shadow.  The supernatural stuff is cool, but give me something that I believe can happen, and I'm more satisfied.



DKT

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Reply #12 on: June 09, 2009, 03:50:45 PM
Excellent story. Great reading. Loved the setting and the characters.

I'm already looking forward to listening again.


birdless

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Reply #13 on: June 10, 2009, 04:44:49 PM
Yeah, i really enjoyed this one, too. Well written, and nice characterizations for short-format. I figured out the twist early on, too, but i was also expecting an additional twist involving the son or the Looking Men. Not having one didn't take away from the story, though.



JoeFitz

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Reply #14 on: June 10, 2009, 08:44:32 PM
I was thoroughly impressed by this story. It held my interest and was well-written and well-read. The local colour to establish setting was just right and the looking men were mysterious enough to make them seem malevolent - which perhaps they were (given the ending).



wakela

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Reply #15 on: June 29, 2009, 11:43:53 PM
This is one of the few stories where did not want to reach the ending.  I was enjoying being enveloped in the world so much I would have been happy with this just going on and on.

Obviously, being around at the time of the black death would have been utter misery for any of us, but the sensual details of the clop of horse feet, glint of sword steel, heavy, blood-red cloaks, dry straw and clean linen, and bread dipped in hot soup were delicious.  They contrasted nicely with the black swellings on the sick, and the dead-fish smelling foam issuing from the demon's mouth.  There were enough of these details to paint the whole picture for me.  I could see the knight's trimmed beards, their breath frosting, and hear the silence of the night woods in the snow even though the author never mentioned them. 

Good fight at the end, too.  There were a lot of characters doing a lot of things, but I didn't lose track.  And I didn't see the burning of the manor coming at all.  Nice chilling surprise. 

Great reading. 

Well done, guys.   



Unblinking

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Reply #16 on: August 28, 2009, 06:37:57 PM
I liked the story as a whole, but would've liked it better if it'd been a little shorter, my attention wavered a bit here and there.



Millenium_King

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Reply #17 on: June 10, 2010, 11:40:00 PM
I gotta be honest, this one did very little for me.  Nothing felt very distinct.  The setting was sorta "generic-mideival-village-probably-in-England" setting, the people fit into all the stock categories and I really couldn't get a feel for any of them.  I didn't feel a lot of tension, just a lot of bunch of buzzing about some "black servant" and "black hand."

I don't know, this one wasn't terribly original and had very little gas in the tank.  It might have benefited from a shorter length, less characters and faster pacing.  The setting felt very indistinct and I would have liked a bleaker, more mist-filled place.

It picked up a little toward the end, but I think this one was just sorta mediocre.

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