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Author Topic: Pseudopod 152: Hometown Horrible  (Read 22197 times)

Bdoomed

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on: July 25, 2009, 03:54:39 AM
Pseudopod 152: Hometown Horrible

By Matthew Bey
Read by Elie Hirschman

“So much stays behind when a man dies,” Bestlonic says. “You could rebuild Finch from what we have left of him.”

Together we walk the three blocks to downtown Chippewa Falls, and he tells me why Finch is the greatest writer who ever lived.

We talk mainly about the “Biter” series. It doesn’t take much to get Bestlonic raving about these stories. The most cited story in the series, the eponymous “Biter,” tells the tale of a man who finds a note in his jacket pocket that prompts him to eat his own extremities, methodically avoiding blood loss and undue trauma in the process. The story is nearly 30,000 words long, surprisingly little of which is gruesome depictions of auto-cannibalism. The bulk of the text concentrates on the “unthinkable horror” written on that slip of paper. Finch never states outright what that might be, presumably because it would cause the readership to imitate the hero’s compulsive mutilation. He merely reveals that the phrase is twelve words long, and we should be very careful what we read.



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?


eytanz

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Reply #1 on: July 26, 2009, 08:05:01 AM
Very, very, cool.

Not really much more to say, really.



Raving_Lunatic

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Reply #2 on: July 26, 2009, 04:43:07 PM
Great story.


(minor spoilers)



 I like the idea of viral messages, the population turned into one. it was quite bonechilling at the end after a slow start, so the contrast there worked well.

Throughout the story, after the concept of the "unknown words inducing horror reactions", i couldn't get the just video out of my head, being a rh obsessive. i thought that it was a great parallel to draw in the outro



deflective

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Reply #3 on: July 26, 2009, 05:53:34 PM
good week for ea

i enjoyed in the mouth of madness when it came out.  maybe the concept of viral messages is itself a viral message.



Alasdair5000

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Reply #4 on: July 26, 2009, 07:34:15 PM
I have a deep, unhealthy lvoe for that movie for three reasons:

-The Carpenters playing in the opening scene and the implication that things have got BAD.

-The earnest glee with which Sam Neill yells 'Sorry about the balls!'

-The second greatest 'Oh we're BONED' moment of all time (The first, seriously, is in Aliens vs Predator), where it's pointed out that they can't possibly be in the fictional town because the geography's wrong...and then it's shown to be absolutely right.

This and The Thing, I'd say, are probably my favourite Carpenter movies.



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Reply #5 on: July 27, 2009, 04:02:10 AM
I was all set to Google this Finch guy until near the end. Found myself thinking, "Oh wow, a docu, bit of a departure for PP but I'm enjoying it."

Heh.


600south

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Reply #6 on: July 27, 2009, 01:07:01 PM
I really like In the Mouth of Madness too.

This story was a rare one for me: it bored me to tears at first, until I realized what was going on, and then I was riveted. The ending was superb.



DKT

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Reply #7 on: July 27, 2009, 04:26:43 PM
Ah, yes, I thought about In the Mouth of Madness, too. Cool movie.

I also thought about Joe Hill's short story "Best New Horror" although that one goes in a slightly different direction (but not a lesser direction, IMO, just different).

I really enjoyed the way the author put this one together. It transitioned very nicely from documentary to horror in its own right.  I have ComicCon on the mind, so at first I was trying to imagine a manuscript of a short story get passed around in the crowd. But I guess a smalltown horror con would be a lot smaller...

Good show!


Void Munashii

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Reply #8 on: July 27, 2009, 05:03:03 PM
Easily in my top five PseudoPod episodes ever!
I also loved "In The Mouth of Madness", and this definitely made me think of both that and a story idea that I've been knocking around for a decade or so.
Simply loved it.

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MacBean

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Reply #9 on: July 28, 2009, 07:37:16 AM
What a good week. A Pseudopod I liked enough to keep on my hard drive (I'm extremely picky about what I keep around) and a movie recommendation. Excellent.

~Bean


Sgarre1

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Reply #10 on: July 28, 2009, 01:16:07 PM
I liked how "Hometown Horrible" not only gives us intriguing "fictional" story teases (thus really selling the concept), not only how it reincorporates a classic but sorely missing aspect of horror (well, a lot of fiction, honestly) which is the "regional" tinge, but what I most liked was how it's also something of a cautionary tale for horror fans *about* the persona of H.P. Lovecraft (very slyly name-dropping *around* him but never naming him) and the dangers of blithely incorporating worldviews without consideration.  Bey's story seems to me in the same rank of writers like Ligotti.  Amazingly good, I hope it wins some awards.

I'm not a big fan of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (I'd easily rate THE THING and HALLOWEEN over it, and probably ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, THE FOG, heck, maybe even HALLOWEEN III, as more successful works from Carpenter).  I saw it when it came out (can't miss Carpenter's eye for placement on the big screen, unless its dreck like GHOSTS OF MARS) and gave it a second chance on video but it always seemed plagued by the same problems he had with PRINCE OF DARKNESS, ideas over execution (except for that "standing at the edge of abyss" moment from ITMOM, which is pretty damn super!).  Now, being a horror movie fan, I pretty much *have* to be all about ideas over execution, but that's only an excuse for when a director has no chops and Carpenter, by then had proven he had chops in spades.  So bits like the early "monster cop in the alleyway" and "little boy/old man riding bike" scene just seem like weak, cartoony sub-TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE/TALES FROM THE CRYPT level execution, in a film whose ideas deserved more.

Ironic, because the whole "ideas over execution" angle is brought up in "Hometown Horrible" (and the virus spreads).
« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 02:50:51 PM by Sgarre1 »



RKG

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Reply #11 on: July 28, 2009, 02:27:25 PM
Most excellent!  Me likey metastories very much.

You'll hvve to excusee me now, the leatther straps are beggining to cut off the circullttion tto my hanndss and making i harrd to type..

rkg  101010


Unblinking

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Reply #12 on: August 02, 2009, 07:08:02 PM
I enjoyed this story very much, great meta-story, and a nice touch that the final sentence had 12 words (if I counted correctly).

It was pretty slow at first, although interesting, and did make me wonder if this Finch guy is real, but one nice thing about listening to it on a commute is that even if it's slow I'm more apt to stick around til the end--in this case WELL worth the time.



Listener

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Reply #13 on: August 03, 2009, 01:38:25 PM
I liked the story and the reading, though when I realized the author inserted himself into the story I was a little thrown, and not positively so.

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thomasowenm

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Reply #14 on: August 03, 2009, 07:36:23 PM
This one had me confused at first.   Really?  A documentary??  Then I thought, alright PP is a  horror podcast after all, why not a bit of horror history.  After I accepted that rational I settled down and really enjoyed it, only realizing late what Mr. Bey had done.  This ranks up near the top of PP stories in my opinion.  Nicely done, and excellent acquisition for PP.



WolfDeca

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Reply #15 on: August 14, 2009, 03:55:00 PM
Oh, well done Mr. Bey!

After a slow but interesting start, this story hits all my major freak-out buttons and I haven't been able to get it out of my head for days. Just thinking of stumbling across something that can make you do things you'd never want to do and be unable to stop makes hairs rise all over my body. Urgh.

So, yeah, definitely one of the most 'horrific' of all episodes for me, but I don't think I'll be listening to it again any time soon.



umamei

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Reply #16 on: August 21, 2009, 09:38:21 AM
Did this story make anyone else think of "The Ring"?

I'm sure a second-go-round listening to this story wouldn't leave me feeling as creeped out, just like with "The Ring", but the first time through and I felt exactly like the screaming teenager who sat in front of me in the theater the first time I watched "The Ring."  Except of course I didn't scream.  Excellent story. 

But I do feel the need to listen through again.  I think I may have missed something there in the ending while I was drying dishes (I have such boring stories of what I'm doing while listening to PP, but occasionally I get distracted mid-sentence).

I loved the narration for this one, and I also loved the "hometown" aspect of this.  I love stories based on a person's hometown (whether actual, or the hometown of the main character--doesn't matter).  There's something so much more intimate and soothing about the setting that way, it makes the horror better.

Wow... good story.



Unblinking

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Reply #17 on: August 27, 2009, 04:38:23 PM
Did this story make anyone else think of "The Ring"?

I hadn't noticed an association while reading.  I liked much of The Ring, but the plot holes and the punchline resolution left me annoyed, so it's probably just as well that I didn't associate the two while I was listening.  :)



wakela

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Reply #18 on: August 28, 2009, 01:52:21 AM
Very good.  Very fun.  I found the beginning funny and interesting, and it genuinely lulled me so the horribleness at the end has significant impact. 

More Lovecraftian than most Lovecraftian stories. 

I assume that you all counted the words in the last sentence.



Unblinking

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Reply #19 on: August 28, 2009, 01:55:22 PM
I assume that you all counted the words in the last sentence.

Good choice of words.  :D



Russell Nash

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Reply #20 on: August 30, 2009, 07:10:19 PM
I assume that you all counted the words in the last sentence.

Good choice of words.  :D

I swear I'm going to get the rimshot sound effect installed on the forums.



Jason M

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Reply #21 on: August 30, 2009, 09:33:51 PM
I assume that you all counted the words in the last sentence.

Good choice of words.  :D

I swear I'm going to get the rimshot sound effect installed on the forums.

And groans!  We must have groans for puns.



Russell Nash

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Reply #22 on: August 31, 2009, 08:50:29 AM
I assume that you all counted the words in the last sentence.

Good choice of words.  :D

I swear I'm going to get the rimshot sound effect installed on the forums.

And groans!  We must have groans for puns.

I'll see what I can do.



Jim Bihyeh

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Reply #23 on: October 04, 2009, 10:08:42 PM
I'd just heard this story during my 45 minute commute - I rise at 4:30 am so I can leave the house by 5:30. Why? Because I like to keep horror close - and I was impressed by the tone that Bey achieved here.

It reminded me - among the Lovecraftian notes he was able to hit - of Mark Danielewski's "House of Leaves," where an analytic, academic tone (that is typically barren of any empathy or character) moves a story effectively and suspensefully.

I also felt like I was reading a cousin of "Best New Horror" by Joe Hill. But, hey, can that ever be a bad thing? I love midnight chainsaw-fleeing as much as the next guy...

Well done, Mr. Bey!

The way you walked was thorny, through no fault of your own. But as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea...


m_bey

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Reply #24 on: October 12, 2009, 09:15:14 PM
Hey, this is the author. I told Alasdair that I would do a Q&A, and I totally flaked.

It seems like everyone was able to answer their own questions, but if anyone seriously needs more information, I wrote an in-depth blog entry about "Hometown Horrible."

Just one other thing I would like to add. On the blog comments, "Jumper" asked if I or someone else would like to write up the short stories mentioned in the meta-story. Personally, I have no inclination to write them, but if anyone else would like a go, they have my OFFICIAL permission to use the concepts, characters, or names therein free of charge or restriction. In the spirit of Lovecraft, it's the least I can do. (It would be nice if you gave some sort of props to Helmut Finch somehow, but that's hardly necessary.)

If you do write a Helmut Finch story, or a sequel to one, or just a Helmut Finch-inspired story, you should try to get it published in a prestigious and lucrative market (such as Pseudopod). If you can't do that, I happen to be the editor of two short story markets, Space Squid and Revolutionsf.com, and I would be happy to help you out.


Bdoomed

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Reply #25 on: October 14, 2009, 06:43:56 AM
You sir, are awesome.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Millenium_King

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Reply #26 on: June 08, 2010, 11:25:50 PM
Snore.  This is not an original idea.  Not for the author and not for the Lovecraft-pastiche Helmut Finch:  Robert W. Chambers wrote this story back in 1895 and it was called "The King in Yellow."  Furthermore, the pseudo-science of memetic theory certainly predates that quack Richard Dawkins.

I don't know if it's because I despise stories about writers, or because I found the idea of a Lovecraft pastiche to be very, very well-worn ground (people were writing Lovecraft pastiche's when he was ALIVE for the love of God - "The Shambler from the Stars," "The Shadow from the Steeple" et al) but this story was DULL as dishwater.

This is another story where it's entire success or failure rests on "the big reveal" at the end (ie. the action and tension in the plot center around the revelation to the reader, not to the characters).  Revelations like that have to be truly BIG and original to work; anyone familiar with Lovecraft saw this one coming a mile away.

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


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Reply #27 on: June 09, 2010, 01:59:40 AM
I thought this one was really well done.  Millenium King complained about it covering ground already covered by Robert Chambers and Lovecraft.  I read it as more of a stalker's love letter to Chambers, Lovecraft and all the great old practitioners of weird fiction. Bravo.



m_bey

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Reply #28 on: August 29, 2010, 07:43:04 PM
For everyone who enjoyed my retrospective article on the works of Helmut Finch, it has come to my attention that a new Helmut Finch story has been unearthed by author C. Deskin Rink. This is a very exciting time for Finch scholars, it's been only a few months since I unveiled the previously unknown "The Mind Worms" at the Duluth BoneCon.

The story is "What They Consumed" and it's read by our very own Alasdair Stuart at Cast Macabre. This story is required listening for anyone who considers themselves a serious Finch fan.


kibitzer

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Reply #29 on: September 03, 2010, 09:24:09 AM
For everyone who enjoyed my retrospective article on the works of Helmut Finch, it has come to my attention that a new Helmut Finch story has been unearthed by author C. Deskin Rink. This is a very exciting time for Finch scholars, it's been only a few months since I unveiled the previously unknown "The Mind Worms" at the Duluth BoneCon.

The story is "What They Consumed" and it's read by our very own Alasdair Stuart at Cast Macabre. This story is required listening for anyone who considers themselves a serious Finch fan.

I feel a bit like a carnival barker or something...

Listened to "What They Consumed" over on Cast Macabre and really enjoyed it. Worth a listen, folks.


Fenrix

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Reply #30 on: November 19, 2010, 05:29:15 AM
Loved the story and have downloaded the Cast Macabre follow-up.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Fenrix

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Reply #31 on: March 27, 2011, 04:10:04 PM
The story is "What They Consumed" and it's read by our very own Alasdair Stuart at Cast Macabre. This story is required listening for anyone who considers themselves a serious Finch fan.

Creepy story. Helmut Finch is definately a contemporary of Lovecraft, but not nearly as adept a wordsmith. Alasdair did a great job with the narration, but a Wisconsin accent would have been really interesting to hear.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Millenium_King

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Reply #32 on: March 28, 2011, 02:56:47 AM
The story is "What They Consumed" and it's read by our very own Alasdair Stuart at Cast Macabre. This story is required listening for anyone who considers themselves a serious Finch fan.

Creepy story. Helmut Finch is definately a contemporary of Lovecraft, but not nearly as adept a wordsmith. Alasdair did a great job with the narration, but a Wisconsin accent would have been really interesting to hear.

Finch is a bit of a hack.  I would not expect too much from him.

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


Fenrix

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Reply #33 on: February 18, 2013, 03:27:25 AM
After reading The King in Yellow, I appreciated this story more. For anyone who appreciated this story, do yourself a favor and go grab a copy and read it (available for free over at Gutenberg) or grab the audio from Libravox. There's a narration by Peter Yearsley that's significantly better than your average Libravox entry.

"Best New Horror" didn't make me think of this one at all. I may have to re-read that one and look for the viral aspect. I mostly thought of slush reading and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


The Far Stairs

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Reply #34 on: February 21, 2013, 11:54:46 PM
I think this may still be my favorite long-form Pseudopod story of all time. Four words: "...dancing in diseased wickedness..."

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Reply #35 on: March 11, 2013, 03:14:49 AM
I absolutely loved this story.  Being a fan of Lovecraft, his correspondents, and successors, this use of a false canon of an obscure author really resonates with me.  It's not an arcane tome like the Necronomicon or a single decadent play like The King in Yellow, but instead a group stories poured over lovingly by a small set of kooks.  As someone who's combed the web for long out of print anthologies, chased the fabled Deep One romance novel of Brian McNaughton, and listened to the difficulties of a friend searching through old dirty magazines for the pseudonymous stories of a small time author, this story strikes a deeper chord with me than any other on this podcast.

As for Yearsley and his King in Yellow reading, I agree that it's excellent.  He's also done an M. R. James reading that's equally excellent.



Fenrix

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Reply #36 on: March 11, 2013, 01:44:42 PM
As for Yearsley and his King in Yellow reading, I agree that it's excellent.  He's also done an M. R. James reading that's equally excellent.

Thanks for the tip! It's easy to overlook good stuff when perusing Libravox.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


doctornemo

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Reply #37 on: May 22, 2014, 10:20:43 PM
I finally got to listen to "Hometown Horrible" after somehow missing it when it first appeared.  Someone cited it recently, and I didn't recall the story, so dug it up and stuffed it into my ears.

What fun!  The satire is extensive and cruel, from Derleth to Lovecraft to horror fans.  The author clearly knows his upper midwest.  The metafiction felt like a tribute to Chambers et al, and a knowing one.




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Reply #38 on: May 06, 2015, 02:19:33 AM
I had reason to think of this story today, and I just wanted to pop in here and go down on record saying this is one of my favorite episodes of all time. Here we are, what, 6 years later? And I could still recall the title to this one.


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Reply #39 on: December 29, 2019, 04:50:36 PM
For everyone who enjoyed my retrospective article on the works of Helmut Finch, it has come to my attention that a new Helmut Finch story has been unearthed by author C. Deskin Rink. This is a very exciting time for Finch scholars, it's been only a few months since I unveiled the previously unknown "The Mind Worms" at the Duluth BoneCon.

The story is "What They Consumed" and it's read by our very own Alasdair Stuart at Cast Macabre. This story is required listening for anyone who considers themselves a serious Finch fan.


Thanks for the heads up! Alasdair sounds a lot like his dad in portions of this story. Particularly the "plunged it into that abomination's fetid heart" line.