Author Topic: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan  (Read 4730 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« on: August 21, 2009, 08:13:55 AM »
Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan

By Blake Vaughn
Read by Ben Phillips

The following has been transcribed from a journal, the owner of which has since passed away. In accordance with his last wishes, it has not been altered from its original manuscript, save where deemed necessary for page formatting.

October 3, 1903

There are memories I bear which erupt from the formless black of dreams. I still awaken at night crying out for safety and, finding myself alone, I hide in sheets, attempting to assuage a cold shivering that refuses to leave my bones. I have given my account to countless others in desperation, but still I know not restful sleep. I pray that in this inked telling I may concretely free myself from this memory, though I admit any faith I once had has long since left me, abandoned me in that lake those eleven years ago, never to return. Korta Ves.



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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Cerebrilith

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2009, 09:44:52 AM »
Nothing surprising or shocking about this story, but it was still entertaining.  The voice actor was top notch.

kibitzer

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2009, 04:43:06 AM »
Meh. Flat.

Zathras

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2009, 05:49:59 PM »
I enjoyed listening to this, but can't recall any details.  It just blurs with other sea stories I've heard.

Bdoomed

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2009, 08:56:40 PM »
I couldnt seem to keep my attention on this story.  Just didn't grasp me as other stories do.  Maybe I'll give it another listen later.  It was a simple plot... monster attacks, people die, survivors are scared shitless... I guess I "meh" this too but i dont want to give a final verdict as of yet.
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MacArthurBug

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2009, 12:49:20 AM »
I like great big seafaring stories- this one just didn't do it for me. Don't know if it was the lengthy feel or what. My attention was not held.
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lowky

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2009, 12:55:19 AM »
Like the others have said this just didn't seem to hold my attention.  I remember very little of it.  Granted I was in a very busy noisy KFC while listening, so don't want to give it too negative of a meh, but....

I will say the bit at the end about the madness was a good closing tag.

umamei

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2009, 06:04:43 AM »
I'm glad I'm not the only one that didn't find it memorable.  I was expecting a little more from the story, I suppose.  Something a bit darker than a sea monster of doom.  I think the story actually should have started after the accident.  Far scarier things can be done post-accident, I suspect.  It's got potential. 

Great reader though! 

thomasowenm

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2009, 07:54:20 PM »
I will echo the setiments of the rest nothing real memorable.  This felt like a scifi channel monster of the week movie.  There is a big bad nasty waiting and hungry.  People become lunch and only a handful survive to cry in the night.   The reading however was well done.

Jagash

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2009, 01:07:54 AM »
While I would agree that the essential plot elements were far from original, I think the combination of the poignant emotional aspects and the excellent narration combine to make it somewhat memorable in my mind.   While I would have appreciated some more unique elements to the classical form tale, I did like the story.
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Ben Phillips

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2009, 05:44:47 AM »
All accolades for the vocal performance must be due to my wife's menagerie of ocean friends who served as my coaching team for this one.  http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v209/skellerina/100_2358.jpg

eytanz

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2009, 07:30:28 AM »
The story itself didn't do much to me. The writing was good - very well crafted - but it felt, well, like a paint-by-numbers piece, or, perhaps more accurately, like a class assignment. At the end, I sort of felt like I'm supposed to tell the author "Great! I see you acquired all the skills you need. Now go do something with them!".

The reading was very good, however.

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2009, 06:34:59 PM »
Nothing in the story surprised me. The title itself refers to a big sea beastie, which was presented. The setting had to be the water, which it was. Most confrontations with sea monsters end with shipwreck which it did. To be able to tell the story, the narrator must survive it, which he did.

The only event which happened that wasn’t foretold by the title itself was the moment with the captain, which was just one sentence buried in the middle of the story about the big serpent.

And I don’t understand why none of them could talk about the beast. That didn't make any sense in the context of the story.

Millenium_King

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2010, 11:07:41 PM »
I could not help but constantly think of "Dagon" while I read this story.  I think this was a very interesting lesson in why "Dagon" succeeded, where "The Leviathan" failed.  "Dagon's" strength lay in...

1. A fantastic, grotesque monster.  This one had that too, so well done.
2. Accurate description of a sanity shattered narrator.  This one did okay, but I could not even CONCEIVE of the suicidal narrator of "Dagon" even daring to LOOK at the ocean, much less cross it back to America.
3. Horrible implications beyond a mere "monster of the week."  That is "The Leviathan's" biggest failing.  It's just a monster.  Sure, it's big - but why would that shatter your sanity?  Lots of things are big.  In "Dagon" an entire culture of unspeakable creatures exist, worshipping such eldritch horrors as gods.  In the end, the narrator may have actually been pursued by those fishy horrors even on land...

The writing was okay, but beyond the monster, it did nothing.  "Dagon" (and even moreso "The Call of Cthulhu") are shining masterpieces of this sub-sub-genre and everything will inevitably be stacked up against them.  I think this piece failed to be do anything different or new than other titans of the genre and likewise failed to even achieve a decent pastiche or imitation of Lovecraft or others.

Even worse, it seems our indomitable host Alasdair was deceived: he makes reference to how this story conjures up horrible implications of terrible, unseen worlds lurking just beneath the waves - so very close to home.  But he's wrong, this story conjures up memories of OTHER stories which imply those things, this story just has a big scary monster in it with none of the unspeakable implications of MORE horrors to come which made Lovecraft supreme master of the sea monster.  Seeing Lovecraft's monsters was more than just seeing a monster: it proved that all the nightmares you read about in that forbidden book are true!  It implied unspeakable things were to follow!  Dagon, Cthulhu - they were just the barest TIP of the iceberg.  Mere heralds of even worse nightmares to follow - and WORSE after that!  All of it unavoidable!  We will all perish!  The Old Ones will rise again when the stars are right and mankind will be at an end!  Ia!  Ia!  Cthulhu fhtagn!  Ia R'lyeh!  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

The Leviathan?  It's just a big snake.
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Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2010, 01:10:40 AM »
Quote
That is "The Leviathan's" biggest failing.  It's just a monster.  Sure, it's big - but why would that shatter your sanity?  Lots of things are big.

Under these criteria, though, why should Peter Benchley have ever written JAWS?  I don't see having a creature in the sea, even one that is so unnatural as to make you doubt your sanity, as immediately meaning you're throwing your hat in the ring with Lovecraft or his approach to this material.  It seems an unneeded escalation of reference.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2010, 01:14:20 AM by Sgarre1 »

Millenium_King

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Re: Pseudopod 156: The Leviathan
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2010, 04:12:49 AM »
Quote
That is "The Leviathan's" biggest failing.  It's just a monster.  Sure, it's big - but why would that shatter your sanity?  Lots of things are big.

Under these criteria, though, why should Peter Benchley have ever written JAWS?  I don't see having a creature in the sea, even one that is so unnatural as to make you doubt your sanity, as immediately meaning you're throwing your hat in the ring with Lovecraft or his approach to this material.  It seems an unneeded escalation of reference.

I was unclear then: this story made the monster itself of the sanity-blasting variety.  It's specifically stated that it drove the crew insane etc.  The story rests its success or failure on creating a sufficiently terrible eldritch horror - but it fails.  Jaws does not attempt to create an "unspeakable horror" style monster and it succeeds preciesely because the monster is so mundane.  Jaws succeeds through versimillitude and a slowly mounting atmosphere of fear and panic.  "The Leviathan" tries to be "Dagon" but fails because it seems not to understand just why Lovecraftian horror works.

In other words: it is clear this story is trying to be Lovecraftian (as opposed to Benchley-esq) horror.  It fails at that because of the reasons I outlined.
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