Author Topic: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light  (Read 8844 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« on: January 30, 2010, 07:38:45 AM »
Pseudopod 179: Fading Light


By Simon Strantzas
Read by Nerraux

It reminds me of the place Jackson and I lived in during our final year of university. The corridors are filled with the partial light of forty-watt bulbs, and the walls look soiled and gummy — the odour of cooking meat and bleach sweating from them. Only three straight corridors, one on top of the other, each end marked by a staircase: the building feels decidedly utilitarian. Unlike our old apartment, however, there’s no telling how long Jackson will be here for.

“I feel like I’ve been robbed by myself,” he says, surveying the scattered boxes. “She only took the things I cared most about. Gilbert, she even took my cat. My cat!” He shakes his head. “All she left me was this.” His trembling hands unwrap a framed photograph of Janet and himself in Africa on the trip they had planned over a year to take together. In it, Jackson is adjusting a safari hat too large for him, trying to keep it from falling over his eyes. Janet has her brown cheek pressed up against his, focused on something beyond the photographer. Both are smiling. “I know I should throw this away,” he says. “But I can’t. Why can’t I throw it away?” I shift boxes around, wondering how I’m suddenly supposed to know the answer.




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Scattercat

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2010, 07:29:02 PM »
Enjoyable.  A little slow; I got lost a time or two in the main character's meandering between current events and wallowing in his own self-pity (a theme which doesn't resonate well with me).  I loved the ambiguity and lack of clarity, however.  Kickass ending, especially.  I'm rarely a fan of "tricking" the reader, but that line about the "familiar face" was very well done.

Solid thumbs up.  4.5 out of 5, at least, maybe more if I'd read it in print and been able to skim the bits that didn't interest me as much.  (The curse of audio fiction is you can't blip back and forth like a maniac unless you're some kind of iPod Whisperer.)
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Robert Mammone

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2010, 05:28:15 AM »
Listened to it this afternoon.  Hands down, one of the best weird tales I've heard in a long, long time.  Sparse prose, a keen sense of loss and disorientation by both protaganist, and a mounting sense of dread have all combined masterfully.  I keep saying this, young Simon is destined for great things.  The best story I've heard on Pseudopod since #165  ;D 

Well done.  Now, I must start saving for his collection from Tartarus Press...

Kaa

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2010, 08:41:28 PM »
While it had a definite creep factor--heightened by the fact that I was eating while listening to it--the monotone of the narration put me off. If he'd put some emotion into it, I think it would have made the creep factor much more...chilling, I guess.

I enjoyed it, though.
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Nerraux

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 05:03:45 AM »
Agreed, I went too far with it. I was going for a sense of hopelessness since the character is already kind of at the end of the rope and then this stacks another thing on. If I re-recorded it, I would keep the same through most of it, but speed up and add more inflection the closer it gets to the end.

Thanks for the critique, I look forward to more! I hope to do better with each opportunity. I'm a huge fan of Pseudopod and Escape Pod, and getting to read for them is so damn cool.

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2010, 02:18:46 PM »
I enjoyed it, though the moping did slow it down a bit too much for me.  I didn't think that had to do with the narration, but the story just had a lot of moping. 

Twas a very good creepy story, though I'd guessed the ending when the dog was tearing at garbage bags with rotten meat the first time.  What was the white liquid pouring out of the bags at the end?  That I didn't get.

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2010, 07:14:43 PM »
Twas a very good creepy story, though I'd guessed the ending when the dog was tearing at garbage bags with rotten meat the first time.  What was the white liquid pouring out of the bags at the end?  That I didn't get.

Given that the poor guy seemed to be getting... squishy as the despair-bug fed on him, I imagine the implication is that he finally "melted down" all the way.
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Kaa

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2010, 07:19:02 PM »
Hehehe...I just realized something. I listened to the story yesterday, so I may be misremembering, but...did anyone else think the voice the narrator chose for the friend who liquefied sounded a bit like the character Rick Moranis played in Ghostbusters?

Just wondering. :)
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cdugger

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2010, 02:20:09 AM »
I thought the reading was fine, but the story left a lot to be desired.

It took a while to start caring about the MC, and then another one gets thrown in. The only one I cared about was the dog. I kept expecting more of the story to center on it.

Sounded like a good start from a new author, and I would like to hear more.
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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2010, 03:52:33 PM »
Twas a very good creepy story, though I'd guessed the ending when the dog was tearing at garbage bags with rotten meat the first time.  What was the white liquid pouring out of the bags at the end?  That I didn't get.

Given that the poor guy seemed to be getting... squishy as the despair-bug fed on him, I imagine the implication is that he finally "melted down" all the way.

Is that what happened?  i totally missed it.  I assumed he got butchered by the invislble housemates. 

And come to think of it, was that his photo in the bag?  I'd first assumed it was his corpse's face, but it said he was adjusting his hat like he was in the picture--in which case "frozen" means frozen in time by the photography, not frozen in temperature by the frigid cold.  So the more I think about it, the less I'm clear on how it actually ended.  Maybe it was just a photograph and a busted carton of spoiled milk?

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2010, 07:35:46 PM »
I don't know how much I cared for this one.  It really didn't do much for me.  However I was intrigued by "The Things" podcast mentioned at the end.  Who did he say did that one?

nooker

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2010, 08:28:10 PM »
And come to think of it, was that his photo in the bag?  I'd first assumed it was his corpse's face, but it said he was adjusting his hat like he was in the picture--in which case "frozen" means frozen in time by the photography, not frozen in temperature by the frigid cold.  So the more I think about it, the less I'm clear on how it actually ended.  Maybe it was just a photograph and a busted carton of spoiled milk?

Yup!  That's why I raved about how wonderfully ambiguous the ending was, how it has the trick about "seeing a familiar face," and then you realize it's just the photograph and maybe it really is just spoiled milk in there.  But maybe not...
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Alasdair5000

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2010, 07:36:44 AM »
I don't know how much I cared for this one.  It really didn't do much for me.  However I was intrigued by "The Things" podcast mentioned at the end.  Who did he say did that one?

nooker

He mentioned this;)

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_01_10/

nevermore_66

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2010, 01:55:02 PM »
The narration felt monotone and the story felt monotone.  The story didn't really strike me, in any particular way...but, on the other hand, that may have played well into the ambiguity and strangeness that was left just off of stage, because I was listening to it while walking down some dark streets and, by the end, had the eerie feeling that this could be happening in any one of those houses...in any one of those windows--just some droning story that the guy in the diner, over there, might be muttering to me while I'm waiting for my eggs.  And that did feel creepy, in a quiet sort of way.

I liked the little trick with the face and the photo at the end.
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nooker

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2010, 06:27:38 PM »
I don't know how much I cared for this one.  It really didn't do much for me.  However I was intrigued by "The Things" podcast mentioned at the end.  Who did he say did that one?

nooker

He mentioned this;)

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/audio_01_10/

Thanks much!!

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2010, 02:17:41 PM »
I thought this was a pretty good story, and I liked how it was never clear what was worse - the despair of the narrator and Jackson at their lives or whatever was going on in the house. It was clear that they had both long stopped being anything except prey for the bad things in the world.

I liked the narration overall, but I felt Jackson's voice verged on the cartoonish occasionally. But overall the narration really worked well with the text, I think.

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2010, 04:30:14 AM »
Loved it. Well read and well done. The weather seemed to become the third character in the piece. I could see the bland winter light so clearly it was like looking out the window.  The sense of despair that came with it was simply crushing. Kudos to both author and reader for a job well done. 

nathonicus

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2010, 07:06:47 PM »
Nice weird story.  I think it will be one of the few I listen to a second time. 

strantzas

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2010, 12:59:21 AM »
Thank you for all the comments, folks. I'm glad some of you enjoyed the piece. I must admit I bristled for a moment at the suggestion the story was a "good start", when it occurred to me that's exactly what it was -- a story written many years ago by a very green author just starting out. I miss that fellow sometimes.

For those interested in something newer, some of my fiction can be found in the "Mammoth Book of Best New Horror" series (edited by Stephen Jones) or, for the frugal amongst you, there are a few pieces scattered throughout my weblog at www.strantzas.com

Best to all,
Simon Strantzas

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2010, 04:26:38 PM »
Thank you for all the comments, folks. I'm glad some of you enjoyed the piece. I must admit I bristled for a moment at the suggestion the story was a "good start", when it occurred to me that's exactly what it was -- a story written many years ago by a very green author just starting out. I miss that fellow sometimes.

For those interested in something newer, some of my fiction can be found in the "Mammoth Book of Best New Horror" series (edited by Stephen Jones) or, for the frugal amongst you, there are a few pieces scattered throughout my weblog at www.strantzas.com

Best to all,
Simon Strantzas

Simon--always good to see the author on the forums.  Welcome!  :)

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2010, 06:47:57 PM »
Thumbs up. Good stuff.

I felt the boarding house had shades of The Dreams in the Witch House where the place was at a convergence of worlds. I imagined hulking things thumping between the walls. Boarders moved in and slowly drained of their energies until they faded away from our realm completely. Then their posessions were cleared out and a new space was opened up in the belly of the beast for someone new. We saw the prior victim at the beginning.

I also liked the ambiguity as to whether or not it was removing the identity of the person and the imprint they made on the world entirely. As if they and everything they were was consumed.
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wakela

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2010, 12:09:22 AM »
I had a hard time getting into this one.  I thought the reading was monotone, and nothing really interesting happened for a very long time.

WhiteShadow

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Re: Pseudopod 179: Fading Light
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2010, 02:48:32 AM »
I didnt mind the reading at all but I think I missed something in the story. It seemed too straightfoward, more like something you would tell around the campfire. I was expecting something a little more deep. But, like I said, I think I missed something. I'll have to give it a second listen.
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