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Author Topic: Pseudopod 227: Man Eat Man  (Read 7651 times)

Bdoomed

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on: April 29, 2011, 03:06:21 PM
Pseudopod 227: Man Eat Man

By Mike Irwin

Click the link under his name to visit the daily updated serial story at his website “Fragments Of The Downtown”.

Read by Josh Roseman.


“The Dumpster Kid is already recounting the tally behind Uncle Sam to make sure that there’s no foul play. When they finish the first vote, he puffs out his chest and in a slightly deeper voice says, ‘Now all those against.’ Again the two go competitively counting heads.

‘Sixteen for.’ Sam says

‘Sixteen against.’ The Kid corrects.

Look at that Corinne: your glass is half full, or half empty that is.

‘So do I shoot her?’ Miller asks.

Uncle Sam shrugs and says, ‘It’s a tie.’ Then she turns to face me, my fat head a dark, inhuman red as I struggle to keep the door closed against the increasing intensity of your attacks. ‘Shoot, only one who didn’t vote was you.’

And just like that, the rest of your life is in my hands.”




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?


Hafwit

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Reply #1 on: April 29, 2011, 09:25:03 PM
For me this one falls squarely in the 'solid' category. It did not surprise me at any point, but it did good by the theme that we create hell for ourselves and each other. The narrator character seemed shamefully familiar, even if I've never left a loved one at the tender mercy of zombies (as far as you know).

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matweller

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Reply #2 on: April 30, 2011, 02:19:51 AM
I found this one to be delightfully Hitchcock-ian. The casualness of the narrator's tone through the first 5 minutes or so add an interesting level of creepiness to an otherwise typical zombie story situation.

I found it to be perfectly suited as a Pseudopod story and commend all involved in making it one.



NoNotRogov

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Reply #3 on: May 01, 2011, 02:10:46 PM
For something as conventional as a group of people turning barbaric to survive, zombies, and one group member suffering from a zombie bite; this story managed to give it new wheels and a complete tune-up by presenting it in the conversational manner of the husband, who managed to be a completely unsympathetic character without really seeming all that bad on most single points.

The characterization - Uncle Sam, Dumpster Boy, the self-appointed enforcer, was what really  made the story.




Unblinking

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Reply #4 on: May 02, 2011, 01:46:47 PM
Good tale!

This tale made me think that if there WERE an apocalypse, zombie or otherwise, that the people who survived for any length of time would probably all be selfish bastards.  Because, really, anyone who was selfless or heroic would've been killed before that point.  That seemed to fit this story very well.  And if these are the only people left on earth, well I'm not sure it's a bad thing that they won't last much longer.

The 2nd person at the beginning grated a little bit.  At least there was a specific recipient to the monologue, much better than just throwing the 2nd person out there with nothing.  But it still explained a lot of stuff the supposed listener was already supposed to know.  But still, very very good, and being in that man's POV makes me want to take a shower to wash off the filth.  He doesn't even seem to realize the irony of the end that he meets after the beginning of the story. 

Most memorable of all to me, though, is the damned baker, ranting and raving about how "zombie" is an offensive word.  It was entirely too believable that, when under siege by flesh eating foes, with limited supplies and no place to run, and any hope of long-term survival depends upon cooperation, there would be one person in the group who, instead of fighting for survival, will piss and moan about what the politically correct term to call your enemies is.  Priceless.



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Reply #5 on: May 03, 2011, 03:54:14 AM
d('-')b

I don't really like zombie stories, but this was a very good use of the tropes, containing some interesting inversions and angles on the familiar structure.  I smiled at the line, "You need to work on your cardio," which I took as a nod to Zombieland (a personal favorite in terms of zombie-based entertainment.)

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Loz

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Reply #6 on: May 04, 2011, 05:30:37 PM
I disliked this story intensely. I have always found the trope of carrying on every day conversations or arguments in life-threatening situations to be both overused and very difficult to do well, and it wasn't managed here. I felt the story was neither funny, which I assume was supposed to be it's intent, nor scary and that twenty-five minutes in the company of any of these characters to be far too long. Corinne's ridiculous whining made me cheer on the zombies in their attack, and the baker's wife's stupid "we don't use the 'z' word!"? Give me a break.

This story proved that hell is not other people.

Hell doesn't tend to be so boring.



deflective

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Reply #7 on: May 04, 2011, 05:42:43 PM
i wasn't a fan.

i don't like stories where the characters spend the entire time obsessing about how they think the world has been unfair.  escapepod ran several stories last year where aliens invade earth and protagonist spends the entire story talking about how their boyfriends left them.  this felt like more of the same.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2011, 07:05:34 PM by deflective »



matweller

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Reply #8 on: May 04, 2011, 06:12:44 PM
I disliked this story intensely. I have always found the trope of carrying on every day conversations or arguments in life-threatening situations to be both overused and very difficult to do well, and it wasn't managed here.

I agree that the method is overused. I disagree that it's misplaced here because this is one of the very few situations I can imagine where it would not be inappropriate. She's lost, it's best to get past it for the narrators own mental stability and because he needs to make the other people trapped with him believe that he is past it so he doesn't get chucked out with her.

I totally agree, however that the whole "Z-Word" part could be done without. In that situation, I would make it clear that if the lady says something so stupid one more time before the danger is passed and one million other bigger problems are dealt with, I'd break her jaw so that I didn't have to hear it again.



Unblinking

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Reply #9 on: May 05, 2011, 01:26:09 PM
I disliked this story intensely. I have always found the trope of carrying on every day conversations or arguments in life-threatening situations to be both overused and very difficult to do well, and it wasn't managed here.

I agree that the method is overused. I disagree that it's misplaced here because this is one of the very few situations I can imagine where it would not be inappropriate. She's lost, it's best to get past it for the narrators own mental stability and because he needs to make the other people trapped with him believe that he is past it so he doesn't get chucked out with her.

I totally agree, however that the whole "Z-Word" part could be done without. In that situation, I would make it clear that if the lady says something so stupid one more time before the danger is passed and one million other bigger problems are dealt with, I'd break her jaw so that I didn't have to hear it again.

Me, I thought it would lose something without the baker.  Yeah, someone probably would've broken her jaw by now or tossed her to the zombies, but I found her entirely believable.  I've met people who would probably be this person, whining about nomenclature while people are dying.





ElectricPaladin

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Reply #10 on: May 06, 2011, 03:14:16 PM
What I liked most about this story was the fact that not every character in it was in the same story. The main character - borderline sociopath that he is - is in one story, where he's going to die because everyone judges him and finds him unworthy. He's in a story about how society breaks down and human beings turn into jerks. The rest of the characters, on the other hand, are in a slightly different story. They're in a story where people pull together against adversity and become a community.

Consider that, other than the narrator, the survivors don't actually do anything that bad. They kick the infected woman out, which is really just a matter of good sense in a contagious zombie apocalypse. They reject the narrator when he's proven to be an asshole. At the same time, they're also continuing to use a democratic process and trying to save everyone. The "violent rednecks" are not running the show, despite being the only ones with guns. These characters are all a lot more decent than the abusive, asshole narrator thinks they are.

It took me a while to realize it, but it's what turned this story from an "eh, ok, zombies whatever," to a story that I really liked.

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matweller

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Reply #11 on: May 06, 2011, 06:41:22 PM
I felt the same way, although I question the righteousness of a community where past, irrelevant moral shortcomings are a death sentence. Let the one without sin cat the first stone, and all that.



Listener

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Reply #12 on: May 06, 2011, 06:42:44 PM
I question the righteousness of a community where past, irrelevant moral shortcomings are a death sentence.

Let me introduce you to a little thing called American politics...  ::)

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Millenium_King

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Reply #13 on: May 06, 2011, 11:06:13 PM
Eh.  Unlikable character gets his come-uppance.  I didn't like the way the story went out of its way (and sometimes violated versimillitude too) in order to make the main character unlikable.  He even describes his own head as "ugly" at one point.  Ugly, fat etc.  Shorthand for "bad person."  Just didn't feel like there was anything special about this one.

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Sandra M. Odell

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Reply #14 on: May 07, 2011, 01:07:42 AM
I felt the story had enough humor to keep it going, and enough of a down turn at the end to bring the horror of the situation home.  From the husband's "if you would just die", which did strike me as darkly humorous, to the struggles against the character's own physical shortcomings, the writer's tongue seemed to be tucked firmly in cheek...and then the writer reminded you that to reach the cheek the tongue has to pass beyond the teeth.  And teeth bite.

My one gripe with the baker is that she was standing without any apparent physical difficulty or support so soon after a heart attack.  Eh, that didn't do anything for me.

Otherwise, I liked the fact that we weren't meant to like the husband.  All in all, a well done tale.


Sandra



justenjoying

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Reply #15 on: January 08, 2012, 05:24:07 AM
I mostly had fun reading this story, but it is really the end that I loved. He gets his just desserts! But the time it took to get there and just another band of fools trying to servive a zombie appocalypse dosen't make this one worth bothering with. Though thats what the fuck you get for leaving your preagnant wife out to the mosters mother fucker!