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Author Topic: Pseudopod 228: Flash On The Borderlands VII - Tableaux & Displays  (Read 6131 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: May 07, 2011, 12:42:30 PM »

Pseudopod 228: Flash On The Borderlands VII - Tableaux & Displays

Three Flash Fictions of Still-Lives, Voyeurism and Exhibitions

(a regular “Night Gallery”, if you will…)



HUNTING

By Kirsty Logan
who is also co-editor of Fractured West.

Narrated by Rick Stringer of VARIANT FREQUENCIES.]

“There was only one inner door, so the hunter opened it. He held his candle at arm’s length, but still could see nothing more than the foot of an ocean-sized bed. The hunter crawled across its length, disregarding the brief waft of mold from the blankets. He placed the candlestick on the squat table beside the bed and pulled the covers up over his body.”


WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

By David Steffen
who founded and co-edits DIABOLICAL PLOTS. The text version of this story can be found at Brain Harvest.

Narrated by W. Ralph Walters of FREQUENCY OF FEAR.

“…they bring their straps and their knives and explore the frontiers of my body. They will find nothing.”


PAGEANT GIRLS

By Caroline Yoachim
This story appeared originally in Issue #42 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine

Narrated by Mur Lafferty who can also be found at The Murverse.

“‘Didn’t take long to find where it was coming from, and it was a bad thing. I wasn’t the only dead girl in the pageant. The new girl, the new dead girl, she was competition.”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2011, 04:28:31 PM by Bdoomed » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2011, 04:16:11 PM »

A well grouped set, but my favorite was definitely what makes you tick. This is the ultimate in passive aggressive fantasy, or it least it tickled that dark corner of my mind. Clearly this infinitely wise and powerful creature has the maturity of a prepubescent child with no seemingly higher objective in the interaction.  That worked for me as horror/revulsion story.
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2011, 02:16:41 PM »

Found it!  I found the Abyss & Apex poem I was looking for, that was mentioned in Alasdair's intro, that spurred the creation of "What Makes You Tick" (it went in a very different direction of course).  It was "Music Smooth As Fog" by Marge Simon, in their Quarter 2 2009 issue.  (Difficult to find, because of intermediate website change that makes searching through their archives rather trickier than it used to be)
http://www.abyssandapex.com/200904-music.html

Anyway, carry on.  I'll try to leave this thread alone for a week or two, but I'll stop back in at some point to say hi.  I'm very glad to be returning to the airwaves of Pseudopod Towers.  Smiley  I gave it a listen yesterday and I really enjoyed W. Ralph Walters' reading.

--David Steffen
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2011, 06:14:45 PM »

The narration was amazing on What Makes you Tick!
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2011, 09:40:30 PM »

Anyway, carry on.  I'll try to leave this thread alone for a week or two, but I'll stop back in at some point to say hi.  I'm very glad to be returning to the airwaves of Pseudopod Towers.  Smiley  I gave it a listen yesterday and I really enjoyed W. Ralph Walters' reading.
--David Steffen

Somehow I'd no idea -- before Alasdair's intro -- that you're quite so accomplished an author. I knew you write but I didn't realise that you're so well-published. I'll have to be more respectful to you now ;-)
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2011, 11:51:00 PM »

The narration gave a whole new element to "What Makes You Tick," which I personally encountered first at Brain Harvest.  In writing, the alien seems just very academic and sardonic; with the odd buzz to its voice, it becomes much more Other and creepy.  I liked this version even better.

"Pageant Girls" was vicious and sharp, though.  I think it may have edged out "Tick" as my favorite of the three, for all it's a bit openly pandering in its subject matter.
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2011, 06:26:36 AM »

Pageants a so ripe for so many kinds of horror, from body stuff to dark satire. Just think about Robert Devereaux's 'Li'l Miss Ultrasound'. Of course pretty much anything being read by Mur Lafferty gives it an extra notch. I think Pageant Girls was my fave of the three.

I hadn't thought so deeply about 'What Makes You Tick', and reading Heyes' post actually made me appreciate it more. On first listen I found it entertaining, but the creature felt a little too much like a ranting pulp villain to me. I'm picking nits though. The reading and the premise were both good.

'Hunting' had a great mood, but I felt as though I was missing something crucial.
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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2011, 03:59:12 PM »

First story was a retelling of the creepypasta "portraits", which has been around for some time:
http://chuckles135.blogspot.com/2010/10/portraits.html

The Portraits
There was a hunter in the woods, who, after a long day hunting, was in the middle of an immense forest. It was getting dark, and having lost his bearings, he decided to head in one direction until he was clear of the increasingly oppressive foliage. After what seemed like hours, he came across a cabin in a small clearing. Realizing how dark it had grown, he decided to see if he could stay there for the night. He approached, and found the door ajar. Nobody was inside. The hunter flopped down on the single bed, deciding to explain himself to the owner in the morning.
As he looked around the inside of the cabin, he was surprised to see the walls adorned by several portraits, all painted in incredibl detail. Without exception, they appeared to be staring down at him, their features twisted into looks of hatred and malice. Staring back, he grew increasingly uncomfortable. Making a concerted effort to ignore the many hateful faces, he turned to face the wall, and exhausted, he fell into a restless sleep.
The next morning, the hunter awoke -- he turned, blinking in unexpected sunlight. Looking up, he discovered that the cabin had no portraits, only windows.
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2011, 10:14:55 PM »

Can I just say: great to hear Rick Stringer in action!
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2011, 08:25:41 AM »

Oh man, that middle one was an absolute stand out! Bravo. Brilliant pairing of story and narrator. I'm sure Dave Thrussell of Snog/Black Lung would be impressed with that narration.
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2011, 10:37:46 AM »

I listened to What Makes You Tick four times. Four times. From now on, this story will make me think of cars, and driving will make me think of IT.

Grin

Anyway, I quite liked all the stories, especially What Makes You Tick (obviously) and Pageant Girls, which was deliciously creepy, well-paced, and read by Mur Lafferty.
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2011, 04:52:29 PM »

Child beauty pageants are a horror, simply by existing.
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2011, 03:23:39 AM »

Another winning collection. Hunting was the least interesting to me - well written, but the pacing was far too slow for such a predicatable ending. But it was still very enjoyable, and the other two were truly excellent.
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« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2011, 09:24:35 AM »

I'm back from vacation (goodbye Seattle!), and am now checking back on this thread for the first time in a week or so.

First, my reactions to the others:

"Hunting" I thought was a good mood piece.  I think we've all, at one point or another in our lives, had the feeling that something creepy and dark is going on, like walking down a dark road at night.  If the moods just right, it's hard not to imagine a crazed murderer jumping out from behind a bush or a monster or some such thing.  I know that when I've been in one of those situations, what helps keep me from panicking is to just keep repeating to myself how ridiculous my fear is.  "There's nothing to be afraid of, that sound is just the wind.  Those footsteps are just the echoes of your own.  That scratching is just a tree branch on a window."  And, so far, I've always survived those situations with nothing bad actually happening, which generally makes it a little easier the next time.  This story took that fear, and had the protagonist follow this line of reaction, but in this case his denial of fear was his own downfall.  If he had allowed his fear to keep him awake, perhaps he might have survived the night.  Instead he mocked his own reaction and forced himself to sleep.  I'm not sure I quite got the ending, though.  Why did he disappear?  Had they already disposed of him?  Then why are they all standing around the empty bed?  I think I like the ending of the post referenced by Erik, where he just wakes up to find the empty windowsills, so that he would forever after think of them whenever he's in a dark and creepy situation.

"Pageant Girls" was awesome.  Great reading by Mur, as always.  Beauty pageants for little girls have always creeped me out anyway--the extent that those girls are pushed to meet already twisted standards of female beauty is disturbing enough in real life.  This story pushed that a bit further, in a fantastical way explored the darkness of reality.  The ideal of beauty has become so twisted, like the heroin chic look of bygone commercials, that the pinnacle of such beauty is literally a corpse.  And this has continued on to the point that actual corpses are the ones winning all the beauty pageants, just reinforcing the cycle as the living are expected to starve themselves to compete.  The moment of realization that this other dead girl is no corpse at all was a very powerful one for me, the moment where she transforms in the protagonist's eyes from a beautiful dead girl to a tragic and wasted living girl.  Wow.  Well done.

Thanks for all the comments so far on "What Makes You Tick".  It's amazing to me how a narration can give such a different tone.  When I read the original text, the protagonist feels very clinical to me, just another scientist, no different from the human scientists, trying to understand something foreign to it.  In Paul Cole's reading on Beam Me Up, the story somehow takes a comedic tone.  In W. Ralph Walters's superb reading here, it took the feel of the story to a very different place.  He did an amazing job with the voice, making this being seem entirely Other.  I'm very excited by how it turned out.  Thanks, Mr. Walters!

I have been continually excited with how well this story has been received.  The funny thing is, when I wrote this, I figured it would be unsellable.  I was in the middle of a long sales dry spell and frustrated that I couldn't seem to get a story that editors would like.  At this point I said, "F*** it, I'm just going to write a story for me, and I don't give a damn what anyone else thinks of it."  But I figured since I'd gone to the trouble of writing it, I may as well submit it.  And it sold on its second submission.  (I've tried to reproduce this attitude again, but have had no luck, perhaps because I have a different goal in mind)  Which just goes to reinforce two bits of advice I've heard many times:  1.  Write what you want to read.  2.  An author is the worst judge of their own work--let the editors decide.

Anyway, carry on.  I'll try to leave this thread alone for a week or two, but I'll stop back in at some point to say hi.  I'm very glad to be returning to the airwaves of Pseudopod Towers.  Smiley  I gave it a listen yesterday and I really enjoyed W. Ralph Walters' reading.
--David Steffen

Somehow I'd no idea -- before Alasdair's intro -- that you're quite so accomplished an author. I knew you write but I didn't realise that you're so well-published. I'll have to be more respectful to you now ;-)

Actually, if I remember correctly, those were just the places where this particular story has appeared before it appeared here on Pseudopod.  So far I've sold three other stories (and some reprints of those same) that have appeared a few other places as well.  No need to kowtow, though, unless you really enjoy kowtowing (Who am I to judge?).  I've been very happy that I've sold a few stories, and I hope to have more of such fortune in the future.  Smiley

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« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2011, 12:00:48 PM »

Can I just say: great to hear Rick Stringer in action!

WE LOVE YOU RICK STRINGER!!!!

(Dude, I miss Variant Frequencies so much. Hope there's a revival one day...)
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« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2011, 01:41:08 PM »

Oh, hey - fantastic horrible selection of stories, as well! (As this is PP, I mean that as a compliment. Cheesy)
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2011, 03:57:13 PM »

Can I just say: great to hear Rick Stringer in action!

WE LOVE YOU RICK STRINGER!!!! miss Variant Frequencies so much. Hope there's a revival one day...)

Pause!
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« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2011, 08:37:39 PM »

Quote
I'm not sure I quite got the ending, though.  Why did he disappear?  Had they already disposed of him?  Then why are they all standing around the empty bed?  I think I like the ending of the post referenced by Erik, where he just wakes up to find the empty windowsills, so that he would forever after think of them whenever he's in a dark and creepy situation.

I believe the implication was they had consumed him.  Active hunting vs. passive hunting was the dynamic (weapons vs. traps) in the story, which is why I felt it did more than the flash blurb/urban legend posted previous in this thread
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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2011, 10:31:15 PM »

Quote
I'm not sure I quite got the ending, though.  Why did he disappear?  Had they already disposed of him?  Then why are they all standing around the empty bed?  I think I like the ending of the post referenced by Erik, where he just wakes up to find the empty windowsills, so that he would forever after think of them whenever he's in a dark and creepy situation.

I believe the implication was they had consumed him.  Active hunting vs. passive hunting was the dynamic (weapons vs. traps) in the story, which is why I felt it did more than the flash blurb/urban legend posted previous in this thread

Ah, that makes sense.  Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2011, 12:15:13 AM »

The narration and production on tick gave a great extra hook for a nifty little Bradbury-esq philosophical piece of scifi, very reminiscent of Martial Chronicles for me.  Really enjoyed it.

Pageant Girls however was easily my favorite.  This fairly quick glance into a fairly unique characters psyche was very compelling.  I was also actually surprised by the conclusion which was truly delightful.  I hope we hear more from Ms. Yoachim soon.
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« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2011, 06:11:27 AM »

Quote
I'm not sure I quite got the ending, though.  Why did he disappear?  Had they already disposed of him?  Then why are they all standing around the empty bed?  I think I like the ending of the post referenced by Erik, where he just wakes up to find the empty windowsills, so that he would forever after think of them whenever he's in a dark and creepy situation.

I believe the implication was they had consumed him.  Active hunting vs. passive hunting was the dynamic (weapons vs. traps) in the story, which is why I felt it did more than the flash blurb/urban legend posted previous in this thread

Interestingly, it's why I think the shorter version is far more chilling - not to take anything from the story, as I thought it was quite good, but what I like about the shorter form is that the hunter isn't faced with a recognizable threat, but rather with what seems to be an entirely passive malevolence. Falling for a trap and getting killed and eaten is understandable. Hateful faces that seem to be doing nothing is alien, and thus far more insidious. It's an image that I still find creepy now while the outcome of the story on the podcast has lost its emotional impact on me in the couple of weeks since I've heard it.
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« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2011, 07:49:34 PM »

re: what makes you tick.
when I read I only hear that voice.
It makes biology class so much better...
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« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2011, 05:41:55 PM »

Horrible collection. Thumbs up. The big stand-out for me was "What Makes You Tick?" as the production and voice work was very nice, coupled with a great story. I took the monster to be less alien and more Shoggothy. I could see the latest test subject being twisted such that he associates sex with his girlfriend with autopsies. He finally winds up in a cell in Arkham Asylum after evicerating her during a rather passionate tryst shortly after going off-duty.
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« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2011, 12:52:54 PM »

In order...

1: Cool!

2: Yech!

3: Okay.
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« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2012, 02:31:35 PM »

Pageant Girls now has two excellent audio versions! Mur's reading here, and Tina Connolly's over at her debut episode of Toasted Cake, a 2012 flash fiction podcast. If it's indication of what Tina's going to be playing over there for the rest of the year, I'm hooked already.
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