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Author Topic: PC179: The Gateway of the Monster (Featuring Carnacki)  (Read 10363 times)

Talia

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on: October 18, 2011, 05:09:11 PM
PodCastle 179: The Gateway of the Monster (Featuring Carnacki)

by William Hope Hodgson.

Read by Paul S. Jenkins.

Originally published in The Idler, January 1910.

“Two days later, I drove to the house, late in the afternoon. I found it a very old place, standing quite alone in its own grounds. Anderson had left a letter with the butler, I found, pleading excuses for his absence, and leaving the whole house at my disposal for my investigations. The butler evidently knew the object of my visit, and I questioned him pretty thoroughly during dinner, which I had in rather lonely state. He is an old and privileged servant, and had the history of the Grey Room exact in detail. From him I learned more particulars regarding two things that Anderson had mentioned in but a casual manner. The first was that the door of the Grey Room would be heard in the dead of night to open, and slam heavily, and this even though the butler knew it was locked, and the key on the bunch in his pantry. The second was that the bedclothes would always be found torn off the bed, and hurled in a heap into a corner.

“But it was the door slamming that chiefly bothered the old butler. Many and many a time, he told me, had he lain awake and just got shivering with fright, listening; for sometimes the door would be slammed time after time - thud! thud! thud! - so that sleep was impossible.

“From Anderson, I knew already that the room had a history extending back over a hundred and fifty years. Three people had been strangled in it - an ancestor of his and his wife and child. This is authentic, as I had taken very great pains to discover, so that you can imagine it was with a feeling that I had a striking case to investigate, that I went upstairs after dinner to have a look at the Grey Room.

“Peter, the old butler, was in rather a state about my going, and assured me with much solemnity that in all the twenty years of his service, no one had ever entered that room after nightfall. He begged me, in quite a fatherly way, to wait till the morning, when there would be no danger, and then he could accompany me himself.

“Of course, I smiled a little at him, and told him not to bother. I explained that I should do no more than look around a bit, and perhaps affix a few seals. He need not fear; I was used to that sort of thing. But he shook his head, when I said that.

“‘There isn’t many ghosts like ours, sir,’ he assured me, with mournful pride. And, by Jove! he was right, as you will see. “


Rated R.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2011, 03:20:11 PM by Talia »



Sgarre1

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Reply #1 on: October 19, 2011, 12:02:34 AM
Lots of fun - if there's one thing I like about Carnacki it's that, despite all his preparation, he's fallible and completely willing to admit it.  The bit early on with him getting spooked, and him jumping out of his own pentacle were both well done.  And I like that there wasn't much of an explanation of the thing - just something from outside reaching in through an accessible gap.

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« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 02:37:10 AM by Sgarre1 »



Scattercat

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Reply #2 on: October 19, 2011, 12:13:09 AM
Man, I shouldn't have picked up the Kindle collection of Carnacki after "The Whistling Room."  I've apparently pre-emptively spoiled a half-dozen EA episodes for myself.  :-P

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eytanz

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Reply #3 on: October 19, 2011, 12:47:38 AM
Man, I shouldn't have picked up the Kindle collection of Carnacki after "The Whistling Room."  I've apparently pre-emptively spoiled a half-dozen EA episodes for myself.  :-P

Heh, same here.



Swamp

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Reply #4 on: October 19, 2011, 06:43:49 AM
As one who has not been spoiled on Carnaki, I loved this story, even moreso than "The Whistling Room".  The second time he went into the pentacle I was like "Dude, do you realize what you are doing?"  I haven't felt that involved in a story for a while.  Thanks, Podcastle!

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Scattercat

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Reply #5 on: October 19, 2011, 07:10:50 AM
This probably was my favorite Carnacki story in the collection, actually.  Hand monsters have been creepy ever since Legend of Zelda.  You never forget that kind of conditioning.  ("Gah!  Back to the start of the dungeon AGAIN?  Those things are EVIL!")

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birdless

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Reply #6 on: October 19, 2011, 05:58:11 PM
I love these Carnacki stories (though I tend to get them confused with the White <something> Society). This one was especially creepy. I think my wife is really going to enjoy this one, too. I would love to hear more of these!



Spindaddy

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Reply #7 on: October 21, 2011, 01:09:37 AM
I started yelling "YOU FOOL GET OUT OF THE PENTANGLE WITH THE RING INSIDE!"

Definitely a creepy damn story and probably not the best one to drive for an hour starting around midnight, but damn it kept me wide awake. Great story!

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mbrennan

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Reply #8 on: October 21, 2011, 07:49:11 AM
Man, you could get wasted by taking a drink every time he says "queer."

Fun story, though.  Not riveting, at least not for me -- but it certainly made folding the laundry go faster.



Listener

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Reply #9 on: October 21, 2011, 03:18:17 PM
I enjoyed the story, and the use of language. Didn't he have an editor to say "hey, Bill? You need to hit the thesaurus and look up 'queer'." But other than that, the language was good.

Excellent choice of reader, too.

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Reed

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Reply #10 on: October 21, 2011, 08:39:14 PM
Wow, I kept wondering why this story got an R-rating and waiting for the sex scene and it was all for the word 'queer'? Okay, I'm a not a native speaker of English, but I know that the word's meaning shifted from something like 'strange' - which was definitely what the author meant - to 'homosexual'. Is that really such a big deal that it pushes up the rating? Interesting.

The story itself did have that old fashioned charm which was fine enough, but it didn't have a strong impact on me. I also thought Carnacki was not very bright, when he put the ring into his pentacle and sat right next to it.  But oh well, he did get out in time.



DKT

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Reply #11 on: October 21, 2011, 09:09:05 PM
Wow, I kept wondering why this story got an R-rating and waiting for the sex scene and it was all for the word 'queer'? Okay, I'm a not a native speaker of English, but I know that the word's meaning shifted from something like 'strange' - which was definitely what the author meant - to 'homosexual'. Is that really such a big deal that it pushes up the rating? Interesting.

Nah, in my book "queer" is a G-rated word*, using either meaning. Ditto gay.

It got an R-rating because of the cat getting mutilated and beaten about. Some listeners get a bit squeamish when cats animals get killed.

(Funny to note: I remember this being a problem with a certain PP episode, and I figured if that's PP, people will be pretty upset at PC if something like that happens. But all the stories we've had with animals being killed, I don't know if anyone's actually complained about it - at least not in the last year.)

*So long as it's not used as a slur.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2011, 09:10:53 PM by DKT »



Reed

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Reply #12 on: October 21, 2011, 10:08:09 PM
Ah, okay, thanks. It was rough on the cat, that's true. I find that a somewhat more understandable reason than the usage of 'queer'. 



Listener

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Reply #13 on: October 22, 2011, 02:33:10 PM
Ah, okay, thanks. It was rough on the cat, that's true. I find that a somewhat more understandable reason than the usage of 'queer'. 

Some people get really upset over certain words. For example, my wife's oldest brother is mentally disabled, and she gets really angry when someone uses the word "retarded", even in a non-derogatory way, such as "fire retardant". I imagine there are people who feel the same way about "queer".

My first experience with "queer" as a "bad" word was when I was 12, on a BBS. As an avid reader, I thought "queer" meant "strange" in the same way that the author used it in this book. But the BBS censored it, and I had no idea why. And that was the early 90s.

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raetsel

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Reply #14 on: October 23, 2011, 09:48:35 AM
I loved the story and the way it developed a real sense of fear. When Carnacki went back into the room for the next night, even though he was the narrating the story and must have survived I was still worried for him as I was wrapped up in the tale.

The reading was excellent and created a great atmosphere, like I was one of Carnacki's dinner guests.

As for the whole "queer" discussion. I'm quite surprised to hear Dave say that if the word queer is used like in this story in its original meaning it would make the story G rated. Context is everything, surely and it would be good for kids to know how queer came to be used as a slur because of its original meaning of strange or deviant. ( As an aside I was fascinated to find that Wikipedia suggests "queer" was being used in its second sense by 1904 before this story was written http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer. I guess WHH and the readers of The Idler moved in more enlightened circles.)

In a sort of reverse analogue of how queer came to be used the word "gay" which originally only meant happy or carefree has unfortunately, in the UK at least, started to become slang for things that are bad. School kids will say someones trainers are "gay" or someone failing to score a goal is "so gay" even where there isn't any obvious link to the stereotype of effeminacy . This has even been used on TV in this context by comedians and no-one seems to take them to task for making the word have negative connotations though if they claimed something was "so asian" or "so black" there would be an outcry.




Spindaddy

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Reply #15 on: October 24, 2011, 04:08:21 PM
Fun story, though.  Not riveting, at least not for me -- but it certainly made folding the laundry go faster.
Just out of curiosity do you think if had you been in a different place or settings that the story would have been a bit spookier? Normally I don't get the creeps, but when I listened to the story it was during a late night drive home. I've listened to a few stories where what was going on around me directly subtracted or added directly to the story.

Regarding the over-use of the word queer, I found it strange, weird and even a bit odd the author didn't decide to use a different word. It gave me an eerie feeling--both unsettling and mysteriously as I drove towards my goal. On the whole I found the overuse of the word quite bizarre.


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Devoted135

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Reply #16 on: October 24, 2011, 04:28:41 PM
Yay, another Carnacki story! I really enjoyed the story, and of course the narration was great. For some reason, I thought that the hand wouldn't be able to come through the ring when it was inside the pentacle, so that made for a jumpy moment for me. :P I love the fact that while Carnacki uses empirical (semi-scientific) methods of investigation, he has a healthy respect for his subject and is not above getting thoroughly creeped out and spending a sleepless night in bed! :D


In a sort of reverse analogue of how queer came to be used the word "gay" which originally only meant happy or carefree has unfortunately, in the UK at least, started to become slang for things that are bad. School kids will say someones trainers are "gay" or someone failing to score a goal is "so gay" even where there isn't any obvious link to the stereotype of effeminacy . This has even been used on TV in this context by comedians and no-one seems to take them to task for making the word have negative connotations though if they claimed something was "so asian" or "so black" there would be an outcry.

This is fascinating to me, is this really a new trend in the UK? Kids in the US have been using "gay" in this manner for 10-15 years. Before that everything was "retarded". Adults consistently admonish kids NOT to use these phrases (they are most definitely not allowed in my presence!) but of course it continues anyway...



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Reply #17 on: October 24, 2011, 05:21:35 PM
Regarding the over-use of the word queer, I found it strange, weird and even a bit odd the author didn't decide to use a different word. It gave me an eerie feeling--both unsettling and mysteriously as I drove towards my goal. On the whole I found the overuse of the word quite bizarre.



Cute!  :D

Although, it'd make Marie's drinking game a lot less interesting!


danooli

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Reply #18 on: October 24, 2011, 05:27:16 PM
Two dead cats in a row.

I'm sad.

:(



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #19 on: October 24, 2011, 05:48:25 PM
I still want Carnacki to be my character.

Anyway, this is the first Carnacki story I ever read, immediately after finishing the first Carnacki story I ever listened to, right here on Podcastle. If you're interested in reading all the adventures of Carnacki, you can find them available for free on the internet. Any e-reader - or e-reader program - can give you access to Carnacki's world.

Anyway, this story is one of my favorites and I am extremely happy to hear it in audio. It has everything I love about Carnacki: Deadly mysteries! Weird antagonists! Every third thing is queer! The electric pentacle! Once Carnacki is my character, I will get my electric pentacle on all the damn time.

But seriously. This story is older than old, from back in the day when "queer" meant "weird." Get over it.

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mbrennan

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Reply #20 on: October 24, 2011, 06:28:14 PM
Just out of curiosity do you think if had you been in a different place or settings that the story would have been a bit spookier? Normally I don't get the creeps, but when I listened to the story it was during a late night drive home. I've listened to a few stories where what was going on around me directly subtracted or added directly to the story.

Oh, certainly.  Spooky stories probably fare the worst, honestly, since most of my story-listening time is either while doing chores around the house, or while driving in broad daylight.  Sometimes I listen on flights, and that can be more atmospheric, depending.



MeshuggeKnits

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Reply #21 on: October 25, 2011, 01:21:34 AM
So...
The house servants remade the bed every morning, but not once in a century swept underneath?  I'm surprised the dust bunnies hadn't eaten the ring before Carnacki got to it.



raetsel

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Reply #22 on: October 25, 2011, 06:33:43 PM

But seriously. This story is older than old, from back in the day when "queer" meant "weird." Get over it.

Well not quite exclusively, as I mentioned it seems according to Wikipedia anyway that it was starting to be used in its other derogatory sense for a few years before this story. Clearly it's meant to be used in the original sense.

I wonder if it stuck out so much as being repeated because it has more connotations today so we tuned in to it. If WHH had used "weird" all the time instead would it have seemed so obviously repeated.

I know when I read Sherlock Holmes I notice how often Conan Doyle uses the word "singular" as in he was a singular man or a room of singular elegance. It seems he uses it a lot but maybe that is again because I'm not used to it being used in that sense.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2011, 07:59:28 PM by raetsel »



Sandra M. Odell

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Reply #23 on: October 27, 2011, 08:32:00 AM
I agree with Swamp about the second time Carnacki went into the pentacle.

I really enjoyed this story, both for the tale and for the narration.  I've come to think of Hope Hodgson as my new "go to" Halloween spook specialist, and much prefer his works to those of Lovecraft or Poe.  Hope Hodgson's characters are accessible, human, and his prose supports that level of reader empathy.



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Reply #24 on: October 29, 2011, 11:58:08 PM
I loved the way the narration worked with the century-old Edwardian text; very well done, like the last Carnacki story.

Yeah, I, like Dave, picked up on "funk", "queer", and two dead cats in a row -

But what also nabbed me for unusual usage was "slurred" (as in the bedclothes) and "pringled".