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Author Topic: Pseudopod 372: Silver And Copper, Iron And Ash  (Read 3660 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: February 10, 2014, 12:58:01 AM »

Pseudopod 372: Silver And Copper, Iron And Ash

by Nathaniel Lee.

This story originally appeared in the COINS OF CHAOS anthology from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, edited by Jennifer Brozek. The book came out in late 2013 and can be purchased from the publisher directly or from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. “It’s not what you’re buying; it’s what you’re willing to pay and how badly you want it. How hungry are you, really?”

Nathan is a writer and editor living in North Carolina with his wife and son. His fiction has appeared in a variety of places around the internet, including Intergalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and previously here on Pseudopod. His microfiction blog (and links to his other published stories) can be found at www.mirrorshards.org. He is delicious with paprika and a cream sauce.

Dominick Rabrun is an artist living in the United States. Dominick is the creator of Dom’s Sketch Cast, a show that runs on YouTube. DSC features interviews with creative individuals, animations, and other experimental art videos: youtube.com/generaldom



Something was following him. He had enough woodcraft to know that, although he hadn’t been able to catch sight of it. A rogue wolf, perhaps, or a mountain lion; something solitary and hungry, cautious but lured by the smell of blood on him. He’d have to sit up with the rifle for a night or two and make sure the goats didn’t come to harm.

With a final glance at the darkened woods, James hefted his gunnysack and began the final climb down to the fragile safety of walls.





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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TrishEM
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2014, 03:22:22 AM »

"He could smell their fur, wet and matted and sour, with a stench he recognized from his days on the trampoline."
I laughed out loud when I heard this, at about 13:20 minutes in, and re-listened several times to check that I was hearing it right. Surely the sentence should end "from his days on the trapline."
I'm afraid that's what made the strongest impression on me from this podcast.

The story itself was nicely atmospheric. Although I was a bit frustrated with James' surrender to his doom, it felt fairly inevitable by that time, with the reappearances of the cursed coin, and the animals having been impelled. But I wonder what would have happened if James had followed my impulse and thrown the skin-and-bones walker onto the fire.
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 09:32:13 AM »

This story was all right. I was digging the early part, with the appearance of the viciously altered coin, the change in his wife, the creepy skeletal figure. 

I don't know, though.  I felt for him at the beginning, but even at the beginning of the story their story it seemed pretty clear their story wasn't going to end well. The coin accelerated it slightly, and had some nicely creepy imagery to boot.  The fox choking on the snake choking on the mole clutching the coin was borderline ludicrous but would've been very scary if I'd actually seen it. 

I didn't quite get what happened at the very end--did he become the specter for future hungers?  Or is he just another carrier who'll carry the coin to the next victim?

Kudos to his wife for not taking her death unanswered at least.

"He could smell their fur, wet and matted and sour, with a stench he recognized from his days on the trampoline."
I laughed out loud when I heard this, at about 13:20 minutes in, and re-listened several times to check that I was hearing it right. Surely the sentence should end "from his days on the trapline."
I'm afraid that's what made the strongest impression on me from this podcast.

Oh is THAT what that should've said?  "trapline"?  That would've been way less distracting.  I spent a little while after that trying to figure out what "trampoline" meant in that context.  Surely not bouncy stretched canvas used for exercise and entertainment.  Then I got to wondering where the word "trampoline" originate.  There was a tramp (as in homeless dude) in this story, so maybe it has something to do with the homeless.  That line of thought led nowhere useful.

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eytanz
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2014, 01:49:40 PM »

I split out the discussion of the sponsorship and how it was integrated in the episode, because while this is the first episode in which it appears, it will appear in the other podcasts and other episodes as well.

The new thread can be found here.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2014, 01:51:16 PM by eytanz » Logged
davidthygod
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2014, 09:56:13 PM »

Dark, interesting, and cool, but a little slow and methodical for me.  I really like the imagery of the fox eating the snake eating the rat eating the coin.   That part was awesome.
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2014, 03:04:15 PM »

Went places I didn't expect, and they were so very dark. I loved it. Smiley

I, too, got tripped up by "trampoline," but just ignored it as a mispronounce and went on. Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2014, 08:30:55 AM »

I enjoyed this story until James got back to the cabin. I realize that, given that it's horror, we should be expecting bad things to happen at the end, and that's fine, but the ending didn't make enough sense to me and the story had already gone on quite a while so I was a bit fatigued.

I definitely thought the atmosphere was good and the world was well-built.
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Thundercrack!
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2014, 07:53:45 AM »

I felt this had echoes of John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy. I'm not entirely sure why. I thought the story was good, but the writing was really compelling.
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albionmoonlight
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2014, 08:49:51 AM »

When I am listening to a horror story, I have to remember that the characters don't know that they are in a horror story.  My first impulse when he found the coin was to say "Listen to the crazy old man!  Throw it away!  It is clearly cursed!"  But that's because I know that the character is in a story.

Then I thought about translating that to my life.  I see a homeless man on the street and give him some change.  And then I happen to see a $20 bill in a storm drain.  And I offer it to him.  And he freaks out and tells me that the money is cursed and runs away.  I'm probably keeping the $20.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2014, 10:02:06 AM »


When I am listening to a horror story, I have to remember that the characters don't know that they are in a horror story.  My first impulse when he found the coin was to say "Listen to the crazy old man!  Throw it away!  It is clearly cursed!"  But that's because I know that the character is in a story.

Then I thought about translating that to my life.  I see a homeless man on the street and give him some change.  And then I happen to see a $20 bill in a storm drain.  And I offer it to him.  And he freaks out and tells me that the money is cursed and runs away.  I'm probably keeping the $20.


One of the things that's bothered me about this story is the seeming inevitability of doom. While the pacing and storytelling were compelling, the way it tied up felt like it wouldn't have mattered if he listened to the initial warning and threw the coin away in the first scene. It seemed as if he were doomed just by touching a hidden cursed object.
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Cheshire_Snark
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2014, 07:12:12 AM »


When I am listening to a horror story, I have to remember that the characters don't know that they are in a horror story.  My first impulse when he found the coin was to say "Listen to the crazy old man!  Throw it away!  It is clearly cursed!"  But that's because I know that the character is in a story.

Then I thought about translating that to my life.  I see a homeless man on the street and give him some change.  And then I happen to see a $20 bill in a storm drain.  And I offer it to him.  And he freaks out and tells me that the money is cursed and runs away.  I'm probably keeping the $20.


One of the things that's bothered me about this story is the seeming inevitability of doom. While the pacing and storytelling were compelling, the way it tied up felt like it wouldn't have mattered if he listened to the initial warning and threw the coin away in the first scene. It seemed as if he were doomed just by touching a hidden cursed object.

Some stories work well like that, though - & this was probably one of them. The idea that no matter what he did, he was cursed, lines up fairly well with what was probably the historical reality of no matter how hard many settlers tried, they did starve/freeze to death over the winter.

Though as an earlier commenter noted, I'm curious about the mechanism for the cursed coin - is the protagonist now just a bigger, better rabbit (coin-delivery system)? I can't quite recall the calendar date for the story (is there mention of one...? sorry, no time to re-listen just now) BUT could it be set in the earlier years of the great Depression? Perhaps the appearance of the bone-woman closer to a settled area could be linked to increased starvation/famine at that time?
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2014, 05:49:17 AM »

Hey-lo!  Author here.  Glad people generally enjoyed this, sparse though the commentary was.  I knew that the premise was already set for me (and given that the coins are "of Chaos," the plot kind of was, too), so I decided to just run with the creepy imagery and hope it worked.  :-)  A lot of people wondered about the mechanism; I was really just going with the most straightforward cursed artifact I could.  You touch it, you're screwed, and nuts to your good intentions if you had any.  Just like the indiscriminate disaster it was foregrounding, the Hungry Coin ain't in this to play fair.

When I am listening to a horror story, I have to remember that the characters don't know that they are in a horror story.  My first impulse when he found the coin was to say "Listen to the crazy old man!  Throw it away!  It is clearly cursed!"  But that's because I know that the character is in a story.

Even better, this story appeared in a whole anthology of stories about cursed coins.  They really should have seen it coming.

Though as an earlier commenter noted, I'm curious about the mechanism for the cursed coin - is the protagonist now just a bigger, better rabbit (coin-delivery system)? I can't quite recall the calendar date for the story (is there mention of one...? sorry, no time to re-listen just now) BUT could it be set in the earlier years of the great Depression? Perhaps the appearance of the bone-woman closer to a settled area could be linked to increased starvation/famine at that time?

Not explicitly in the way that, like, Dracula brings the rats with him, but certainly the deprivation of the Depression was on my mind when I tried to think of what kind of curse a coin might carry.  The curse was inescapable in the same way poverty and loss are.  Hunger doesn't care who you are.

The fox choking on the snake choking on the mole clutching the coin was borderline ludicrous but would've been very scary if I'd actually seen it. 

Ludicrous and faintly creepy was pretty much my precise goal there.  :-D  I started with just one thing eating a mole that was clutching the coin and then I was like, "No, man, you can't half-ass this.  All the way to the hilt."  There's a point where something stops being scary and starts being silly, and then another, smaller point where it starts being scary again.  I'm pleased I managed to land the shot in that little dip in the distribution.
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« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2014, 04:57:58 PM »

Cursed coins go way back in our collective imagination.  Money is the root of all evil, eh?  Or think of Jesus betrayed for a handful of coins (which become the magical crux of a fine James Blaylock novel).

This was a moving story, Nathaniel.  The 1930s background powered nearly everything for me: each character's desperation, the harsh demands on the land.  The coin's power to destroy built and built through the tale, becoming something mythic by the end. 

Very, very well read, too.
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Kaa
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2014, 07:40:42 PM »

Money is the root of all evil, eh?

Not to be pedantic (said the pedant), but the actual quote is "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Tim 6:10)

It is often misquoted, though. </pedant>

Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2016, 01:46:48 PM »

I know that this is phenomenally late, but I have to say that so far this is the story that has stayed with me the longest from listening to psuedopod for the last year. It creeped the hell out of me whilst walking my pug (which is impressive as they are basically joy and carelessness crafted into a physical form). Also, when I told my wife about it, my very short retelling creeped her out as well and has stuck with her in the year since. Excellent work!
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TrishEM
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« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2016, 01:03:40 AM »

I know that this is phenomenally late, but I have to say that so far this is the story that has stayed with me the longest from listening to psuedopod for the last year. It creeped the hell out of me whilst walking my pug (which is impressive as they are basically joy and carelessness crafted into a physical form). Also, when I told my wife about it, my very short retelling creeped her out as well and has stuck with her in the year since. Excellent work!

I like it whenever comments remind me about stories from the past. I consume a lot of podcasts, so the older ones get crowded out of my active memory until prompts like this recall them to me. Plus, it's nice just to see somebody else taking pleasure in something I've enjoyed.
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« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2016, 03:06:10 PM »

I know that this is phenomenally late, but I have to say that so far this is the story that has stayed with me the longest from listening to psuedopod for the last year. It creeped the hell out of me whilst walking my pug (which is impressive as they are basically joy and carelessness crafted into a physical form). Also, when I told my wife about it, my very short retelling creeped her out as well and has stuck with her in the year since. Excellent work!

I like it whenever comments remind me about stories from the past. I consume a lot of podcasts, so the older ones get crowded out of my active memory until prompts like this recall them to me. Plus, it's nice just to see somebody else taking pleasure in something I've enjoyed.

Ditto here! 
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Kaa
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« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2016, 04:49:24 PM »

I know that this is phenomenally late, but I have to say that so far this is the story that has stayed with me the longest from listening to psuedopod for the last year. It creeped the hell out of me whilst walking my pug (which is impressive as they are basically joy and carelessness crafted into a physical form). Also, when I told my wife about it, my very short retelling creeped her out as well and has stuck with her in the year since. Excellent work!

I like it whenever comments remind me about stories from the past. I consume a lot of podcasts, so the older ones get crowded out of my active memory until prompts like this recall them to me. Plus, it's nice just to see somebody else taking pleasure in something I've enjoyed.

Ditto here! 

Me, three!
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I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

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