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Author Topic: Pseudopod 279: Gingerbread And Ashes  (Read 2938 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: April 30, 2012, 03:02:53 AM »

Pseudopod 279: Gingerbread And Ashes

By Jaelithe Ingold.
This story was first published in Arcane Magazine (later renamed Arcane Sampler) in March of 2011. Jaelithe Ingold is a dark fantasy writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She used to prepare fossils for display at the Carnegie Museum and is now a retail manager. Her work has appeared in Shock Totem, Abyss & Apex and Dark Recesses.


Read by Pete Milan, who does a lot of voice work with Pendant Audio, on their fan shows (we do a series of DC Comics-based audio dramas) and originals (I’m a writer and performer on their sci-fi serial, The Kingery, among others)…

“The roof of the gingerbread house has long been gone, and green mold covers the sides like a copper patina, but the air surrounding it is still sweet. Sugar gone bad with the passage of time and the death of its caretaker.

Last week, Gretel vanished from our home. She’s been lured away, I think, by something bad, for this is the only reason she would willingly leave me.

Has she come here lately? That’s the question at the forefront of my mind. We don’t talk about it, but I know she’s been here before. Many times since the witch’s death. And I haven’t always been able to resist either. The sweet rot of the place both rumbles and turns my stomach, yet still it calls to me.

We haven’t been children for a very long time, but if I remember hard enough, the sensation remains. The taste still melts on my tongue.”





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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childoftyranny
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2012, 03:10:39 PM »

It appears I am King under the mountain this time around...if only it were a joyous occasion.

I felt this story, I think its a subtle sort of horror in that there wasn't any great surprise you could see it coming from a mile off. There was nothing to be done, no warning that could have been effective, that long slow ride into the dark is most chilling.

For me the voice could have been either the witch, Hansel's sister or even his own conscience* and it makes little difference. I suppose it ought to be worrisome if it was the witch, which indicates that perhaps it was not her choice either. Maybe that even provides an excuse, not a good excuse, but one nevertheless for Hansel. He had so very many chances to escape and never took one, from after their escape, their first chance to get away as opposed to returning and not turning away when horror was still in the distance.

Quite a bit to chew on here, I'd say.

I do think when the darkness smiles and bows to lead you inside is far more terrifying than the beasts of bone and sinew.


* Isn't it fascinating that conscience is con science?
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yaksox
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 08:15:54 AM »

For me lately, the measure of a good story (and its narration) is if it's able to hold my attention after a long workday while be listened to on a crowded bus.

And this one did really well. I don't mind if I can tell what's coming (not that I could). I guess I was a bit surprised that Hansel gave in. A bit difficulot to describe why, but I really like how the story concluded.
And the narration was fantastic. Well paced and almost faultlessly acted accent.
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Jeff C. Carter
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2012, 01:00:48 AM »

The narration and setting were both entertaining enough that I didn't mind the slow pace.  I guessed several outcomes from the narrow field allowed (He stops his sister, He joins his sister, He runs away) and toggled between them as the story progressed.

I also like the idea that the witch had also fallen under the ginger bread houses' spell once upon a time, and now her ghost is condemned to haunt the house and try in vain to prevent others from suffering her fate.

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Pirvonen
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2012, 01:59:27 PM »

This is the second EscapeArtists production this year that I have listened over and over again.

Slow pace? Get old, you! This was perfect.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2012, 08:50:16 AM »

I enjoyed this one.  I like new takes on fairy tales, and this one did well.  I liked the German accent of the speaker as well, added to the atmosphere.

It is interesting to consider who the voice was.  Myself, I think it was the person behind the original witch.  I think that she was at some point an ordinary person but she became trapped in the same way that Hansel and Grethel become by the end of this story, with their ethical self melted away and replaced by the dark part of themselves revealed and unchecked.  The evil part of the original witch has been burned away in the oven, leaving only this part, a whispering voice that tries to warn Hansel and ultimately fails.  Presumably the cycle will continue on and these two will die in turn, only to become whispering voices themselves.

Thematically this cycle of cannibalism reminded me of family cycles of abuse where an abused child may become an abusive parent.  Not everyone is pulled into the cycle, and there are ways out, but the easiest path for one who has learned abusive behavior is to fall back into it, as Hansel does here.
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Jeff C. Carter
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2012, 01:36:01 AM »

It makes me wonder, if the house corrupted the original witch, who built the house?  What hideous eldritch confectioner blighted the forest with a candy manse of cannibalism?   Shocked
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2012, 08:29:43 AM »

It makes me wonder, if the house corrupted the original witch, who built the house?  What hideous eldritch confectioner blighted the forest with a candy manse of cannibalism?   Shocked

Good question!  I like the mystery of it, so my preferred answer would be "it's always been there".  Smiley
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MacArthurBug
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« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2012, 01:37:22 PM »

Oooh a dark re-telling of one of my more favorite already dark favorite fairy tales! Yes PLEASE!
I added bonus points to the spot on German accent. I'll keep the review short and simple. I. Liked. It.
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Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.
kibitzer
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« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2012, 09:50:06 PM »

Oooh a dark re-telling of one of my more favorite already dark favorite fairy tales! Yes PLEASE!
I added bonus points to the spot on German accent. I'll keep the review short and simple. I. Liked. It.

Bug! You're back! Glad to hear from you again Smiley
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Fenrix
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« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2012, 07:13:10 PM »

I really enjoyed how the reader changed to sound younger after the act of rejuvenating cannibalism.
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All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
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