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Author Topic: Pseudopod 284: She Said  (Read 2684 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: June 01, 2012, 01:45:28 AM »

Pseudopod 284: She Said

By Kirstyn McDermott.
The story was originally published in SCENES FROM THE SECOND STOREY (ed. Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall, Morrigan Books, 2010), and subsequently won both a Ditmar Award and an Australian Shadows Award. It has been reprinted in THE YEAR’S BEST AUSTRALIAN FANTASY AND HORROR (ed. Talie Helene & Liz Gryzb, Ticonderoga Publications, 2011).

Kirstyn McDermott (click the link under her name above to visit her website) has been published in various journals, magazines and anthologies, including Aurealis, Southerly, GUD, More Scary Kisses, Southern Blood and Island. Her short fiction has received various awards and her debut novel, MADIGAN MINE, was published by Picador in 2010 and subsequently won the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel. Kirstyn has a forthcoming collection in the Twelve Planets series by Twelfth Planet Press and her new novel, PERFECTIONS, will be published later this year by Xoum. More information will be posted to her website as details become available.

She also produces a monthly podcast with her good friend, Ian Mond, called The Writer and the Critic, where they recommend and discuss a variety of books, mostly spec fic in nature. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and fellow author, Jason Nahrung.



Your reader this week is Christopher Reynaga whose blog can be found by clicking the link under his name. Christopher is a storyteller. In this day and age that translates as novelist, short story writer, and your humble narrator.

“‘As I lifted my brush to the canvas, as I felt the paint flow thick and eager from the bristles, I could see the end, how it needed to be finished. I could see the promise that glimmered beneath the threat, the mercy inherent in destruction. My hand steadied, and worked.”




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2012, 07:39:32 PM »

Why are fictional artists always tortured and obsessed with darkness and despair?  It's been a thing for like a century now, and I still don't get it.

I guessed wrong on this story, at any rate; I thought Fiona would throw away the bottles of Mallory during the cleanup and that the douchebag narrator would naturally have to kill her to get his supplies of ick back in order.  Instead, he's apparently just a faster-acting Dr. Manhattan without the rationality or omniscience. 

I was interested in the idea of choosing between muses, between following the difficult stuff you love but that ruins your life versus the fun stuff that reminds you why you enjoy making art in the first place, the (false, to my way of thinking) dichotomy between "light" art and "serious" art, between misery and joy.  I'm less interested in a toxic imagination that withers everything just because of some innate poison in its nature.  Story thus started off strong and faded for me as it went on.
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yaksox
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2012, 06:33:05 AM »

Despite me being a former Melbournian this one didn't do much for me. Seemed a bit painting-by-numbers (lol!). You can't add symbolism just by daubing it on like that.
 The only cool part was the leprosy. 
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FrankOreto
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2012, 12:35:43 PM »

I liked this quite a bit. I thought it answered the "Why is it that all my relationships end so horribly?" question in a  very creepy and grotesque way. (The answer of course being It's not them It's you.) You get this sort of idea all the time in modern non-genre short stories. I need to break out of my poisonous relationship... Oh here's someone shiny and new... oh no, they're assuming the same role as the last person.  There may be a lot of obvious symbolism, but at least it's fetid, rotting symbolism. I can't ask to much more than that.
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Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 08:27:22 AM »

Blech.

I didn't care for this one.  Most of all I want to care about characters, otherwise it's all just so many words.  The narrator was a worthless pile, Fiona likewise.  Mallory was certainly in a sympathetic situation--I couldn't help trying to imagine how horrible that would be to be disintegrating and to have the only one who used to care about you ignoring you as much as possible and sleeping with strangers to get his rocks off, but she never felt like a real person, she just felt like a description of her situation if that makes sense.

I hung around until the end, but found nothing that I liked about the story.  I was hoping that he would at least get some retribution for his evil deeds, but in the end he just claims a new victim.  A willing victim that I also didn't care about.

Blech.
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yaksox
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2012, 08:55:42 AM »

I always feel bad about being a bit negative with episode comments just in case the author is reading.

Australian reference coming up: If the TV people ever make a new series of Chances ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chances_%28TV_series%29 ) then this story could be reworked into a script for it.
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eytanz
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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2012, 01:35:46 PM »

I think this is a case of a story that should have ended earlier. I thought it had reached a nice subtle ending when he suddenly realized that he needs to introduce an element of decay into the portrait of Fiona, and a nice topper to that when he was going to use the remains of Mallory for the task. That was nice and ominous and made me afraid for Fiona's fate in a slightly open ended fashion...

... And then the story continued, spelling out what I was just thinking, just without any of the subtlety left. And because it had to make it clear there and then, it felt rushed. This wasn't a first step (back) onto a dark path, it was a quick hop and a skip to the middle of that path. So instead of leaving me with an unsettled feeling, it left me with the sense of "yup, I was right about this, guess I don't have to think/worry about it anymore".
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The Stu
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2012, 04:15:52 AM »

This was an OK story but a bit a of come down from the pacier Kill Screen, which I had heard a few hours before this.

But, as a resident of Melbourne, I have a nit to pick with the pronunciations: Greville Street is pronounced (and I hope I get this right) gr-eh-ville not gr-ee-ville.  I probably shouldn't let such a small thing get to me but to have story on a global podcast like Pseudopod be set literally minutes from where I live is pretty exciting.

Question for the producers - when you're choosing narrators, does their nationality ever come into it?  Do you try and pick someone from the place where the story is set?
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2012, 07:19:53 AM »

Yes - but only in the roughest sense  Australia should, technically, get an Australian, but I can't worry about a smaller scale than that.  And also, the setting of the story has to be prominent or at least mentioned to some average degree for me to also consider it a limiting factor on choosing a reader (from this, you may conclude that while we have a large pool of readers, it still isn't "very large").  In the case of this story, for example, although I knew the author was from that area, it never even entered my mind to get an Australian reader, either because the main component, in my mind, was "angsty young man" and I missed the Australia aspect, or the Australia-istic aspect never really made itself prominent enough to my weary, story-addled mind (a Bunyip would have tipped me off, for example...)
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The Stu
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2012, 07:40:20 PM »

Thanks Sgarre1, that all makes a lot of sense.

And I think you're right, the location wasn't particularly important to the story so an Australian accent wasn't required.
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Umbrageofsnow
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« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2012, 10:58:17 AM »

I guess I'm posting in all the threads because I feel like Captain Dissent and I've been moving across the country and therefore listening to tons of podcasts without finding time to read the thread, mutter to myself, and forget to post later.  One long day of disagreeing with people!

I quite liked this story.

I'm a sucker for the M. Valdemar/Novel of the White Powder/Cool Air story, and the idea of painting with the ick really appeals to me.  Gives it a certain ghoulishness I can really get behind.

I think I can agree that the story would have been fine ending a bit earlier without making Fiona's fate so obvious, but I don't think it ruined the story.  I did really like the conflict about what kind of art he should be painting, but I kind of assume he has gone through this same cycle before (minus the painting with the ick).  Girlfriend starts to melt, you'd better get a new one!
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Red Dog 344
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« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2012, 10:37:57 AM »

I guess I'm posting in all the threads because I feel like Captain Dissent...

Aw, Umbrage, I wanted to be Captain Dissent.  Can I be Sergeant Contrarian?  (... Or was that a character in Catch-22?)
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Umbrageofsnow
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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2012, 09:30:13 PM »

If he was, he wasn't a major major character.  Just a bit part.
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2012, 07:30:01 AM »

I started off not really liking this story because of the tortured-artist trope. Then I found out he LITERALLY bumped into the woman he then has an affair with and had to stop listening. The story just wasn't holding my attention.
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