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Author Topic: Pseudopod 290: The American Dead  (Read 2799 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: July 13, 2012, 10:33:19 PM »

Pseudopod 290: The American Dead

By Jay Lake. “The American Dead” originally appeared in Interzone Issue 203, and was reprinted in several “Year’s Best” volumes, including Stephen Jones’ THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR Volume 18.

Jay Lake lives in Portland, Oregon, where he works on numerous writing and editing projects. His most recent books are ENDURANCE and KALIMPURA - part of the GREEN series, out in November, 20112 from Tor Books, and LOVE IN THE TIME OF METAL AND FLESH from Prime Books. His short fiction appears regularly in literary and genre markets worldwide. Jay is a past winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and a multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. His blog can be found by clicking the link under his name at the by line.

Your reader this week is Roberto Suarez. An avid film lover, Roberto and his co-hosts review movie trailers every week on Trailerclash: The Movie Trailers Podcast, since they no longer have the time or money to go to the movies like they used to. You can find Trailerclash on iTunes, Stitcher, or directly at the link.

“When he was very young, Pobrecito found a case of magazines, old ones with bright color pictures of men and women without their clothes. Whoever had made the magazines had an astonishing imagination, because in Pobrecito’s experience most people who fucked seemed to do it either with booze or after a lot of screaming and fighting and being held down. There weren’t very many ways he’d ever seen it gone after. The people in these pictures were smiling, mostly, and arranged themselves more carefully than priests arranging a corpse. And they lived in the most astonishing places.

Pobrecito clips or tears the pictures out a few at a time and sells them on the streets of the colonia. He knows the magazines themselves would just be taken from him, before or after a beating, but a kid with a few slips of paper clutched in his hand is nothing. As long as no one looks too closely. But even if he had a pass for the gates, he dares not take them within the walls, for the priests would hang him in the square.

What he loves most about the magazines is not the nudity or the fucking or the strange combinations and arrangements these people found themselves in. No, what he loves is that these are Americans. Beautiful people in beautiful places doing beautiful things together.

“I will be an American some day,” he tells his friend Lucia. They are in the branches of the dying tree, sharing a bottle of pulque and a greasy bowl of fried plantains in the midday heat. Pobrecito has a secret place up there, a hollow in the trunk where he hides most of his treasures. “



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2012, 09:16:24 AM »

Roberto Suarez did a terrific job.  I hope he branches out and does some audio book readings.
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zoanon
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2012, 10:16:39 AM »

the last line was brilliant. I have major love for this story.
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The Word Whore
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2012, 05:14:14 PM »

I thought the entire story was brilliant. Jay Lake is an astounding author...  the most exquisitely crafted story, I've heard on Pseudopod, ever.
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2012, 08:32:54 AM »

I didn't really care for it.  I think that it was well written and well crafted overall.  But to me it seemed like it was just unrelenting bleakness, a song of one note.  I think it is of high quality, but not of a style that I care for.
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Kaa
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2012, 09:51:41 AM »

I agree with Unblinking on this one. It was very well done, and the reading was awesome, but--and I should have thought about it being on Pseudopod--I expected some sort of satisfying ending and all I got was "life sucks and then you die."
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HueItzcoatl
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2012, 01:59:55 PM »

Oy, Roberto Suarez did an excellent job at reading the excellent story that was American Dead. While the story was well written I couldn't help but really bummed out after listening. Something bothered me when I couldn't help but feel relief that our little friends died in the end.
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TheFunkeyGibbon
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2012, 03:28:32 PM »

I felt this story lacked for flesh on it's bones. How was it that the USA had fallen, how did the priesthood gain such power? The dogs that walked on two legs, the monster in the river and general feel of the place all felt like ideas that wanted expression but found none, instead falling to a weak and unsatisfying love story of a sort.

In general I could feel that there was a really interesting world crying out or life but only finding a sickly death.
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Metalsludge
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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2012, 10:20:52 AM »

I agree with those saying this felt well crafted yet not very meaty. Yet another post-apocalypse story of sorts that ends in the usual hopeless way. I sometimes wonder why there are so many of these.  Yet it had even less to say about the unraveling of society than usual for such stories.

However, it did at least make me ponder the weird resilience of media images (the magazines of the story) and the influence of The American Dream, even in a world where America is gone. Reminded me of how some European nations tried to emulate the Romans long after the Romans were gone, as if to aspire to something great by doing so, like the founding Father's encouraging neoclassical architecture and Napoleon taking on Roman Imperial styles.
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countblackula
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2012, 01:49:42 PM »

One of my favorites this year. Pogresito seemed so real.
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Coolbreeze44105
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 01:27:20 PM »

A post apocalyptic Mexico, as if the modern real Mexico weren't scary enough.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2012, 01:15:38 AM »

I really dug this story. I did feel, however, that some scenes were oddly truncated, mostly in reference to the time lapses after Pobrecito's beating. (Also, Pobrecito as the poor protagonist? Funny name choice! Cheesy) I can maybe see the writing as purposefully creating the sensation of the loss of time and the confusion of stumbling around post-beating, but the whole fight itself and afterwards just seemed to be missing something for me. Maybe it was the lack of escalation in Roberto's voice, or the quick nature of the scene itself, but something was missing for me there.

I do NOT, however, want to make it seem as if I did not enjoy the story. I thought it was absolutely wonderfully crafted. The use of sex and sexual fantasies as the primary source of wealth and power was quite interesting. Pobrecito made a living off of selling sex, he admired those who could have such pleasurable and measured sexual encounters, who could smile and enjoy each other, rather than the forced sex, the anger and pain that he witnessed in his own life. I loved how the richness of the dead Americans was reflected not only in their pictured material wealth, but also in their psychological wealth, as pictured through sex. And I especially enjoyed how that theme was mirrored at the end, when Pobrecito knew he was among the wealthy. It was... somewhat grossly dirty, though artfully written to the point that it wasn't simply crass.

Also, the priests reminded me of the Ephors from The 300.

And the use of religious babble to subdue the masses! UUUUGH. I love that theme as much as I hate the whole idea. It's so... insidious.

A post apocalyptic Mexico, as if the modern real Mexico weren't scary enough.
I have a good friend who goes down to Mexico all the time to visit relatives. He doesn't seem scared of it. I think it all comes down to staying away from shady areas. America is just the same.
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TheTrueBrian
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« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 01:10:42 PM »

A great reading on a good story.

I love the unique angle on the post-apocalypse and the reverence given to "the Americans" much the same way we look up to ancient (dead) civilizations.
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