Escape Artists
November 19, 2018, 07:19:24 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1]
  Print  
Author Topic: Pseudopod 312: Feeding The Machine  (Read 5237 times)
Bdoomed
Pseudopod Tiger
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4871


Mmm. Tiger.


« on: December 14, 2012, 11:02:23 PM »

Pseudopod 312: Feeding The Machine

by Hunter James Martin

This week’s episode sponsored by Audible.com; they offer Pseudopod listeners a free audiobook download of their choice from Audible’s selection of over 100,000 titles.

This story previously appeared on Hunter’s blog at FORGOTTEN MANUSCRIPTS.

Hunter James Martin comes from Scotland. He blogs at FORGOTTEN MANUSCRIPTS. That is all!

Your reader this week is Rich C. Girardi. A writer, producer, and puppeteer, check Lady Jane’s Lair on YouTube.



“The moment I laid eyes on the new start I knew he wasn’t going to last. Half of it was the look on his eyes, the other half was the look on everyone else’s eyes when they watched him. A lot of people don’t make it in this line of work. Not many minds can cope with being planted deep into the ground for so long. The average new start does five days a week, while the average worker does seven. I have been doing entire weeks for longer than I remember, devoid of fresh air and sunlight. It has been a long time since I have seen my reflection, but I imagine I am not a pretty sight.

The atmosphere doesn’t help things either, the horrid gloom we work within. Even in my apathy I can taste it: the darkness that nestles within the oily depths of the shadows, the dull throb that resonates through the caverns, and the dreadful machine, always rumbling like an empty stomach. The heat too, emitted from its insides, made worse after twelve hours of working in the same suit collecting sweat and oil and dirt and sometimes piss. Then wearing it again the next day. Then for another year.

My suit smells terrible. Everyone’s does. The tough leather is falling apart and there is a tear behind my left shoulder. But we are used to it. Used to recycled uniforms and moribund tools. Used to safety equipment that is a hazard in itself. Used to the smell of ancient piss and shit. Hardly even notice it really. Only made aware of it when a new start comes down the cargo elevator twitching his nose and pretending the reek doesn’t bother them. They all do that, then they either get used to it or lose their job. Back up the cargo elevator, or worse.’”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
Logged

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?
Scattercat
Caution:
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4847


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2012, 06:48:25 PM »

It was nicely written and had some striking imagery, but it felt like an attempt to gore up and horror-ize "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas."  I don't know that I found it wholly successful.

I liked it as a thinly-veiled metaphor for coal-mining, but I had a hard time buying into the devil's bargain on an emotional level.  That's what made "Omelas" such a classic; the benefits are so lovely, so desirable, so patently worth almost any cost, and the price is so small, so easy to rationalize, that it succeeds in making the reader feel like they might not be one of the "ones who walk away," which is damned hard to do considering how firmly the brain grips its delusion that it is a good and righteous person who always does what is best and most morally upright.  This story made it much easier to go, "Well, that's a horrible thing.  I'd probably try to stop it, too, like that poor kid.  That narrator just lost his gumption," and I think that weakened the impact.  On the other hand, it's less of an indictment of the energy industry if the violations are smaller and easier to excuse.  I suppose it's a question of whether the goal is to convict the audience or persuade them.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2012, 09:43:27 AM »

To me it didn't seem so much like a metaphor for coal-mining, but a metaphor for public demand for cheap consumer goods that end up coming from third world sweat shops.  Up on the surface, people are either oblivious and try to remain so, with a pretty good standard of living where they feel comfortable griping about prices.  And then there's a factory fire that kills hundreds of people in a country that doesn't regulate those things very closely,  at a place which provides clothes for some of the big retail shops.

I would've liked if this story would've been spaced further apart from "The Strange Machinery of Desire"--the theme was too similar, the setting likewise.  They weren't redundant, but some distance between them would've been nice so I wouldn't always be watching for where they matched and where they didn't.
Logged
Scattercat
Caution:
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4847


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2012, 12:00:02 AM »

The juxtaposition of story themes was a little odd, I agree.  It appears to be a popular motif around Pseudopod.  (Note to self: Write a mechanical/industrial horror story, sell to Shawn.)

To me, this was more directly coal-mining because:

A) Deep underground
B) Machines that "grind up" bodies
C) The immediate effect on the surface appears to be supplying them with electricity, c.f. the discovery that human bodies "made the lights that little bit brighter."

It works as a metaphor for sweatshops, too, of course, but that didn't strike me as the proximate source of the imagery, y'know?
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Bdoomed
Pseudopod Tiger
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4871


Mmm. Tiger.


« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2012, 02:04:59 AM »

Love the story! I'm wondering now if the war with the Chinese was started specifically to fuel the machine or not.
Logged

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?
Scumpup
Peltast
***
Posts: 102


...


« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2012, 06:45:07 PM »

The imagery with the suits,  mysterious machinery, dirt, bodies, etc. all seemed drawn straight from the later Silent Hill video games and the associated movies.  If there was a deeper meaning, I confess I did not get it.
Logged
JoeFitz
Matross
****
Posts: 258



« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2012, 06:39:47 PM »

When I read, and later heard this story, I did not leap to any mining or energy symbolism. Instead, what struck me was that in a time of great hardship, the machine was disposing of bodies from a plague, plus those of the enemy captured during the conflict. As I took it, there was no direct output from the machine but rather it was a dark compulsion to feed it and its output was essentially unknowable. The "lights" comment I took less literally and more metaphysically. I understood it to mean that when the machine was being fed enough, everything was perceived as better but the benefit was intangible. The sense of dread gave me the impression that should the machine starve, things would be so much worse (but again, maybe only intangibly).
Logged
chemistryguy
Matross
****
Posts: 261


Serving the Detroit Metro area since 1970


WWW
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2013, 03:02:14 PM »

I assumed this was the back story to how the morlocks and the eloi got their groove.

The main character was stone cold dead from the beginning of the story.  I made it very difficult to get emotionally invested even during the most disturbing scenes.    If I could have seen some hint of optimism from the beginning of his life this would have made it much more powerful.
Logged

Fenrix
Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
Editor
*****
Posts: 3735


I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.


« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2013, 01:46:17 PM »

Really dug the feel of this story. Also, great voice work and production. The argument was perfect.

I thought immediately of "Oil of Dog" when the lights glowed brighter. This felt very reminiscent of the epiphany about the greater quality after the fetus was cast into the dog oil vat.

The juxtaposition of story themes was a little odd, I agree.  It appears to be a popular motif around Pseudopod.  (Note to self: Write a mechanical/industrial horror story, sell to Shawn.)

Please do. Part of what encouraged me to push The Strange Machinery of Desire is the Skinny Puppy/Ministry/Frontline Assembly/NiN vibe it had for me. It pushed the same emotional buttons as songs by those guys. Any story that can do the same is a winner in my book. I know Shawn likes the cold impartiality of Kraftwerk, although they tend to have a bit more hope than industrial acts did. I guess Kraftwerk is to science fiction Science Fiction where Skinny Puppy is to Horror.
Logged

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
Fenrix
Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
Editor
*****
Posts: 3735


I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.


« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2013, 04:07:31 PM »

I forgot I was going to comment about Alasdair's outro about Needful Things. I loved the "Yog-Sothoth Rules" graffiti on the wall (with half page graphic in the book) outside the storage building for The Car. I disliked the "rocks fall everyone dies" ending and its destruction of Castle Rock. That negative impact made me forget anything else worthwhile about the novel. It turned me off King so much that I took a hiatus from his work for almost two decades. Alasdair almost makes me willing to give it another shot.
Logged

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
Sgarre1
Editor
*****
Posts: 1186


"Let There Be Fright!"


« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2013, 06:42:57 PM »

I became a teenager (13) in 1980 and liked synths in music, so honestly I couldn't avoid the Industrial/IDM current that was (re)surfacing/continuing (took me until later to discover Throbbing Gristle and the like from the 70's) in the 80's.

Oddly, I always had to have my IDM or Industrial Pop cut with some other element to really enjoy it, as it was a little too po-faced for me (I mean, at the same time I was sampling this stuff I was trying out Miles Davis and Spike Jones, so....):

FRONT 242 left me cold and Skinny Puppy was not my thing (although I did like the related project The Tear Garden with Legendary Pink Dots front-man Edward Ka-Spel).  I did like "N.W.O." by Ministry and bought Pretty Hate Machine in its original release (but never became much of a Trent guy - happy he gave the guys from Coil some money to record and album that never officially came out, however).  My enjoyment of dark humor with my mechanical beats and shrieking noise turned me into more of a Jim Thirwell/Foetus fan, as well as My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult guy (though they eventually moved into more of a sleazy/disco/IDM hybrid - which I also liked).  But yeah, I can dig a cold, stark, four to the floor beat on occasion!
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2013, 09:47:39 AM »

I forgot I was going to comment about Alasdair's outro about Needful Things. I loved the "Yog-Sothoth Rules" graffiti on the wall (with half page graphic in the book) outside the storage building for The Car. I disliked the "rocks fall everyone dies" ending and its destruction of Castle Rock. That negative impact made me forget anything else worthwhile about the novel. It turned me off King so much that I took a hiatus from his work for almost two decades. Alasdair almost makes me willing to give it another shot.

I agree, I pretty much try to ignore the ending when I think about it, because the rest of the book was one of King's best.
Logged
Francejackal
Extern
*
Posts: 15



« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2013, 07:27:40 AM »

 This is beautiful, uncompromising work. Many of the stories I've seen amongst genre publications don't merit the title of literature, and such icons as Stephen King have surely paved the way for mediocrity in contemporary horror, but this is truly bleak. I must say that this piece is among my personal favorites.
Logged
Josh_Finney
Extern
*
Posts: 18



WWW
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2013, 03:57:30 PM »

I enjoyed this story greatly. Very much a rivet plated nightmare straight out of the mind of the 90's industrial mindset. One thing that shocks me, though, is that no one here picked up on this story being a tribute to the film METROPOLIS. A lot of the imagery is directly from Fritz Lang's film, and the demon machine they are feeding? MOLOCH.

METROPOLIS CLIPS

Feeding the Machine
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZpaWOLjWx0

Marching in time & the elevator ride down
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsQ7wWCjHX0

And for some background.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch
Logged

Author, Artist, Twisted Mentat.
Read the first chapter of my biotech noir novel free online: http://01publishing.com/upcoming-titles/utopiates/clarity/
My personal website: http://joshfinney.com/
Or me just ranting into the ether: @josh_finney
Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!