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Author Topic: Pseudopod 314: What Happens When You Wake Up In The Night  (Read 6559 times)
Scattercat
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« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2013, 02:59:24 AM »

Well, that's just it, really.  "They're dead!" isn't ambiguous or intriguing; it's limiting and rather dull.  If they're not dead, then they might be where they are for a reason, and that creates ambiguity.  If they're dead and this is all that happens, well, then that's all that's going to happen, isn't it?  Death is the end, rather by definition; no more change.  If there's no one there to punish or reward them, then it appears the universe is meaningless and arbitrary.  Well, gosh, let me put on my shocked face.

I prefer to leave the option of them being dead there (especially as it resonates nicely with the title, providing an amusing alternate meaning), but to leave open also the idea that someone or something has put them where they are.  The wondering is really what would make it worse, would extend the period of agitation and worry before the inevitable slide into sensory-deprivation madness.
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Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
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Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
eytanz
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« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2013, 03:14:11 AM »

Quote
But the afterlife is the horror story equivalent of technobabble science in SF - a way of allowing authors to "explain" anything they want by making reference to a premise that sounds familiar but is actually entirely unchallengeable by the readers.

And the same.  More "trope" avoidance.  With, of course, astonishment that sci-fi readers expect the same level of explanation from a horror story - as "unscientific" as it gets (despite all the fan level "the unknowable must have rules" malarkey/D&D rule book expectations we get as received wisdom).  I'll have to seriously reconsider ever podcasting some Robert Aickman, even if I could get the rights (which is unlikely).  It doesn't follow those "rules"...

I think you miss my point, which is quite the opposite. I don't require the same level of explanation from horror. I want to avoid unnecessary explanation.  The reason tropes are dangerous is because they carry a weight of familiarity, and of a social context. This story was an extremely effective portrayal of the confusion and dawning understanding that something is seriously wrong, as viewed from the eyes of a child. That spoke to me, and I could relate to it on a rather primal level. But then at the end I was given a very mundane explanation to it - "oh, they were all dead". Which was the equivalent of the little dog pulling at the curtain and showing the old man behind the great and terrible wizard. It was the moment of realization that this wasn't an *actual* emotional experience, that this was just something someone thought up.

Of course all stories are just something someone thought up, but for a story like this to work, we must be able to forget that. For most of the length of the story, I did.

Now, the idea of an arbitrarily horrific afterlife, without a deity or a cause, is a terrifying one indeed, if one truly stops to think about it. But, as is often the case, the line between pathos and bathos, between the sublime and the ridiculous, is a thin one indeed, and adding one too many serious concepts into one's story is a way to cross it, which is the nature of my complaint.
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lowky
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« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2013, 11:17:30 AM »


Wow, 86 episodes until episode 400 and I *still* have so much work to do!  Hope I can find (well, really, buy) the stories to do it with!

(*memo to self* - maybe focus on the European fantastique current - a 20th century locale that watched precious, precocious rationality chewed up and spit out by two world wars, watched logic be turned towards slaughter, binary thinking imploded under the weight of actual experienced history, without the benefit of television and film as salve?  TTT has been doing a good job with that from time to time, but maybe more from us?  Might that bring it across?  Wouldn't start until sometime in the summer, regardless, but - better turn to the Russians again....)
another suggestion, look through some years best anthologies, and see if anyone is worth soliciting for unpublished (audio rights) material. 
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danooli
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« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2013, 08:41:59 AM »

I thought this was deliciously creepy and found the narration helped that feeling. Loved it.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2013, 09:54:25 AM »

I love afterlife stories, because I love contemplating what comes after death.  But if I view this story in that straightforward fashion, I find it pretty dull.  "The afterlife is you in a dark room with your family.  At first it's confusing, then it's boring."

I still like the idea that this is a tall tale as told by the child who is exaggerating his parents warning to not get up in the middle of the night.  That's what I'm sticking with.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2013, 12:39:23 AM »

But the line at the end "And that's why you don't get up in the night" or whatever, turned it into something comedic for me.  At that point it all seemed to have become a tall tale as told by a restless child who's been told by the parents one too many times to go back to bed--and either the parents tried to scared the bejeezus out of the kid  and the kid applies his own imagination to come up with this bizarre explanation for why you should never get up in the night.  Among other things, if the kid is really sitting in the dark with only his parents for company, the breaking of the 4th wall with speaking to the audience to give a warning does not make a lot of sense if the story is taken literally--his parents already know the story and don't need to be told.  It makes much more sense to me if I see it as a child explaining to someone else in the real world why you don't get up in the night and trying to scare them in turn.

I thought the same thing about the closing line, as it being a horrible story the parents had told the child to keep them in bed. But unlike for you, it gave me a gooseflesh moment and I thought about how horrid these parents were to terrify their child in this fashion. This is a story that a big brother would tell, not a parent. And this is as valid an option as everyone being dead or an alien abduction or a sociology experiment. This story worked for me, and the ambiguous ending made it that much better.

Exactly how I felt. There was no payoff to this story whatsoever. Being lost in the dark can be scary, sure, but without any context there is no meaning in it and therefore no fear. I found the reading semi-authentic, but annoying at best, especially the frequent pauses, start-overs, and complete lack of contractions.


The pauses and start overs made it seem more authentically childlike to me. I thought the reading was quite effective, but agree there were some technical problems. I think the narrator could use better equipment and should yell away from the microphone (or whatever was done for the fight in Feeding the Machine).

I also have my lights on and curtains open.

won't help
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All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
Balu
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« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2013, 05:22:32 PM »

Well, that's just it, really.  "They're dead!" isn't ambiguous or intriguing; it's limiting and rather dull.  If they're not dead, then they might be where they are for a reason, and that creates ambiguity.  If they're dead and this is all that happens, well, then that's all that's going to happen, isn't it?  Death is the end, rather by definition; no more change.  If there's no one there to punish or reward them, then it appears the universe is meaningless and arbitrary.  Well, gosh, let me put on my shocked face.

I prefer to leave the option of them being dead there (especially as it resonates nicely with the title, providing an amusing alternate meaning), but to leave open also the idea that someone or something has put them where they are.  The wondering is really what would make it worse, would extend the period of agitation and worry before the inevitable slide into sensory-deprivation madness.

Exactly what I was thinking.

Although not when I was listening to it, in bed, just before going to sleep. What I was thinking then was, maybe I don't need the blackout blinds down any more.



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TimothyAWiseman
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« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2013, 08:55:34 AM »

This story was fantastic.  It was creepy and disturbing.  It was well written and moody.  I also think the narrator did a great job (though I will join in with others in saying some better equipment could have helped this time. )
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Red Dog 344
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« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2013, 09:38:49 PM »

Sorry to be belatedly posting--I've been away too long and am catching up.  Like some others, I read this story in a "Best of..." collection.  By the end, I was having trouble breathing.  (I didn't experience that with this audio version, but I remembered very well what was coming.)  Reading the responses, I'm surprised that no one brought up claustrophobia.  For me, the story was about that trapped and smothered feeling, and really nailed it.  I can handle dark, enclosed spaces (a couple years back, I went on one of those caving trips where you don a hard hat with a miner's light and crawl or wriggle through some unbelievably tight spots), but the fear of being blind and buried alive is about as primordial as it gets, I would have thought.  Maybe related (in our discussion of the afterlife): God has misplaced these souls.  As if they were stuck in a closed drawer by accident, or fell behind one of Heaven's filing cabinets, not to be discovered for a thousand years.  That takes claustrophobia to the level of cosmic horror.  I think this story will be a classic because it achieves both of those sensations at once.

The discussion of the last line was interesting.  I guess when I read the story, I was so choked up / breathless that I received the whimsical line as a gift from the author--"OK, you can snap out of it now!"
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #29 on: May 21, 2013, 08:53:39 AM »

Maybe related (in our discussion of the afterlife): God has misplaced these souls.  As if they were stuck in a closed drawer by accident, or fell behind one of Heaven's filing cabinets, not to be discovered for a thousand years.  That takes claustrophobia to the level of cosmic horror.  I think this story will be a classic because it achieves both of those sensations at once.

I want to read that story!  But I don't that story was this one (IMO).
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allegedparadise88
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« Reply #30 on: August 03, 2018, 08:17:08 AM »

Holy. Crap. This is my absolute favorite story so far. The narration was spot on and gave it an added feel of childlike confusion. The story itself was just... wow. This was the first story I've listened to that actually gave me chills. I listened to it last night before bed and legit had nightmares. Nothing has done that to me in a VERY long time. Bravo!
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #31 on: August 03, 2018, 11:13:32 AM »

Thanks - as earlier entries in this thread proved, I thought quite highly of this one, although this was not a universal reaction...
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