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Author Topic: Pseudopod 319: Cell Call  (Read 12277 times)

Scattercat

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Reply #20 on: February 16, 2013, 04:30:30 PM
I don't see a whole lot of wiggle room on the "protagonist is dead" angle, honestly.  I mean, yes, you can contort things a bit, close one eye and squint and say maybe he's time traveling or something, but it's pretty clear what implication you're supposed to draw, particularly with the repeat emphasis on the line at the end of the story.  (And also the water, as passing over such a barrier is a feature of many afterlives, and the stillness, and the gradual fading of the clinging vestiges of warmth and light.  Plus, in comparison with "What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night," there is a clear and plausible mechanism by which the protagonist could have died, as well as external confirmation that what he perceives is not what everyone else is perceiving.)

However, this is a very well-done version of Dead All Along, one that keeps its cards close to its vest until the reveal, at which point it shows just enough for you to get the *click* and then ends before anyone can go, "Aw, man, that's it?"  It doesn't even reveal the twist; it reveals up to the point just before the twist and lets you take the last step, which is why it's such a powerful sensation for many of us.  (Which is another reason I don't see him not being dead, by the way; if the story is meant to be unexplained, like "What Happens..." then it should belabor the point a bit more and provide more oddities.  The only reason to end just as the main character realizes what's happening is if you want your audience to draw the obvious conclusion themselves.)

I dislike Dead All Along, but this is a good story and a fine exemplar of the genre.  I enjoyed it and appreciated the skill with which it was told, both in the sense of the words on the page and the nuance of tone in the reading.

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heyes

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Reply #21 on: February 16, 2013, 09:18:13 PM
This story nailed the emotion of dread in many ways for me.  Even though I'm sure I've seen this plot on the various lists of "Don't send us this kind of story", the author and the narrator made it very enjoyable. It had the feeling of a classic "Tales from the Darkside" episode.

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eytanz

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Reply #22 on: February 17, 2013, 01:14:01 AM
I definitely got the impression that he was dead and didn't know it. I wonder what I would have felt had I read it, rather than heard it, but for me, it was very clear that the wife saw the car after an accident. Given that the thing that triggered his getting lost was him taking his eyes off the road while driving, it seems to me rather a stretch to think it was anything but death.

I found myself rather disliking the story for the first half of it - both because I was certain he was dead and unhappy with the concept, and because I felt myself annoyed at the portrayal of his relationship with his wife. But, as the story got closer to its climax, I found myself getting more and more into it, partially because of the excellent reading.



JohnCombo

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Reply #23 on: February 17, 2013, 02:22:47 PM
I'm sure most people remember the "Scary Stories to tell after Dark" books from when they were younger. If you remember there was one story about a man walking around, scaring people until he finally finds a pay phone. He calls his house looking for his wife only to have it answered by some he didn't know. The person on the other end says something to the effect of, "I'm sorry, she's at her husbands funeral right now."

Definately had the impression that this story could have been the first half to that one.



Unblinking

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Reply #24 on: February 18, 2013, 02:53:44 PM
it's pretty clear what implication you're supposed to draw, particularly with the repeat emphasis on the line at the end of the story. 

Apparently it's not clear, if the editor who bought it disagrees.



heyes

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Reply #25 on: February 18, 2013, 04:20:02 PM
it's pretty clear what implication you're supposed to draw, particularly with the repeat emphasis on the line at the end of the story. 

Apparently it's not clear, if the editor who bought it disagrees.

That comment above is exactly the kind of thing Alasdair implies is not a part of the forum culture here during his recent outros. A listener and an editor are both listeners and capable of meaningful interpretation. Please don't shut opinions down this way.

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eytanz

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Reply #26 on: February 18, 2013, 04:27:14 PM
it's pretty clear what implication you're supposed to draw, particularly with the repeat emphasis on the line at the end of the story. 

Apparently it's not clear, if the editor who bought it disagrees.

That comment above is exactly the kind of thing Alasdair implies is not a part of the forum culture here during his recent outros. A listener and an editor are both listeners and capable of meaningful interpretation. Please don't shut opinions down this way.

Let's not overreact, please. Unblinking wasn't shutting down Scattercat, he was saying that the situation is not as clear-cut as Scattercat thought it was. If anything, Scattercat's phrasing shut out the possibility of other opinions, and Unblinking pointed out that other opinions were valid, giving Shawn as an example.

Just as Shawn's opinion, and Scattercat's opinions, are valid, so is Unblinking, and he's entirely within his right as a listener to tell Scattercat that he thinks he is wrong. The distinction between shutting opinion down and disagreeing with opinions is an important one in these forums.



Scattercat

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Reply #27 on: February 18, 2013, 07:59:52 PM
Pish-posh, sir.  I was not shutting out the possibility of other opinions.  Just the possibility of other correct opinions.  :-D

Slightly more seriously, I don't think my remarks are particularly chilling toward further discussion and don't feel I, any more than poor Unblinking, should be held up as an exemplar of What Al Hates About the Forums, pugnacious and obstreperous as I freely admit I am.

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eytanz

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Reply #28 on: February 18, 2013, 08:01:27 PM
Yeah, when I said "if anything", I sort of meant "if you squint really hard and force yourself to see it", not that I really thought you were doing anything that actually attempted to shut up discussion.



Unblinking

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Reply #29 on: February 20, 2013, 02:57:58 PM
Let's not overreact, please. Unblinking wasn't shutting down Scattercat, he was saying that the situation is not as clear-cut as Scattercat thought it was.

My intent was to say that there is more than one interpretation possible here, using Shawn as an example.  The more interpretations the better, and we can all debate which of them makes the most sense--the more the merrier.  If everyone had the same opinion this place would be Boring.  The moderators here do a fantastic job of encouraging an environment where interesting and civil debate can flourish, while curbing discussions that get too heated.  

The forum has just the One Rule
Quote
We enjoy a good debate, but all members are expected to be respectful to each other and to the artists, narrators, hosts and editorial staff of Escape Artists
I don't think that I've broken the rule here.

I had no problem with Scattercat's comment either.  

That comment above is exactly the kind of thing Alasdair implies is not a part of the forum culture here during his recent outros. A listener and an editor are both listeners and capable of meaningful interpretation. Please don't shut opinions down this way.

If my comment offended you, feel free to PM me to explain why.  Or if you want more people to weigh in on what kinds of comments are appropriate, it might be worthwhile to start a new thread for the topic. 

In my opinion, it would be helpful if you would phrase it as why the comment bothered you, rather than saying it's the sort of thing that Alasdair wouldn't like.  I think Alasdair would've been fine with what I said, whether or not he agreed with it.  I admittedly have not asked him his opinion on the subject, so this is purely conjecture.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 03:07:52 PM by Unblinking »



heyes

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Reply #30 on: February 20, 2013, 07:56:16 PM
So I just read through everybody's response to my response.
I'm not offended by that to which I originally responded. At the time I responded I felt, as I described, that it was harsh and surprising given the recent invites by Alasdair. It seems I may have had expectations which are not the same as what I found, let's say something akin to mild culture shock, which leaves me needing to adjust.
I felt like should at least reply to acknowledge that I have read everyone's responses.

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"You were not put on the Earth to get it, Mr. Burton"
     - Lo Pan


Scumpup

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Reply #31 on: February 20, 2013, 08:55:23 PM
Well, I still think the guy in the story was dead and just didn't realize it.  Other interpretations just don't seem to fit as neatly to me.  One important factor is that this is supposed, based on the fact that it is here at Pseudopod, to be a horror story. If it was at Escape Pod, or if I was reading a print version of it in The New Yorker, I might find some of the other interpretations more convincing,  As a kid, I read a lot of science fiction and watched sci fi movies and TV shows.  Temporal/spatial displacement strikes me as super neato cool, not spine chillingly horrifying.  If he just slipped into another dimension, it seems he. just arrived at the lake at night and vacation begins in the morning.  No horror there at all.  If he's dead, darkness and the sound of water is eternity.  That is at least a little scary.

So, what I'm asking is, did you want me to be scared or not?



eytanz

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Reply #32 on: February 20, 2013, 08:59:33 PM
Oh, I don't know. Temporal/Spatial displacement may not be a scary concept, but the idea of being stuck in an alternate world, in the dark, with no one around, and no food, just wandering around in the darkness until I starve to death... Still scary enough for me (though I admit, maybe he will wake up in the morning and discover he made it to big rock candy mountain).



Scattercat

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Reply #33 on: February 21, 2013, 12:57:35 AM
@Scumpup

"The Langoliers"

Toodles!

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Unblinking

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Reply #34 on: February 21, 2013, 02:52:20 PM
Oh, I don't know. Temporal/Spatial displacement may not be a scary concept, but the idea of being stuck in an alternate world, in the dark, with no one around, and no food, just wandering around in the darkness until I starve to death... Still scary enough for me (though I admit, maybe he will wake up in the morning and discover he made it to big rock candy mountain).

Yup, this.  This story scared me in ways that most more blatantly horror stories don't, and I didn't think he was dead.



Scumpup

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Reply #35 on: February 21, 2013, 06:12:14 PM
Let's consider the situation if he isn't dead.  Unless he was displaced into a cavern, I'd say it has to get light at some point soon.  It's warm enough for water to exist as a liquid and there is sufficient oxygen in the air for him to breathe. The heat to keep the water liquid and to power the photosynthesis that is the source of that oxygen, logically, must come from a sun.  He might well end up lost and starving, but I don't think he'll wander in darkness forever.  People not infrequently get lost and die in real life, which is scary, but not horror story scary.
Stephen King has touched on the idea of temporal and spatial displacement a couple times I can think of.  Temporally in The Langoliers which I have read.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to sit through the movie.  I thought the titular creatures rather silly, but other parts of the story were more successful. How "dead" everything was in the past was a neat idea.  Later, in From a Buick 8, King played with spatial displacement.  That was a much more effective story, IMO.  Our world and the other one were lethally incomprehensible and incompatible to each other.  A being from either side would die in fear, confusion, and agony on the opposite side.  That is horror story scary.



eytanz

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Reply #36 on: February 21, 2013, 06:35:49 PM
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 People not infrequently get lost and die in real life, which is scary, but not horror story scary.

I don't think there's a dividing line that says what type of fear belongs in horror stories. Personally, the idea of getting lost and dying in a painful way is *far* scarier to me than anything that takes place in an afterlife. When I listened the story, I thought he was dead, but I would have probably found the story a lot more effective if had read it the way Shawn did.

What you may need to accept, scumpup, is that not all readers are identical, and what is effective horror for you is not the same as what is effective horror for everyone. Arguing that your interpretation is right because otherwise the story wouldn't be targeted at you is a pretty flimsy argument, unless you can prove that the writer had you specifically in mind when they wrote the story.



Scumpup

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Reply #37 on: February 21, 2013, 06:41:19 PM
I'm not claiming that I'm right or that anybody else is wrong.  I'm just talking about my interpretation of a story and things that do, or do not, scare me.  That was the point of why we are here, I thought.  If I am wrong, I apologize.



eytanz

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Reply #38 on: February 21, 2013, 06:49:28 PM
I'm not claiming that I'm right or that anybody else is wrong.  I'm just talking about my interpretation of a story and things that do, or do not, scare me.  That was the point of why we are here, I thought.  If I am wrong, I apologize.

You're definitely not wrong to discuss your interpretation. But when you say "scary, but not horror story scary", you're not just talking about what scares you, but you are talking about what fits in your definition of a horror story. And since in your last two posts you seem to be arguing that this is a factor in deciding how well the interpretations fit the stories, you are making an argument that is only valid for people who share your definition.

So I'm not saying that you were wrong to post what you did. I was trying to point out that you were making a weaker argument than you think you did because a lot of people here (myself included) do not accept its premises.



Scumpup

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Reply #39 on: February 21, 2013, 07:23:33 PM
What is scary is such a subjective thing that I believed it was implicit that I was speaking only for myself.  Clearly, i should have made that explicit.