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Author Topic: Pseudopod 330: Flash On The Borderlands XV: At Your Service!  (Read 3780 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: April 20, 2013, 03:45:56 AM »

Pseudopod 330: Flash On The Borderlands XV: At Your Service!

Do you feel an implicit threat in the query “How May I Help You?”



"Last Waltz in Texas" by Bryce Albertson.

This story originally appeared in Necrotic Tissue #10 and was reprinted in THE BEST OF NECROTIC TISSUE.

BRYCE ALBERSON is a writer from Fort Smith, Arkansas whose work has appeared in The Brooklyner, THE BEST OF NECROTIC TISSUE, MALPRACTICE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BEDSIDE TERROR, On The Premises, and other places. His screenplay, PAPER EMPIRES, won first Place in the 2012 Las Vegas Film Festival’s screenplay contest. He was a guest judge for issue #17 of On the Premises and his story, “Like the Title Goes Here and Stuff”, will be featured in that issue, which should come out sometime near the end of July.

Read by Jacquie Duckworth, who grew up sneaking out of her room in the wee hours of the night to watch Twilight Zone and Night Gallery (my kind of girl - ed.). She is an actress in the San Francisco Bay Area performing everything from Shakespeare to sketch comedy and is proud to have been featured as the “Bondi Neighbor Woman” in a television episode of Discovery ID Channel’s I ALMOST GOT AWAY WITH IT!

“Hey there, cowboy. Have a seat.”



“Sterile” by Christopher Tepedino

“Sterile” has not been published previously. Pseudopod is the first publication to pick it up.

CHRISTOPHER TEPEDINO is a speculative fiction writer currently living in Champaign, IL, just south of Chicago. His other works have been published in Fusion Fragment, SNM Horror Magazine, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and Arable. He is hard at work on a western zombie apocalypse novel that involves the pursuit of a mythical gun that may save mankind.

Read by John “Man Of Many Voices” Bell - why haven’t you gone and listened to BELL’S IN THE BATFRY, yet? Are you MAD?!?

“‘A shiny quarter. It’s on the pale green floor outside room 133, bright and sparkly, and Reynolds Parker stoops to pick it up. He’s a short, hunchbacked man, with missing teeth and a left eye that rolls in its socket without purpose. He has a mop in one hand; the tendrils hang toward the floor, splotched in dark red. He clutches the mop, sure to not let it fall — it’s his, after all — and hesitantly folds the shiny quarter in his palm. His hand shakes as he turns the quarter over, examining the eagle on the back, wings spread, perched on a branch of olives above the block letters E PLURIBUS UNUM, and then the decapitated George Washington head, a letter halo LIBERTY poised above his balding skull. It’s silver all around, not a speck of red blemishing its smooth surface, and Reynolds tucks it into the front pocket of his pants. Such items did not go in his apron; those pockets are for messiness. This quarter is clean.”



“Meat” by David Steffen

“Meat” has not been previously published.

DAVID STEFFEN writes video processing algorithms for traffic control systems by day. He lives with his wife and three dogs in Minnesota. His fiction has been published in Daily Science Fiction, Bull Spec, AE, and twice previously on Pseudopod, among others. He has been a dedicated listener to all the Escape Artists podcasts for years, and you can find him on the forum as “Unblinking”. David co-edits the non-fiction zine [urlhttp://www.diabolicalplots.com/]Diabolical Plots[/url], focusing on interviews, reviews, and other topics of interest to speculative fiction fans. Also check the site for a full bibliography.

Your reader, Josh Roseman, has been published in Asimov’s and on Escape Pod, among other places, and his reviews appear regularly at Escapepod.org (he’s on the forums as Listener). His most recent fiction sale was “Secret Santa”, which appeared on THE DUNESTEEF last December, and he is currently seeking a publisher for his new superhero novel. He’s in the midst of a Buffy re-watch on his blog, Listener. His main website is Josh Roseman; his twitter is @listener42; and you can follow him on Google Plus or like him on Facebook.

“Try as I might, I fail Master. Keep the house clean and keep red meat in the fridge, he said. These are menial tasks, yet I fail.”



PLEASE HELP PSEUDOPOD AND ANSWER A VERY SHORT DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY AT THIS LINK. IT WILL HELP US IMMEASURABLY! and thank you!

SURVEY



The Flash Fiction Contest has progressed into the semifinals, so go vote for your favorites from each group!




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?
Fenrix
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2013, 07:56:38 PM »

Love it! Haven't made it all the way through, but the narration for the first one was awesome!
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All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”
flintknapper
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2013, 09:15:08 AM »

I agree with Fenrix, the narrator made the first story excellent. However, all three of the stories were great in their own way. The imagery of Meat really stuck with me.

As I listen to more and more fiction podcasts, I grow ever fonder of bite size short stories like those presented in the Flash on the Borderlands episodes. Also getting information as to what the writer was thinking or would have us think about while listening to the story enhances the enjoyment and understanding.

Lastly, thank you for posting the link to the poll. The web address was to long for me to accurately follow in the podcast.
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2013, 09:29:03 AM »

As I listen to more and more fiction podcasts, I grow ever fonder of bite size short stories like those presented in the Flash on the Borderlands episodes.
Flintknapper, you might be interested in Tina Connolly's Toasted Cake, where she presents a story every week.

As for these stories, I enjoyed them all, though as a current Texan (i.e., not a Texan at all under the rubric, "If your cat had kittens in the oven, would you call them biscuits?"), I was less interested in the first story as the riddle was too transparent. Through the current Flash contest I've discovered that I don't like most riddle stories, though that's purely personal taste; even I can recognize that this one was a well-done version with some cute double entendres ("spark of passion," etc.).
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eytanz
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2013, 01:25:04 PM »

I really enjoyed this set of stories, and I thought all three readings were superb. The standout story to me was the middle one, which had a wonderful control of tone and character, letting us get to know a man who understands some of what's going on around him, but not quite enough. I also really enjoyed "Meat", which I remember from the flash contest and I thought really came to life in the reading. The first story was my least favourite - I really liked the job the narrator did but it became clear about a quarter of the way in that it's a riddle story, and the answer to the riddle became apparent not long after. It just felt overlong, and the coda felt unnecessary. I don't dislike riddle stories, but whether or not they succeed depends on whether they have something to say beyond the riddle and this one did not give me much else.
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lowky
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2013, 08:18:55 PM »

each story was better than the one before.  excellent selection of stories and narrators
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Unblinking
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2013, 07:54:30 AM »

"Last Waltz in Texas" was well-written, but I'm just not much for riddle stories.  I could tell it was a riddle story, but I didn't actively try to puzzle it out.  With the title, the reveal makes perfect sense.

"Sterile" was well-done, a working fella just trying to keep a typical mundane job in a not so typical environment.

I filled out the demographic survey as well.  Did anyone else find it strange that it asked for an email address?  Such a survey I'd normally expect to be anonymous.  It does allow you to make an entry while leaving the address blank, but I wonder if anyone was put off by what appeared at first glance to be required.  Not that I wouldn't be willing to talk about my demographic with anyone who asked, but I hesitate to enter it into a webform with my contact info.
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2013, 08:11:26 AM »

And, thanks for listening to "Meat", folks!  As the story notes said, it was mostly inspired by Alchemical Automaton Blues. 

But it was also inspired by a particular encounter in the Star Control II video game.  In that game you repeatedly run into Slylandro Probes, annoying enemy spaceships which hail you in friendly fashion and then moments later cut off communications and start attacking you with electricity attacks.  With some further plot advancement you discover that they are owned by a race of beings who live in a gas giant and can't ever leave their planet, called the Slylandro.  The Slylandro have purchased self-replicating investigating probes from a merchant alien race.  The Slylandro, being impatient to learn more, want the probes to self-replicate faster and so modify their programming to prioritize resource acquisition over communication.  This reprioritization results in the probes to hail enemy ships and then immediately start trying to break the ships down into their valuable components.  That's kind of what I had in mind with this guy.  He's a black market bot who doesn't have the proper safety protocols in place, and thus values his master's orders above all else.  Although the story never makes this explicit, I pictured that Master died of a heart attack in his own home outside of the bot's line of sight.  When the bot came across the body, he did not say (as his master might have expected) "Oh no, Master is dead!" he said "Oh, look at this handy pile of red meat wrapped in cloth, spoiling in the hallway!" 

There's one effort I'd like to plug that didn't exist when I gave my bio for this episode.  Anthony Sullivan and I, at the beginning of 2013, launched a website called The Submissions Grinder, which provides fiction market listings, a search engine to find those listings, and a submissions tracker, and which will always be free.  We have an entry for Pseudopod, and Pseudopod Flash Contest III for example.

Anyway, carry on, and I'll see you guys around the forum!
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Scattercat
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2013, 10:26:38 AM »

Eytanz pretty much covered my reaction to "Last Waltz".  I figured out the gag the second she mentioned "ground wires," and the little coda at the end just had me rolling my eyes.  (And I staunchly oppose the death penalty.)  Great reading, but other than "Guess what I am?" the story didn't have much meat to it.

I enjoyed "Sterile," though I'm a little leery of the "Let's describe awful things from the POV of a mentally handicapped person" because it rarely gets the tone right.  This one was pretty good, mostly avoiding the usual pitfalls of deliberate "bad" grammar or cutesy names for things and conveying the character well.  If I have a serious concern, it might be that nothing much really happens; it's just kind of a carnival funhouse tour of a bunch of unhappy drug addicts, prostitutes, and assholes.  Flash fiction is less beholden to the traditional plot structure, of course.  I'd just thought that something might happen to tie everything together a little more neatly.

"Meat" got at least a couple of votes from me in the contest, as I recall.  A solid story that gets in, gets the job done, and gets out.  I appreciate in particular the lack of malice in the robot, though the reading lent an odd cast to the whole thing.  (The voice didn't have any emotional inflections in my head when I read it, though that would probably make an abysmal audio production choice.)
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« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2013, 08:23:49 AM »

"Meat" got at least a couple of votes from me in the contest, as I recall.  A solid story that gets in, gets the job done, and gets out.  I appreciate in particular the lack of malice in the robot, though the reading lent an odd cast to the whole thing.  (The voice didn't have any emotional inflections in my head when I read it, though that would probably make an abysmal audio production choice.)

Well, here's my mea culpa on that: Shawn asked me to do "Meat" because he heard positive things about the last time I portrayed a robot character. He assigned me the story in February, and I was planning to complete it in early March. Then I got ALL OF THE BRONCHITIS and was pretty much unable to speak in anything other than a croak, or get enough air for more than one sentence at a time, for a month. I powered through "Meat" once I thought I could speak again, but by then I'd forgotten that Shawn mentioned the robotic reading style. I did it in more of an Igor style as a result. So... mea culpa.
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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2013, 10:11:00 AM »

I think it adds an interesting dimension.  Like when people do those productions of "Hamlet" set in a gay brothel in 1970 or whatever; sure, it's not as in tune with original intent, but it can still provoke thought and perhaps inspire new ways of looking at the text.
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2013, 11:40:27 AM »

One more note:
I did a live reading of "Meat" and "What Makes You Tick" (one of my previous appearances on Pseudopod) in an abandoned theatre as part of an event run by Unsettled Foundation last year.  They did a recording of it, which is the only recorded reading I've ever done.  I've thought about auditioning for the Escape Artists casts as a reader, but always wuss out when I worry about recording quality--if anyone would like to hear what I sound like in a reading drop me a message and I can email you a copy.  Smiley
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