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Author Topic: Pseudopod 346: Prisoner Of Peace  (Read 3528 times)


  • Pseudopod Tiger
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on: August 11, 2013, 05:48:32 PM
Pseudopod 346: Prisoner Of Peace

by David Tallerman

“Prisoner Of Peace” appears in the AFTER DEATH anthology from Dark Moon Books, which can be purchased here.

David Tallerman is the author of the novels GIANT THIEF and CROWN THIEF, to be followed by a second sequel, PRINCE THIEF, this September. The first collected edition of his comic book series ENDANGERED WEAPON B was released in July by UK publisher Markosia. David’s horror, fantasy and science fiction short stories have appeared in over fifty markets, including Lightspeed, Bull Spec, Redstone Science Fiction and Pseudopod itself. David can be found online at Writing On The Moon and his blog, also called Writing On The Moon.

Your reader this week – Caith Donovan – is a part-time voice actor and writer who can be heard in shows from BrokenSea Audio, Gypsy Audio, Dramapod, Sonic Society, and now Escape Pod. He currently appears as the companion Zacharias Cobb in the CP Studios’ production of Dr. Who, Las Pintas Negras, and his script, Closet Monster, is currently in production at Scattered Sounds Theatre.

Geek Cafe Indie-Go-Go link mentioned by Alasdair in the outro: Rule32Cafe – The Ultimate Geek Events Venue

“Today is a day of darkness.

For all that, I can see every brick in the wall, and every crack in every brick. I think somehow that if I only looked hard enough I could even see into those cracks, and scrutinize their furthest depths.

I know today what’s behind me, lying on my sleeping mat. I wish I didn’t, but I do.

I tried to scream at first, but no sound came out.

Now, I sit and wait. Forgetfulness will come.

It has to.”

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


  • Lochage
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Reply #1 on: August 12, 2013, 01:02:47 AM
Do I get points for knowing what this was before the ending? Maybe I am a dork, but I knew when the prisoner talked about the rice and sometimes vegetables he was once given in his cell.

While I usually do not like mysteries, I loved it.. probably because I knew the answer to this riddle. I do not know what it is about pseudopod lately, but I have been digging just about everything you guys have been running.

I had not really heard of David Tallerman before this piece. I guess I had read/listened to some of his work, but none had really connected with me the way this piece did. The writing style is surreal but accessible. I am not sure that is even possible, but that is the best way to describe it. Dug Caith Donovan's reading too!

This was a very personal piece. Also, this piece was very personal for me. My father worked in the U.S. labs until his retirement, my friends excavated the Trinity Site, and I work a hop skip and jump away from our major nuclear manufacturing facility at Los Alamos National Laboratories. Hell a good chunk of the people who visit the historic site I manage are chemical engineers (and other "scientists") visiting from foreign countries. I would love for them to hear this piece.

This piece was not preachy, but kind of takes a long hard look at consequences of the nuclear age. Does anyone know if the author had a family member that worked in the Manhattan Project or later nuclear developments?


  • Hipparch
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Reply #2 on: August 12, 2013, 08:27:22 AM
Liked the story & narration - but I kind of wish that the intro hadn't mentioned the anniversary since it primed me to recognise the situation the protagonist was in.


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Reply #3 on: August 13, 2013, 03:42:15 AM
This was really beautiful; very deep.  Stories like this are wonderful because they seem so extreme, but are in fact talking about things that have happened and continue to happen.  The horrors of humanity.

The beginning reminded me a lot of the Korean film 'Old Boy' by Chan-wook Park.  I wonder if it had any hand in inspiring the construct of those opening paragraphs.

The narration for this story was spot-on, too.

"The way home is not the way back." ~ Colin Wilson


  • Lochage
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Reply #4 on: August 16, 2013, 01:08:07 AM
I'm with adrianh, where I would've enjoyed this story more without the context of knowing the anniversary of Nagaski.

This was one of those stories that really crept up on me. To be honest, I was not feeling it at all in the beginning. It felt quite similar to other stories that Pseudopod has run (most notably the Lovecraftian story about the dead guy in the hanging box by a dock, which for the life of me I cannot remember the name of). However, it bloomed into something poetic and beautiful, even if it is devastatingly sad.

I did have a bit of a disconnect, as the beginning of the story, I was thinking this was set in a more medieval setting, but when he walked into the office with the file cabinets, I realized my misunderstanding.

These stories that never have a definite ending, where death is not the end and suffering never finishes having its way with you, are the ones that really haunt me. This one, this is gonna stick.

(Blue, I didn't really get OldBoy from this. I can kinda see it, but Oh Dae Su is not half as defeatist and sad as the character in this piece, in my opinion. So happy you brought it up though! My absolute favorite movie of all time, if my forum handle didn't give it away.)


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Reply #5 on: August 24, 2013, 01:39:22 PM
Hi all, just wanted to say a (belated!) thank you for the kind comments, and to address those questions.  Flintknapper, no, no family connection, but it meant a lot to hear that Prisoner resonated with someone who has.  And BlueGildedCage, while I love Oldboy - and my LoveFilm account confirms that I saw it a full two years before I wrote the story - I don't remember it being an overt influence.  Looking back, if I had to point to anything I think it would be Bresson's A Man Escaped, mixed with lots and lots of Japanese and Korean horror.


  • Sir Postsalot
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Reply #6 on: September 04, 2013, 02:10:31 PM
I read this one in the After Death anthology a little while before reading it here.  I'm afraid I didn't really care for it.  I wanted an arc, moving from one place to another, but it just existed in its place with no change.  I guess it had some arc in the mystery of what the situation is, but the intro did kind of take the wind out of that sail.  And I felt like it didn't cover ground that I hadn't already seen covered in other short stories I've read.

This next bit isn't a criticism of the story, but it took me a while to remember if this was the story where this happened, or the events of what I now remember was "The Penitent" by M Bennardo, both largely consisting of a prisoner in a cell with no contact from the outside world -trying to figure out what's going on.

These stories that never have a definite ending, where death is not the end and suffering never finishes having its way with you, are the ones that really haunt me. This one, this is gonna stick.

If you like that kind of story, you might want to check out the After Death anthology that this story was published in.  I've got a story in there too, but I'd recommend it even if I didn't, because afterlife speculations are one of my favorite topics.  I would recommend that you skip over the editorial intros to each story to read after each story, because they all kind of steal the punch out of any mystery in the stories.