Author Topic: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire  (Read 7577 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« on: October 19, 2013, 05:19:20 AM »
Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire

by H.F. (Henry Ferris) Arnold

“The Night Wire” first appeared in the September, 1926 issue of Weird Tales.

H.F. Arnold
was born in 1901, worked as an author and journalist, and died in 1963. As far as is known, he published a total of 3 stories under the name H.F. Arnold – “The Night Wire” and “The City of Iron Cubes,” in Weird Tales and a “When Atlantis Was,” in Amazing Stories.

Your reader this week – Eric Luke – is the screenwriter of the Joe Dante film EXPLORERS, and the writer of comic books GHOST and WONDER WOMAN. His latest project is INTERFERENCE, an audiobook about an audiobook that kills… and you’re listening to it. Available as a free download on iTunes.



“There is something ungodly about these night wire jobs. You sit up here on the top floor of a skyscraper and listen in to the whispers of a civilization. New York, London, Calcutta, Bombay, Singapore — they’re your next-door neighbors after the streetlights go dim and the world has gone to sleep.

Alone in the quiet hours between two and four, the receiving operators doze over their sounders and the news comes in. Fires and disasters and suicides. Murders, crowds, catastrophes. Sometimes an earthquake with a casualty list as long as your arm. The night wire man takes it down almost in his sleep, picking it off on his typewriter with one finger.

Once in a long time you prick up your ears and listen. You’ve heard of some one you knew in Singapore, Halifax or Paris, long ago. Maybe they’ve been promoted, but more probably they’ve been murdered or drowned. Perhaps they just decided to quit and took some bizarre way out. Made it interesting enough to get in the news.

But that doesn’t happen often. Most of the time you sit and doze and tap, tap on your typewriter and wish you were home in bed.

Sometimes, though, queer things happen. One did the other night, and I haven’t got over it yet. I wish I could.”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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Just Jeff

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2013, 11:42:02 PM »
I don't like most of the old stories, but when they work, they really work. This really worked. That last quarter wasn't as intense as the rest of it, but I'm glad you resurrected this one.

enoch

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 09:16:06 PM »
I was kinda leery about an older story. Im generally not a fan of the "Im telling a story, stories" so popular in older fiction.

That being said, Im glad I didnt pass on this one. It started off a little slow, but the end paid off big. I might have to re-listen to this one. I have a feeling theres more meaning hidden in this work then first meets the eye.


Mouseneb

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2013, 06:34:02 AM »
Enjoyed this one very much. The fogmonster lives...

http://mouseneb.livejournal.com/53709.html
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suzume234

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Re: Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2013, 11:05:00 PM »
Wow, where do I start?  Before listening to this podcast I was listening to "Welcome to Nightvale" (ep3); I think this added an extra sense of  suspense to the reading.  The narrator of the story, Eric "Freaking" Luke and the announcer for Nightvale, Cecil Baldwin both have wonderful newscasting voices.  It was a great transition. 

I completely misheard the part of the into that says this story was from 1926.  I love hearing older stories, so this was a real treat.  That being said, I didn't really notice that this was an older story.  I have been reading "The New Weird" anthology, and just set it in an alternate reality.

Thank you again for this story, I will be listening to it again, and I will be recommending it to friends.

Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2013, 11:13:00 PM »
You are very welcome and glad you liked it!

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2013, 08:29:28 AM »
I enjoyed it!  Very cool, a crossed telegraph line from an alternate dimension.  Somewhere in the description of the actual happening, I got a little confused and thought that was our narrator telling about it. My mind raced down tangents at that point and I thought that the invaders were actually conveying themselves through telegraph lines and when they'd finished consuming one world they would actually quest across world-boundaries using the telegraph lines as tentacles to latch onto another unsuspecting world.  But then I realized that was still from the telegraph transcription, so there's no evidence of them traveling across the lines, just that the communication about them has traveled across.  As is often the case when I completely misunderstand something in a story, it was quite an entertaining misunderstanding.  But the story itself was good too.

It's an interesting subset of stories that entrenches itself so deeply into the technology of the era in which it's written that that aspect becomes interesting in its own right.  This story couldn't really exist in a world after telegraphs were a major communication source.  Another one that comes to mind recently was "Sorry, Wrong Number" that I heard on the Journey Into... podcast:
http://www.journeyintopodcast.blogspot.com/2013/10/journey-into-ep-79-double-feature-sorry.html
In that one the entire plot wouldn't work without operator-run phone systems.

The Righteous

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2013, 02:37:09 PM »
I read this sorry when I was in high school, it really struck me. Not so much that it was horrible, or it was grotesque, just that it was unstoppable, there was nothing you could do, nothing anyone could do, just let it happen and hope for a quick death. And usually I listen to these podcasts on my way to work, and since it's dark (I work nights) I actually couldn't listen to this one until daytime, it literally scared me on my drive. All those memories coming back too, also reminded me of Stephen Kings The Mist, just an unstoppable oncoming horror.

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2013, 10:45:46 PM »
Loved this story. The descriptions of the monsters lovingly wrapping themselves around the victims was so bonechilling, I had to actually get up and shake the heebee jeebies off of myself. I thought the tension was well done and the ending was satisfying. Overall, awesome choice, you guys!

flintknapper

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2013, 12:22:36 PM »
In some ways it reminded me of the Music of Erich Zann by Lovecraft during the same period. However, I also wonder if this piece was at least some minor inspiration to Stephen King's Mist. Overall decent story, it certainly fits in with weird tales, but I felt like I had heard other similar tales done better.

Narration was great. Reader was clear and articulate. He also approached the reading with some gusto. In many ways, he sold the piece which for me would have otherwise been only a so-so story.


Cheshire_Snark

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2013, 08:07:53 AM »
Adding my praise for the narration. I had to re-listen (I was doing chores and not giving the story the full attention it deserved!) and I'm really glad I did. I also missed that it was an older story - it reminds me of another Pseudopod story that gave me chills, I think it was called "Cell Call"? (where the narrator has recently got a mobile phone, and is having trouble keeping in contact with his wife as he's got lost whilst driving at night). The technology is so closely tied to the story that it just could not work with an update/remake.

Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2013, 08:46:02 AM »
Thanks for catching the resemblance to "Cell Call" - that was one of my sneakier subliminal reasons for running this piece, part of the vast web of resonances highlighting the history of horror that sometimes informs my choices.

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2013, 06:57:46 AM »
Well played, sir. Well played.

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2013, 09:27:49 PM »
Don't often chime in anymore, but I loved this story. It's beautifully paced and Eric's narration matches that perfectly. Apologies to Eric if he doesn't like the moniker "freakin'" but seriously, the guy's one of the best narrators to regularly grace our podcast. Eric "Freakin'" Luke FTW!

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2013, 04:39:54 PM »
I loved the story and the narration. But I kept thinking "that telegraph guy's hands must be falling off from doing all those descriptions." I think I may have liked it more if experienced by the POV character.

Jen

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2013, 05:27:49 AM »
I'm usually not a fan of old stories, but this one was great, despite the old-school feel. I listened to it during a pretty bad headache and it made me forget about the pain for a while (then I fell asleep and had to re-listen on the way to work, but it was worth it).

I even liked it despite having the same reaction as TimWB :)
But I kept thinking "that telegraph guy's hands must be falling off from doing all those descriptions." I think I may have liked it more if experienced by the POV character.

Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2013, 11:09:11 AM »
Quote
I think I may have liked it more if experienced by the POV character.

That would have made the final reveal *awfully* difficult

Jen

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #17 on: November 19, 2013, 09:26:34 AM »
I don't know if you're replying to me or to the original post, but just in case it's me - sorry, I quoted more than I wanted to. I was only talking about the guy writing all these lovely descriptions on a telegraph... if typing on my phone makes me very laconic, I doubt someone using a telegraph would be writing such prose.

Kaa

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Re: Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2013, 08:58:34 AM »
Before listening to this podcast I was listening to "Welcome to Nightvale" (ep3); I think this added an extra sense of  suspense to the reading.  The narrator of the story, Eric "Freaking" Luke and the announcer for Nightvale, Cecil Baldwin both have wonderful newscasting voices.  It was a great transition. 

Yes. :)  I was also reminded of "Welcome to Nightvale," in a very good way. Especially an episode quite a bit further on than the one you were listening to, suzume234 (no spoilers!). Very Lovecraftian.

I'm not really a fan of the 'framing story' convention, but given that it was written so long ago, I gave it a chance, and I'm glad I did.
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Kaa

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Re: Pseudopod 356: The Night Wire
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2013, 09:02:02 AM »
it reminds me of another Pseudopod story that gave me chills, I think it was called "Cell Call"? (where the narrator has recently got a mobile phone, and is having trouble keeping in contact with his wife as he's got lost whilst driving at night). The technology is so closely tied to the story that it just could not work with an update/remake.

Yes! And there's another one I can't remember the name of or even whether it was Pseudopod or Escape Pod, where there was a college radio station that was playing epsiodes of an old show, and there was some sort of time travel . . .

It had kind of the same "vibe" as this one. Well, to me, anyway. :)
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