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Author Topic: Pseudopod 360: Anasazi Skin  (Read 10502 times)

Bdoomed

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on: November 16, 2013, 07:25:22 AM
Pseudopod 360: Anasazi Skin

by Matt Wallace.

“Anasazi Skin” is available on AMAZON here.

MATT WALLACE is the author of THE FAILED CITIES MONOLOGUES and previously authored the very popular episode “Sundae” for Podcastle, as well as having appeared on Pseudopod 3 times (Episode 11 – “Killing Jars”, Episode 47 – “Akropolis” & Episode 87 – “A Place Of Snow Angels”) and recently on Escape Pod with “Knowing”. His website, Matt Wallace.com, is at the link and his blog is Matt Wallace

Your reader this week – Lance Roger Axt – is the co-founder and co-producer of AudioComics, a production company that produces and distributes professional, full-cast “audio movies” inspired by stories from comic books, graphic novels and genre fiction. Their work can be found on iTunes, Amazon, Audible, and through their website at audiocomicscompany.com. Currently available from AudioComics: Gamadin: Word Of Honor from the young adults sci-fi novel, the all-ages adventure Molly Danger from comics superstar Jamal Igle, and coming soon: Todd and Craig’s The Perhapanauts from the Image Comics series. You can also find his writing in the new Lovecraftian short story anthology WHISPERS IN THE ABYSS, now available for the Kindle!



“The first chemical rains fell in carpet-thick sheets a million different colors.

They fell over the Equator, over the Tropic of Cancer, moving and swelling and moving and swelling as they contracted farther north. Across the Western Hemisphere sacks of sludge dropped like bombs, potent enough in their acidity to dissolve the top floors of brick buildings. In Brazil a little boy felt his mother’s flesh run over him like sour molasses as the woman curled herself around her son, pressing the boy protectively against the womb that could no longer keep him safe. At a cliff’s edge on an island south of Tierra del Fuego, two lovers clutched each other as their flesh dissolved around their embrace.

In dozens of countries the young and the old died. The rest who were caught out in the rain watched their skin bubble and then shed itself in foaming, necrotic strips. They transformed into raw, red creatures with bared teeth.

Soon they were stacking oxygen tanks high and tight and renting them at monthly rates. Soon there were warehouse farms seeded with row upon row of plastic bubble tents. Soon the sidewalks and parks were filled with mummies wrapped in manuka-honeyed anti-burn bandages. Soon the chemically flayed outnumbered the smooth and unspoiled two-to-one.

It was an accident. Just an accident, the spokesman for Nevaeh-Vas Eco Technologies claimed at the first of many press conferences. Nevaeh-Vas, the corporation contracted to repair Earth’s depleted ozone layer. Nevaeh-Vas, who stabbed the heavens with God’s own syringe and injected a chemical curse that rotted the clouds.

Nevaeh-Vas, who murdered an industry and ecology with one mortal stroke and gave rise to what would replace both.”



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?


BLCrawshaw

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Reply #1 on: November 20, 2013, 06:39:32 AM
This was an ok story, but listening to it I couldn't help but think of Repo: The Genetic Opera when Wallace talked about the repossession of the skin. This story could fit seamlessly into the Repo universe. Still, it is an interesting concept to consider. Acid rain that burns flesh off of a person. I could imagine the agony one would feel in that situation.

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ungelic_is_us

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Reply #2 on: November 20, 2013, 08:59:45 PM
Ehhh...this story reached my body-horror tolerance level and tipped over it, I think. After a certain point, I completely lost track of the narration because ACK! Things in your spinal column! I think this is the first Pseudopod story I've ever had to turn off. I'm not saying that as a condemnation of the story, per se. It was just a bit much for me. Possibly not the story to be listening to while getting buying groceries--especially while perusing the butcher's counter.



Moon_Goddess

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Reply #3 on: November 21, 2013, 02:21:03 PM
I really just didn't feel for this episode.

I found the protagonist unlikeable, but a the same time that didn't make me hate the story, just be completely apathetic to the story.

Sorry.

Was dream6601 but that's sounds awkward when Nathan reads my posts.


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Reply #4 on: November 21, 2013, 09:07:24 PM
I didn't care for this story.  I found the characters hard to relate to. Saint was more of an archetype than a person and so when he continued to exactly fit his own archetype there was nothing to surprise me or to relate to there. 

At the beginning of  the story it seemed that he was tough because he just was, but at some point that just seemed to go into the realm of the ludicrous--particularly breaking a shotgun-blast resistant helmet with two blows of his bare hand.



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Reply #5 on: November 22, 2013, 10:42:29 AM
to me, this story had great promise during the intro but fell flat afterward.
everything except the (very very cool) worldbuilding felt hackneyed and over the top to me. the characters and their interactions were like a blend of neo-noir and...... some genre more typically muscle-bound, my imagination fails me here.  the parts of the character interaction that worked for me were when it reminded me very strongly of clive barker's Cabal. the inhumanly strong and terrifying male lead set that parallel up very nicely for me.
i think some fascinating concepts were set up here, some that i would love to see explored in more stories. for example, since Nevaeh-Vas both brought about this apocalypse and engineered machines to fit that apocalypse, it would be cool to hear more about their culpability. was this really some grand scheme to put themselves at the top?
or, the terror of living as someone who somehow retained their skin after the event. running from harvesters, etc etc.
it stirred my imagination but overall this story was a miss for me.



Kaa

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Reply #6 on: November 22, 2013, 01:37:30 PM
I didn't care for this one, either. As someone else said, it pushed the boundaries of how much disgusting detail I can be expected to endure for the sake of story . . . and then went past that and -- in my opinion -- didn't deliver the story. Or perhaps I just ceased looking for one, which is altogether possible. I stopped paying attention and let the episode play while I was concentrating on something else.

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Cheshire_Snark

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Reply #7 on: November 28, 2013, 11:21:11 PM
Made the mistake of listening to this one while prepping dinner....

Made it about halfway :/




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Reply #8 on: November 29, 2013, 08:42:18 PM
I'm chiming in to echo everyone else's sentiments. This one was quite disappointing. My main issue, actually, was that I thought the writing itself was actually beautiful, but the story just didn't make any sense. I actually had to restart it at one point, because I thought it was something that I had missed as a listener, but once I got back to that same spot, I was just as confused. I didn't mind the gore at all; I think it just missed the mark in telling the story it was trying to tell.


evrgrn_monster

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Reply #9 on: November 29, 2013, 08:45:10 PM
Made the mistake of listening to this one while prepping dinner....

Made it about halfway :/



I made the mistake of listening right before lunch myself.

We should just make a playlist of all the super gore Psuedopod stories and sell them as dieting aides. I would lose so much weight.


Cheshire_Snark

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Reply #10 on: December 01, 2013, 08:21:25 PM
I'd definitely put Pseudopod 343: Magdala Amygdala on that list....



Fenrix

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Reply #11 on: December 02, 2013, 06:31:11 PM
Good body horror, but I found it less squicky skin peeling than either Bliss (*shudder*) or Face Change. I think because it was more action-oriented gore than self-mutilation. I think the only PseudoPod body horror I've turned off is the one with the self surgery to extract the spider-crab-thing from their skull.

As for PseudoPod dietary aides, I highly recommend the fantastic "It's Easy to Make a Sandwich".


At the beginning of  the story it seemed that he was tough because he just was, but at some point that just seemed to go into the realm of the ludicrous--particularly breaking a shotgun-blast resistant helmet with two blows of his bare hand.


It was a chunk of pipe. Depends on how the shotgun is loaded. If it's full of shot, then the force is more diffused than the focused impact of a metal pipe; if it's a slug (which is atypical for a shotgun) then I got nothing.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #12 on: December 02, 2013, 07:54:46 PM
It was a chunk of pipe. Depends on how the shotgun is loaded. If it's full of shot, then the force is more diffused than the focused impact of a metal pipe; if it's a slug (which is atypical for a shotgun) then I got nothing.

If it was a pipe, then I misheard and withdraw that comment.  I could buy a pipe doing that, especially given the vagaries of what kind of shot the gun was holding and the range of it (i.e. resistant to a shotgun at 5 feet is much different than resistant to a shotgun at 20).  I thought it said he was using his bare hand.



Fenrix

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Reply #13 on: December 02, 2013, 07:57:45 PM
It was a chunk of pipe. Depends on how the shotgun is loaded. If it's full of shot, then the force is more diffused than the focused impact of a metal pipe; if it's a slug (which is atypical for a shotgun) then I got nothing.

If it was a pipe, then I misheard and withdraw that comment.  I could buy a pipe doing that, especially given the vagaries of what kind of shot the gun was holding and the range of it (i.e. resistant to a shotgun at 5 feet is much different than resistant to a shotgun at 20).  I thought it said he was using his bare hand.

Specifically, the point of the pipe and he ground it inside the helmet until eyeballs and gore ran out the other end. It's a grisly image, and I just listened to it yesterday, so it kinda stuck with me.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Jen

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Reply #14 on: December 06, 2013, 12:57:01 PM
I liked the intro more than the story. I didn't find it particularly gross, but I just couldn't relate to the main characters and I kinda lost track at some point. It reminded me of the cat-skull-baby story in terms of imagery, but I liked the cat-skull-baby story better. (Sorry, I don't remember the name or the podcast where it ran!)

Edit: Found it! The Chair by Leah Thomas
« Last Edit: December 06, 2013, 01:08:17 PM by Jen »



gunsofchekhovia

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Reply #15 on: December 06, 2013, 08:29:12 PM
This one wasn't for me either. I got a bit lost and had to backtrack, which is not in and of itself a bad thing, because sometimes I just don't pay attention very well. I didn't mind the gore, or necessarily the violence. I think it was well-written, I just didn't like the characters. I don't know what the solution for that problem is, either. It's hard for me to figure out what makes characters in horror likable, but these two weren't.



Sgarre1

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Reply #16 on: December 06, 2013, 09:55:08 PM
Quote
It's hard for me to figure out what makes characters in horror likable, but these two weren't.

If it's any indication, as an editor and lifelong reader I don't take the "likeable character" writing suggestion (I don't consider it a rule) seriously for the horror genre (who likes the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" or "The Black Cat", or the narrator of "Rats In The Walls", for that matter?) and not even for writing in general (who could like Kurtz, or Madame Bovary?), although I think it has uses in certain storytelling approaches to certain genres.

"Involving character" might be a slightly better idea, but modern readers are much more judgmental of characters in short fiction than previous generations seem to have been - for me, it's all about the story and the actual writing, in equal measures, with characters and ideas/inventiveness running close behind.  All are important elements but I am honestly convinced that mixing and matching levels of these elements gives you different kinds of stories, not better or worse stories.



gunsofchekhovia

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Reply #17 on: December 06, 2013, 10:05:07 PM
You're right, of course. "Involving" or "engaging" is definitely not what I said but it's more like what I should have said. The goal with character-driven stories, for me, is to have characters that make you care what happens to them, which is of course different from liking them (see Breaking Bad season 5). Still, these characters didn't meet that standard for me. This is not to say that characters have to drive every story, but the other elements have to work a lot harder at it.

I'm glad you mentioned Poe and Lovecraft, as they're very different. Poe's characters are not sympathetic but they are engaging. Lovecraft's characters, on the other hand, are barely characters at all.



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Reply #18 on: December 09, 2013, 03:51:15 PM
If it's any indication, as an editor and lifelong reader I don't take the "likeable character" writing suggestion (I don't consider it a rule) seriously for the horror genre (who likes the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" or "The Black Cat", or the narrator of "Rats In The Walls", for that matter?) and not even for writing in general (who could like Kurtz, or Madame Bovary?), although I think it has uses in certain storytelling approaches to certain genres.

Fair point, though I do admit I like the narrator of the Tell-Tale Heart.  As madmen go, he's rather endearing, particularly his insistence that the old man had done nothing to him, but that damnable eye, it was evil and deserved what it got! 

But yeah, engaging or involving would be a better word for what I think most people are looking for.  In general, I want to able to root for SOMETHING, even if that something is the destruction or humiliation of the protagonist.



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Reply #19 on: December 09, 2013, 05:12:11 PM
I agree on the need for engagement. Either empathy or antipathy for someone is important.


Lovecraft's characters, on the other hand, are barely characters at all.


I think I have to disagree with this statement. The protagonist in the aforementioned "Rats in the Walls" is no less a character than the folks in "Fall of the House of Usher" which helped inspire the tale. Walter Gilman in "The Dreams in the Witch House" gets a good steady devolution; even moreso with the protagonist of "Shadow Over Innsmouth". The Call of Cthulhu has a plethora of great characters, with Inspector Legrasse being a favorite of mine. And "Herbert West: Reanimator" is chock full of character.

You could say that in Lovecraft's oeuvre there is a high recurrence characters that are thinly veiled versions of himself as the quiet and sensitive antiquarian. Considering that statement you can present that the protagonist of "The Picture in the House" is rather flat, but the real character of the story is the old man who gets a queer tickle when he spends too long looking at the woodcut pictures in his book.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #20 on: December 09, 2013, 07:24:12 PM
Usually, I'm just rooting for the storytelling!  However that works out - involving characters, stock characters, or no characters - doesn't really matter to me.



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Reply #21 on: December 11, 2013, 03:19:59 PM
I'm with most of the other commenters on this one.  The initial idea was interesting, but as it went on, it seemed like it was just an exercise in "What is the most excessive threat I can set against my characters to justify the ultraviolence?" rather than serious worldbuilding.  The complaint that Saint was an archetype more than a character was painfully true, and he is not at all an archetype I find interesting or engaging.  Sort of an egregious action-hero amalgam.  I had the MST3K cant from "Space Mutiny" running through my head the whole time ("Beat Punch-Beef!  Big McLargeHuge!  Blast Hardcheese!"), and honestly I rolled my eyes when he turned his steely eyes on his slender love interest and growled about how "they" wanted to "use [him] as a weapon."  The testerone-addled angel of Jason Bourne, himself heir to the bullet-riddled crown of the mediocre spinoff 80's action flick, looked down and smiled.

(I think what annoys me about this archetype is its origin.  USian men have over two hundred years of ruminating about how manly and macho and studly they are, and fretting that they might become or be perceived as effete, European, or, God forbid, intellectual.  This ridiculous emphasis on masculinity and power and aggression just does not match up with most people's experience of themselves as male.  The fantasy of the One Manly Man who does What Must Be Done and carries his Secret Burden with Stoic Resolve is the cancerous outgrowth of that fear, both stemming from it and perpetuating it, and it just makes me tired and sad.)

The writing was decent in terms of craft and skill, albeit more than a titch melodramatic in tone.  (But this was clearly a feature, not a bug, even if it made it hard for me to care much about the characters.)  I'm not personally a fan of gore - as I've said before, it doesn't so much squick me out as bore me - but I'm sure those who enjoy it would be able to glean something from this piece.  But for me, this story was a pretty big miss on every level.

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