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Author Topic: Pseudopod 373: The Metal And Its Mold  (Read 4650 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: February 18, 2014, 02:01:20 AM »

Pseudopod 373: The Metal And Its Mold

by Tim W. Burke.

This is the worldwide premiere of this story. The audience should contemplate their loved ones, what makes their relationship work, and whether power is an aphrodisiac or a bondage dungeon. The complete collected saga of Alecsandri and Olivia will be available soon from NobleFusion Press in The Flesh Sutra.

Previously: In Fin de siècle Boston, The Guru Keresh – whose pursuit of arcane knowledge had led to his death and resurrection into a dwarfish, homunculus form – has joined with lover Olivia Spaulding in a commitment to advance humanity make the world over into their vision. But they themselves are still only human. Previous installments in the saga have appeared in Pseudopod 127: The Garden and the Mirror, Pseudopod 198: The Mother and the Worm and the available-by-donation-only TRIO OF TERROR: Nourished By Chaff, We Believe The Glamor (which will soon be made available again in the upcoming months). Now, listen on…

TIM W. BURKE was raised within a mile of several US Federal Penitentiaries, was once a black belt in Aikido, and has a dark, satiric movie available worldwide called THE KIBBLES AND BITS OF HELLORAMA which FilmThreat.com called “Pee Wee’s Playhouse meets Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on crack.” His fiction currently appears in the latest “Space And Time” magazine and an upcoming issue of “Stupendous Stories.” Look for him on his blog To Smother In Order To Sell The Body To Science.

Your reader this week – Paul Jenkins – has narrated for Escape Pod, Pseudopod and PodCastle a number of times (he was honoured to be asked to narrate the very first PodCastle episode!). His science fiction podcast novel THE PLITONE REVISIONIST is available for free at Podiobooks.com. His skeptical blog NOTES FROM AN EVIL BURNEE, and his skeptical podcast SKEPTICULE (aka “The Three Pauls Podcast“) can be found at the links.



“The men backed out the side entrance quietly. Tomorrow, they would tell their political party cadre that Olivia’s guidance was purely theatrical, and remain ignorant of the truth.

The hall was empty except for Olivia and Bostic, and a caretaker snoring in the front office. I stepped from under the table.

The smell of beef and cigars still clouded my nostrils. Before I had been murdered, before I created this body from a man’s tumor, I did not indulge in beef or tobacco. But I did miss having long, complete limbs. I missed wearing a man’s suits, instead of hand-stitched doll’s clothes. I missed lungs that did not ache so.

But then I would be dead, and away from Olivia, and our chance to change the world with a few enlightened leaders, and our chance to be together always.

I considered that Love has many emotions. I was becoming too familiar with Love’s ambivalence.”





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2014, 05:14:14 PM by Bdoomed » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2014, 10:14:07 AM »

I enjoyed it.  No surprise, as I've found this twisted pair a compelling duo.  Interesting how they've changed, too.  In the earlier stories it seemed like Alecsandri was the more good of the two, though weak-willed.  But this time, Alecsandri's actions that end up with the object of his jealousy dead are much darker than hers.  She could arguably be said to be just trying to help, since the candidate wanted whatever it took to be elected, and if Alecsandri hadn't intervened he very possibly would have instead of ending up dead. 

Interesting too of how the story takes the concept of changing the person you are based on who is watching (which all of us do) and cranked that up to a grotesque level.  Good hints at what exactly was happening with the slendering and the cleft chin. 

For this series of stories, I'm not sure Tim will ever top the birth of the homunculus body, but that was just such a solid entry it'd be hard to pull off.  This was a good entry in the series.
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2014, 03:17:40 PM »

I'm sure this is down to the fact that it's been a while since I listened to the other two stories, but even with the "Previously on..." intro, I had absolutely no idea what was going on, who the characters were, or what they were trying to accomplish. I would guess that listeners who hadn't heard the other two stories would be equally confused.

Maybe it's that the writing style of this author is kind of dense and complicated. Or maybe it's the episodic nature of the series. I guess I just like it better when a story stands on its own and has enough clues to what's going on that you don't necessarily have to be familiar with the other entries in the sequence.

I really did try. I listened all the way through to the end hoping it would cohere into something I could get a grasp on, but I'm afraid to say it ended up being nothing but white noise. I mean no insult to the author; the story is clearly well-written. But that was my experience. I wonder if anyone else felt the same?
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2014, 07:49:31 AM »

I really did try. I listened all the way through to the end hoping it would cohere into something I could get a grasp on, but I'm afraid to say it ended up being nothing but white noise. I mean no insult to the author; the story is clearly well-written. But that was my experience. I wonder if anyone else felt the same?

Yes, I felt exactly the same.
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zoanon
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2014, 10:17:32 AM »

yea I'm confused too, I listened twice, but I'm pretty sure I only understand the basic outline. I have no idea who the characters are, or what their motivation is, or what really happened in the end.... did the homunculus guy purposely sabotage the candidate?
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2014, 01:19:10 PM »

And what was the candidate going to accomplish for them or for himself?

I'm not piling on; I'm genuinely curious. Did anyone figure that part out?
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2014, 10:23:31 AM »

yea I'm confused too, I listened twice, but I'm pretty sure I only understand the basic outline. I have no idea who the characters are, or what their motivation is, or what really happened in the end.... did the homunculus guy purposely sabotage the candidate?

There were previous stories with these characters--have you heard them yet?  This is definitely a continuation of their arc.  When the series of stories began, the main character was by action fairly good but falls in love with a woman who wants to do evil things with his powers.  It turns out that his goodness is mostly from convenience or lack of opportunity because it doesn't take long for him to give in and start doing evil things with his powers.  This story was a variation in the tellings so far because Olivia's intent is apparently less malicious than the protagonist's rather than obviously being more malicious.

As this story was going on, the homunculus guy (I forget his name at the moment) told himself that the reason that he intervened was because he didn't approve of Olivia robbing the candidate of his free will.  He claimed to consider the robbing of free will an evil act and he stepped in to give the man back his free will.  But after the fact he realizes that this claim may have just been justification of a malicious act taken out of jealousy.  The robbing of free will had been done because the candidate was too ambitious for his own good and was mixing magic in ways that would kill him.  By lifting that restriction on free will, the candidate literally dies from it.  The protagonist knew that this would happen and told himself at the time that he was doing it for the good of the candidate, but really he was just acting in response to jealousy over Olivia's attentions.  So at the end he muses that he and Olivia have changed each other irrevocably through their relationship together.

And what was the candidate going to accomplish for them or for himself?

I'm not piling on; I'm genuinely curious. Did anyone figure that part out?

I do wish that the story had been a little clearer about what specific platform they thought was so important.  It seemed that that was just skimmed over unless I missed it entirely.  It would've helped to establish whether their actions here might actually serve a greater good.  My guess is that this too is just a justification--they want something that improves their own immediate standard of life with little care for other people.  But actual discussion of such would've been good.
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2014, 04:05:53 PM »

So... It seemed that Olivia was warning the candidate not to use those magicks or it would kill him. She was on his side. But the candidate kept using them anyway, convinced they would help him. The homunculus man was jealous and therefore... took away the candidate's free will? Or gave it back to him? Took away the magicks?
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« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2014, 11:55:41 AM »

So... It seemed that Olivia was warning the candidate not to use those magicks or it would kill him. She was on his side. But the candidate kept using them anyway, convinced they would help him. The homunculus man was jealous and therefore... took away the candidate's free will? Or gave it back to him? Took away the magicks?

Near the beginning of the story the candidate was using both the yantras provided by the protagonist, AND some other voodoo type magics.  In this world the trappings of the magic types are just foci to help direct the magic, so a variety of magical systems can work, but mixing them is like mixing medications without understanding their interactions.  Olivia and friend discovered this partway through, which they first spotted by seeing the symptoms of the interactions--the clefting chin and the slimming frame as his body went to unnatural measures to match the watchers expectations of a politician. 

Once they realized that the candidate was using a second type of magic, Olivia Persuaded him to stop using the other kind.  Persuaded with a capital P because it appears that she has become her own force of magic, able to persuade other people to a supernatural degree.  This act saved his life by robbing him of the free will to do the stupid thing he had been doing, using both kinds of magic.

Near the end, the homonculi (while telling himself it's in the candidate's own good) frees the candidate of Olivia's persuasion.  The candidate rushes off to grab the voodoo perfume (or whatever it was, I don't recall off the top of my head) because that's what he wanted to do all along.  And the interaction of magic kills him as his body contorts to try to meet the expectations of the huge crowd.

At least that's what I thought happened, after one listen.  It's not unusual for me to miss details, or fill in tangents based on things that I don't understand, but in this case I'm reasonably sure this is what was meant by the story.
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« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2014, 12:22:04 PM »

Thanks for the explanation! That makes sense. It also sets up an interesting metaphor for politicians in general.
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« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2014, 09:52:22 PM »

Dang, Unblinking!
That was a great summary!
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Fenrix
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« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2014, 06:45:10 AM »


I do wish that the story had been a little clearer about what specific platform they thought was so important.  It seemed that that was just skimmed over unless I missed it entirely.  It would've helped to establish whether their actions here might actually serve a greater good.  My guess is that this too is just a justification--they want something that improves their own immediate standard of life with little care for other people.  But actual discussion of such would've been good.


I think it's better that it was unclear. Alecsandri and Olivia believed it would help wash them of their sins, and this is more important than the platform itself. The reader is allowed to fill in their own details, and put him across the aisle if they want him to be bad and on the same side if they don't. Presenting a clear platform would run the risk of making the story come across as a diatribe, and getting lost under the political message. In the end the specific politics are irrelevant, but how the aspirations for power impact everyone.
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« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2014, 07:01:21 AM »


I do wish that the story had been a little clearer about what specific platform they thought was so important.  It seemed that that was just skimmed over unless I missed it entirely.  It would've helped to establish whether their actions here might actually serve a greater good.  My guess is that this too is just a justification--they want something that improves their own immediate standard of life with little care for other people.  But actual discussion of such would've been good.


I think it's better that it was unclear. Alecsandri and Olivia believed it would help wash them of their sins, and this is more important than the platform itself. The reader is allowed to fill in their own details, and put him across the aisle if they want him to be bad and on the same side if they don't. Presenting a clear platform would run the risk of making the story come across as a diatribe, and getting lost under the political message. In the end the specific politics are irrelevant, but how the aspirations for power impact everyone.

You're probably right about that. 
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2014, 08:21:31 AM »

I named this my #14 favorite Pseudopod episode:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/08/podcast-spotlight-pseudopod/
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2015, 09:54:37 AM »

I put this as #4 on my Best of Pseudopod 2014 list posted this morning:
http://www.diabolicalplots.com/?p=12662
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« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2015, 04:07:06 PM »

"The Metal And Its Mold" is part of "The Flesh Sutra", a novel which is on the Preliminary Ballot for the 2015 Bram Stoker Award.
The other stories featuring Olivia and Alecsandri are also in the novel: "The Garden And The Mirror" and "The Mother And The Worm".
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Fenrix
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« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2015, 04:58:14 PM »


"The Metal And Its Mold" is part of "The Flesh Sutra", a novel which is on the Preliminary Ballot for the 2015 Bram Stoker Award.
The other stories featuring Olivia and Alecsandri are also in the novel: "The Garden And The Mirror" and "The Mother And The Worm".


Congratulations, and best of luck to make the finalists list. If you get to the next step, will you be coming to World Horror Con?
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« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2015, 08:34:34 AM »

Hi guys,

This story appears as a chapter in my novel "The Flesh Sutra", which was on the preliminary ballot for this past Stoker Award.
The novel includes my other stories "The Garden and The Mirror", "The Mother and The Worm", and "Nourished By Dust, We Believe The Glamour" as part of the story of Alecsandri, the mystic who resurrected himself through a brain cancer, and Olivia the tormented novice capable of miracles.

My publisher put The Flesh Sutra on sale for 99 cents through the weekend - tell me what you think! http://amzn.to/1GnV9M6
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2015, 01:08:49 PM »

Always a fan of your stories, and bought this without a second thought!
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