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Author Topic: Pseudopod 422: Necrosis  (Read 7798 times)

Bdoomed

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on: January 25, 2015, 08:38:19 PM
Pseudopod 422: Necrosis

by Dale Bailey.

“Necrosis” first appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 24.

DALE BAILEY lives in North Carolina with his family, and has published three novels, The Fallen, House of Bones, and Sleeping Policemen (with Jack Slay, Jr.). His short fiction, collected in The Resurrection Man’s Legacy and Other Stories, has been a three-time finalist for the International Horror Guild Award, a two-time finalist for the Nebula Award, and a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Bram Stoker Award. His International Horror Guild Award-winning novelette “Death and Suffrage” was adapted by director Joe Dante as part of Showtime Television’s anthology series, Masters of Horror. His collection, The End of the End of Everything: Stories, will be out next March, with a novel, The Subterranean Season, to follow.

Your reader – Simon Meddings – is a writer, script writer and Podcaster. For 6 years he has produced and co-hosted the popular Waffle On Podcast, and co-hosted the Mash 4077 podcast. He has written several audio dramas and is currently in development with a television script set in Australia. Simon has read several audio stories for pseudopod and hopes to narrate more. He is the writer & Director at Martian Creative.



“In retrospect none of us could say with any precision when it began. Condon had never been part of our set. Grandfathered into the club by one of those old robber barons whose fortunes had declined, he was essentially nondescript—capable of maintaining a decent conversation, pleasant enough to be around, but not the kind of man with whom one formed deep and lasting relationships.

When we met him, we were friendly. When we didn’t — which was the norm, Condon not being ubiquitous in our circles — we didn’t think of him at all. So it was hard to say, as we thought the thing through among ourselves, when precisely it had begun — a task complicated by the fact that none of us had known anything had begun, until it was over.”




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?


ElectricPaladin

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Reply #1 on: January 25, 2015, 09:03:18 PM
This one was great. At first, I thought I knew where it was going, but the end threw me for a total loop. The pacing all along the way was, of course, deeply creepy and disturbing. Well done!

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velocity

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Reply #2 on: January 26, 2015, 01:52:56 PM
ElectricPaladin,  help me understand. what is the new fraternity?why did Condon want them there?



adrianh

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Reply #3 on: January 26, 2015, 02:31:56 PM
I liked the story, but in this particular instance the reading didn't quite work for me.

This is narrated after the group gained membership of their new, and more hideous, fraternity… and Simon's voice just sounded a little bit too jolly and snappy for that. The story was taking me somewhere sinister and dark. The voice was taking me to the Drones Club ;-)



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #4 on: January 26, 2015, 03:22:19 PM
ElectricPaladin,  help me understand. what is the new fraternity?why did Condon want them there?

It was unclear, intentionally. That's the twist that really brought the story to "life" for me. We don't know what happens at the end. Do they all start to rot? Is this "new fraternity" merely the brotherhood of the men who witnessed Condon's terrible end? Or is this the beginning of something... stranger? We don't know! And that's fantastic.

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Sgarre1

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Reply #5 on: January 26, 2015, 03:26:18 PM
Quote
I liked the story, but in this particular instance the reading didn't quite work for me.

This is narrated after the group gained membership of their new, and more hideous, fraternity… and Simon's voice just sounded a little bit too jolly and snappy for that. The story was taking me somewhere sinister and dark. The voice was taking me to the Drones Club ;-)

Well, yes... this aspect (and resulting approach in reading direction for the narrator) was considered and rejected as unworkable - having a somber, morbid reading from the start would have tipped the hat to the ending far too early - so the direction (and choice of reader) was deliberately chosen for exactly the qualities you indicated. There are a number of ways you can argue for the present presentation (being told to a new initiate as a lure - thus presuming members of the fraternity can still "pass", an internal recollection from a mind not totally subsumed) which are all helped by the ambiguity of the resolution - if it's even of importance to the audience.  While I sweated a straightforward, logical, presentation of a reading of this - I did not sweat the more utilitarian (if slightly a-logical) and enjoyable presentation (aided, as I said, by the ambiguity). Tastes, vary, all that...

It could be noted that when I contacted Simon I specifically noted in my reader's notes that, obviously, the delivery of the last line was the lynchpin on which the entire effect of the story would turn...
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 03:32:22 PM by Sgarre1 »



velocity

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Reply #6 on: January 27, 2015, 07:05:58 PM
ElectricPaladin,  help me understand. what is the new fraternity?why did Condon want them there?

It was unclear, intentionally. That's the twist that really brought the story to "life" for me. We don't know what happens at the end. Do they all start to rot? Is this "new fraternity" merely the brotherhood of the men who witnessed Condon's terrible end? Or is this the beginning of something... stranger? We don't know! And that's fantastic.
thanks ElectricPaladin! between so many intelligent stories and authors,  I just want to be sure I'm not overlooking anything. . the story was great. . perfect tone and characterization.



davidthygod

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Reply #7 on: January 28, 2015, 02:50:45 PM
I liked the tone and pacing, but there was something specific in the narration that bothered me throughout the reading and was hard for me to get past. 

The story content itself I think was fairly basic.  The group or parts of the group see Conlon every few months and he is a little more decayed and acrid each time, they finally go see him at his house and he is pretty fully rotted out at that point, and he says something confusing that is left to us to interpret. 

I do think there was an attempt at some sort of allegory (or maybe just a direct connection) between the decay of these older neighborhoods and the decay of Conlon, but it didn't fully flesh out enough for me to make that connection implicit.  The ending definitely seemed intentionally vague and it was left to the reader to make whatever connections he wanted about Conlon's odd final message and what this new brotherhood meant.

The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.


Unblinking

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Reply #8 on: January 28, 2015, 04:07:12 PM
This story didn't do much for me.  Between the title and the initial mention of smell it was pretty clear just a couple minutes in that their friend was rotting out, and it seemed like the story meandered ever so so slowly to get around to actually telling me what was already clear.  Even after listening to the ending 3 times I wasn't at all clear what the line was supposed to mean, or even alternate ambiguous endings.  Seems like he's probably going to give them the zombie bite, but how could he do that to all of them without some running?

As is often the case with stories that didn't wow me, Alasdair's comments about his thoughts regarding the story were more interesting, and lend an interesting perspective to the story that didn't really hold my interest on its own.



bounceswoosh

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Reply #9 on: January 29, 2015, 02:30:36 PM
I liked the jolly reading. If ref the story when it was first published, but didn't really remember it, so there were just vague echoes. Weird - I didn't think the ending was ambiguous at all.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #10 on: January 29, 2015, 03:19:24 PM
I liked the jolly reading. If ref the story when it was first published, but didn't really remember it, so there were just vague echoes. Weird - I didn't think the ending was ambiguous at all.

Oh? And what did you think happened?

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bounceswoosh

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Reply #11 on: January 29, 2015, 03:20:26 PM
I liked the jolly reading. If ref the story when it was first published, but didn't really remember it, so there were just vague echoes. Weird - I didn't think the ending was ambiguous at all.

Oh? And what did you think happened?
I thought they all got infected with the same disease.

Now I'm wondering if that is too simplistic?



Unblinking

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Reply #12 on: January 29, 2015, 03:23:46 PM
I liked the jolly reading. If ref the story when it was first published, but didn't really remember it, so there were just vague echoes. Weird - I didn't think the ending was ambiguous at all.

Oh? And what did you think happened?
I thought they all got infected with the same disease.

Now I'm wondering if that is too simplistic?

I'm with you, I thought they all contracted the same disease there too.  I also didn't see ambiguity. 

I am fairly literal-minded, so it doesn't shock me that there's an interpretation didn't cross my mind.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #13 on: January 29, 2015, 03:24:40 PM
I liked the jolly reading. If ref the story when it was first published, but didn't really remember it, so there were just vague echoes. Weird - I didn't think the ending was ambiguous at all.

Oh? And what did you think happened?
I thought they all got infected with the same disease.

Now I'm wondering if that is too simplistic?

I just don't think there's sufficient textual support for that being the sole interpretation. It's certainly plausible, sure, but I don't think it's the only possibility. As I wrote above, that "new fraternity" could refer to the fraternity of men who have seen and participated in this terrible thing. Or it could mean that what Condon says next leads them down some kind of awful occult rabbit hole.

Or it could mean that they all start to rot.

I don't think the story is clear. And I like it that way.

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Beckerosh

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Reply #14 on: January 29, 2015, 04:33:13 PM
Perhaps I was in a Lovecraftian headspace, but my first thoughts were that he had died before we first meet him. Some discovered magic or affliction had extended his life, and he attempts to hide the side effects. The new fraternity could be the revelation that there is more than the natural world they see. Or the discovery of books and notes that begins a true secret fraternity to research and learn more.

Enjoyed the story :)



Fenrix

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Reply #15 on: January 29, 2015, 06:06:04 PM
I'm bopping along to the Cool Air vibe and then that ending line brings everything to a screeching halt. Now we have a necromancers' club and we've been relocated from HPL to Smith territory.

Necromancer clubs are awesome.

Quote
"Thus did the outcast necromancers find for themselves an empire and a subject people in the desolate, barren land where the men of Tinarath had driven them forth to perish. Reigning supreme over all the dead of Cincor, by virtue of their malign magic, they exercised a baleful despotism. Tribute was borne to them by fleshless porters from outlying realms; and plague-eaten corpses, and tall mummies scented with mortuary balsams, went to and fro upon their errands in Yethlyreom, or heaped before their greedy eyes, from inexhaustible vaults, the cobweb-blackened gold and dusty gems of antique time.

Dead laborers made their palace-gardens to bloom with long-perished flowers; liches and skeletons toiled for them in the mines, or reared superb, fantastic towers to the dying sun. Chamberlains and princes of old time were their cupbearers, and stringed instruments were plucked for their delight by the slim hands of empresses with golden hair that had come forth untarnished from the night of the tomb. Those that were fairest, whom the plague and the worm had not ravaged overmuch, they took for their lemans and made to serve their necrophilic lust."

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


ElectricPaladin

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Reply #16 on: January 29, 2015, 06:12:27 PM
I'm bopping along to the Cool Air vibe and then that ending line brings everything to a screeching halt. Now we have a necromancers' club and we've been relocated from HPL to Smith territory.

Necromancer clubs are awesome.

Quote
"Thus did the outcast necromancers find for themselves an empire and a subject people in the desolate, barren land where the men of Tinarath had driven them forth to perish. Reigning supreme over all the dead of Cincor, by virtue of their malign magic, they exercised a baleful despotism. Tribute was borne to them by fleshless porters from outlying realms; and plague-eaten corpses, and tall mummies scented with mortuary balsams, went to and fro upon their errands in Yethlyreom, or heaped before their greedy eyes, from inexhaustible vaults, the cobweb-blackened gold and dusty gems of antique time.

Dead laborers made their palace-gardens to bloom with long-perished flowers; liches and skeletons toiled for them in the mines, or reared superb, fantastic towers to the dying sun. Chamberlains and princes of old time were their cupbearers, and stringed instruments were plucked for their delight by the slim hands of empresses with golden hair that had come forth untarnished from the night of the tomb. Those that were fairest, whom the plague and the worm had not ravaged overmuch, they took for their lemans and made to serve their necrophilic lust."

I've always wanted to join a necromancer's club.

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CogShoggoth

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Reply #17 on: January 31, 2015, 12:37:10 AM
I liked this story. To me it's a tale of a youthful cohort of friends confronted with the decline and ultimate demise of one of their own. Ending, with them realizing their fraternity will ultimately come to a bad end no mater how hard they party.



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Reply #18 on: January 31, 2015, 10:21:00 AM
I'm an American slob, and I couldn't quite place how old-timey the story was meant to be. It didn't effect the story much, I was a tiny bit distracted, but it played into the superficial lightness of the narrative.


My mind goes a different direction on the topic of corruption in closed, particularly affluent, groups. There's a lot of heavy stuff it brought to mind. Mainly instances where it's not just obliviousness, but there's a scape-goating of social nicety.



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Reply #19 on: February 01, 2015, 08:53:12 PM
Hello there, Simon here the narrator of this little dirty. Many thanks for the feedback good and jolly based. I must admit I rather enjoyed reading this story and as described above it was a tricky one to do because reading it sombe would not add any surprise value. So taking the person telling the story and having him telling his tale in almost 'shocked still hasn't sunk in' way was the best option.

Must give a shout out to the brass here at pseudopod for asking me to read and giving great direction, and of course the listeners. Hopefully I'll get to do another one in the future.