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Author Topic: Pseudopod 424: ARTEMIS RISING: The Godsmaid Clara And Her Many Smiles  (Read 4264 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 424: ARTEMIS RISING Women In Horror Showcase: The Godsmaid Clara And Her Many Smiles

by Sharon Dodge

“The Godsmaid Clara And Her Many Smiles” is original to Pseudopod.

SHARON DODGE has lived in the Southwest, on the East Coast, in the far East, and in the Mediterranean. She hopes to someday add a tropical island. She blogs at Paper Castle.

Your reader – Kim Lakin-Smith – is a Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy author of adult and children’s fiction. Kim’s short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her dieselpunk novel, Cyber Circus, was shortlisted for both the British Science Fiction Association Best Novel and the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel 2012. Kim’s latest short story, ‘Goblin’, will appear in the Sharkpunk anthology, out May 2015 from Snowbooks. Her critically acclaimed novella, ‘Black Sunday’, will be republished in The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, out July 2015. Kim is currently working on two new science fiction novels and an epic fantasy.

Your Guest Host this week is Marguerite Kenner, who edits Cast Of Wonders.

To find out more about Women In Horror month, please visit WomenInHorrorMonth.com.

Also check out Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror at Indiegogo.



“‘Godsmaid,’ I say, and the butler’s eyes immediately glaze over. That’s pretty much always the case. It’s remarkable how little attention they pay me, how consciously their eyes slide over me as soon as I’ve announced my profession. Too dirty and gross, too much something no one wants to think about. Not unless you have monsters crawling all over the floor, anyhow. Of all people, the butler should know me, should appreciate me, but he’s new; I haven’t been here often, but often enough to have known his previous incarnation.

‘We have no need of one at present,’ he said. ‘Thank you for your offer, madame.’

‘I have an appointment, sir. His Lordship requested me,’ I say, and this time he actually looks me in the eyes.

‘Does he need you now?’ he asks dumbly, and I just smile at him, my polite society smile that says I’ve said what I must, and after a minute he sort of nods at me and leads me in.

I could walk the way myself—there are servants’ stairs that I’ve used before, and they’re quicker besides—but truthfully I get tired of being dismissed to the servants’ entryway, and the gentleman who made the appointment assured me I could use the front. Nevermind I am a servant. Not many people can do what I do. Well, not many people would care to, but even so.

A few of the other servants raise their eyebrows as I pass down the hallways, but nothing more than that. At least one of them recognizes me, from the way he quickly looks away. I do murmur, “It’s not catching, you know,” and the butler turns around to me, frowning, but I just smile and he keeps walking. The man I was actually talking to swiftly trods away from us.”




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?


Unblinking

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Creepy!  Awesome!  Fun!  I liked the mix of a lady who is concerned with maintaining decorum while also hosting symbiotic Lovecraftian beasties to hunt parasitic Lovecraftian beasties.  This was fun from start to finish in the most gruesome and awesome way.  Great title that points directly to the speculative element without obviously pointing to a speculative element.

The one thing I didn't understand was... how did she win the day?  Did she leave some of her mouths inside her charge's body to ambush the monster when it started to feast?  Otherwise how did her mouths get it?  Up until that point I pictured her mouths tethered to her body by tentacle so that part was confusing my conception of the situation.  But I probably just missed some earlier detail that made it clearer.

Anyway, I loved it.



ElectricPaladin

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Grrrrruuuaagh! Oh man. This story had me squirming. I loved it! As Unblinking noted, the best part was probably how Clara - and society in general - had adapted their ideas of decorum and propriety to the reality that some people occasionally hatch monsters and other people have mouths inside that they use to eat them.

Clara was a particularly horrible creature, and I found myself really wondering where she came from. She was an interesting mixture of detached and quite inhuman, constraining her hunger only because it would be inconvenient if she was thought of as a monster, but also at least a little human. Her somewhat attenuated compassion for her client was interested. She appreciated his thoughtfulness, understood that she was providing a valuable service, but clearly did not feel any sense of human warmth towards him.

In that sense, Clara actually reminded me of an accurate depiction of a sociopath. She wasn't a particularly murderous being, she just didn't see her "fellow" humans as entirely real. They only mattered to her in that they provided something of worth to her, but if they did, she could be quiet warm and charming

Overall, I loved this one. A great, dark, bloody little horror story, with just enough explication to draw me in while leaving me wanting more.

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Unblinking

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Clara was a particularly horrible creature, and I found myself really wondering where she came from.

I interpreted the mouths as being more of the beasties like those she hunts, but which have reached a symbiosis state with some hosts.  I think different interpretations are very possible, that's what I took away.



ElectricPaladin

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Clara was a particularly horrible creature, and I found myself really wondering where she came from.

I interpreted the mouths as being more of the beasties like those she hunts, but which have reached a symbiosis state with some hosts.  I think different interpretations are very possible, that's what I took away.

That's a really interesting idea, and didn't occur to me. My thought was more that this is clearly a world in which there are a lot of awful things, and Clara is one of those, only she is one that is (more or less) human(ish), and is useful rather than merely destructive. I didn't think there was necessarily a connection between Clara and the monsters... but nevertheless, that's a really interesting idea.

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Dandydevildog

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Gotta love a nice body horror/monster story. I'm also unsure about the nature of Clara, and if her extra "mouths" were always a part of her or like a symbiotic creature. Maybe this is a stretch, but I thought of the title as an almost play on words. Godsmaid = Gods made, so Clara has always been that way? That might be just me though.

Wonderfully creepy, and quite funny in parts. The focus on what is and isn't proper in the face of monsters burrowing into people made me laugh, also shows the sort of skewed sense of priorities in this society.



archaevist

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I found this story very uninteresting. I liked the idea of symbiotic monsters cleaning up parasitic monsters, quite a lot actually and was waiting for the story to take a creative turn. But It didn't frighten me. I didn't sympathize with any of the characters, so I didn't feel concern for what happened to them. The world wasn't vivid, it felt like a set for a drama, cardboard thin and with the audience so distant that the players on stage had to shout.



Julychildren

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I found this story good fun with just enough blood and teeth! However, I wondered if there was any need for the Godsmaid having a name (not that names are bad things; they humanise you) since I don't recall anyone calling her by it. In this I may be wrong.

If you blinked out the part where I told you I was several people, you've missed the only thing I've ever said that was true about me.


Unblinking

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I found this story good fun with just enough blood and teeth! However, I wondered if there was any need for the Godsmaid having a name (not that names are bad things; they humanise you) since I don't recall anyone calling her by it. In this I may be wrong.

I generally prefer any POV character to have a name, otherwise it creates unnecessary distance.  YMMV and all that.



ElectricPaladin

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I found this story good fun with just enough blood and teeth! However, I wondered if there was any need for the Godsmaid having a name (not that names are bad things; they humanise you) since I don't recall anyone calling her by it. In this I may be wrong.

I generally prefer any POV character to have a name, otherwise it creates unnecessary distance.  YMMV and all that.

I agree. In fact, I thought that the tension between the sweet, relatively normal name "Clara" and the horrible bloody things she was doing created a lot of great tension. Clara is also a little old-timey, so the name is a detail that helps to build the setting.

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Fenrix

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This sure was a fun monster story. The horrid anime gore of the monsters set against the proper Downton Abbey setting was a delicious contrast.

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


Aaronvlek

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I'm late to the party but I just heard this one today. WOW! And absolutely amazing narration and perfect selection of a voice to do the job. This is what I love. This combination of story and voice is what makes me feel like a curious kid again, or someone ensconced around the tribal campfire. Bravo!