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Author Topic: PC357: The Specialist's Hat  (Read 6646 times)

Talia

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on: March 31, 2015, 01:31:46 PM
PodCastle 357: The Specialist’s Hat

by Kelly Link

Read by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Originally published in Event Horizon, November 1998.

“When you’re dead,” Samantha says, “you don’t have to brush your teeth…”

“When you’re dead,” Claire says, “you live in a box, and it’s always dark, but you’re never afraid.”

Claire and Samantha are identical twins. Their combined age is twenty years, four months, and six days. Claire is better at being dead than Samantha.


Rated R.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: April 21, 2015, 11:32:41 AM by Talia »



Fenrix

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Reply #1 on: April 08, 2015, 10:34:44 PM
This one had a feel that evoked Uncle Einar, and I couldn't help but imagine the twins both looking just like Wednesday Addams. The father's temptation also had the resonance of The Great God Pan. The plot captured the feel of how weird creepy kids' imaginations work.

Kelly Link is weird.

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


Scattercat

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Reply #2 on: April 09, 2015, 05:28:59 AM
Also awesome.  Kelly Link is awesome.

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albionmoonlight

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Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 01:40:39 PM
After several winters of neglect, this story has inspired me to get my chimney swept.  Never know what might be lurking up there.  Creepy.



Fenrix

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Reply #4 on: April 09, 2015, 08:57:31 PM
After several winters of neglect, this story has inspired me to get my chimney swept.  Never know what might be lurking up there.  Creepy.

Probably soot sprites.



And hats with teeth.

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


Arachnophile

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Reply #5 on: April 14, 2015, 02:29:20 AM
This was fantastic - one of the finest pieces of spooky fantasy I've seen in a long while. The writing really captured the skewed way a small child sees the world, which is something a lot of authors try to do, but that very few do well. Two thumbs up, and thanks for sharing.



Unblinking

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Reply #6 on: April 14, 2015, 07:26:06 PM
My grumpy pills are kicking in again.  I thought the childhood POV seemed authentic, but I spent most of the time wondering what the specialist specializes in, what specialty needs a sound-mimicking hat, what purpose could that possibly serve. 



Devoted135

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Reply #7 on: April 16, 2015, 03:28:02 PM
Those poor girls. They were just playing a game that helped them have courage in a fairly scary situation... They didn't mean to attract the attention of all the scary things of the house, and they certainly didn't mean to be actually dead! Makes me creeped out and sad.



kibitzer

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Reply #8 on: April 16, 2015, 11:49:45 PM
They didn't mean to attract the attention of all the scary things of the house, and they certainly didn't mean to be actually dead! Makes me creeped out and sad.

But are they Dead? Or just dead?
« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 11:51:53 PM by kibitzer »



TrishEM

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Reply #9 on: April 20, 2015, 05:17:17 AM
My grumpy pills are kicking in again.  I thought the childhood POV seemed authentic, but I spent most of the time wondering what the specialist specializes in, what specialty needs a sound-mimicking hat, what purpose could that possibly serve. 

I never figured out why the specialist hat was called that, but I didn't worry about it, just chalked it up to the bizarreness of child logic. Why does a little boy name his toy shark "Telephone Man" (example from a friend) -- why even ask?

Me, I'm wondering whether the father was actually trying to help/get help from his daughters, or whether he had been *changed* out there and was trying to lure them for some dreadful purpose. And whether the, uh, ghost babysitter? actually meant well, thinking being dead was better than THAT, or if she was just an evil spirit.

Good story, I thought.



FireTurtle

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Reply #10 on: April 24, 2015, 06:11:19 PM
Oh, I like a story where some (or near all) of the creepiness lies in ambiguity. I thought the child's point of view did an excellent job of capturing that state of in-between that I remember reaching as a child. Is it real? Is it made-up? Is it both or is it something so far outside of my understanding that it is magical and neutral (neither good nor bad or both)? And seriously, any specialist that needs a hat with people teeth has got to be pretty creepy and bad-ass, 'nuf said.

I listened to this on a sunny day whilst trimming one of my many berserk wisteria vines and I can honestly say it still creeped me out in a delicious way and now wisteria vine-trimming will be inextricably linked to that creepy mysteriousness until the next great podcast comes and replaces it. 

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


TimWB

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Reply #11 on: June 16, 2015, 01:43:32 AM
This read was wonderful and filled in the wtf blanks with atmosphere.
The story still leaves me cold, but this read deserves praise.



Ryan H

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Reply #12 on: September 24, 2015, 05:33:18 PM

I never figured out why the specialist hat was called that, but I didn't worry about it, just chalked it up to the bizarreness of child logic. Why does a little boy name his toy shark "Telephone Man" (example from a friend) -- why even ask?


I agree, in fact this story is lousy with child logic. And child logic is horrifying to adults, because children seem on the border of insanity when they describe the world we all share. Sometimes it's cute.

In my experience, Kelly Link is a writer who doesn't give many reasons in her stories. I love to experience them, but I never put one down and think "Yup, I got it all". This is one of my favorites though, because the games of the children and the history of the house dance around each other, the pieces a breath away from fitting together. No matter the interpretation, that ending gives me goosebumps.