Author Topic: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch  (Read 2282 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« on: January 30, 2016, 06:07:57 AM »
Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch

by Jessica Amanda Salmonson.

The Toad Witch originally appeared in Tales of Witchcraft in 1991.

Jessica Amanda Salmonson is a recipient of the World Fantasy Award, ReaderCon Certificate, and Lambda Award, author of THE DISFAVORED HERO and other novels, THE DEATH SONNETS and other poetry collections, and THE DEEP MUSEUM and other short story collections. Forthcoming – a giant omnibus of her works will appear from the extravagantly cool Centipede Press consisting of her Dell Books novel ANTHONY SHRIEK, a number of poems, and her Ace Books collection A SILVER THREAD OF MADNESS plus enough new and uncollected material to equal a third book in one huge volume. Her next poetry collection PETS GIVEN IN EVIDENCE OF OLD ENGLISH WITCHCRAFT AND OTHER BEWITCHED BEINGS will be issued this coming year by The Sidecar Preservation Society to coincide with Diversicon where she will be Guest of Honor. She’s presently working on a small collection THE BLIND AVIATRIX: Dream Life and Real Life, too odd for commercial publishers but she can’t help it she has to write it.

Your narrator – Sandra Espinoza is a voice actress and video/sound editor in New York with a background in publicity, research and writing. She’s provided voice over for games like Apotheon, Primordia, Combat Core, Norse Noir and Supreme League of Patriots. Sandra’s upcoming roles include Freida in Kreative Spill’s newest point-and-click adventure Norse Noir; and Ember in Combat Core. To find out more visit dustyoldroses.com or like DustyOldRoses on Facebook.

Your guest host – Kat Rocha is Associate Editor at PseudoPod, Guest Editor for the Artemis Rising Event, and Editor-in-Chief of 01Publishing. They released Whispers from the Abyss 2 in ebook in 2015 and will release it in trade paperback in early 2016. She is a longtime fan of horror and good horror stories and has made the promotion and publishing of them her career.



I began life in 1950. Until then, everything was darkness. Afterward was suffering and beauty. How could 1 not become a masochist? By the age of four I had learned to mistrust everyone, a good philosophy. If one expects something terrible to develop out of even pleasant events, one may also expect consolations at moments of travail; and even I must delude myself from time to time, succumbing to the disease of sentiment.

People who are essentially cheerful annoy me. When they are finally bent and deaf, they are suddenly surprised. They find out their lives were pointless falsehoods; that it’s all nearly over, and for what? When in the end they are completely disillusioned they seek forgiveness from everyone, for they had always been oblivious to the obvious things, to the suffering around them. They are sorry for having insisted nothing was ever all that bad. Destined as they are to so much disappointment, they merit our sadness more than our disdain.

As for those of us daily anguished, we need not be pitied. The world constantly reinforces our perspective. We may nod our heads like true sages. We are impervious to disillusion, knowing as we do that worse is yet to come.





Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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BoojumsRCool

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2016, 01:25:50 AM »
I have to say that it was very scary how little happened, more of a PodCastle episode? Don't get me wrong it was a good story in general, it actually gave me warm and fuzzy feeling and turning the other cheek and avoiding doing evil is generally good. But not here?
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Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2016, 01:36:31 AM »
Eh, y'know, we like to mix it up. The old witch is not always what she seems!

Not-a-Robot

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2016, 10:22:34 AM »
I have to say that it was very scary how little happened, more of a PodCastle episode? Don't get me wrong it was a good story in general, it actually gave me warm and fuzzy feeling and turning the other cheek and avoiding doing evil is generally good. But not here?

I thought that the horror was how influential the friend was.  She would have done anything to impress the MC.  

That said, I wanted to like this one, but it felt a tad over explained.  The MC described her motivations too much instead of letting her evil/good actions speak for themselves.

Quote
The old witch is not always what she seems!

Neither are the owls.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2016, 10:24:53 AM by Not-a-Robot »

BoojumsRCool

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2016, 01:12:10 PM »
Quote
I thought that the horror was how influential the friend was.  She would have done anything to impress the MC. 
I did feel the tension there especially when she broke the cup and started to squirt the lighter fluid, I get it. My "subtle sense" is not so strong though. I did make me ask myself who the witch was or would be in the future.
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Unblinking

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2016, 03:49:57 PM »
I thought it was suitable for a horror cast, for what it's worth.  Both for the framework the story was hung on and what the story itself actually was.

The framework the story was hung on was the classic fairy tale narrative of an evil witch who gets what's coming to her in the end.  A classic horror story.

What the story was was a story about children embracing a classic fairy tale narrative and using it to justify their own evil actions by dehumanizing the unfamiliar, but recognizing it just in time to prevent attempted murder.  A horror story in an explanation of what bad things we all can do when we allow ourselves to dehumanize others.

I thought it was good.

Dwango

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2016, 02:13:18 PM »
This was a great deconstruction of folk legends.  In those stories, there is usually a terrible evil monster or witch who is rumored to do horrible things to children or have done murderous acts.  But when you look more into the story, you start to see the real horror is the story itself and the people who made it.  The subject of the story, like the old lady in this one, is really a victim of racism, bigotry, or misunderstanding.  Usually the root of the story is a society bullying an unusual person who just doesn't fit in.

The real horror was, of course, the cruelty of the young girls and the reality of growing up and understanding that life doesn't end neatly.  The horror that we will get old and our loved ones will die around us is the true horror of life.  And we all are subject to it, we will all die one day.  The girl grew up and knows that her family and life can change so drastically.  She has to live with the fact she can be so cruel and that she tortured a suffering woman who lost not just the last companion from her previous life, but her treasured memories that were safe at home.  She will walk into that place and see her memories scattered on the floor and her prized possessions destroyed.  There is no nice ending here, as the protagonist has to live with that regret for the rest of her life.

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2016, 06:23:09 AM »
Obviously I'd be inclined to like Dwango's commentary best of those posted up to 4 Feb 2016, but everyone's is cool. I don't think those little girls were so bad though.

The reading itself is such a great voice with just enough "acting" to make it tons better than when authors read our own stories in mournful monotones, but not over acted which can turn even a good story silly. I just loved it when the sitting-in-a-tree song was nicely sung! Pseudopod is providing something wonderful!

-Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2016, 03:32:33 PM »
Thank You, Jessica, for stopping by to comment! We wish more authors did so.

I originally read this story during a very trying period of my life and found it profoundly moving. I was very happy and proud to be able to present it here for our audience.

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2016, 03:35:58 PM »
Obviously I'd be inclined to like Dwango's commentary best of those posted up to 4 Feb 2016, but everyone's is cool. I don't think those little girls were so bad though.

The reading itself is such a great voice with just enough "acting" to make it tons better than when authors read our own stories in mournful monotones, but not over acted which can turn even a good story silly. I just loved it when the sitting-in-a-tree song was nicely sung! Pseudopod is providing something wonderful!

-Jessica Amanda Salmonson

Hi!  Good to see you here, Jessica.  Like Sgarre1 said, it's always good to see the author stop by.  :)

Fenrix

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2016, 08:01:50 PM »
It could just be that I finished reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, but this story really resonated with that novel for me. The constant sense of unease throughout both was nicely delivered.
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Dwango

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2016, 09:46:38 PM »
Thanks for the nod, Jessica.  I'm wondering if being older is a reason the story resonated with me.  When you reach a certain age, you start to realize how much everything changes when you get older and you notice those changes through time.  I know that a lot has changed in my life as my children have grown, and a realization really only sinks in later in your life that your kids will leave and you will pass on and life will go on without you.  It's a different perspective from when I really didn't 'believe' I would get old, it was only a concept.

Marlboro

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Re: Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2019, 01:48:42 AM »
I liked this one. It reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird in some ways. Maybe a little bit of a Ray Bradbury vibe too.

I don't think the kids were monsters. They just have that weird "folie a deux' thing going on which kids are able to do at that age.

One funny thing: the girl speculates that the little boys hate her because she won't cry when they throw dirt clods at her. This gets mentioned right after she says that she climbs trees and pees on boys who try to climb up after her! Something tells me that this might have something to do with the other kid's animosity.

My only nitpick: I'm not sure the first few paragraphs are necessary to the story.