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Author Topic: Pseudopod 048: The Disciple  (Read 25356 times)

robertmarkbram

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Reply #25 on: September 06, 2007, 12:07:51 PM
On the crucified cat:

I think it shows the darkness of what they were doing.  Yes, it was disturbing but that is what it and PP as whole is supposed to be.  Is it worse than a serial killer that can rip off her skin?  Visually, I think not.  But, we have an emotional connection to animals and that is what is shown.  I am far from a cat lover, but I still found myself disturbed as much if not more than the author wanted me to be.  Do I think it needed a warning?  No, this is PP we should expect stuff like that.  Does Infection give a warning about burning genitalia or chicken scissors?  No, because it is explicit and that is something that is there.  If you don't like it fine, fast forward a little.  That doesn't make it a bad story, just good character developement.

I agree with the sentiment but not the detail. I like and want creepy horror stories. I love 'em. But I also want to know in advance if there is a slant towards gore, swearing, sexual themes etc. Why? Because occasionally I like to get creeped out with my step-daughter and listen to a Pseudopod story with her, like That Old Black Magic or Fetching Pepé. Not all horror stories are adult rated - and this is a big part of the charm Pseudopod has for me. I would like to know in advance if it is a suitable story and - selfishly - I don't want to ruin the surprise by listening to it myself first.

Infection does give a warning btw. At the start of each episode it clearly states there is lots and LOTS of violence.

You would be entirely correct to argue that it is my responsibility as a care taker to listen to the stories first and make up my own mind about whether they are suitable. Can't argue that point.. but I still want to know in advance which ones should be ok to press PLAY on while in mixed company. :)


wakela

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Reply #26 on: September 09, 2007, 11:40:05 PM
Killing a mouse is the tamest test of evilness that I've ever heard.

Other than that I enjoyed the story.



Planish

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Reply #27 on: September 24, 2007, 01:21:18 AM
Killing a mouse is the tamest test of evilness that I've ever heard.
Well, I think it was significant that Our Hero simply lets go of the mouse, dropping it in the tank. He has no clue as to what's in the tank, and therefore no clue that it will harm the mouse any more than getting it wet. The applicant at the end (I think) holds the mouse in his fist (already being a bit more aggressive) and holds it underwater until it dies, which is considerably more Evilish. I guess it's a hint that Our Hero is not as evil as his students, at the end.

Cats, and to some extent mice, being small cute furry critters that can be pets, serve as surrogate children. Just ask any childless couple whose dog or cat is killed. I suppose that because mice are usually regarded as vermin and cats are usually pets, the cat crucifixion is an escalation.

I had a bit of trouble figuring out what was going on between the tornado and the appearance of the Traveller, because at 17:01 (of the copy I downloaded) it sounds like a vital piece of the recording was clipped out, and I had to replay it several times before I figured out that the Traveller had arrived at that moment. That took me out of the story.

While I was listening to it, it was only by sheer strength of will that I did not just skip to the next episode. The ending made up for it somewhat, so I give it a 5 out of 10.

The twist ending reminded me of an old story that went the opposite way. It was in an annual anthology back in the '60s, I think. Our Hero is a disenchanted young adult who plots to assassinate an evil dictator who is going to visit his small town on a whistle-stop tour by blowing up his limo. The bomb is "nullified", the motorcycle-riding bodyguards zap him unconcious. When he wakes up in some holding facility, they convince him (and the reader) that the dictator dude is really quite okay. The Hero is made to "disappear" on paper so as to serve as an example to other would-be terrorists, and is invited to join the Dictator's staff. The story ends with Our Hero riding a bike in the motorcade, wearing a full-face tinted visor helmet so that he cannot be recognised. They recruited all their security staff from the would-be terrorists that they encountered on a regular basis, and the tours were a way to bring them out into the open. (I wish I could remember the title, it was something like "Day of the Bad Man".)

Quote from: eytanz
But for someone who wants power in order to dominate others, why would they even agree to join a course where none of the students were ever heard of again? If I was going to evil wizard school, I'd want to go to the one which has the most alumni that are still talked about only in scared whispers.
That did seem like a bit of a rhinoceros in the living room to me. We also are not given any hint as to what kind of power they were supposed to be getting, and why it would be cool to have. There was little motivation for the main character.

One more thing. "Adrian"? Was that his real name, or did he google for "evil acolytes proper noun"? I guess it could have been worse, something like "Damien".

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Unblinking

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Reply #28 on: October 01, 2009, 07:54:12 PM
I didn't care for the cat crucifixion, as I'm an animal lover.  Animal torture tends to hit me harder than human torture because 1.  animals can't speak to tell anyone about what has happened to them.  2.  animals have little to no control over what environment they end up in, in the first place.

Also, it hasn't been that long since I listened to Fourth Person Singular which had a dog crucifixion, so that probably didn't help.  I realize that one was published years later and the proximity for me was due to my catching up on past episodes.

But, despite that, I thought this story was great.  Up until the last five minutes or so, it was just good.  But when it turned out that it was all just a trap to get rid of all the psychos, it brought the originality of the story up by an order of magnitude.  Excellent!



Millenium_King

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Reply #29 on: August 10, 2010, 11:54:48 PM
Another good Lovecraftian piece that is, none the less, lacking in certain areas which keep it from attaining greatness.  Structurally, I liked this one.  It was set up well, paced well and was sufficiently front-loaded to keep it pulpy and tense.  Plot-wise, it was a good, solid idea that played well with the concepts of powerful, inhuman entities.

However, I am something of a purist when it comes to "cosmic horror" and, while I could see where the author was trying to take a different perspective (outer gods know nothing of human pain etc.) I thought the inclusion of evil and morality felt out of place in a story of this type.  Some people may have liked the "grounding" of extra-human, enormous concepts in human pain and ideas of morality, but I didn't enjoy it.  It made our hero feel like some sort of moral judge (who furthermore judges people as deserving of death without them having committed any sins - isn't that, in itself, "evil?").

I felt this robbed the story of its cosmic horror "punch."  The beings of the outer dark happily take away the wicked and leave the rest of us unscathed - where's the horror in that?  Amoral Cthulhu was set to devour us all - and our helplessness, like the rat in the fishtank, was laid bare.  I didn't get a sense of cosmic dread from this one.  In fact, the cosmic entity was ultimately unecessary: couldn't the narrator have just shot his "evil" students instead?  Why ask for Yog-Sothoth's expy to devour them at all?

Finally, the other place where this one really fell apart was the language.  The prose of Lovecraft or Clark Ashton Smith was powerful: it made us see Cthulhu, R'lyeh, The Treader in the Dust, Abhoth, the City of the Singing Flame etc.  All we have here is a few weak sentences about upside-down cities covered in mold.  The descriptions of the city, of the cosmic entity: they needed to land with some force to make this story work.  I felt they landed with all the impact of a feather.

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Marlboro

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Reply #30 on: December 07, 2019, 02:42:20 PM
The scariest part of the story? Knowing that there will be millions of cats killed in the internecine religious wars to come as the various feline sects kill one another in the name of the crucified kitty.  "Caedite eos. Novit enim Mr. Whiskers qui sunt eius."


 I think the basic plot of this story is a good one. But it seems to be missing something. I'm not sure tying it to the Lovecraft mythos was a good idea. I don't think the college setting works either; it just raises a lot more questions than answers.

Still an entertaining listen none the less.