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Author Topic: Pseudopod 050: Everyone Carries a Shadow  (Read 6054 times)

Bdoomed

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on: August 10, 2007, 04:28:18 PM
Pseudopod 050: Everyone Carries a Shadow


By Stephen Gaskell
Read by Paul S. Jenkins

My brother’s death didn’t need to be meaningless. It would be my spur to reveal the cruel practices that go for treatment in our mental institutions up and down this land. I would become a patient and expose these places from the inside. This then is the true reason for my absence from these pages. For the last three weeks, unknown to all but a select few personages, I have been a resident of Bedlam. What I discovered will sound like one of Aesop’s fabulous tales, or perhaps, more pertinently, the ravings of a madman, but I swear by the light of the Lord, all that you will read ahead is a true account of events.


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« Last Edit: August 10, 2007, 04:31:14 PM by Bdoomed »

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Jim

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Reply #1 on: August 12, 2007, 05:18:50 PM
I liked the clever use of the framing device at the beginning and ending of the story, giving it a kind of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari feel.

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Reply #2 on: August 13, 2007, 10:03:06 AM
The tone of the reading was perfect for this story.  He could have been reading the phone book and I would have been saying, "wow, a phone book in Lovecraft's style."

I liked all of the Victorian Era science and the portrayal of the "mental health system".



eytanz

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Reply #3 on: August 13, 2007, 10:28:40 AM
First, let me agree with the two above comments. The overall structure of the story was very cool and well done, and the reading was perfect.

Overall, a pretty good story. I'd place it in the middle of the pack as far as Pseduopod entries go, but as usual, that's because the overall excellence of the podcast makes the middle of the pack a very respectable place to be.

What makes the story fail as far as achieving true excellence is that I didn't find the threat alluded to in the story to be fully up to the level of Lovecraft or the best of his followers. Not that the feeders were pleasant or that Bedlam didn't sound horrific, it's just that what makes Lovecraftian truly work is the notion that madness and horror lies just behind the corner for all of us, if we were just a bit more aware of how the world works. In this story, it shows that those who are already made or mentally infirm are preyed upon, by both the unscrupulous medical institution and (maybe) the supernatural. Not a good thing, but not spine-chilling in quite the same way.



darusha

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Reply #4 on: August 13, 2007, 11:21:14 PM
I, also, liked the bookending of this story, though I kind of felt let down when I saw the end coming.

In this story, it shows that those who are already made or mentally infirm are preyed upon, by both the unscrupulous medical institution and (maybe) the supernatural. Not a good thing, but not spine-chilling in quite the same way.

My only other complaint is that this story wasn't really all that horrific - the feeders just didn't really seem all that terrifying compared to everyday existence in Bedlam.  Really, the scary part is that they make you so crazy you have to stay there.  Though, maybe the point was that the true horror is the very real conditions in the asylums.  Hmm...



Russell Nash

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Reply #5 on: August 14, 2007, 10:38:47 AM
I, also, liked the bookending of this story, though I kind of felt let down when I saw the end coming.

In this story, it shows that those who are already made or mentally infirm are preyed upon, by both the unscrupulous medical institution and (maybe) the supernatural. Not a good thing, but not spine-chilling in quite the same way.

My only other complaint is that this story wasn't really all that horrific - the feeders just didn't really seem all that terrifying compared to everyday existence in Bedlam.  Really, the scary part is that they make you so crazy you have to stay there.  Though, maybe the point was that the true horror is the very real conditions in the asylums.  Hmm...

I think that's it.  The idea of being in one of those asylums so scares the shit out of me, that the threat from anything else pales. 

Another idea for a story would be the feeders coming after you in the real world and making you insane enough that you have to go to an asylum, but you're still sane enough to see what's happening.  That would have me pissing my pants.



darusha

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Reply #6 on: August 14, 2007, 06:39:16 PM
Another idea for a story would be the feeders coming after you in the real world and making you insane enough that you have to go to an asylum, but you're still sane enough to see what's happening.  That would have me pissing my pants.

Yes!  Now that is horror.



Russell Nash

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Reply #7 on: August 15, 2007, 02:31:39 PM
Another idea for a story would be the feeders coming after you in the real world and making you insane enough that you have to go to an asylum, but you're still sane enough to see what's happening.  That would have me pissing my pants.

Yes!  Now that is horror.

I had my first nightmare in decades the night I wrote that.  It's more or less the way my dream played out.  I didn't wet the bed, but I was sweating through my T-shirt.



SFEley

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Reply #8 on: August 16, 2007, 03:48:31 AM
I had my first nightmare in decades the night I wrote that.  It's more or less the way my dream played out.  I didn't wet the bed, but I was sweating through my T-shirt.

So we can expect your story submission to Pseudopod soon, then?  >8->

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Russell Nash

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Reply #9 on: August 16, 2007, 07:05:28 AM
I had my first nightmare in decades the night I wrote that.  It's more or less the way my dream played out.  I didn't wet the bed, but I was sweating through my T-shirt.

So we can expect your story submission to Pseudopod soon, then?  >8->


I could give a pretty good outline to a real author to finish.  I have never been able to pull off the details that make a story something more than just relating an incident.



Listener

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Reply #10 on: August 16, 2007, 05:27:41 PM
I thought the performance was very good and the story was a good idea, but the by-necessity dispassion of the reading -- at least, audio-wise -- I think detracted from the climax.

Also, the "lovecraftian" thing... eh.  Never really been my bag.

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robertmarkbram

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Reply #11 on: September 06, 2007, 12:31:14 AM
He could have been reading the phone book and I would have been saying, "wow, a phone book in Lovecraft's style."

The idea of someone enjoying listening to the phone book being read out evokes images of Lovecraftian madness. :)

I enjoyed this story, but i felt that the beginning and end parts were unnecessary and didn't add anything to the story. The prologue of the story was only present to set up the epilogue, and I think the epilogue was cliche. The real horror was the idea of your shadow being ripped off; the feeders' unknown motives; the terrifying hospital.  I would have preferred it if Stephen Gaskell elaborated some more on the feeders, and what plan the scientist had for them next.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 12:36:55 AM by robertmarkbram »



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Reply #12 on: October 16, 2009, 08:08:11 PM
This had the classic feel of some science fiction written a century ago, such as H.G. Wells' work.  That was true in the tone, the setting, and in the classic style which tends to have a framing story and exposition was considered okay.  Overall I liked it, though I didn't feel particularly close to the characters due to the distant style.  My favorite stories are those where I emotionally connect, but this one wasn't bad at all.



Fenrix

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Reply #13 on: November 17, 2009, 06:56:42 PM
I think this was a very interesting take on the base human fear of the dark.

What makes the story fail as far as achieving true excellence is that I didn't find the threat alluded to in the story to be fully up to the level of Lovecraft or the best of his followers. Not that the feeders were pleasant or that Bedlam didn't sound horrific, it's just that what makes Lovecraftian truly work is the notion that madness and horror lies just behind the corner for all of us, if we were just a bit more aware of how the world works. In this story, it shows that those who are already made or mentally infirm are preyed upon, by both the unscrupulous medical institution and (maybe) the supernatural. Not a good thing, but not spine-chilling in quite the same way.

I'm going to have to disagree with the point about what makes Lovecraft great horror. I think Lovecraft excels at mood and prose. I think he falls down when you get teased with the thing lurking at the edge of vision which leads straight to a man in asylum gibbering incoherently to the shadows. I think Lovecraft's best work skates the line and reveals just enough, such as Herbet West: The Reanimator.

I think this story, along with the work of those like Brian Lumley, picks up Lovecraft's legacy and goes about showing a little more of the thing in the corner. I find this style more effective and evocative than unseen horror causing death and madness offscreen. I also think the richness of the language of that style lends itself really well to audio, as the reading of it can sometimes be burdensome or, dare I say, maddening.

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Millenium_King

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Reply #14 on: August 10, 2010, 10:00:04 PM
This one gets a lukewarm reaction from me.  I liked the voice and the language (though I would not call it Lovecraftian - not melodramatic enough).  However, I thought the concept as a whole was a little silly.  I kept thinking of that scene in Peter Pan where he tries to reattach his shadow.  It felt waaaay to metaphysical, too much like magic, and lacking a grounding in the realm of possibility that would have made it scary.

Likewise, I disliked the ending to the manuscript itself.  It felt rather abrupt and out of left field.  Our hero just pushes his way past two guards, smashes a laboratory and escapes?  Too convenient.

So, in short, this one gets high marks in language - but low marks in substance.

Great reading, though.

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