Escape Artists

PseudoPod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Bdoomed on July 07, 2017, 10:09:51 PM

Title: PseudoPod 550: Again
Post by: Bdoomed on July 07, 2017, 10:09:51 PM
PseudoPod 550: Again (

by Ramsey Campbell (

“Again” was first published in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, November 1981 and has been reprinted numerous times.

Ramsey Campbell ( is a British writer considered by a number of critics to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. T. E. D. Klein has written that “Campbell reigns supreme in the field today,” while S. T. Joshi has said that “future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood.”

Says Campbell: “It can be argued that my timidity or at least my restraint is why I remain. I’ve never gone for broke and tried to write the most horrifying tale I can concoct, because I don’t quite see the point. To quote the critic David Aylward, as I very often do: ‘writers [of horror fiction], who used to strive for awe and achieve fear, now strive for fear and achieve only disgust’ – and it seems to me that too much straining for terror is wont to produce nothing more than a disgusting dump. If I can’t approach awe, I’d rather try for the other quality I value most in dark fiction, not exclusively in generic horror – a lingering disquiet. I may have felt that way ever since I first encountered Herman Melville’s ‘Bartleby’ in the 1957 anthology BEST HORROR STORIES and didn’t feel cheated out of any of the pocket money I’d saved up to buy the book. Soon I found the quality in work such as the novels of Thomas Hinde and Samuel Beckett, not to mention films such as Last Year in Marienbad and Los Olvidados. I see no reason why fiction packaged as horror can’t achieve these effects of disturbance and dislocation. One definition of good art is that it makes you look again at things you’ve taken for granted, and that can certainly be true of horror.” Ramsey blogs at Ramsey (

This week’s reader – Ant Bacon – is an actor and voice over artist based in Manchester & London in the UK. When he’s not acting he’s usually found in the kitchen or in the gym. He’s currently appearing in the play ‘Avoidance’ in the Greater Manchester Fringe festival on at The Kings Arms in Salford and Oldham Library Theatre. In August he’ll be appearing in ‘Diana and I’ on the BBC where he shares a scene with the phenomenal Tamsin Greig.

Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here (

All at once he was no longer sure that the groaning had been the sound of flies. Even so, if the old lady had been watching him he might never have been able to step forward. But she couldn’t see him, and he had to know. Though he couldn’t help tiptoeing, he forced himself to go to the head of the bed.

He wasn’t sure if he could lift the blanket, until he looked in the can of meat. At least it seemed to explain the smell, for the can must have been opened months ago. Rather than think about that—indeed, to give himself no time to think—he snatched the blanket away from the head of the figure at once.

Listen to this week's Pseudopod. (
Title: Re: PseudoPod 550: Again
Post by: GreySkies on July 12, 2017, 05:03:42 PM
I love the gradualness of this story, the way it sucks you in with a false sense of urgency and frustration before the (inevitable but still dramatic) ending.
Title: Re: PseudoPod 550: Again
Post by: Scuba Man on July 13, 2017, 12:25:04 AM
That was a BIZZARE ending. And god help me, I smirked a bit. Dammit Madam, you were too slow. You let your fresh meat escape!  My Next thought at the story's end... Sticks & stones might break my bones, but whips & chains excite me. Rough trade, indeed. Pshhh.   ::)  ::)
Title: Re: PseudoPod 550: Again
Post by: Bdoomed on July 13, 2017, 03:08:59 PM
Talk about sadomasochism right?
Title: Re: PseudoPod 550: Again
Post by: Ichneumon on July 27, 2017, 09:20:44 PM
Holy .... this was the most riviting and frightening story for me on pseudopod for a long time. The beginning was just so strange, I got sucked in. The mix of mystery and disgust made for some intense horror.
Title: Re: PseudoPod 550: Again
Post by: Metalsludge on July 28, 2017, 12:16:02 AM
This one is a bit of a classic among Campbell's stories, but it took me a while to warm up to it over the years since first encountering it. At first, it just felt like haunted house trip with a sexual assault edge to it, which I suppose it is on some level. But encountering it here again, I am forced to see how fun it really is as a wonderfully well written story.

Yet another menacing dead being appears in a Campbell story, yet, this time, instead of relying on a sense of mystery alone or hints of cosmic horror, the writer relies on grimly specific and even embarrassingly uncomfortable details to slowly terrorize the main character and draw in the reader. By the end, instead of a lingering sense of fearful mystery, practically the whole of the thing is laid bare, metaphorically and literally, and there is no comfort in the revelation. The main character isn't even curious about how an apparently dead thing can be moving around and lustfully playing with his terror, as it just doesn't matter at that point.

At the same time, the story is amusingly self aware, explaining how the character is straining, as a modern person might, to take in the scene with an open mind and a lack of judgment, only to discover at every turn that his worst judgments don't do the situation justice. It would be a comedy routine about the manners and self policing we try to engage in when in awkward situations, if it wasn't so ugly. Amazing stuff.
Title: Re: PseudoPod 550: Again
Post by: Katzentatzen on August 10, 2017, 02:28:05 AM
I'm all for gratuitous body horror, but this one nauseated even me! Bravo.