Author Topic: PseudoPod 535: ARTEMIS RISING 3: The Lady with the Light  (Read 3924 times)


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PseudoPod 535: ARTEMIS RISING 3: The Lady with the Light

by Mel Kassel

“The Lady with the Light” was published originally in For Mortal Things Unsung in February 2017.

Mel Kassel writes dark speculative fiction and comedy in Chicago. She has a new horror review/writing blog, What Scared Me, as well as a humor-focused twitter account (@MelKassel). Her personal website can be found at

This week’s reader – Jon Padgett is a professional—though lapsed—lesser ventriloquist who lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter, and two cats. Padgett has work out or forthcoming in Pseudopod, The Lovecraft eZine and Xnoybis. Padgett’s chapbook, The Infusorium, was released in spring of 2015, and his first short story collection, The Secret of Ventriloquism, was released by Dunhams Manor Press in Autumn 2016. If you run right now, it’s available as a free eBook. For a few dollars more you can add the audiobook on top of that. Completely worth your time.

YOUR SPECIAL GUEST HOST THIS WEEKSetsu Uzume spent her formative years in and out of dojos. She also trained in a monastery in rural China, studying Daoism and swordplay.'

She is a member of Codex and SFWA and her next story will be available in Grimdark Magazine in a few short weeks. While she has dabbled in many arts, only writing and martial arts seem to have stuck.

PseudoPod wants to draw your attention to an anthology that dovetails nicely with Artemis Rising.

Sycorax’s Daughters, is a new volume of dark fiction and poetry and it is our understanding that this is the first horror anthology written entirely by Black women. It explores the intimate details of cultural nuance, race, and gender. Sycorax’s Daughters mission is to work “as a visionary space where Black women explore horror on their own terms.”

Those familiar with William Shakespeare’s The Tempest may remember Sycorax. She is an African sorceress operating as “the absent presence” throughout the play. While never on the stage, she is influential. She haunts the white male characters. She refuses to be excluded from the story.

While we’re talking about anthologies, let’s mention For Mortal Things Unsung.

If you liked “Standard Procedure” by Dagny Paul at the beginning of this month or “The Lady with the Light” by Mel Kassel, you should go pre-order our anthology. Both of those stories were originally published in our 10th anniversary anthology. If you backed our kickstarter, your copy showed up in February. If you missed out, it will be available for purchase at the end of March for your reading pleasure.

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

I’m enthralled when I arrive at the house in Hawaii. I see so many things that my mother would call “wonders”: sea turtles heaving themselves up from the surf, leaving clumsy sand–angels; jellyfish dying slowly in the sun; seaweed pods that burp out air, the breaths that they held for years.  

Not everything is a wonder, of course. There are fish bones and dollops of seagull shit and women with floppy hats who coo over shells. But the ocean still surprises me. It coughs up newness now and again for me to discover, usually in the morning, when I leave the cat chewing on his food and walk down to the shore.

I establish a routine to keep myself from seeking out other tourists: wake up, walk along the beach, write for a few hours, eat lunch, watch a movie, go to The Log for dinner and exactly two beers. The people at The Log encourage me to bring in fresh pages for them to read aloud. To them, writing is a grand gesture, the mark of a man who can assemble his thoughts in a secret language. I tell them that the book is bad, and they don’t care.

The book is bad. It’s worming itself out of me like a mucus. Better to spit it than swallow, but when I look at it, I’m disgusted. The main character is a detective. I’ve never met a detective, but I’m pretending to be Reggie Barns, a person who holds a pistol without wondering what to do with his thumb.

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


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Reply #1 on: March 26, 2017, 04:34:54 PM
I enjoyed this story very much. It played well on my internal change of view about mermaids since Cabin in the Woods. It also reminded me of a little audio drama I had the pleasure of being in a couple years ago:


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Reply #2 on: March 31, 2017, 09:41:47 PM
I loved this story. So horrific, original and richly layered.

I enjoy body horror when it transports meaning and goes for terror rather than disgust. Here, the concept was uniquely terrifying on its own; the fact that the story could be interpreted as a metaphor about codependent relationships, addiction or simply the parasitic aspects of the creative process just deepened the terror further. Sometimes we want to be absorbed by something and give up responsibility, even if we get lost or diminished in the process.


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Reply #3 on: April 03, 2017, 05:12:30 AM
I asked the wife what she thought about the story. She said "My arms hurt."

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


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Reply #4 on: April 04, 2017, 06:19:30 PM
It was hard at first to get into this, but it slowly creeped into me.  It felt like a more classic ghost story with a more science fiction bent, like saying the man with the hook was actually an alien.  I do think knowing about the angler fish really was helpful in enjoying the story more, as I got kind of confused by what the lady gained from him and what happened to the previous man.  The bar was a bit of a distraction and that whole scene where the bartender noticed his arms was a little out of place, though I guess it established how changed he really was.  I'm just going to make sure that I avoid any lanterns I see on the beach at night.


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Reply #5 on: April 05, 2017, 03:38:33 PM
Oh hell yes anglerfish mermaid. So amazing. His gradual loss of self was pretty enthralling.

"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."


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Reply #6 on: May 04, 2017, 03:16:34 PM
When the 'woman' first appeared I was afraid this would be a Lovecraftian story, but I'm glad it wasn't. I like Cthulhu stories sometimes, but you basically know where they are going from the beginning. This story was different and unexpected! I really liked the emotions she displayed, she wasn't evil, she was strange and different.