Author Topic: Pseudopod 131: Tales of the White Street Society - The Corpse Army of Khartoum  (Read 18390 times)

H. Bergeron

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Trust me, whilst my Scottish accent is terrible my American one is...well...terrible to the power of awful.


Really, I can't complain about the accent for a character who is explicitly American, just because the entire rest of the story sounds absolutely hilarious when you read it.

Formerly Ignoranus - now too big for my britches, literally and figuratively.


kenryan

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Oh God...Oh God the SINGING...the endless SINGING...

(Sorry for the late post - catching up on my podcasts)

You know how sometimes you get a song stuck in your head and can't get it out?

I did not know the songs you sang, nor could I make out the words.  BUT I could NOT get the song out of my HEAD!   FOR TWO DAYS!!

Thank you, Alasdair, for bringing out the TRUE essence of horror!



Pheron

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This was a kick-butt story. It's one I am going to use to try and hook more friends into listening to the 'pod.

Narration was pitch perfect, no way a Kindle could have read this one.




birdless

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This is one of those that, coming in late as i did, i don't have anything to add by way of commentary, but just had to remark how much i enjoyed it!



Ben Phillips

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Trust me, whilst my Scottish accent is terrible my American one is...well...terrible to the power of awful.


Really, I can't complain about the accent for a character who is explicitly American, just because the entire rest of the story sounds absolutely hilarious when you read it.

Mostly we give these to Al because A) he wants them, and B) his delivery is, in fact, hilarious and well matched to them, as noted.  But I will also point out that (as I understand it with my admittedly limited knowledge of such detailed history) high society people in the US in the early 20th century and before -- and I think particularly in New England -- often did either have or affect some semblance of a British accent, whether because they recently immigrated, hung around with people who did, had pretenses of such, or some combination of the above.  Hopefully somebody better informed can confirm or correct me on this.



csrster

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Like one of the earlier commenters, the first comparison which came to my mind was Flashman. The reference to "the fuzzies" also brought a brief Dad's Army flashback (they do not like it up 'em!). However thinking somewhat more deeply about it I realise that Augustus really recalls some of those villainous English occultists from Charles Williams' novels, who may in turn have been based on real-life occultists like Aleister Crowley and the Golden Dawn.

I also agree that Hendrix is treading on fairly tricky ground here - touching on imperialism, islamic fundamentalism, "orientalism", 19th century racial attitudes etc. Good for him - good writers need to take chances. This was one of the most entertaining Pseudopodcasts I can recall, and Alasdair's hilariously wobbly accents only added to the fun. I can't wait for more from Hendrix.

(Btw, was I listening carelessly or did von Slatten manage to be both Austrian and Prussian? Or was he a Prussian who happened to be Austrian Ambassador?)



Zathras

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Finally finished this one today.  I'll be the Voice of the Opposition here.  I haven't enjoyed either of these.  To me they hearken back to the "Golden Age" of radio.  Unfortunately, they missed the mark.  I listen to classic radio shows, and these seem to try to grasp the feeling, but miss the mark.

And there it is, a big, fat MEH.



gelee

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I'll have to disagree.  I thought both the "White Street Society" stories were great takes on the early-20th century style of weird fiction, as written by guys like Algernon Blackwood and Lovecraft.  The second story was all the better, in that the parodied protagonist realized the absurdity of his attitudes and actions.  Also, reading was spot on, even though I did snicker a bit at the "I am an American" line.  I really couldn't imagine anyone else reading this one.



Zathras

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Gelee,

I'll not argue the writing, but the end result didn't quite hit the mark.



Russell Nash

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I thought Al's singing was spot on.  What else would like severed head of an Evangelizing General sound like?

And thanks for giving the ending to Blackadder IV.  I borrowed he whole set from Wherethewild and I'm only up to Blackadder II.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2009, 07:46:41 PM by Russell Nash »



DarkKnightJRK

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Great story--horrific and hilarious (loved the line, "Sure your arms and legs will grow back, just give it time...and drink more whisky...").

I do agree that the ending here doesn't quite match the horror of the last one, because here the main narrator (not the guy telling the story, the other guy...bah you know what I mean) actually gets what's so horrible, whereas the last guy was completely oblivious and actually thought from that odd ghost story that the Irish were going to destroy God's Country.

Still not a bad story at all. I hope more tales of these magnificant, racist bastards are to come in the future. :D



Barkin

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I found particularly haunting the parallel to an old Arthur C Clarke series of shorts called 'Tales of the White Hart', a bar where a very Augustus-esque fellow, 'Harry Purvis', a little less amoral but still amoral, telling a good tale. Almost all of the tales end in the impossible invention discovered in the course of the story being destroyed, convenient to the continuity world we know, as is the manner of all such pub tales ....

Except for one, 'Patent Pending', which ends in the terrible applications of the brainwave device extant, exploited, and that things will change greatly, terribly, for the sake of a dollar.

Great story--horrific and hilarious (loved the line, "Sure your arms and legs will grow back, just give it time...and drink more whisky...").

"How many children does your sister have?"
"... Some"

I do agree that the ending here doesn't quite match the horror of the last one, because here the main narrator (not the guy telling the story, the other guy...bah you know what I mean) actually gets what's so horrible, whereas the last guy was completely oblivious and actually thought from that odd ghost story that the Irish were going to destroy God's Country.

As an Irishman myself, the only thing better than the fundamentally hilarious accents was the concept of a potato homunculi.

Having had to do no small amount of reading about abolitionist culture for various history degrees, I have to say the singing would have kept me gleefully sane after many a midnight's study.

Still not a bad story at all. I hope more tales of these magnificant, racist bastards are to come in the future. :D

Most definitely!

Reminds me of this oddly-encountered fellow:

http://flannelcrat.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/twitter-fitzwilly-flannelcat-daftwager-von-quatloo-the-third/

Seems mad, quite mad.



Unblinking

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I didn't care for this one at all, though I seem to be the only one.  This is one of the only stories I haven't finished listening to, though I did give it 20-some minutes.  The beginning was just so slow with nothing to draw the interest, and it didn't really pick up from there.

I did really enjoy the part just after he jumped ship and abandoned his companions, and his bland and mundane retelling of their execution.  I thought that was pretty funny.



kibitzer

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@unblinking -- you're not the only one ;-)


Scattercat

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See, I liked these a lot.  On the other hand, I'm a huge fan of P.G. Wodehouse and all I could picture throughout both White Street Society stories was Bertie Wooster bumbling around trying to deal with supernatural horror.

Pity there's no Jeeves to fix everything in the end...



Fenrix

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Loved the line "A zombie jihad armed with weaponized faith."

More White Street Society and stories of their ilk, please.

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


Millenium_King

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Hah!  I loved it.  With a few caveats...

The Good:

It was a wonderfully entertaining "period piece" that read like a slightly more grotesque version of Indiana Jones, The Mummy or King Solomon's Mines.  It was a good adventure story with plenty of movement and just enough "over-the-top-ness" to keep one listening.

The Bad:

The language was not particularly strong.  No particular phrase stuck with me, so I think it kept this piece down in the "decent" pile rather than up in the "excellent" pile.  The intro and framing device were rather long.  I would have just preferred a start on the Nile River in the boat.  The last image was horrific enough.  I disagree with our intrepid host on this one: the story could have cut out with the image of the head and the ticker-tape.  If that had been painted a little more vividly, it would have been the perfect capstone for this piece.  There was no need to write a heavy-handed epilogue about the "evils of money," it would have been apparent just from the image.

Finally, I really pulled for the main character the whole time.  It was pleasant to read about someone with a real ruthless streak for once.

Visit my blog atop the black ziggurat of Ankor Sabat, including my list of Top 10 Pseudopod episodes.


Fenrix

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After listening to all three stories, I am quite comfortable placing them smack in the middle of the Tall Tale category. Tall tales are America's greatest contribution to short fiction, and the White Street Society fits nicely within that. The style is very complementary with stories like Ambrose Bierce's "Oil of Dog" considering the fantastic happenings and the characters utterly oblivious to their horribleness.

Al's a perfect choice for narration, as his comedic timing and dry delivery is fantastically appropriate for the story. In addition, I'll add onto the British accent for the elites in the northeast during the time period. Anglophilia was a common trait, so I find an accent a believable affectation for any of the characters.


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


Grady Hendrix

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Thanks for all the comments on the story - for some reason I'm terrible about weighing in on these comment threads. I hope people get a chance to listen to the new White Street Society story, "The Yellow Curse." There's a bunch of background info about the story, why I wrote it, and the history it's based on, over here:

http://www.gradyhendrix.com/the-yellow-curse/



kibitzer

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Thanks for all the comments on the story - for some reason I'm terrible about weighing in on these comment threads. I hope people get a chance to listen to the new White Street Society story, "The Yellow Curse." There's a bunch of background info about the story, why I wrote it, and the history it's based on, over here:

http://www.gradyhendrix.com/the-yellow-curse/

Thanks for dropping by! Always great to hear from the author.


Fenrix

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So yeah. During the episode of Doctor Who tonight, they started to sing the hymnal "Bring me my bow of burning gold..." Both me and the wife stopped and verified what the other was thinking. We had to pause to recover, because neither of us could hear the show as we were both calling to mind Alasdair's phenomenal rendition of "Jerusalem" in this episode.

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