Pseudopod 072: Heavy Rains

By Andrew Nicolle

Read by Amanda Fitzwater

The place we’re heading for is called Island Lagoon, smack-bang in the middle of the South Australian Outback. It looks like everything else out here in the bush: dry, dusty, the odd saltbush scattered along the plain. But I know this place is different.

First, the name is a bit inaccurate. You’d think a place called Island Lagoon would have some water, or maybe some swampland. It doesn’t. Not usually, anyway. Most of the year it’s just a dry saltpan, and if you blinked, you’d probably miss it.

Sometimes though… sometimes after heavy rain it turns into a salt lake. And when it does, things can get disturbed.

January 12th, 2008 10:55 am

it’s 1:30 am right now. i settled into bed and began listening to my pseudopod as i do every week. I only got 7 minutes through this one before i reached a level of outrage that forced me out of bed and onto my computer.
to start, the accent is unbearable. I don’t mind alisdair’s british accent, but this thick new zealand accent is driving me nuts. It’s an australian based story and the new zealand accent is neither necessary nor accurate. secondly, i am a proud australian and consider the stereotypical bullshit i’ve heard so far slanderous. it really gets to me. i can accept it in the general media but when i find it in the psudopod i know and love (and have donated to, no less), i feel insulted.
i’m not going to listen any further to this podcast, which is a first for me. i understand that pseudopod tries new things and that you can’t please everyone but if you wouldn’t mind, a) stay away from the aussie stereotypes if you can and b) keep the accents(more or less) conservative. thanks.

January 12th, 2008 12:34 pm

Like tom I was rather disappointed in this story. I’m not sure wether its the Skippy Vs. Kiwi thing but I found that the narrators accent like dragging nails down a chalkboard. That I can Live with. However, The ‘rhythm’ of the story seemed to be lost in the narration. It really just seemed to be randomly punctuated groups of words, which got to me more.

The Stereotypical bullshit was fine though. Growing up in areas like that, yeah you have those sorts of people there. “proud australian” or no, the narration really didn’t do the story justice, and it makes me sad to say it.

January 12th, 2008 7:55 pm

I agree that this story does contain a cliche or two too many (speaking as an Ozstralian), and that the narrator is just grating, but I’ve seen this story in written form, and found it quite effective in its overall imagery and emotional resonance. Unfortunately, in this case, let down by the production.

January 13th, 2008 8:40 am

I can’t speak to the Aussie cliches, but I must agree about the narrator. Sorry to say, her accent was so heavy I couldn’t finish listening.

January 14th, 2008 12:32 am

I like the accent. I suppose this might be because I don’t find it hard to understand her when she talks. As to it being grating, Perhaps this is partly because it’s an unfamiliar accent to American ears.

I liked the story–I love the Lovecraft/Australian Outback connection (although, as such, shouldn’t the town have horrible hybrid denizens and moldering old houses? :P).

Having said that, I do think it needs more rewrites. My main complaint is that often the storyteller speaks as if he’s doing a first person internal narration instead of telling a story to someone. The language is too formal and “writerly.” For instance “I sighed and wiped at the tears running down my cheeks.” isn’t something that sounds like a verbal tale being told.

January 14th, 2008 2:15 am

I’d agree with nearly everyone who commented, the narrator was a distraction that took away from the story rather than added to it. The story itself wasn’t mind blowing either, just so-so.

January 15th, 2008 3:09 pm

I agree with Matt, the rythem of the story was off, the beats seemed misplaced. Plus, the narrator seemed like she was talking to loud, and her voice was too strong. It was too distracting.

January 16th, 2008 6:27 pm

My big problem with the narrator wasn’t necessarily that the accent made it incomprehensible. I could understand what was happening, at least.

My problem was that it was… a bit out of place? It’s a story being told by a male Ozzy, read by a female Kiwi. It took me a bit to understand that the narrator character was male, not female.

Also, hard to be scared when the reader has such a cute sounding voice.

January 16th, 2008 8:12 pm

I didn’t mind that the first person reading was cross gender, or even that the accent didn’t fit. Narrators don’t have to *be* any or all of the characters to be effective. I did find it distracting that she sounded so very cheerful while the protagonist was describing traumatic events. Even with the ‘twist’ at the end, in order to make the trap work wouldn’t the protagonist have come across as upset at least?

Audita Sum
January 18th, 2008 7:02 pm

I had no idea that the narrator was supposed to be male, but I didn’t mind the accent itself. The cheerfulness was a bit odd, though.

The story wasn’t my favorite thing ever. I mean, it was okay, but I guess it just didn’t speak to me.

January 21st, 2008 3:10 pm

I enjoyed this story and the performance. I l liked both the authorial voice and the readers voice. I thought the reading was well done.

Particularly in the first half there were lots of nice setting details and a nice balance of description and exposition that made me feel immersed in the location, which is something I personally am after in reading a story, plus I felt worked very well for this tale.

Small points were that the nature of the narration lessened the tension once or twice. I thought an amazing end point to the story was the line, “I’m the one it spoke to,: but considering the way it ended both the end point and choice of narration make sense to me now.

I loved the turn of events in the second half and the injection of the aboriginal aspect to this. I’m looking forward to reading more stories by this author . Thanks to psuedopod for bringing us this story and reading. I look forward to more stories like this from around the world !

January 24th, 2008 8:47 pm

Well, Daniel concluding with an exclamation point is pretty much how I heard every damned thing read in this story. With excitement!

Also, as Pat pointed out: “It’s a story being told by a male Ozzy, read by a female Kiwi. It took me a bit to understand that the narrator character was male, not female.” Bingo. But, this is basically in keeping with the low standard that pseudopod has of selecting the wrong narrator for nearly each story. Aussies reading American stories, Americans reading British stories, and now women reading first-person narrative male’s stories. Would it kill y’all to put a little thought into this beyond who your friends who can help you out are?

Also, the frame story wasn’t very clearly delineated by either the writing or the narration. I’m not sure which. I kept constantly having to remind myself that the story I was hearing wasn’t the one to which I had begun listening, but framed within that one. I dunno. It just didn’t work.

The accent was irritating, because it’s close enough to Aussie to my American ears to fool me most of the time, but then certain words are spoken that yanked me out of the story whip-fast, and that’s the worst criticism of any reading. Taking the listener out of the story. The accent did it, the narrator being female and not making any effort to make a character voice, and constantly having to remind myself that this was a frame story.

At least I could actually hear this one. Escape Pod is running some stories that sound as if they’re being recorded from within a metal garbage can.

You can do so much better, ‘pod. Just try a little, mmmkay?

February 19th, 2008 4:39 pm

Jesus, her imitation of an american accent is horrible. It’s best to not even try to imitate another country’s accent unless you can do it flawlessly; Hugh Laurie is an example.

Mari Mitchell
April 28th, 2008 8:36 pm

Spork never likes anything. At least he/she is never moved to comment unless they have something negative to say.

May 5th, 2008 9:18 pm

I’m going to have to join with the minority on this one. I loved this story, and barely noticed the narrator after the first minute or so. This was the first pseudopod I listened to that really creeped me out (granted, I started in October).

June 24th, 2008 10:42 pm

I only recently discovered the ‘pod and I absolutely love it. Most of the stories, readings, and productions values are great.

This one is among the rare exceptions. Nothing personal against Ms. Fitzwater but her reading of this piece was simply awful.

I wasn’t bothered by the Aussie stereotypes (didn’t even notice them) nor by the fact that the protagonist was male.

What made the story unbearbale was the delivery. It wasn’t the accent; it was the INFLECTION. As someone pointed out, nearly every sentence ended in an exclamation mark! Worse yet, exclamation marks seemed to appear in the MIDDLE of sentences. Her voice rose with emphasis in all the wrong places, and unfortunately rendered the “feel” of the tale ridiculously out of sync.

July 22nd, 2009 6:18 pm

She was awfully happy about the death and violence.