Pseudopod 90: The Exhibition

By Melinda Selmys

Read by Heather Welliver

This was the first time in over a century that Garnet had found the courage to attend an exhibition. In those days the fashion had been deliberate deformity; men made with the faces of beasts, or misshapen into the likeness of a turning screw. The art of it had been to make the most severe possible departure from the human form, without creating something too monstrous to be viable; apparently, things had grown worse in a hundred and fifty years.

“Give us a blessing, little mother,” the man standing next to Garnet said to her. He clearly fancied himself a critic of the arts, dressed in the new-style – layers of expensive cloth and furs draped so that they loudly proclaimed the wealth of one who could afford natural fabrics, while doing nothing to clothe or obscure the body of the wearer. His laugh was as joyless and acerbic as bubbling vinegar.

“That one only blesses monsters,” his companion, who was neither male nor female, sipped its wine and ran its fingers along the surface of the blood-drenched ice.

This week’s episode sponsored by The Shadow Pavilion by Liz Williams, out now from Night Shade Books.

May 17th, 2008 3:15 pm

Are you sure that wasn’t a flash?

I don’t know what to say about this one. I think it was more Sci-Fi than horror. I found the idea of the world interesting, but it wasn’t typical good Pseudopod to me. Sorry.

May 17th, 2008 9:04 pm

This sounded like flash, had the same “glimpse into the life, no need for a conclusion” of a flash.

Definitely a flash.

May 19th, 2008 2:17 pm

I agree that it was more scifi than typical. However, I enjoyed that fact; we have too much fantasy horror here and not enough scifi! It was a little short but I feel the author got the point across. Good work, keep it up.

May 19th, 2008 4:09 pm

I couldn’t make it through this story. I gave up after 10 minutes. The concept of mutilated bodies and people made of clay wasn’t coming together for me.

Still, it was much better than what I have ever written.

Also, it could be considered a flash.

Ogion The Silent
May 20th, 2008 2:43 am

A nice little diversion from the tedium of my morning bus ride to work – there’s nothing quite like a methodically mutilated but still-living body to wake you up in the morning. But when it comes to horror I’m still more of a spirits-of-the-unquiet-dead type.

May 22nd, 2008 12:33 pm

I liked this one. Well read and nicely written. It did feel like I was listening to a very very dark episode of escapepod – Now escapepod’s turn to do a horror story.

May 23rd, 2008 10:42 am

liked the story, liked its evocation of modern industrialized life, although in that regard its analysis was simplistic. It may be flash but its images will certainly stay with me for a while.

begin fangirl gushing: ((

But what really made it for me was Alasdair Stewart’s afterword. Yes, he’s added an extra dimension to a number of stories, but I really loved what he said here. You go Alasdair!

)) end fangirl gushing

Sound quality at the beginning at bit dodgy however. Then again, I’ve heard worse.

Steve Cooper
May 25th, 2008 2:08 pm

I also quit some way in, but only because it seemed a bit too sci-fi for my tastes.

Another shout for Al. He does a great job putting the stories into context, and his fiction is well worth seeking out itself.

May 25th, 2008 6:57 pm

Nope–nothing for me.

May 26th, 2008 7:29 pm

Still trying to figure it out. So, she had betrayed her lover? And this was partly why she hadn’t gone to The Exhibition? This really needed more development.
But, hey, I’m still thinking about it — enough to come to the forums to see if anyone else had insights into what it all was.
On the other hand, I didn’t like it enough to listen to it again to figure it out. Yeah, still living mutilated bodies aren’t so much my thing …

May 28th, 2008 6:40 pm

It was alright. I thought the part about people made out of various things was cool, but the whole exhibition was pretty far-fetched. It would’ve been better with a couple of disgruntled human rights activists picketing the place.

May 28th, 2008 9:33 pm

Gross-out scifi as horror? No, thanks.

I couldn’t finish this stupid story about people made out of clay torturing people for “art.” It all struck me as just so freaking…dumb.

I have an idea. Why don’t you start running good stories again?

July 8th, 2008 9:57 pm

This one falls into that strange area for me – stories I think I’d like better if I read them myself. Same thing happened with “The Language Of Crows”.

I’m not one for world-building (I think true horror works best as little alterations in the real world) but you could definitely feel this writer was serious, so I appreciated the focus. Still, so much interiority is tough to bring across in a reading. Not that the reader wasn’t good, just that, as I said above, it’s tough to beat the experience of [i]reading[/i] some types of stories.


Thanks For Listening

“Dr Sass…maintained that in paradise, until the time of the fall, the whole world was flat, the back-curtain of the Lord, and that it was the devil who invented a third dimension. Thus are the words ‘straight’, ‘square’, and ‘flat’ the words of noblemen, but the apple was an orb, and the sin of our first parents, the attempt at getting around God. I myself much prefer the art of painting to sculpture.”
Isak Dinesen, “The Monkey” (1934)

July 18th, 2009 4:26 am

I love the tantalizing hints of the culture and society of the clay people (golems?) lurking around the corners of this story. It’s my favorite type of world-building, the kind that insinuates and nudges rather than laid out in clinical detail (like those poor creatures in the exhibition.)

“Her blessings are only for monsters,” indeed.