Pseudopod 92: The Sloan Men

By David Nickle

Read by Cunning Minx

Mrs. Sloan had only three fingers on her left hand, but when she
drummed them against the countertop, the tiny polished bones at the
end of the fourth and fifth stumps clattered like fingernails. If
Judith hadn’t been looking, she wouldn’t have noticed anything strange
about Mrs. Sloan’s hand.

“Tell me how you met Herman,” said Mrs. Sloan. She turned away from
Judith as she spoke, to look out the kitchen window where Herman and
his father were getting into Mr. Sloan’s black pickup truck. Seeing
Herman and Mr. Sloan together was a welcome distraction for Judith.
She was afraid Herman’s stepmother would catch her staring at the
hand. Judith didn’t know how she would explain that with any grace:
Things are off to a bad enough start as it is.





Full text available here



This week’s episode sponsored by Audible.com, who has extended their generous offer of a free audiobook download of your choice from their selection of over 40,000 titles.


01
May 31st, 2008 2:02 pm

…and the moral of the story is:

Protect your man-roots, boys.

02
May 31st, 2008 7:17 pm

I thought the moral was, “Don’t let your girlfriend meet your parents.”

03
June 1st, 2008 11:18 pm

What’s WRONG with her?!

Eh, I like that story. Not a -lot-, but I dunno.

04
Wyrd
June 2nd, 2008 3:26 am

This was a very good story. In particular–the specific choices of words and phrasing kept making it clear that you couldn’t just assume that you knew what was going to happen next.

It also seemed as if I were listening to an “audio-ized” version of a comic book. I mean, I wonder if the author is perhaps familiar with that medium.

—— about the Closing Comments

The first few paragraphs of the closing comments started off really funny, but then ran long. Still good to listen to, just–kind of long.


Furry cows moo and decompress.

05
June 3rd, 2008 9:02 pm

Wow. Gives new meaning to codependence.

06
Ogion The Silent
June 4th, 2008 2:21 am

I love all that Lovecraftian “ancient evils spawned in the bowels of the Earth” stuff. This was beautifully set up and written with a neatly ambiguous twist at the end.

Incidentally, I’ve always though of myself as an F&SF person first and foremost. But since subscribing to the thee escape-artists pods I’ve been finding more and more that it’s the pseudopod stories that really grab me. I think I may be turning to the Dark Side,

07
Amazing Steve
June 4th, 2008 6:37 pm

In the next episode we’ll hear all about the Sloan women, who look like Sarah Jessica Parker and draw their power from an underground garden full of venus-flytrap vaginas.

08
June 6th, 2008 3:10 am

Damn, Amazing Steve, I just got a visual on that… And I even came up with a name for it:

Veg-ina Dentada

09
Luniara
June 6th, 2008 9:39 am

I wasn’t expecting that ending. This story drew me in perfectly. Awesome choice of wording by the author and WONDERFUL story telling by the reader. I think she is one of my new favorite readers on pseudopod!

Can’t wait for today’s cast!!

10
June 6th, 2008 9:03 pm

That was what a lot of people said on Boing Boing, about this story, not expecting the ending. But I did see it coming.

From my posted comment on Biong Boing about this story:

I think of the story as an observational piece about the evolution of relationships, with just enough fantastic remove to keep readers/listeners involved.

I think that the ending made sense if the story is an allegory about some aspects of the male/female power dynamic in relationships. In the beginning, the men dominate the relationship, in spite of their actual repulsive nature, until their talismanic phalluses are destroyed and drained of their vital fluids. Then, the women have to maintain the relationship with their powers of accommodation and acceptance.

The moral for men: Endear yourself, or buy a lot of Viagra.

11
AmazingSteve
June 6th, 2008 11:04 pm

Oh, wait. Herman…Her man. It only took me a week to get that one : )

12
Spork
June 10th, 2008 6:15 pm

I give this story a resounding…meh.

Why couldn’t we have been SHOWN his control over her, instead of being TOLD all about it?

13
June 13th, 2008 3:36 pm

In this case telling worked.

14
Spork
June 14th, 2008 10:25 pm

I don’t know if I’d go that far, Scott.

I’ve been thinking about this story for a while now. I think maybe I was wrong. The telling to which I referred earlier, wasn’t exactly telling. Flashbacks are just as much showing as anything else, and since she had to explain her flashbacks to her future mother-in-law, she had to tell some bits.

So, while there was showing, I still couldn’t get into this thing. But, I was wrong to nail it for the whole show/tell thing.

15
June 27th, 2008 7:54 pm

Wow, that was a really good, creepy story. I’m not even sure exactly how but between the reader and the author, I was really drawn into it all. I wasn’t expecting that ending but in hindsight, I probably should have been.

Totally agreed with the Doctor Who reference in the closing comments. Funny how a silly camp sci-fi show can strike a strong emotional chord =p

16
Fluffy Bunny
June 30th, 2008 1:05 pm

Best evar. Thank you.

17
Sgarre1
July 9th, 2008 10:58 pm

Excellent story! Excellent.

Pretty much everything I would have said has been said already (including the mispronunciation of Thalidomide) but I’m happy that between this and “Sons of Carbon County” there does seem to be some intelligent, actually scary horror showing up on Pseudopod.

Ambiguity in an ending is good if the story is well written. I fall on the side of people who feel that’s she’s either still in thrall or, alternatively, that her “love” is actually just a realization that she’s got the upper hand and wants nothing more than to care for a helpless monster. Maybe, it’s a little of both. I don;t actually see much of a reason for her to kill Mrs. Sloan unless she was about to kill Herman (I can’t remember).

I can’t really accept that she actually “loves” him, in the generally understood sense of the word, because for that to work we’d have to actually have experienced more of him to understand why she’d feel that way. And the story works better with him being a cypher.

Special kudos for “…I do” being the last thing said. A phrase that has undone many a love affair…

“Quote from: Kevin Anderson on June 02, 2008, 09:51:47 PM
Really liked this one. I thought it interesting that Mrs. Sloan was unable to break away on her own, and could only do so with the solidarity of another woman. If all women banned together I wonder what they could make of this world. Couldn’t do any worse….”

“Quote from: bolddeceiver on June 03, 2008, 01:17:22 AM
Wow, your comment suddenly makes the story read to me as a total allegory of “post-feminism” — the women both fight against oppression, but in the end the woman of the younger generation chooses to return to the monster (literally) that so mistreated her, totally giving up all that she achieved with the aid of the woman of the older generation…

Wow, I’m reading WAY too much into this.”

A sharp reading! Excellent.

Thanks for listening

“An infinity of passion can be contained in one minute, like a crowd in a small space.”
Gustave Flaubert – MADAME BOVARY

18
Mari Mitchell
August 1st, 2008 4:31 pm

I thought the reading was rushed and I love that you could read the story. But I liked the tone of her voice and felt it fit the story well.

Personally I liked the story.

19
Mike G
October 28th, 2008 1:16 am

I just listened to this story and it was brilliant. Excellent atmosphere via word choice and character description, deft manipulation of the story line so as to maintain excitement and interest, and a lovely reading by the narrator. Bravo.