For Your Consideration 2019: Original PseudoPod Fiction in 2018

Show Notes

We’re running a poll to see what were your favorite stories of 2018. Vote here:

For your consideration we present the Escape Artists stories that ran in 2018 which are eligible in the upcoming award nomination season.

Below are links to some aggregation projects, where fans are building lists of those eligible in the various categories. They’re great tools, and we’d like to thank all the contributors for their  efforts. When it’s ready, we’ll also link to our Wikia page, containing links to all the eligible Escape Artists stories.

The list of individual stories for PseudoPod follows in order of publication: (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 628: A Spider Trapped in Wax

Show Notes

This story was first drafted for a Hallowe’en story contest in the Codex writers group, based on two story seeds provided by Merc Rustad and Stewart C. Baker: “A spider with legs dipped in wax sits atop yards of black lace” and “In the centre of the mansion, there is a room with windows”, respectively. The basic idea was pretty easy given such foundations, and the first draft came out suspiciously easily, but as usually happens with these things I didn’t fully realise what I was writing about until two or three drafts in. As my kids grow up into individuals, with their own challenges and celebrations, I’m increasingly aware of the way I come across as a father, and the ways in which we–I–inevitably repeat the mistakes and successes of our own parents–because what other example do we have to learn from? Some of those lessons are sunk in so deep you don’t even realise they’re there. Though I’m fortunate in never having known the sort of physical or emotional cruelty shown in the story, there are other aspects of who I am and how I react that I struggle to keep in check. It’s worth the effort, though; to be honest, I can’t think of any effort more important. How else will the chain ever be broken?

A Spider Trapped in Wax

by Matt Dovey

Lindom Hall was a cold place; a lonely place; an empty place of stone and echoes. Margaret had her servants, of course, but they hardly counted. She had grown used to the silence, perhaps, but never truly comfortable with it.

Yet now that her son was returned at last to the Hall, she took no solace in the company.

“Mother, please,” he said. “It is not so much money to ask for, is it?”

She shook her head as she crossed the entrance hall to him, her cane clicking on the hard wooden floor. “It is not the amount,” she said, brushing an autumn leaf from the felt brim of his hat. “It is that you ask at all.” (Continue Reading…)

The Clan Novel Saga: Ravnos

Clan Novel: Ravnos covers events that start immediately after the end of the Setite book, and fits nicely with it, particularly since both were written by Kathleen Ryan. The events start on July 28, 1999 and continue through October 12 of the same year. It is Book 8 in the original clan novel saga, and was published in January 2000. This book was another of the highlights of the series, and the skillful character work makes me hunger for more fiction from Kathleen Ryan.

Our primary Ravnos is Khalil, who was extracted from Calcutta during the Setite novel. A few more Ravnos make appearances, but they have all been killed by the end of the book. Apparently, most of the clan has been destroyed by the awakening of some very powerful old vampire, which is possibly the founder of that clan. And frankly, it’s probably him stepping in to correct one of the game system’s most tragically baked-in bits of racism. The clan is primarily Romani in origin, and their clan curse is a compulsive need to lie, cheat, and steal. This is not the best look for the World of Darkness, so it’s better to destroy them all and allow something else to arise from the ashes. Kathleen manages to sidestep some of the worst of this by having Khalil be an Indian of the Untouchable caste, and the book probes the edges of that different set of culturally reinforced classism. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 627: The Grave by the Handpost

Show Notes

This episode is sponsored by J.R. HAMANTASCHEN (who podcasts at The Horror Of Nachos And Hamantaschen) and his new story collection A DEEP HORROR THAT IS VERY NEARLY AWE. 

This is J.R.’s third collection, and his best yet, featuring eleven frightening, challenging stories of strange horror. This collection cages a menagerie of quiet human horror that inhabits territory in both magical realism and bizarro underpinned by sardonic humor.

As he moves into longer forms, Hamantaschen views this collection as a fitting encapsulation of the themes and motifs he’s explored in his short fiction, and a showcase of the styles that worked best in his previous two collections. In particular, the final novella in this collection is hopefully enough of an impetus to get you to read the whole book.

This plus his previous two collections, “You Shall Never Know Security” and “With a Voice that is Often Still Confused But is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer” are all available in digital form for less than $10, so consider spending some of those gift cards here. (Such as at AMAZON or your purveyor of digital content of choice.)

The Grave By The Handpost

by Thomas Hardy

I never pass through Chalk–Newton without turning to regard the neighbouring upland, at a point where a lane crosses the lone straight highway dividing this from the next parish; a sight which does not fail to recall the event that once happened there; and, though it may seem superfluous, at this date, to disinter more memories of village history, the whispers of that spot may claim to be preserved.

It was on a dark, yet mild and exceptionally dry evening at Christmas-time (according to the testimony of William Dewy of Mellstock, Michael Mail, and others), that the choir of Chalk–Newton—a large parish situate about half-way between the towns of Ivel and Casterbridge, and now a railway station—left their homes just before midnight to repeat their annual harmonies under the windows of the local population. The band of instrumentalists and singers was one of the largest in the county; and, unlike the smaller and finer Mellstock string-band, which eschewed all but the catgut, it included brass and reed performers at full Sunday services, and reached all across the west gallery.

(Continue Reading…)