PseudoPod 540: The Dog Pit

by Jason Fischer

 

“The Dog Pit” first appeared in “Cthulhu: Deep Down Under” and is soon to be reprinted in the “Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2015”. “The Dog Pit came about as a story for the Australian-themed Cthulhu anthology “Cthulhu: Deep Down Under”, and was inspired by some history tours I took around Sydney. I’ve long had a fascination with colonial-era Australia, and the colourful old gangs of the Sydney Rocks area were just begging to be used in a horror setting. Sydney is an odd place, old in terms of European settlement, and incredibly ancient for the Indigenous peoples who lived in the region prior to first contact. The idea of these layers of humanity sitting above an eldritch horror seemed to gel, and of course we writers are lucky that a few Aussie Cthulhu mythos beasties can be used and reused. So enter the dingo creature Kurpangga, trapped beneath the earth for a million years…”

JASON FISCHER is an award-winning Australian author. He has published dozens of short stories, with a novel, a short story collection, comics and computer game work also under his belt. He enjoys competition karaoke, and loves puns more than life itself. His website can be found at jasonfischer.com.au.

This week’s reader – Barry Haworth – works as a statistician for the Australian Taxation Office. He holds a Masters degree in Statistics. Outside of work he is a keen reader of science fiction and enjoys choral singing and taking part in amateur theatricals, having performed such roles as Prospero in The Tempest, Major-General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance, and Ebenezer Scrooge and Marley’s Ghost in two different versions of A Christmas Carol.

Barry has narrated episodes of Cast of Wonders, Escape Pod, Pod Castle and also the Cheap Astronomy podcast. He lives in Brisbane, Australia with his wife Sylvia, those of his children who haven’t left home yet, and whatever the current quota of pets is.


Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here.


The Dutchman finally found the boy out on the gold diggings.

Being close to seven feet tall and as broad as an axe-handle at the shoulders, Cornelius Tesselaar was an instant curiosity in that place of mud and slap-shacks. His frock-coat and good boots spoke of a man more used to cobbled streets than a fossicker’s warren. He wore a top-hat, the good silk kind, and peered around him through a pair of expensive bifocals that by themselves would earn him a knifing if he stayed too long.

A quiet word and a handful of coins led Cornelius to the nearest opium den. He swept open the hessian sack that served as a doorway, and stood blinking at the thick cloud of smoke that drifted out.

“Toby Jangles,” the Dutchman boomed, striding inside. A dozen faces stared blankly at the man, even as he stepped over their sprawled bodies. One or two furtive shapes slinked away from the doorway, creeping into the furthest shadows of the clapboard shack.

PseudoPod 525: Cold Print

by Ramsey Campbell

“Cold Print” first appeared in TALES OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS in 1969.

RAMSEY CAMPBELL is a British writer considered by a number of critics to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. T. E. D. Klein has written that “Campbell reigns supreme in the field today,” while S. T. Joshi has said that “future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood.”

Says Campbell: “It can be argued that my timidity or at least my restraint is why I remain. I’ve never gone for broke and tried to write the most horrifying tale I can concoct, because I don’t quite see the point. To quote the critic David Aylward, as I very often do: ‘writers [of horror fiction], who used to strive for awe and achieve fear, now strive for fear and achieve only disgust’ – and it seems to me that too much straining for terror is wont to produce nothing more than a disgusting dump. If I can’t approach awe, I’d rather try for the other quality I value most in dark fiction, not exclusively in generic horror – a lingering disquiet. I may have felt that way ever since I first encountered Herman Melville’s ‘Bartleby’ in the 1957 anthology BEST HORROR STORIES and didn’t feel cheated out of any of the pocket money I’d saved up to buy the book. Soon I found the quality in work such as the novels of Thomas Hinde and Samuel Beckett, not to mention films such as Last Year in Marienbad and Los Olvidados. I see no reason why fiction packaged as horror can’t achieve these effects of disturbance and dislocation. One definition of good art is that it makes you look again at things you’ve taken for granted, and that can certainly be true of horror.” Ramsey blogs at Ramsey Campbell.com.

Your narrator – Paul S. Jenkins – runs a skeptical podcast – “Skepticule”


Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here.


GOOD BOOKS ON THE HIGHWAY provided shelter; he closed out the lashing sleet and stood taking stock. On the shelves the current titles showed their faces while the others turned their backs. Girls were giggling over comic Christmas cards; an unshaven man was swept in on a flake-edged blast and halted, staring around uneasily. Strutt clucked his tongue; tramps shouldn’t be allowed in bookshops to soil the books. Glancing sideways to observe whether the man would bend back the covers or break the spines, Strutt moved among the shelves, but could not find what he sought. Chatting with the cashier, however, was an assistant who had praised Last Exit to Brooklyn to him when he had bought it last week, and had listened patiently to a list of Strutt’s recent reading, though he had not seemed to recognize the titles. Strutt approached him and inquired ‘Hello—any more exciting books this week?’

The man faced him, puzzled. ‘Any more—?’

‘You know, books like this?’ Strutt held up his polythene bag to show the grey Ultimate Press cover of THE CANING-MASTER by Hector Q.

‘Ah, no. I don’t think we have.’ He tapped his lip. ‘Except — Jean Genet?’

‘Who? Oh, you mean Jennet. No, thanks, he’s dull as ditch-water.’

‘Well, I’m sorry, sir, I’m afraid I can’t help you.’

‘Oh.’ Strutt felt rebuffed. The man seemed not to recognize him, or perhaps he was pretending. Strutt had met his kind before and had them mutely patronize his reading. He scanned the shelves again, but no cover caught his eye. At the door he furtively unbuttoned his shirt to protect his book still further, and a hand fell on his arm. Lined with grime, the hand slid down to his and touched his bag. Strutt shook it off angrily and confronted the tramp.

‘Wait a minute!’ the man hissed. ‘Are you after more books like that? I know where we can get some.’ ”