PseudoPod 467: Doc

by V N Winnick.

“Doc” is original to Pseudopod

V. N. Winnick is a writer and editor living in Canada’s oil money heartland, if such a thing can be said to have a heart. They have written on sex, arts, and culture for various local magazines (including GayCalgary and Beatroute), done editorial work for the venerable EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Press, and had several children’s educational books published. Oh, and they’re a slusher for Pseudopod, too. This story is V.N’s first published fiction.

Your narrator – Wilson Fowlie has been reading stories out loud since the age of 4, and credits any talent he has in this area to his parents, who are both excellent at reading aloud. He has been narrating stories for more people than his own family since late 2008, when he answered a call for readers on the PodCastle forum from PodCastle’s then-editor, Rachel Swirsky. Since then, he’s become PodCastle’s most prolific narrator, reading or appearing in nearly 30 episodes. He’s also narrated for many other podcasts, including PodCastle’s sister ‘casts, Escape Pod and Pseudopod, StarShip Sofa, Protecting Project Pulp, Crime City Central, Tales To Terrify, Beam Me Up, Cast Macabre, Dunesteef Audio Fiction magazine and the Journey Into… podcast. He fits in all this narrating between his day job as a web developer for a tech company in the Greater Vancouver area in Canada, and being the director of a community show chorus called The Maple Leaf Singers.

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It’s the first time they’re making me do it, and I’m giving the man a speech. One I’ve practiced in my head from the moment they told me what needed to be done.

“I’m not a doctor. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in zoology. That’s the study of animals. I was pretty good with animal anatomy.

“I’ve never operated on a person, or anything living. You’re my first patient, and this is my first amputation. My hands are probably gonna shake. This is gonna be slow, and it’s gonna hurt a lot, because I’ll have to learn as I go. Other than that, no promises.

“You’re really, really sure you want me to do this?”

My head swivels about, looking at the rest of the group as I ask the question. I guess I want it to be a waiver; something to absolve me of responsibility when this whole, lunatic notion eventually goes pear-shaped, as I have no doubt that it will. To my complete astonishment, my “patient” nods, and says between shallow breaths, “Go for it, Doc.”

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Pseudopod 366: To Build A Fire

by Jack London.

“To Build A Fire” originally published in The Century Magazine in August, 1908. It is an oft-cited example of the Naturalist movement that portrays the conflict of man vs. nature. It is also reflects what London learned in the Yukon Territory. It can be read here

JACK LONDON (1876-1916) was an American writer best known for outdoor adventures like THE CALL OF THE WILD, many of them permeated with a sense of terror and the sublime. As a young man, London dropped out of the University of California to tramp the country, sail the seas, and brave the hardships of Alaska’s Klondike gold rush. Much of his fiction celebrates a brawny life force; his heroes triumph over the extremes of physical adversity through raw strength and will, or else they succumb, in the end, to the pitiless forces of nature. London eventually became a convert to socialism and, in THE IRON HEEL (1907), depicted a 1930s America ruled by a fascist dictatorship. Yet unquestionably his most fiendish villains are the shadowy revolutionary cult in THE MINIONS OF MIDAS (1901), who, preaching an extreme form of Social Darwinism, attempt to extort millions of dollars from the nation’s industrialists by the random murder of scores of ordinary citizens. Mankind, in London’s fiction, can be every bit as pitiless as nature..

Your reader this week – Wilson Fowlie – has been getting more and more into voice work ever since 2008, when he read his first story for Podcastle. He recently lost his full-time job, so he’s actively looking for paid voice work. If you like the way Wilson tells a story, snap him up quick! And if you’re in the Vancouver, Canada area – or even if you just love a good show chorus – check out The Maple Leaf Singers, the group he directs. You can find them at their own website or their Facebook page.

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“At twelve o’clock the day was at its brightest. Yet the sun was too far south on its winter journey to clear the horizon. The bulge of the earth intervened between it and Henderson Creek, where the man walked under a clear sky at noon and cast no shadow. At half-past twelve, to the minute, he arrived at the forks of the creek. He was pleased at the speed he had made. If he kept it up, he would certainly be with the boys by six. He unbuttoned his jacket and shirt and drew forth his lunch. The action consumed no more than a quarter of a minute, yet in that brief moment the numbness laid hold of the exposed fingers. He did not put the mitten on, but, instead, struck the fingers a dozen sharp smashes against his leg. Then he sat down on a snow-covered log to eat. The sting that followed upon the striking of his fingers against his leg ceased so quickly that he was startled. He had had no chance to take a bite of biscuit. He struck the fingers repeatedly and returned them to the mitten, baring the other hand for the purpose of eating. He tried to take a mouthful, but the ice-muzzle prevented. He had forgotten to build a fire and thaw out. He chuckled at his foolishness, and as he chuckled he noted the numbness creeping into the exposed fingers. Also, he noted that the stinging which had first come to his toes when he sat down was already passing away. He wondered whether the toes were warm or numb. He moved them inside the moccasins and decided that they were numb.

He pulled the mitten on hurriedly and stood up. He was a bit frightened. He stamped up and down until the stinging returned into the feet. It certainly was cold, was his thought. That man from Sulphur Creek had spoken the truth when telling how cold it sometimes got in the country. And he had laughed at him at the time! That showed one must not be too sure of things. There was no mistake about it, it was cold. He strode up and down, stamping his feet and threshing his arms, until reassured by the returning warmth.”

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