This PseudoPod episode is narrated by Linda Hamilton. You know, she plays Sarah Connor in the Terminator franchise? THAT Linda Hamilton. She doesn’t just read the story or animate the dialog, she brings a cinematic quality to every line for the duration of this 30+ minute episode. It’s a real delight.
But what is an Oscar-worthy performance without something memorable to perform?
“MEAT” by Xander M. Odell is unforgettable.
Sometime in mankind’s future, the survival of our species rests in the scarcity of fertility. Some people are able to procreate and carry a baby to term but the odds are slim. We meet Ollie, a “Reproductive Worker” desperate to have scheduled “Sex Time” with a man named Charlie because she is convinced he will get her pregnant. If she is unsuccessful too many times, her fate is bleak.
All of this scheduled sex isn’t happening in a clincal environment or some kind of medical facility. Our species has also devolved into developing a preoccupation with meat so the setting of this story is a dirty, low-budget, industrial meat processing factory.
Meat & Sex.
The people are not well physically or mentally.
Odell does an exceptional job immersing the reader in the environment through detailed descriptions of smells and visuals. The combination of sex acts and meat processing presents unsettling parallels in the minds of readers.
Ollie’s desperation for a baby is palpable. Dystopian terror quickly transitions into body horror as she tries anything to make herself desirable to Charlie.
As the intensity builds, our narrator, Linda Hamilton, does an amazing job communicating emotion to the listener. Ollie’s fragile mental state is sliding off the rails. It’s painful to hear the inner thoughts of a mind riddled with paranoia and obsession. Her interactions with other characters in the story are just so sad. She’s met with indifference, manipulation, and disdain.
A bleak look at humanity devoid of empathy or any emotions at all apart from just basic survival instincts.
MEAT is a cautionary tale. A look at the objectification of women in society. A viable, female available to entertain male lust with perfect physically attractive qualities. Fertile on demand; able to carry/deliver babies but not mothers. Nurturing babies isn’t sexy. Procreation without the burden of relationship, support or emotional energy.
It’s fascinating to me how a talented writer can impact their audience in such a short amount of time. I will never forget the story of MEAT and I will recommend it to others who enjoy dystopian, psychological, body horror.
About the Authors
Sadie Hartmann is known as Mother Horror on social media. She writes horror fiction reviews and other content for Cemetery Dance and SCREAM Magazine as well as Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram and other social media platforms & publications.
Xander M. Odell lives in Washington state with their husband, sons, and an Albanian miniature moose disguised as a dog. Their work has appeared in such venues as Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, PseudoPod, Cast of Wonders, and PodCastle. They are a Clarion West 2010 graduate, and an active member of the SFWA.
Their collection of speculative fiction holiday stories, THE TWELVE WAYS OF CHRISTMAS, and debut short story collection GODFALL & OTHER STORIES are available from Hydra House Books.
Support them on Patreon at: http://patreon.com/writerodell