It is my opinion that each individual writer of the Pseudopod family is worthy of a complete write-up in their own right. That is not within my purview however and I will leave that honour to Pseudopod's presenter Alistair. It is his task after all and besides which, he does it so well.
Each of these pod casts begins with a lovely heartbeat/mood music intro and then Alistair give us a thorough rundown of the Author of today’s story. When I say thorough, I mean thorough. We are told all about the history of each one, their awards and accolades (Of which there are many), what it is that they are currently working on and sometimes, with a little glance into his crystal ball, where the writer is going.
After that we are treated to a brief synopsis of each story and sometimes the reason that the story came about. This is more than enough. As I said - Alistair does it so very, very well.
294. Demon Rum. (34 mins) Somewhat ironically the narrator of this story has, what I would call, a whiskey soaked voice slightly softened somewhat by a hint of the James Earl Jones about it. As the tale is called Demon Rum and it is a horror story it is set pretty much where you would expect; in a dingy dockside Naples Taverna, in the dead of night and lit only by a waning moon and candlelight.
Our world weary sailor enters with that desperate need for one more drink but he is refused. Confused, it is explained to him by the rather sinister bartender that his money is no good here. That you cannot buy the things in here, you must trade for them. A tale. A story for a shot. A fair deal to a thirsty man, is it not? But it cannot be some shaggy-dog that has been passed from a friend of a friend. No. Not here. It must be a truth about your life. A tale of yourself. A little piece of life that has made you…..you.
This is a pod cast that has everything about it. The writing is sublime and the vocal casting is perfect as Dominic Rayburn takes us through each twist, turn and shadow until we finally find ourselves there with him, hanging on every word, gasping for that drink.
This doesn’t put a foot wrong as far as I am concerned and when you add to it the production value and its thirty-five minute length. (Just enough for a sandwich and a cuppa) it makes this particular pod cast one of the very best that I have heard. Not a step out of place. Rating:- 5/5
There may be no actual suicides at the end of this story but the same question is played out here. This time, however, Romeo can do something a little extra special. Everything THIS particular angst ridden teen draws comes true.
Horror or not this is a very well written story. Our narrator tells it with heart and a matter of fact drawl that lends this whole bundle a professional believability that I find hard to fault.
Is it a Horror Story? Depends. Is it well packaged and delivered? Yes! Is it worth a listen, horror or not? Most definitely!! Give this one a try if you can. Just don’t expect…..the expected.
296. The Squat. (42 mins) When a teen runs away from home, and no happy teen runs, then you find yourself outside in a world that narrows itself down into the Beasts that need to fed and the prices that you are willing to pay to feed those beasts. The names of these beasts? How about hunger, fear, addiction, shelter, companionship and……well, as this story points out, there are other, even hungrier beasts.
Now we come to the price list. Here this pod cast does not shy away. All of the costs are itemised. Self respect, self worth, back-stabbing, under-age homosexual prostitution and murder. And what do you do when you discover that the price of your friends’ survival…..is you.
I have a lot of respect for this pod cast. It is unflinching and uncompromising. All of the bones of what is barely even a life are laid bare. As a tale it is fine, but that is about it. Perhaps the world has moved on and we are all a little wiser. Perhaps I have become jaded. Whichever it is this story told me nothing that I did not already know and the horror house element does very little to add anything extra to a life on the street that is a horror in its own right. Rating:- 3/5
298. The Long Road To The Sea. (42 mins) Unfortunately the narrator sounds to have absolutely no emotional connection to anything to this story. Whether this is to reflect the story, as it is told from the viewpoint of the re-animated dead or not, it took a lot of concentration to stick with this story from the beginning.
Travelling in a world after a mysterious collapse, the Convoy is a creator of Zombies. They don’t bring with them a killer virus, nor do they bring an infected horde of biters and clawers, no, not at all. They bring with them medicine and technology. Their arrival is a source of joy. The broken and dead, once simply disposed of, are now set back on their feet again. Once more a productive, if somewhat limited, member of society.
It is a situation which everybody considers to be fine. But what are the rules now? Where are the boundaries? Is it possible, in this world, for a young girl to find lust, or even love with a past romance? With a creature that is dead in every respect except the barest of thought and locomotion? When bandits attack, how expendable are the already expended? And finally - would you give your life for the already dead?
This actually turns out to be a fantastic story. Well written and well thought out. The narrator finally seems to get himself involved about half way through and this really adds to the sheer momentum.
If you like to think about the morals and the ethics of where medicine could take us and wonder to yourself about just how quickly the horrific can become the celebrated, then this is the story for you. Rating:- 3/5
Pseudopod is a very, very good place for horror podcasts. It seeks out the best stories from the best authors and, on the whole, fits the ideal narrator to them. Their podcasts are always understated rather than overblown and most of the stories chosen have that very special element to them that makes you consider them long after they have finished. Apart from The Long Road To The Sea at the end they are all ones that will grab your attention rather than you having to force your attention towards them. I have been listening to Pseudopod for quite some time now and, I have to say, they just keep getting better and better.
I have, in past times, had to do a little background work with the Titles and the Genres so that all of the podcasts would ground themselves in the same section on my mp3 but apart from this I have never had any complaints with the way that this broadcaster is set up.
If you like horror to think about, that has originality and verve, then these are the people for you. Overall Rating:- 4/5
Find out more about Pseudopod at pseudopod.org
You’ve found the world’s premier horror fiction podcast. Pseudopod brings you the best short horror in audio form, to take with you anywhere.
WARNING: This is a podcast of horror fiction. The stories presented here are intended to disturb. They are likely to contain death, graphic violence, explicit sex (including sexual violence), hate crimes, blasphemy, or other themes and images that hook deep into your psyche. We do not provide ratings or content warnings. We assume by your listening that you wish to be disturbed for your entertainment. If there are any themes that you cannot deal with in fiction, that are too strongly personal to you, please do not listen.
Pseudopod is for mature audiences only. Hardly any story on Pseudopod is suitable for children. We mean this very seriously.
Review by Peter G Staff (Pod-Master General)