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Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2013 10:11 pm
by strawman
Feature: Headlife by Margaret Atwood
Genres: Horror

Image

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
“Everything on the list,” says Quentin.
“Expensive,” says Dr. Derwent. “You’re sure?”
“Dave, I own this fucking place,” says Quentin. He’s taken to swearing more as the decades have worn on. An inhibition thing disappears out of the brain with age, he’s read that somewhere. Angry old men capering around in their institutional PJs, dribbling pee and yelling at the nurses. That won’t be me.
“So, everything?” says Dr. Derwent, smiling his unctuous ass-kissing smile. He seems nervous. Hope he’s not on drugs, wouldn’t want those pricey fingers to slip.


Episode Art: R.J. Smuin

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:30 pm
by tbaker2500
I thought they were going to regen him AS his competitor. But, this works, too. It's a shame, I really liked Quentin.

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:04 pm
by strawman
tbaker2500 wrote: It's a shame, I really liked Quentin.


Hmmm, there's more to St. Tom than meets the eye. :lol:
I wonder if the #2 guy at the laser gun factory might be giving Tom's hot secretary the smiling wink...

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:26 pm
by tbaker2500
St. Tom also likes sarcasm. :-)

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 10:08 pm
by Varda
Uh, this story was amazing. I think it's exceptionally hard to pull off such a thoroughly hate-able protagonist, but it worked well as a revenge fantasy visited upon a man full of sick, twisted revenge fantasies for his weird, entitled butt-hurt. There is something especially delicious in how his comeuppance amounts to putting his horrible inner thoughts on display for general mockery and entertainment, and playing back the thoughts to him as well. Has that ironic Dante-esque punishments of hell feel.

BTW, Norm, I've been floored by the quality, quantity, and selection of the B-sides as a subscription incentive. While I probably would've donated anyway, it definitely makes me feel like subscribing was more than worth my while. Thanks for putting this stuff together for us. :D

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 10:49 pm
by Algernon Sydney is Dead
Oh, come on! Nobody's yet called this story "Thought provoking"?. ;)

Worth a listen for a dark side of the "Brain in a bottle" trope, but I had a hard time buying it.

Guys who make it to the top by being A-holes (Harvey W., Rahm E., etc.) are not so easily duped in cases like this. Ol' Quentin would have had lawyers, and probably hitmen, on hot standby.

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:15 pm
by Varda
Algernon Sydney is Dead wrote:Guys who make it to the top by being A-holes (Harvey W., Rahm E., etc.) are not so easily duped in cases like this. Ol' Quentin would have had lawyers, and probably hitmen, on hot standby.

Yeah, good point, but then where would the fun be?

Last month I started slush reading elsewhere, and I think the thing I really love about this story is that it reminds me of the worst of the worst of the worst in the slush pile, where some guy writes down his bizarre, misogynistic fantasy and actually sends it to another human being (and a stranger at that) to read and to pay money for. That's how Quentin's werewolf thing reads, and the bit about how he's going to rape the nurse. The real fun's that Quentin is actually getting an audience for his "stories".

To Quentin's credit, though, he never actually wrote them down, so perhaps he's not really all that bad on the balance. ;)

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:22 pm
by strawman
Varda wrote:To Quentin's credit, though, he never actually wrote them down, so perhaps he's not really all that bad on the balance. ;)

As Mae West might have said, "Are you glad to see me, or is that a tongue in your cheek?"
In fact, the concept of this story reminds me a great deal of reading the slush pile.
My precious wife is an uncommonly good intuitor of people's hearts, and it occurs to me that this story can cut both ways. Those with the gift of insight are already tuned into the Headlife channel. This would make for an interesting and more realistic horror concept, IMO. My wife is not always right, as if her receiver has an imperfect antenna. But imagine someone who could actually tune in clearly to the thoughts of others. How long could you stay sane?
Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt in What Women Want - Geez, they took the great horror concept and blow it on a romantic comedy!!! Well, I suppose those are the horrors of the times we live in.

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:15 pm
by Varda
Sheesh, your poor wife! I wouldn't wish an automatic Headlife channel on anyone. Heck, I'm not sure I'd even want my own thoughts played back to me. I imagine I would find myself less likable than I hope to be. Yeah, that would be a great horror story.

I really am trying to decide where Quentin ranks against the worst of slush. Is it worse to have such awful fantasies and keep them to yourself, or to have the fantasies, write them down, and email them to a total stranger with the expectation that it will be bought, produced, and distributed to the unsuspecting masses? Then again, in "Headlife" Quentin really does seem like he intends to fulfill at least some of his fantasies, so maybe it's worse, depending on whether the hypothetical slush author also intends to make his fiction less fictional at some point in the future. =/ We should ask your intuitive wife to weigh in!

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 9:26 pm
by strawman
My wife only weighs in after doing electronic sweeps to ensure that there are no other intuitives present. Part of the intuitive's horror is never knowing when someone might be browsing through you.

BTW, Have you considered Twabbles to be Short Slush?

Two second flashes into the subconscious. I'm thinking Clockwork Orange type aversion therapy for intractably normal persons.

Re: Bsides 32 – Headlife

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:15 am
by Varda
:lol: If a Twabble ever achieves bottom-of-the-slush pile proportions in 100 characters, I don't know who I'll call first: the Nobel Prize for Literature committee, or the police. Maybe both, just to be safe.