Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

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StalinSays
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Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by StalinSays » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:59 pm

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Drabblecast 194
A Distant Sound of Hammers by S. Boyd Taylor
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The horn blares and the red light floods down over the Cragmer's Slaughter House sign and thirty feet below me the gates part wide like a huge and starving mouth. Then pours forth the herd...

S. Boyd Taylor
Kate Baker
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by themorg » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:16 am

If psudo pod had this quality of story every time it would win awards...like the drabblecast wins. Wonderfully scary and realistic horror that mad me feel the horror rather than tell me about the horror. Best hammer to start the new year with.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Franklin » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:49 pm

Yeah, this was pretty scary. I felt like it rushed through the bits where they were out in the rest of the world though. It seemed like the author just wanted to get that part out of the way and get back to the killing room. But that is fine with me. Those parts were good and horror-filled.

A great way to start the year.

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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Richmazzer » Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:27 pm

YOWZERZ, yeah, that was extremely well done. Very very very dark, hopeless, terrifying, consistent sense of dread. Norm seems to be reminding us that he and DC can do anything well, not just funny and bright. I very much enjoyed this one, even though I had to stop running errands and pull over to the side of the road to finish because it pulled me in so much.

Oh, and the reading was just phenomenal.

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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by SeldonCrisis » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:03 pm

Loved the story. Enlightened zombies, human farming, cannibalism, what more could a girl want? I do agree with Franklin in that parts of it seemed to be rushed, but the rest of the story makes up for that one shortcoming.

Kate Baker is phenomenal, mostly in that her voice and reading style don't distract the listener from the story. Her voice also very subtly gives a depth that need not be attained with over the top acting. Perfect for this story.

My only complaint with the narration is that Ms. Baker's "ss" sounds always hurt my ears a little bit. I don't know if this has to do with her recording equipment or the fact that I always listen to her narrations on headphones, but I constantly have to adjust the volume to maintain aural comfort.

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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Mr. Tweedy » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:43 am

Brilliant production, to be sure, and some interesting ideas, but this sort of story always falls flat with me. Everyone loses, everyone fails, and we understand that everyone will always keep losing and failing at everything forever, without a glimmer of hope (even a false one). The undead want to be living because they hate being undead and the living want to be undead because they hate being living, even though both know that the other way really isn't any better. The only state of being available for anyone is shame and suffering, which means nothing can ever really change. It's all static. There is a hammer everywhere, which means there is nowhere to go.

It remind me of China Meville's "The Scar." The story is chock full of spellbinding ideas, images, characters and conflicts, but in the end everyone loses and fails, and there isn't any moral, and so all the epic worldbuilding ends up feeling kind of pointless.

On the interesting ideas side, I liked the notion that what we think of as zombies are really just the first stage of a long process. The zombies only shout "BRAAIINS!" for a short while while their transformation is taking place, but their final state is decidedly more complex. The z's fear of "going feral" was the one thing in the story that I really felt empathy with. Sometimes I'm afraid of that too.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Unblinking » Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:20 pm

Great idea, I liked that the zombies were still rational, just different and I liked how they've created a religion and inquisition to keep their own in line. Great ideas, well executed.

I tend to agree with Mr. Tweedy, though, that the "no one has a hope for ever and ever" story fell a little flat for me, at least in this tale. I would've liked to see some hope, some resistance even if it is likely to be crushed, instead of the protagonist just yearning for nothing but suicide.

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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Phenopath » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:30 pm

I agree with Tweedy, this story was a tad unrelenting. However, I would also argue that cognisant zombies ain't zombies, perhaps rather necrotically challenged.
Mr. Tweedy wrote: It remind me of China Meville's "The Scar." The story is chock full of spellbinding ideas, images, characters and conflicts, but in the end everyone loses and fails, and there isn't any moral, and so all the epic worldbuilding ends up feeling kind of pointless.
But surely "The Scar" was redeemed by the island of the mosquito women.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Mikes » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:56 pm

Yep loved it. The story was wonderfully bleak, a fine mixture of police state and zombie apocalypse.

I loved Kate Baker's reading. I always know we're onto a good one one Escape/Pseudo pod when I see her name on the notes, but DC's production on this knocked theirs out of the water.

With this and Teddy Bears and tea Parties (my joint favourite DC cast of the year), S Boyd Taylor is getting up there with Tim Pratt, Samantha Henderson and Neil Gaiman for my favourite short story writers.

However... after all that I still think I preferred the Bside :D
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Etaan » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:00 pm

Well, that was intense. I had planned on commenting last night but I still hadn't gotten all my thoughts together.

I think that the thing that really strikes me about this world is the chicken. The chicken cubes play such a central roll, not only in the narrative but also in the greater mindset of the Z society. At the time of the Awakening, the world turning into what every zombie movie tells us it will be. Feral zombies running around like nuts, feasting on the newfound ambrosia of human flesh. The idea that they could then transcend this stage and regain a semblance of control, however, is the stuff of terror that is unique to this very well worn genre. Top marks for that alone. But how do they maintain that clearly tenuous hold on their "humanity"? Chicken.

Out of necessity, the Z's have turned human flesh into something of a delicacy. Raw chicken with human flavoring - the cube form is clearly meant to conjure images of tofu - gets them by and high grade human is limited to preserve supplies and prevent remission. But think about that. There are zombie farmers. Zombie mechanics and trade schools. It would appear that the Church of Lord Zachary - with its inquisition enforcers - has supplanted any sort of organized government now that a standing army is no longer needed, but there used to be zombie soldiers and zombie bureaucrats. The Z's have a fully functioning society held together by a common cause. But unlike human society, the cause isn't an improved quality of life. It is to hold the maddening chaos of feral remission at bay by their collective force of will.

I would love to know how the chicken solution came about. Was it a mandate from the government, handed down from on high by Lord Zachary or some academic and free market breakthrough? I love the "tofu" solution, since it leaves the focus on the Z's obsession with human flesh. They don't bother raising other livestock because they don't care about variety. They simply want an abundant meat source that can be easily flavored.

The one glaring error of the story is her wardrobe. Mr. Taylor has some great imagery of a functioning society still dressed in filthy rags, forced to be unconcerned about their appearance due to the terrible disfigurement that some of them suffered when they were turned. But the idea that Jodi is still wearing the same gore stained clothes that she owned decades earlier borders on the absurd. If they can get Z's to keep cars on the road, keep the power on and run the factories that produce canola oil, why can't they replace a 40-year-old blouse?

There is a lot more swirling around about the captive humans, the cure, the Church, the visceral imagery, but I'm going to take a break. Good chance I won't be able to put many of these thoughts down in a coherent manner anyways. Suffice it to say, I loved this story. I think I like it more now than when I started writing this post.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by danthelawyer » Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:24 am

The story wasn't too bad, I guess. I gotta tell you, I am so bored with zombies. This gave the genre at least a glimmer of originality and interest, but it started at such a deficit for me that I could never quite get into it.

And Kate Baker's narration was unfortunately her usual monotone. Comments from other posters make clear that this is a personal thing for me, but I find her style so irritating that I quit the Clarkesworld podcast after just a few episodes. Oh well.

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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by strawman » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:57 pm

This one taught me to pay attention to the opening disclaimer. If Norm says it's gross, from now on that means to me it is fit only for desensitized hardcore addicts. I guess that's the whole point with zombies, but after Sean of the Dead it seems they were clownified, which I think is appropriate and amusing.
Zombie Horror seems a kind of porno.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Mikes » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:56 pm

danthelawyer wrote: And Kate Baker's narration was unfortunately her usual monotone. Comments from other posters make clear that this is a personal thing for me, but I find her style so irritating that I quit the Clarkesworld podcast after just a few episodes. Oh well.
I think Kate's delivery is very suited to this kind of story. But another, say Clown Eggs, yeah I don't see that working.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by normsherman » Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:58 am

strawman wrote:This one taught me to pay attention to the opening disclaimer. If Norm says it's gross, from now on that means to me it is fit only for desensitized hardcore addicts. I guess that's the whole point with zombies, but after Sean of the Dead it seems they were clownified, which I think is appropriate and amusing.
Zombie Horror seems a kind of porno.
Oh yah, I only disclaim when A. a story drops Fbombs or language NSFW or B. when I really think it just needs disclaimadge. And after giving a sex content warning for Curse of the Alien's wife and even Mr. Tweedy said "what?! That ain't nothin' to get hot and bothered about!" I have dropped my disclaimer radar pretty low. :)

I think desensitized is probably the wrong word though. Implies a numbness that I doubt anyone who enjoys anything will probably have.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by tbaker2500 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:28 pm

strawman wrote:This one taught me to pay attention to the opening disclaimer. If Norm says it's gross, from now on that means to me it is fit only for desensitized hardcore addicts.
I learned that a while ago. That's why this one isn't going to get listened to until I'm in an appropriate state of mind.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by bolddeceiver » Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:43 pm

I did like it, but I'll admit that the best of this story was the first half -- the gut-turning discovery as the premise and background of this world revealed itself -- and after that the rest sort of felt played out. That's a risk that an inversion-based, idea-driven story like this runs, though, and overall it was pretty amazing.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by tbaker2500 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:20 am

Okay so I tried it, but had to bail shortly in. Just too sickening.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by tamarbucks » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:35 pm

Heard the disclaimer and rushed to dry my hands to hit forward on the touch screen, but stopped when I heard the name "Kate Baker"!

Such lovely prose for such a gruesome lament. A sweet fit for Kate's melancholy precision in sharing brave new worlds.

I listened twice, attempting on the second round to uncover relevant plot details - most all of which eluded me. I assumed this was not the story but my short attention span and tendency to fall entranced with the melodious tones of Kate's voice.

Yet on the second listen, I lost the plot again. And I didn't really need it or even want it anymore. It just sucked me right back in; trapped, primal and raw - waiting, waiting, waiting for the hammer. Consume and obey. So "what's a little maggotiness" from time to time?

So hungry. Just one more bite from S Boyd Taylor.

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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by themorg » Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:55 am

tbaker2500 wrote:Okay so I tried it, but had to bail shortly in. Just too sickening.
So i went for this sweet jump but i Bailed...

PS i am just joking because it was an easy one to bail on...especially when they talk about the chicken.
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Re: Drabblecast 194 - A Distant Sound of Hammers

Post by Unblinking » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:44 pm

Random side thought: a disease causing a craving for human flesh makes some sense, since our species eats meat, and this is just a specific kind of meat. But why the urine? Why does urine make the chicken taste better? I don't know of any animal that intentionally pees on their own food (though it's possible that I'm just unaware). Also, if the zombification is just a virus, wouldn't zombies have to pee too? And wouldn't their urine be pretty much the same as human urine?

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