Friday, October 31, 2008

"The Keeper" by Ken Goldman

Source: Pseudopod
Length: 29 minutes
Reader: Alasdair Stuart

The story: For Halloween, I've picked a creepy horror story in the could-be-real vein of The Silence of the Lambs or Cape Fear. In this gruesome story, the mentally retarded keeper of a lighthouse kidnaps a young lady and takes her back to his tower. She fights back with all her wits and wile, but will it be enough to keep her alive?

Normally, I don't read this type of story. Graphic violence turns my stomach, whether it be in the horror, science fiction, or crime genres. Occasionally, however, I allow myself a peek into a darker world (Jack Wakes Up, for example). I think part of this is a morbid curiosity that is widespread among all human beings, as evidenced by the traffic jams caused by people rubbernecking at a wreck on the other side of the freeway. Secondly, and more philosophically, depictions of graphic violence in literature and entertainment allow us to embrace physical suffering and violent death as part of the human condition in sort of a memento mori of pain. Lastly, I think part of the attraction of gruesome horror is an effort to confront the things we fear, like a self-imposed variation on the exposure therapy that psychiatrists use to help people with fear disorders. Of course, there's not really much difference between inhibition of a abnormal over-response to fear and a habituation to gore to the point that things which should scare us no longer do. What's medicine for some can be poison for others, so I try to take care to keep my dosage of violence low.

Rating: 6/10

The reader: Pseudopod generally retains the high production values of its sister podcasts, Escape Pod and PodCastle. This story is no exception in being very well-produced, with low noise and good sound. Alasdair Stuart speaks clearly with a English accent. He gives some voice to the characters, but is sometimes strangely flat when the action is more emotional. This can be a bit disconcerting, but also adds somewhat to the creepy atmosphere of the story.

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