Pseudopod

Unsettling Chapters: Pseudopod

The apocryphal saying goes, “May you live in interesting times.” Indeed, the publishing world is in something of a fugue state these days (or should we say the past decade).

But rather than a curse, I consider it a good thing. I’ve found that I prefer reading magazines and newspaper articles on my Nook.

Programs and Web sites like Calibre, Byliner and Instapaper have made long-form journalism accessible to wider audiences, and audio books and podcasts have opened up new literary avenues for both writers and readers.

The latter, in particular, have made it possible to “read” while driving or drifting to sleep.

And when it comes to audio horror, Pseudopod stands head and tentacles above the rest.

Launched in 2006, Pseudopod recently broadcast its 300th episode… and the body count continues to rise. Featuring weekly short stories from contemporary horror authors, occasional flash pieces and periodic classics, the podcast has something for everyone.

There are brilliant tales of ultraviolent, existential horror (“Counting From Ten,” “The Duel”); grim philosophy (“Some Things Don’t Wash Off,” “What Dead People Are Supposed to Do”); dark fantasy (“Goon Job,” “Full Moon Over 1600”); adventure, both internal and external (“The Primakov,” “The Greatest Adventure of All”); and Lovecraftian weird (“Hometown Horrible,” “Jihad Over Innsmouth”).

Those are only 10 of the 300-plus stories Pseudopod has produced, and the chills keep coming. Former editors Mur Lafferty and Ben Phillips seem like old friends, and host (and an initial contributor) Alasdair Stuart is in the class of Rod Sterling and Jack Palance. I’m awed, weekly, by his haunting delivery and thoughtful post-story editorials. Even when the featured story is so-so, Stuart’s commentary alone is worth the listen.

The podcast is free, and may be downloaded through a program such as iTunes. You can also access the entire archive of stories at the Web site.

Despite being free, Pseudopod is a professional, paying market, and it runs on donations from listeners. My suggestion, especially if you’re new to the program, is to order the archive discs (which also make great gifts). Sure, I’ve got my favorite episodes on my computer, but by purchasing the discs, I have a permanent hard copy and have supported a great cause at the same time.

Other must-listen stories include “Raising Eddie,” “Bag Man” and “The Hand You’re Dealt.” But with a few hundred stories to choose from, this podcast has something for everyone’s Halloween hit list.

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