Reviewed by Stewart Horn
Iâ€™ve listened to most of Pseudopodâ€™s output over the last few years.Â Itâ€™s one of the best podcasts out there for consistent quality of fiction and professional production values.Â But a large part of its charm is the time we get to spend with long-time host, Alasdair Stuart.
Alasdair introduces each story, and each endcap includes a little essay based sometimes on the story directly, sometimes on issues raised, often something completely tangential – whatever sprung to Alâ€™s mind when he read the story.
This book is a collection of these essays.
Each little piece is a gem: insightful and intelligent, and I often find myself re-evaluating a story, or examining my own opinions or my whole life, based on Alâ€™s little snippets of wisdom.Â He has a knack for finding the points in genre fiction that resonate with real life, and heâ€™s not afraid to bare his soul to find that point.Â Itâ€™s perhaps the intensely personal moments that work best â€“ heâ€™s no longer analysing the work technically or artistically but telling us about the time he had a similar experience, or an equivalent decision to make.
Itâ€™s a brave strategy, to give so much of yourself to an international audience, but it works, largely because Al seems like such a likeable chap.Â There are times, when he talks about his childhood, his personal demons, his battle with his own body or his writing, when I want to give him a hug, buy him a pint and say Itâ€™s all right big fella, youâ€™ve got friends.
So for me, and for most Pseudopod fans, this book is a little treasure, and I hope it wonâ€™t be the last.Â I also think there is enough here to entertain those unfamiliar with Al, his blog and the show.Â His writing is always worth a look and I suspect this will be a popular Christmas gift for horror fans the world over.