The Pseudopod Tapes 1 by Alasdair Stuart. Book review

pseudopodTHE PSEUDOPOD TAPES VOLUME 1, by Alasdair Stuart, Fox Spirit, p/b, £4.99.

Reviewed by Stewart Horn

I’ve listened to most of Pseudopod’s output over the last few years.  It’s one of the best podcasts out there for consistent quality of fiction and professional production values.  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 Al’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 Al’s little snippets of wisdom.  He has a knack for finding the points in genre fiction that resonate with real life, and he’s not afraid to bare his soul to find that point.  It’s perhaps the intensely personal moments that work best – he’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.

It’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.  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 It’s all right big fella, you’ve got friends.

So for me, and for most Pseudopod fans, this book is a little treasure, and I hope it won’t be the last.  I also think there is enough here to entertain those unfamiliar with Al, his blog and the show.  His writing is always worth a look and I suspect this will be a popular Christmas gift for horror fans the world over.