Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Cord

Short Story by Chris Lewis Carter
Read for Pseudopod by David Michel

Cordyceps fungus has gone from parasitizing ants to humans, and has spread throughout the world. People find themselves climbing to high places, and spreading spores to their communities as they die. This is the story of one such man, and the neighbor who runs out to try to get him down.

The central twist wasn't that hard to see coming, but it did take me a bit. What I liked most was that the infected man couldn't figure out what was going on, even when it should have been obvious. This was definitely creepy, and a great SF conceit for a horror story. I do have a weakness for fungus though...

That said, it isn't as good as William Hope Hodgson's Voice in the Night, which Pseudopod published earlier this month. Maybe an unfair comparison but it's hard not to make it. And my inner biologist got a bit annoyed with the philosophizing about nature regarding us as a big enough threat to give us a parasitic fungus. A) we have all sorts of fungal diseases already, including mind-altering ones, B) nature/evolution is not an intelligent force. These just take away from my enjoyment without adding any elements of horror. Maybe it's my Lovecraftian predilections, but an uncaring universe seems scarier than an intelligent one.

4 fruiting bodies out of 5.

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