Penny Dreadful, and other stories

by | June 24, 2014 | General | 5 comments

by Kathleen Bradean

I hate it when a story is written so completely around a song that if I don’t know the song, the subtleties of the story are lost to me. Or worse – when I really, truly hate the song  So I’m wary of talking about a tv show or story that readers of this blog might not have seen before or dislike. Given the international scope of the readership here, it makes it even harder to appeal to everyone.


A while ago, Lisabet Sari introduced me to The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. I loved that novel, so I searched for more by him and found his collection of short stories Pump Six and Other Stories. If you write short stories, I strongly suggest these to you because he write amazing short stories, but I also suggest it for a specific story The Fluted Girl. This story of extreme bod modification is amazingly erotic, in that it doesn’t flinch from the eroticism, but it also doesn’t seem to try to be erotic.

So go read it, then comment here or shoot an email to me and we can discuss his work.

And since I already brought up something you might not be familiar with, I have to ask

Are you watching Penny Dreadful? If you’re a fan of the original literary works that inspired some of our best monster movies, you’ll love Penny Dreadful. It’s like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but steeped in the brooding romanticism that spawn the original tales. Sin weighs heavily on their shoulders. My god, even the house two of the characters lives in has arsenic green wallpaper! They are literally surrounded by poisonous air.

Caliban – Doctor Frankenstein’s creature – is no mute, grunting zipper neck. He rages against loneliness and speaks of poetry. Then he does something terrible and you hate him.  But while I always read Shelly’s Frankenstein as being a warning about what happens when scientific man clashes with nature, this interpretation has me rethinking it. the problem with Caliban, why he’s so terrible, is that he wasn’t loved. He was abandoned. While that’s not a new problem produced by the industrial age, it often feels that way.  

So far, Dorian Grey has bedded three of the cast. He’s debauched, but you can see the boredom. I loved the scene when he was at the theater because it reminded me so much of the scene in Oscar Wilde’s novel when Dorian was on the cusp,before he turned wicked. I wonder if we’re going to see him walk the line between debauchery and evil for a while. (I also wonder if he’ll turn out to be Dracula).

I can’t wait to find out what further sins Sir Malcolm Murry committed in Africa while he was playing at being Alan Quartermain. We know he let his son die. He’s searching for redemption in trying to save his daughter Mina (yes, that Mina, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula). But I suspect he unleashed this horror on the world when he was in Africa searching for the source of the Nile.

Miss Vanessa Ives – played by Eva green – is absolutely amazing. I can say enough about the demands of this role and how she unleashes her power and vulnerability in equally amazing turns. (I only wish the writers would nail down the relationship between her and Sir Malcolm, because it swings from open hostility to almost friendly and back again which makes no sense)

And of course, we’re all waiting breathlessly to find out what sort of creature Ethan Chandler is. (even money is on werewolf)   Oh! and Billie Piper returns!

One of the things about this show is that it takes the parts of the source material most monster movies ignore and runs with it. It’s a good reminder of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of movies and novels. I know I often find myself thinking in cinematic terms when I write. That may be because of the mini-movie going on in my head of the story. But writing to a cinematic vision – so to speak – takes away from the richness of the story that can only be explored in a novel.



Kathleen Bradean

Kathleen Bradean’s stories can be found in The Best Women’s Erotica 2007, Haunted Hearths, Garden of the Perverse, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 6, and She’s On Top in print. Clean Sheets and The Erotica Readers and Writer’s Association websites have also featured her stories. Writing as Jay Lygon, her stories can be found in Inside Him, Blue Collar Taste Tests, Toy Box: Floggers, and the novels Chaos Magic, Love Runes, and Personal Demons. Read more about Kathleen Bradean at:



      Oh! How delightful. I never thought to look.

      Did you read it? What did you think? It isn't at all like the other stories in Pump Six.

  1. Lisabet Sarai

    I'm going to go order the book (Pump Six). I'm so delighted to hear that THE WINDUP GIRL wasn't a fluke.

    As for Penny Dreadful, sounds delicious. This is a reminder that one can always breathe new life into cold hash. (Talk about mixed metaphors!)


      Most of the stories in Pump Six are in the same universe as Windup Girl, so brace yourself for bleak. But there's no question that he's a master at short stories.

      I hope you have a chance to watch Penny Dreadful. Vampire in it are monsters, not seductive lovers (unless Dorian Grey is a vampire, then I'll be wrong, because he seduces everyone.)

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