The Cambridge Geek

The Silt Verses

Given that this series was made by the people who created I Am In Eskew, it was an automatic listen. That's an excellent weird horror series, which I've listened through a couple of times now, and I would recommend you do the same.

The Silt Verses sits in a roughly similar genre, but has expanded significantly on that first work. Where Eskew had a lot of the "first podcast" style, with it being primarily delivered via single narrator and limited soundscaping, (though the writing itself was excellent), this is much more ambitious, with a wider cast and a lot more ambience and effects.

The world of The Silt Verses is one in which all of those things in which people have faith are real. Do you find yourself obsessed with productivity? Maybe the Saint Electric will grant you her "blessings" of an excellent cup of coffee and the ability to never sleep. Insomnia, it's for closers! Or maybe you have a new skyscraper to build, and want to ensure it won't fall down. It might be a good move to put a couple of sacrifices to the god of masonry in the cement foundations.

See, that's the problem with faith. Once it tempts you in, you can't always control what it produces. The world of The Silt Verses has many gods. Many many gods. They all have uses for people, and not all of those uses are pretty. Does a god care for the lives of its followers, or does it just want more followers? If a saint helps corral the flock, does it matter that the miracle that made the saint also turns them into a hideous butterfly monstrosity that lives for only a few seconds? Is there anything people won't believe in, if they think it can help them?

American Gods is a useful comparison, because in many ways, this is a story of the new against the old. In the history of the world, there was a "regulation". Many old gods, powerful but uncontrolled, roamed certain areas of the land, making their miracles and bringing their followers power. But that wasn't what the government wanted. They preferred controllable gods, regulated gods, small gods, gods of industry, who have well organised sacrifices and key performance indicators. Gods you can hire.

That doesn't sit well with Carpenter and Faulkner, believers of one of the old gods, the Trawlerman. A river god, who brings food and floods, crabs and death. A god of drownings and feedings, both of you, and on you. A god of silt, which is why its bible is called The Silt Verses. Carpenter and Faulkner are on a pilgrimage for remnants of the Trawlerman, lost when it was outlawed when Carpenter was but a child. An outlawing that killed her parents, her brother, her grandmother.

Carpenter is a believer by blood, able to see the effects of the faith fully, watching as it does as much harm as it does help, and slowly realising that maybe all of the gods take more than they give. Faulkner is a new convert, full of fire and rage, borrowing the history of the religion to give themselves a purpose and a meaning in life.

They are looking in particular for prayer marks. Ways of summoning the old gods and bringing their miracles into the world. Weapons of mass religion. As you might imagine, this doesn't necessarily agree with the existing institutions like the police (who have their own god in the form of "the cloak"), especially with Faulkner thinking they're the new messiah. They're chased by Hayward and Dagler, who are trying to hunt them down.

The podcast is heavy, atmospheric. Things are dark, and grim, and delivered through a mix of dialogue and fierce narration. It's a moody tale, following many different strands of the vicissitudes of faith. Personal faith, driving journeys in life, and corporate faith, with people working together to make things as terrible as possible. And something in the background - the insidious faith that comes over the airwaves. It's a tale I recommend you listen to.

Score 5

Tagged: Audio fiction Drama Cast Dramatised Horror Serial