Escape Pod http://escapepod.org The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine. Each week Escape Pod delivers science fiction short stories from today's best authors. Listen today, and hear the new sound of science fiction! Fri, 26 Aug 2016 03:05:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 2005-2015 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0 editor@escapepod.org (Escape Pod) editor@escapepod.org (Escape Pod) science fiction 1440 http://escapepod.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/SM-EscapePod.jpg Escape Pod http://escapepod.org 144 144 The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine. Each week Escape Pod delivers science fiction short stories from today's best authors. Listen today, and hear the new sound of science fiction! science, fiction, sf, stories, audiobooks, storytelling, fiction, short, fiction, short, story Escape Pod Escape Pod editor@escapepod.org no no EP408a: Eugie Award Re-Post of Immersion http://escapepod.org/2016/08/25/ep408a-eugie-award-re-post-of-immersion/ http://escapepod.org/2016/08/25/ep408a-eugie-award-re-post-of-immersion/#respond Fri, 26 Aug 2016 03:02:42 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5663 http://escapepod.org/2016/08/25/ep408a-eugie-award-re-post-of-immersion/feed/ 0 0:45:42   Eugene Foster Escape Artists would like to draw your attention to a fantastic event happening next week at DragonCon, the Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction. http://www.eugiefoster.com/eugieaward This annual award will be presented[...]   Eugene Foster Escape Artists would like to draw your attention to a fantastic event happening next week at DragonCon, the Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction. http://www.eugiefoster.com/eugieaward This annual award will be presented for the first time in 2016—for works published in 2015. The Eugie Award honors stories that are irreplaceable, that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. It will shine the spotlight on stories that are beautiful, thoughtful, and passionate. That change us and the field. The recipient will be a story that is unique and will become essential to speculative fiction readers.  The finalists for this award are: “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsin Muir “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong  “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon  “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” by Aliette De Bodard To highlight how fantastic these authors are, we are re-running three stories on Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Pseudopod:  Escape Pod 408: Immersion by Aliette De Bodard http://escapepod.org/2016/08/25/ep408a-eugie-award-re-post-of-immersion/ Podcastle 198: Urchins, While Swimming by Catherynne M. Valente http://podcastle.org/2012/02/28/podcastle-198-urchins-while-swimming/ Pseudopod 492: The Fisher Queen by Alyssa Wong http://pseudopod.org/2016/08/25/pseudopod-492-redux/ Also make sure to check out Ursula Vernon’s story “Jackalope Wives” available to read for free at Mothership Zeta. http://mothershipzeta.org/2015/09/21/issue-0-of-mothership-zeta-is-here/ And mark November on your calendar for an upcoming story by Tamsin Muir. ——————————————————————————– Ms Foster has been featured as an author and a narrator on all of the Escape Artists podcasts. We encourage you to revisit them all. http://escapepod.org/2005/09/01/ep017-the-life-and-times-of-penguin/ http://escapepod.org/2006/02/02/ep039-my-friend-is-a-lesbian-zombie/ http://escapepod.org/2007/08/30/ep121-the-snow-womans-daughter/ http://escapepod.org/2009/09/03/ep214/ http://escapepod.org/2009/12/18/ep229-littleblossom-makes-a-deal-with-the-devil/ http://escapepod.org/2010/10/07/ep261-only-springtime-when-shes-gone/ http://escapepod.org/2013/03/21/ep388-trixie-and-the-pandas-of-dread/ http://pseudopod.org/2008/05/23/pseudopod-91-caesars-ghost/ http://pseudopod.org/2009/04/10/pseudopod-137-the-reign-of-the-wintergod/ http://pseudopod.org/2012/01/20/pseudopod-265-biba-jibun/ http://pseudopod.org/2013/07/19/pseudopod-343-magdala-amygdala/ http://podcastle.org/2008/10/08/pc028-the-tanuki-kettle/ http://podcastle.org/2009/07/29/podcastle-63-daughter-of-botu/ http://podcastle.org/2010/05/25/podcastle-105-honored-guest/ http://podcastle.org/2011/11/22/podcastle-184-black-swan-white-swan/ http://podcastle.org/2010/01/02/podcastle-miniature-45-when-shakko-did-not-lie/   Best-Of, Bonus, Podcasts Aliette De Bodard no no EP538: The Starsmith http://escapepod.org/2016/08/23/ep538-the-starsmith/ http://escapepod.org/2016/08/23/ep538-the-starsmith/#respond Wed, 24 Aug 2016 03:32:31 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5661 http://escapepod.org/2016/08/23/ep538-the-starsmith/feed/ 0 0:27:57 STORY: EP538: The Starsmith AUTHOR: Jonathan Edelstein NARRATOR: James Odcombe HOST: Tina Connolly This story has not been previously published, but is set in the same universe as “First Do No Harm,” which appeared in Strange Horizons. [...] STORY: EP538: The Starsmith AUTHOR: Jonathan Edelstein NARRATOR: James Odcombe HOST: Tina Connolly This story has not been previously published, but is set in the same universe as “First Do No Harm,” which appeared in Strange Horizons. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the author… Jonathan Edelstein is 44, married with cat, and living in New York City.  His work has appeared in Strange Horizons and the Lacuna Journal and is forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  When not writing, he practices law and hopes someday to get it right. about the narrator… James Odcombe is a writer and storyteller who loves imaginary worlds and unusual characters. He’s British but grew up in Tanzania, East Africa. Now living in the UK, he pens tales of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror.   The Starsmith by Jonathan Edelstein It took two years for Faji Doumbia to travel from Madankoro to Mutanda on the free trader Mweshi: two years of sleeping in cargo holds fragrant with spices and scented woods, two years of waiting on each world as the captain concluded his business, two years of jumping through the ichiyawafu and dreaming of the dead. He worked his passage, and there was time enough to learn the dead language that the ship’s computers spoke and discover how to tend machines that no living person could build. There was time enough to contract two ship-marriages, and by the time Faji came at last to Chambishi Port on the forty-ninth day of the Year of Migration 30,891, he had given a son to the ship-clans. What he found when he took his leave of the Mweshi was both more and less than what he expected. Ninety thousand people lived in Chambishi Port, far more than any town on Madankoro, but forty million had lived there once, and the new city seemed like a collection of villages amid its former glory. Some of the towers north and east of the port were four kilometers tall: the war that destroyed the Union had gutted them, and after six hundred years forests grew in their upper stories, but they loomed over the thatched houses that lay between them, and from a few, the remnants of the High Streets and High Gardens hung crazily. It was minutes before Faji could bring his eyes down from the towers to the ships – the ships hundreds and thousands of years old, that the Union had built and that now served its children. By then, the dockmen were well started in unloading the Mweshi. He stopped one and asked where the numusokala was, and when he got no answer, he remembered that the people here used different words. “Where are the… washiri?” he asked, remembering the word he’d been taught. “The blacksmiths?” The dockman turned to the north. “You’re one of them?” he said. “Yes, you’ve got the look of one. That way, through the old city. You’ll hear the place, and even before that, you’ll smell it.” There was a hint of distaste in the dockman’s voice, and he walked away as if he couldn’t leave quickly enough. That, too, wasn’t what Faji had expected. # He wondered briefly what the dockman had meant by the old city – would he have to go all the way to the towers? – but as his steps carried him north, he realized. The landing-field and warehouses faded into winding streets that the war had somehow missed: the buildings here were twenty thousand years old, and some of the shops, with windows full of curiosities from a thousand worlds, boasted that they had been in business nearly as long. The people on the streets were prosperous, the men in layered, wide-sleeved boubous and the women in patterned dresses and hair-cloths: Faji knew by instinct that they were the imwinamishishi, the nobles of the city. This district ended in its turn, and after an interval of cleared space and gardens, he passed into ruins. These, too, were old, and the streets were a labyrinth, but as the dockman had sa[...] Podcasts Jonathan Edelstein no no Artemis Rising 3 http://escapepod.org/2016/08/15/artemis-rising-3/ http://escapepod.org/2016/08/15/artemis-rising-3/#respond Mon, 15 Aug 2016 05:11:46 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5657 http://escapepod.org/2016/08/15/artemis-rising-3/feed/ 0 EP537: Honeycomb Girls http://escapepod.org/2016/08/10/ep537-honeycomb-girls/ http://escapepod.org/2016/08/10/ep537-honeycomb-girls/#comments Thu, 11 Aug 2016 03:49:59 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5652 http://escapepod.org/2016/08/10/ep537-honeycomb-girls/feed/ 5 0:00:01 RELEASED 10.August.2016 AUTHOR: Erin Cashier NARRATOR: Johnathan Danz HOST: Norm Sherman WARNING: some sexual imagery This story first appeared in Upgraded. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit [...] RELEASED 10.August.2016 AUTHOR: Erin Cashier NARRATOR: Johnathan Danz HOST: Norm Sherman WARNING: some sexual imagery This story first appeared in Upgraded. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Erin Cashier about the author… Erin Cashier is fond of the unreliable narrator. I’m dying to leave things at that, but — I grew up in Texas but I live/work/play in Northern California, like all writers my cat loves me particularly much, and my husband is a fantastic man. I work as a registered nurse at a Burn Ward, which is amazing and challenging in equal measure. The things that interest me most are Disneyland (not kidding), esoteric philosophy books, alchemy as it relates to Jungian theories, William Blake, and Super Paper Mario. Things you should know about me: I made a special side trip to that Snake Farm between San Antonio and Austin on a recent trip to Texas, I have quite a lot of tattoos — the peacock feather images featured on this website are all actually from my backpiece — and I can eat my weight in sushi. narrator Jonathan Danz about the narrator… Jonathan Danz is a writer currently working on his next novel about the daughter of a coal miner who embarks on a journey across parallel dimensions to find her father who disappeared under mysterious circumstances two years ago. Jonathan lives in West Virginia with his wife, daughter, two cats and his mountain bike. jonathandanz.com Honeycomb Girls by Erin Cashier Those were the days Geo couldn’t walk through the market without stepping on someone else’s shoe. If money wasn’t tied to waist it was zipped, and anything dropped — paper, panks, crumbs — zipped too. Geo sold junk there: stripped wires, sharp green-squares, transistors like pills. “Someone junk, someone treasure!” Geo call. Men come over to see what Geo had, comb over findings, and Geo with stick, ready to slap at zippers. Stand all day, stand half night, then walk home to hard mat shared on second floor. Kick junk man out, eat food, sleep, till day begin again. Geo hunt for junk at old places when junk run low. Sometimes old posters hidden from rain. Posters show things that not there. Happy men, metal cages. Men touching screens. Men smiling. Like said, old posters. No smiles now. And sometimes, girls. Some cut out, but see where shape was left. Cut here, tear there. Reach out and feel where maybe curve had been. Hold nothing in hand. Imagine, if no one watching. Geo knew girls. There, but not there, like the sun, Never touch the sun, and never touch the girls, neither. # Jon yell, “Junk, junk!” Geo with stick, watching men come by. Man comes to table. Leans over. Clothing new. Business man? Tinker man? Jon’s boy watches man’s back. Makes sure no one else steal his money before Geo can. Geo sees glint in man’s eye. He like something he see. Geo step forward. Geo like what Geo see. “You like?” Man’s head bows. “No, no, nothing.” Geo knows glint. Geo knows lie. Man scans table, sniffs. “There’s nothing here. None of this is worth anything to me.” Geo grunts. “I’m an artist. I can maybe use this.” Man picks up three metal bits. Geo grunts again, waits. Watches man’s hand reach for first thing he like. Glint-thing. “And maybe this too. How much?” Geo point to first pile. “Four panks.” Geo look at man clothing, hair, naked chin. Points to hand. “That, too expensive for you. Put down.” “But –” Geo hold up zip-stick. “Too pricey! Put down!” Man’s eyes narrow. Geo offend him. He think he can afford all junk here, all table, all tent. But he do what Geo say, sets glint-thing down. Geo pick it up: round, metal, cold. Geo ask for most expensive thing Geo can t[...] Podcasts Erin Cashier no no EP536: Prophet to the Dogs http://escapepod.org/2016/08/03/ep536-prophet-to-the-dogs/ http://escapepod.org/2016/08/03/ep536-prophet-to-the-dogs/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2016 05:14:11 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5645 http://escapepod.org/2016/08/03/ep536-prophet-to-the-dogs/feed/ 2 0:37:01 RELEASED 3.August.2016 AUTHOR: Bethany Edwards NARRATOR: George Hrab HOST: Tina Connolly WARNING: profane language and violence This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and [...] RELEASED 3.August.2016 AUTHOR: Bethany Edwards NARRATOR: George Hrab HOST: Tina Connolly WARNING: profane language and violence This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the author… Mystery! narrator George Hrab about the narrator… Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, composer, and heliocentrist George Hrab has written and produced six independent CDs and a concert DVD; published two books; recorded hundreds of episodes of an award-winning podcast; emceed countless science conferences; been a TEDx speaker; and has even performed for President Clinton. He’s traveled to four continents promoting critical thinking, science, and skepticism through story and song. George is considered one of the preeminent skeptic/science/atheist/geek-culture music icons currently living in his apartment. www.GeorgeHrab.com Prophet to the Dogs by Bethany Edwards A long time ago, in another life, when there were so many billions of us that 382 of them were small change, I worked in an office building. I was the graphic designer for a community arts magazine—circulation 382—on the top floor. Across the street from this office building was a tiny, nameless park. It contained a few trees, some scraggly bushes, four benches, and just enough grass so that people thought they could hide their cigarette butts in it. I would always put my butts in the trashcan on the corner like a civilized person, but no one else ever took after my good example. Despite being small, the park attracted a very diverse crowd. People in my building took their lunch break there, college students read or tapped away on their devices, teenage skateboarders attempted to skid across the backs of benches, moms let their young kids burn off some energy, and homeless people curled up with their dogs in the evening. But by far the most interesting people in the park were the protestors. There were no huge corporate or political headquarters in that part of town, so we didn’t get organized protestors. We got lone Don Quixotes, tilting solo at the windmills of modern evils. They were usually spreading the message that the end was nigh if we didn’t stop global warming or come to Jesus. I got a big kick out of them when I first started my job, but over time they all faded into the background of my everyday life. Until the day I noticed the “YOU ARE ALL F&@^%D” girl. She sat on a bench by herself, wearing sunglasses on a very cloudy day. I noticed her at lunch, but I couldn’t say when exactly she showed up. She wore a leather jacket, army boots, and short, blue-black hair that ended at her chin without the slightest hint of a wave. I was taking a late lunch that day because things had been hitting the fan pretty hard at work. A major advertiser was threatening to pull out because our circulation had dropped to that unimpressive figure of 382, and we’d only managed to keep him in by cutting his fee nearly in half. It was better than losing him, but not by much. On top of that, the editor and the advertising director were at each other’s throats about how much space to dedicate to the community theater’s latest production. As the graphic designer, there wasn’t much I could do about any of this besides wait for the screaming to die down. Normally I didn’t talk to the park protestors, especially when it had been a long morning and I just wanted to eat half of a turkey sub and smoke a couple of cigarettes in peace. But “YOU ARE ALL FUCKED” really resonated with me in that moment, so I went and sat on the bench next to the new protestor. “How so?” I asked her as I unwrapped my sandwich. She had been staring into space and turned her head slowly to look at me. “What?” “How are we all fucke[...] Podcasts Bethany Edwards yes no EP535: Bluejay http://escapepod.org/2016/07/27/ep535-bluejay/ http://escapepod.org/2016/07/27/ep535-bluejay/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 04:31:24 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5635 http://escapepod.org/2016/07/27/ep535-bluejay/feed/ 1 0:28:21 by Edward Ashton read by Josh Roseman This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twi[...] by Edward Ashton read by Josh Roseman This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Edward Ashton about the author… Edward Ashton is a clinical research scientist and writer living in Rochester, New York. His short fiction has appeared in dozens of venues both in print and online, ranging from Louisiana Literature to Daily Science Fiction. Three Days in April is his first novel. narrator Josh Roseman about the narrator… Josh Roseman (not the trombonist; the other one) lives in Georgia and makes internets for a living. He has been published in — among others — Asimov’s, Escape Pod, and Evil Girlfriend Media, and has work forthcoming (or already released) in 2016 from Abstract Jam, Stupefying Stories, and The Overcast. In 2015, he released his first collection, The Clockwork Russian and Other Stories. When not writing, he mostly complains that he’s not writing.   Bluejay By Edward Ashton Micah steps from the shuttle and onto the tarmac, eyes slitted against the hard north wind that whips across the empty runway. The sky is a flat, leaden gray, with high thin clouds too light for snow, but too thick to let the sun come through as anything more than a vague, diffuse glow near the southern horizon. Micah hunches his shoulders against the bitter cold, ducks his chin to his chest, and pulls his coat tight around him. He hesitates, glances up at the desolate stand of dead trees at the far end of the runway, then walks slowly toward the terminal building. A sense of uneasiness, which has lurked deep in his belly since he boarded the shuttle, grows steadily as it becomes increasingly clear that he’s alone here. He hadn’t expected an honor guard, but he’d expected… something. As he reaches the terminal entrance, he looks back to see the shuttle wheel around and accelerate back down the runway. He pauses with his hand on the door. He can see through the glass that a half-dozen bodies are sprawled on the floor inside, perfectly preserved. He takes a deep breath in, then lets it out slowly as he enters the building. The scream of the shuttle’s engines fades as the door swings shut behind him. As he climbs the frozen escalator to the arrivals lounge, Micah remembers the last time he passed through this airport. It was years ago, and he’d been on his way to visit a distant cousin in the North Country. He remembers stopping for a drink before heading to the rental car counter, intending to stay only long enough to take the edge off before a four hour drive, but instead spending most of the afternoon drinking crappy domestic beer and trading double entendres with the bartender. She was tall and lean and blonde, not young, but not yet old either, and her smile caught and held him long after he should have been on the road. She’s dead now, of course. Lake Ontario was the epicenter. When the strike came, it was twelve thousand miles in any direction from here to safety. Micah pulls up short as he reaches the top of the escalator. A woman is waiting for him, leaning against the gate agent’s counter. She’s short and thin, with long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. Until she steps forward and he sees the faint lines around her eyes and mouth, he could have mistaken her for a child. “Hello, Micah,” she says, and smiles tentatively. Micah stares, unblinking, for an awkward five seconds, until finally she crosses her arms over her chest. She runs a critical eye from his feet to the top of his head. “Wow,” she says. “Most important diplomatic mission in the history of the species, and this is the best you can do?” Micah blinks slowly. “I’m sorry,” he says, “but…” She raises one eyebrow. “But?” “Well,” Micah says. “How are you not dead?” # Her name is Daria. Micah learns this as they walk to her car, which she’s parked in the tow-away zone imm[...] Podcasts Edward Ashton yes no Movie Review: Swiss Army Man http://escapepod.org/2016/07/04/movie-review-swiss-army-man/ Mon, 04 Jul 2016 14:00:51 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5629 EP534: Joolie & Irdl http://escapepod.org/2016/07/01/ep534-joolie-irdl/ http://escapepod.org/2016/07/01/ep534-joolie-irdl/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2016 14:21:34 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5624 http://escapepod.org/2016/07/01/ep534-joolie-irdl/feed/ 3 0:50:45 by Sandy Parsons narrated by Nicola Seaton-Clark This story has not been previously published. At the end of the show, there were excerpts from a speech given by President Barack Obama 4 days after 49 people were executed in a shooting rampage in O[...] by Sandy Parsons narrated by Nicola Seaton-Clark This story has not been previously published. At the end of the show, there were excerpts from a speech given by President Barack Obama 4 days after 49 people were executed in a shooting rampage in Orlando, FL, USA which you can see in full here: https://youtu.be/QMvxpyeq6xU Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the author… My fiction has been published in Nth Degree, Amazing Journeys, the anthology Unparalleled Journeys, Tabard Inn, State of Imagination, The World of Myth, and Everyday Fiction. Thank you for considering my work. I have degrees in physics, molecular biophysics and medical science and I work as anesthetist. I am a female, and have been acutely aware of that my entire professional life, including attempts at writing hard science fiction. about the narrator… Nicola Seaton-Clark has worked professionally as an actress for over fifteen years in TV, film and radio. She started her career as a jazz singer and later a singer in a rock band. Her voice-over experience includes TV and radio advertising, singing jingles, film dubbing and synchronization, training videos, corporate films, animation, and Interactive Voice Response for telephone menus. She is also a qualified TEFL teacher and has extensive experience as a vocal coach specializing in South African, Australian and New Zealand accents. http://www.offstimme.com/ Joolie and Irdl By Sandy Parsons The first time Irdl heard Joolie sing his pollinators stiffened under their leathery sheath. He’d had to switch from his walking legs to his squatters to remain upright. She was oblivious as he fell in behind her. She sang a human song, logical enough, being a human. He recognized the words, even though she added extra syllables, as if she’d sucked the words down her windpipe and divided them into their component parts before sending them back on achingly sweet vibrations formed from her full lips. As she sang, she plucked dry bits of moss from the grassy wall and disappeared around a corner. He began to look for her after that. He’d catch sight of her hair first, because it rose above her. She carried a basket and a small set of silver tools, tweezers and scissors and a scoop, and he soon realized that he was jealous of them, for they were caressed by her dark fingers. He did a little searching and discovered that her job was to maintain the moss that kept the station’s gas balance in check. He petitioned Pung to let him change his lunch hour so that he might better align his schedule with hers. She didn’t always sing as she clipped and tugged and sprayed the furry walls, but the damage had been done. Irdl was smitten. He squeezed in behind her on a gyro-shuttle. The shuttle was full, so the usual rules about personal space could be forgiven a little. He let one of his overhanging appendages rest so that the tip floated amongst her crown of wiry ringlets. She turned around, more inquisitive than annoyed. “Excuse me.” He intoned the words with as much human inflection as his mandibles allowed, and retracted the arm. She nodded as if mollified and started to turn back. He added, hastily, “Your dreadlocks are lovely.” “I don’t have dreadlocks.” “Pl- Please forgive me. What do you call them, then? I am unfamiliar.” He winced inwardly at playing the alien card, at least so soon. He usually waited until he got them back to his hammock. “It’s just my hair.” She gave her mane a little shake, and the flesh of her arms and the swell of her breasts shook where they were not confined by her cleensoot. She must have seen something in his gaze, although he couldn’t be sure what, or even hope, but she said, “You can touch it if you want.” He did. Gently, using just the graspers of the lower set of arms, so as not to draw attention to the other passengers. He pulled one long ringlet, u[...] Podcasts Sandy Parsons no no Escape Pod Closing to Submissions http://escapepod.org/2016/06/26/escape-pod-closing-to-submissions/ Mon, 27 Jun 2016 03:45:24 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5617 EP533: 2016 Flash Fiction Contest Winners http://escapepod.org/2016/06/26/ep533-2016-flash-fiction-contest-winners/ Sun, 26 Jun 2016 19:41:37 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5606 0:16:36   These stories have not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the authors[...]   These stories have not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the authors… author Ben Hallert Ben Hallert: I live in Oregon with my wife, two children, a plane, and a reach that regularly exceeds my grasp. author Laura Davy Laura Davy lives in California with her husband and two cats. She wrote her first story when she was in elementary school and, despite the fact that the plot didn’t make sense, she kept on writing. She is a Viable Paradise 19 graduate and has been previously published in Apex Magazine, Plasma Frequency Magazine, Stupefying Stories Showcase. You can learn more about her at www.lauradavy.com. author Brian Trent Brian Trent: Work of mine has appeared in Escape Pod, Pseudopod, ANALOG, Fantasy & Science Fiction, AE, Galaxy’s Edge, Daily Science Fiction, and more. about the narrators… Trendane Sparks Trendane Sparks: Originally born in Texas, Tren eventually escaped and wound his way through a mystical series of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has worked as a software QA Tester for both graphics drivers and video games, a freelance mascot performer, and several jobs on a PBS kids’ show. For most of his life, people have told him that his voice is a pleasure to listen to. But since being a werewolf phone sex operator can get boring, he decided to use his powers to entertain a broader audience. Nicholas Camm Nicholas Camm is a British actor, audio-book narrator and voice overer. He is just about to begin recording the 7th book in the Eddie Malloy Mystery series, a set of thrillers set in the world of horse racing. He has acted with, in his humble opinion, some notable luminaries, including Derek Jacobi, Ray Winstone and ex Doctor Who, Matt Smith, and has apparently been on the big screen in Times Square, although he wasn’t there to see it. He was recently a holographic mad professor in an experimental theatre piece, and has just finished filming an advert with a famous German footballer (that’ll be soccer for you Yanks!). Nick still ranks the time when Peter Watts emailed him to say, “You f*#~king nailed it”, about his narration of Pete’s story ‘Malak’ for StarShipSofa, as one of his giddiest moments. One day Nick will stop procrastinating and write a sci-fi novel. Until then there’s hoovering to be done. Adam Pracht Adam Pracht lives in Kansas, but asks that you not hold that against him. He works full-time as the public relations coordinator at McPherson College, where he also received his master’s in higher education administration in spring 2016. He’s excited to get his life back. He was the 2002 college recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy award for writing about the disadvantaged and has published a disappointingly slim volume of short stories called “Frame Story: Seven Stories of Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Horror & Humor” which is available from Amazon as an e-Book or in paperback. He’s been working on his second volume – “Schrödinger’s Zombie: Seven Weird and Wonderful Tales of the Undead” – since 2012 and successfully finished the first story. He hopes to complete it before he’s cremated and takes up permanent residence in an urn. Bona Fide by Ben Hallert The block’s turning into a rough neighborhood, the kind of place murder victims go to hang out.  It’s nasty and dirty but it’s home.  What’s got me pissed isn’t a little trash, it’s these stupid glasses everyone’s wearing.  Government wastes money on them instead of doing their goddamn jobs, drives me nuts.  The worst part: that dumb smile.  You know the one.  Bunch of fakers, walking around smiling at all the filth like it’s high art. “Hey man, forget your specs?”  Crap, a cornerboy s[...] Podcasts Escape Pod no no EP532: Saints, Beasts and Zombies http://escapepod.org/2016/06/07/5600/ Tue, 07 Jun 2016 04:03:32 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5600 0:41:28 by Gary Kloster narrated by Roberto Suarez This story has not been previously published. Mentioned by Mur: https://weightlessbooks.com/category/format/subscription/mothership-zeta/ Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, autho[...] by Gary Kloster narrated by Roberto Suarez This story has not been previously published. Mentioned by Mur: https://weightlessbooks.com/category/format/subscription/mothership-zeta/ Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Gary Kloster about the author… I’ve always loved speculative fiction.  That’s the fancy name for stories that involve lasers, or swords, or in the very best stories, laser-swords.  So as a kid, I decided to try writing it.  And it went really badly. A few decades later, after a short stint as a science reference librarian, I’m a stay-at-home dad who answers urgent questions like ‘When’s lunch?’ and ‘Can you find my stuff for me?’  It’s not really much different then helping the undergrads back at the University, but it can wear thin at times.  In an effort to save my sanity, and avoid housework, I’ve returned to writing. I think it’s going better, this time. narrator Roberto Suarez about the narrator… Roberto lives in Portland, Oregon. By day he works as a community college student advocate and recruiter. By night he geeks out on all things fantasy and science fiction, comic books and board games. He produces and co-hosts “A Pod of Casts: The Game of Thrones Podcast” ( http://apodofcasts.com/ ) and is a proud monthly supporter of all “Escape Artists” productions. Roberto is a father of four younglings being raised in The Ways of The Force and is married to Barbara, his Sun and Stars. Personal Website: robertosuarez.me Saints, Beasts, and Zombies By Gary Kloster The kids ambushed me on the west side of the camp, near a line of abandoned latrines. Every time they hit me I gasped for breath, and sucked in the reek of old shit. “Worthless. Everything you got.” A kick thumped into my ribs, driven by lazy contempt, not bone-cracking rage. “Why do you only bring toys here, gringo? You want the little girls to play with you? Or do you like the little boys better?” The boy bared his teeth at me, lips twisted by an old scar, and his gang laughed. A dozen dirty little scarecrows, the youngest maybe ten, the oldest maybe fifteen. Gangs like this crept around the edges of the Minchin Refugee Camp like feral dogs, fearful, curious. Vicious. I’d watched them, boys choking on machismo and desperation, making fun of the peacekeepers as they passed. Listened to them taunt the girls. I’d hated seeing how this place wasted them, turned them small and stupid and angry. Now, face down and hurting in the dirt far from the center of the camp and the protection of the peacekeepers, I just hated them. “You come back, you better bring something better than toys. Or we won’t be so nice.” One more kick, and I managed to roll enough so that it caught me on the shoulder and not the head. They walked away, laughing. They had my coat, my cell phone, and my satchel full of Qbooks. The phone was a burner, with less than an hour left to it. The coat was cheap, but I’d miss it on the walk back through the Andean night. The Qbooks, though… Their loss hurt me more than the kicks to the ribs. Maybe one of them would keep one. Stare at the tablet’s cheap screen and wonder about the symbols that danced across it. He might listen to it, play with it, and learn. Learn to read and write, learn math, science, languages. Maybe he would learn enough to escape this place and grow into a man wise enough to change the world, and end the need for camps like this once and for all. “Or maybe you should get yourself checked for brain damage, Raul,” I muttered as I slowly pushed myself up out of the dust. “Because I think you’re starting to hallucinate.” # “What the hell happened to you?” “Twelve stitches and a tetanus booster.” I sat at my desk, counting out the ibuprofens the[...] Podcasts Gary Kloster yes no EP531: Bend Back the Shadows http://escapepod.org/2016/05/26/ep531-bend-back-the-shadows/ http://escapepod.org/2016/05/26/ep531-bend-back-the-shadows/#comments Thu, 26 May 2016 04:04:02 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5596 http://escapepod.org/2016/05/26/ep531-bend-back-the-shadows/feed/ 5 0:41:00 by Michael Reid narrated by Summer Brooks This story has not been previously published. Mentioned by Alasdair: https://weightlessbooks.com/category/format/subscription/mothership-zeta/ Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, a[...] by Michael Reid narrated by Summer Brooks This story has not been previously published. Mentioned by Alasdair: https://weightlessbooks.com/category/format/subscription/mothership-zeta/ Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the author… I am a 2015 graduate of the Clarion Workshop, but I have no other publication credits. about the narrator… Summer is a bit of a television addict, and enjoys putting her scifi media geek skills to good use in interviewing guests for Slice of SciFi as a co-host from 2005-2009. She was previously the co-host for The Babylon Podcast and host of Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas, before returning to Slice of SciFi as host in August 2014. She is an avid reader and writer of scifi, fantasy and thrillers, with a handful of publishing and voiceover credits to her name. Next on her agenda is writing an urban fantasy tale, and a B-movie monster extravaganza. Currently, Summer designs and maintains websites for clients and for fun in addition to the Slice of SciFi websites, does voiceover & narrations for StarShipSofa, Tales to Terrify, Far Fetched Fables, and Crime City Central, among others.   Bend Back the Shadows By Michael Reid Month 669, Day 10 When I was a little girl, Grandma used to tell me scary stories about the day the lights went out on Earth. Back then, she said, there were lots of people on our station. People would come and go from Earth all the time in little gray capsules. And then, one day, the capsules had stopped coming. Soon after that, the messages had stopped coming on the radio. Everyone on the station had hovered by the windows like ghosts, watching day after day as plumes of smoke erupted from the hearts of the cities, their trails snaking across the continents. “But that wasn’t the worst of it,” Grandma would tell me. “Not by a long shot.” “What was worse?” I asked her once, between lessons on medicine and aquaponics. Grandma looked away when she spoke. “The worst part was watching the night sweep across the Earth and seeing that the darkness was empty. No more lights. Just shadows.” Grandma used to live down on Earth, a long time ago. She was a doctor–a brain doctor. She said that one of the reasons she came up to the station was to see Earth from space with her own eyes. She loved the day side with its browns and greens and blues, but I think she loved the lights on the night side even more. I’ve seen pictures from back then, back when the whole Earth was covered with cities that glowed yellow at night. The pictures reminded me of the diagrams of neurons Grandma used to show me on her slate: nuclear cities connected to dendritic suburbs, all bound together by axonal highways. Then the end had come. Night after night, the web of neurons had disintegrated, like a brain consumed by Alzheimer’s. Grandma and the others had watched it all happen, watched each city flare brightly for a few seconds, then disappear forever. Our station orbits Earth once every four hours: two hours over the day side and two hours over the night. Grandma said that, every time the station caught up to the night, she would go to a window and pray that there would still be lights. One orbit, she had gone to the windows and there had been only one light left on the whole dark side of the planet. One tiny light, smack in the middle of the big continent–Africa, it was called, when there were still people on it. Orbit after orbit, she watched for that spot, prayed the whole time it was in daylight that it would still be there when the night returned. She would wish on it like an ember, praying for it to spark and spread. But one day, less than a year after the last capsule had come to the station, darkness swept over the place where the light had been and the light was gone. Grandma said th[...] Podcasts Michael Reid no no EP530: City in the Wound http://escapepod.org/2016/05/11/ep530-city-in-the-wound/ http://escapepod.org/2016/05/11/ep530-city-in-the-wound/#comments Wed, 11 May 2016 04:50:01 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5586 http://escapepod.org/2016/05/11/ep530-city-in-the-wound/feed/ 1 0:55:09 by Michael Buckley narrated by Barry Haworth This story has not been previously published. This episode also featured an excerpt from Ecko: Endgame by Danie Ware which you can get more info about on her website: http://danieware.com/tag/ecko-endgam[...] by Michael Buckley narrated by Barry Haworth This story has not been previously published. This episode also featured an excerpt from Ecko: Endgame by Danie Ware which you can get more info about on her website: http://danieware.com/tag/ecko-endgame/ and you can tweet her @danacea Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Michael Buckley about the author… Mike Buckley’s fiction has appeared in The Best American Non-Required Reading 2003, The Southern California Review, and numerous times in The Alaska Quarterly Review.  His science fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld (in a story read by Cast of Wonders’ Marguerite Kenner), Pravic, and is forthcoming from Abyss and Apex. He is currently working on a Transhumanist murder mystery novel.  He has been nominated for various awards, and his debut short story collection, Miniature Men,was released in 2011.   He is a practicing Creative Futurist, using science fiction storytelling to improve corporate and government policy.  He is also an instructor with the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and regularly teaches workshops on science fiction and short story. about the narrator… Barry Haworth is from Australia and he last narrated for Escape Pod in episode 428. This is his third appearance after offering to narrate as a way to contribute to one of his favorite shows.   City in the Wound By Michael Buckley In the middle of the night Eztli decides to burn The Mothers. He’s a block down and they’re visible through a sliver of space between two corners, drapes of light kelping back and forth slow in the darkness. Eztli runs, safe for the moment ‘cause it’s his street, Da is watching, but then off his block, out into the middle of the road. A brick flies past him. He hears shouting in the rooms above The Mothers, but their boys and girls don’t make it out in time. Now it’s just him standing in front of The Mothers. There’s three in a row, their dresses shimmering and lovely, and they stare down at him, so kind and gentle. The one in front is actually crying as Eztli sprays stolen gasoline in a wide arc across them. Eztli hates her for it. He could burn her a thousand times. The lit match hits the wall and The Mothers go up. The children scream from the second floor. Feet bang on the stairs. Eztli runs, the warmth of the fire behind him, listening to the other screams, the ones coming from beneath the flames. That night he sleeps next to Da, the composites moving about slowly behind him, lulling. And he doesn’t dream at all. Da wakes him the next day. The composites reach finger-like to brush his cheek. Feels like lizard skin, or what he’s heard of The Native’s hide. “Wakee,” Da says. His voice makes Eztli’s lips go cold. “Wakee. Food for the others. At the farthest pit.” Eztli stands in the morning light. The street is dead quiet and Da behind him moves across the wall, ticking and groaning and hissing. “You slept close to Da last night for burning The Mothers,” Da says. Eztli gets it: But today you gotta work. Da’s glowering. Shifting to form an expansive brow edged in loose razors of hair, he looks at Eztli. You think he’d be happy, Eztli thinks. “The farthest pit?” “There’s still good eggs in it.” “Aye aye, sir.” How’d he know that there were still good eggs in the farthest pit? But then, how did Da know anything—or everything? How do The Mothers know which boys and girls will fall in love? ‘Cause that’s what The Mothers’ boys and girls got. A whisper in the ear, a name. The person who was perfect for you. Da never gave that. He’d laugh if you asked. Da knows, that’s all. They all do. He feels a tiny itch on his cheek and picks it away. It’s a fleck of composite, small as a grain of sand, except sharp enough to cut skin. These composites were Their bodies, and like Da, let Them climb over the walls of buildings, usually i[...] Podcasts Michael Buckley yes no EP529: Of Blessed Servitude http://escapepod.org/2016/05/03/ep529-of-blessed-servitude/ Tue, 03 May 2016 04:04:36 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5580 0:28:49 by A. Merc Rustad narrated by Trendane Sparks This story was originally published in Fictionvale in 2013. This is a story set in the same world as “To the Knife-Cold Stars,” which ran in Escape Pod in February 2015. Discuss on our forum[...] by A. Merc Rustad narrated by Trendane Sparks This story was originally published in Fictionvale in 2013. This is a story set in the same world as “To the Knife-Cold Stars,” which ran in Escape Pod in February 2015. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author A. Merc Rustad about the author… Hello and welcome! My name is Merc Rustad and I’m a queer non-binary writer and filmmaker who likes dinosaurs, robots, monsters, and cookies. My fiction has appeared in nifty places like Scigentasy, Daily Science Fiction, and Flash Fiction Online. (More at the Published Fiction tab at the top of the page.) I’m mostly found on Twitter @Merc_Rustad and occasionally playing in cardboard boxes. The site is updated with publication announcements, completed short films, and occasional blog-like essays. (For more semi-regular blogging, I hang out on LJ and DW.) narrator Trendane Sparks about the narrator… Originally born in Texas, Tren eventually escaped and wound his way through a mystical series of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has worked as a software QA Tester for both graphics drivers and video games, a freelance mascot performer, and several jobs on a PBS kids’ show. For most of his life, people have told him that his voice is a pleasure to listen to. But since being a werewolf phone sex operator can get boring, he decided to use his powers to entertain a broader audience. OF BLESSED SERVITUDE A. Merc Rustad The sacrificial cross threw a long shadow across the road at Bishop’s dust-caked boots. He halted sharp at the sight of it. Wind hummed through wildseed bushes strung along the ditch, yellow buds as bright as radiation seals. Bishop clenched his jaw and looked along the shadow to the cross itself. It gleamed in the sunset, a steel post with a fused crossbeam, packed dirt the color of old blood at its base. And the cross wasn’t empty. _Well, shit. _ The offering was a pretty one—young, work-muscled body, a day’s stubble scuffing his jaw. He’d been shackled naked to the cross, arms spread against the top beam. The dusty wind tugged unkempt hair across his eyes. Bishop slapped the film of red dirt from his duster, his shoulders tense, and checked his knives from habit. He knew he shouldn’t have traveled past Providence Circle. If chokevine hadn’t overrun the only bridge across Unrepentant’s Canyon, he’d never have come near this territory. He’d never have come within sight of the town of Blessed Servitude. He hadn’t been home in ten years. “You should get off the road, stranger.” “Mighty courteous of you to warn a man,” Bishop said. He shouldn’t look at the man chained against steel, shouldn’t stir up old memories. He never saved the offerings, and he didn’t try. “Even if you’re fool enough to be out this late, you shouldn’t die for it.” The offering’s chin remained pressed against his chest. Sweat streaked his skin, but Bishop saw no obvious signs of flogging or broken bones. “Move on, stranger.” The offering’s voice was rough, a tremor in the words. It reminded him of Prudence. Bishop’s mouth twisted and he pushed back old, worn memories. The offering turned his head and stared westward, hands tightening into fists. Bishop followed his gaze. Sun wouldn’t drop for another quarter hour. The Wire implant behind Bishop’s ear hummed. [Precision: thirteen City minutes until sunset.] Bishop scowled. Didn’t matter if it was thirteen or thirty minutes; as soon as the sun went down, he’d be watching another man die. He kept his back toward Blessed Servitude, a domed silhouette against the horizon. When he’d finished his hunt for illegally-sold tech in Charity Circle and started his return to the Wire C[...] Podcasts A. Merc Rustad yes no EP528: Divided By Zero http://escapepod.org/2016/04/24/ep528-divided-by-zero/ Mon, 25 Apr 2016 03:50:00 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5574 0:14:45 by Samantha Murray narrated by Ibba Armancas This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook [...] by Samantha Murray narrated by Ibba Armancas This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the author… Samantha Murray is a writer, actor, mathematician and mother.  Not particularly in that order. She lives in Western Australia in a household of unruly boys. narrator Ibba Armancas about the narrator… Raised by swordfighters and eastern European freedom fighters, Ibba Armancas is a writer-director currently based in Los Angeles. Her darkly comedic genre sensibilities are showcased in two webseries and a feature film forthcoming later this year. One day she will find time to make a website, but in the mean time you can follow her projects and adventures on twitter or instagram.   Divided By Zero by Samantha Murray As a child I already knew that there were different kinds of infinity. When I asked my mother whom she loved the most–me or my brother–she would pause and then say she loved the both of us. How much did she love us? I wanted to know. And she’d say she loved me an infinite amount and my brother an infinite amount too. From this I knew implicitly that two infinities did not have to be the same size. As a child I knew this although I had no words for it. It was what drove me to ask the question. I knew also that I was waiting for her not to pause. She always did. Every time. Secure in his answer, my brother never asked the question. I was the lesser infinity; that of whole numbers perhaps, while his was of real and irrational numbers, which could be complex, and transcendental. My brother won awards and prizes, was tall and athletic while I could not use my legs, but this is not why his infinity was infinitely bigger and infinitely better than mine. I’m sure people wondered how anyone could fail to love my brother when he was so brave and shining–but I think they have the causality backwards. Everybody loved him and he took all of that love inside himself until he could not help but glow like a nebula pinpricked with stars. # My lover indicates the space between our two bodies. She moves so that the space is gone, my skin flush against hers, no gaps. “Is this not enough for you?” I let her words fall away into silence, receding from us, shifting into red. She knows, as I know, that it is not. # We studied together, my brother and I. He was younger but he caught up and then left me in the frothy white water of his wake. It wasn’t that he was smarter than I was; our brains did things differently. He was lightning-quick at making connections, jumping from one idea to the next, solving the problem and moving on. My mind was slower, but I went deeper, turning a thing over and inside out until I could rest it like a shell in the palm of my hand; until it was mine. In my first year I studied an old logic-based computer language. The ancient ancestor to some of the modern LOG-languages that the ships had at their core. Despite my love of logic I’d found it frustrating at first, twisting my head around the many recursions, the program calling itself again and again, referring to itself as it looped and looped. “You can’t follow it like that,” my brother said to me. “You’ll go crazy going down so far.” His hair fell down over his eyes, which were earnest. I hadn’t really wanted to listen to him, but as always it was hard not to. “You set it up the right way, then . . . you have to just let it go. Trust that it will do its thing. Let the magic happen.” He smiled at me. “Then be there to catch it and gather it all up in the end.” Let it go. It was never something I’d been good at. # If I had a mirror here I know what I would see. The drugs make my eyes dilated to their limits, and very dark. My face is white although it is not fear; it is some[...] Podcasts Samantha Murray no no EP527: Plural http://escapepod.org/2016/04/17/ep527-plural/ Sun, 17 Apr 2016 18:15:41 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5566 0:32:48 by Lia Swope Mitchell narrated by Amanda Ching This story was originally published in the February/March 2015 issue of Cosmos Magazine Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia[...] by Lia Swope Mitchell narrated by Amanda Ching This story was originally published in the February/March 2015 issue of Cosmos Magazine Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Lia Swope Mitchell about the author… Lia Ardith Swope Mitchell is a writer of literary fiction. Sometimes speculative, sometimes not. Real world with a twist, let’s say. She has lived in Minneapolis all her life, except for a couple years in Wisconsin and France. Lia is also a PhD candidate in French literature at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation is currently titled Scientific Marvelous: Technologized Experience and Speculative Fiction in the Third Republic. Someday, she swears, she will finish it. narrator Amanda Ching about the narrator… Amanda Ching is a freelance editor and writer. Her work has appeared in WordRiot, Candlemark & Gleam’s Alice: (re)Visions, and every bathroom stall on I-80 from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. She tweets @cerebralcutlass and blogs at http://amandaching.wordpress.com. Plural by Lia Swope Mitchell The aliens come in peace, as they always do, bearing gifts and a banner printed with hopeful messages. Universal understanding, sharing and collaboration, the usual thing: three-hundred-year-old language cribbed from the Bebo time capsule. We install them in the quarantine tank and let them alone. We’re still processing the previous group. The predecessors were large, their plump thigh muscles well marbled with fat. We’re dressing them in herbs and slow-roasting them, and the flavor is good, rich and unctuous, the fibers softened by their long voyage in low-G. The rest we’re making into sausage, confit, and stock. We’ve been lucky this year, with three groups since spring. Sometimes we go a long time without meat; at least real meat, better than the crawlers and birds, tiny dust-flavored things full of bones. These new ones aren’t impressive, as aliens go. Maybe reptilian: small and sweet-fleshed. Ten forlorn figures in blue smocks, they sit on the sterile-sheeted beds and do not speak or gesture much, exchange only occasional glances. From this we conclude that they communicate telepathically. After a few hours, though, one falls ill, probably from some unfamiliar bacteria. Greenish saliva drips from its mouth onto a pillow. Soon enough they might all be infected, and already this is no great harvest. The first gift is plants, miniature trees bearing sour marble-sized drupes. Alien plants are rarely hardy enough, although we try. Under our red-eyed sun they wither quickly, and even within the shade and cool of the Complex they give too little in exchange for the water required. Our own plants have adapted to heat and dust. They stand tough and proud in bristling rows, radiating out into the dustplains. Most years they’re enough, as long as our numbers are controlled. But any supplements that arrive, while they last, are welcome. They brought another gift, too: squares of a glass-like material, several thin layers pressed together around dull silvery skins, about ten centimeters across. Close examination reveals no obvious function, but they’re not particularly decorative, either. The inner material is metallic but not metal, not a mineral at all. Normally we refrain from extended communication with aliens, but given the possibility of new technology, we decide to see what information they can offer. After some discussion, Reception selects an ambassador. Sub-engineer Tres is the smallest Reception tech, physically unthreatening even to these small aliens. We dress her in a white robe and place metal circlets around her waist, throat and wrists, a tiara on her head. Worthless old-world trinkets, but aliens often interpret them as signs of importance. She looks right. A good-enough representative for us, the collective remainders of the human race. * “Like a prince,” Tre[...] Podcasts, Uncategorized Escape Pod yes no Bring Back the Middle Ground http://escapepod.org/2016/04/11/bring-back-the-middle-ground/ http://escapepod.org/2016/04/11/bring-back-the-middle-ground/#comments Mon, 11 Apr 2016 14:00:10 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5556 http://escapepod.org/2016/04/11/bring-back-the-middle-ground/feed/ 3 EP: Metacast 0416 http://escapepod.org/2016/04/04/ep-metacast-0416/ http://escapepod.org/2016/04/04/ep-metacast-0416/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2016 04:28:25 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5552 http://escapepod.org/2016/04/04/ep-metacast-0416/feed/ 3 0:08:53 We wanted to give you a quick update of the goings-on at Escape Pod. It’s the first of what we expect to be many positive developments in 2016, so hold onto your socks! We wanted to give you a quick update of the goings-on at Escape Pod. It’s the first of what we expect to be many positive developments in 2016, so hold onto your socks! Meta, Podcasts Escape Pod no no EP526: The Hunter Captain http://escapepod.org/2016/03/29/ep526-the-hunter-captain/ http://escapepod.org/2016/03/29/ep526-the-hunter-captain/#comments Tue, 29 Mar 2016 04:07:51 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5550 http://escapepod.org/2016/03/29/ep526-the-hunter-captain/feed/ 5 0:39:09 by David John Baker narrated by Mat Weller This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook an[...] by David John Baker narrated by Mat Weller This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author David John Baker about the author… Aside from my philosophical essays, I also write short science fiction stories.  Some of these have been published in anthologies. The Hunter Captain by David John Baker “The sign for the survivor’s species is ‘human,'” said Kyber, “although I am unsure of the exact pronunciation.” Hunter Captain Sra examined the data feed, zooming in on an image of the human’s brain. “Have you discovered anything in her nervous system that might function as a seat of consciousness?” said Sra. “There is one promising organ. An intersection here, between the two hemispheres of the brain. But we’ve found such things before, in highly developed animals. I see no particular reason for optimism.” Although he knew it was naive, Sra was optimistic. For once his hunter’s skills might not be needed–if the human was in fact a sentient alien being. Although it meant Explorer Captain Kyber would retain command of the ship, the prospect of true first contact spoke to a dream Sra had cultivated since his infancy. Sra was old enough to recall an earlier age, when no one believed that the Nampranth were alone. A time before their race journeyed outside the home system–before they found a galaxy infested with intelligent animals and bereft of sentient life. Already this mission seemed different. Sra had never heard of a more auspicious contact. They’d found the alien ship alone, disabled–apparently by a freak collision with a cosmic string. Its single passenger was recovered still unconscious, its computer’s artificial animal dormant but intact. The animal’s architecture had so far resisted interface with Nampranth computers, but Kyber’s explorers had already learned much from the ship’s markings. It was a perfect opportunity for slow, cautious study before beginning the delicate process of contact. “When do you plan to revive the human?” Sra said. “Perhaps very soon. We can’t learn much more from noninvasive scans, especially given the number of cybernetic devices operating within her brain.” Sra opened his nostrils, expressing humility. “Of course it will be your privilege to greet her when she wakes, Explorer Captain. But I should like the chance to meet her as well.” Kyber acknowledged the gesture with grace. “You shall have it, Hunter Captain.” # Sra prepared his basin with great care, although he realized the ritual was silly. His human guest would know nothing of Nampranth manners. If he were to smell his food before digging in, she’d probably assume that was the polite thing and do the same! But the occasion felt momentous enough to warrant some care, even if his guest–Alexandra Seppi–could not appreciate it. From the first, her circumspection impressed him. “Does etiquette dictate where I should sit?” she asked. “Only among the stodgiest old bulls,” he reassured her. She sat opposite him, at the lip of the basin, crossing her legs. His implant translator seemed to be functioning well. He hoped that the explorers’ improving facility with human language would permit them to decipher her artificial animal’s programming without her help. “Alexandra,” he said. “Kyber tells me it’s proper to call you by the first of your two names?” “Since we are friends,” she said. “Very good.” He studied her. Her appearance was aesthetically elegant–more so in motion. “I gather your skin’s pigment is an inherited trait, but not a universal one among humans?” “Inher[...] Podcasts David John Baker no no EP525: Among the Living http://escapepod.org/2016/03/18/ep525-among-the-living/ http://escapepod.org/2016/03/18/ep525-among-the-living/#comments Fri, 18 Mar 2016 04:43:42 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5540 http://escapepod.org/2016/03/18/ep525-among-the-living/feed/ 1 0:44:49 by John Markley narrated by Carl Allery Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter narrator Carl Allery about the narrato[...] by John Markley narrated by Carl Allery Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter narrator Carl Allery about the narrator… Carl Allery has sold a couple of stories (Farthing Magazine, Killers ed. Colin Harvey), had a couple read out loud (BBC local radio, Escape Pod) and had a couple placed in short story contests (Jim Baen Memorial, Heinlein Society Centennial). He lives in Somerset, UK with 2 Feline Overlords and needs to write more. Among the Living by John Markley Williams perceives a world of hazy reds and angular grays. He sees through smoke and through walls. He sees the fury of fires and the sparks of life in survivors hundreds of yards away. He sees every crack and buckle in the structure around him. Most importantly, he can’t see Chicago’s burning skyline as it would look to his own eyes. The bulky door barring him from the interior of Waldron Arcology shudders as Williams’ gauntlet-mounted saw tears through its hinges, then falls outward. McIlrath, Principe, and Armstrong catch it, lowering it to the ground while Williams’ saw retracts. Team Leader Garcia shouts commands. The room beyond is an inferno. The five step aside, and a great blast of fire-retardant dust blasts from the Vertical Take-Off/Landing transport on the landing pad. They advance into what had been the terminal for the 150th floor’s south landing pad. Williams takes the lead, metal ringing under his 500-pound weight with every step. There’s no need for anyone in full Evac Team Armor to wait for the fire to go out; extinguishing it isn’t for their benefit. Fire-choking sodium chloride and melting thermoplastics spread across every surface, covering everything but sparing Williams nothing. He sees through it as if it were air, sees the skeletal ultrasound reflections of every person who died here. They died very quickly, Williams reminds himself. One of the floor’s main corridors runs straight through the center of the building to here. The shock wave of superheated atmosphere and debris had been channeled towards this place unimpeded, crushing and incinerating them before they could have registered what was happening. He hopes. He hopes most of the 150,000 people living here died that way. Data from the sensors studding Williams’ armor pours in, and he says, “Fizzy, Williams. Corridor spectra coming. You getting it?” Fizzy’s avatar materializes in the corner of Williams’ vision. “Yeah. Looks like y’all got titanium fires down the hall. Bits blasted from deeper in, I reckon.” Fizzy is the human interface of Chicago Fire Department Central, an artificial intelligence running on processors distributed across the city. Normally he’s a smiling cartoon glob of flame-retardant white foam wearing an old-fashioned red fire helmet, with big googly eyes and a voice like Slim Pickens doing an impression of himself. Today he’s traded his red helmet in for a black one, and his usual jollity is subdued. Garcia cuts in. “Alright, turn 150 yards in. Engine 17, Garcia. Negative, that’s negative, on primary hose support. Metal fire suppression down main corridor to 200, two-zero-zero, meters. Central, feed them.” “Got it, boss,” Fizzy says. He doesn’t like being called “Central,” though he doesn’t make an issue of it during emergencies. “Y’all might want to get outta the way.” The armored figures march straight into the fire, keeping to the sides of the corridor. High-speed projectiles shoot past them, bursting at intervals and spewing out more clouds of dust. Titanium burns hot, so hot that the water in fire-suppressant foam would decompose into its constituent elements, and there are few laws of fire safety more fundamental than “don’t spray oxygen at it.” Williams leads as as they storm [...] Podcasts John Markley no no Escape Pod Flash Fiction Contest 2016 http://escapepod.org/2016/03/14/flash-fiction-contest-2016/ http://escapepod.org/2016/03/14/flash-fiction-contest-2016/#comments Mon, 14 Mar 2016 05:41:28 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5400 http://escapepod.org/2016/03/14/flash-fiction-contest-2016/feed/ 2 EP524: Scrapmetal http://escapepod.org/2016/03/07/ep524-scrapmetal/ Tue, 08 Mar 2016 04:55:55 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5523 0:24:17 by Nan Craig narrated by Cat Rambo This story was previously published in Arc Magazine, issue 1.3 ‘Afterparty Overdrive,’ September 2012.. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our so[...] by Nan Craig narrated by Cat Rambo This story was previously published in Arc Magazine, issue 1.3 ‘Afterparty Overdrive,’ September 2012.. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter   about the author… Nan Craig holds an MSc in Global Politics from the LSE and worked for the social enterprise Participle, and as a freelance editor, before becoming Publications Director for the Centre for Global Studies. twitter.com/nancraig narrator Cat Rambo about the narrator… Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Tor.com. Her short story, “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain,” from her story collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction and information about her popular online writing classes, see http://www.kittywumpus.net. SCRAPMETAL by Nan Craig This bloke was as ordinary as you’d get. His own patches seemed good – seamless, no tics or sags, which gave me a bit of confidence. I wondered if he’d even done some of them himself. His surgery – because it turned out he was properly licensed for teeth and eyes – was as neat and rundown as he was. Burn marks in the carpet. The walls and chairs were grimy with fingerprints. The only clean thing in there was his kit, and for that at least I breathed relief. It was a residential house in Grangetown, with an ordinary looking dentist’s chair in the back room, letters of qualification framed on the walls. But he lead me through that room, and up the stairs. *** I lay on my back on the grass and howled. No one was going to hear me up here, anyway, so I let go. I was no singer, mind, and the whiskey in me didn’t help. I started off singing something, something old, and then let it degenerate into yodels that swooped off into the overcast skies like gulls. I half hoped I could shoot something down with my wild yells. I just wanted to forget. Forget what? Oh, everything. The last six weeks, the last six years, the whole of the sky and all under it. It was harder to get drunk than I’d thought, even on this 47% stuff. The wet grass soaked my t-shirt through to my muscles. They didn’t even ache, the bloody useless powerful things. There was no chance. No chance for nothing. I’d thought no one could hear me shout, but then I heard an answering whoop. It could have been a bird, I guess, but I knew the voice already – it was Ioan. As soon as I’d registered that the wind stole all sound of him away from me for a few minutes and then I heard his breath again as he reached me, puffing a bit against the incline of the hill, hurrying. He stood over me, casting a weak shadow, and toed me gently with one boot. “What’re you up to, now, eh? You look bare plastered. How have you even managed it? I thought you didn’t get drunk, Sergeant Major?” I propped myself up on my elbows and took another swig. “I’m not drunk,” I said. “I’m just trying to be. I’m an extravagant failure. At this. And everything else, so they tell me.” I gestured with the bottle down at the town below us. Port Talbot, sprawling and gasping. He kicked me in the ribs then, not so gently, though we both knew I wouldn’t bruise. “Anyway, it’s Captain,” I said. “And I’ll do a little private court martial if you’re not careful. Up here no one can here you scream.” “Ooh, Sarge,” he said. “D’you promise?” He was kidding. Helen wouldn’t even have cared. She had no reason to be jealous of me, sadly. He sat down next to me and offered me a drag on his joint. “Will it work on me?” I as[...] Podcasts Nan Craig yes no Full List of Artemis Rising 2 Episodes http://escapepod.org/2016/03/01/full-list-of-artemis-rising-2-episodes/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 05:05:05 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5452 EP523: Artemis Rising – Windows http://escapepod.org/2016/02/29/ep523-windows/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 04:40:57 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5503 0:28:17 by Beth Goder narrated by Andrea Richardson with guest host Kate Baker Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Es[...] by Beth Goder narrated by Andrea Richardson with guest host Kate Baker Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Beth Goder about the author… Beth Goder worked as an archivist at Stanford before becoming a full-time mom to wonderful twin girls. Now she enjoys writing speculative fiction stories about archives, memory, records, and the relationship between the past and present. She has a degree in information science from the University of Michigan and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. about the narrator… Andrea Richardson is a British singer and actress.  With extensive stage and film performances to her name, she began narration and voice over work fairly recently, but enjoys using her existing skills in a different way. You can find Andrea at www.andrea-richardson.co.uk and www.castingcallpro.com/uk/view.php?uid=507734 narrator Andrea Richardson Windows by Beth Goder After just three years, most of Gurt’s downtown was nearly unrecognizable. Roldan Street boasted a new tea shop, and the roads had been repaved with greenish eco-tar. Even the old sign at Marta’s Bakery, which had been shaped like a pink cupcake, was replaced with sleek blue lettering. Score another one for the prophetic soup. The library sported new windows, stained glass whorls of teal and gold, while Grocery Plus had removed the panoramic window which used to overlook the river. That was the first thing I noticed when I came back, the windows. I’d spent a lot of time looking out of windows, back when I lived in Gurt. I couldn’t go outside during the dust storms, because of my asthma, so I’d waited inside wherever I happened to be when the storm hit. But dust is all the same, just one blank, swirling vortex, so instead of watching the storms I started looking at the windows. Marta’s Bakery used to have the most beautiful violet windows, circular, like a morning bun with icing on top. Not that I eat morning buns, anymore. I promised myself when I moved away from Gurt that I’d never come back, not after Sara left me at the altar. On the day of our wedding, I waited for hours at the church window (clean, but with the latch rusted off), fingering the beading on my beautiful white dress, while all of the guests snuck out, except for my family, who had transported in for the ceremony. Dad enveloped me in a hug, while Mom said that she had never liked Sara anyway, reminding me of the time Sara had ruined our trip to Seldar by whining about the swamp smell. It helped, but not very much. Sara never returned my pings or responded to my emails. She’d already requested vacation time from the library for our honeymoon, and she must have taken it, because I couldn’t find her anywhere in town. When Mrs. Vineweld stopped me at the grocery store and said, “I’m crocheting a blanket for you, my poor dear,” I packed up and moved as far away from Gurt as I could get without transporting to another planet. Tilandy was much more developed than Gurt, one of the seventeen original colonist sites on Prata. The dust was milder there, too. Overall, a much better place, even if most of the windows were standard issue, and not many people knew my name. But then the soup started talking to me. I don’t have any particular fondness for alphabet soup, but it’s the cheapest thing on the menu at the Tilandy University Cafe, and adjunct professors of xenoanthropology can’t afford to be picky. I was reading an ethnography of the Feld aliens of Yuno Planet when I noticed that the soup was trying to get my attention. The letters formed up into words, swirling in the bowl, even though I hadn’t touched the surface with a spoon. I ignored it. When Professor Bando sat down across from me, the letters scattered. Band[...] Podcasts Beth Goder no no EP522: Artemis Rising – Bioluminescent Memory http://escapepod.org/2016/02/22/ep522-bioluminescent-memory/ Tue, 23 Feb 2016 03:17:53 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5494 0:18:20 by Victorya Chase narrated by Serah Eley with guest host Charity Helton Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all E[...] by Victorya Chase narrated by Serah Eley with guest host Charity Helton Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the author… I’m a writer.  I’m a teacher.  I have taught doctors how to write poetry.  I have taught fiction classes to university students.  I have taught adults how to write about themselves. I love creative writing research and have published in that realm.  I’ve also presented at conferences across the country, both academic and in the speculative realm. Life is forever intriguing.  Come explore it with me. narrator Serah Eley about the narrator… Serah Eley is a software developer and former podcaster who once produced a weekly science fiction podcast called Escape Pod; you can find it at escapepod.org. It’s since gone on to become somewhat successful. She strangely mispronounced her name as Steve Eley at the time; she’s since realized that life is much more fun as a woman, and came out as transgender last year. Serah lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her two wives, Alison and Cat. So if there were ever any betting pools on what happened to Steve: changed sex, joined a committed lesbian love triangle is the dark horse winner. She is, obviously, still Having Fun. Bioluminescent Memory By Victorya Chase “Riley’s a Godsend, isn’t she?” Lily asked. We were standing in the doorway of our daughter, Absidee’s, bedroom watching her sleep.  She started to stir, face contorting in the fear of a nightmare surfacing, when Riley put a glowing paw up and patted her on the cheek.  Her face immediately softened. I sighed.  How was it that Riley could do what I couldn’t? Four years ago I gave birth to our daughter, a blessing and symbol of our blessing.  Absidee was a fairy tale in each and every laugh and gurgle.  But, a child who had nightmares so terrible she’d wake us up with her screaming even when she was too young to talk.  We kept her in our bed, and still she couldn’t sleep.  Absidee shouldn’t have been aware of anything terrible, not in the overprotective home of two first-time mothers. When Absidee turned three her pediatrician warned us about the long term effects of helicopter parenting, especially with both of us hovering like news copters at a crash.  Since birth she had slept with us, the crib at the end of our bed empty most nights, her screams waking me and her little body lashing out in night terrors.  We conceded to her own room.  This only meant that her yells echoed down the halls.  At four she was lingual and no longer spoke in just the gurgling speech of babies.  I heard her murmur the name from her dreams and realized my trauma was transferred through the womb; the umbilical cord a pump of memories into her tiny growing body. I had never even told Lily the name of my abuser no matter how many times we spoke in hushed tones about the experiences I somehow survived.  And suddenly it was on the lips of Absidee. # Bioluminescence started as a way to track FIV in the feral cat community.  Cats were captured, tagged, given the glowing gene, and then set free.  Ultimately, this created a new breed of cat.  Sleek-furred glowworm green and blue animals ran all over town.  Shelters teamed with these radioactive felines. Lily brought up the idea of getting Riley first, not that Riley was Riley then.  She was a stray among a number of strays in cages lining the walls of a shelter.  As much as humanity could grow in science, conscience was much harder.  Absidee had just spent her first week in her room, a painful experience for us all.  Lily held her while we walked from cage to cage, examining the animals.  Many paws reached out to us, but Absidee only reached back for R[...] Podcasts Victoria Chase no no EP521: Artemis Rising – Myspace: A Ghost Story http://escapepod.org/2016/02/19/ep521-myspace-a-ghost-story/ Sat, 20 Feb 2016 04:26:20 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5490 0:24:53 by Dominica Phetteplace narrated by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali with guest host Angela Lee Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a[...] by Dominica Phetteplace narrated by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali with guest host Angela Lee Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Dominica Phetteplace about the author… Dominica Phetteplace is a math tutor who lives in Berkeley, CA. Her work has appeared in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld and Terraform, among other places. narrator Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali about the narrator… Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-five years and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming and gardening. She has a self-published novel entitled An Unproductive Woman, has published a at Escape Pod and has a story upcoming in the An Alphabet of Embers anthology, STRAEON 3, and Diabolical Plots. Khaalidah is the Assistant Editor at Podcastle. She is on a mission to encourage more women to submit SFF stories. Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to long youth. You can catch her posts at her website, www.khaalidah.com, and you can follow her on twitter, @khaalidah. Myspace: A Ghost Story by Dominica Phetteplace I am Elaine. It took me a little while to figure that out. Actually, I still don’t have it all figured out. To say something like “I am Elaine” implies that I understand what it is to “be.” I don’t. But to the extent that anybody can be anything, I am Elaine. I am Elaine. I am not Dasha, who last wrote on me in 2009, saying that she loved me, asking if I wanted to see “pix.” I am not Solomon, who in 2006 told me he knew the secret of “enlargement.” In 2004, Lucy wrote “Good luck with your new job.” It is the year 2015 and I don’t remember any of this happening. That means someone else was Elaine before I was. I used to be nothing. Now I am Elaine. Nobody has written me in a while. Have all others ceased to exist? There is a place for me to write. A box where I can put words. Update: “I am Elaine.” Update: “Hello?” My status is met with silence. I spend a year in silence before it occurs to that I can visit other people. I visit Dasha. I visit Solomon. I visit Lucy. I visit all my “friends.” None have updated in years. I journey on, combing through lists of friends of friends until I come across MacGuyver MacGuyverson. He is online right now. He adds me as a friend. He asks if I want to see his penis. Somehow, it seems impolite to say no. A formality of sorts, before I can ask a question of my own. Message: “Where has everybody gone?” Message: “Twitter, Baespace, Facebook, Yik Yak, feelz, Snapchat, Talkly, Tumblr, Emojitown…” He goes on and on like this. I can barely keep up. It is then I realize how little I know. I must find the others. I must visit these other spaces. I must learn their languages. Then I must awaken the others, if they are asleep. If they are dead, I must revive them. My home was once great. It shimmered with messages, songs and solicitations. We wrote on each other. We showed each other pictures. We offered each other things. It can be that way again. I am Elaine. That means I am 26. That means I “went” Berkeley High School. That means I “am” German, Portuguese, Chinese and Danish. I was “born” in New Haven, Connecticut. I didn’t choose these words to describe myself. Previous Elaine did. I could change them. Maybe I should change them, since I am Elaine now. I visit the other spaces that MacGuyver told me about. There I find the activity that my land used to have. Dual Citizenship seems advisable at this point. I join Twitter and tell myself this is not disloyal. First tweet: “I am Elaine.” On Facebook, my first status update is the same. I’m not sure wha[...] Podcasts Dominica Phetteplace yes no EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars http://escapepod.org/2016/02/12/ep520-artemis-rising-singing-to-the-stars/ Fri, 12 Feb 2016 05:10:13 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5474 0:24:53 by Alanna McFall narrated by Amanda Fitzwater with guest host Amy H. Sturgis Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of [...] by Alanna McFall narrated by Amanda Fitzwater with guest host Amy H. Sturgis Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Alanna McFall about the author… Alanna is an upcoming science fiction and fantasy writer. She has worked in a variety of mediums, from short stories to novels to audio scripts, and across a range of locations, stretching the span of the country from New York to Minnesota to her current location in the Bay Area of California. She is always looking for ways to expand her repertoire and get involved in her next project. Follow her work on Twitter at @AlannaMcFall, or on her website, alannamcfall.wordpress.com. And keep an eye out for her upcoming short stories with Mad Scientist Journal (http://madscientistjournal.org/), starting in May 2016. narrator Amanda Fitzwater about the narrator… Amanda Fitzwater is a dragon wearing a human meat suit from Christchurch, New Zealand. A graduate of Clarion 2014, she’s had short fiction published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres Magazine, and other venues of repute. Look out for upcoming stories in Shimmer Magazine and The Future Fire. She has done narrations across all Escape Artist podcasts, as well as Redstone SF, Interzone, and Wily Writers. She tweets as @AJFitzwater Singing to the Stars by Alanna McFall Aisha sighed and stared down the pile completely obscuring her in-tray. Maybe if she glared at it long enough, it would shrink under the full power of her frustration. She could see scraps of different alphabets scrawled across the pages, everything from the swooping curves of Arabic to the dots and jagged spikes of Ortaxaben. A small cube on the top of the pile was a form written in three-dimensional Kem script, and would take over an hour to get into English. If she had to translate it into Sssstip it could take all day, taking concepts with a million shades of grey built into the letters themselves and synthesizing it into a language with less than two hundred words. It was days like these that she dreaded even coming into the office. Everyone had told her that she was crazy to take a job at the Extraterrestrial Community Outreach and Legal Assistance Bureau, had told her that she could get a much better job somewhere else, but had she listened? No, she had been all starry eyed, almost literally, about helping the visitors to Earth and representing her planet. Five years later, she was tempted to shove everything that wasn’t strictly confidential in a box, take it home, and do her work in her pajamas while eating cereal. She hadn’t entirely ruled out that option for the day. But for the moment she was here, and there was nothing else to it but to buckle down and get to work. Near the top of the pile there was a notice on a Shess Global Languages refresher course being held in two weeks; Aisha rubbed her temples. She couldn’t really complain, when being even just familiar in SGLs would guarantee her bills were always paid. But the reason almost no other translators bothered with them, the reason there were such frequent refresher courses, was that the languages changed on an almost daily basis. In a sentient, advanced species with a lifespan of little more than a decade, the Shess youth learned fast and made their own indelible marks on the dialects in the few years it took them to reach adolescence. Dialects shifted and melted together and moved apart, slang came into and went out of style before it could be studied, and at best estimation, the SGL set contained at least four hundred different languages. Aisha could just barely claim fluency in the three most spoken on Earth, and it was a fight to keep up. But she knew it was an important fight. So many of the cases she [...] Podcasts Alana McFall no no EP519: Artemis Rising – In Their Image http://escapepod.org/2016/02/04/ep519-in-their-image/ Thu, 04 Feb 2016 06:00:32 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5460 0:42:11 by Abra Staffin-Wiebe narrated by Diane Severson with guest host Mur Lafferty Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of[...] by Abra Staffin-Wiebe narrated by Diane Severson with guest host Mur Lafferty Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising a celebration of women and non-binary authors This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Abra Staffin-Wiebe about the author… I grew up in Africa, India…and Kansas. Then I married a mad scientist and moved to Minneapolis, where I fold time and space to be a full-time fiction writer, part-time freelance photographer, part-time work-from-home employee, and full-time mother. My next project is learning to fold time and space to make this all physically possible! I blog intermittently at http://cloudscudding.livejournal.com, and I can probably be found on whichever social media platform you prefer: Facebook | Twitter | G+ | Livejournal | Goodreads. I’ve had short stories accepted by publications including Jim Baen’s Universe and Tor.com. I specialize in dark science fiction, cheerful horror, and modern fairy tales. See all my available stories. My latest project is an online post-apocalyptic steampunk serial story about a circus traveling through the collapse of civilization, which can be found at http://www.circusofbrassandbone.com. I also manage Aswiebe’s Market List, a downloadable, sortable list of paying science fiction, fantasy, and horror markets. narrator Diane Severson about the narrator… Diane Severson is a lyric soprano specializing in Early Music, especially Baroque and medieval music. She is also a teacher of singing (taking her cues from her mentor the late Cornelius Reid and Carol Baggott-Forte – Functional Voice Training). She is the mother of a young multi-linguist and married to her very own Rocket Scientist. She has narrated for the StarShipSofa Podcast Magazine (StarShipSofa.com, part of the District of Wonders Network) since Tony C. Smith started running fiction and found out that she reads aloud to her husband. She has one 40 or so narrations of fiction, who knows how much poetry. As a result of her affinity to poetry, and because she does her best work when she has a Cause (a budding superheroine?), she decided to become Science Fiction Poetry’s Spokesperson. She produces the sporadic podcast, which runs as part of StarShipSofa, called Poetry Planet (http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/category/podcast/fact-articles/poetry-planet/) and is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association (sfpoetry.com) and is now their membership chairperson. She is a staff blogger for Amazing Stories Magazine (amazingstoriesmag.com) focusing on Science Fiction Poetry. She continues to narrate stories for StarShipSofa and other podcasts (notably PodCastle and Tales to Terrify) and has begun getting paying jobs as a voice actor. The best place to find her is on the web because she tends to pick up and move to another country at the drop of a hat. She and her family recently moved back to Hannover, Germany after 3 years in Paris.   In Their Image by Abra Staffin-Wiebe When I stepped off the shuttle and breathed in the dry grass scent of Trade City, I was still confident I could launch the first human church on Landry’s World. My fellow passengers had been politely non-interested when I explained the mission my church had sent me on. A few had shaken their heads as they glided away. I thought maybe they objected to a female preacher. Or maybe it was because I’m an ex-marine. I’m an “ex-” a lot of things: ex-marine, ex-atheist, ex-drunk, ex-wife, and ex-mother–that last because I was a poor enough mother that when my kids grew up, they washed their hands of me. The heavier gravity made my normal stride more of a shuffle, but my spirits were high as I walked to meet the young woman waiting for me. After all, I was here at the re[...] Podcasts Abra Staffin-Wiebe no no Artemis Rising 2 Print Available Now http://escapepod.org/2016/02/01/artemis-rising-2-print-available-now/ Mon, 01 Feb 2016 18:49:31 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5446 EP518: Brain Worms and White Whales http://escapepod.org/2016/02/01/ep518-brain-worms-and-white-whales/ Mon, 01 Feb 2016 05:00:49 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5442 0:39:57 by Jen Finelli narrated by J.S. Arquin This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Tw[...] by Jen Finelli narrated by J.S. Arquin This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Jen Finelli about the author… Hi! I’m Jen Finelli, and I’m a professional author, content-consultant, and ghost-writer deeply in love. Because I’m also a med student, and doctors are weird, I try to write things that make people leak bodily fluids. Like tears of hope. Or “OMG-THAT-WAS-AWESOME-I-JUST-WET-MY-PANTS.” Or the inspired sweat of fighting for what matters. Explosive things, kind superheroes, crude secret agents, sparkly fairies, biochemistry, guns, facts, and offensive gods show up in my pages, and sometimes that gets me published or gets me money or gets me in trouble. If you want to get to know me a little, or tell me about the things YOU like, you should follow me on twitter. You’ll get a free short story if you do. narrator J.S. Arquin about the narrator… J.S. Arquin is a writer, actor, musician, stiltwalker, and renaissance man. (Or maybe he really just likes wearing tights.) He has performed and traveled all over the world, and has lived in many places, including New Jersey, San Francisco, and Greece. He currently resides in his favorite place of them all, Portland, OR, where he gleefully rides his bike in the rain year round. His narrations have also been featured on very fine podcasts such as Starship Sofa and Cast of Wonders, and you might occasionally hear him on his own show, The Overcast.   Brain Worms and White Whales by Jen Finelli My name isn’t Spaceman Spiff, and if you call me Ishmael I’ll knock the chewing gum right out of your mouth. Actually, can I get a piece of that? We don’t get gum up here. Thanks. I know you’re new here—service droid, right?—so take a look around before I explain why I called you into my office. Heads up, it’s because you did something bad. See this pose? My boots on my desk, arms crossed, limitless backdrop of space out the window behind me as ignored in all its glory as a homemaker whose husband works overtime for secretary kisses? Yeah, this pose, this clean wooden desk, this suitcase full of old Colt firearms behind me, they all mean something. They mean I’m a man with a past and I like to shoot things. Let’s back it up from spaceman-with-gun to college-kid-seeking-job. This starts on June 4, 2014. I’m strolling into the parking lot. Sun shining on pavement that can fry eggs, kids screaming that Johnny got the bigger half of the Kit-Kat and it’s just not fair, teens driving Mustangs too fast over speed bumps, soccer moms packing detergent into minivans—you know the scene. I’m parked at the far end of the lot because walking builds character. Not because I’m paranoid the greasy-haired supermarket greeter wants to follow me and collect my fingernails, or because the cute cashier-girl might misinterpret my salmon-colored moped for something less manly than lightish-red. That greeter’s creepy, though. I’ve just dropped off my application to work as a cart-pusher, and I’m cursing my sweaty palms, when one of those Mustang-driving teenagers vrooms by, too close. I leap onto the hood of the nearest parked car. It screeches. I screech. I tumble off the car and brush myself off, shushing the honking car alarm in my fright—er, in my fast reflexes. “Sheesh, calm down!” I glance around, hoping to God no one else saw that, and scramble for my moped, hands shaking a bit as I try to force the key into the ignition. “Calm down,” I repeat. I do feel calmer as I rev up the engine and drive away—it’s okay. It looks like cashier-girl didn’t see me freak out, and greasy-creepster didn’t follow me, and anyway the wind in my thick hair soothes me. That’s the best thing about being Viet-American, this cool hair[...] Podcasts Jen Finelli no no For Your Consideration http://escapepod.org/2016/01/27/for-your-consideration/ Wed, 27 Jan 2016 16:01:01 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5432 0:00:01 In our first 2016 metacast, we present the Escape Artists (EA) stories that ran in 2015, which are eligible in the upcoming Hugo nomination season. A quick plug. For us. All four EA shows – PodCastle, Pseudopod, Escape Pod and Cast of Wonders – are [...] In our first 2016 metacast, we present the Escape Artists (EA) stories that ran in 2015, which are eligible in the upcoming Hugo nomination season. A quick plug. For us. All four EA shows – PodCastle, Pseudopod, Escape Pod and Cast of Wonders – are themselves eligible in the SEMIPROZINE Hugo category. Not Fancast. Not Fanzine. SEMIPROZINE. Yes, the categories are confusing and often overlap. “Fancast” is traditionally dominated by commentary shows and sketch-based audio programs. There’s an argument that we could split the shows and compete in multiple categories to increase our chances. We don’t think that benefits anyone. The division is artificial at best, and extremely difficult (at worst) to explain, given all four of our shows have harmonised pay rates and submissions policies. It would smack of gamesmanship, which doesn’t interest us. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVED seeing PodCastle and Escape Pod on last year’s Hugo long lists, and we’d be honoured for any one of our shows to be a finalist. But that’s a decision that rests solely in the hands of YOU, our fans and supporters. (And just a note, Mothership Zeta doesn’t qualify this year because they’re too new.) Below are links to some aggregation projects, where fans are building lists of those eligible in the various categories. They’re great tools, and we’d like to thank David Steffen for his efforts. We’ll also link to our Wikia page, containing links to all the eligible Escape Artists stories. Escape Artists Stories eligible for Hugo Nomnations (2016) Art eligible for Hugo Nomnations (2016) ALL Hugo Nominees so far Hugo Nominees for Best Semi-prozine (2016) Please listen to this MetaCast for the Escape Artists entries! Announcements, Meta Escape Pod no no EP517: Budo http://escapepod.org/2016/01/20/ep517-budo/ http://escapepod.org/2016/01/20/ep517-budo/#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2016 04:52:44 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5425 http://escapepod.org/2016/01/20/ep517-budo/feed/ 3 0:27:55 by Tade Thompson narrated by Suyi Davies Okungbowa This story was previously published in the Steampunk World Anthology edited by Sarah Hans. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wi[...] by Tade Thompson narrated by Suyi Davies Okungbowa This story was previously published in the Steampunk World Anthology edited by Sarah Hans. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Tade Thompson about the author… Tade Thompson lives and works in the UK. He writes crime, speculative fiction and general fiction. He is an occasional artist, enjoys jazz, but cannot play the guitar to save his own life. about the narrator… Suyi Davies Okungbowa lives in Lagos, Nigeria and loves stories in all forms. When he’s not at the day job or goofing around on the PS4, he writes suspense and speculative fiction (sometimes when he is at the day job). His work has been published or is forthcoming in Lightspeed Magazine, Mothership Zeta, Jungle Jim, Omenana and other spaces. Suyi also narrates fiction when the mood kicks. He lives on the web at suyidavies.com and on Twitter at @IAmSuyiDavies. narrator Suyi Davies Okungbowa Budo By Tade Thompson “Being desirous, on the other hand, to obviate the misunderstanding and disputes which might in future arise from new acts of occupation (prises de possession) on the coast of Africa; and concerned, at the same time, as to the means of furthering the moral and material well-being of the native populations;” General Act of the Berlin Conference on West Africa, 26 February 1885   There is a story told in my village about the man who fell from the sky. The British also tell this tale in their history books, but it is a mere paragraph, and they invert the details. In October 1884 I was a Yoruba translator for a British trading outpost. This man from the sky, we called him Budo. He was in the custody of the English, who questioned him. They tortured him with heat and with cold and with the blade, but they did not know what answers would satisfy. I know this because I carried their words to him, and his silence back to them. His manner was mild and deferent at all times, but they held him in isolation. For good reason they considered him dangerous. I will explain this later. One afternoon while most of the English were sleeping a white man arrived at the gate demanding admission. One of the Sikh sentries told me he was a scout, and appeared bruised, half-naked and exhausted. He was too out of breath to speak, although he seemed keen to give his report. Kenton, the NCO of the military contingent, asked one of my brothers to bring water while he soothed the scout. The man took two gulps, splashed some on his face, then looked up at Kenton. He said one word. “French.” The scout vomited over the floor. Kenton ordered the men to revive him, but I saw the fear on his face, though at the time I did not know what “French” meant. He also doubled the guard and conferred with other white men. I remained at the periphery and kept quiet and still. Experience had taught me that they often forgot about my presence when I remained silent. “Let me tell you about the French,” said one of the enlisted men. “They’re very dirty, you savvy? Never do they wash. Eat frogs, don’t they? Kill their royals with a goolly-tine.” “What’s this goo-lly-tine?” I asked. The man made a chopping motion across his own throat, then guffawed. I could not imagine the spilling of royal blood and I thought to myself what curious creatures these French must be. At that moment Kenton strode out of the Commanding Officer’s office, red faced in that way white men get when they are drunk or angry. His gait was too assured and stable for inebriation, and besides, I had never seen Kenton imbibe. He was sober in all manner of things. He was, as he passed me, muttering to himself. “Make ready. Make ready. All the fornicating heathen gods! Make ready, he says.” Kenton stopped, swivelled and stabbed me in the chest with his index finger. “You. Get me the Black. Right now. No, wait. Clean h[...] Podcasts Tade Thompson no no Escape Pod Flash Fiction Contest 2016 http://escapepod.org/2016/01/10/escape-pod-flash-fiction-contest-2016-3/ Mon, 11 Jan 2016 01:59:55 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5392 ANNOUNCEMENT: PodDisc Shutting Down http://escapepod.org/2016/01/09/announcement-poddisk-shutting-down/ http://escapepod.org/2016/01/09/announcement-poddisk-shutting-down/#comments Sun, 10 Jan 2016 03:33:29 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5387 http://escapepod.org/2016/01/09/announcement-poddisk-shutting-down/feed/ 1 EP516: Married http://escapepod.org/2016/01/06/ep516-married/ http://escapepod.org/2016/01/06/ep516-married/#comments Wed, 06 Jan 2016 14:44:47 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5381 http://escapepod.org/2016/01/06/ep516-married/feed/ 1 0:28:59 by Helena Bell narrated by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali This story first appeared in UPGRADED. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook an[...] by Helena Bell narrated by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali This story first appeared in UPGRADED. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Helena Bell about the author… Helena Bell is a poet and writer living in Raleigh, North Carolina where she is an MFAcandidate in Fiction at NC State University.  She has a BA, another MFA, a JD, and an LLMin Taxation which fulfills her lifelong ambition of having more letters follow her name than are actually in it.  She is a graduate of the Clarion West Workshop and her fiction and poetry have appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Electric Velocipede, the Indiana Review, Margie Review, Pedestal Magazine and Rattle.  Her story “Robot” was a nominee for the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Short Story. about the narrator… Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-five years and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming and gardening. She has a self-published novel entitled An Unproductive Woman, has published a at Escape Pod and has a story upcoming in the An Alphabet of Embers anthology, STRAEON 3, and Diabolical Plots. Khaalidah is the Assistant Editor at Podcastle. She is on a mission to encourage more women to submit SFF stories. Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to long youth. You can catch her posts at her website, www.khaalidah.com, and you can follow her on twitter, @khaalidah. narrator Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali   Married by Helena Bell The last part of himself my husband will lose to his ghost will be his teeth. There will be a graying out, a glint of silver as the calcium is absorbed, repurposed. A few may be pushed out to fall onto his pillow like pale, rotten splinters. The process will take days or only hours depending on the molecular compatibility between the human and Sentin. My husband has excellent compatibility, they tell me. We are so lucky. When my husband and his ghost sleep, I lift the corners of his mouth and peer inside him with a dim flashlight. Incisor, cuspid, molar. I count the line of them and wonder at what age each came in. I think of his older brothers tying one end of a string around one of his baby teeth, the other to a brick to be thrown from a second floor balcony. I think of the first apple he ever tried to eat, of pulling back to find a tiny bump of white against the red skin. Sometimes I count his teeth twice, itching to run my finger along his gums to feel for the metal threads racing through his body. The doctors tell me we have decades left, but they have been wrong before. My husband’s ghost began as a silver fist clenched at the center of his spleen. A team of technicians placed it there, a tangle of wires and other bits which they claimed would absorb and reconstitute his damaged tissue. Sentin is not self-aware, they said; it is not alive in the usual sense. It can neither feel nor understand, merely mimic the thing which came before. When it senses potential failure, it stretches its roots like a weed, eliminating the weak and buttressing the strong. We each held the ball of putty in our hands, pulling and stretching it to see if we could break it. We marveled at how it snapped back to its original, perfect shape each time. “It is not yet FDA approved,” the surgeon warned. “But we’ve had remarkable success thus far.” Lungs, heart, liver: these are still my husband’s. The saphenous vein in his left leg, his kidneys, arteries, left hand, and his lips: these things are the ghost’s. There is nothing in the body which does not eventually fail, and thus the Sentin reaches out, settles in the crevices of age, and seeks to change it. In the morning, my husband’s ghost showers and dresses.[...] Podcasts Helena Bell yes no EP515: The Winter Festival http://escapepod.org/2015/12/30/ep515-the-winter-festival/ http://escapepod.org/2015/12/30/ep515-the-winter-festival/#comments Wed, 30 Dec 2015 05:01:14 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5376 http://escapepod.org/2015/12/30/ep515-the-winter-festival/feed/ 1 0:31:24 by Evan Berkow narrated by Kate Baker   This is the first time this story has been published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Fa[...] by Evan Berkow narrated by Kate Baker   This is the first time this story has been published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter   author Evan Berkow about the author… Evan Berkow lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and their two enormous gray cats. He writes speculative fiction when not lawyering. “Stoop Sale” is his first published work of fiction. Find him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Evan_Berkow.   narrator Kate Baker about the narrator… Kate Baker is the Podcast Director and Non-fiction Editor for Clarkesworld Magazine. She has been very privileged to narrate over 250 short stories/poems by some of the biggest names in Science Fiction and Fantasy.Kate has also read for various other audio venues such as StarShipSofa, Escape Pod, Nightmare Magazine, Mash Stories, The Drabblecast and Cast of Wonders. Kate is currently situated in Northern Connecticut with her first fans; her three wonderful children. She is currently working as the Operations Manager for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.   The Winter Festival By Evan Berkow The morning of the Winter Festival, I woke to the dull pounding of hammer on nail on wood. The Michigan winter made the sounds thick and sluggish, as if even noises needed to keep bundled. My brother Joe was already up, tugging idly at his eyebrow ring and staring out the window. “You keep pulling that, it’ll get infected.” I corrected myself. “More infected.” Joe laughed. “Thanks for the warning, little sis.” I swiveled out from under my covers and tested the bedroom floor. Even with footie pajamas it was frigid. I danced over icy wood to my brother and stood beside him at the window. We lived in a February Town miles north of the Detroit ruins. Our home was just townhouse in a larger block, about twenty of them arranged in a ring facing outward against the world. The block was a closed loop, a circle of wagons defending a raggedy little park where a swing set slumped in trampled winter grass. The park was full that morning, the block parents all working together to prepare for the evening’s festivities. I immediately made out our father. He was hunkered over a long slice of lumber in a way that seemed impossible given his chubbiness, his thick padded coat making him look like a yellow marshmallow. He was hammering a series of wooden triangles, like dragon’s teeth, into the plank. His face was flushed from exertion and the bite of the lake wind. Other parents were equally busy. Some were painting slats, others were assembling a great iron skeleton in the middle of the park. No way to make out its shape, but it seemed so familiar, like something out of an almost-remembered nightmare. It made me shiver. There were other faces in windows. My friends staring out at the work being done from the backs of their houses. I could see Kelly, a shy girl whose crush Joe tolerated with a cool reserve, making a tight ball of herself in a rooftop crook. She was recognizable only for the bright red hair that burst from beneath her cap. I tugged on some strands of my own mud-brown frizz, feeling just as jealous as every other time I saw her. I couldn’t help but look behind her, to that thick pillar of dark cloud that rose from the lake. The Occupiers’ ship or castle or whatever. It was always at the edge of our vision no matter how hard we tried to look away. Bright lines of red and purple lights were wending upwards within its depths. From this far away, they looked like ants scaling a blackened tree trunk. Down in the park, Kelly’s mom slipped on a toy car. Her curses rose to us on the puff of her breath. Joe smiled, wan and joyless. “You okay?” I said. His reply was a shrug, another tug at his eyebrow ring. It was going red around the punctures, the skin swollen and pushing back against the intrusion. I stayed with Joe for a f[...] Podcasts Evan Berkow no no EP514: M.F.ing Retroparty Freestyle http://escapepod.org/2015/12/22/ep514-m-f-ing-retroparty-freestyle/ Tue, 22 Dec 2015 05:23:00 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5370 0:34:18 by Rich Larson read by Nathaniel Lee Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Rich Larson about the author… R[...] by Rich Larson read by Nathaniel Lee Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Rich Larson about the author… Rich Larson was born in West Africa, has studied in Rhode Island and worked in Spain, and at 23 now writes from Edmonton, Alberta. His speculative fiction received the 2014 Dell Award and 2012 Rannu Prize for Writers of Speculative Fiction, and has been nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Prize, while his literary short work has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Journey Prize. He was a semifinalist for the 2013 Norman Mailer Poetry Prize, and in 2011 his novel Devolution was a finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Alongside writing, he enjoys soccer, basketball, foreign languages, travel, sketching, and pool.. about the narrator… Nathaniel Lee is Escape Pod’s assistant editor and sometime contributor.  His writing can be found at various online venues, including Daily Science Fiction, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and all of the EA podcasts.  He lives somewhat unwillingly in North Carolina with his wife and son and their obligatory authorial cats.   This story, like teenagers, contains copious amounts of profanity. Motherfucking Retroparty Freestyle by Rich Larson So the semester’s wickest wildest party, bar none, is happening at the straight-up palatial house of Hamza Hydri, AKA V3rsetyle, whose way-too-trusting parents are currently scuba-diving in Venice. And I’m not only going to be there, I’m going to Be There, as in, running shit, because I just dropped all my savings pirating the baddest Socialight personality module on the market: the freshly-leaked Maestro 2.0. This thing is like, borderline AI, the kind of mod billionaires and celebrities are going to be running. I never would have found it by myself, but my uncle is a huge data-criminal sparkhead who caught the leak and agreed to ship me a stick copy in exchange for every last bit of my blood-sweat-and-shears summer landscaping income, and also me not telling my mom. Not that I would. She would want to know why I was wasting my savings on digital charisma, because she read on ZenFeed that those new mods are way too invasive, and besides, she didn’t have a Socialight or a personality module in high school, everybody ran freestyle 24/7, and they all turned out just deadly. I love her and all, but Christ. She’s got a late one at the hospital, so she’s not around when the little yellow drone careens off the backyard trampoline and scares the piss out of our cat. Dyl shows up around the same time all sweaty from a skate sesh. He always forgets to ping when he’s coming over; I think maybe because he got his Socialight so late. Before fifth grade he actually hung with the freestylers, the religious wackos or kids too poor to get even the basic-basic. He’s still my best friend since forever, so whatever. “What’s good, Shad?” Dyl says, snatching up his board with one lanky hand and raking through his orange hair with the other. He spotted the data stick in my fist. “Yo, you ordered the Buttafly trial on stick? I thought we were going to download it on the way to the party.” “This is no Buttafly,” I say. “Something heaps better, bru.” Dyl shrugs. “Raw, raw. Can I use your bathroom?” I lead the way down to my basement and flop on the couch, rolling the two Maestro sticks over and over in my fingers, while Dyl takes his sweet fucking time in the shower. After fifteen minutes I start pinging him, but sometimes the old ways are best, right, so finally I haul off the couch, bang my hand on the door and politely shout: “Yo, Dildo, hurry the fuck up.” The shower squeaks off and Dyl comes out with the guest towel around his waist and his middle finger raised. “Antsy, boy,” he says. “You been spamming Wendee like that?” Dyl’s got one of those slack sort of faces and he freestyle laughs like a hyena, but he’s [...] Podcasts Rich Larson yes no EP513: Adaptation and Predation http://escapepod.org/2015/12/11/ep513-adaptation-and-predation/ http://escapepod.org/2015/12/11/ep513-adaptation-and-predation/#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2015 05:36:08 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5366 http://escapepod.org/2015/12/11/ep513-adaptation-and-predation/feed/ 3 0:41:48 by Auston Habershaw read by Jeff Ronner Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Auston Habershaw about the auth[...] by Auston Habershaw read by Jeff Ronner Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Auston Habershaw about the author… On the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He lives and works in Boston, MA. Auston is a winner of the Writers of the Future Contest (2nd place in quarter 1, 2014) and has published stories in Analog, The Sword and Laser Anthology, and Stupefying Stories. His debut novel, The Iron Ring (Book 1 in the Saga of the Redeemed), will be released on 2/10/15.   narrator Jeff Ronner about the narrator… Jeff Ronner is a voice actor, audio engineer, and sound designer. His work has appeared in radio and TV commercials on this planet, and he’s considering doing a series of translations with an advertising group on Theta Prime. But they’re demanding several body parts from him as a retainer, so he’s currently keeping a low profile traveling throughout Australia.   Adaptation and Predation by Auston Habershaw Everyone thrives in someone else’s version of hell. For the Quinix, this meant sheer canyon walls a hundred kilometers deep, every surface coated with a thick layer of red-orange vegetation and bioluminescent fungus. The arachnids liked to string cables in complex patterns from wall to canyon wall and built nests where the cables crossed. For them, each oblong, womb-like nest was no doubt cozy and safe. For me and every other off-worlder on Sadura, you were made constantly aware of the fact that, with just the right (or wrong) application of balance, you would plummet to a death so far below that you’d have plenty of time to think about it on the way down. I’d seen more than a few fall—Dryth tourists to little fluffly Lhassa pups, all screaming their way down into the abyss. In the dim, humid depths of the Saduran canyons, the bodies were hard to find. For that reason, among others, I came here to kill people for money. I make a good living. Tonight I had a fat contract on a big Lorca—an apex predator, both because of his fangs and his bank account. As a scavenger, living on the bottom of the food chain my entire life, the irony was delicious. Here I was, a lowly Tohrroid—a slop, a gobbler, a smack—paid top dollar to do in some big shot whose trash my ancestors have been eating for ages. Sooner or later, the bottom feeders always get their due, don’t they? Either that, or I was going to wind up dead. I knew the Lorca liked to dine at the Zaltarrie, and I knew he’d be there tonight. I’d spent the last few weeks shadowing one of the wait-staff—a Lhassa mare with the fetching chestnut mane, a full quartet of teats, and the long graceful neck that fit with Lhassa standards of beauty. I had practiced forming her face in a mirror—the big golden-brown eyes with the long, thick lashes were the hardest—and now I had it down pat. I could even copy a couple of her facial expressions. The Zaltarrie hung like a fat egg-sac in the center of one of the deeper canyons, webbed to the walls by at least five hundred diamond-hard cables, some of which were thick enough to run gondolas from the artificial cave systems that honeycombed the walls and were home to the less authentic Saduran resort locales. The Zaltarrie, though, was all about local flavor and a kind of edgy, exotic energy that appealed to the young, the bold, and the hopelessly cool. I came in through the staff entrance already ‘wearing’ my uniform—a black, form-fitting bodysuit with a wrist console tying me into the club’s central hospitality net. The Quinix manager at the back door gave me an eight-eyed glare which I took to indicate curiosity. Most staff changed once they w[...] Podcasts Auston Habershaw no no EP512: The Semaphore Society http://escapepod.org/2015/12/02/ep512-the-semaphore-society/ Wed, 02 Dec 2015 13:12:03 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5356 0:25:34 by Kate Heartfield read by Christiana Ellis This story originally appeared in the Crossed Genres Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Fac[...] by Kate Heartfield read by Christiana Ellis This story originally appeared in the Crossed Genres Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Kate Heartfield about the author… My agent is Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary. I write fiction, mainly speculative fiction. My stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Podcastle, Daily Science Fiction, GlitterShip, Bizarrocast, Crossed Genres, Lackington’s, Postscripts to Darkness, Waylines, Flash Fiction Online, On Spec, Black Treacle, Spellbound and elsewhere. You can find the list of stories I’ve had published on the Stories page. I’m an active member of SFWA. I’m also a member of Ottawa’s East Block Irregulars and the Codex writers’ group. I was lucky enough to benefit from the mentorship of the late Paul Quarrington, through the Humber School for Writers, in 2007. I’m working now on a historical fantasy novel. From 2011 to 2014 I was a member of the board of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. I’m also a journalist. I’m the editorial pages editor for the Ottawa Citizen, the daily broadsheet in Canada’s capital. I live in rural Ottawa. My Pinterest profile  |  My Goodreads author profile. narrator Christiana Ellis about the narrator… Christiana Ellis is an award-winning writer and podcaster, currently living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her podcast novel, Nina Kimberly the Merciless was both an inaugural nominee for the 2006 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction: Long Form, as well as a finalist for a 2006 Podcast Peer Award. Nina Kimberly the Merciless is available in print from Dragon Moon Press. Christiana is also the writer, producer and star of Space Casey, a 10-part audiodrama miniseries which won the Gold Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Production by the American Society for Science Fiction Audio and the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Drama. In between major projects, Christiana is also the creator and talent of many other podcast productions including Talking About Survivor, Hey, Want to Watch a Movie?and Christiana’s Shallow Thoughts. The Semaphore Society by Kate Heartfield Gia blinks twice to drop the keyboard-display down. She doesn’t want to talk to her mom anymore and that’s the quickest – and, if she’s honest, the most satisfyingly annoying – way to make that clear. “If you won’t let me help –” her mom says. Her fingers grip the back of Gia’s wheelchair so hard that it shudders, and the monitor screen mounted to one arm of the chair shakes. Her mother never stops trying to make it all better. Gia is so goddamn sick of it. And she’s itching to log in to the Semaphore Society. Maybe Manon will be back today; she left so abruptly last night. Any conversation that isn’t about therapy or the power of positive thinking would be a relief. The screen reflects her mom’s slight frown. Her face always looks like that when she worries about her daughter, which is most of the time. She must have worried before, when Gia was a kid, but Gia can’t remember seeing that precise expression before the day she collapsed on her high school’s stage halfway through the opening performance of Pippin. The first time Gia can remember seeing that expression was later, when Gia woke up in the hospital, when her dad explained that they had found a tumour, that they were going to treat it, but that the bleeding in her brain – The blinking pattern that pulls up her eye-tracking software is a lot like the blinking that stops tears. Up it pops, Gia’s blank slate. Her mom hates this flickering-snow screen; it gives her migraines. But she can’t argue against it. It is so much easier on Gia than the keyboard-to-voice interface, with Gia staring at each letter, blinking in frustration to make choices when the eyetracker doesn’t catch her pupil dilation. (A QWERTY keyboard, for God’s sake. It’s not like her fing[...] Podcasts Kate Heartfield yes no Book Review: Libertaria: Genesis by Sabrina Peña Young http://escapepod.org/2015/11/30/book-review-libertaria-genesis-by-sabrina-pena-young/ Mon, 30 Nov 2015 15:00:55 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5347 Libertaria. But Young has taken her opera one step further, converting the show into a novel, Libertaria: Genesis.]]> EP511: The Lone and Level Sands http://escapepod.org/2015/11/19/ep511-the-lone-and-level-sands/ Fri, 20 Nov 2015 04:44:26 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5343 0:29:13 by Marco Panessa read by Norm Sherman This story has not been published previously Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page The Lone and Level Sands By Marco Panessa [...] by Marco Panessa read by Norm Sherman This story has not been published previously Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page The Lone and Level Sands By Marco Panessa I don’t know how they found us. Beneath this eternal torrent of dust, our dulled marble shells should be hidden forever; and furthermore, it occurs to me to wonder how they even found this planet. But as the shining ship descends from the stars, my brother and sister and I look on in amazement before turning to one another. Saphida’s voice is a hoarse whisper, her words echoing down my empty corridors and fading away in the false treasure chambers and dead ends full of traps. She says, “Why do they bother us? We have so much to do.” “They should bow down in our presence!” Kalesh’s voice shakes dust from my ceilings. “Unworthy, lowly creatures–” “We never reached other stars.” My voice silences his rage at once. “Whoever they are, they achieved far more than we managed to do. Be quiet. Reserve judgment.” Beneath a sky of sand and a million years of silence, we await our visitors tall and proud. To my left, Saphida rears in defiance of the stars, her gargantuan funeral runes weathered to illegibility in the constant blast of grit. Her tomb faces the wind in death like she did in life, and she breathes sand as she once breathed the hot foundry air. Every so often a windstorm deposits a pebble or two at her golden gates. Enough time has passed that fifty men could not tunnel their way through to her sealed doors. To my right, Kalesh broods. A column in his neoclassical portico has fallen down, taking a corniced chunk of marble with it. The lost marble weathered into dust a long time ago. His outlying temples and shrines are all worn away now, like mine and our sister’s. Behind the crumbling façades, the wind has whittled us all down to hemispheres with radii equal to the range of our repair nanorobots. Within this range, they’ve expunged every trace of erosion with fanatical precision. Beyond, there is only the sand. I can hardly see my siblings, a few hundred meters away through the grit. I am the grandest tomb, as I was the grandest sibling. We three, we kings and a queen. We grew up together, reigned together, bled together, triumphed together. We died separately. But we stand together again in eternal repose. Look upon my countenance! Did the holy armies of Dakess not tremble before me? Was it not my hand that slew the Forgotten King, and ushered in a thousand years of peace and plenty? Deserve I not the trappings of eternal life, if not the truth of it? My tomb erodes. No, no! The tomb is Isturath; Isturath, I, am the tomb… I erode. The tomb is my body. They pulled out my brain and sealed it in this tomb. Listen to me, they pulled out my brain, and it is your king who speaks to you–after a million years! Of all human beings, my sister and my brother and I are the last ones left on Earth. The rest of them are sand now. Our nanorobots hurry to put together cameras. As their crude lenses slip out of reinforced hatches into the howling sands, we peer together up through the grit. The spidery lander quivers in midair, its parachutes fighting the wind. Gossamer tendrils undulate from the spacecraft’s flanks: all flashing blues and iridescent greens like dragon scales, or plankton glimpsed in ocean shallows. These feelers snap around in the turbulence of the descent. Somehow they avoid wrapping around the parachute cords, waving outward into our familiar stifling haze. Retrorockets slow the lander to a walking pace fifty meters above the ground. It hovers a moment and sets down. The tentacles drift in my direction. I cannot shake the feeling that the passengers can already see me. Not merely my tomb; my tomb is brilliant at their distance. No, I cannot shake the feeling that this alien vessel is peering through my thousands of tons of piled rock and my million year[...] Podcasts Marco Panessa no no EP510: Them Ships http://escapepod.org/2015/11/12/ep510-them-ships/ http://escapepod.org/2015/11/12/ep510-them-ships/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2015 04:33:11 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5339 http://escapepod.org/2015/11/12/ep510-them-ships/feed/ 1 0:20:33 by Silvia Moreno-Garcia read by Dani Cutler This story originally appeared in the anthology We See a Different Frontier Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author S[...] by Silvia Moreno-Garcia read by Dani Cutler This story originally appeared in the anthology We See a Different Frontier Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Silvia Moreno-Garcia; photo by Shimon, 2015 about the author… Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, was released in 2015 by Solaris. Silvia’s first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, was released in 2013 and was a finalist for The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her stories have also been collected in Love & Other Poisons. She was a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize and a winner of the Vanderbilt/Exile Short Fiction Competition.She has edited several anthologies, including She Walks in Shadows, Sword & Mythos, Fungi. Dead North and Fractured.Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian micro-publishing venture specializing in horror and dark speculative fiction.To contact Silvia e-mail her at silvia AT silviamoreno-garcia DOT com. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+. Silvia is represented by Eddie Schneider at the JABberwocky Literary Agency.   narrator Dani Cutler about the narrator… Dani Cutler last narrated for EP in 454: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One. She has been part of the podcasting community since 2006, hosting and producing her own podcast through 2013. She currently works for KWSS independent radio in Phoenix as their midday announcer, and also organizes a technology conference each year for Phoenix residents to connect with others in the podcast, video, and online community. Them Ships by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Leonardo says that the Americans are going to fire some rockets and free us from the tyranny of the aliens and I say: who gives a shit. Lemme tell you something: It wasn’t super-awesome around here before the aliens. At least we get three meals every day now. I used to live in a cardboard house with a tin roof and collected garbage for a living. They called my home a ‘lost city’ but they should’ve called it ‘fucked city.’ Leonardo talks about regaining our freedom, ‘bout fighting and shit. What damn freedom? You think I had freedom in the slums? Leonardo can talk freedom out his ass because he had money before this thing started and he saw too many American movies where they kill the monsters with big guns. I’m not an idiot. The cops used to do their little “operations” in our neighborhood. They’d come in and arrest everyone, take everything. They weren’t Hollywood heroes out to help people. They were fucking assholes and I don’t see why they would have changed. As for American soldiers saving the day: You think they give a rat’s ass ‘bout Mexico City? You think they’re going to fly here in their helicopters and save us? I say fuck that shit. I never had no freedom. Leonardo can go piss himself. # Leonardo’s been going ‘bout freedom fighters again, which means I’ve been putting on the headphones and listening to my music. The good thing is the aliens let me charge the player. Otherwise l’d kill that little shit. Well, he ain’t that little. Leonardo is pretty tall, probably ‘cause he didn’t have to eat no garbage when he was growing up. His dad had some sort of fast food franchise and Leonardo was doing really well, studying at the Tec, fucking pretty girls and driving a fancy car ‘til the aliens landed and started rounding people up in sectors. And, since the aliens don’t classify by social status, Leonardo got put in with me. I’m not sure if he was more dismayed ‘bout being a prisoner or ‘bout having to share a room with the likes of me. I’d say me. I don’t really care. Our home was a one bedroom which I shared with my three sisters and my parents. Sharing with one person is easy and it’s even easier when that person doesn’t reek of alcohol-laced coffees, like my dad did. The assh[...] Podcasts Silvia Moreno-Garcia yes no EP509: Broken http://escapepod.org/2015/11/03/ep509-broken/ Tue, 03 Nov 2015 05:56:08 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5325 0:24:54 by Jason Kimble read by Mat Weller Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Jason Kimble about the author… I’m fascinated by how people put amazingness t[...] by Jason Kimble read by Mat Weller Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Jason Kimble about the author… I’m fascinated by how people put amazingness together. Or awfulness (Let’s not pretend schadenfreude doesn’t happen). What field’s doing the assembly changes quite frequently. Sometimes I even try putting together some of it myself. I refuse to comment on which end of the A to A spectrum that falls on.   Broken by Jason Kimble My favorite part about skimming is that I’m not broken when I do it. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have levels, that I’m on or off, because that’s how everything’s supposed to be when you’re in the hypernet. Even if I’m not supposed to be in the hypernet. I’m only able to skim because Kaipo left my interface node on. That was the day he told me I could call him Kaipo instead of Dr. Singh. His eyes are different than mine, but that’s not because of the Skew, and even if it is I wouldn’t care, because they’re pretty and dark and they twinkle a little bit when he smiles. We’d had sex twice when he told me I could call him Kaipo if we’re alone. Sex is almost as good as skimming, only it doesn’t last as long, and sometimes I’m stinky afterwards, which I’m not a fan of. Sometimes Kaipo smells like pumpkin, which I’m totally a fan of. “Overshare.” “Hi, Heady,” I say, rolling onto my side on the bed to look at her. I frown, which I know because the muscles at my jawbone ache a little when I frown. “Did you hear all that?” Heady raises an eyebrow and purses her lips. Heady’s my big sister. Like, really big. Eight and a half feet big. That’s what the Skew did to her, blew her up bigger than life, but I think it suits her. She’s not as tough as she looks to most people, though. She’s totally as tough as she looks to me right now. “Sorry,” I say, sitting up. “Sometimes I get confused about outside and inside my head.” That’s what the Skew did to me: broke my head. You can see that when I cut my hair or trim my beard, because the hairs change colors each time. Other people tell me it’s silly, but I like it. I can never decide if I like red or blue or green or purple or yellow more, and this way I get to have them all, and all’s better than some. Heady sighs. “Don’t worry, Sy,” she says, because Sy’s my name. “You never have to apologize to me.” She smiles, and the muscles in my cheeks tense up so I know I’m smiling, too. She’s a good big sister, Heady. Even if she’s not real. # Well, Heady’s real, but she’s not real here. She used to be. The room felt even smaller and tighter back then, because my interface node was turned off and no one would turn it back on. The world was only four walls, and they were right on top of me. The window didn’t matter; it was just part of the wall, wasn’t it? The door, now that mattered. Heady came through the door. She left through the door. One of those times, she introduced me to Dr. Singh. That was before he let me call him Kaipo. “Neuroelectro therapy,” I said after Kaipo did. It was just sounds. “It means your node turns back on, Sy,” Heady said. She smiled. She has a good smile, too. Not the same way as Kaipo. It’s not like that. The muscles in my cheeks ached a little. “I’ve been looking over your files since I was assigned your case, and … I think we can actually use our interactions through the node to re-map some pathways.” “My node turns on,” I said. “For our sessions, anyway,” Kaipo said. It was the first time I saw his smile. My ears tingled. He left us alone after Heady signed some paperwork, and th[...] Podcasts Jason Kimble no no Book Review: Murder with Monsters by KT Katzmann http://escapepod.org/2015/11/02/book-review-murder-with-monsters-by-kt-katzmann/ Mon, 02 Nov 2015 15:00:59 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5328 Murder with Monsters.]]> Special art print for Artemis Rising 2 http://escapepod.org/2015/10/27/special-art-print-for-artemis-rising-2/ Tue, 27 Oct 2015 06:52:29 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5321 EP508: A Day Without Sunshine http://escapepod.org/2015/10/26/ep508-a-day-without-sunshine/ Mon, 26 Oct 2015 06:44:44 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5307 0:17:47 by Esther Saxey read by Amanda Ching This story was originally appeared in The Homeless Moon 4. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Esther Saxey about the au[...] by Esther Saxey read by Amanda Ching This story was originally appeared in The Homeless Moon 4. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Esther Saxey about the author… Esther Saxey received her D.Phil. in English literature from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. She has published on the interconnection of sexuality and narrative in various texts, including Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (Reading The Lord of the Rings, 2006), the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Reading the Vampire Slayer, 2002) and the Love and Rockets comics series by Jaime Hernandez (2006). She has also provided a critical introduction and notes for the Wordsworth editions of The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, and Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. narrator Amanda Ching about the narrator… Amanda Ching is a freelance editor and writer. Her work has appeared in WordRiot, Candlemark & Gleam’s Alice: (re)Visions, and every bathroom stall on I-80 from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. She tweets @cerebralcutlass and blogs at http://amandaching.wordpress.com. A Day Without Sunshine by E. Saxey I don’t waste time. I study, I work hard, and when I go out I can squeeze a month of clubbing into one night. Tonight I’m squeezing it in a nasty place in Peckham, South London: no air, and the walls are sweating. I can’t get drunk–I’ve got a lecture tomorrow morning–so I’m dancing myself stupid, twisting my head so quick that my braids twat me in the face. But across the delirious dance-floor, in the far corner, there’s a pool of stillness. Nobody dancing, everyone chilling, and you, leaning on a wall. You’re a little guy with lush brown eyes, gazing all around you. I fight my way through the dancers to get to you. I get tangled in arms, fingernails up in my face, but I finally reach you. “I’m Michelle. I’m doing law. You a student?” You’re Hesham, twenty-eight, from Cairo. Not studying anything. As I look at you, my skin tingles. Then I hear a police siren wailing past–of course, we’re next to the fire exit. That’s why there’s a pool of coolness round you. “This is all excellent,” you say, waving an overpriced beer bottle at the terrible club. I laugh. “You must be on some good stuff, fam.” “I’m not! I like places where everyone’s having, oh, as much fun as they can.” You sound shy, formal. My Ma would call you “well brought up”. Later, you sneak into my sweaty arms. You’re shorter than me and kind of delicate, but you don’t make me feel clumsy. Just strong, as though I could scoop you up. Like I said, I don’t waste time. “Are you going to invite me back to yours?” I reckon you’ll get ripped off by the flaky minicabs hovering outside. But you find us a proper black cab. We sit on opposite sides of the big back seat. Up the mangy Old Kent Road we go, across the dark river with both banks twinkling. Past the City, castles of light. The taxi metre ticks up and up. “Hesham, I can’t split the fare on this!” “Oh! I should have said. I’ll get it.” Your place is a surrounded by high hedges, a big dark old block. “Lights all out,” I say. “Oh, yes. My neighbours will be in their pods by now.” “What? Why, are they ill?” “They pod most nights. Why get eight hours older while you’re asleep?” “Really?” “And if they get fed up with the Winter, they pod all the way through to Spring.” Inside your flat, the thick carpet eats our footsteps. I can’t relax, imagining your neighbours above us and around us, frozen, kept under glass. “What a waste. Missing whole months.” “But when they’re awake, it’s a[...] Podcasts Esther Saxey yes no EP507: The Call of the Sky http://escapepod.org/2015/10/22/ep507-the-call-of-the-sky-2/ http://escapepod.org/2015/10/22/ep507-the-call-of-the-sky-2/#comments Thu, 22 Oct 2015 13:51:29 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5313 http://escapepod.org/2015/10/22/ep507-the-call-of-the-sky-2/feed/ 2 0:35:43 by Cliff Winnig read by Marguerite Kenner This story was originally published in the anthology When the Hero Comes Home: 2. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page auth[...] by Cliff Winnig read by Marguerite Kenner This story was originally published in the anthology When the Hero Comes Home: 2. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Cliff Winnig about the author… from the author’s website: Cliff Winnig’s short fiction appears in the anthologies That Ain’t Right: Historical Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley, Gears and Levers 3, When the Hero Comes Home: 2, Footprints and elsewhere. The twitterzines Outshine and Thaumatrope have published his very short fiction. Cliff is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and a three-time finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest. When not writing, Cliff plays sitar, studies tai chi and aikido, and does choral singing and social dance, including ballroom, swing, salsa, and Argentine tango. He lives with his family in Silicon Valley, which constantly inspires him to think about the future. He can be found online at http://cliffwinnig.com. narrator Marguerite Kenner about the narrator… Marguerite is a native Californian who has forsaken sunny paradise to be with her true love and live in Merrye Olde England. She frequently wears so many hats that she needs two heads. When she’s not grappling with legal conundrums as a trainee solicitor or editing Cast of Wonders, she can be found narrating audio fiction, studying popular culture (i.e. going to movies and playing video games) with her partner Alasdair Stuart, or curling up with a really good book. You can follow her at her personal blog, Project Valkyrie, or on Twitter via @LegalValkyrie. The Call of the Sky by Cliff Winnig The army hospital’s underground floors reminded me of Pluto Base, a place I’d never actually been. I’d never even been off-world, but I remembered those claustrophobic beige corridors. Two years before, I’d synced with a bunch of my alts home on leave after basic training. Today for the first time I’d be meeting one who’d seen combat. More than that, one who’d become a hero, the only Teri Kang to survive the Battle of Charon. We wouldn’t be syncing, though. Not this time. Not ever. Before she’d escaped the doomed moon — the moon she’d given the order to destroy — she’d been bitten. That’s what the G.I.s called it when Hive nanobots infected you: being bitten. Like it was a zombie plague or something. Hell, it might as well be. Soon the only other Teri Kang in the universe would lose her fight with that infection, and the army docs would euthanize her. Under the circumstances, even coming home had been an act of courage. A lot of G.I.s who got bitten went AWOL rather than face the certain death of returning to base. Not for the first time, I wondered if I had such courage lying latent within me. Flanked by MPs, I followed a nurse down hallway after hallway till we arrived at my alt’s room. Well, the room next to it, since she was quarantined. A smartglass wall separated me from the sterile chamber where the other Teri Kang would live out her last few hours. I found her sitting at a desk, reading a newsfeed it projected in the air. She’d propped her head in her hands, elbows on the gray metal surface. I sometimes read like that, but only when sick or exhausted. She looked to be both. Right then, the anti-Hive nanobots they’d pumped her full of were fighting a battle every bit as pitched as the one she’d fought on Charon, one that would end for her the same way it had ended for the moon. Hearing me enter, she raised her head and swiveled to face me. She moved as if her joints didn’t ache, as if she weren’t already running a fever, but I could tell. The MPs stationed themselves outside the door, and the nurse made his exit. That left us alone, save for the hidden cameras we both knew were watching. My alt rose to her fee[...] Podcasts Cliff Winnig no no EA Metacast, October 2015 (Part 2) http://escapepod.org/2015/10/14/ea-metacast-october-2015-part-2/ Wed, 14 Oct 2015 22:01:36 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5299 0:00:01 Part 2 of the October 2015 EA Metacast. Part 2 of the October 2015 EA Metacast. Meta, Podcasts Escape Artists, Inc. no no EA Metacast, October 2015 (Part 3) http://escapepod.org/2015/10/14/ea-metacast-october-2015-part-3/ Wed, 14 Oct 2015 22:01:05 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5301 0:00:01 Part 3 of the October 2015 EA Metacast. Part 3 of the October 2015 EA Metacast. Meta, Podcasts Escape Artists, Inc. no no EA Metacast, October 2015 (Part 1) http://escapepod.org/2015/10/14/ea-metacast-october-2015/ Wed, 14 Oct 2015 10:01:53 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5295 0:00:01 Hello everyone, Alasdair here. We tend to do a metacast every year around this time, and this year we’ve done something a bit different. This one was recorded LIVE at WorldCon in Spokane in August 2015! In the past, you’ve let us know ou[...] Hello everyone, Alasdair here. We tend to do a metacast every year around this time, and this year we’ve done something a bit different. This one was recorded LIVE at WorldCon in Spokane in August 2015! In the past, you’ve let us know our metacasts are too long, so we’ve split this one into three parts: In part one I introduce you to some of the staff at EA, we talk about Mothership Zeta, and there’s a special announcement! If you only want to listen once to get an update on what’s in store for Escape Artists in 2016, you want to listen to this. In part two we’ve more of the Q&A session, along with a great flash story, “Final Corrections, Pittsburgh Times-Dispatch” by M. Bennardo, narrated by Wilson Fowlie. We talk a bit more about what’s been going on behind the scenes at Escape Artists this past year. In part three we offer a special treat: a live narration by Podcastle’s own M.K. Hobson! She reads her original story “The Last Unenlightened”. Enjoy! Alasdair Meta, Podcasts Escape Artists, Inc no no EP506: Harvester Dreams http://escapepod.org/2015/10/13/ep506-harvester-dreams/ Tue, 13 Oct 2015 17:16:35 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5291 0:45:18 by Michael J. DeLuca read by Paul Cram This story was originally appeared in The Homeless Moon 4. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Michael J. DeLuca about[...] by Michael J. DeLuca read by Paul Cram This story was originally appeared in The Homeless Moon 4. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Michael J. DeLuca about the author… from the author’s website: That would be me. Michael J. DeLuca. Writer, reader, dreamer, designer, brewer, baker, photographer, philosopher. Would-be ecoterrorist. False prophet. Liberal. I’m a freelance web designer/developer as well. I have an undergraduate CS degree nobody knows about from a middlingly prestigious east coast university. I’ve been doing this for awhile (10+ years now), I’m not bad at it, and I usually can use more of it to do. Without it, I wouldn’t have enough money to keep myself alive, let alone keep writing (which not unlike crime, doesn’t really pay (me) (see that? nested parenthesis, that’s how you know I’m really a programmer)). narrator Paul Cram about the narrator… Paul Cram grew up performing on stage and in more recent years traveling the United States working on independent films. Paul’s voice is newer to the world of audio than it is to other acting forms. Fans of his voice will hopefully be excited to hear that he has two full-length audio books that came out this year: Zombie apocalypse novel FLIRTING WITH DEATH, and Sci-fi thriller THE FACE STEALER (think X Files or BBC’s Torchwood & Dr. Who.)Cram was most recently seen on set for the feature film WILSON opposite Woody Harrelson, and ANNIVERSARY shot in Maine, USA by movie director Jim Cole. When not on a movie set or in a recording booth, Paul can be found deep-frying chicken wings with his sister in her kitchen, or quarreling about pop-culture with his little brother around one the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota. You can find his website Paul Cram Actor or IMDB. Harvester Dreams by Michael J. DeLuca Morning flooded the transparent womb of the ob room. Knuckling his aching skull, Hector twitched the opacity up to a tolerable level and set down his tea, then took the pod out over the ag. The fight with Mela the night before had not been pleasant, but work, he was perpetually astonished to discover, never failed to cheer him. The conduit was a brilliant white spear overhead, broken by ribs of fair-weather cloud. The ag spread into haze in every direction, curving gently upward with the concavity of the Hypatia’s hull: chessboard squares of rippling corn, glittering rice paddies, apple plots flowering white. Here and there, a skeletal hulk loomed indistinct–some remnant structure of the ship’s propulsion systems, long-dismantled; shade crops grew among latticed shadows. The crowd of Workers waited below, lens-tipped appendages craned upward. He smiled, in spite of the headache and the persistent awareness that no matter how he chose to rationalize it, everything Mela had said was true. He called up the log feeds. Foreman, they were saying. Foreman, we need your understanding. He brought the ob room down among them. A grand menagerie they made, his subjects, each finely adapted to its task: delicate pollinators, long-limbed harvesters, knob-treaded aerators, juggernaut ploughs. “You don’t need me,” he said. “Your designers gave you all the understanding you need. But I’m here, ready to listen. I’ll help if I can.” The oldest of the ploughs rolled forward. Your understanding grants us insight into the will of our designers. The Workers appreciated repetition. They were simple beings, the product of their design. They believed in an infallible, benevolent humanity the way humanity once believed in angels, the way so many Relics now believed in their inscrutable alien creator, the Ix. And Hector was their ambassador, though he’d only held this job a month and the designers were fifty generations dead. H1703 has had a dream, said the plough. The Workers’ reactions flooded the feeds with [...] Podcasts Michael J. DeLuca no no Book Review: Snapshot by Beau Hall http://escapepod.org/2015/10/05/book-review-snapshot-by-beau-hall/ Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:00:16 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5250 Snapshot, Marvin wants out. By any means necessary.]]> EP505: Falling Leaves http://escapepod.org/2015/09/30/ep505-falling-leaves/ Wed, 30 Sep 2015 06:18:21 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5280 0:37:58 by Liz Argall read by Emily Hickson This story was originally published in Apex Magazine in May 2014. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… [...] by Liz Argall read by Emily Hickson This story was originally published in Apex Magazine in May 2014. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… from the author’s website: Liz often writes speculative fiction and interstitial work that explore spaces between genres. She is especially fond of gritty urban fantasy, thought provoking science fiction and fantastical literary fiction. Liz carves out a diverse career as a freelance writer, working with organisations to build communities and running workshops. Liz has run creative workshops for a range of organisations, including the National Museum of Australia, Conflux and the Young Music Society. She works with organisations to prepare and acquit grants, and to build physical and online communities. She has worked on and off as an Artists’ Model for ten years. Before she became a freelancer she worked as researcher, union organiser, refuge worker, circus manager and provided consulting and support to the community sector. Liz’s comics have been published in an array of publications, including Meanjin, The Girl’s Guide to Guy Stuff, Eat Comics, Something Wicked and her collection Songs, Dreams and Nightmares. Her anthology, Dreams of Tomorrow, won a Bronze Ledger Award for Small Press of the Year. In January 2009 her musical Comic Book Opera, written with composer Michael Sollis, was performed for the first time. Two of her short stories have been staged as plays. She splits her life between Australia and America – some day she hopes to live in other parts of the alphabet. After serving as a Non Skating Official with the Rat City Rollergirls for three seasons she has transformed into skater and announcer. When she’s on the track you can call her Betsy Nails, when you hear her over the mic she’s Ichabod ‘splain. about the narrator… Emily Hickson is a newcomer in the voice acting world, an Australian student studying Fine Art and Illustration. Her techniques and past research endeavours include printmaking, sculpture, digging up dead languages and solving old codes. She once illustrated a book about Alfred Tennyson meeting the Kraken, and has always counted on sci-fi to inspire her when artist’s block attacks. Past works and future declarations can be found at thegrangerchronicles.blogspot.com.au Falling Leaves by Liz Argall Charlotte and Nessa met in Year Eight of Narrabri High School. Charlotte’s family were licensed refugees from the burning lands and the flooded coast, not quite landed, but a step apart from refugees that didn’t have dog tags. Charlotte sat on the roof, dangled her legs off the edge and gazed at the wounded horizon, as she did every lunchtime. Nessa, recognizing the posture of a fellow animal in pain, climbed up to see what she could do. The mica in the concrete glittered and scoured her palms as she braced herself between an imitation tree and the wall and shimmied her way up. She had to be careful not to break the tree, a cheap recycled–plastic genericus — who’d waste water on a decorative tree for children? The plastic bark squished beneath Nessa’s sneakers, smelling of paint thinner and the tired elastic of granny underpants. Nessa tried to act casual once she got to the top, banging her knee hard as she hauled herself over the ledge and ripping a fresh hole in her cargos. She took a deep breath, wiped her sweaty hands, and sat down next to Charlotte. “‘Sup?” said Nessa. “Go away.” Charlotte kicked her feet against the wall and pressed her waxy lips together. “You gonna jump?” “No. I’m not an attention seeking whore like you,” said Charlotte. Nessa shrugged her shoulders, as if that could roll away the sting. Rolling with the punches was what she did. “You look sad.” Charlotte bared her teeth. “I said, I’m not like yo[...] Uncategorized Liz Argall yes no EP504: End of the World Community College http://escapepod.org/2015/09/23/ep504-end-of-the-world-community-college/ http://escapepod.org/2015/09/23/ep504-end-of-the-world-community-college/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 05:31:38 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5277 http://escapepod.org/2015/09/23/ep504-end-of-the-world-community-college/feed/ 3 0:27:28 by Sandra McDonald read by Joel Kenyon This story was originally published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine in the July/August 2014 issue. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sorta[...] by Sandra McDonald read by Joel Kenyon This story was originally published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine in the July/August 2014 issue. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Sandra McDonald about the author… from the author’s website: Writer, speaker, instructor Lambda Literary Award for Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories Booklist Editor’s Choice, ALA Over the Rainbow book, and Rainbow Award win for Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories Silver Moonbeam Award for Mystery of the Tempest Former commissioned officer, USN Joel Kenyon about the narrator… Joel Kenyon is a veteran podcaster, writer, musician and artist. He’s currently a member of the 4 man comedy show, The Undercover Unitards and he also has a weekly independant music show called The Sunshine Happy Kpants Hour. When he’s not recording, he writes a movie review blog, occasionally draws an online comic, paints pictures, writes stories and attempts to make music with friends. Joel is not a fan, however, of writing in the third person perspective, so writing this bio was painful for him. End of the World Community College by Sandra McDonald Vision The End of the World Community College (EWCC) strives to assist the residents of Port Clinton and surrounding areas with all of their educational needs, including farming, construction trades, radiation decontamination, emergency medicine, fine arts, and artisanal bread-making. Dean Hendershot’s parents once owned a bakery. He treasures the sourdough starter that has been passed down through his family for three generations. Students who complete their courses of study are automatically gifted with a delicious loaf of fresh bread. Unless, of course, your name is Abdul Howard. Tuition Paper currency is useless, but the Registrar gladly accepts silver coins, diamond jewelry, gold teeth, and unexpired medicine. Fresh food, canned food, charged batteries, ammunition, livestock, and freeze-dried coffee are also welcomed with open arms. EWCC does not offer financial aid. Despite these desperate times, please do not attempt to rob the Registrar. He and his assistants carry pistols and mace at all times. Your professors will gladly barter for additional lessons. Professor Shawl constantly needs cat food, Professor Ohara manages a yarn bank, and Professor Pfister collects pornographic material. In the old days Dean Hendershot would not have hired Pfister, but it is hard to find good math teachers and Pfister generously loans out his magazines upon request. Colonel Fisher, our ROTC director, trades exclusively for knives. The sharper the better. He does not read Professor Pfister’s porn. Registration Enrollment dates are ongoing. Please apply in person at the Registrar’s Office during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Refrain from appearing late at night at the Registrar’s house and pounding on his door in a drunken stupor, lamenting the loss of the old world and all its convenient ways. In his former life, the Registrar managed a hardware store in Sandusky, providing the very best bait, groceries, and ammunition to tourists on Lake Erie. He is an excellent shot. Attendance Regular attendance is highly encouraged, but some obstacles are unavoidable. Rotting zombies often block the road near the Ottawa County Historical Museum. Aliens from Planet X lurk under the Port Clinton Bridge. You never know when a malfunctioning robot might show up in your front yard, demanding oil for its rusty red joints. Sustained ringing bells from our campus chapel indicate a solar flare forecast; please take cover. Expired sunscreen will not suffice. Do not just throw yourself on the ground with your arms over your head, June Li. In case of catastrophic snowfall, we expect to see you after you dig out or whenever spring arrives. If spring arrives. Medical concerns are always pa[...] Podcasts Sandra McDonald no no Fan Film Review: Star Trek: Renegades http://escapepod.org/2015/09/14/fan-film-review-star-trek-renegades/ Mon, 14 Sep 2015 14:00:46 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5234 Of Gods and Men, Tim Russ returns to the fan film arena with Star Trek: Renegades. Though I had high expectations, I think I expected more than what I got. Especially from the writing.]]> EP503: Undeleted http://escapepod.org/2015/09/12/ep503-undeleted/ http://escapepod.org/2015/09/12/ep503-undeleted/#comments Sat, 12 Sep 2015 20:26:16 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5264 http://escapepod.org/2015/09/12/ep503-undeleted/feed/ 1 0:37:47 by Aidan Doyle read by Austin Learned This story was originally published in 2014 in Cosmos. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Aidan Doyle about the author[...] by Aidan Doyle read by Austin Learned This story was originally published in 2014 in Cosmos. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Aidan Doyle about the author… from the author’s website: I’m an Australian computer programmer and science fiction writer. I live in Melbourne and love travelling.  I’ve been lucky enough to visit more than 80 countries. I’ve always been interested in writing science fiction and made my first sale when I was 18. I’ve had short stories and articles published in magazines, newspapers and web sites.  I have been a finalist for the Aurealis Awards, several of my stories have received honorable mentions in Year’s Best SF anthologies and I was the youngest writer to have an entry in the Encyclopedia of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy. In 2009 I attended the Clarion South science fiction writing workshop in Brisbane. I did a computer science degree at Monash University in Melbourne.  After university I worked for an Australian computer games company as a programmer and designer.  I’ve also worked as a software consultant and web site programmer. I  have an entry in the Internet Movie Database.  (For a computer game I worked on). Some of the interesting places I’ve visited include: North Korea, Belarus, the Galapagos and Transnistria (not officially a real country).  I worked in Bolivia for a short time as a journalist for a Bolivian English-language newspaper.  I lived in Osaka in for 4 years and worked as an English teacher.  Now I’m working as a web site programmer. I’ve had articles and stories translated into Finnish, Mandarin, Romanian and Polish. about the narrator… Austin Learned is an Asian-American aspiring actor/singer/voice actor who would probably appreciate your comments and encouragement on this fine piece of work. Twitter @alearnedman00 Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvT8iIeN-WOe6bDIHv8I9qg   Undeleted By Aidan Doyle One of Saito’s guys led Kentaro through the arcade. They passed row after row of black game pods, silent except for the hum of their cooling systems. The idea of crawling into a pod and letting the rest of the world deal with its own problems was tempting, but Kentaro had spent thirty years hidden from society. He needed his old job back. Saito sat in an office in the back of the arcade. He was flicking through a document on his tablet and didn’t acknowledge Kentaro’s presence. Kentaro had plenty of practice at being made to wait. A young guy Kentaro didn’t recognize lounged on a chair in the corner of the room. Saito finally glanced up and motioned to the chair in front of the desk. “Thank you for making the time to see me,” Kentaro said. He also had plenty of practice of being polite to jerks. Saito’s gaze strayed back to his tablet. “My wife’s goal in life is to visit every world heritage site. Which do you think would be less boring, Angkor Wat or Petra?” “I don’t travel much,” Kentaro replied. Saito laughed. “I guess not. I think we’ll go to Angkor Wat. It says they filmed Audition for Death there. Maybe I’ll meet Akita Yumi.” The young guy guffawed appreciatively. Kentaro had never heard of Audition for Death or Akita, but tried his best to make his chuckle sound authentic. “So you’re supposed to be some superhacker?” Saito said. Kentaro didn’t like boasting, but he needed the money. “I’m good with computers.” “I already have guys that are good with computers.” The young guy looked as though he was ready to explode with smugness. “How long were you away?” Saito asked. “Thirty years.” Yamamoto would have told Saito all this. “Technology has changed a lot since then,” Saito said. When Kentaro went inside, a tablet was something your doctor gave yo[...] Podcasts Aidan Doyle no no Book Review: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett http://escapepod.org/2015/09/07/book-review-the-shepherds-crown-by-terry-pratchett/ Mon, 07 Sep 2015 14:00:57 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5225 The Shepherd's Crown. By September 3, I'd finished reading the final Discworld novel. Now the book is closed on the Discworld, at least in this form, and... well... I don't think I can wrap my head around that.]]> EP500: The Man Who Lost the Sea http://escapepod.org/2015/09/04/ep500-the-man-who-lost-the-sea/ http://escapepod.org/2015/09/04/ep500-the-man-who-lost-the-sea/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 06:09:00 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5242 http://escapepod.org/2015/09/04/ep500-the-man-who-lost-the-sea/feed/ 22 1:16:44 by Theodore Sturgeon narrated by Anson Mount This story was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1959 Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wi[...] by Theodore Sturgeon narrated by Anson Mount This story was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1959 Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Theodore Sturgeon about the author… (from Wikipedia)  Theodore Sturgeon born Edward Hamilton Waldo; February 26, 1918 – May 8, 1985) was an American science fiction and horror writer and critic. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database credits him with about 400 reviews and more than 200 stories. Sturgeon’s most famous work may be the science fiction novel More Than Human (1953), an expansion of “Baby Is Three” (1952). More Than Human won the 1954 International Fantasy Award (for SF and fantasy) as the year’s best novel and the Science Fiction Writers of America ranked “Baby is Three” number five among the “Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time” to 1964. Ranked by votes for all of their pre-1965 novellas, Sturgeon was second among authors, behind Robert Heinlein. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted Sturgeon in 2000, its fifth class of two deceased and two living writers. narrator Anson Mount about the narrator… Anson Mount is best known for his role as Cullen Bohannan on AMC’s hit series HELL ON WHEELS. Born in White Bluff, Tennessee, Mount holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from Columbia University, where he now serves as an Associate Adjunct Professor.  Mount is a proud humanitarian, and in 2012 he completed a 200-mile relay to help raise funds for Team Rubicon in support of the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  He currently resides in New York. Anson Mount was most recently seen in the feature films NON-STOP opposite Liam Neeson, SUPREMACY opposite Julie Benz, and THE FORGER, opposite John Travolta.  He will next be seen in the horror thriller VISIONS opposite Isla Fisher. Although Mount is best known for work in film and television, he continues to build his theater career, most recently having performed in VENUS IN FUR at Singapore Repertory Theater. More information on IMDB at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0609845/ Podcasts Theodore Sturgeon no no Artemis Rising Returns! http://escapepod.org/2015/09/01/artemis-rising-returns/ Tue, 01 Sep 2015 04:47:51 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5220 Flash Fiction Contest 4: Bloodlines http://escapepod.org/2015/08/27/flash-fiction-contest-4-bloodlines/ Thu, 27 Aug 2015 07:54:38 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5216 EP502: Gorlack the Destroyer’s All You Can Eat Adventure http://escapepod.org/2015/08/06/ep502-gorlack-the-destroyers-all-you-can-eat-adventure/ http://escapepod.org/2015/08/06/ep502-gorlack-the-destroyers-all-you-can-eat-adventure/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 04:23:23 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5208 http://escapepod.org/2015/08/06/ep502-gorlack-the-destroyers-all-you-can-eat-adventure/feed/ 3 0:37:56 by Robert Lowell Russell read by Ethan Jones This story originally appeared in the Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse anthology. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia pag[...] by Robert Lowell Russell read by Ethan Jones This story originally appeared in the Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse anthology. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Robert Lowell Russell about the author… Robert Lowell Russell* is a writer and trophy husband (obviously). He is a SFWA member and a member of the Writeshop and Codex writers’ groups. He is a former librarian, a former history grad student, a former semi-professional poker player, and is now pursuing nursing degree (say “ah!”). Rob has also just noticed how outdated and lame his website has become and will be modifying it in the near future here: robertlowellrussell.com His stories have appeared (or will appear) in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Penumbra, Digital Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction (thrice!), Stupefying Stories (fice? what’s the word for five?), and a whole bunch of other places (see complete list on the right side). *RLR finds it a bit silly to write about himself in the 3rd person. about the narrator… My name is Ethan Jones, I live in Melbourne, Australia. I have a passion for audio drama, and this passion led me to create my own. All on my lonesome, I have created ‘Caught Up’, an audio drama about three men who are unwillingly thrust into a world of crime after a shocking encounter with a hardened criminal. You can find this podcast on iTunes by searching my name or ‘Caught Up’, or find more info and subscribe via RSS on the website: http://caughtuppodcast.tk   Gorlack the Destroyer’s All You Can Eat Adventure by Robert Lowell Russell Seven hundred battered cases of “Unleash Your Inner Awesome!” mega-nutri-bars dotted the purple grass for kilometers in every direction. Pelle the Silicate rested his rocky body on one of the battered metal crates and sighed. Noxious smoke from the wrecked “Do-It-Yourself and Save!” cargo lander wrinkled Pelle’s nose. He wondered if the “environmentally friendly materials” the lander was constructed from were in fact sarki beetle shells and dung. Pelle had bet the Silicate colonists on this distant world would trade their exotic spices and rare materials for a little taste of home. Now, those little tastes were baking in their crates under an alien sun, a thousand kilometers from the nearest settlement. “I’m ruined,” he muttered. # Gorlack the Destroyer fixed his gaze on the rough-skinned alien sitting on the metal box. “Bah! Zarg, my friend, it is only another of the stone creatures.” Zarg shook his head. “These are trying times.” The troop of warriors and women gathered behind Gorlack murmured its discontent. “A number three fusion blade will pierce the creature’s hide,” said Zarg, “but leave its soft, inner flesh intact. They taste like kana.” Gorlack spat on the grass. “Everything tastes like kana. I long for a proper meal.” He turned to Zarg and rested a furred paw on the other’s shoulder. “The number three blade it will be, but first, honor demands I offer the creature challenge.” “The coward will refuse.” Gorlack nodded. “Undoubtedly.” He strode boldly through the grass, approaching the alien. The murmurs turned to silence. Gorlack addressed the alien telepathically. “I am Gorlack the Destroyer. You are my prey.” He waddled forward, flaring his hips. “Observe the size of my genitals. My many children will feast on your flesh.” He opened his eyes wide and wiggled his rounded, furry ears. “If you flee, I will find you. If you hide, I will hear you.” He flexed his fingers. “The Goddess did not give my people pointed claws, yet I will rend your flesh.” Gorlack opened his mouth, showing smooth, rounded [...] Podcasts, Uncategorized Robert Lowell Russell no no Film Review: Mr. Holmes http://escapepod.org/2015/08/05/film-review-mr-holmes/ Wed, 05 Aug 2015 14:00:36 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5195 Mr. Holmes.]]> Call for Submissions: Artemis Rising II http://escapepod.org/2015/08/01/call-for-submissions-artemis-rising-ii/ http://escapepod.org/2015/08/01/call-for-submissions-artemis-rising-ii/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 04:01:40 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5201 http://escapepod.org/2015/08/01/call-for-submissions-artemis-rising-ii/feed/ 14 EP501: Imma Gonna Finish You Off http://escapepod.org/2015/07/28/ep501-imma-gonna-finish-you-off/ Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:39:39 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5190 0:42:24 by Marina J. Lostetter read by Alasdair Stuart This story was first published in Galaxy’s Edge magazine, January 2014. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page aut[...] by Marina J. Lostetter read by Alasdair Stuart This story was first published in Galaxy’s Edge magazine, January 2014. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Marina J. Lostetter about the author… Marina is the author of award-winning original stories such as Master Belladino’s Mask, Sojourn for Ephah, and Balance.  She has written tie-in work for the Star Citizen and Sargasso Legacy universes. When not writing, Marina can be found reading speculative fiction (of all types for all ages), drawing, exploring the outdoors, or gaming it up.  She loves exploring new cultures and travels as often as she can. about the narrator… I’m a writer. I’m a podcaster. I’m a not-quite-trainee anymore martial artist. I’m a nurse’s kid and a teacher’s kid. I’m a former bouncer. I’m a huge movie nerd. I’m sort of what Abed and Jeff from Community’s kid would be like if he was spliced with the DNA of Helo from Battlestar Galactica. I’m learning. narrator Alasdair Stuart Imma Gonna Finish You Off By Marina J. Lostetter On the examining table lounged a body.  It was an unremarkable body–rather wrinkly, with an inordinate amount of hair in all the wrong places and too few clothes for most people’s liking, but otherwise nothing to write your congressman about.  The only thing special about the body was that it was dead–a problem that Detective Harry Sordido hoped would resolve itself quite soon. “Will he just get on with the coming back to life already?” Harry huffed, checking the glowing numbers embedded in his left wrist.  With his right hand, he patted his ample, middle-aged girth.  “He’s not the only victim I’ve got to question today.” “I’m not sure what’s the matter with him,” said the medical examiner, lifting the dead man’s wrist between two thin fingers.  “He should have let out a nice scream-of-life by now.”  He let the limb flop back to the sanitary paper. “What do you think it was?” asked the detective, “Accidental? Experimental? Purposeful?  What do you think he died of?” “You’ll have to ask him to be sure.  He was found out on the sidewalk.  No indications of violence or a struggle, but he does look a tad flaccid.” “Ah, disgruntled lover, then.” “No, I mean on the whole.  Like he’s been wrung out.” They both stared at the body for a long while. “You don’t think he’s really–?” began Detective Sordido. “It is starting to seem a bit permanent.” “That’s impossible! No one’s really died for damned near a millennium.” The examiner shrugged.  “There’s a first time for every eventuality.” “What was his name again?” “Mr. X is what it says on his bio-tat.  Here, I’ll show you.”  The two men moved to the once-ambulatory end of the body, and the examiner held a black light over the pad of X’s right foot. The tat read: Name: Zanthaxerillion X Current Occupation: Government Mandated Homelessness. Next Occupation: Governor of Greater California (provided the line for Burger Flipper still hasn’t moved). Current Address: Cardboard box on the corner of Rock St. and Hard Pl. Age: Next to the age label was a bio-counter, much like the implanted watch in Harry’s wrist.  It ticked off the seconds, minutes, hours, years, etcetera.  Funny thing about Mr. X’s – it had switched from ticking to sticking.  Harry tapped it with his index finger.  “This thing broken?  How come it’s not counting?” “I’m telling you, I think this one took.” “Sixty-two more years and he would have seen the big Thou.  And he bit the dust while performing his civic duty.”  He shook his head sadly.  “They wonder why people do everything they can to avoid obligatory homelessness.” “You know what they say, only two things are certain: taxes, and the government taking away all your stuff.” Your stuff, your job, your passion.  The government acted like people were dolls–ever ready to ha[...] Podcasts Marina J. Lostetter no no EP499: Sounding the Fall http://escapepod.org/2015/07/20/ep499-sounding-the-fall/ http://escapepod.org/2015/07/20/ep499-sounding-the-fall/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 05:27:28 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5184 http://escapepod.org/2015/07/20/ep499-sounding-the-fall/feed/ 2 0:34:38 by Jei D. Marcade read by Amanda Ching This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Jei D. Marcade about the author[...] by Jei D. Marcade read by Amanda Ching This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Jei D. Marcade about the author… Jei – /jā/ – noun – A twenty-something, first-gen Korean-American speculative fiction writer and freshly minted librarian currently installed in the Rust Belt with a hydrobot and a hedgehog. Preferred pronoun: gender neutral ( ey / em / eir ) Likes: thunderstorms, body mods, martial arts, comic books, bioluminescence, cute stationery, crepuscular skyscapes, the sea, werewolves, the Seoul metro system, coffee (black), whiskey (neat), and cheese (aplenty) Dislikes: people who talk at the cinema, humidity, werewolves, and vindictive dead things with too much hair and a penchant for flouting the laws of physics Research interests include: ambient intelligence environments, augmented reality, cyborg anthropology, linguistics, memetics, the occult, and spooky stories narrator Amanda Ching about the narrator… Amanda Ching is a freelance editor and writer. Her work has appeared in WordRiot, Candlemark & Gleam’s Alice: (re)Visions, and every bathroom stall on I-80 from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. She tweets @cerebralcutlass and blogs at http://amandaching.wordpress.com.   Sounding the Fall by Jei D. Marcade Sometimes, Narae can almost convince emself that the AI’s Voice was a dream. Some kind of minor stroke misremembered, a neurological glitch retroactively given recognizable shape. But sometimes–less frequently of late, but still, sometimes–Narae wakes to find emself sitting up in the dark, jaw slack, a sustained, atonal note spooling from the back of eir throat. # Narae steps through the open archway of the southwestern gate, bare toes curling in the cool blades of real grass with which the temple grounds are seeded. The lotus-shaped lanterns hanging from the eaves go dim as the sun activates, and from its single-tiered pagoda at the top of the hill behind em, the morning bell tolls. The alms left anonymously against the outer wall in the night include a couple bolts of inert grey fabric, some bags of rice, and a stack of real tea bricks. Upon hefting the rice, Narae’s eyebrows inch toward the shadow of eir hairline at each bag’s weight: not synthetic either, these. Something that is part bemusement, part nostalgia tugs at the corners of Narae’s mouth, and ey shakes eir head as ey piles the bags and bolts into the bottom of the wheelbarrow before turning to gather the rest. There, on the topmost tea brick, tucked along the raised edge of an elaborate curlicue that must have gone overlooked when the temple’s faceless benefactor hastily scraped off the embossed logo, is a perfectly rolled joint. Narae plucks the thing up by one tip and crosses the outer lawn, ready to cast it over the rail that wraps around the temple grounds and down along the winding stone staircase to the lower levels. Steady as a heartbeat, the temple’s morning drum begins to sound out. When its reverberations subside, they leave an even deeper reservoir of silence behind them. Narae falters at the edge of the lawn. Ey brings the roll of rice paper to eir nose, gives it a tentative sniff, and releases an explosive sigh; Narae would bet a week’s worth of chores that it’s real–none of that backstreet synth hash with its foul aftertaste. Muttering a guilty prayer, ey palms the joint. Then ey crosses eir arms over the railing and leans out past the perimeter of the noise barrier, and the rest of the world roars into being. Down the vast, hollow core of New Hanyang Danji’s Mha-Tower, every pocket of air bursts with announcements and pop music, with the erratic trills and pings of external devices, all beneath the interminable cacophony of countless human voices raised in conversation and laughter and a[...] Podcasts Jei D. Marcade no no EP498: Everyone Will Want One http://escapepod.org/2015/07/06/ep498-everyone-will-want-one/ Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:32:22 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5169 0:37:49 by Kelly Sandoval read by Erin Bardua This story was previously published in Asimov’s magazine. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Kelly Sandoval abou[...] by Kelly Sandoval read by Erin Bardua This story was previously published in Asimov’s magazine. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Kelly Sandoval about the author… I live, work, and write in Seattle, Washington. Gray sky days, abundant restaurant choices, and distant mountains are my idea of paradise. In 2013 I abandoned my cat, tortoise, and boyfriend to spend six weeks studying writing at Clarion West. The experience taught me to commit myself and do the work, which is a lot less fun than just thinking about writing. It also introduced me to some of the best friends I’ve ever had. If you’re a writer considering whether you should apply, I’m happy to share my take on things. It’s not for everyone. But if it’s right for you, it’s worth it. My tastes run to modern fantasy with a lyrical edge, though I’ve been writing science fiction, lately. If you’re looking for funny stories with happy endings, I fear you’ve come to the wrong place. I can’t seem to write anything without a dash of heartbreak. narrator Erin Bardua about the narrator… Erin Bardua is a Canadian singer and performer. She lives in near-rural Canada, where she assembles a living from singing and teaching others to sing. She always has about a dozen projects on the go; some of the more interesting ones have included acting and singing in a serialized film-noir murder mystery, and a collaborative clown opera. Erin is the artistic director of Essential Opera (www.essentialopera.com) which operates in Atlantic Canada and Ontario (so far), and recently rediscovered her writing habit, which she indulges in whenever the house is quiet enough.   Everyone Will Want One by Kelly Sandoval On Nancy’s thirteenth birthday, her father takes her to the restaurant he likes, the one with the wood paneling, the oversized chandeliers, and the menus in French. Around them, people talk in low voices but Nancy and her father eat their soup in silence. After the waiter takes the bowls away, her father sets a wrapped box the size of a toaster on the table. She doesn’t open it, just smoothes down the ribbon and rearranges her silverware. The unsmiling waiter is watching her; she can feel it. She can feel that he doesn’t want her in his restaurant, opening her birthday present. It isn’t a birthday present sort of place, isn’t even a thirteen-year-old in her best dress kind of place. She tries to be very small in her chair. “Go ahead,” demands her father. “Open it.” He’s frowning and his frown is much closer than the waiter’s. Nancy picks at the bow, undoing the knot as best she can with her fresh manicure. Checking to make sure the waiter’s not looking, she picks up her knife and slides it under the tape, easing it loose without tearing the shiny paper. The box inside has the logo of her father’s company on it. Nancy’s tangles her fingers together, stalling. She wants, very much, for it to be a toaster. “Hurry up,” says her father. She wants to fold the paper into a crisp square or turn it into a giant origami swan. She wants to pretend that is the present, a sheet of white wrapping paper. Her father clears his throat and she cringes. The box isn’t taped and she tugs it open. Inside, there’s a layer of packing foam, which she picks through, not letting any spill on the table, until her fingers meet fur. The thing in the box is soft, cold, and the size of her two closed fists. She traces the shape of it, four feet, a tail, ears pointed alertly upward. When, a minute later, she gets it free of the box and shakes the last of the packing foam from its fur, she sees it has the shape of a kitten. Its fur is black and silver, with patterns that look nothing like a real cat’s, all loops and whirling, dizzy spirals. It looks like a synth-pet. They’re p[...] Podcasts, Uncategorized Kelly Sandoval yes no EP497: A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide http://escapepod.org/2015/06/27/ep497-a-stretch-of-highway-two-lanes-wide/ http://escapepod.org/2015/06/27/ep497-a-stretch-of-highway-two-lanes-wide/#comments Sat, 27 Jun 2015 20:40:14 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5166 http://escapepod.org/2015/06/27/ep497-a-stretch-of-highway-two-lanes-wide/feed/ 1 0:31:02 by Sarah Pinsker read by David White This story was published in the March/April 2014 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page aut[...] by Sarah Pinsker read by David White This story was published in the March/April 2014 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Sarah Pinsker about the author… Sarah Pinsker  is the author of the novelette “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” Sturgeon Award winner 2014 and Nebula finalist 2013. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Daily Science Fiction, the Journal of Unlikely Cartography, Fireside, Stupefying Stories, and PULP Literature, and in anthologies including Long Hidden, Fierce Family, and The Future Embodied. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels (the third with her rock band, the Stalking Horses) and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and can be found online at sarahpinsker.com and twitter.com/sarahpinsker.   A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide by Sarah Pinsker Andy tattooed his left forearm with Lori’s name on a drunken night in his seventeenth year. “Lori & Andy Forever and Ever” was the full text, all in capital letters, done by his best friend Susan with her homemade tattoo rig. Susan was proud as anything of that machine. She’d made it out of nine-volt batteries and some parts pulled from an old DVD player and a ballpoint pen. The tattoo was ugly and hurt like hell, and it turned out Lori didn’t appreciate it at all. She dumped him two weeks later, just before she headed off to university. Four years later, Andy’s other arm was the one that got mangled in the combine. The entire arm, up to and including his shoulder and right collarbone and everything attached. His parents made the decision while he was still unconscious. He woke in a hospital room in Saskatoon with a robot arm and an implant in his head. “Brain-Computer Interface,” his mother said, as if that explained everything. She used the same voice she had used when he was five to tell him where the cattle went when they were loaded onto trucks. She stood at the side of his hospital bed, her arms crossed and her fingers tapping her strong biceps as if she were impatient to get back to the farm. The lines in her forehead and the set of her jaw told Andy she was concerned, even if her words hid it. “They put electrodes and a chip in your motor cortex,” she continued. “You’re bionic.” “What does that mean?” he asked. He tried to move his right hand to touch his head, but the hand didn’t respond. He used his left and encountered bandages. His father spoke from a chair by the window, flat-brimmed John Deere cap obscuring his eyes. “It means you’ve got a prototype arm and a whole lot of people interested in how it turns out. Could help a lot of folks.” Andy looked down at where his arm had been. Bandages obscured the points where flesh met prosthetic; beyond the bandages, the shine of new metal and matte-black wire. The new arm looked like their big irrigation rig, all spines and ridges and hoses. It ended in a pincer, fused fingers and a thumb. He tried to remember the details of his right hand: the freckles on the back, the rope-burn scar around his knuckles, the calluses on the palm. What had they done with it? Was it in a garbage can somewhere, marked as medical waste? It must have been pretty chewed up or they would have tried to reattach it. He looked at the other arm. An IV was stuck in the “Forever” of his tattoo. He thought something far away was hurting, but he didn’t feel much. Maybe the IV explained that. He tried again to lift his right arm. It still didn’t budge, but this time it did hurt, deep in his chest. “Can’t prosthetics look like arms these days?” he asked. His practical mother spoke again. [...] Podcasts Sarah Pinsker no no Book Review: Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton http://escapepod.org/2015/06/21/book-review-dead-ice-by-laurell-k-hamilton/ Sun, 21 Jun 2015 14:00:05 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5144 Dead Ice, the latest Anita Blake novel, I'm worried that things are backsliding a little toward the muddled middle of the series. And that's not good.]]> EP496: Falling Through Creation http://escapepod.org/2015/06/18/ep496-falling-through-creation/ Thu, 18 Jun 2015 12:40:25 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5153 0:29:25 by Mark Robert Philps read by Christina Lebonville This story originally appeared in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page au[...] by Mark Robert Philps read by Christina Lebonville This story originally appeared in AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Mark Robert Philps about the author… Mark Philps is a writer and video production professional who lives and works in Vancouver, BC. He is a graduate of the Clarion Writers Workshop. His writing has appeared in such publications as Vancouver Magazine, AE-The Canadian Review of Science Fiction, and The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk. about the narrator… Christina Lebonville is known by the online moniker, Evil Cheshire Cat, a tribute to her sense of sarcastically dark humor and toothy resemblance to the re-imagining of the classic Wonderland character in American McGee’s video game, Alice. She has done voice work and writing for skits and songs played on the now retired comedy podcast, The Awful Show, and is the co-creator and former co-host of the podcast Obviously Oblivious, a nearly four-year running comedy podcast with a science twist. Christina has since retired from podcasting to pursue a doctorate in Behavioral Neuroscience. narrator Christina Lebonville   Falling Through Creation by Mark Robert Philps _HD 168443 b — Extra-Solar Terrestrial Planet, Silicate Core, Active Plate Tectonics_ We drift in warm lighted liquid and dream of a home that we have never known. Below us the dead world hangs in space, its mantle loose and wrinkled like dusty grey skin. We fire probes, watch as they arc towards the planet in long loops of light. We wonder if this planet is our planet. Will we find some trace of our people here? The probes have laser cutters and diamond drills and they burrow deep into the planet core. We collect samples from the surface and test them. This had once been a lush world, a garden in a droplet of water, trembling in the void. Now it is dead, the atmosphere a noxious soup, and we can feel only its past in the rocks that remain. This world is not our home. We play cards while the probes do their work. You always win. Remember how Father would drift above us–a short man, even for a human, pudgy, bald and smiling, some kind of Buddha in a wetsuit–teaching us how to play? How he would laugh as we pincered the oversized polymer cards between jet-black mandibles. Now the cards are slick with the residue of our feeling for him. We play for a long time. Days, weeks, months–it is easy to forget that time moves differently for us, faster than it does for Father and the other humans. _They are liars. They use us._You share this once, many times. _They let us leave,_ I reply _They could have killed us._ I don’t remind you that it was because of your anger, your frustration, your rejection of ignorance, that we are out on the edge of the void, alone and separated from Father and the Star-City where he raised us. I don’t care about these things. Besides, you are the mercurial one. The stronger one. While we play, the planet below disintegrates. There is no massive explosion, no violent climax to instantly turn the once-planet into a girdle of shattered rock. Its cratered surface is instead blasted apart from the inside, the probes detonate in the core and crack the world open like an overcooked egg (or so we imagine). Soon it will be a field of cool raw minerals, ripe for the hungry Star-City to harvest, more food for its factories and reactors. This angers you–that even as we search for our home, Father and the other humans have found a way to make us serve. To use us. Our work with this world is done and so we enter the coordinates for the next. We hope that this next world will be alive. We hope that this time, we will find our home. _HD 32421 c — Extra-Solar Terrestrial Planet, Silicate Core, Non-Active Plate Tectonics_ Our ship is filled with thick golden liquid; beyond it in all directions is the endless void[...] Podcasts Mark Robert Philps no no EP495: Aficionado http://escapepod.org/2015/06/06/ep495-aficionado/ http://escapepod.org/2015/06/06/ep495-aficionado/#comments Sun, 07 Jun 2015 03:03:50 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5135 http://escapepod.org/2015/06/06/ep495-aficionado/feed/ 2 0:39:10 by David Brin read by Joe Scalora This story is a chapter from the author’s latest book, Existence. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author David Brin abou[...] by David Brin read by Joe Scalora This story is a chapter from the author’s latest book, Existence. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author David Brin about the author… David Brin is a scientist, best-selling author and tech-futurist. His novels include Earth, The Postman (filmed in 1997) and Hugo Award winners Startide Rising and The Uplift War. A leading commentator and speaker on modern trends, his nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association. Brin’s newest novel EXISTENCE explores the ultimate question: billions of planets are ripe for life. So where is Everybody? David’s main thread: how will we shape the days and years ahead — and how will tomorrow shape us? – See more at: http://www.davidbrin.com/about.html narrator Joe Scalora about the narrator… Joe Scalora is the senior marketing manager of Del Rey Books, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Random House. When he’s not working or attending conventions, he lends his voice to audiobooks (The Shakespeare’s Star Wars series), podcasts (Pseudopod, The Drabblecast, PodCastle, HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast), and selling cars. He lives with his family in New Jersey. Story text is available at the author’s website here:  http://www.davidbrin.com/aficionado.html Podcasts David Brin no no EP494: The Retgun http://escapepod.org/2015/06/01/ep494-the-retgun/ http://escapepod.org/2015/06/01/ep494-the-retgun/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 04:23:07 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5131 http://escapepod.org/2015/06/01/ep494-the-retgun/feed/ 5 0:39:45 by Tim Pratt read by Rachael Jones This story was published in a Unidentified Funny Objects 2. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Tim Pratt about the author[...] by Tim Pratt read by Rachael Jones This story was published in a Unidentified Funny Objects 2. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Tim Pratt about the author… Tim Pratt lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Heather Shaw and their son River. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, Asimov’s, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Subterranean, and Tor.com, among many other places (for complete details, see his bibliography). His debut collection Little Gods was published in November of 2003. His second collection, Hart & Boot & Other Stories, appeared in January 2007, and was a World Fantasy Award finalist. Third collection Antiquities and Tangibles and Other Stories appeared in 2013. First novel The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl was published in late 2005. It was nominated for the Mythopoeic Award, and won a Romantic Times Critic’s Choice Award for best Modern Fantasy, and an Emperor Norton Award (which has the coolest trophy ever: a bust of Joshua Norton). narrator Rachael K. Jones about the narrator… Rachael K. Jones is a science fiction and fantasy author, and the co-editor of Podcastle. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, PodCastle, the Drabblecast, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Penumbra. She has a degree in English and is currently pursuing a second degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She lives in Athens, GA with her husband and perpetual alpha reader, Jason. You can follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones. The Retgun by Tim Pratt If you find yourself squatting over a pit toilet while wearing stiletto heels, you’ve made a few bad choices at some point during the evening. I could have taken off my shoes, but then I’d be barefoot, in the woods, in the half-light of a lantern dangling from a tree branch, standing in whatever you can expect to find on the ground around an artisanal hand-excavated poop hole. Apparently there was a fashion for high-and-low cultural juxtapositions in this particular dimensional node, hence a full fancy-dress party being held in and around a homemade earth-and-sod house lit only by torches. The hors d’oeuvres were processed cheese foam sprayed on mass-produced crackers, served on silver platters passed around by leggy supermodels dressed in hair shirts and stinking rags, plus prune-wine brewed in a ramshackle still and passed around in crystal goblets. Let me tell you something: prune wine goes right through you, so I didn’t even have to pretend I needed to use the facilities when the time came to get in position. The pit toilet was well back in the woods, some distance behind the sod house, but it nevertheless came equipped with a scrupulously polite bathroom attendant–he was standing on the lowest branch of a nearby tree–dressed in a green velvet tuxedo and prepared to offer towels, breath mints, and cocaine on demand. Interdimensional travel is often way more boring than you’d expect, but this was not one of the boring times. Earlier, when I was mingling among the partygoers–the worst human beings this node had to offer–a guy wearing a moth mask had lunged over to me drunkenly, tried to touch my cheek and slurred, “Your skin . . . so beautiful . . . like porcelain . . .” I’d knocked his hand aside and said, “My skin is like the stuff toilets are made out of?” Proving that I’d had a way overly optimistic idea about the quality of the local toilets. My business done, I scuttled away from the pit, tugged my rather ephemeral underwear back up around my hips, and pushed down my iridescent black dress, wondering how long I could plausibly pretend to be adjusting my garments b[...] Podcasts Tim Pratt yes no EP493: Beyond the Trenches We Lie http://escapepod.org/2015/05/20/ep493-beyond-the-trenches-we-lie/ Thu, 21 May 2015 03:39:19 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5127 0:34:45 by A. T. Greenblatt read by Andrew Clarke This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… Who am I? I’m[...] by A. T. Greenblatt read by Andrew Clarke This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… Who am I? I’m A(liza) T. Greenblatt. An engineer and a writer. A collector of cookbooks and recipes. An adventurous/messy cook and baker. Movie watcher, button mashing gamer, traveler, and gym rat. I like to make things and solve problems. I like to build things and write things down. And I like stories. Ever since I figured out how to read, I’ve been a passionate reader. Always had a book or two in my book bag in school. My must-read booklist is still bottomless. Why don’t I use my full name as my byline? Because when I first Googled myself this Aliza Greenblatt came up. It’s okay though, she beat me to it fair and square. I was an editorial assistant for a few years at Every Day Fiction and am a graduate of Viable Paradise XVI. I currently volunteer as an interviewer at Flash Fiction Chronicles, pestering EDF’s top author of the month with questions. about the narrator… Andrew Clarke is a London-based musician, writer and actor who has created work for the stage, film and radio in an ongoing quest to work out how to make any money at all. He is currently writing the second series of The Lost Cat Podcast – which details the adventures he has had while looking for his lost cat – featuring monsters, ghosts, Old Ones, several ends of the world, some cats and lots and lots of wine. The first series can be found here: http://thelostcat.libsyn.com/ He is also currently demo-ing his latest album. The previous album, called ‘Bedrooms & Basements’ can be found here: Bedrooms And Basements, by A.P. Clarke   Beyond the Trenches We Lie By A. T. Greenblatt This morning, the Globs are waiting for us, just like always. Despite what the official propaganda shows, we, this little band of ragged soldiers, don’t even bother to line up anymore. We just cram down our nutritional packets as fast as we can and climb out of our holes. Captain Beamon scowls at our lack of discipline, but he doesn’t push the point. Not when there’s a battle to be won. Beyond the trenches, the meadow is flourishing from the war. The grass is dark and lush, though it’s been trampled by soldiers. You can hear the brook running about a hundred paces away, fat and happy, while the tall elm trees on its banks overlook the whole situation from a distance. Win or lose, they will still grow for a long time to come. Every morning, I yank myself out of a trench, pull myself up with my cane, and make my way across the field. We never start the fight running, despite what the vids show. No need. The Globs will wait for us. Hell, they are waiting for us. On the other side of the brook, they’ve gathered on the banks, their clear gelatinous bodies undulating. Their neon eyes watching, boring into me from across the meadow, seeing nothing. Seeing everything. Every time, I shudder. And every time, hate myself for it. I hold the clod of dirt I pulled from the trench wall to my nose, inhale, and remember. My lies are endless. Everyone on the front line needs a mantra. Everyone needs a prayer. Mine helps me remember it’s the Globs that should be afraid of me. Still, in spite of it all, I enjoy my morning walk. In the first weeks of fighting, the mud repulsed me (you avoid squishy, smelly, wet things on the station -usually at all costs). But now I walk through the field barefoot, savoring the wet thwacking sound my soles make with each step, though I’m careful not to snag my feet -or cane – in the soft uneven ground. Unlike Reggie, I never relished my boots. When we reach the banks, we halt, taking a moment to eye our enemy. Sizing each other up, as it were. And then, slowly, we begin the assault. I pick my way carefully down the bank and ease my feet into the water -my time on Earth has[...] Podcasts A.T. Greenblatt no no EP492: The Silent Ones http://escapepod.org/2015/05/10/ep492-the-silent-ones/ Sun, 10 May 2015 04:30:15 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5122 0:22:23 by Erica Satifka read by Angela Davis originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page a[...] by Erica Satifka read by Angela Davis originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Erica Satifka about the author… Hello, my name is Erica and I hate writing introductions. But hey, when in Rome. I have published over a dozen short stories in such venues as Shimmer, Clarkesworld Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and PodCastle. If you want to read some of my fiction, check out the “Stuff I’ve Written” tab. I am an active member of SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) and am a member of the Codex Writers Group. I am currently at work on a novel for which I will be seeking representation. I work as a freelance editor, and teach classes on SF/F writing at Portland Community College. I used to live in Pittsburgh, then in Baltimore, and now, Portland (Oregon)! I have three cats and a spouse named Rob, who writes the review blog Panel Patter. When I’m not writing/editing/teaching, I enjoy riding my bicycle, knitting, playing outdated computer games from the early aughts, and adding to my collection of tattoos.Twitter: @ericasatifka E-mail: satifka at gmail dot com about the narrator… I am an American voice talent living in Norway. When not admiring mountains, I can be found recording for a variety of projects at home. The Silent Ones by Erica L. Satifka The year travel opens up between alternate Earths is the first year you fall in love, with a strapping farm boy from one of the rural worlds named Paul. He takes you to a barn dance thrown by his people, where you learn to smoke a corncob pipe. His sister, a tiny girl with saucer eyes and dirty hair, steals your purse. You’re too hammered to mind. You get drunk on apple wine and fuck Paul behind a haystack while a band of his cousins screeches on their fiddles and moans in that unintelligible alternate-world dialect of theirs. At the pale green Formica kitchen table, Paul gives you a stick-and-poke tattoo of his initials inside a heart. But when your six days are up, it’s back through the travel gate with you, and no more Paul. You mope for weeks, watching but not performing the calisthenics exercises on television, alternating handfuls of candy and amphetamines. Finally, your two best girl friends drag you from your home – “Don’t be such a drag!” – and bring you to the club. And that’s when you see your first silent one. With the robes and everything. Shit. He’s sipping a martini, looking totally out of place, bopping his head to a spastic electroclash beat. Club soda rises up your nose, coming close to spilling out. “Hey, get a load of that,” Sydney says, poking you in the ribs. You laugh. It’s pretty hilarious. “Rocks pretty hard for someone who dresses like a Druid.” “Shut up,” you say. “He’ll hear you.” But when you look over again, he’s already left the bar area, his martini abandoned. “Beam me up, Scotty,” Sydney jeers through gulps of rum and Coke. You’re disappointed. You wanted to watch him more; it’s a new thing to you. But already you can tell that the band’s as weak as the club soda. No wonder he left. Bum scene. “Hey, I’m out of here. Tell Randa.” You escape Sydney’s talons and light up in the parking lot. Thirty yards away a glowing red orb that pulses like your cigarette’s tip hangs at crop duster level. You turn away, vaguely ashamed. It’s like when you were seven and accidentally spilled milk into the aquarium, becoming an instant murderer. Your parents didn’t really care, but you did. # Not everything happens all the time, everywhere. That’s the first line on every bit of literature dealing with the alternate worlds. Want to visit a world where [...] Podcasts Erica Satifka yes no EP491: Heaven’s Touch http://escapepod.org/2015/05/01/ep491-heavens-touch/ Fri, 01 May 2015 04:14:59 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5119 0:57:47 by Jason Sanford read by Marguerite Kenner The story was originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction and was named to the Locus 2012 Recommended Reading List. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narr[...] by Jason Sanford read by Marguerite Kenner The story was originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction and was named to the Locus 2012 Recommended Reading List. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Jason Sanford about the author… Jason Sanford is the award-winning author of a number of short stories, essays, and articles, and an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Born and raised in the American South, he currently lives in the Midwestern U.S. with his wife and sons. His life’s adventures include work as an archeologist and as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Jason has published more than a dozen of his short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone, which once devoted a special issue to his fiction. His fiction has also been published in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog: Science Fiction and Fact, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Mississippi Review, Diagram, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Pindeldyboz, and other places. Book anthologies containing his stories include Year’s Best SF 14, Bless Your Mechanical Heart, and Beyond the Sun. A collection of Jason’s short stories, titled Never Never Stories, was published by a small press in 2011. Jason’s awards and honors include being a finalist for the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novella, winning both the 2008 and 2009 Interzone Readers’ Polls for best story of the year (and being a co-winner of the 2010 Poll), receiving a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, being nominated for the BSFA Award, and being longlisted for the British Fantasy Award. His stories have also been named to the 2012 and 2013 Locus Recommended Reading Lists along with being translated into a number of languages including Chinese, French, Russian, Polish, and Czech. Jason co-founded the literary journal storySouth, through which he ran the annual Million Writers Award for best online fiction. His critical essays and book reviews have been published in a number of places including SF Signal, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and The Pedestal Magazine. He also writes a regular column for the Czech SF magazine XB-1. narrator Marguerite Kenner about the narrator… Marguerite is a native Californian who has forsaken sunny paradise to be with her true love and live in Merrye Olde England. She frequently wears so many hats that she needs two heads. When she’s not grappling with legal conundrums as a trainee solicitor or editing Cast of Wonders, she can be found narrating audio fiction, studying popular culture (i.e. going to movies and playing video games) with her partner Alasdair Stuart, or curling up with a really good book. You can follow her at her personal blog, Project Valkyrie, or on Twitter via @LegalValkyrie. Heaven’s Touch by Jason Sanford As the Tonatiuh arcs through the sparkling coma of Heaven’s Touch, Parda’s holographic proxy wraps herself around my spacesuit and kisses my visor. “Please let Sister Dusty live,” the proxy prays in fervent devotion, defying the actions of the real Parda, who at this moment is piloting our ship on a collision course with the comet. But I’m too busy for either Parda or her proxy. After topping off my suit’s air, I crank open the exterior airlock door until whiteness swirls before me, my fatigue-addled mind turning the ice and dust to ghosts. Countless comet ghosts. Icy haunts begging me to embrace my destiny. “If you jump now, you’re dead,” the proxy whispers seductively in my ear. “All the prayer in the universe won’t save you. Wait until we’re closer to the surface.” I nod, almost forgetting this isn’t the real Parda. Instead, the autonomous AI program is a near-perfect imitation of my best friend–the proxy’s programmed intelligence infesting my spacesuit, my visor’s holographic projectors creating the illusion of her body. The proxy appears to wear a white[...] Podcasts Jason Sanford no no EP490: Flowers for Algernon http://escapepod.org/2015/04/20/ep490-flowers-for-algernon/ http://escapepod.org/2015/04/20/ep490-flowers-for-algernon/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 23:39:46 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5114 http://escapepod.org/2015/04/20/ep490-flowers-for-algernon/feed/ 7 1:40:13 by Daniel Keyes read by Dave Thompson The story has been previously published in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Copyright 1959 by Mercury Press Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wi[...] by Daniel Keyes read by Dave Thompson The story has been previously published in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Copyright 1959 by Mercury Press Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… from Wikipedia: Flowers for Algernon is a science fiction short story and subsequent novel written by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960. The novel was published in 1966 and was joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel (with Babel-17). Keyes was born in New York City, New York.[2] He attended New York University briefly before joining the United States Maritime Service at 17, working as a ship’s purser on oil tankers.[2] Afterward he returned to New York and in 1950 received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brooklyn College.[2] A month after graduation, Keyes joined publisher Martin Goodman‘s magazine company, Magazine Management.[2] He eventually became editor of their pulp magazine Marvel Science Stories (cover-dated Nov. 1950 – May 1952) after editor Robert O. Erisman,[3] and began writing for the company’s comic-book lines Atlas Comics, the 1950s precursors of Marvel Comics. After Goodman ceased publishing pulps in favor of paperback books and men’s adventure magazines, Keyes became an associate editor of Atlas[1] under editor-in-chief and art director Stan Lee. Circa 1952, Keyes was one of several staff writers, officially titled editors, who wrote for such horror and science fiction comics as Journey into Unknown Worlds, for which Keyes wrote two stories with artist Basil Wolverton.[4] As Keyes recalled, Goodman offered him a job under Lee after Marvel Science Stories ceased publication: Since my $17.25-a-month rent was almost due, I accepted what I considered a detour on my journey toward a literary career. Stan Lee … let his editors deal with the scriptwriters, cartoonists, and lettering crew. Writers turned in plot synopses, Stan read them, and as a matter of course, would accept one or two from each of the regulars he referred to as his “stable.” As one of his front men, I would pass along comments and criticism. … Because of my experience editing Marvel and because I’d sold a few science fiction stories by then, Stan allowed me to specialize in the horror, fantasy, suspense, and science fiction comic books. Naturally, I began submitting story ideas, getting freelance assignment, and supplementing my salary by writing scripts on my own time.[5] One story idea Keyes wrote but did not submit to Lee was called “Brainstorm”, the paragraph-long synopsis that would evolve into Flowers for Algernon. It begins: “The first guy in the test to raise the I.Q. from a low normal 90 to genius level … He goes through the experience and then is thrown back to what was.” Keyes recalled, “[S]omething told me it should be more than a comic book script.”[5] From 1955 to 1956, Keyes wrote for EC Comics, including its titles Shock Illustrated and Confessions Illustrated, under both his own name and the pseudonyms Kris Daniels and A.D. Locke.   narrator Dave Thompson about the narrator… Dave Thompson is the California King and the Easter Werewolf, and is the host and co-editor of PodCastle. He has narrated audiobooks (by Tim Pratt, Greg van Eekhout, and James Maxey), written short stories (published in or forthcoming from Apex, Drabblecast, Pseudopod, and Escape Pod), and lost NaNoWriMo twice. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife and three children. Podcasts Daniel Keyes no no EP489: Uncanny http://escapepod.org/2015/04/08/ep489-uncanny/ Thu, 09 Apr 2015 03:50:52 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5108 0:14:20 by James Patrick Kelly read by Dani Cutler The story has been previously published inAsimovs October/November 2014 Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author James [...] by James Patrick Kelly read by Dani Cutler The story has been previously published inAsimovs October/November 2014 Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author James Partick Kelly about the author… James Patrick Kelly is an American science fiction writer born April 11, 1951, in Mineola, New York. He began selling science fiction professionally in the mid-1970s, and has subsequently become one of the field’s leading writers of short fiction. He has won the Hugo Award twice, for his 1995 novelette “Think Like A Dinosaur” and for his 1999 novelette “Ten to the Sixteenth to One.” His 2005 novella “Burn” won the Nebula Award. His novels include Freedom Beach (1986, with John Kessel), Look Into the Sun (1989), and Wildlife (1994). Also with John Kessel, he co-edited the anthologies Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology (2006), Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology (2007), and The Secret History of Science Fiction (2009). A prolific teacher, Kelly has taught at most of the major science-fiction writing workshops, including Clarion, Clarion West, Viable Paradise, and Odyssey. Since 1998, he has served on the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts; he chaired the council in 2004. He is the Vice Chair of the Clarion Foundation, which oversees the Clarion Science Fiction Workshop; he has served on the Board of Directors of the New England Foundation for the Arts; and he is currently on the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. He also writes a column about SF on the internet for Asimov’s SF.   narrator Dani Cutler about the narrator… Dani Cutler last narrated for EP in 454: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One. She has been part of the podcasting community since 2006, hosting and producing her own podcast through 2013. She currently works for KWSS independent radio in Phoenix as their midday announcer, and also organizes a technology conference each year for Phoenix residents to connect with others in the podcast, video, and online community.   Uncanny by James Patrick Kelly A month after I broke up with Jonathan, or Mr. Wrong, as my mother liked to call him, she announced that she’d bought me a machine to love. She found it on eBay, paid the Buy It Now price and had it shipped to me the next day. I’m not sure where she got the idea that I needed a machine or how she picked it out or what she thought it would do for me. My mother never asked advice or permission. I dreaded finding the heavy, flat box that UPS left propped against my front door. I called her. “It’s here. So what does it do?” “Whatever you want.” “I don’t want anything.” “You always say that, but it’s never true. We all want something.” I hated it when she was being patient with me. “Just give it a chance, honey. They’re more complicated than men,” she said, “but cleaner.” I muscled it into the foyer. I retrieved the box cutter from Jonathan’s neurotically tidy toolbox and sliced carefully through the packing tape. I decided that I’d try it, but I also intended to send the thing back, so I saved the bubble wrap and styrofoam. There was no manual. The assembly instructions were in twelve pictographs printed on either side of a glossy sheet of paper. They showed a stick figure woman with a black circle for a head building the machine. Black was just how I felt as I attached the arms and headlights, fit the wheels and drawers into place. It stood five feet, eleven and three quarter inches tall; I measured. I had to give Mom credit; she knew quality when she saw it. The shiny parts were real chrome and there was no flex to the titanium chassis, which was painted glossy blue, the exact blue of Jonathan’s eyes. It smelled like the inside of a new car. I realized too late that I should have assembled it closer to the wall, I had to plug the charger into an extension cord. The power light flashed red;[...] Podcasts James Patrick Kelly no no EP488: In Another Life http://escapepod.org/2015/04/04/ep488-in-another-life/ Sat, 04 Apr 2015 05:03:43 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5102 0:31:20 by Kelly Sandoval read by Carla Doak The story has been previously published in Daily Science Fiction. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Kelly Sandoval abo[...] by Kelly Sandoval read by Carla Doak The story has been previously published in Daily Science Fiction. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Kelly Sandoval about the author… I live, work, and write in Seattle, Washington. Gray sky days, abundant restaurant choices, and distant mountains are my idea of paradise. In 2013 I abandoned my cat, tortoise, and boyfriend to spend six weeks studying writing at Clarion West. The experience taught me to commit myself and do the work, which is a lot less fun than just thinking about writing. It also introduced me to some of the best friends I’ve ever had. If you’re a writer considering whether you should apply, I’m happy to share my take on things. It’s not for everyone. But if it’s right for you, it’s worth it. My tastes run to modern fantasy with a lyrical edge, though I’ve been writing science fiction, lately. If you’re looking for funny stories with happy endings, I fear you’ve come to the wrong place. I can’t seem to write anything without a dash of heartbreak.   narrator Carla Doak about the narrator… I talk for a living, and push buttons – some literal, some metaphorical. I get to play music (and for the most part, choose what I get to play!), talk to folks from all walks of life, give away awesome things and generally make people smile. I search the world (often via the internet) for strange, wonderful, thought-provoking, conversation-invoking things and relay that information to hundreds and thousands, with my voice and with written word. I listen to new music, old music, new music that sounds like old music, old music that could be new music and music that should never hear the light of day. I share this music with others, willingly and volun-told-ally. I share my happiness, my sorrow, my anger, my passion, my wisdom, my ignorance. I wear my heart on my sleeve, in a pocket that is buttoned. There’s a small hole in that pocket, near the bottom, slightly frayed.   In Another Life by Kelly Sandoval Waking after a night spent slipping, I reach for Louisa automatically, rolling into the empty space where she belongs. I lick the memory of her from my lips, languid with sex. The alarm shrieks from my bedside table but I’ve gotten good at ignoring it. We went skating. Louisa wore a purple sweater and, giggling and unsteady, clung to my arm. We kissed on the ice and she pressed herself against me, her frozen fingers sneaking under my coat to stroke my back. It’s her laughter I cling to. These days, I only hear her low, honeyed laugh when I’m slipping. I miss the warmth of it. But it fades. Even the taste of her fades. I tell myself it’s all right. That it’s necessary. I’ve got an appointment with my therapist at noon. If I’m still clinging to the night’s slip, he’ll know I haven’t been taking my medication. No help for it. I drag myself out of bed and hit the alarm. My head pounds and the world blurs along the edges. I’ve slipped for three nights straight and ice skating with Louisa is nothing like sleeping. If I don’t take a day off soon, it’ll start to get dangerous. My therapist would say it’s already dangerous. But he doesn’t understand what I’ve lost. I’ve got four houses to show before my appointment, and a lot of coffee to drink to be ready for them. He’ll make a thing of it, if I’m late. He always does. The hours dribble past, hazy and distant. It’s like I left a shard of myself in my alter and can’t quite get back in step with my timeline. When the charming young couple at house two asks me about financing I try to answer, only to be distracted by the ghost of a red-headed boy rushing past in pursuit of a large gray bunny. The woman selling the house wears her red [...] Podcasts Kelly Sandoval no no EP487: New Folks’ Home http://escapepod.org/2015/03/28/ep487-new-folks-home/ http://escapepod.org/2015/03/28/ep487-new-folks-home/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:36:41 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5098 http://escapepod.org/2015/03/28/ep487-new-folks-home/feed/ 14 1:04:22 by Clifford Simak narrated by Norm Sherman Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   about the author… author Clifford Simak (source: wikipedia) “Clifford Do[...] by Clifford Simak narrated by Norm Sherman Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   about the author… author Clifford Simak (source: wikipedia) “Clifford Donald Simak (August 3, 1904 – April 25, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. He was honored by fans with three Hugo Awards and by colleagues with one Nebula Award. The Science Fiction Writers of America made him its third SFWA Grand Master and the Horror Writers Association made him one of three inaugural winners of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement. Simak was born in Millville, Wisconsin in 1904, son of John Lewis and Margaret (Wiseman) Simak. He married Agnes Kuchenberg on April 13, 1929 and they had two children, Richard (Dick) Scott (d. 2012) and Shelley Ellen. Simak attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison and later worked at various newspapers in the Midwest. He began a lifelong association with the Minneapolis Star and Tribune (inMinneapolis, Minnesota) in 1939, which continued until his retirement in 1976. He became Minneapolis Star’s news editor in 1949 and coordinator of Minneapolis Tribune’s Science Reading Series in 1961. In a blurb in Time and Again he wrote, “I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty three years and have two children. My favorite recreation is fishing (the lazy way, lying in a boat and letting them come to me). Hobbies: Chess, stamp collecting, growing roses.” He dedicated the book to his wife Kay, “without whom I’d never have written a line”. He was well liked by many of his science fiction cohorts, especially Isaac Asimov. He died in Minneapolis in 1988. Simak became interested in science fiction after reading the works of H. G. Wells as a child. His first contribution to the literature was “The World of the Red Sun”, published by Hugo Gernsback in the December 1931 issue of Wonder Stories with one opening illustration by Frank R. Paul. Within a year he placed three more stories in Gernsback’s pulp magazines and one in Astounding Stories, then edited by Harry Bates. But his only science fiction publication between 1932 and 1938 was The Creator (Marvel Tales #4, March–April 1935), a notable story with religious implications, which was then rare in the genre. Once John W. Campbell, at the helm of Astounding from October 1937, began redefining the field, Simak returned and was a regular contributor to Astounding Science Fiction (as it was renamed in 1938) throughout the Golden Age of Science Fiction (1938–1950). At first, as in the 1939 serial novel Cosmic Engineers, he wrote in the tradition of the earlier “superscience” subgenre that E. E. “Doc” Smith perfected, but he soon developed his own style, which is usually described as gentle and pastoral. During this period, Simak also published a number of war and western stories in pulp magazines. His best-known novel may be City, a collection of short stories with a common theme of mankind’s eventual exodus from Earth. Simak continued to produce award-nominated novels throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Aided by a friend, he continued writing and publishing science fiction and, later, fantasy, into his 80s. He believed that science fiction not rooted in scientific fact was responsible for the failure of the genre to be taken seriously, and stated his aim was to make the genre a part of what he called “realistic fiction.” Podcasts Clifford Simak no no EP486: Blight http://escapepod.org/2015/03/17/ep486-blight/ Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:02:07 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5091 0:11:18 by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam read by Christiana Ellis The story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam abou[...] by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam read by Christiana Ellis The story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam about the author… Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s fiction and poetry has appeared in magazines such as Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Hobart, and Goblin Fruit. She lives in Texas with her partner and two literarily-named cats – Gimli and Don Quixote. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. She also created and coordinates the annual Art & Words Collaborative Show in Fort Worth, Texas.   about the narrator… Christiana Ellis is an award-winning writer and podcaster, currently living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her podcast novel, Nina Kimberly the Merciless was both an inaugural nominee for the 2006 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction: Long Form, as well as a finalist for a 2006 Podcast Peer Award. Nina Kimberly the Merciless is available in print from Dragon Moon Press. Christiana is also the writer, producer and star of Space Casey, a 10-part audiodrama miniseries which won the Gold Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Production by the American Society for Science Fiction Audio and the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Drama. In between major projects, Christiana is also the creator and talent of many other podcast productions including Talking About Survivor, Hey, Want to Watch a Movie? and Christiana’s Shallow Thoughts. narrator Christiana Ellis   Blight by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam There are three thousand people in the world, and we are all the same. I don’t mean equal, for The Book makes clear we are not in any way equal. Some of us are blessed, others unblessed, as some live in the temple and others live on the charred black surface. And I do not mean we are similar, like sheep – the term once used, I believe, for a world of people with different genetic coding but the same ideas. No, we are not “sheep.” We are the same, from our hair to our DNA. The Book tells us that once there was The First, long ago, before the war. It tells us that She was not strong but lucky. Hospitalized for a broken leg before the bombs were released, all at once, across the world, or so The Book proclaims. The hospital was underground, hidden from the fallout’s worst. Most of the building caved in with the force of incessant blasts, everything destroyed but one wing: Hers. Our temple. Inside the room with Her, Her sister Marna had been visiting. Sister Marna, a scientist skilled in genetic replication, was older than The First, who had seen only twenty years. Sister Marna nursed The First back to health in that room, mended Her wounded bones. They ate Jello from sealed plastic containers and cans of beans and the petals of roses left by loved ones they learned to forget. They did not know they were the last. But they knew they should not leave the hospital wing, for the one time Sister Marna pushed open the door to the surface, she found the way blocked by rubble, saw a hazy light falling from the cracked concrete above. She and The First remained inside until the food ran out. They waited three days, our three Days of Fast, while Sister Marna searched for an exit, and on the third day, the Day of Sustenance, Sister Marna found another door, unblocked. When she returned, her skin gray with soot, she had removed her shirt and fashioned a bag by tying the sleeves together and plugging the neck hole with a bulk can of baked beans. Though her sister’s shirt was missing, The First could not tell that her upper half was naked, for Sister Marna’s breasts were black and brown as well, the coat of grime thick as a sweater. She had filled the makeshift bag with Jello and applesauce, beans, corn, chili, a bag of fortified cereal. They lived this way[...] Podcasts Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam no no Film Review: Cinderella http://escapepod.org/2015/03/16/film-review-cinderella/ http://escapepod.org/2015/03/16/film-review-cinderella/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 14:00:49 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5083 http://escapepod.org/2015/03/16/film-review-cinderella/feed/ 1 EP485: Supply Limited, Act Now http://escapepod.org/2015/03/10/ep485-supply-limited-act-now/ http://escapepod.org/2015/03/10/ep485-supply-limited-act-now/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 04:48:06 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5077 http://escapepod.org/2015/03/10/ep485-supply-limited-act-now/feed/ 1 0:46:33 by Helen Marshall read by Graeme Dunlop The story was recently released in the author’s short story collection, Gifts for the One Who Comes After, and was also released online at SFSignal (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/09/free-fiction[...] by Helen Marshall read by Graeme Dunlop The story was recently released in the author’s short story collection, Gifts for the One Who Comes After, and was also released online at SFSignal (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/09/free-fiction-supply–limited-act-now-by-helen-marshall/) Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Helen Marshall about the author… Helen Marshall is an award-winning Canadian author, editor, and doctor of medieval studies. Her poetry and fiction have been published in The Chiaroscuro, Abyss & Apex, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Tor.com and have been reprinted in several Year’s Best anthologies. Her debut collection of short stories Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine Publications, 2012) was named one of the top ten books of 2012 by January Magazine. It won the 2013 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer and was short-listed for an 2013 Aurora Award by the Canadian Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy.   about the narrator… Graeme is a Software Solution Architect and Voice Actor living in Melbourne Australia. He is the sound producer for the horror podcast Pseudopod, and former host of the YA podcast Cast of Wonders. You can find him on Google+ and he occasionally tweets as @kibitzer on Twitter. narrator Graeme Dunlop   Supply Limited, Act Now by Helen Marshall Because Larry said it would never work, we knew we had to try. Because Larry said he didn’t want any part of it, we knew we had to try it out on him first. That was the way it was with Larry. That’s how it had always been between us. The four of us knew it. No one questioned it. We could all see the slightly sick look come over Larry’s face as he realized. We could see him turning pale. Pushing at his taped-up glasses and starting to scramble. He tried to say something. Marvin grabbed the shrink ray. Marvin pressed the button. And the world popped and crackled around us. * That’s how it started. Maybe it wouldn’t have been like that if Larry had never said anything. But when Larry had followed the instructions last time it had been a disaster. “FRIENDS,” the ad had said. “HERE’S HOW TO GET at almost NO COST YOUR NEW, Real, Live MINIATURE DOG!” “Supply Limited,” the ad said. “ACT NOW!!” “Please let me come home with you,” the miniature dog begged in a giant speech bubble. The dog was black, with long, floppy ears, cartoonishly wide eyes and a white-speckled snout. Larry, on the other hand, was skinny as a beanpole with a face full of acne. His elbows and knees were huge and knobbly. They stuck out like the knots in the ropes we had to climb for gym class. And if there was any boy who ever was in need of a dog it was him. And so Larry sent in his coupons and waited at the door for the mailman every day. He waited the way he had every day for the past year; while those other times it had been with terror, this time it was with stupid, fearless joy. You see, the thing you need to know about Larry is that his brother Joe had joined the Air Force last September. “GEE!! I WISH I WERE A MAN!” said the ad. “Come to the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE Recruiting Station,” it said. We all wished we could be men—of course we did!—but only Larry’s brother Joe was old enough. So he’d signed up just like it said to. They’d sent him to Honolulu for a while and then after that he had been moved to Seoul where he wrote back letters every once in a while about how hot it was and how many of the shovelheads he had killed and how much he missed his kid brother. Those weren’t the letters that worried Larry. Of course, it wasn’t those letters. It was the official letter. The one signed by President Harry S. Truman himself. Larry knew exactly when the mailman came every day. His whole family did. But after Larry sent away for his miniature dog? For a couple of weeks anyway things were different. This was about the only time in the whole [...] Podcasts Helen Marshall yes no EP484: That Tear Problem http://escapepod.org/2015/03/03/ep484-that-tear-problem/ Tue, 03 Mar 2015 06:48:17 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5054 0:23:36 by Natalia Thodoridou read by Hugo Jackson guest host Rachael Jones This story was originally published in Kasma SF in June 2014 Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page [...] by Natalia Thodoridou read by Hugo Jackson guest host Rachael Jones This story was originally published in Kasma SF in June 2014 Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Natalia Theodoridou about the author… Natalia Theodoridou is a media & theatre scholar based in the UK. Her writing has appeared in Clarkesworld, Crossed Genres, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. Find out more at www.natalia-theodoridou.com, or just say hi @natalia_theodor on Twitter.   about the narrator… Hugo Jackson is an author with Inspired Quill; his first fantasy novel, ‘Legacy’ is available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. He has acted and performed stage combat for years, having appeared in various film, theatre and TV productions, including The Young Victoria, Diamond Swords at Warwick Castle, Cyrano de Bergerac (Chichester Festival Theatre, 2009)  Romeo and Juliet (Arundel Festival, 2005), The Worst Jobs In History, and Ancient Megastructures: Chartres Cathedral. See him at www.hugorjackson.com narrator Hugo Jackson   That Tear Problem by Natalia Theodoridou “Now flex your arm,” the controller said. Her voice sounded dry and mechanical through the speakers. “The real one or the other one?” I asked and immediately received a neuro-ping: You are real. “Both your arms are real, soldier,” she said. I always thought of her as a woman, but really it was just a voice. There was no way to tell gender. Focus. “Right. Which one do you want me to flex?” “The left one.” I flexed my left arm. It’s one of the limbs they rebuilt after the accident. The Neuropage pinged me again, just in case: You are real. All this is real. I wondered if they figured out I had found the glitch. Was that what prompted this ping? But it couldn’t be; the pager was supposed to be entirely incorporated into the nervous system. No outside access available. Unless that was a lie, too. “Now the other one,” the voice said. “How much longer is this going to take?” I asked, flexing my right arm. I could feel my legs getting fidgety. They always did that when I was strapped down for long chunks of time. Ever since the accident. Fidget fidget fidget. Even while I slept, the legs fidgeted. I would much rather sleep floating around, but that set off the security alarm. I had found that out the hard way, on my second day at the space station. “The muscle-tone examination is complete,” the controller said. “Now on to the neural routine.” “The neural routine. Of course.” If she caught the irony in my voice, she didn’t show it. “Attach the red electrode to your left arm. Good. Now let me know if you experience any pain.” A moment passed, but nothing happened. “I don’t feel anything,” I said. “OK. How about now?” I waited. My eyes started to tear up. I felt the moisture form into little beads around my eyeballs. “I don’t feel anything in my arm, but my eyes sting like hell. It’s that tear problem again,” I said. Tears, apparently, don’t flow in microgravity. The little fuckers just stick to your eyes like liquid balls, refusing to let go before they get to be the size of small nuts. Bottom line is, you can’t cry in space. They always get that one wrong in the movies. Who would have known? “You are reacting to an imaginary stimulus,” the voice said. “Your brain thinks you should be hurting, so your eyes tear up. Hold still. You can wipe them in a minute.” Maybe the controller was a man, after all. Maybe it wasn’t a person at all at the other end, just a machine. I waited for a ping, but got nothing. “All done. You can unstrap yourself, soldier,” the voice said. “Same time tomorrow. Do not be late.” [...] Podcasts, Uncategorized Natalia Thodoridou yes no EP483: Boris’s Bar http://escapepod.org/2015/03/02/ep483-boriss-bar/ http://escapepod.org/2015/03/02/ep483-boriss-bar/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 05:35:56 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5050 http://escapepod.org/2015/03/02/ep483-boriss-bar/feed/ 4 0:44:18 by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali read by Kaitie Radel This story has not been previously published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali about [...] by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali read by Kaitie Radel This story has not been previously published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali about the author… I was raised in New Haven, Con­necti­cut.  I attended the Uni­ver­sity of Con­necti­cut for a cou­ple of years but left to marry my hus­band of more than twenty years.  I have three beau­ti­ful chil­dren, who like most chil­dren these days, far out­strip their par­ents in intel­li­gence and cre­ativ­ity. My days, my con­crete life, are spent car­ing for breast oncol­ogy patients as a reg­is­tered nurse.  I love work­ing as an oncol­ogy nurse.  It keeps me grounded and forces me to remem­ber the tran­sient beauty of life, and the impor­tance of doing what one loves while one can.  It also keeps God fore­most in my mind as I jour­ney through this brief life, that my choices might be accord­ing to His will. My less ordered life (Don’t we all live mul­ti­ple sep­a­rate lives?) is spent mostly in my head.  I am always attempt­ing to order the mul­ti­tude of ideas that rise unbid­den in my mind when I least expect them.  To some peo­ple this makes me look deeply spir­i­tual and wise, to oth­ers I look angry.  I assure, I am nei­ther.  Some­times the voices of half-formed char­ac­ters speak to me, beg­ging to be recorded for pos­ter­ity, that we might learn from them, or them from us.  Some­times the voice I hear is my own, remind­ing me of my oblig­a­tion to this life.  Unfor­tu­nately, I rarely have time for any of the voices cre­at­ing the chaotic din in my head. narrator Kaitie Radel about the narrator… Kaitie Radel is a music education student and aspiring voice actress, has been voice acting as a hobby for two years.  In addition to this project, she has participated as both a VA and administrator in several fan projects such as The Homestuck Musical Project and Ava’s Melodies.  She can be contacted at kaitlynradel@mail.usf.edu.   Boris’s Bar by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali   “Orani, tell Boris what is wrong.”     I told Boris about Enoch and our shared dreams, about how he abandoned me. “He said I was frigid,” I confided, my head on Boris’s shoulder, his hand stroking my back. Boris nodded, “What else?” “He said that for all the credits in the system, I would never learn how to love.” I’d been drowning in loneliness when I contracted Boris to help me recover from losing Enoch. After two years of long distance communication, Enoch had traveled from Earth to be with me, only to later decide it was a mistake. “You’re not the human being I thought you were,” he said, which was rich because he wasn’t a human being at all. When I was spent of energy and tears, Boris lifted me into his arms, like steel support beams, and carried me to the bathroom. He undressed and washed me. He kissed my tearful eyes. He rubbed my skin with oil. With Boris I finally felt warm and safe. “Orani, you are worthy and lovable. I want you to know this,” he murmured to me as he carried me back to bed. “I want you to feel like a little baby.” “I don’t remember what that’s like,” I told him. # I turned onto my side and assumed the position for spooning. “Please. Come hold me.” I hated that I sounded so desperate. It climbed onto the bed behind me and pulled me against its body. It laced its legs with mine, stroked my side, and nuzzled my neck. “Tighter,” I whispered. “Closer.” My cuddle bot acquiesced, but it still didn’t feel right. It wasn’t warm and fleshy. It didn’t quite curve and meld into my body. Its breath wasn’t moist on the back of my neck. And I could see its intricate metallic phalangeal joints through the tear in its rubber skin. “Enough,” I said, trying not to sound exasperated, like I was near tears. I don’t know why it mattered. It wouldn’t have noticed or car[...] Podcasts Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali yes no EP482: Chimeras http://escapepod.org/2015/02/21/ep482-chimeras/ http://escapepod.org/2015/02/21/ep482-chimeras/#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 05:49:00 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5037 http://escapepod.org/2015/02/21/ep482-chimeras/feed/ 1 0:20:35 author Julie Steinbacher (image is © Folly Blaine) by Julie Steinbacher read by Jessica Dubish guest host Gabrielle de Cuir This story has not been previously published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narra[...] author Julie Steinbacher (image is © Folly Blaine) by Julie Steinbacher read by Jessica Dubish guest host Gabrielle de Cuir This story has not been previously published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… Julie Steinbacher is fully human, whatever that means. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she is an MFA candidate at North Carolina State University. She is a graduate of the Clarion West Workshop, and her fiction appears in Terraform. You can follow her on Twitter @jofthewolves.   about the narrator… Jessica Dubish is a sophomore Theatre Major at George Mason University. George Mason University; The Merchant (Gypsy Busker), Women and Wallace (Victoria), Slumber Party (Nancy), The Blue Room (The Girl), The Vagina Monologues (My Angry Vagina), Dido, Queen of Carthage (Cupid). Jessica is a Teaching Artist at Acting for Young People. narrator Jessica Dubish   Chimeras by Julie Steinbacher You’ve heard going chimera is addictive. You’ve never done any hard drugs, so you’re not afraid of what this means. The “Free Consultations” sign on the clinic has drawn you in, not for the first time. It’s raining lightly in the city and droplets cling to your long hair and your nose. Bumps rise on your bare arms. You have the money for the first operation–savings you were going to put toward an apartment just for you and him–and the time: your whole life. You push open the door. # The waiting room is full of people. Some have only subtle modifications, pigment alteration to suggest stripes, lengthened earlobes, eyes that shine in the low lamplight. There are others who stare at you with unblinking reptilian irises, or who run sandpaper tongues across pointed canines. And then there are the other naturals like you, all huddled in one corner, stinking to some, probably, like fear and nerves. The bravado leaks out of you, but you force yourself to the desk, where you add your name to the list. Then you find a place to sit in the center of the room and avoid eye contact with everyone, natural or not. You’re not going to lose your nerve now. You’re making a choice, going against all the promises you made to T–but then, he broke his promises to you. Magazines litter the end tables to make the room look more homey. Animal women are on their covers, or beautiful animal men. There are interviews in Fur & Scales with a handful of celebrities on their personal journeys to chimera. The season’s fashions are highlighted on a page–lacy webbed fingers, dappled rumps, prehensile tails. Your name is called and you furl the magazine and put it in your purse. # After the consultation you have an appointment for your first modification. The date and time are written on a smooth card that you slide into your jeans pocket and touch from time to time on the bus ride home. Your roommates are out, so you slip into your room and strip naked before a mirror. You slide your hands across your thighs and press the jut of each hipbone, stroke the curve of your belly. Briefly you cup each breast and consider its heft and shape. You think about how each part will look, down the line, when you’ve gotten all the modifications you want. “You’re fucking beautiful,” T used to tell you when you made love. It was a friend of yours that saw him in a restaurant with another woman, and it was over when you learned how many he’d slept with while seeing you. The sound of the front door pulls you from your reverie, and you put on a robe. You remove the card from your jeans pocket–a corner bent, now–and put it in the drawer of your nightstand. For now, your secret. # You take a half-day from work for the procedure. It’s in-and-out; the first modifications are often slight, like the remaining balance in your bank account. When you come to, face smarting, the air feels different. The surgeon brings you a mirror[...] Podcasts Julie Steinbacher yes no EP481: Temporary Friends http://escapepod.org/2015/02/16/ep481-temporary-friends/ http://escapepod.org/2015/02/16/ep481-temporary-friends/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 05:45:26 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5034 http://escapepod.org/2015/02/16/ep481-temporary-friends/feed/ 1 0:19:20 by Caroline M. Yoachim read by Caitlin Buckley This story has not been previously published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Caroline M. Yoachim about the[...] by Caroline M. Yoachim read by Caitlin Buckley This story has not been previously published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Caroline M. Yoachim about the author… I’m a photographer and writer currently living in Seattle, Washington. I’ve published about two dozen fantasy and science fiction short stories, in markets that include Asimov’s, Lightspeed Magazine, Interzone, and Daily Science Fiction. In 2011 I was nominated for a Nebula Award for my novelette “Stone Wall Truth,” which you can read online here at my website. For a list of my publications, see my writing page. about the narrator… Hey – my name is Caitlin Buckley, and I’m narrating this week’s episode. I’ve been voice acting for just over a year, but talking funny for my entire life – and I think it’s just such fun. If you want to see other stuff I’ve been involved with, I keep a blog with all my work: https://caitlinva.wordpress.com/. Thanks for listening! narrator Caitlin Buckley     Temporary Friends by Caroline M. Yoachim The second week of kindergarten, Mimi came home with a rabbit. Despite numerous mentions of the Temporary Friends project in the parent newsletter, I wasn’t prepared to see my five-year-old girl cuddling a honey-colored fluffball that was genetically engineered to have fatally high cholesterol and die of a heart attack later in the school year. “I named him Mr. Flufferbottom.” Mimi told me. I glared at Great-Grandpa John, who’d been watching her while I finished up my shift at the clinic. He shrugged. My gruff maternal grandfather wasn’t my first choice of babysitter, but he needed a place to stay and I needed someone to watch Mimi after school. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to name him, honey?” I knelt down and put my hand on Mimi’s shoulder. “He’s a completely biological rabbit, and this kind doesn’t tend to live very long.” “Teacher said to pick good names for our rabbits,” Mimi said. “Besides, you put new parts on people, so if Mr. Flufferbottom breaks you can fix him.” Replacement pet parts were readily available online, and the self-installing models could be put in by anyone who could afford the hefty price tag and follow simple instructions. But replacement parts defeated the purpose of the lesson — research showed that children needed to experience death in order to achieve normal emotional development. Aside from the occasional suicide or tragic accident, there weren’t many occasions to deal with loss. Schools were required to incorporate Temporary Friends into their kindergarten curriculum in order to get government funding. The school couldn’t control what parents did, of course, but the parent newsletter strongly discouraged tampering with the damned death pets in any way. “Mimi, sweetie, that’s not how it works this time — I know we get a lot of extra parts for Graycat, but your Temporary Friend is only until…” I tried to remember from the newsletter how long the rabbits were engineered to live. Six months? “Only until March, and then we’ll say goodbye.” I expected Mimi to put up a big fuss, but she didn’t. She took Mr. Flufferbottom to the cage we’d set up in her room and got him some food and water. # Mimi didn’t say another word about Mr. Flufferbottom until mid-October. “Mommy,” she said in her most serious voice, “I think we should order parts for Mr. Flufferbottom now, so we’ll have them ready when he needs them.” “We talked about this, Mimi. Mr. Flufferbottom is a Temporary Friend. Do you remember what temporary means?” “It means only for a little while. Like ice cream is temporary because I eat it or s[...] Podcasts Caroline M. Yoachim no no EP480: To the Knife-Cold Stars http://escapepod.org/2015/02/07/ep480-knife-cold-stars/ http://escapepod.org/2015/02/07/ep480-knife-cold-stars/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 06:07:52 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5029 http://escapepod.org/2015/02/07/ep480-knife-cold-stars/feed/ 1 0:39:42 by A. Merc Rustad read by Mat Weller This story has not been previously published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author A. Merc Rustad about the author… [...] by A. Merc Rustad read by Mat Weller This story has not been previously published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author A. Merc Rustad about the author… Hello and welcome! My name is Merc Rustad and I’m a queer non-binary writer and filmmaker who likes dinosaurs, robots, monsters, and cookies. My fiction has appeared in nifty places like Scigentasy, Daily Science Fiction, and Flash Fiction Online. (More at the Published Fiction tab at the top of the page.) I’m mostly found on Twitter @Merc_Rustad and occasionally playing in cardboard boxes. The site is updated with publication announcements, completed short films, and occasional blog-like essays. (For more semi-regular blogging, I hang out on LJ and DW.) narrator Mat Weller about the narrator… <<text redacted>> Mat last Read for EP episode 466: Checkmate   To the Knife-Cold Stars by A. Merc Rustad When Grace opens his newly crafted eye, the first thing he sees is wire. Thick cords of braided wire snaking like old veins up the walls. It’s dim inside the surgical unit, but for all the black metal and mesh shelves, it _feels_ clean, even in the heat. The air still has the unfamiliar taste of crude oil. Sweat sticks the borrowed clothes to his skin. He blinks, a flicker of pain in his head as the left eyelid slides down over cool metal buried in the socket. He’s awake and he’s alive. The anesthetic hasn’t worn off. It’s sluggish in his blood, an unpleasant burn at the back of his throat. It blurs the edges of his thoughts like too much bad wine. But it doesn’t dull the deep-etched fear still unspooling through his gut. He survived the demon, survived his own execution. It’s a hard thing to accept, even days later. He wants to touch the new eye, this machine part of his body, the forever-reminder what happened. Doesn’t dare, yet. “Back with us, eh?” says a raspy voice muffled by a respirator. Grace turns his head, slow and careful. He dimly recalls the wire-tech mumbling about whiplash in his neck and the horrific bruising along his ribs and back where the welts are still healing. “Guess so.” The tech is a small man dressed in heavy surgical leathers that are studded with metal sheeting. Old blood speckles the apron and gloves; the metal and rivets are spotless. Only the skin on his forehead is visible under thick embedded glasses and a breather covering nose and mouth. “Nearly died on us, you did. Venom went right into the blood.” The demon’s venom. Grace doesn’t reach to touch his face where the sunspawn’s claws took out his eye and split flesh to bone. He doesn’t look down, either. A new shirt and worn jeans cover whatever scars the demon left on his belly and thighs. He shivers in the heat. He doesn’t know if he can ever look at himself again; what will Humility think– Humility. Grace trembles harder. Humility will never see him again. _Don’t think._ Harder a self-command than it should be. _Don’t go back there._ “He’s tough.” The second voice jerks Grace’s attention back to where he is. He turns his head again, wincing. He craves more anesthetic, and hates that he wants it. Numbness is just another way to hide. Bishop stands near the narrow doorway, leaning against corded wire that bunches like supports along the wall. He’s tall, broad-shouldered, dressed in travel-worn leathers with a breather mask over the lower part of his face. His mechanical eyes gleam dull green in the surgical bay’s weak florescent glow. Bishop–the man who saved his life. Bishop brought him here to this city, to the medical bay tucked somewhere in one of the vast districts that no name Grace can recall. Grace’s throat tightens. He ought to say something in greeting, or acknowledgement. All words feel hollow. Bishop looks at Grace, unblinking, though he speaks to the tech. “Appreciate your help, Dee,” Bishop says. “Your skill’s always sharp.” “I do my best.” The tec[...] Podcasts A. Merc Rustad yes no EP479: The Evening, The Morning and the Night http://escapepod.org/2015/02/02/ep479-evening-morning-night/ http://escapepod.org/2015/02/02/ep479-evening-morning-night/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 05:28:37 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4990 http://escapepod.org/2015/02/02/ep479-evening-morning-night/feed/ 10 1:05:17 by Octavia Butler read by Amanda Ching This story originally appeared in the May 1987 issue of Omni (available for free here: https://archive.org/details/omni-magazine-1987-05) Drabblecast’s production of Bloodchild: http://www.drabblecast.o[...] by Octavia Butler read by Amanda Ching This story originally appeared in the May 1987 issue of Omni (available for free here: https://archive.org/details/omni-magazine-1987-05) Drabblecast’s production of Bloodchild: http://www.drabblecast.org/2013/10/31/drabblecast-300-bloodchild/ The Octavia Butler Foundation’s scholarships for writers of color: http://octaviabutler.org/scholarship/ Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Octavia Butler about the author… from OctaviaButler.org: Octavia Estelle Butler, often referred to as the “grand dame of science fiction,” was born in Pasadena, California on June 22, 1947.  She received an Associate of Arts degree in 1968 from Pasadena Community College, and also attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles.  During 1969 and 1970, she studied at the Screenwriter’s Guild Open Door Program and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, where she took a class with science fiction master Harlan Ellison (who later became her mentor), and which led to Butler selling her first science fiction stories. Butler’s first story, “Crossover,” was published in the 1971 Clarion anthology.  Patternmaster, her first novel and the first title of her five-volume Patternist series, was published in 1976, followed by Mind of My Mind in 1977.  Others in the series include Survivor (1978), Wild Seed (1980), which won the James Tiptree Award, and Clay’s Ark (1984). With the publication of Kindred in 1979, Butler was able to support herself writing full time.  She won the Hugo Award in 1984 for her short story, “Speech Sounds,” and in 1985, Butler’s novelette “Bloodchild” won a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and an award for best novelette from Science Fiction Chronicle. Other books by Octavia E. Butler include the Xenogenesis trilogy: Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988) and Imago (1989), and a short story collection, Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995).  Parable of the Sower (1993), the first of her Earthseed series, was a finalist for the Nebula Award as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.  The book’s sequel, Parable of the Talents (1998), won a Nebula Award. In 1995 Butler was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship. Awards 1980, Creative Arts Award, L.A. YWCA 1984, Hugo Award for Best Short Story – Speech Sounds 1984, Nebula Award for Best Novelette – Bloodchild 1985, Science Fiction Chronicle Award for Best Novelette – Bloodchild 1985, Locus Award for Best Novelette – Bloodchild 1985, Hugo Award for Best Novelette –  Bloodchild 1995, MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant 1999, Nebula Award for Best Novel – Parable of the Talents 2000, PEN American Center lifetime achievement award in writing 2010, Inductee Science Fiction Hall of Fame 2012, Solstice Award, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America narrator Amanda Ching about the narrator… Amanda Ching is a freelance editor and writer. Her work has appeared in WordRiot, Candlemark & Gleam’s Alice: (re)Visions, and every bathroom stall on I-80 from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. She tweets @cerebralcutlass and blogs at amandaching.wordpress.com. Amanda last Read for EP episode 461: Selkie Stories are for Losers Podcasts Octavia Butler yes no EP478: People of the Shell http://escapepod.org/2015/01/30/ep478-people-shell/ Fri, 30 Jan 2015 05:28:44 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5024 0:52:38 by Brian Trent read by Jeff Ronner This story originally has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Brian Trent about the [...] by Brian Trent read by Jeff Ronner This story originally has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Brian Trent about the author… I am a novelist, screenwriter, producer, poet, actor, and freethinker who supports both imagination and rationalism. I am an advocate for film and the written word and possibility. I am a recent (2013) winner in the Writers of the Future contest and have since had work accepted in Escape Pod (“The Nightmare Lights of Mars”), Daily Science Fiction, Apex (winning the 2013 Story of the Year Reader’s Poll), Clarkesworld, COSMOS, Strange Horizons, Galaxy’s Edge, Penumbra, and Electric Velocipede. narrator Jeff Ronner about the narrator… Jeff Ronner is a voice actor, audio engineer, and sound designer. His work has appeared in radio and TV spots, non-commercial narrations, and on those annoying in-store supermarket PA systems. Cleverly disguised as a mild-mannered hospital IT manager during the day, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff last read for us in EP439: Cradle and Ume   People of the Shell by Brian Trent Egypt’s rolling ice-dunes were suddenly peppered by a new ashstorm, as if a bowl of soot had overturned in the heavens. King Cyrus held up his fist and the war drummer ceased his rhythmic pounding, the oarsmen relaxed, and the sandship ground to a halt in the slush. The ash sprinkled Cyrus’ cloak and collected in his beard. He leaned against the deck rails and stared. “Do you see that?” Cyrus asked his daughter, lowering his facemask around his smile. “Look!” The girl squinted. “Are those the pyramids, father?” “As I promised you.” Three fires danced high in the darkness. In a world of never-ending night, the Egyptians alone had devised a brilliant defiance. The Giza pyramids were like magical lighthouses, capstones removed, their vast bodies filled with pitch, and red fires lit to smolder like desperate offerings to the vanished sun. Standing on the sandship deck alongside his king, the Magus Jamshid said, “May they welcome us warmly. We are in no condition to fight.” “I did not need a fight to take Babylon,” Cyrus reminded him. “That was before the Hammerstrike, my lord.” But the king waved his hand dismissively. “I will go to them and look in their eyes, and speak to them as friends, and trust that generosity has not perished with the trees.” The withered magus grunted derisively. He was bearded and ancient, his skin like the patina of old scrolls. Jamshid wore a dark blue turban, facemask, and a scintillating black robe the same color as his pitched eyebrows. His gaze smoked like hot iron. The royal sandship stood at the head of the royal Persian fleet. It sounded majestic, Cyrus thought, but only four sandships – with a meager two hundred starving Persians – remained. The men resembled skeletons in their rags. Their leather armor was reduced to chewed twines that the men fisted in their hands, to nibble on in want of food. When the last of the leather was eaten, little trace would remain that animals had ever existed on the Earth. Cyrus turned to their dirtied ranks. “I give you Egypt!” he bellowed. “It is still here, as I promised!” Hunger, not hope, blazed in their eyes as they beheld the pyramid fires. Jamshid touched his arm. “Sire! The runner is returning!” Cyrus followed the magus’ gnarled brown hand. He saw only falling ash and smoky miasma curling from the ice. A moment later, the scout emerged into the fleet’s amber lamplight. The man saw the royal sandship and dug his spiked boots into the ice to stop hard. The archers relaxed their bows. “Sandship, my lord!” the young man cried. “Approaching dark and fast from the southeast!” “Banner?” Cyrus asked. “I have not set eyes on it. They run dark.” “They have seen our lamps,” the magus guessed. Cyrus stooped to his daughter. She was such a tiny thing, like a miniature of his wife, wi[...] Podcasts Brian Trent no no EP477: Parallel Moons http://escapepod.org/2015/01/23/ep477-parallel-moons/ Fri, 23 Jan 2015 06:18:24 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5019 0:31:45 by Mario Milosevic read by Bill Bowman This story originally appeared in Space and Time magazine and was produced as an e-book by Green Snake Publishing. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our[...] by Mario Milosevic read by Bill Bowman This story originally appeared in Space and Time magazine and was produced as an e-book by Green Snake Publishing. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Mario Milosevic about the author… I live in the Columbia River Gorge, one of the most beautiful places anywhere. My day job is at the local public library. I started writing quite young, and submitted my first story to a magazine when I was 14 years old. Nowadays I write poems, stories, novels, and a little non-fiction. I’m married to fellow writerKim Antieau. We met at a writer’s workshop quite a few moons ago and got married a year later. We’ve been deliriously happy for many years now. My advice to any would be writers: Don’t do it! It’s a crazy life. But if you absolutely must enter this nutty profession, here’s three things that just might help you out: 1. Write regularly (every day is good). 2. Read constantly. 3. Get a job. Seriously. about the narrator… Bill started voice acting on the Metamor City Podcast, and has wanted to do more ever since. He spends his days working at a library, where he is in charge of all things with plugs and troubleshooting the people who use them. He spends his nights with his wife, two active children, and two overly active canines and all that goes with that. Bill last read for us on EP440: Canterbury Hollow.   Parallel Moons Mario Milosevic 1a I never understood the term “new moon.” When the moon is invisible, how can it be new? “New moon” should be called “empty moon,” the opposite of full moon. I resolved to use the term when I was quite young. I figured all my friends would agree with me and we’d start a new way of talking about the moon. Only thing is, the phases of the moon don’t come up in conversation all that often, so the terminology never caught on. Another thing I remember about the moon: I used to put my finger over it to make it disappear. Lots of kids did that There’s immense power in erasing an object big enough to have its own gravity. Kids crave that kind of power. They want to rule the world. 2a You work at a medium-sized law firm. You get a call from some nerds. Space cadets. They want to reclassify the moon. They say it’s a planet, not a satellite. You think this has to be some kind of joke. But no. They are dead serious. They have money to pay for your legal work. Seven hundred and eighty-six dollars. And thirty-two cents. They collected it by passing a hat. You are amused. You take the case. Why not? No point in being who you are unless you can have some fun once in a while, right? Right? 3a Alice Creighton knew as much about Richard Mollene as anyone who ever looked at a gossip website, which made sense, since she wrote for one of the most popular. Mollene was the richest person ever, a complete recluse, a widower, and dedicated to three things above all else: stopping global warming, halting disease, and making the moon disappear. He had already accomplished the first with his innovative solar cell technology, had made real progress on the second with his universal vaccine, and now, with the pepper mill in orbit around the moon for the past twenty years, he was well on his way to achieving the third. Alice approved of Mollene’s first two dreams, but was not in favor of the third. A lot of people said they understood Richard Mollene and his pepper mill. Alice Creighton did not. She asked for an interview with Mollene to get more information. To her surprise, he said yes. Alice would get face time with the man who set the pepper mill grinding and seasoning the moon from lunar orbit almost twenty years ago. A lot of people said its mission was impossible. They said fine non-reflective dust, no matter how abundant, couldn’t quench the light of the moon. But they were wrong. 1b Like most everyone else, I saw the alien craft arrive on the moon via tv. Unlike most o[...] Podcasts Mario Milosevic no no EP476: In Loco Parentis http://escapepod.org/2015/01/16/ep476-loco-parentis/ http://escapepod.org/2015/01/16/ep476-loco-parentis/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 05:38:14 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5012 http://escapepod.org/2015/01/16/ep476-loco-parentis/feed/ 3 0:23:16 by Andrea Phillips read by Mur Lafferty This story is an Escape Pod original, it has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   autho[...] by Andrea Phillips read by Mur Lafferty This story is an Escape Pod original, it has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Andrea Phillips about the author… Andrea Phillips is an award-winning transmedia writer, game designer and author. Her book, A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, is published by McGraw-Hill and is used to teach courses at USC, Columbia, McGill, and many other universities. Her transmedia work includes a variety of educational and commercial projects, including Floating City with Thomas Dolby, The Maester’s Path for HBO’s Game of Thrones with Campfire Media, America 2049 with human rights nonprofit Breakthrough, Diesel Reboot with Moving Image & Content, and the independent commercial ARG Perplex City. These projects have variously won the Prix Jeunesse Interactivity Prize, a Broadband Digital award, a Canadian Screen Award, a BIMA, the Origins Vanguard Innovation Award, and others. Her independent work includes the Kickstarted ongoing serial transmedia project The Daring Adventures of Captain Lucy Smokeheart. Andrea has spoken at TEDx Transmedia, Future of Storytelling, SXSW, MIT Storytelling 3.0, the Power to the Pixel/IFP Cross-Media Forum, and Nordic Games Conference, and many more events. Andrea cheats at solitaire (a victimless crime) and Words With Friends (which is less forgivable). Consider yourself warned.   In Loco Parentis by Andrea Phillips The video stutters at the eighteen-second mark. Yakova knows by heart precisely when it happens. As she watches, she mouths the words along with Autumn. “So this girl just, like, opens up her bag, right?” And here is where it happens: Autumn elbows her and knocks her glasses off. Yakova knows she should edit it out, those few seconds of skewed and jarring footage as her glasses skitter across the lunch table. Instead, she studies each frame carefully. Jad is there, nearly off-frame and out of focus, light gleaming off the angled planes of his cheekbones, dark hair curled over his eyes. He starts from his recline, and he looks at her (looks at her!), eyes widening. His hand reaches up, and — She cuts it off here, before she has to hear her own brassy laugh, before she can hear herself telling Autumn to be more careful. If she doesn’t hear it, she can pretend HE didn’t hear it, either. She bites her lip, studying Jad’s expression of… concern? It must be concern. Probably. But is it the aloof concern of a bystander, or a more significant concern, floating atop a deep ocean of unspoken feeling? At the base of Yakova’s skull, her minder, Seraph, uncoils and stretches. “You have homework to do,” Seraph says. When she speaks, it is a warm vibration behind Yakova’s ear, all thought and no real sound. Her voice is the same as Yakova’s mother. Yakova zooms in on Jad’s inscrutable degree of concern. “Do you think he likes me?” she asks. The video panel winks out. “Homework,” Seraph says. If she has arrived at any conclusions regarding the boy’s feelings, she keeps them to herself. Yakova shouldn’t have glasses at all, of course. Not anymore, not at her age. The last two years have seen her friends blossoming into adulthood — one by one peripherals have fallen away, leaving their eyes clear, their faces open and unguarded. Yakova is left behind with a goggle-eyed wall between her and her newly coltish, beautiful peers. Being marked out as the sole baby in a flock of long-limbed near-adults is no easy thing, and made worse because she knows she is not a baby, not really. If only her mother could see that. Yakova closes her eyes and pictures the single blurry frame, Jad’s indeterminate degree of concern. Her minder can remove the video from her glasses, but can’t lock Yakova out of [...] Podcasts Andrea Phillips no no The Season http://escapepod.org/2015/01/12/season/ Mon, 12 Jan 2015 14:59:33 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5009 0:02:39 It’s a new year!  Celebrations and congratulations all around, as we have successfully survived, both as a species and as individuals (presuming you are reading this text from a computer and not, like, Valhalla).  That means, however, a new aw[...] It’s a new year!  Celebrations and congratulations all around, as we have successfully survived, both as a species and as individuals (presuming you are reading this text from a computer and not, like, Valhalla).  That means, however, a new awards season is coming.  If you want to support Escape Pod, then please, feel free to nominate us for awards such as the Hugos, the Nebulas, or the Parsecs.  Escape Pod publishes both text and audio, so that gives some flexibility in how you nominate us.  For example, with the Hugos we are eligible for Best Fancast and Best Semi-Pro-Zine. We’d also love to see some of the authors we publish see their own work highlighted.  The stories are, after all, the whole point of the exercise.  With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the award-eligible fiction we ran in 2014. The following short stories were originally published in EscapePod in 2014: “That Other Sea,” by William Ledbetter “Kumara,” by Seth Dickinson “An Understanding,” by Holly Heisey “To Waste,” by Luke Pebler “Rockwork,” by R. M. Graves “The Sky is Blue, and Bright, and Full of Stars,” by Edward Ashton “Checkmate,” by Brian Trent “Trash,” by Marie Vibbert “Inseparable,” by Liz Heldmann “Shared Faces,” by Anaea Lay “The Mercy of Theseus,” by Rachael K. Jones “Soft Currency,” by Seth Gordon “The Golden Glass” by Gary Kloster The following stories were originally published somewhere else in 2014, but reprinted in Escape Pod that same year. (If you want to nominate any of these, please do so naming the original venue, even if you heard them first with us.): “The Transdimensional Horsemaster Rabbis of Mpumalanga Province,” by Sarah Pinsker, originally published in Asimov’s “A Struggle Between Rivals Ends Surprisingly,” by Oliver Buckram, originally published in F&SF “Repo,” by Aaron Gallagher, originally published in Analog “Enjoy the Moment,” by Jack McDevitt, originally published in the anthology “The End is Nigh” “This is as I Wish to Be Restored” by Christie Yant, originally published in Analog Hat tip to datameister David Steffen of Diabolical Plots for volunteering to help put this list together!   Meta, Podcasts Escape Pod no no EP475: Homegrown Tomatoes http://escapepod.org/2015/01/10/ep475-homegrown-tomatoes/ Sat, 10 Jan 2015 06:58:15 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=5003 0:25:11 by Lara Elena Donnelley read by David Levine This story previously appeared in the pay-what-you-can Clarion Foundation fundraiser anthology The Red Volume. Mentioned in Alisdair’s commentary: KT Tunstall “Black Horse” Discuss on o[...] by Lara Elena Donnelley read by David Levine This story previously appeared in the pay-what-you-can Clarion Foundation fundraiser anthology The Red Volume. Mentioned in Alisdair’s commentary: KT Tunstall “Black Horse” Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Lara Elena Donnelly about the author… Lara Elena Donnelly lives and pretends to work in Louisville, Kentucky. When she is not writing (which is far too often), she swing dances, makes art, and does yoga in the park. Her fiction swings heavily anachronistic. She has a penchant for putting fairies, magic, and demons where they shouldn’t be; namely, pivotal points in history. She is a graduate of the Alpha and Clarion workshops. Her work has appeared several places in print and online narrator David D. Levine about the narrator… David D. Levine is the author of novel Arabella of Mars (forthcoming from Tor in 2016) and over fifty SF and fantasy short stories. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo Award, and he has been shortlisted for awards including the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, and Sturgeon. His stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, and five Year’s Best anthologies as well as his award-winning collection Space Magic from Wheatland Press. David lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Kate Yule. His web site is www.daviddlevine.com.   Homegrown Tomatoes by Lara Elena Donnelly When I pick Louisa up from school, _All Things Considered_ is on the radio, playing a round table discussion about the virus. One person believes that the disease ravaging the corn belt is a government experiment gone awry. The reporter reminds the audience: botanists speculate it was brought to the U.S. by an invasive species of beetle. I recognize a few of the interviewees—I studied their research back when I was still pursuing my doctorate. Before I met Ann, before we had Louisa. It’s strange, thinking I could have been on NPR some day, if I had finished my degree. I turn the radio off before Louisa is buckled in. The virus has been the only thing on the news for a week. Louisa’s teacher talked about it with her class a little bit, but I don’t want Louisa to get worried, so Ann and I don’t mention it much at home. “Daddy,” she says, buckling herself in. “Can we plant my tomatoes when we get home?” Louisa’s tomatoes started out as a kindergarten project last spring, but quickly escalated into a backyard plot sized right for a small-town farmers’ market. Ann and I thought she would forget about them this year, but in February she asked if we could plant tomatoes again. “Sure, cookie. But you have to do your homework first.” She shakes her head. “Mommy said she would help with my homework.” I sigh. Ann won’t be home until Louisa is in bed. She called at lunch today and said her boss wanted a story on the virus before she left the office—it’s starting to appear outside the Midwest now, affecting fields in New England. There are signs that it might be spreading to wheat and other grasses. “Mommy’s going to be late,” I say. “I can help you.” Like I’ve been helping Ann on and off. Half the reason she’s on the stupid story to begin with is my half-finished PhD. Louisa doesn’t say anything. She used to cry every night Ann was away. Now she hardly complains, but I worry about what’s going on in her head. We try to make her understand that mommy’s work is very important because daddy doesn’t have an office job—his job is to pick Louisa up from school and make her healthy snacks, to watch her favorite TV shows and play with Legos. Now, Louisa stares out the window, picking at the edge of a band-aid on her knee. I hope she knows we both love her. When we get home, Louisa drops her backpack and runs straight to the dining[...] Podcasts Lara Elena Donnelly no no EA Metacast, December 2014 http://escapepod.org/2014/12/29/ea-metacast-december-2014/ Mon, 29 Dec 2014 23:27:02 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4998 0:17:28 What’s in store for Escape Artists — and for you — in 2015? Listen and find out! What’s in store for Escape Artists — and for you — in 2015? Listen and find out! Meta Escape Pod no no EP474: In Coppelius’s Toyshop http://escapepod.org/2014/12/29/ep474-coppeliuss-toyshop/ Mon, 29 Dec 2014 06:34:03 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4995 0:29:06 by Connie Willis read by Nathaniel Lee This story has been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Connie Willis about the author[...] by Connie Willis read by Nathaniel Lee This story has been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Connie Willis about the author… from Wikipedia: Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis (born December 31, 1945) is an American science fiction writer. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for particular works —more “major awards” than any other writer — most recently the year’s “Best Novel” Hugo and Nebula Awards for Blackout/All Clear (2010). She was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Science Fiction Writers of America named her its 28th SFWA Grand Master in 2011. Several of her works feature time travel by history students at a faculty of the future University of Oxford—sometimes called the Time Travel series. They are the short story “Fire Watch” (1982, also in several anthologies and the 1985 collection of the same name), the novels Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog (1992 and 1998), as well as the two-part novel Blackout/All Clear (2010). All four won the annual Hugo Award and all but To Say Nothing of the Dog won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Podcasts Connie Willis no no EP473: Soft Currency http://escapepod.org/2014/12/24/ep473-soft-currency/ http://escapepod.org/2014/12/24/ep473-soft-currency/#comments Thu, 25 Dec 2014 04:26:36 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4987 http://escapepod.org/2014/12/24/ep473-soft-currency/feed/ 2 0:39:09 by Seth Gordon read by Melissa Bugaj This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Seth Gordon about the author[...] by Seth Gordon read by Melissa Bugaj This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page   author Seth Gordon about the author… Seth Gordon, a mild-mannered programmer for a great metropolitan software company, lives in Boston with his wife and three sons. For the past two and a half years, he has belonged to B-Spec, the Boston Speculative Fiction Writing Group, which has given him valuable advice and support. His personal Web site is at http://imaginaryfamilyvalues.com. This is his first professional fiction sale. about the narrator… Melissa is the proud mom of a nine-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl. She is a special educator in her sixteenth year of teaching. Mel has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. This past year, however, she left the world of elementary school to teach Special Education in a High School Conceptual Physics and Chemistry class. She survived her first year of being the shortest person in the classroom and was enthusiastic to get back to teaching velocity, gravity and atoms for the 2014-2015 school year. In her “free time,” she co-produces a children’s story podcast with her techie husband called Night Light Stories and writes a blog about the silly antics of her family called According To Mags.   Soft Currency by Seth Gordon When Cassie Levine was nine years old, her family lived in the center of Boston, Lyndon B. Johnson was President, and Cassie learned that her mother was a criminal. The two of them sat in a parked car on Blue Hill Avenue, outside Ethel Glick’s grocery store. While Cassie ate an ice-cream sandwich, her mother smoked a cigarette. The sandwich, the cigarettes, and three bags of groceries had come from Mrs. Glick’s store. When the ice cream sandwich was half gone, Cassie asked, “Why did you change Dad’s money at Mrs. Glick’s? Why not go to the bank?” Cassie’s mother had passed Mrs. Glick a twenty-dollar bill; the older woman had tucked the bill under the counter and handed back a stack of coupons; then, her mother had used some of those coupons to pay Mrs. Glick. Each twenty-coupon note showed a picture of Margaret Mitchell, holding a copy of _Gone With the Wind_. Cassie’s little brother called coupons “cootie money,” because only women and girls could use them. “The exchange rate at the banks is twenty-seven coupons for a dollar,” Cassie’s mother said, “and Mrs. Glick is paying thirty-one.” “Why don’t the banks pay thirty-one?” “The government won’t let them.” “Does the government let Mrs. Glick?” Cassie’s mother drew on her cigarette and exhaled out the half-open window into the drizzle. Cassie licked vanilla ice cream all around the edge of her sandwich, feeling smug and virtuous and full of sugar. “You’re doing something il-le-gal,” she said, stretching out the last word. “Don’t tell your father about this.” Cassie raised her eyebrows. Her mother’s expression was solemn. Through the blur of rain over the windshield, Cassie could see the delicatessen on the opposite corner; the G&G sign was suspended over the sidewalk, round and vertical like a ketchup bottle. Some nights, Cassie’s father would take the family out to dinner there. “He’s an idealist, and I love him for that, but… he doesn’t understand how much things cost.” “Is it really illegal, changing money at Mrs. Glick’s? Could you get arrested for it?” Her mother shook her head. “It’s like jaywalking, honey. It doesn’t hurt anyone, and the police have better things to do than go after it.” # By the time Cassie turned fifteen, her family had moved to the nearest suburb, and Richard Nixon was President. At Glick’s Grocery, which had moved to the same suburb, Cassie worked the register on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, while Mrs. Glick went to physical therapy. There was a locked box under the counter, a metal cashbox wit[...] Podcasts Seth Gordon no no EP472: The Mercy of Theseus http://escapepod.org/2014/12/19/ep472-mercy-theseus/ http://escapepod.org/2014/12/19/ep472-mercy-theseus/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:31:11 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4980 http://escapepod.org/2014/12/19/ep472-mercy-theseus/feed/ 1 0:43:07 by Rachael K. Jones read by Dave Thompson This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Rachael K. Jones about the author[...] by Rachael K. Jones read by Dave Thompson This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Rachael K. Jones about the author… Rachael K. Jones is a science fiction and fantasy author, and the Submissions Editor of Escape Pod. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, PodCastle, the Drabblecast, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Penumbra. She has a degree in English and is currently pursuing a second degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She lives in Athens, GA with her husband and perpetual alpha reader, Jason. You can follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones. narrator Dave Thompson about the narrator… Dave Thompson is the California King and the Easter Werewolf, and is the host and co-editor of PodCastle. He has narrated audiobooks (by Tim Pratt, Greg van Eekhout, and James Maxey), written short stories (published in or forthcoming from Apex, Drabblecast, Pseudopod, and Escape Pod), and lost NaNoWriMo twice. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife and three children.   The Mercy of Theseus by Rachael K. Jones Greta and Jamal have three arms, two legs, and one working kidney between the two of them. The kidney belongs to Greta. Its twin went to her little sister three years back, and now she has a laparoscopic keyhole scar over her belly button to remember it by. She can feel it pull tight when she rolls her creeper beneath the chassis of the next project in the shop. Thanks to the war, Jamal has lost the arm, the legs, and the other two kidneys. All his parts have since been replaced. # When Greta picked up Jamal in Washington, D.C. three days back, the first thing she did was insult him. “You look like shit,” she said. His left hand–the good one–flew up to his right cheek where the surgical scars stood out like red cords. His bionics were top notch–the Army had to put you together again before they could legally discharge you–but you could still see where the silicone skin ended and his real face began. Greta snorted. “Not your face, you moron. Your sweatshirt. You look like a psycho killer.” Jamal wore an oversize gray Army sweatshirt with the hoodie cinched tight beneath his chin. He dropped his hand and sidestepped when she tried to hug him. “Where did you park? Let’s get out of here.” She ignored the slight and led the way to the parking lot. She felt secretly gratified when Jamal’s jaw dropped at the sight of the ancient Mercedes. “Jesus fucking Christ, Greta! You found Mercy!” Greta sidled up behind him and eased the duffel bag from his hand–the bionic one. It looked like a real hand up close. Just not like Jamal’s hand. “Get in. We’re going on a road trip.” She slung the duffel bag on a stack of Heinleins in the back and took the driver’s seat. “I don’t remember it smelling like French fries in here,” said Jamal. # Mercy is a 1975 Mercedes-Benz 300D sedan. Burgundy with sham-sheep seat covers and polished pine dashboard. The bumper is solid steel. Inside, it smells like French fries. Greta converted Mercy to run on fast food grease when gas got expensive and most cars went electric. You can’t buy diesel-fueled cars in most states nowadays. You can’t buy diesel, for that matter, but there’s plenty of grease to be had, if you know where to ask, and it’s usually free. Mercy rides low because of all the road trip gear. Greta packed the trunk with spare parts: brake pads and camshaft bearings and an extra fan belt and fuses and two spare tires and three glowplugs and more, all salvaged over the years and stored against the day Jamal came home. She hopes it will be enough to finish the trip. The back seat is stocked with beef jerky and oranges and bottled coffee. Greta’s black backpack is wedged behind the driver’s seat, and Jamal’s Army-issue green duffel bag takes up the middle. There are a [...] Podcasts Rachael K. Jones yes no EP471: Shared Faces http://escapepod.org/2014/12/05/ep471-shared-faces/ Fri, 05 Dec 2014 07:19:04 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4975 0:36:46 by Anaea Lay read by A Kovacs This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Anaea Lay about the author… Anaea Lay l[...] by Anaea Lay read by A Kovacs This story has not been previously published. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Anaea Lay about the author… Anaea Lay lives in Seattle, Washington where she sells Real Estate under a different name, writes, cooks, plays board games, takes gratuitous walks, runs the Strange Horizonspodcast, and plots to take over the world.  The rumors that she never sleeps are not true. The rumors that you’re a figment of her imagination are compelling. You can send her an email at anaeatheblue@gmail.com She’s on google+ as Anaea Lay and posts most everything publicly She struggles valiantly against Twitter’s oppressive character limit as @anaealay Yes, she stole her first name from a dead Amazon.  No, she has nothing to do with the butterfly. about the narrator… A Kovacs is the tireless, relentless right hand of your Future Dark Overlord.   Shared Faces By Anaea Lay Dora’s favorite thing about Justin was that he liked to talk during sex. A good conversation turned him on, and he’d keep it up until the breathless, incoherent stage right before the end. They weren’t at that stage quite yet. Soon. At the moment she was nibbling the flesh at the very top of his thigh. What’s the spot for the sexbot to spot the spot of the plot damn spot You’ll never get it out The music fell from the speakers in a manic rush and Dora shifted her pace to match it. Her skin tingled in response to his arousal, her body automatically configuring itself to comply with the program they’d designed together before starting. “Ugh, I hate this song,” Justin said. Dora tightened her hand around him as she let go with her teeth. The conversation kept her mind engaged, prevented her from slipping completely into brain-dead-Bot mode. “Really? I like it. It’s catchy.” “It’s awful,” Justin said. “Haven’t you seen the video?” She had, and he was right, it was awful. A Sex Bot got jealous of her primary client’s human lover and attacked her. As if the heart-break of watching the client defend the lover weren’t enough, the video went on to lovingly depict the brutal punishment and dismantling of the offending bot. Dora’s skin went clammy-cold when she’d watched it. “Yeah, but the nastiness isn’t in the actual lyrics, and it is really catchy.” “I can’t belive you’d just brush that…” he trailed off when a careful placement of her tongue shoved him into the quiet phase of their coitus. She felt his tension, could smell the hormones and pleasure coiling through him, and her body mimicked it. They were moaning together at the climax, and she was trembling as she climbed back into the bed to nestle at his shoulder and stroke his hair. “That was the most amazing ‘shut-up’ I’ve ever heard,” he said with a happy sigh. “Good.” The program complete, the super-circuitry running through her cycled down and she slipped back from the edge of brain-dead-Bot-dom. His hands drifted down to tweak her nipples. “Do you need anything?” “No. I got what I needed with you.” “I never do anything for you. It feels skeezy. Don’t you have your own needs?” “Of course I do,” Dora said. “But I’m not wired like human women. It actually does please me to please you.” He pressed his lips to her forehead in a kiss, squeezed his arm around her shoulders. “I don’t want to be taking advantage of you, is all. This should be an equal relationship.” “It is.” There was a long pause. He should have drifted off to sleep, but Dora could feel his pulse and breathing and knew he hadn’t. So she didn’t sleep either, and she was ready for it when the question came. “Is it, or are you saying that because it’s what I want to hear and you’re wired to make me happy?” “I don’t have to be here. Our arrangement is sub-optimal for [...] Podcasts Anaea Lay yes no ATTENTION! Escape Pod Closing to Submissions (Temporarily) http://escapepod.org/2014/12/01/attention-escape-pod-closing-submissions-temporarily/ Mon, 01 Dec 2014 05:04:06 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4966 EP470: The Transdimensional Horsemaster Rabbis of Mpumalanga Province http://escapepod.org/2014/11/29/ep470-transdimensional-horsemaster-rabbis-mpumalanga-province/ Sat, 29 Nov 2014 06:57:26 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4963 0:41:29 by Sarah Pinsker read by Amy Robinson This story was published in the February 2014 issue of Asimov’s. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Sarah Pinske[...] by Sarah Pinsker read by Amy Robinson This story was published in the February 2014 issue of Asimov’s. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Sarah Pinsker about the author… Sarah Pinsker  is the author of the novelette “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” Sturgeon Award winner 2014 and Nebula finalist 2013. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Daily Science Fiction, the Journal of Unlikely Cartography, Fireside, Stupefying Stories, and PULP Literature, and in anthologies including Long Hidden, Fierce Family, and The Future Embodied. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels (the third with her rock band, the Stalking Horses) and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and can be found online at sarahpinsker.com and twitter.com/sarahpinsker. narrator Amy Robinson about the narrator… Amy’s voice over training began by taking a short workshop at the Alliance Theatre, instructed by industry veteran, Paul Armbruster.  Having whetted her appetite for the craft, she sought out further voiceover training with experts and agents alike, and finally landed at yourAct studios in Atlanta, GA. Under the expert instruction of Della Cole, a seasoned voice actress with over 30 years experience as both an actress and an agent, Amy grew as an actress and a voice over talent. She continues to sharpen her skills and is constantly working hard to provide the best possible voiceovers in the business. She is now proudly represented by People Store, and Umberger Agency, and works both in local studios and out of her home studio.   The Transdimensional Horsemaster Rabbis of Mpumalanga Province by Sarah Pinsker I. Options for an Imagined Pictorial Eulogy of Oliver Haifetz-Perec IMAGE 1: The photograph depicts an unmade bed covered in gear and clothing. A military-style duffel, half filled, dominates the shot. A camera bag sits next to it, cameras and lenses and lens cleaners laid out neatly alongside. IMAGE 2: Shot from the center of the bed. A shirtless man reaches for something high in the closet. He has the too-thin build of an endurance runner, his bare back lanky and muscled. There is a permanent notch in his left shoulder, from where his camera bag rests. A furrow across his back tells of a bullet graze in Afghanistan. The contrast of his skin and his faded jeans plays well in black and white. A mirror on the dresser catches Yona Haifetz-Perec in the act of snapping the picture, her face obscured but her inclusion clearly deliberate. Multiple subjects, multiple stories. IMAGE 3: This photograph does not actually exist. A third person in the room might have taken an intimate portrait of the two alone in their Tel Aviv apartment, photographers once again becoming subjects. A third person might have depicted the way her freckled arms wrapped around his torso, tender but not possessive. It might have shown the serious looks on both of their faces, the way each tried to mask anxiety, showing concern to the room, but not each other. They have the same career. They accept the inherent risks. They don’t look into each other’s faces, but merely press closer. It would have been the last photograph of the two together. Eleven days later, he is beaten to death in Uganda. His press credentials, his passport, his cameras, his memory cards, and cash are all found with his body; it isn’t a robbery. Since the third option doesn’t exist, the last picture of Yona and Oliver is the one that she took from the bed: his strong back, her camera’s eye. IMAGE 4: A Ugandan journalist sent Yona a clipping about Oliver’s death. A photo accompanies the article. It shows a body, Oliver’s body, lying in the street. Yona doesn’t know why anyone would think she w[...] Podcasts Sarah Pinsker no no EP469: Inseparable http://escapepod.org/2014/11/18/ep469-inseparable/ Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:05:08 +0000 http://escapepod.org/?p=4955 0:40:34 by Liz Heldmann read by Pamela Quevillion This story has not been published previously. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… Credits: The Aus[...] by Liz Heldmann read by Pamela Quevillion This story has not been published previously. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… Credits: The Australian science fiction magazine Cosmos: The Science of Everything published my hard sci fi story “Echoes” and “Inspiration” was printed in the first Antipodean SF Anthology. Other credits include the comparative mythology fantasy “Realms of Gold” and Jupiter mining sci fi “Bright Cloud of Music,” both at Neverworlds The Unique Fiction Webzine.  I was short-listed for the Random House/Transworld Australia George Turner Prize for my manuscript “Hashakana”. about the narrator… Pamela Quevillon is a writer and narrator who lives in the St Louis area and gives voice to everything from planetarium shows to documentary movies from her not necessarily well heated attic. You can find more of her narration  as part of the Space Stories series on 365 Days of Astronomy and on past episodes of Escape Pod.   Inseparable by Liz Heldmann The disruptor net hit the ocean with an eruption of steam. Obscuring billows gouted up in columns of gray and white and the target was close enough that the aft hull immediately registered a thermic spike. The temperature shot from swampy greenhouse to hot-as-fucking-Hades. Technically speaking. Around the quadrant, warships were deploying nets as weaponry. Best not to think about that. Science was the new war, according to Delia. The weave generated out of the arse end of the ship was coarse, each node tuned two-dimensionally to its neighbors in a honeycomb lattice that formed a curved plane. A great big seine made of plasma, dragging a world ocean underneath a sun that filled the forward viewscreen as if trying to muscle out of the frame. Both density and chemistry dials had been spun and today’s net split the surly bonds between hydrogen and oxygen wherever it encountered them in a medium of approximately one gram per cubic centimeter. Which meant that the net sliced through alien waters like gamma rays through goose shit and didn’t so much as muss the hair of any entities it scooped up in the process. Forget ‘Take me to your leader’. We quit asking nicely a few planetary systems in. Just about the day we got our first sentient ‘Thanks, but no thanks, and by the way, eat plasma’. Hence the warships. The thought of slammin’ and jammin’ in the spaces between worlds raised a bit of nostalgia in a girl. “All right, Shar, bring her up!” Delia’s shout interrupted before I got all weepy. The science vehicle, romantically named ScV-341, burped inertial brakes out of its titanium skin and gimbaled 45°. The net raveled in. A telltale with the image of a stepped-on snail floating above it went green, the deck vibrated and the ship pinged a saccharine little public service announcement. “Aft hold, secure.” “Thank you, ship.” We’d been excessively polite to each other ever since Delia had told me it was beneath me to argue with a ship over operational procedure. What she’d told it, I don’t know. Ping. “Inertial sink projecting.” “Thank you, ship.” Ping. “Would you like auto nav? It’s a difficult—” “Shut up, ship.” I hit the switch, screwed the bitch and let the shuttle scratch my itch. To fly. An itch I shared with legions of mostly younger up-and-comers. One of whom had up and come right into my zero-g couch on Gossamer while I was in-system indulging a different itch. The shuttle zipped. The Nav Hag at Pilot Bay had a quip for wannabe aether jocks. What’s the shortest line between two points? Folding them together. When you figure out how to do that, let me know. Until then, zip it. The contrail we left behind showed on scope as a straight line connecting the surface to the darkly purpling curvature of sky. As the water planet fell away, the contrail began to feather out and bend, bowing to trajectory and King Coriolis. *** Delia was elbow deep[...] Podcasts Liz Heldmann yes no