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Escape Pod

Summary: 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!

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 EP450: Valedictorian | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:45:37

by N.K. Jemisin Read by Stephanie Morris Author N.K. Jemisin about the author… N(ora). K. Jemisin is an author of speculative fiction short stories and novels who lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been nominated for the Hugo (three times), the Nebula (four times), and the World Fantasy Award (twice); shortlisted for the Crawford, the Gemmell Morningstar, and the Tiptree; and she has won a Locus Award for Best First Novel as well as the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award (three times). Her short fiction has been published in pro markets such as Clarkesworld, Postscripts, Strange Horizons, and Baen’s Universe; semipro markets such as Ideomancer and Abyss & Apex; and podcast markets and print anthologies. Her first five novels, the Inheritance Trilogy and the Dreamblood (duology), are out now from Orbit Books. (Samples available in the Books section; see top navigation buttons.) Her novels are represented by Lucienne Diver of the Knight Agency. She is currently a member of the Altered Fluid writing group. In addition to writing, she is a counseling psychologist and educator (specializing in career counseling and student development), a sometime hiker and biker, and a political/feminist/anti-racist blogger. You can reach her at njem at earthlink dot net. about the narrator… Stephanie is a librarian-in-training, a voracious biblio- and audiophile, an occasional writer of short stories, and a voice and stage actor. She has narrated short stories for PseudoPod, PodCastle, and Cast of Wonders, guest-blogged on subjects ranging from creative writing to zombie turkeys, and performed Shakespeare in a handful of weird churches. She is currently working toward a degree in Media Studies, which is really just a sneaky way for her to discuss her favorite fandoms in an academic context. She blogs at Scribbleomania.     Valedictorian by N. K. Jemisin There are three things Zinhle decides, when she is old enough to understand. The first is that she will never, ever, give less than her best to anything she tries to do. The second is that she will not live in fear. The third, which is perhaps meaningless given the first two and yet comes to define her existence most powerfully, is this: she will be herself. No matter what. For however brief a time. # “Have you considered getting pregnant?” her mother blurts one morning, over breakfast. Zinhle’s father drops his fork, though he recovers and picks it up again quickly. This is how Zinhle knows that what her mother has said is not a spontaneous burst of insanity. They have discussed the matter, her parents. They are in agreement. Her father was just caught off-guard by the timing. But Zinhle, too, has considered the matter in depth. Do they really think she wouldn’t have? “No,” she says. Zinhle’s mother is stubborn. This is where Zinhle herself gets the trait. “The Sandersens’ boy — you used to play with him, when you were little, remember? — he’s decent. Discreet. He got three girls pregnant last year, and doesn’t charge much. The babies aren’t bad-looking. And we’d help you with the raising, of course.” She hesitates, then adds with obvious discomfort, “A friend of mine at work — Charlotte, you’ve met her — she says he’s, ah, he’s not rough or anything, doesn’t try to hurt girls — ” “No,” Zinhle says again, more firmly. She does not raise her voice. Her parents raised her to be respectful of her elders. She believes respect includes being very, very clear about some things. Zinhle’s mother looks at her father, seeking an ally. Her father is a gentle, soft-spoken man in a family of strong-willed women. Stupid people think he is weak; he isn’t. He just knows when a battle isn’t worth fighting. So he looks at Zinhle now, and after a moment he shakes his head. “Let it go,[...]

 EP449: An Understanding | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:28:12

by Holly Heisey read by Wilson Fowlie Links for this episode: This story was a finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest Consider nominating one of our stories for the Parsec Awards Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… Holly Heisey launched her writing career in sixth grade when she wrote her class play, a medieval fantasy. It was love at first dragon. Since then, she’s been a finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest, and her short fiction has appeared in Aoife’s Kiss and Avenir Eclectia Volume 1. Holly also designs and illustrates, and her illustrations have appeared in works from award-winning Port Yonder Press and Splashdown Books. When she’s not writing or drawing, Holly can often be found strumming, bowing, or hammering away on her bevy of stringed instruments. Holly lives in Arizona with Larry and Moe, her two pet cacti, and she is currently at work on a science fantasy epic. about the narrator… Wilson Fowlie has been getting more and more into voice work ever since 2008, when he read his first story for Podcastle. He recently lost his full-time job, so he’s actively looking for paid voice work. If you like the way Wilson tells a story, snap him up quick! And if you’re in the Vancouver, Canada area – or even if you just love a good show chorus – check out The Maple Leaf Singers, the group he directs. You can find them at their own website or their Facebook page. www.mapleleafsingers.com   An Understanding by Holly Heisey The sun on Joppa was a deeper red than I remembered, and the blocky shapes of this dusty town I did not remember at all. I passed the sign for Hann River Landing and walked down the main street. There were few people about, mostly women and young children, the mothers dressed in plain cotton and linen and the children ratty, if not mostly clean. The women watched me with a glare reserved for strangers that they must not have used for some time. There were no aircars, no groundcars, no visible signs of industry. Trees around the houses boxed them in at odd angles, some branches bending to stop abruptly in the air. The Time Walls were tight here. I checked the bridge tethering me to Aijas Normal time on my ship in orbit, and checked my rate of sync with local time. It was a strain, to be held in two times at once. I would not stay here long. I scanned into the minds around me, looking for that one particular voice I’d caught two hundred and twelve lightyears out on a wave of Kaireyeh. A young woman. I felt her here, the barest scent of her, and turned down 2nd Street and then onto Acada Lane. The houses on Acada Lane were spaced twenty and thirty feet apart, no more than thirty or forty feet wide, with trimmed lawns of brown grass. Children played in a yard down the street. It was all so quiet that if I turned off the voices for a moment I could hear the rhythm of the Time Walls around me. Beats barely forming measure. I quickened my pace. Her house was one-story with peeling blue paint and white plastic trim. I climbed up the three steps to the creaking porch and since there was no button for a caller rapped my knuckles on the door. I waited. I searched for her mind again–yes she was here. I rapped again. I rubbed a small circle of dust off the door window and peered inside. I did what I had not wanted to do but was necessary now and touched her mind. She gave an inner start and I withdrew quickly, leaving behind only the thought that she must open the door; I was a friend. The door rattled and jerked inward. A slim, red-haired woman looked back at me with almond eyes. Her skin was a dusky tan, typical for Joppan natives. She looked up at my ice-white face, a face that would never be typical in any situation, and I remembered my eyes to blink. I saw and felt her shudder. “Lorin, may I come in?” I said. Her eyes narrowed. “What do you want? I don’t have more to give, [...]

 EP448: Paprika | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:56:08

by Jason Sanford read by Heather Bowman-Tomlinson Links for this episode: Originally appeared in the Issue 249 of Interzone Get stories from this author on Amazon.com Consider nominating one of our stories for the Parsec Awards Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page 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. about the narrator… “I may not be perfectly wise, perfectly witty, or perfectly wonderful, but I am always perfectly me.” -Anonymous I’m a horticulturist by trade, current stay at home mom for two children, team mom for the local Goalball team, and advocate for Blind/Visually Impaired causes and adoption causes. I love D20 gaming, reading, camping and canoeing, card playing, and music. Paprika by Jason Sanford “Ah Paprika, you dance so well,” Satoshi exclaimed each bright-sun morning, his praise always pleasing no matter how many times Paprika heard it. And Paprika could dance, she really could. Not like some of the olds, who’d spent millennia shaping their locked-down bodies through graceful movements. But still she could dance. Ballet. The Twist. The Bhangra. Sometimes she’d make herself as tiny as Satoshi’s hand and pirouette for hours on his workbench while he reformed nano into exciting, long-lost toys. Other times she’d dance full sized–child sized as Satoshi would say, although Paprika knew to never speak that depressing word to customers. Paprika would create a full-flowing lehengas skirt–always the brightest of greens–and she’d dance in the store window, spinning and spinning until she was so overcome with happiness she’d dance through the window into the outside world, leaping and spinning to imaginary partners, bowing and smiling to the boys and girls who never came, flying across the deserted streets and passing in and out of the empty but perfectly preserved buildings surrounding Satoshi’s shop. But whenever any of the few olds left in the city visited, Paprika restr[...]

 EP447: Rachel in Love | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:10:36

by Pat Murphy read by Kathy Sherwood Links for this episode: Originally appeared in the March, 2012 issue of Asimov’s Get stories from this author on Amazon.com Consider nominating one of our stories for the Parsec Awards Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Pat Murphy about the author… I’m a writer, a scientist, and sometimes a toy maker. All of my stories and novels have a hint of the strange. Some have been called science fiction, some fantasy, and some neither one. Most of my work falls between categories. I think that the most interesting events happen at the edges, in the borderlands where the lines are fuzzy. My fiction writing has won a number of awards, including the Nebula Award for Science Fiction, the World Fantasy Award, the Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original, the Christopher Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. I also co-founded the James Tiptree Memorial Award. When I’m not writing fiction, I write books about science. For upwards of 20 years, I was a writer at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception. These days, I write science books for Klutz, a publisher of how-to books that come packaged with the tools of their trade (from juggling cubes to foldable paper dragons that fly).  This is where I get a chance to try my hand at toy making. Working with at team at Klutz, I help develop the stuff that goes with the books — from origami starfighters to a snap-together skeletal hand. Sometimes, I also teach writing. I’ve taught in Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and at the Clarion Speculative Fiction Workshops in Michigan and Seattle. about the narrator… Kathy Sherwood resides in a (probably only figuratively) magical forest in North Central Florida, with her significant other, two dogs and two cats. She also hosts alternative rock show Not Quite Random on 88.5 WFCF–Flagler College Radio. https://www.facebook.com/notquiterandom  Last read EP396 — Dead Merchandise by Ferrett Steinmetz The post EP447: Rachel in Love appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP447: Rachel in Love appeared first on Escape Pod.

 EP446: The Way of the Needle | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:55:33

by Derek Künsken Links for this episode: Originally appeared in the March, 2012 issue of Asimov’s Get stories from this author on Amazon.com Consider nominating one of our stories for the Parsec Awards Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Author Derek Kunsken about the author… I’m a writer of science fiction, fantasy,  and sometimes accidentally, horror. I write and read both novel-length and short fiction, with a preference for works that explore really strange places and people.   THE WAY OF THE NEEDLE Derek Künsken I The ancient pulsar’s lighthouse beam of microwaves and radio waves spun twice per second. Within the bloom of its magnetic field orbited the single planet that had survived the long-ago supernova, at the cost of its crust and mantle. An atmosphere of carbon dioxide had congealed around the little metallic world, producing oceans of iron and nickel carbonyl, dotted with thickets of steel needles that fanned to catch the microwaves. On the largest islands, the growth of the needles had been coaxed into towers, pedestals, and martial walls. Prickly metal creatures held together by strong magnetic fields scuttled in these towns and forts, on eight articulated legs of steel spines. Their fine quills caught the flashing microwaves, generating the electricity for their quick, agile movements. One of them, whose fame would not be made for many years yet, was uncomfortable in a disguise. Mok was a Follower of the Needle, an order of martial priests. Whereas other Followers and fighters-at-arms bore large metal claws high on their forelegs, Mok now scurried with only small, shameful servant claws. No one recognized him and no one complimented him. Nor would he earn any compliments from this mission; he’d been sent by Master Hac not as a warrior to fight under the full shine of the pulsar, but as an assassin. Mok tried to fan his steel quills wider, but the road was too crowded. Fussing builders swung long rods culled from faraway orchards, patching the palisaded walls that lined the streets. Shabby, short-needled monks stood where the upturned points of the streets were overlaid with rusted garbage and sniped at each other with pinching claws and philosophical recriminations. Mok paused at a stall where a thinly needled elder showed off processed snow paste. Mok hadn’t stopped for the snow paste. He wasn’t hungry. He’d stopped for the view of the Ban estate. The Ban family had consolidated an immense estate on the south road during the clan wars. Its high noble gate showed sprouting buildings and growing towers within the palisade. Slow mercenaries controlled the gate. To the side, at a narrow opening, flowed the swarmers, servants and merchants, short-needled and small-clawed. Mok was a noble. Anyone with fighting claws was, but his great claws were now preserved on Master Hac’s estate, while he pretended to be less than he was to reach his target. He needed an excuse to enter. He crossed to a rod merchant. He took a pair of rods and scraped a payment of snow paste from his under-needles. He hefted these and scrambled to the swarmer entrance, like anyone else looking to repair a wall. Ahead of him, each of the entrants tipped the door ward, a clawless swarmer with powdery spines. Mok hesitated. He’d promised to play the swarmer to enter the estate, but had not considered that he’d need to tip one. Tips flowed toward honor. What did it say about him if he tipped a swarmer? “Hello, friend,” the door ward said. Mok was the finest of the Followers of the Needle. He could not bring himself to reply. “Are you well, friend?” the door ward asked. His magnetic field was flabby, with distortions around the joints. Snow paste hung in clots, trembling as if ready to drop. Mok scraped the thinnest gratuity from one of his under-needles and slapped it onto the swarmer’s outstretched claw. He hurried through the entrance,[...]

 EP445: Black Swan Oracle | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:40:50

by Ferrett Steinmetz read by Amy Robinson Links for this episode: It was originally published in the What Fates Impose anthology Get stories from this author on Amazon.com Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… from writertopia… A firm believer in the “apply butt to chair, then fingers to keyboard” philosophy, Ferrett Steinmetz writes for at least an hour every day – which helps, he promises. He is a graduate of both the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and Viable Paradise, and has been nominated for the Nebula Award, for which he remains stoked. Ferrett has a moderately popular blog, The Watchtower of Destruction, wherein he talks about bad puns, relationships, politics, videogames, and more bad puns. He is the creator of the most popular and comprehensive online purity quizzes (this one’s for sex, but he’s also done them for roleplaying and Livejournal). He’s written four computer books, including the still-popular-after-two-years Wicked Cool PHP. He lives in Cleveland with his wife, who he couldn’t imagine living without.   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. Black Swan Oracle by Ferrett Steinmetz The crowd waiting below The Oracle’s bulletproof bay window is a mathematically predictable entity. Still, the Oracle relishes any illusion of chaos – and so, every morning, just before she allows herself one single prayer, she sweeps open her curtains to gaze over the crowd. Her supplicants look up from their shivered huddling as fluorescent light spills out from The Oracle’s bay window; poor women in smudged hoodies squat next to Armani-clad stockbrokers. The Oracle’s hundreds of supplicants put up tents faster than the policemen can tear them down, burn garbage to ward off the Seine’s chill winds, buy gristled chicken hunks from illegal street vendors. The wait can take weeks, so long that people fall in love and fuck and have violently dramatic breakups before The Oracle’s guards fish these poor souls from the crowd to escort them towards an answer made pure with data. The Oracle’s tide of supplicants is so constant that, like any shantytown, it has developed its own economy… an economy which pulses perfectly in time with the rhythms The Oracle predicted. She’d spent hours developing algorithms to anticipate the crowd you would get if you charged $25,000 for a single question, answers guaranteed (but not to please), in this geographic and demographic cluster. She’d analyzed the local politicians, and the bribes she pays remain within .03% of initial estimates. She’d tracked the movements of the most influential reporters, ascertaining they would pass by here 2.4 times a week, guaranteeing unending press for “The Statistic Mystic,” a name the Oracle loathes. She even predicted the number of e. coli outbreaks from undercooked chicken. Yet every morning, before The Oracle orders her guards to escort the first supplicant in, The Oracle kneels. She above all people knows how irrational prayers are — multigenerational analyses of billions of lives has allowed The Oracle to thoroughly disprove the effects of prayers, bioharmonics, Zener cards, craniometry, reiki, [...]

 EP444: Those Are Pearls That Were His Eyes | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:37:03

by Daniel Marcus read by Christiana Ellis Links for this episode: First published first in Asimov’s, July 1996, and reprinted in the author’s collection, Binding Energy (2008). Get stories from this author on Amazon.com Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Author Daniel Marcus about the author… from the author’s website… Daniel Marcus has published stories in many literary and genre venues, including Witness,Asimov’s Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy,ZYZZYVA, and Fantasy and Science Fiction.Some of these have been collected in Binding Energy.   He is the author of the novels: Burn Rate  and A Crack In Everything. Daniel was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.  He has taught in the creative writing program at U.C. Berkeley Extension and is currently a member of the online faculty at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. He is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop. After a spectacularly unsuccessful career attempt as a saxophonist, Daniel earned a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from U.C. Berkeley, has worked as an applied mathematician at the Lawrence Livermore Lab, the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, and has authored numerous articles in the applied mathematics and computational physics literature. Daniel then turned his attention to the private sector, where for the last 15 years, he has built and managed systems and software in a variety of problem domains and organizational settings. 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.   Those Are Pearls That Were His Eyes by Daniel Marcus The only window in Suki’s bedroom opened onto an airshaft that ran through the center of the building like the path of a bullet.  She would lie in bed in the hot summer nights with the salt smell of the drying seabed coming in through the open window, a sheen of sweat filming her forehead and plastering the sheets to her body like tissue, listening to her downstairs neighbors.  When they made love, their cries echoing up through the airshaft made her loins ache, and she brought release to herself silently, visualizing men with slender, oiled limbs and faces hidden in shadow. Sometimes the neighbors sang, odd, sinuous music redolent with quarter tones.  The melodies wove counterpoint like a tapestry of smoke and for some reason Suki thought of mountains.  Jagged, fractal peaks thrusting out of an evergreen carpet.  Summits brushed with snow.  Tongues of cloud laying across the low passes. Sometimes they argued, and the first time she heard the man’s deep voice raised in anger she was sure he was a Beast, possibly an Ursa. She was less certain of the woman, but there was a sibilant, lilting quality to her voice that suggested something of the feline.  They’d moved in three weeks before but their sleep cycles seemed out of sync with hers and she still hadn’t met them. Suki tried to imagine herself going downstairs to borrow something — sugar, yarn, a databead.  His broad muzzle would poke out from behind the half-closed door; his liquid b[...]

 EP443: This Is As I Wish To Be Restored | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:27:30

by Christie Yant read by Mr. Lee Links for this episode: Please visit the sponsor for this episode: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/Jagash/posthuman-pathways This is an original work with no prior appearances. Get stories from this author on Amazon.com Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Mentioned by Alasdair at the end of this episode: Matt Wallace’s Slingers Author Christie Yant about the author… from the author’s website… Christie Yant is a science fiction and fantasy writer, and Assistant Editor for Lightspeed Magazine. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies and magazines including Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2011(Horton), Armored, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, io9, Wired.com, and China’s Science Fiction World. Her work has received honorable mentions inYear’s Best Science Fiction(Dozois) andBest Horror of the Year (Datlow), and has been long-listed for Story South’s Million Writers Award. She lives on the central coast of California with two writers, an editor, and assorted four-legged nuisances. Follow her on Twitter @christieyant. our narrator for this fine chunk of literature is Mr. Lee, who’s spiffy. This Is As I Wish To Be Restored by Christie Yant   Every night I come home and I drink. I trade away the hope, the guilt, the fear, even the love–I think it’s love, crazy as it seems. I trade them for oblivion, because otherwise I won’t sleep at all. I drink until there’s no life left in me, until I’m able to forget for just a little while the chrome vessel in the corner and what’s at stake. Sometimes I hope that I’ll dream of her. Sometimes I’m afraid that I will.   I have two things that belonged to her. The first is a photograph, taken at a party in what looks like a hotel. Her hair is dyed red—it doesn’t quite suit her, so you know it isn’t hers, like an unexpected note in a melody where you thought you knew where it was going and then it went sharp. She’s holding a glass of something pink and bubbly. Maybe it’s her birthday. If so, it’s probably her twenty-eighth. She’s laughing.   She was really young to be a client. Especially back then, most of the people who thought about life extension were retirees. Mortality was very much on their minds, and they’d had a lifetime to accumulate their savings—suspension was expensive. I wonder where she got the money. Her file doesn’t say.   So in this picture she’s laughing. She’s seated, supporting herself with one hand braced against the carpeted floor. Her head is thrown back and her back is arched, and she’s just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. There are other people around her, behind her, just smiling blurs holding drinks, but you get the feeling that she’s the reason they’re smiling. She’s the star they’re all in orbit around. Like me. I fell into her orbit years ago and can’t break free.   The picture moves with me through my bleak basement apartment, from room to room—sometimes it turns up on top of the half-size refrigerator, sometimes absent-mindedly left on a shelf in the medicine cabinet where I discover it again later and take it with me to the bedroom. I’ve found it between the sofa cushions at least half a dozen times. She follows me, or I follow her—it’s been a lifetime since she smiled that smile, and I’m still completely, utterly taken.   The one place it never goes is on the dewar in the corner.  That would just be too macabre, considering.   This is the only photograph she left. I often wonder what it was about this moment, this time in her life, that she could have looked ahead and known that this was as good as it gets. In this picture the cancer’s already killing her, she just doesn’t know it.   She died less than a year later. Pancreatic cancer. It’s in her file.   #   I was g[...]

 EP442b: Eater of Bone, part 2 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:41:32

by Robert Reed read by Mat Weller Links for this episode: This story has been previously published as a novella of the same name. Get stories from this author on Amazon.com Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Author Robert Reed about the author… from the author’s website… Bob has had eleven novels published, starting with The Leeshore in 1987 and most recently with The Memory of Sky in 2014. Since winning the first annual L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest in 1986 (under the pen name Robert Touzalin) and being a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in 1987, he has had over 180 shorter works published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Eleven of those stories were published in his critically-acclaimed first collection, The Dragons of Springplace, in 1999. Twelve more stories appear in his second collection, The Cuckoo’s Boys [2005]. In addition to his success in the U.S., Reed has also been published in the U.K., Russia, Japan, Spain and in France, where a second (French-language) collection of nine of his shorter works, Chrysalide, was released in 2002. Bob has had stories appear in at leastone of the annual “Year’s Best” anthologies in every year since 1992. Bob has received nominations for both the Nebula Award (nominated and voted upon by genre authors) and the Hugo Award (nominated and voted upon by fans), as well as numerous other literary awards (see Awards). In 2007, he won his first Hugo Award for the 2006 novella “A Billion Eves”. Reed continues to live in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Leslie, and daughter, Jessie. Local residents who may not know him for his award-nominated work as a genre writer may instead recognize him as an ardent long-distance runner — he can frequently be seen jogging through the parks and hiking trails of Lincoln, and has taken part in many of the area’s running races for the past several years.  Please see the post for the first half of this story for the complete text. http://escapepod.org/2014/04/05/ep442a-eater-bone/ The post EP442b: Eater of Bone, part 2 appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP442b: Eater of Bone, part 2 appeared first on Escape Pod.

 EP442a: Eater of Bone | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 2:02:34

by Robert Reed read by Mat Weller Links for this episode: This story has been previously published as a novella of the same name. Get stories from this author on Amazon.com Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page We still encourage you to  visit the sponsor for last week’s episode: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/Jagash/posthuman-pathways Author Robert Reed about the author… from the author’s website… Bob has had eleven novels published, starting with The Leeshore in 1987 and most recently with The Memory of Sky in 2014. Since winning the first annual L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest in 1986 (under the pen name Robert Touzalin) and being a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in 1987, he has had over 180 shorter works published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Eleven of those stories were published in his critically-acclaimed first collection, The Dragons of Springplace, in 1999. Twelve more stories appear in his second collection, The Cuckoo’s Boys [2005]. In addition to his success in the U.S., Reed has also been published in the U.K., Russia, Japan, Spain and in France, where a second (French-language) collection of nine of his shorter works, Chrysalide, was released in 2002. Bob has had stories appear in at leastone of the annual “Year’s Best” anthologies in every year since 1992. Bob has received nominations for both the Nebula Award (nominated and voted upon by genre authors) and the Hugo Award (nominated and voted upon by fans), as well as numerous other literary awards (see Awards). In 2007, he won his first Hugo Award for the 2006 novella “A Billion Eves”. Reed continues to live in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, Leslie, and daughter, Jessie. Local residents who may not know him for his award-nominated work as a genre writer may instead recognize him as an ardent long-distance runner — he can frequently be seen jogging through the parks and hiking trails of Lincoln, and has taken part in many of the area’s running races for the past several years. Eater-of-bone by Robert Reed 1 With cured gut and twitch-cord, the Nots had constructed their trap—a marriage of old cleverness and deep rage designed to catch dreaded, unworldly monsters such as her. But the device had lain undisturbed since summer, and the winter rains had washed away some of the leaf litter and clay that served as its camouflage. Knowing what to expect, the young woman easily spotted the taut lines and anchor points, and experience told her where a single soft footfall would trigger the mechanism, causing the ground to fall away. An extraordinarily deep hole had been dug into the hillside. One misstep, and she would plunge into blackness, every kick and helpless flail bringing down the loose dirt that would suffocate and then temporarily kill. She had seen this design before. The Nots were masters when it came to doing the same ancient tricks again and again. Only once in her experience had this type of mechanism worked as designed, but the vivid memory of that exceptionally miserable night was enough to make the woman step backwards—a reflexive, foolish reaction, since traps occasionally came in pairs, and one careless motion could be more dangerous than twenty smart, studied footfalls. But her bare foot fortunately hit only damp dirt, and she felt nothing worse than a jikk-incisor gouging her exposed Achilles. She knelt slowly and pulled the thorn free, placing a thumb across the wound to force the first drop of blood to remain inside her body. Her skin grew warm beneath her touch, and then there was no wound. Sucking on her thumb, she tasted iron and salt and a dozen flavors of grime, and after some consideration, she carefully, carefully traced out a wide ellipse that eventually placed the trap upwind from her. Riding the breeze was the arom[...]

 EP441: Kumara | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:46:30

by Seth Dickinson read by Alasdair Stuart   Posthuman Pathways Links for this episode: Please visit the sponsor for this episode: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/Jagash/posthuman-pathways This is an original work with no prior appearances. Get stories from this author on Amazon.com 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… I’m a graduate of the University of Chicago, a lapsed PhD candidate at NYU (where I studied racial bias in police shoot/don’t shoot decisions), and an instructor at the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers. I write science fiction and fantasy. My work has appeared or will soon appear in Clarkesworld, Analog, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, as well as winning the 2011 Dell Award. I care about gender, subtext, prose style, the fallacies of human cognition, and the ramifications of all we’ve learned regarding causality, cosmology, and thought. In my younger days I was a designer and writer on the Blue Planet (warning: video link) project for FreeSpace Open. I tweet without too much grammar at @sethjdickinson KUMARA By Seth Dickinson   You asked me why you are alive, and this is the answer: because I was asked to do the impossible, to choose someone to die. And I loved them all, loved them as I loved Kumara, as I loved myself. I could not bear the choice. “I need you to choose one of our crew to delete,” Kumara told me. “I need room to think, or we’re not going to make it.” Thirty years of diligence said no, never and I began to refuse. Outside the ship a revenant screamed a radio scream and through the umbilical of our link I felt Kumara cry back in defiance: jamming but still overmatched, struggling against sixty million years of mindless machine hate. Throwing every spark of thought she could muster into beating the revenant’s virals, decrypting them, compiling an inoculation. I closed my eyes and waited for her to fail, for the revenant to slip into her systems, for the antimatter torch to let go and end us all. But Kumara held herself together. Turned the attack. Her avatar grinned up from where she knelt, shoulder bowed with effort, nails clawed down to pink flesh. “Saved us again,” she said. “Ha. And they told me I wasn’t built for this. Thirty years, and still state of the art!” “You can make it,” I said, knowing it was a lie, that she had tapped every scrap of processing power in her hull. I was systems officer; I was the ship as much as she was. But still I begged: “Just an hour to the jump point. You’ll make it. You don’t need to ask for any more.” Kumara had taken the image of a woman, cable-shouldered, strong. Her hands trembled and her eyes shone bright with an inhuman intellect, a very human fatigue. Her intellect was digital, her fatigue an abstract, but she wore the metaphor of flesh. Flesh speaks clearly to the human mind. She looked up at me with those brilliant tired eyes and shook her head. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I’m out of processing power. They’re getting too sophisticated and I can’t keep up. You have to delete someone from heaven.” I closed my eyes and turned away. I was the last living crew of Kumara, you see? The others were dead: Captain Shiroma, who burned in her own armor as she stole the machine god’s dream, Matthews who cracked the revenant code, smiling Jayaraman who died first, wordless Landvatter whose ash still painted the hull. Our raid on the machine god, our Promethean theft, had gone poorly. But Kumara’s systems had saved them as they passed. Snared their dying minds, digitized them, and uploaded them to heaven: a simulation, a place that might keep them stable. Coddle them in a pleasant hallucination until their psyches could be retrieved. The heaven mainframe was the only resource she hadn’t tapped. But to make it useful, room would have to be opened, load reallocated. And there w[...]

 EP440: Canterbury Hollow | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:36:07

by Chris Lawson read by Bill Bowman   Links for this episode: Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… Chris Lawson is a doctor and writer living in Australia. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s SF, Realms of Fantasy, Eidolon, and Dreaming Down-Under. In late October he blogged at www.talkingsquid.net about his process of creating a short story, but those posts concerned a different story. For this one, you won’t find any glimpses of the wizard behind the curtain — you’ll just have to enjoy it on its own terms. about the narrator… Last read for us on EP424; 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. The post EP440: Canterbury Hollow appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP440: Canterbury Hollow appeared first on Escape Pod.

 EP439: Cradle and Ume | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:36:53

by Geoffrey W. Cole read by Jeff Ronner   Links for this episode: This story was originally published in Issue #1 of the relaunched Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds Magazine Get more of Geoffrey W. Cole’s work on Amazon.com Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Author Geoffrey W. Cole about the author… from the author’s website… Geoffrey W. Cole was born in Ottawa, Ontario, where he learned to swim and to survive 233K (-40 C or F) weather. After this larval stage, he moved to Kingston, Ontario, where he received degrees in Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Beer Slinging, and Rock and/or Roll. Geoff also met his mate in Kingston. After graduating they embarked on a trans-Canada road trip from Newfoundland to Alaska (for you future-bots reading this, from RockScar to The Beaches). After a brief stint in Ontario, Geoff and his mate moved to Vancouver, BC, where they married, started a home, adopted a giant Newfoundland Lab cross, and gave birth to a wonderful son. They spent a year abroad in Rome, Italy, and after the vandemic of 2017 (curse you, sentient minivans!) they moved to SeaBase 4 off the coast of Haida Gwaii to breed orca. During his time in Vancouver, Geoff received a certificate in creative writing through The Writers Studio program at Simon Fraser University, under the tutelage of Steven Galloway. Geoff and his wife moved to Rome, Italy, in 2011 to pursue writing full-time, and returned to Canada in 2012. Geoff started work on a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia in 2012. Once Geoff moved to SeaBase 04, his writing style took on new direction, as he attempted to write an epic poem in orcish (the cetacean language, not the Tolkien). 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.   Cradle and Ume by Geoffrey W. Cole When his creators first booted Cradle those long centuries ago, they told him many things that made a lasting impression on his infant mind. Above all was the commandment: _The Kamurei must never be contacted._ ##   “If you don’t let me in, she will die,” Ume said. “After all these years, you still ask,” Cradle said. “I thought posthumans were supposed to be hyperintelligent.” On the banks of the dry riverbed that wound through the village, Teihana struggled through her thirty-fourth hour of labour. Her emaciated brown skin glistened with sweat.  The midwife, her only companion in the palm-roofed hut, packed cool mud on Teihana’s forehead. There was nothing else for the pain; like the river, the wells were dry, and the medicinal crop had failed along with the corn. Cradle and Ume watched all this from the observation station buried within one of the Andean peaks that towered above Teihana’s village. “Drop your fields now,” Ume said. “This is my last warning.” “Warn away,” Cradle said. “There’s nothing I can do about it.” “Then you’ve left me no choice.” Cradle was embarrassed to engage in this banter with three other visitors in the observation station, but they seemed to enjoy the drama. The tourists pointed and whispered as Ume departed. He ran down the long tunnel that led to the landing pad, where he climbed into his skyskiff and pointed the vehicle toward the valley. Cradle watched Ume’s fit from a thousand different eyes scattered around the valley. The young posthuman’s persistence never ceased to amaze him. He tried to shout a final warning: “I can’t let you -” And that[...]

 EP438: Enjoy the Moment | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:33:24

by Jack McDevitt read by Sara Tolbert   Links for this episode: This story is part of the Apocalypse Triptych - website  |  Amazon Get more of Jack McDevitt’s work on Amazon.com Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… from Goodreads.com… Jack McDevitt is a former English teacher, naval officer, Philadelphia taxi driver, customs officer and motivational trainer. His work has been on the final ballot for the Nebula Awards for 12 of the past 13 years. His first novel, The Hercules Text, was published in the celebrated Ace Specials series and won the Philip K. Dick Special Award. In 1991, McDevitt won the first $10,000 UPC International Prize for his novella, “Ships in the Night.” The Engines of God was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and his novella, “Time Travelers Never Die,” was nominated for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards. McDevitt lives in Georgia with his wife, Maureen, where he plays chess, reads mysteries and eats lunch regularly with his cronies. about the book… THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH Famine. Death. War. Pestilence. These are the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse, of the End of the World. In science fiction, the end is triggered by less figurative means: nuclear holocaust, biological warfare/pandemic, ecological disaster, or cosmological cataclysm. But before any catastrophe, there are people who see it coming. During, there are heroes who fight against it. And after, there are the survivors who persevere and try to rebuild. THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH will tell their stories. Edited by acclaimed anthologist John Joseph Adams and bestselling author Hugh Howey, THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH is a series of three anthologies of apocalyptic fiction. THE END IS NIGH focuses on life before the apocalypse. THE END IS NOW turns its attention to life during the apocalypse. And THE END HAS COME focuses on life after the apocalypse. Featuring all-new, never-before-published works by Hugh Howey, Paolo Bacigalupi, Seanan McGuire, Ken Liu, Jamie Ford, Tananarive Due, Jonathan Maberry, Robin Wasserman, Nancy Kress, Charlie Jane Anders, Matthew Mather, Ben H. Winters, Scott Sigler, and many others. • • • • Don’t want to risk missing out on news about THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH? Sign up for John Joseph Adams’s free newsletter (sent out no more than once or twice a month) to receive updates about THE APOCALYPSE TRIPTYCH, as well as news about his other editorial projects. The post EP438: Enjoy the Moment appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP438: Enjoy the Moment appeared first on Escape Pod.

 EP437: A Rose for Ecclesiastes | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:37:42

by Roger Zelazny read by Pete Milan   Links for this episode: This story was first published by Mercury Press, 1963 Get more of Roger Zelazny’s work on Amazon.com Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Author Roger Zelazny about the author… Roger Zelazny was born in Euclid, Ohio, the only child of Polish immigrant Joseph Frank Zelazny and Irish-American Josephine Flora Sweet. In high school, he became the editor of the school newspaper and joined the Creative Writing Club. In the fall of 1955, he began attending Western Reserve University and graduated with a B.A. in English in 1959. He was accepted to Columbia University in New York and specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, graduating with an M.A. in 1962. His M.A. thesis was entitled Two traditions and Cyril Tourneur: an examination of morality and humor comedy conventions in The Revenger’s Tragedy. Between 1962 and 1969 he worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration in Cleveland, Ohio and then in Baltimore, Maryland spending his evenings writing science fiction. He deliberately progressed from short-shorts to novelettes to novellas and finally to novel-length works by 1965. On May 1, 1969, he quit to become a full-time writer, and thereafter concentrated on writing novels in order to maintain his income. During this period, he was an active and vocal member of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, whose members included writers Jack Chalker and Joe and Jack Haldeman among others. read more on Wikipedia… Narrator Pete Milan about the narrator… Pete Milan is a voice actor, writer, audiobook narrator, audio drama producer, among other things. His latest audiobook, Sentinels: When Strikes The Warlord, is available now from Dynamic Ram Audio, and he will soon be appearing in Phantom Canyon from Pendant Productions. Visit him at petemilan.com for more.   A Rose for Ecclesiastes by Roger Zelazny Mercury Press, 1963 This text taken from Science Fiction: The Science Fiction Research Association Anthology Eds. Patricia S. Warrick, Charles G. Waugh, and Martin H. Greenberg New York: HarperCollins, 1988. (Pgs. 308-337) *** I was busy translating one of my Madrigals Macabre into Martian on the morning I was found acceptable. The intercom had buzzed briefly, and I dropped my pencil and flipped on the toggle in a single motion. “Mister G,” piped Morton’s youthful contralto, “the old man says I should ‘get hold of that damned conceited rhymer’ right away, and send him to his cabin.–Since there’s only one damned conceited rhymer . . .” “Let not ambition mock thy useful toil,” I cut him off. So, the Martians had finally made up their minds! I knocked an inch and a half of ash from a smouldering butt, and took my first drag since I had lit it. The entire month’s anticipation tried hard to crowd itself into the moment, but could not quite make it. I was frightened to walk those forty feet and hear Emory say the words I already knew he would say; and that feeling elbowed the other one into the background. So I finished the stanza I was translating before I got up. It took only a moment to reach Emory’s door. I knocked thrice and opened it, just as he growled, “Come in.” “You wanted to see me?” I sat down quickly to save him the trouble of offering me a seat. “That was fast. What did you do, run?” I regarded his paternal discontent: Little fatty flecks beneath pale eyes, thinning hair, and an Irish nose; a voice a decibel louder than anyone else’s . . . Hamlet to Claudius: “I was working.” “Hah!” he snorted. “Come off it. No one’s ever seen you do any of that stuff.” I shrugged my shoulders and started to rise. “If that’s what you called me down here–” “Sit down![...]

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