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!
by Brian Trent 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 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. about the narrator… Mat reads stuff. Sometimes he voice acts too. Oh, and he just beat Metroid II for the first time since 1991. Checkmate by Brian Trent The black steamrotor chugged noisily beneath the maze of damp brick arches, cutting a frothy wake in the underground canal. Edward Oakshott stood rigidly at the bow, leaning against his silver cane. The dank stink of London’s forgotten netherworld perspirated over the vessel’s wood, the humidity visibly beading like a spate of glassy insect eyes on the many green lamplights they passed. Edward drummed his fingers against one clammy hand. His sense of direction, precise as his fashionable gold pocketwatch, reckoned they must be passing directly below the evening crowd at Charing Cross’ Hungerford Market. Yet he wondered at their boatman’s skill in navigating these dark, labyrinthine channels. How often were customers ferried to Thoth’s subterranean bazaar? Edward grinned in nervous anticipation and peered from beneath the rim of his hat at the constellation of green lamps marking the canal’s many twists and turns. “We shall be late if this continues,” Sophia Westbury said behind him. Her folded parasol looked like a pale sword against her shoulder. “Really, Edward, was there no earlier date you could meet him? It had to wait until the very eve of war?” “The party shall wait for me.” “It will be a scandal,” Sophia said, though her bell-like voice belied the smile on her lips. Edward was already the scandal of the decade. Chessmen were synonymous with shadowy, secret shufflings in the night; living legends who could be your banker, teacher, butcher, parent, or carriage driver during times of peace. Edward’s public antics had shocked Europe into a buzzing hive. Sophia sighed and looped her arm round his. “What do you know about this Thoth? Any man who dwells like a spider beneath London, spinning mechanical webs beyond the Ministry’s sight…” She shivered. “I feel like Faustus!” “Henry sent a Bishop here last autumn, darling, the one who defended Cornwall. If Henry says Thoth is trustworthy, that is good enough for me.” At these words, the boat banked sharply through a new arch, throwing up a huge wake. Edward steadied himself with pressure to his cane, but cast a ghastly glare at their boatman in the ship’s small cabin. “Edward!” The engines cut. They were adrift on a Stygian lake with a circle of distant green lamps in the distance enclosing them. Edward noticed Sophia lowering her parasol, one of her lacy gloved hands poised over the handle switch. For his part, he slipped a finger beneath his hat rim and lowered a cat-sight monocle over his left eye. Instantly the darkness blazed into a brilliant shade of blue. He spied a ring of brick columns plunging into the water, a vaulted ceiling, and several tunnels. The water lapped in gentle, uneven tides. In the spectral blue of his monocle, Edward watched another vessel emerge from one of the tunnels. It was smaller and swifter than their steamrotor. It gave the appearance of an Italian gondola without rowers or visible engine of locomotion. “A single man is at the helm,” Edward reported, hand straying to the oversized steel revolver in his belt hols[...]
by Edward Ashton read by Andrea Richardson 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… Edward Ashton is the author of more than a dozen short stories, as well as numerous technical articles and medical texts. His fiction has appeared in InterText, Louisiana Literature, and The Lowell Review, among other places. His first novel, Three Days in April, is currently in search of a good home. You can find his work online at smart-as-a-bee.tumblr.com. 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 – See more at: http://escapepod.org/2014/01/11/ep430-heart-joy/#sthash.zWMVsntv.dpuf The Sky is Blue, and Bright, and Filled with Stars by Edward Ashton Dot reaches the summit of Mary’s Rock just after six, maybe an hour before sunset. It’s a clear, cool September day, with a scattering of tiny white clouds in a royal blue sky, and a soft, steady breeze from the west that brings the faint smell of burning things up from the ruins of Luray. She drops her pack at the top of the trail, pulls out a water bottle, and scrambles up the last thirty meters of broken granite to the high point. The trees on the north side of Thornton Gap a half-kilometer below are just showing the first hints of color, tiny flecks of red and gold mixed into a sea of dark green. Off to the west she can see the smoke now, rising from what looks like a brush fire far down the valley. She sits down, leans back against a waist-high block of stone, and drains half of her water in one long, lukewarm pull. She’s been here once before, when she was years younger and there were still a few people raising goats and vegetables down in the valley. It was winter then, and she spent a crystal-clear, bitterly cold night out on the overlook, bundled into her mummy bag, sleeping in hour-long snatches, waking each time to a different dazzling pattern of stars and station-lights. The beauty was almost overwhelming, and she vowed then to come back some day, to see what it was like to spend a night on the summit when she didn’t have to worry about hypothermia. As the sun begins to redden and dip toward the horizon, Dot climbs to her feet and makes her way back down to the overlook, a flat half-circle of stone maybe forty meters across, hanging out over four hundred meters of empty space. A hawk rides the breeze, floating almost stationary out over the drop. It looks at her, dips one wing, and falls like a stone, chasing something down below. Dot retrieves her pack, pulls out her food sack and her alcohol stove. She’s low on fuel. Four more days, maybe five, and she’ll be cooking over an open fire until she can find some more. As she measures out her supper, she realizes that she only has a few days worth of beans and noodles left. No point in cooking when you’ve got nothing to cook, and she’s at least a week’s walk from the nearest resupply. She sighs, and pours a third of what she’d taken back into the sack. # The sun is gone, and Dot is tossing her wash-water into the underbrush at the trail’s edge when she sees two luminous yellow eyes reflecting the light of the low, full moon back to her from twenty meters down the slope. The pupils are vertical slits, maybe a meter off the ground. As she watches, they disappear, then reappear a moment later, a meter or two closer. Dot has a burner, too small to be accurate over long distances, but deadly in close quarters. She reaches for it on her hip, only to realize she’s left it with her pack. She takes a slow step backward. The eyes are closer. As she watches, they rise to a height of tw[...]
by Beth Cato read by Marguerite Kenner Discuss on our forums. For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Beth Cato about the author… I reside in Buckeye, Arizona, on the outskirts of Phoenix. My family includes my husband Jason, son Nicholas, and elder-cat Porom. I’m originally from Hanford, California. If I wear ruby slippers and tap my heels three times, that’s where I go by default. My literary agent is Rebecca Strauss of DeFiore and Company. 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, rockclimbing, 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. Red Dust and Dancing Horses by Beth Cato No horses existed on Mars. Nara could change that.She stared out the thick-paned window. Tinted dirt sprawled to a horizon, mesas and rock-lipped craters cutting the mottled sky. It almost looked like a scene from somewhere out of the Old West on Earth, like in the two-dimensional movies she studied on her tablet. Mama thought that 20th-century films were the ultimate brain-rotting waste of time, so Nara made sure to see at least two a week. Silver, Trigger, Buttermilk, Rex, Champion—she knew them all. She had spent months picturing just how their hooves would sink into that soft dirt, how their manes would lash in the wind. How her feet needed to rest in the stirrups, heels down, and how the hot curve of a muzzle would fit between her cupped hands.The terraforming process had come a long way in the two hundred years since mechs established the Martian colonies. Nara didn’t need a pressure suit to walk outside, but in her lifetime she’d never breathe on her own outside of her house or the Corcoran Dome. There would never be real horses here, not for hundreds of years, if ever. But a mechanical horse could find its way home in a dust storm, or handle the boggy sand without breaking a leg. She could ride it. Explore. It would be better than nothing. Her forehead bumped against the glass. But to have a real horse with hot skin and silky mane… “Nara, you’re moping again.” Mama held a monitor to each window, following the seal along the glass. “No matter how long you stare out the window and sulk, we can’t afford to fly you back to Earth just to see horses. They’re hard to find as it is. Besides, you know what happened when that simulator came through last year.” Yeah. Each Martian-borne eleven-year-old child had sat in a booth strung with wires and sensors so that they could feel the patter of rain and touch the flaking dryness of eucalyptus bark. Nara smelled the dankness of fertile earth for the very first time. She threw up. The administrators listed her as a category five Martian, needing the longest quarantine time to acclimate to Earth, if she ever made the trip. “Blast it, another inner seal is weakening,” Mama muttered, moving to the next window. The dull clang of metal echoed down the hall, followed by the soft whir of Papa’s mechs. Papa would understand. He would listen. Her feet tapped down the long tunnel to his workshop. Nara rubbed the rounded edge of the tablet tucked at her waist. Sand pattered against the walls as the wind whistled a familiar melody. The workshop stood twice as big as the rest of the household, echoing with constantly-clicking gears. The grey dome bowed overhead, the skylight windows showing only red. Papa’s legs stuck out [...]
by R.M. Graves read by Angi Shearstone 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 Also mentioned in this episode, treasured author Eugie Foster passed away author R.M. Graves about the author… I am an illustrator and fiction writer based in London, England. This is the list of my published work so far: “Ever Before Me”, on Everyday Fiction. You might like to hear the Samuel Sebastian Wesley hymn that inspired it: Wash Me Throughly. “More Crackle Than Music”, upcoming on Stupefying Stories. “Simulation”, appearing in July’sFlash Fiction Online. If you are interested in the science behind this, check out Silas Beane’s research as well as Matchright’s virtual babies. narrator Angi Shearstone about the narrator… Angi Shearstone is an award-winning professional artist with an MFA in comics, a small herd of cats, strong geek tendencies and a fondness for ska-core. She’s worked in children’s books with Mercer Mayer, in comics on Batman: Gotham County Line with Scott Hampton, collaborated with Mur Lafferty on Beyond the Storm: Shadows of the Big Easy, and otherwise has self-published a handful of comic book projects, two of which with Joe Sutliff Sanders. She currently teaches nifty computer stuff to keep the bills paid while trying to get this epic-sized fully painted comic book series off the ground. Pitches have been made, grants have been applied for, BloodDreams is to be released sometime in the unspecified but not-too-distant future. Rockwork by RM Graves Dog sat at her kit, in the cavernous dark at the back of the stage, with Meg’s kiss chilling on her lips. That hadn’t fixed her nerves at all. Now Dog’s chest shook worse than her hands, jacked up on the worry of letting her girlfriend down, again. The crowd didn’t see or care. As Meg took her spot out front, they thrummed the darkness with their chanting, “Rock… Work! Rock… Work!” Dog’s sticks were already slick in her palms as she snapped rubber bands around them. She shuffled in her seat, checked contacts, toggled switches and sensed Meg’s impatience, standing in the dark between the drums and hungry fans. Dog brushed trembling fingers over the kit and it twitched around her, jittery. It hated gigs. “Come on, Rocky,” she whispered and cogs whirred back at her. She shook her head. “Purring? Seriously?” The kit’s blind trust made Dog gulp an urge to up and run. No. This time. This time Meg would be proud of her. Proud of them. No screw-ups. No zoning out. She took a deep breath and kicked a volley of hard thumps into the black. The audience hushed. Cannon-shot beats echoed, overlapped, and swelled like an approaching army. A machine-gun of rimshots and the lights, and the crowd, exploded. Dog scowled into the glare of spotlights as the ‘Rockwork’ burst into life around her; a kit stretched beyond drums to form an entire robotic band. Butchered musical instruments twitched and writhed in a hellish chromed engine of noise. Cogs spun plectrums at wire. Hammers rapped on the broken teeth of piano keys. Thumbscrews wrenched raw electric scales out of strangled frets. Dog set her features into maniacal control, sweat already trickling over her bald head, pooling in her eyebrows; her arms gleaming pistons at the snare and toms. Meg swayed her hips to Dog’s driving cacophony; her playful nonchalance creating a tantalizing silhouette to the audience, but taunting Dog behind. Hinting at what she had to lose. The music press were in tonight, but there was more than the band at stake. The Rockwork was autonomous to a point, but it relied on Dog to keep it in line. Left unchecked it would spin off on its own groove without regard to Meg. Or the audience. Dog pressed her lips, rolled an extravagant fill across the toms, thrashed out her anxiety in the splash and crash. M[...]
by Kameron Hurley read by Mur Lafferty live at LonCon3 author Kameron Hurley about the author… Kameron Hurley is an award-winning author, advertising copywriter, and online scribe. Hurley grew up in Washington State, and has lived in Fairbanks, Alaska; Durban, South Africa; and Chicago. She has degrees in historical studies from the University of Alaska and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, specializing in the history of South African resistance movements. Her essay on the history of women in conflict “We Have Always Fought” was the first blog post to win a Hugo Award. It was also nominated for Best Non-Fiction work by the British Fantasy Society. Hurley is the author of God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture, a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. She has won the Hugo Award (twice) and been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Additionally, her work has been included on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Hurley’s short fiction has appeared in magazines such as Lightspeed, EscapePod, and Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as The Lowest Heaven, The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women and Year’s Best SF. Her fiction has been translated into Romanian, Swedish, Spanish and Russian. She is also a graduate of Clarion West. In addition to her writing, Hurley has been a Stollee guest lecturer at Buena Vista University and taught copywriting at the School of Advertising Art. Hurley currently lives in Ohio, where she’s cultivating an urban homestead. Her latest novel, The Mirror Empire, will be published by Angry Robot Books in August 2014. If you’d like to contact Kameron, click here. To inquire about rights to remix her work, please contact her agent. narrator Mur Lafferty about the narrator… Winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2012 “one of the worst-kept secrets in science fiction and fantasy publishing.” – Cory Doctorow via BoingBoing Mur Lafferty is an author, podcaster, and editor. She lives in Durham, NC, with her husband and 11 year old daughter. Books: Starting with podcast-only titles, Mur has written several books and novellas. Her first professionally published book, The Shambling Guide to New York City, is in book stores now. The sequel, The Shambling Guides 2: Ghost Train to New Orleans came out this year. She writes urban fantasy, superhero satire, afterlife mythology, and Christmas stories. Podcasts: She has been podcasting since 2004 when she started her essay-focused show, Geek Fu Action Grip. Then she started the award-winning I Should Be Writing in 2005, which is still going today. She was the editor of Escape Pod from 2010-2012, and she also runs the Angry Robot Books podcast. Nonfiction: Mur has written for several magazines including Knights of the Dinner Table, Anime Insider, and The Escapist. In January, 2014, Mur graduated from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine with an MFA in popular fiction. Mur is represented by Jen Udden at Donald Maass Literary Agency. The post EP462: Women of Our Occupation appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP462: Women of Our Occupation appeared first on Escape Pod.
by Sofia Samatar read by Amanda Ching This story has been nominated for a Hugo Award Selkie Stories are for Losers has been previously published by Strange Horizons Discuss on our forums. For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Please, also remember our friend P.G. Holyfield and donate to his fund if at all possible: http://escapepod.org/2014/08/19/special-edition-pg-holyfield/ about the author/narrator… I am the author of the novel A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press, 2013). I edit nonfiction and poetry for Interfictions Online. You can find out more about me at sofiasamatar.com, or contact me directly at email@example.com. The post EP461: Selkie Stories are for Losers appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP461: Selkie Stories are for Losers appeared first on Escape Pod.
by Thomas Olde Heuvelt read by Mat Weller This story has been nominated for a Hugo Award The Ink Readers of Doi Saket has been previously published by Tor Discuss on our forums. For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Please, also remember our friend P.G. Holyfield and donate to his fund if at all possible: http://escapepod.org/2014/08/19/special-edition-pg-holyfield/ about the author/narrator… Born in 1983, Thomas Olde Heuvelt is the much praised Dutch author of five novels and many stories of the fantastic. BBC Radio called Thomas “One of Europe’s foremost talents in fantastic literature.” Olde Heuvelt is a multiple winner of the Paul Harland Award for best Dutch Fantasy. His story “The Boy Who Cast No Shadow” received the Honorable Mention in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Awards. His latest novel HEX is currently being translated into English. The post EP460: The Ink Readers of Doi Saket appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP460: The Ink Readers of Doi Saket appeared first on Escape Pod.
by John Chu read by John Chu This story has been nominated for a Hugo Award Discuss on our forums. For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Please, also remember our friend P.G. Holyfield and donate to his fund if at all possible: http://escapepod.org/2014/08/19/special-edition-pg-holyfield/ about the author/narrator… John designs microprocessors by day and writes fiction by night. His work has been published at Boston Review, Asimov’s and Tor.com. His website is http://johnchu.net The post EP459: The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP459: The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere appeared first on Escape Pod.
Announcement: http://specficmedia.com/2014/08/17/pg-holyfield-announcement/ GoFundMe Page: http://www.gofundme.com/pgfund Want to give people who don’t know PG’s work a chance to donate AND get an audio version of his book at the same time? Point them here: http://podiobooks.com/title/murder-at-avedon-hill/ Music in this episode: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rosevere/All_These_Simple_Things/09_-_The_Idea_of_Space The post SPECIAL EDITION: PG Holyfield appeared first on Escape Pod. The post SPECIAL EDITION: PG Holyfield appeared first on Escape Pod.
by Rachel Swirsky read by Christina Lebonville This story has been previously published in Apex Magazine Discuss on our forums. For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Rachel Swirsky about the author… Rachel Swirsky’s short stories have appeared in Tor,Subterranean Magazine, and Clarkesworld, and been reprinted in year’s best anthologies edited by Strahan, Horton, Dozois, and the VanderMeers. She holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and graduated from Clarion West in 2005. Her work has been nominated for the Hugo, the Sturgeon, and the Locus Award, and won the Nebula in 2010 for best novella. Her husband is a dinosaur fanatic, but if he turned into a dinosaur, he wouldn’t be a T-Rex. He’d be a Therizinosaur. 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. If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky If you were a dinosaur, my love, then you would be a T-Rex. You’d be a small one, only five feet, ten inches, the same height as human-you. You’d be fragile-boned and you’d walk with as delicate and polite a gait as you could manage on massive talons. Your eyes would gaze gently from beneath your bony brow-ridge. If you were a T-Rex, then I would become a zookeeper so that I could spend all my time with you. I’d bring you raw chickens and live goats. I’d watch the gore shining on your teeth. I’d make my bed on the floor of your cage, in the moist dirt, cushioned by leaves. When you couldn’t sleep, I’d sing you lullabies. If I sang you lullabies, I’d soon notice how quickly you picked up music. You’d harmonize with me, your rough, vibrating voice a strange counterpoint to mine. When you thought I was asleep, you’d cry unrequited love songs into the night. If you sang unrequited love songs, I’d take you on tour. We’d go to Broadway. You’d stand onstage, talons digging into the floorboards. Audiences would weep at the melancholic beauty of your singing. If audiences wept at the melancholic beauty of your singing, they’d rally to fund new research into reviving extinct species. Money would flood into scientific institutions. Biologists would reverse engineer chickens until they could discover how to give them jaws with teeth. Paleontologists would mine ancient fossils for traces of collagen. Geneticists would figure out how to build a dinosaur from nothing by discovering exactly what DNA sequences code everything about a creature, from the size of its pupils to what enables a brain to contemplate a sunset. They’d work until they’d built you a mate. If they built you a mate, I’d stand as the best woman at your wedding. I’d watch awkwardly in green chiffon that made me look sallow, as I listened to your vows. I’d be jealous, of course, and also sad, because I want to marry you. Still, I’d know that it was for the best that you marry another creature like yourself, one that shares your body and bone and genetic template. I’d stare at the two of you standing together by the altar and I’d love you even more than I do now. My soul would feel light because I’d know that you and I had made something new in the world and at the same time revived something very old. I would be borrowed, too, because I’d be borrowing your happiness. All I’d need would be something blue. If all I needed was something blue, I’d run across the church, heels clicking on the marble, until I reached a vas[...]
by Oliver Buckram read by Laura Hobbs This story has been previously published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Mentioned in this episode: Bobby Lombardi fundraiser http://matt-wallace.com/?p=294 Discuss on our forums. For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… Oliver Buckram, Ph.D., writes science fiction and fantasy. He lives in the Boston area where, under an assumed name, he teaches social science to undergraduates. His fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Interzone, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF), among other places. He urges you to keep watching the skies. about the narrator… Laura Hobbs works in infosec by day and is a random crafter by night. Twitter is her social media of choice, and she despises the word “cyber”. When asked nicely, she sometimes reads things for people on the internet. You can find her online at soapturtle.net A Struggle Between Rivals Ends Surprisingly by Oliver Buckram While the harbormaster fidgeted at his desk, Treya checked her pipes. They were, of course, in perfect condition: the leather supple and the drones polished. She’d brought her double-chantered smallpipes today, in case the negotiations grew complex. The harbormaster snapped shut his pocket watch. “That damned beetle is already ten minutes late.” Treya walked to the window. On the street below, a fishmonger pushed his wheelbarrow through a group of green-skinned Cantharan peddlers while a Glanite hoverjar floated by. But there was no sign of the beetle. If he didn’t show up, Treya wouldn’t get paid. She scrutinized the hoverjar as it wafted through an intersection. Inside its murky interior, there must be a Glanite. The squid-like creatures seldom visited Port Raskol. What was it doing here? Might it want to hire a translator? At last Treya spotted the beetle’s top hat bobbing above the heads of other pedestrians. His fringed leather vest marked him as a servant of the beetle Baroness. After a few moments, the beetle was ushered into the office. Treya and the harbormaster bowed and the beetle spread his stubby hindwings in greeting. After Treya piped a welcome, he responded with a cacophony of wails, whines, and groans from his spiracles. She translated in a low voice. “He’s doing the Lamentation on Congestion…apologies for being late…greetings from the Baroness. He’s going off on a tangent. Could be an extended monologue. No…He’s back on track. We’re definitely doing the first scene of A Routine Mercantile Transaction. It’s a one-act, so this shouldn’t take long.” When the beetle finished his lines, Treya glanced at the harbormaster. “Ask him why the Baroness is behind on her docking fees,” he said. The Baroness owned a fleet of fishing vessels currently in the harbor. Treya shook her head. “That will serve no purpose. At best, he’ll give us a discourse on unavoidable delays, and at worst, he’ll push us into a convoluted subplot. No, at this point in A Routine Mercantile Transaction, you need to state your demands.” “I want those fees paid. Right now.” Treya put her lips to her mouthpiece and trilled the harbormaster’s demand in a circuitous oration on the changeability of fortune and the virtues of punctual payments. The beetle patted his vest pockets with his midhands. His moans and screeches grew louder. She raised an eyebrow. “He claims he was bringing payment from the Baroness, but now he can’t find it. Pickpockets, he says. Of course he’s lying. He’s attempting the Clever Servant Outwits Rich Foreigners subplot.” “No one cheats me!” The harbormaster got to his feet. “Relax. I’ll tell him that he must’ve dropped it when he came in. Just pretend to look around [...]
by Luke Pebler read by Joshua Price Links for this episode: 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… Luke Pebler is a graduate of the 2012 Clarion Workshop at UCSD, and his fiction has appeared in the Sword & Laser Anthology and others. about the narrator… My name is Josh and I’m legally blind. I have a degenerative eye condition that claimed most of my vision while I was in college for film art and design. I now devote all of my free time to volunteering what skills I acquired in college to the blind community. I describe tv shows and movies for a website in England. For those of you who are not familiar with descriptive movies, it basically means that we lay an additional audio track over the film that explains what is happening when the characters aren’t talking. I also spend a great deal of time producing fully casted audio dramas of comic books. I don’t feel that it is fair for the comic book companies to provide an amazing art form for sighted people, but nothing for the blind community. I wrote to the big companies and asked them to provide an audio form of their products or a text form of them, so a screen reader could read it for the blind, but none of the companies answered me. so, under the 3.0 creative commons license, I produce these free products. At this time, I mainly focus on comics that use to be television shows. For example, Buffy the vampire slayer and it’s spin off series Angel, as well as Charmed, because these comics are intended to pick up right where the series left off. Again, I don’t feel that it is fair that the blind community is cut off from the story line simply because the series has changed form and is no longer accessible. Often I am asked why I go through so much trouble to create such detailed audio projects for the comic books content, and I respond with “Comic books are supposed to be a visual art form. I could create a simple read through audio track, like an audio book, but I strive for something more. Comics are visual art form, not just written words.” I try to change a visual art form into an audio art form, thus keeping the idea of comics as art. I make what sighted people see, into something that blind people can hear. It is my hope that the audio can create an image in people’s minds that resembles visual art. To Waste by Luke Pebler When I wake, it is not yet hot. But it will be soon. I am already thirsty. I get up from the cot and go to the machine. I put my dick into the intake cup, and when my pee flows into the machine it clicks on automatically. I stretch and reach out to snag my camera by its strap. I review the shots I took yesterday while I finish going. The machine whirs while it does its work. I wait, still looking at photos. When the machine beeps, it has produced almost eight ounces of clean warm water. I sip some of it, just enough to wet my mouth, and put the rest into a second machine. When the second machine beeps, it has produced five ounces of hot coffee. I crouch in the corner of the room, where the rising sun cannot find me. It is still cool here. I inhale deeply, wanting not even the steam of the coffee to go to waste. I sip. When I look up, the boy is in the doorway, watching. I do not know how long he’s been there. “He wants you,” the boy says. # The warlord sits in a chair on a dais built from ammunition crates. There’s a child lying in the dirt in front of the warlord. Her mother stands over her, quaking. The child’s left leg is tatters from the knee down. Gore and pink bone, then a foot. Blood seeps through the bandages and into the dust. “Please,” the mother says. “She needs the gauze.” The warlord watches the woman tremble, then looks up and searches the room. When he sees me, he waves m[...]
by Robert Sheckley read by Nathaniel Lee author Robert Sheckley about the author… (from Wikipedia) Robert Sheckley was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1931 the family moved to Maplewood, New Jersey. Sheckley attended Columbia High School, where he discovered science fiction. He graduated in 1946 and hitchhiked to California the same year, where he tried numerous jobs: landscape gardener, pretzel salesman, barman, milkman, warehouseman, and general laborer “board man” in a hand-painted necktie studio. Finally, still in 1946, he joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Korea. During his time in the army he served as a guard, an army newspaper editor, a payroll clerk, and guitarist in an army band. He left the service in 1948. Sheckley then attended New York University, where he received an undergraduate degree in 1951. The same year he married for the first time, to Barbara Scadron. The couple had one son, Jason. Sheckley worked in an aircraft factory and as an assistant metallurgist for a short time, but his breakthrough came quickly: in late 1951 he sold his first story, Final Examination, to Imagination magazine. He quickly gained prominence as a writer, publishing stories in Imagination, Galaxy, and other science fiction magazines. The 1950s saw the publication of Sheckley’s first four books: short story collections Untouched by Human Hands (Ballantine, 1954), Citizen in Space (1955), and Pilgrimage to Earth (Bantam, 1957), and a novel, Immortality, Inc. (first published as a serial in Galaxy, 1958). Sheckley and Scadron divorced in 1956. The writer married journalist Ziva Kwitney in 1957. The newly married couple lived in Greenwich Village. Their daughter, Alisa Kwitney, born in 1964, would herself become a successful writer. Applauded by critic Kingsley Amis, Sheckley was now selling many of his deft, satiric stories to mainstream magazines such as Playboy. In addition to his science fiction stories, in 1960s Sheckley started writing suspense fiction. More short story collections and novels appeared in the 1960s, and a film adaptation of an early story by Sheckley, The 10th Victim, was released in 1965. Sheckley spent much of 1970s living on Ibiza. He and Kwitney divorced in 1972 and the same year Sheckley married Abby Schulman, whom he had met in Ibiza. The couple had two children, Anya and Jed. The couple separated while living in London. In 1980, the writer returned to the United States and became fiction editor of the newly established OMNI magazine. Sheckley left OMNI in 1981 with his fourth wife, writer Jay Rothbell a.k.a. Jay Sheckley, and they subsequently traveled widely in Europe, finally ending up in Portland, Oregon, where they separated. He married Gail Dana of Portland in 1990. Sheckley continued publishing further science fiction and espionage/mystery stories, and collaborated with other writers such as Roger Zelazny and Harry Harrison. During a 2005 visit to Ukraine for the Ukrainian Sci-Fi Computer Week, an international event for science fiction writers, Sheckley fell ill and had to be hospitalized in Kiev on April 27. His condition was very serious for one week, but he appeared to be slowly recovering. Sheckley’s official website ran a fundraising campaign to help cover Sheckley’s treatment and his return to the United States. Sheckley settled in Red Hook, in northern Dutchess County, New York, to be near his daughters Anya and Alisa. On November 20 he had surgery for a brain aneurysm; he died in a Poughkeepsie hospital on December 9, 2005. 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. Keep Your Shape by Robert Sheckley Pid the Pilot slowed the ship almost to a stands[...]
by KC Ball read by Dani Cutler 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… I live in Seattle, a stone’s throw from Puget Sound, with my life partner, Rachael. I began writing fiction professionally in 2008 and now write full-time. I’ve sold almost fifty short stories, for publication in various print and online magazines, including Analog, Lightspeed, Flash Fiction Online and Murky Depths, the award-winning but now defunct British fantasy magazine. In addition, my novel, Lifting Up Veronica, was published in January 2012 by Every Day Publishers as an online serial. E-book and print versions are forthcoming. My first short-story collection, Snapshots from a Black Hole & Other Oddities, was published in January 2012 by Hydra House Books. I won the 2009 Writers of the Future competition with my short story,Coward’s Steel, graduated the Clarion West writers workshop July 2010 and attended Mike Brotherton’s Launch Pad workshop July 2011 at the University of Wyoming. I have also studied with SFWA Grand Master Jim Gunn. I am fanatic about the written word, oral story-telling, corny jokes, traditional jazz, open water, lighthouses, sad country songs and all things to do with motion pictures. about the narrator… Narrator Dani Cutler Dani Cutler last narrated for EP in 389: Keeping Tabs. 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. Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One by KC Ball Lori Meeker pushed her hair out of her eyes and leaned back against the sink. She squeezed the cold porcelain edge to still her trembling hands and focused on the pair of plainclothes cops shoehorned into the women’s can with her. The space was hardly bigger than a closet but the restrooms were the only private spaces in the bar, and the detectives had insisted on questioning her alone. “The restrooms always this clean?” Detective Gayle asked. “Yeah. Augie’s bat-shit crazy about dirt and germs.” Gayle raised an eyebrow. “Bat-shit crazy, huh? Is that your professional opinion?” “Pardon my French,” Lori snapped. Lori had met women just like Gayle. Always judging, always pretending they could do anything a man could do. Always looking down their perfect nose at girls who had to work in joints like Augie’s Bar & Grill. And Augie was bat-shit crazy about germs. A damned phobia, that’s what she should have said. It was a bar, for god’s sake, not some fancy restaurant. The place was cleaner than it had any need to be. “Tell us what you saw and heard,” Detective Osbourne said. Osbourne looked like a nice man, the kind of guy who would listen without judging. Lori decided to talk to him. She weighed how much to tell him, though. She was afraid he might call her crazy, might laugh and stop listening to her, if she said she didn’t think the dead body out on the bar floor was human. Lori fished her cigarettes from her sweater pocket, shook a fresh one from the pack and sparked it with her butane lighter. Gayle turned her head away and coughed. Lori smiled. “You going to talk to us?” Gayle asked. Lori blew more smoke toward Gayle and focused on Osbourne’s big, brown hound-dog eyes. “I unlocked the door at eleven,” she said. “Right off, this little guy strolled in, just like he owned the place. Augie gave him the once over, went back to stocking the cooler with a case of Red Hook.” “What did you make of him?” Osbourne asked. “I saw right off that he was slumming. I can tell the type. But A[...]
by Clifford Simak narrated by Norm Sherman This story won the 1980 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and the 1981 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. 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.” The post EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer appeared first on Escape Pod. The post EP453: The Grotto of the Dancing Deer appeared first on Escape Pod.