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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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 EP515: The Winter Festival | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:31:24

by Evan Berkow narrated by Kate Baker   This is the first time this story has been published Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter   author Evan Berkow about the author… Evan Berkow lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and their two enormous gray cats. He writes speculative fiction when not lawyering. “Stoop Sale” is his first published work of fiction. Find him on Twitter at   narrator Kate Baker about the narrator… Kate Baker is the Podcast Director and Non-fiction Editor for Clarkesworld Magazine. She has been very privileged to narrate over 250 short stories/poems by some of the biggest names in Science Fiction and Fantasy.Kate has also read for various other audio venues such as StarShipSofa, Escape Pod, Nightmare Magazine, Mash Stories, The Drabblecast and Cast of Wonders. Kate is currently situated in Northern Connecticut with her first fans; her three wonderful children. She is currently working as the Operations Manager for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 EP514: Retroparty Freestyle | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:34:18

by Rich Larson read by Nathaniel Lee Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Rich Larson about the author… Rich Larson was born in West Africa, has studied in Rhode Island and worked in Spain, and at 23 now writes from Edmonton, Alberta. His speculative fiction received the 2014 Dell Award and 2012 Rannu Prize for Writers of Speculative Fiction, and has been nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Prize, while his literary short work has been nominated for both the Pushcart and Journey Prize. He was a semifinalist for the 2013 Norman Mailer Poetry Prize, and in 2011 his novel Devolution was a finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Alongside writing, he enjoys soccer, basketball, foreign languages, travel, sketching, and pool.. about the narrator… Nathaniel Lee is Escape Pod’s assistant editor and sometime contributor.  His writing can be found at various online venues, including Daily Science Fiction, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and all of the EA podcasts.  He lives somewhat unwillingly in North Carolina with his wife and son and their obligatory authorial cats.   This story, like teenagers, contains copious amounts of profanity. Motherfucking Retroparty Freestyle by Rich Larson So the semester’s wickest wildest party, bar none, is happening at the straight-up palatial house of Hamza Hydri, AKA V3rsetyle, whose way-too-trusting parents are currently scuba-diving in Venice. And I’m not only going to be there, I’m going to Be There, as in, running shit, because I just dropped all my savings pirating the baddest Socialight personality module on the market: the freshly-leaked Maestro 2.0. This thing is like, borderline AI, the kind of mod billionaires and celebrities are going to be running. I never would have found it by myself, but my uncle is a huge data-criminal sparkhead who caught the leak and agreed to ship me a stick copy in exchange for every last bit of my blood-sweat-and-shears summer landscaping income, and also me not telling my mom. Not that I would. She would want to know why I was wasting my savings on digital charisma, because she read on ZenFeed that those new mods are way too invasive, and besides, she didn’t have a Socialight or a personality module in high school, everybody ran freestyle 24/7, and they all turned out just deadly. I love her and all, but Christ. She’s got a late one at the hospital, so she’s not around when the little yellow drone careens off the backyard trampoline and scares the piss out of our cat. Dyl shows up around the same time all sweaty from a skate sesh. He always forgets to ping when he’s coming over; I think maybe because he got his Socialight so late. Before fifth grade he actually hung with the freestylers, the religious wackos or kids too poor to get even the basic-basic. He’s still my best friend since forever, so whatever. “What’s good, Shad?” Dyl says, snatching up his board with one lanky hand and raking through his orange hair with the other. He spotted the data stick in my fist. “Yo, you ordered the Buttafly trial on stick? I thought we were going to download it on the way to the party.” “This is no Buttafly,” I say. “Something heaps better, bru.” Dyl shrugs. “Raw, raw. Can I use your bathroom?” I lead the way down to my basement and flop on the couch, rolling the two Maestro sticks over and over in my fingers, while Dyl takes his sweet fucking time in the shower. After fifteen minutes I start pinging him, but sometimes the old ways are best, right, so finally I haul off the couch, bang my hand on the door and politely shout: “Yo, Dildo, hurry the fuck up.” The shower squeaks off and Dyl comes out with the guest towel around his waist and his middle finger raised. “Antsy, boy,” he says. “You been spamming Wendee like that?” Dyl’s got one of those slack sort of faces and he freestyle laughs like a hyena, but he’s [...]

 EP513: Adaptation and Predation | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:41:48

by Auston Habershaw read by Jeff Ronner Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Auston Habershaw about the author… On the day Auston Habershaw was born, Skylab fell from the heavens. This foretold two possible fates: supervillain or scifi/fantasy author. Fortunately he chose the latter, and spends his time imagining the could-be and the never-was rather than disintegrating the moon with his volcano laser. He lives and works in Boston, MA. Auston is a winner of the Writers of the Future Contest (2nd place in quarter 1, 2014) and has published stories in Analog, The Sword and Laser Anthology, and Stupefying Stories. His debut novel, The Iron Ring (Book 1 in the Saga of the Redeemed), will be released on 2/10/15.   narrator Jeff Ronner about the narrator… Jeff Ronner is a voice actor, audio engineer, and sound designer. His work has appeared in radio and TV commercials on this planet, and he’s considering doing a series of translations with an advertising group on Theta Prime. But they’re demanding several body parts from him as a retainer, so he’s currently keeping a low profile traveling throughout Australia.   Adaptation and Predation by Auston Habershaw Everyone thrives in someone else’s version of hell. For the Quinix, this meant sheer canyon walls a hundred kilometers deep, every surface coated with a thick layer of red-orange vegetation and bioluminescent fungus. The arachnids liked to string cables in complex patterns from wall to canyon wall and built nests where the cables crossed. For them, each oblong, womb-like nest was no doubt cozy and safe. For me and every other off-worlder on Sadura, you were made constantly aware of the fact that, with just the right (or wrong) application of balance, you would plummet to a death so far below that you’d have plenty of time to think about it on the way down. I’d seen more than a few fall—Dryth tourists to little fluffly Lhassa pups, all screaming their way down into the abyss. In the dim, humid depths of the Saduran canyons, the bodies were hard to find. For that reason, among others, I came here to kill people for money. I make a good living. Tonight I had a fat contract on a big Lorca—an apex predator, both because of his fangs and his bank account. As a scavenger, living on the bottom of the food chain my entire life, the irony was delicious. Here I was, a lowly Tohrroid—a slop, a gobbler, a smack—paid top dollar to do in some big shot whose trash my ancestors have been eating for ages. Sooner or later, the bottom feeders always get their due, don’t they? Either that, or I was going to wind up dead. I knew the Lorca liked to dine at the Zaltarrie, and I knew he’d be there tonight. I’d spent the last few weeks shadowing one of the wait-staff—a Lhassa mare with the fetching chestnut mane, a full quartet of teats, and the long graceful neck that fit with Lhassa standards of beauty. I had practiced forming her face in a mirror—the big golden-brown eyes with the long, thick lashes were the hardest—and now I had it down pat. I could even copy a couple of her facial expressions. The Zaltarrie hung like a fat egg-sac in the center of one of the deeper canyons, webbed to the walls by at least five hundred diamond-hard cables, some of which were thick enough to run gondolas from the artificial cave systems that honeycombed the walls and were home to the less authentic Saduran resort locales. The Zaltarrie, though, was all about local flavor and a kind of edgy, exotic energy that appealed to the young, the bold, and the hopelessly cool. I came in through the staff entrance already ‘wearing’ my uniform—a black, form-fitting bodysuit with a wrist console tying me into the club’s central hospitality net. The Quinix manager at the back door gave me an eight-eyed glare which I took to indicate curiosity. Most staff changed once they w[...]

 EP512: The Semaphore Society | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:25:34

by Kate Heartfield read by Christiana Ellis This story originally appeared in the Crossed Genres Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter author Kate Heartfield about the author… My agent is Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary. I write fiction, mainly speculative fiction. My stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Podcastle, Daily Science Fiction, GlitterShip, Bizarrocast, Crossed Genres, Lackington’s, Postscripts to Darkness, Waylines, Flash Fiction Online, On Spec, Black Treacle, Spellbound and elsewhere. You can find the list of stories I’ve had published on the Stories page. I’m an active member of SFWA. I’m also a member of Ottawa’s East Block Irregulars and the Codex writers’ group. I was lucky enough to benefit from the mentorship of the late Paul Quarrington, through the Humber School for Writers, in 2007. I’m working now on a historical fantasy novel. From 2011 to 2014 I was a member of the board of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. I’m also a journalist. I’m the editorial pages editor for the Ottawa Citizen, the daily broadsheet in Canada’s capital. I live in rural Ottawa. My Pinterest profile  |  My Goodreads author profile. narrator Christiana Ellis about the narrator… Christiana Ellis is an award-winning writer and podcaster, currently living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her podcast novel, Nina Kimberly the Merciless was both an inaugural nominee for the 2006 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction: Long Form, as well as a finalist for a 2006 Podcast Peer Award. Nina Kimberly the Merciless is available in print from Dragon Moon Press. Christiana is also the writer, producer and star of Space Casey, a 10-part audiodrama miniseries which won the Gold Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Production by the American Society for Science Fiction Audio and the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Drama. In between major projects, Christiana is also the creator and talent of many other podcast productions including Talking About Survivor, Hey, Want to Watch a Movie?and Christiana’s Shallow Thoughts. The Semaphore Society by Kate Heartfield Gia blinks twice to drop the keyboard-display down. She doesn’t want to talk to her mom anymore and that’s the quickest – and, if she’s honest, the most satisfyingly annoying – way to make that clear. “If you won’t let me help –” her mom says. Her fingers grip the back of Gia’s wheelchair so hard that it shudders, and the monitor screen mounted to one arm of the chair shakes. Her mother never stops trying to make it all better. Gia is so goddamn sick of it. And she’s itching to log in to the Semaphore Society. Maybe Manon will be back today; she left so abruptly last night. Any conversation that isn’t about therapy or the power of positive thinking would be a relief. The screen reflects her mom’s slight frown. Her face always looks like that when she worries about her daughter, which is most of the time. She must have worried before, when Gia was a kid, but Gia can’t remember seeing that precise expression before the day she collapsed on her high school’s stage halfway through the opening performance of Pippin. The first time Gia can remember seeing that expression was later, when Gia woke up in the hospital, when her dad explained that they had found a tumour, that they were going to treat it, but that the bleeding in her brain – The blinking pattern that pulls up her eye-tracking software is a lot like the blinking that stops tears. Up it pops, Gia’s blank slate. Her mom hates this flickering-snow screen; it gives her migraines. But she can’t argue against it. It is so much easier on Gia than the keyboard-to-voice interface, with Gia staring at each letter, blinking in frustration to make choices when the eyetracker doesn’t catch her pupil dilation. (A QWERTY keyboard, for God’s sake. It’s not like her fing[...]

 EP511: The Lone and Level Sands | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:29:13

by Marco Panessa read by Norm Sherman This story has not been published previously Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page The Lone and Level Sands By Marco Panessa I don’t know how they found us. Beneath this eternal torrent of dust, our dulled marble shells should be hidden forever; and furthermore, it occurs to me to wonder how they even found this planet. But as the shining ship descends from the stars, my brother and sister and I look on in amazement before turning to one another. Saphida’s voice is a hoarse whisper, her words echoing down my empty corridors and fading away in the false treasure chambers and dead ends full of traps. She says, “Why do they bother us? We have so much to do.” “They should bow down in our presence!” Kalesh’s voice shakes dust from my ceilings. “Unworthy, lowly creatures–” “We never reached other stars.” My voice silences his rage at once. “Whoever they are, they achieved far more than we managed to do. Be quiet. Reserve judgment.” Beneath a sky of sand and a million years of silence, we await our visitors tall and proud. To my left, Saphida rears in defiance of the stars, her gargantuan funeral runes weathered to illegibility in the constant blast of grit. Her tomb faces the wind in death like she did in life, and she breathes sand as she once breathed the hot foundry air. Every so often a windstorm deposits a pebble or two at her golden gates. Enough time has passed that fifty men could not tunnel their way through to her sealed doors. To my right, Kalesh broods. A column in his neoclassical portico has fallen down, taking a corniced chunk of marble with it. The lost marble weathered into dust a long time ago. His outlying temples and shrines are all worn away now, like mine and our sister’s. Behind the crumbling façades, the wind has whittled us all down to hemispheres with radii equal to the range of our repair nanorobots. Within this range, they’ve expunged every trace of erosion with fanatical precision. Beyond, there is only the sand. I can hardly see my siblings, a few hundred meters away through the grit. I am the grandest tomb, as I was the grandest sibling. We three, we kings and a queen. We grew up together, reigned together, bled together, triumphed together. We died separately. But we stand together again in eternal repose. Look upon my countenance! Did the holy armies of Dakess not tremble before me? Was it not my hand that slew the Forgotten King, and ushered in a thousand years of peace and plenty? Deserve I not the trappings of eternal life, if not the truth of it? My tomb erodes. No, no! The tomb is Isturath; Isturath, I, am the tomb… I erode. The tomb is my body. They pulled out my brain and sealed it in this tomb. Listen to me, they pulled out my brain, and it is your king who speaks to you–after a million years! Of all human beings, my sister and my brother and I are the last ones left on Earth. The rest of them are sand now. Our nanorobots hurry to put together cameras. As their crude lenses slip out of reinforced hatches into the howling sands, we peer together up through the grit. The spidery lander quivers in midair, its parachutes fighting the wind. Gossamer tendrils undulate from the spacecraft’s flanks: all flashing blues and iridescent greens like dragon scales, or plankton glimpsed in ocean shallows. These feelers snap around in the turbulence of the descent. Somehow they avoid wrapping around the parachute cords, waving outward into our familiar stifling haze. Retrorockets slow the lander to a walking pace fifty meters above the ground. It hovers a moment and sets down. The tentacles drift in my direction. I cannot shake the feeling that the passengers can already see me. Not merely my tomb; my tomb is brilliant at their distance. No, I cannot shake the feeling that this alien vessel is peering through my thousands of tons of piled rock and my million year[...]

 EP510: Them Ships | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:20:33

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia read by Dani Cutler This story originally appeared in the anthology We See a Different Frontier Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Silvia Moreno-Garcia; photo by Shimon, 2015 about the author… Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, was released in 2015 by Solaris. Silvia’s first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, was released in 2013 and was a finalist for The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her stories have also been collected in Love & Other Poisons. She was a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize and a winner of the Vanderbilt/Exile Short Fiction Competition.She has edited several anthologies, including She Walks in Shadows, Sword & Mythos, Fungi. Dead North and Fractured.Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian micro-publishing venture specializing in horror and dark speculative fiction.To contact Silvia e-mail her at silvia AT silviamoreno-garcia DOT com. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+. Silvia is represented by Eddie Schneider at the JABberwocky Literary Agency.   narrator Dani Cutler about the narrator… Dani Cutler last narrated for EP in 454: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One. She has been part of the podcasting community since 2006, hosting and producing her own podcast through 2013. She currently works for KWSS independent radio in Phoenix as their midday announcer, and also organizes a technology conference each year for Phoenix residents to connect with others in the podcast, video, and online community. Them Ships by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Leonardo says that the Americans are going to fire some rockets and free us from the tyranny of the aliens and I say: who gives a shit. Lemme tell you something: It wasn’t super-awesome around here before the aliens. At least we get three meals every day now. I used to live in a cardboard house with a tin roof and collected garbage for a living. They called my home a ‘lost city’ but they should’ve called it ‘fucked city.’ Leonardo talks about regaining our freedom, ‘bout fighting and shit. What damn freedom? You think I had freedom in the slums? Leonardo can talk freedom out his ass because he had money before this thing started and he saw too many American movies where they kill the monsters with big guns. I’m not an idiot. The cops used to do their little “operations” in our neighborhood. They’d come in and arrest everyone, take everything. They weren’t Hollywood heroes out to help people. They were fucking assholes and I don’t see why they would have changed. As for American soldiers saving the day: You think they give a rat’s ass ‘bout Mexico City? You think they’re going to fly here in their helicopters and save us? I say fuck that shit. I never had no freedom. Leonardo can go piss himself. # Leonardo’s been going ‘bout freedom fighters again, which means I’ve been putting on the headphones and listening to my music. The good thing is the aliens let me charge the player. Otherwise l’d kill that little shit. Well, he ain’t that little. Leonardo is pretty tall, probably ‘cause he didn’t have to eat no garbage when he was growing up. His dad had some sort of fast food franchise and Leonardo was doing really well, studying at the Tec, fucking pretty girls and driving a fancy car ‘til the aliens landed and started rounding people up in sectors. And, since the aliens don’t classify by social status, Leonardo got put in with me. I’m not sure if he was more dismayed ‘bout being a prisoner or ‘bout having to share a room with the likes of me. I’d say me. I don’t really care. Our home was a one bedroom which I shared with my three sisters and my parents. Sharing with one person is easy and it’s even easier when that person doesn’t reek of alcohol-laced coffees, like my dad did. The assh[...]

 EP509: Broken | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:24:54

by Jason Kimble read by Mat Weller Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Jason Kimble about the author… I’m fascinated by how people put amazingness together. Or awfulness (Let’s not pretend schadenfreude doesn’t happen). What field’s doing the assembly changes quite frequently. Sometimes I even try putting together some of it myself. I refuse to comment on which end of the A to A spectrum that falls on.   Broken by Jason Kimble My favorite part about skimming is that I’m not broken when I do it. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have levels, that I’m on or off, because that’s how everything’s supposed to be when you’re in the hypernet. Even if I’m not supposed to be in the hypernet. I’m only able to skim because Kaipo left my interface node on. That was the day he told me I could call him Kaipo instead of Dr. Singh. His eyes are different than mine, but that’s not because of the Skew, and even if it is I wouldn’t care, because they’re pretty and dark and they twinkle a little bit when he smiles. We’d had sex twice when he told me I could call him Kaipo if we’re alone. Sex is almost as good as skimming, only it doesn’t last as long, and sometimes I’m stinky afterwards, which I’m not a fan of. Sometimes Kaipo smells like pumpkin, which I’m totally a fan of. “Overshare.” “Hi, Heady,” I say, rolling onto my side on the bed to look at her. I frown, which I know because the muscles at my jawbone ache a little when I frown. “Did you hear all that?” Heady raises an eyebrow and purses her lips. Heady’s my big sister. Like, really big. Eight and a half feet big. That’s what the Skew did to her, blew her up bigger than life, but I think it suits her. She’s not as tough as she looks to most people, though. She’s totally as tough as she looks to me right now. “Sorry,” I say, sitting up. “Sometimes I get confused about outside and inside my head.” That’s what the Skew did to me: broke my head. You can see that when I cut my hair or trim my beard, because the hairs change colors each time. Other people tell me it’s silly, but I like it. I can never decide if I like red or blue or green or purple or yellow more, and this way I get to have them all, and all’s better than some. Heady sighs. “Don’t worry, Sy,” she says, because Sy’s my name. “You never have to apologize to me.” She smiles, and the muscles in my cheeks tense up so I know I’m smiling, too. She’s a good big sister, Heady. Even if she’s not real. # Well, Heady’s real, but she’s not real here. She used to be. The room felt even smaller and tighter back then, because my interface node was turned off and no one would turn it back on. The world was only four walls, and they were right on top of me. The window didn’t matter; it was just part of the wall, wasn’t it? The door, now that mattered. Heady came through the door. She left through the door. One of those times, she introduced me to Dr. Singh. That was before he let me call him Kaipo. “Neuroelectro therapy,” I said after Kaipo did. It was just sounds. “It means your node turns back on, Sy,” Heady said. She smiled. She has a good smile, too. Not the same way as Kaipo. It’s not like that. The muscles in my cheeks ached a little. “I’ve been looking over your files since I was assigned your case, and … I think we can actually use our interactions through the node to re-map some pathways.” “My node turns on,” I said. “For our sessions, anyway,” Kaipo said. It was the first time I saw his smile. My ears tingled. He left us alone after Heady signed some paperwork, and th[...]

 EP508: A Day Without Sunshine | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:17:47

by Esther Saxey read by Amanda Ching This story was originally appeared in The Homeless Moon 4. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Esther Saxey about the author… Esther Saxey received her D.Phil. in English literature from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. She has published on the interconnection of sexuality and narrative in various texts, including Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (Reading The Lord of the Rings, 2006), the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Reading the Vampire Slayer, 2002) and the Love and Rockets comics series by Jaime Hernandez (2006). She has also provided a critical introduction and notes for the Wordsworth editions of The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, and Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. narrator Amanda Ching about the narrator… Amanda Ching is a freelance editor and writer. Her work has appeared in WordRiot, Candlemark & Gleam’s Alice: (re)Visions, and every bathroom stall on I-80 from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. She tweets @cerebralcutlass and blogs at A Day Without Sunshine by E. Saxey I don’t waste time. I study, I work hard, and when I go out I can squeeze a month of clubbing into one night. Tonight I’m squeezing it in a nasty place in Peckham, South London: no air, and the walls are sweating. I can’t get drunk–I’ve got a lecture tomorrow morning–so I’m dancing myself stupid, twisting my head so quick that my braids twat me in the face. But across the delirious dance-floor, in the far corner, there’s a pool of stillness. Nobody dancing, everyone chilling, and you, leaning on a wall. You’re a little guy with lush brown eyes, gazing all around you. I fight my way through the dancers to get to you. I get tangled in arms, fingernails up in my face, but I finally reach you. “I’m Michelle. I’m doing law. You a student?” You’re Hesham, twenty-eight, from Cairo. Not studying anything. As I look at you, my skin tingles. Then I hear a police siren wailing past–of course, we’re next to the fire exit. That’s why there’s a pool of coolness round you. “This is all excellent,” you say, waving an overpriced beer bottle at the terrible club. I laugh. “You must be on some good stuff, fam.” “I’m not! I like places where everyone’s having, oh, as much fun as they can.” You sound shy, formal. My Ma would call you “well brought up”. Later, you sneak into my sweaty arms. You’re shorter than me and kind of delicate, but you don’t make me feel clumsy. Just strong, as though I could scoop you up. Like I said, I don’t waste time. “Are you going to invite me back to yours?” I reckon you’ll get ripped off by the flaky minicabs hovering outside. But you find us a proper black cab. We sit on opposite sides of the big back seat. Up the mangy Old Kent Road we go, across the dark river with both banks twinkling. Past the City, castles of light. The taxi metre ticks up and up. “Hesham, I can’t split the fare on this!” “Oh! I should have said. I’ll get it.” Your place is a surrounded by high hedges, a big dark old block. “Lights all out,” I say. “Oh, yes. My neighbours will be in their pods by now.” “What? Why, are they ill?” “They pod most nights. Why get eight hours older while you’re asleep?” “Really?” “And if they get fed up with the Winter, they pod all the way through to Spring.” Inside your flat, the thick carpet eats our footsteps. I can’t relax, imagining your neighbours above us and around us, frozen, kept under glass. “What a waste. Missing whole months.” “But when they’re awake, it’s a[...]

 EP507: The Call of the Sky | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:35:43

by Cliff Winnig read by Marguerite Kenner This story was originally published in the anthology When the Hero Comes Home: 2. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Cliff Winnig about the author… from the author’s website: Cliff Winnig’s short fiction appears in the anthologies That Ain’t Right: Historical Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley, Gears and Levers 3, When the Hero Comes Home: 2, Footprints and elsewhere. The twitterzines Outshine and Thaumatrope have published his very short fiction. Cliff is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and a three-time finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest. When not writing, Cliff plays sitar, studies tai chi and aikido, and does choral singing and social dance, including ballroom, swing, salsa, and Argentine tango. He lives with his family in Silicon Valley, which constantly inspires him to think about the future. He can be found online at narrator Marguerite Kenner about the narrator… Marguerite is a native Californian who has forsaken sunny paradise to be with her true love and live in Merrye Olde England. She frequently wears so many hats that she needs two heads. When she’s not grappling with legal conundrums as a trainee solicitor or editing Cast of Wonders, she can be found narrating audio fiction, studying popular culture (i.e. going to movies and playing video games) with her partner Alasdair Stuart, or curling up with a really good book. You can follow her at her personal blog, Project Valkyrie, or on Twitter via @LegalValkyrie. The Call of the Sky by Cliff Winnig The army hospital’s underground floors reminded me of Pluto Base, a place I’d never actually been. I’d never even been off-world, but I remembered those claustrophobic beige corridors. Two years before, I’d synced with a bunch of my alts home on leave after basic training. Today for the first time I’d be meeting one who’d seen combat. More than that, one who’d become a hero, the only Teri Kang to survive the Battle of Charon. We wouldn’t be syncing, though. Not this time. Not ever. Before she’d escaped the doomed moon — the moon she’d given the order to destroy — she’d been bitten. That’s what the G.I.s called it when Hive nanobots infected you: being bitten. Like it was a zombie plague or something. Hell, it might as well be. Soon the only other Teri Kang in the universe would lose her fight with that infection, and the army docs would euthanize her. Under the circumstances, even coming home had been an act of courage. A lot of G.I.s who got bitten went AWOL rather than face the certain death of returning to base. Not for the first time, I wondered if I had such courage lying latent within me. Flanked by MPs, I followed a nurse down hallway after hallway till we arrived at my alt’s room. Well, the room next to it, since she was quarantined. A smartglass wall separated me from the sterile chamber where the other Teri Kang would live out her last few hours. I found her sitting at a desk, reading a newsfeed it projected in the air. She’d propped her head in her hands, elbows on the gray metal surface. I sometimes read like that, but only when sick or exhausted. She looked to be both. Right then, the anti-Hive nanobots they’d pumped her full of were fighting a battle every bit as pitched as the one she’d fought on Charon, one that would end for her the same way it had ended for the moon. Hearing me enter, she raised her head and swiveled to face me. She moved as if her joints didn’t ache, as if she weren’t already running a fever, but I could tell. The MPs stationed themselves outside the door, and the nurse made his exit. That left us alone, save for the hidden cameras we both knew were watching. My alt rose to her fee[...]

 EA Metacast, October 2015 (Part 2) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:00:01

Part 2 of the October 2015 EA Metacast.

 EA Metacast, October 2015 (Part 3) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:00:01

Part 3 of the October 2015 EA Metacast.

 EA Metacast, October 2015 (Part 1) | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:00:01

Hello everyone, Alasdair here. We tend to do a metacast every year around this time, and this year we’ve done something a bit different. This one was recorded LIVE at WorldCon in Spokane in August 2015! In the past, you’ve let us know our metacasts are too long, so we’ve split this one into three parts: In part one I introduce you to some of the staff at EA, we talk about Mothership Zeta, and there’s a special announcement! If you only want to listen once to get an update on what’s in store for Escape Artists in 2016, you want to listen to this. In part two we’ve more of the Q&A session, along with a great flash story, “Final Corrections, Pittsburgh Times-Dispatch” by M. Bennardo, narrated by Wilson Fowlie. We talk a bit more about what’s been going on behind the scenes at Escape Artists this past year. In part three we offer a special treat: a live narration by Podcastle’s own M.K. Hobson! She reads her original story “The Last Unenlightened”. Enjoy! Alasdair

 EP506: Harvester Dreams | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:45:18

by Michael J. DeLuca read by Paul Cram This story was originally appeared in The Homeless Moon 4. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Michael J. DeLuca about the author… from the author’s website: That would be me. Michael J. DeLuca. Writer, reader, dreamer, designer, brewer, baker, photographer, philosopher. Would-be ecoterrorist. False prophet. Liberal. I’m a freelance web designer/developer as well. I have an undergraduate CS degree nobody knows about from a middlingly prestigious east coast university. I’ve been doing this for awhile (10+ years now), I’m not bad at it, and I usually can use more of it to do. Without it, I wouldn’t have enough money to keep myself alive, let alone keep writing (which not unlike crime, doesn’t really pay (me) (see that? nested parenthesis, that’s how you know I’m really a programmer)). narrator Paul Cram about the narrator… Paul Cram grew up performing on stage and in more recent years traveling the United States working on independent films. Paul’s voice is newer to the world of audio than it is to other acting forms. Fans of his voice will hopefully be excited to hear that he has two full-length audio books that came out this year: Zombie apocalypse novel FLIRTING WITH DEATH, and Sci-fi thriller THE FACE STEALER (think X Files or BBC’s Torchwood & Dr. Who.)Cram was most recently seen on set for the feature film WILSON opposite Woody Harrelson, and ANNIVERSARY shot in Maine, USA by movie director Jim Cole. When not on a movie set or in a recording booth, Paul can be found deep-frying chicken wings with his sister in her kitchen, or quarreling about pop-culture with his little brother around one the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota. You can find his website Paul Cram Actor or IMDB. Harvester Dreams by Michael J. DeLuca Morning flooded the transparent womb of the ob room. Knuckling his aching skull, Hector twitched the opacity up to a tolerable level and set down his tea, then took the pod out over the ag. The fight with Mela the night before had not been pleasant, but work, he was perpetually astonished to discover, never failed to cheer him. The conduit was a brilliant white spear overhead, broken by ribs of fair-weather cloud. The ag spread into haze in every direction, curving gently upward with the concavity of the Hypatia’s hull: chessboard squares of rippling corn, glittering rice paddies, apple plots flowering white. Here and there, a skeletal hulk loomed indistinct–some remnant structure of the ship’s propulsion systems, long-dismantled; shade crops grew among latticed shadows. The crowd of Workers waited below, lens-tipped appendages craned upward. He smiled, in spite of the headache and the persistent awareness that no matter how he chose to rationalize it, everything Mela had said was true. He called up the log feeds. Foreman, they were saying. Foreman, we need your understanding. He brought the ob room down among them. A grand menagerie they made, his subjects, each finely adapted to its task: delicate pollinators, long-limbed harvesters, knob-treaded aerators, juggernaut ploughs. “You don’t need me,” he said. “Your designers gave you all the understanding you need. But I’m here, ready to listen. I’ll help if I can.” The oldest of the ploughs rolled forward. Your understanding grants us insight into the will of our designers. The Workers appreciated repetition. They were simple beings, the product of their design. They believed in an infallible, benevolent humanity the way humanity once believed in angels, the way so many Relics now believed in their inscrutable alien creator, the Ix. And Hector was their ambassador, though he’d only held this job a month and the designers were fifty generations dead. H1703 has had a dream, said the plough. The Workers’ reactions flooded the feeds with [...]

 EP505: Falling Leaves | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:37:58

by Liz Argall read by Emily Hickson This story was originally published in Apex Magazine in May 2014. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page about the author… from the author’s website: Liz often writes speculative fiction and interstitial work that explore spaces between genres. She is especially fond of gritty urban fantasy, thought provoking science fiction and fantastical literary fiction. Liz carves out a diverse career as a freelance writer, working with organisations to build communities and running workshops. Liz has run creative workshops for a range of organisations, including the National Museum of Australia, Conflux and the Young Music Society. She works with organisations to prepare and acquit grants, and to build physical and online communities. She has worked on and off as an Artists’ Model for ten years. Before she became a freelancer she worked as researcher, union organiser, refuge worker, circus manager and provided consulting and support to the community sector. Liz’s comics have been published in an array of publications, including Meanjin, The Girl’s Guide to Guy Stuff, Eat Comics, Something Wicked and her collection Songs, Dreams and Nightmares. Her anthology, Dreams of Tomorrow, won a Bronze Ledger Award for Small Press of the Year. In January 2009 her musical Comic Book Opera, written with composer Michael Sollis, was performed for the first time. Two of her short stories have been staged as plays. She splits her life between Australia and America – some day she hopes to live in other parts of the alphabet. After serving as a Non Skating Official with the Rat City Rollergirls for three seasons she has transformed into skater and announcer. When she’s on the track you can call her Betsy Nails, when you hear her over the mic she’s Ichabod ‘splain. about the narrator… Emily Hickson is a newcomer in the voice acting world, an Australian student studying Fine Art and Illustration. Her techniques and past research endeavours include printmaking, sculpture, digging up dead languages and solving old codes. She once illustrated a book about Alfred Tennyson meeting the Kraken, and has always counted on sci-fi to inspire her when artist’s block attacks. Past works and future declarations can be found at Falling Leaves by Liz Argall Charlotte and Nessa met in Year Eight of Narrabri High School. Charlotte’s family were licensed refugees from the burning lands and the flooded coast, not quite landed, but a step apart from refugees that didn’t have dog tags. Charlotte sat on the roof, dangled her legs off the edge and gazed at the wounded horizon, as she did every lunchtime. Nessa, recognizing the posture of a fellow animal in pain, climbed up to see what she could do. The mica in the concrete glittered and scoured her palms as she braced herself between an imitation tree and the wall and shimmied her way up. She had to be careful not to break the tree, a cheap recycled–plastic genericus — who’d waste water on a decorative tree for children? The plastic bark squished beneath Nessa’s sneakers, smelling of paint thinner and the tired elastic of granny underpants. Nessa tried to act casual once she got to the top, banging her knee hard as she hauled herself over the ledge and ripping a fresh hole in her cargos. She took a deep breath, wiped her sweaty hands, and sat down next to Charlotte. “‘Sup?” said Nessa. “Go away.” Charlotte kicked her feet against the wall and pressed her waxy lips together. “You gonna jump?” “No. I’m not an attention seeking whore like you,” said Charlotte. Nessa shrugged her shoulders, as if that could roll away the sting. Rolling with the punches was what she did. “You look sad.” Charlotte bared her teeth. “I said, I’m not like yo[...]

 EP504: End of the World Community College | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 0:27:28

by Sandra McDonald read by Joel Kenyon This story was originally published in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine in the July/August 2014 issue. Discuss on our forums.  For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page author Sandra McDonald about the author… from the author’s website: Writer, speaker, instructor Lambda Literary Award for Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories Booklist Editor’s Choice, ALA Over the Rainbow book, and Rainbow Award win for Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories Silver Moonbeam Award for Mystery of the Tempest Former commissioned officer, USN Joel Kenyon about the narrator… Joel Kenyon is a veteran podcaster, writer, musician and artist. He’s currently a member of the 4 man comedy show, The Undercover Unitards and he also has a weekly independant music show called The Sunshine Happy Kpants Hour. When he’s not recording, he writes a movie review blog, occasionally draws an online comic, paints pictures, writes stories and attempts to make music with friends. Joel is not a fan, however, of writing in the third person perspective, so writing this bio was painful for him. End of the World Community College by Sandra McDonald Vision The End of the World Community College (EWCC) strives to assist the residents of Port Clinton and surrounding areas with all of their educational needs, including farming, construction trades, radiation decontamination, emergency medicine, fine arts, and artisanal bread-making. Dean Hendershot’s parents once owned a bakery. He treasures the sourdough starter that has been passed down through his family for three generations. Students who complete their courses of study are automatically gifted with a delicious loaf of fresh bread. Unless, of course, your name is Abdul Howard. Tuition Paper currency is useless, but the Registrar gladly accepts silver coins, diamond jewelry, gold teeth, and unexpired medicine. Fresh food, canned food, charged batteries, ammunition, livestock, and freeze-dried coffee are also welcomed with open arms. EWCC does not offer financial aid. Despite these desperate times, please do not attempt to rob the Registrar. He and his assistants carry pistols and mace at all times. Your professors will gladly barter for additional lessons. Professor Shawl constantly needs cat food, Professor Ohara manages a yarn bank, and Professor Pfister collects pornographic material. In the old days Dean Hendershot would not have hired Pfister, but it is hard to find good math teachers and Pfister generously loans out his magazines upon request. Colonel Fisher, our ROTC director, trades exclusively for knives. The sharper the better. He does not read Professor Pfister’s porn. Registration Enrollment dates are ongoing. Please apply in person at the Registrar’s Office during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Refrain from appearing late at night at the Registrar’s house and pounding on his door in a drunken stupor, lamenting the loss of the old world and all its convenient ways. In his former life, the Registrar managed a hardware store in Sandusky, providing the very best bait, groceries, and ammunition to tourists on Lake Erie. He is an excellent shot. Attendance Regular attendance is highly encouraged, but some obstacles are unavoidable. Rotting zombies often block the road near the Ottawa County Historical Museum. Aliens from Planet X lurk under the Port Clinton Bridge. You never know when a malfunctioning robot might show up in your front yard, demanding oil for its rusty red joints. Sustained ringing bells from our campus chapel indicate a solar flare forecast; please take cover. Expired sunscreen will not suffice. Do not just throw yourself on the ground with your arms over your head, June Li. In case of catastrophic snowfall, we expect to see you after you dig out or whenever spring arrives. If spring arrives. Medical concerns are always pa[...]


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