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EP017: The Life and Times of Penguin

By Eugie Foster.
Read by Mur Lafferty (of Geek Fu Action Grip).


Penguin listened raptly to the new voice. He knew this was his guardian
angel, she who would guard and protect him forever. Sure enough, the
Creator set him gently into his angel’s hand. Her hands, much smaller than
the Creator’s–which was fitting since who among the angels had such power
as the Creator?–were a bit sticky. He squealed as she held him aloft to
receive the glorious light.

“Look, Daddy! It’s a peng’n!”

“Yes it is, Angie. It’s a very nice penguin. Did you thank the nice man
for the balloon?”

Rated PG. Contains explicit existentialism and violence of the soul. (The intro contains minor profanity and frank discussions of current events, and is likely to be more offensive than the story.)

Comments (9)

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  1. John says:

    Great rant, Stephen! You go! Have a good time at the con.

    Another fine reading by Mur. Some of the evoked images/memories dancing in my head: Candide, Lord of the Flies, The Red Balloon, Toy Story, and my own still treasured favorite cradle toy, a battered formerly plush stylized rabbit, now quite piratical, with a once black eyepatch and dreaming the years away in a place of honor on a bedroom bookcase.

  2. Matt says:

    Hey Steve,
    It’s a great show and I will definitely continue to contribute..it has everything. A smooth, polished, flowing presentation, time after time, with varied stories and good commentary. But why scold us today? We really didn’t need any morality policing. Yes, the media sucks and is biased. We’re all adults. Many of us are contributing to relief (my wife flew in with the National Guard today), but some burden of responsibility has to be placed upon the people who are ruining their own city and killing its survivors. Acting like New Orleans residents have no responsibility for all the heinous crimes they’re committing now is just as racist as any mislabeled news picture. That’s what you would say about a child who tortures an animal without understanding the consequences. These people are adults and lots of violent stuff is going on in what’s left of that awful town.
    Just my 2c, please keep up the good work and realize the country is doing its good work as well in helping these people.

  3. SFEley says:

    Hi Matt,

    Good points, of course. I didn’t mean to imply that people who are truly comitting evil acts don’t bear the responsibility for them. Of course they do. I don’t know what it’s like to live in a true anarchy as those in New Orleans have this past week, but I do know that some have been helping each other and some have been killing each other, so the choices are clearly there.

    In my intro, the closest I came to a value judgment on anyone was stating that it was wrong to place property above human life, particularly in an emergency. I’ll stand by that. The people who were shooting cops, or sniping at hospital evacuees — yes, that’s evil. That has to be stopped. But the people looting, whether it’s for food or trade goods or TVs; I’m sorry, but I can’t bring myself to care one way or another. I’m not in a position to say whether they’re making smart choices. I can say that the mayor ordering forces early on to stop looking for survivors and start protecting property was an immoral choice. That should be the very last priority, after everyone’s safe and there are no longer dead bodies turning the water toxic. (Of course, if they’d had their priorities right in the first place, there would have been an actual plan to evacuate the poor, instead of a deliberate and explicit “You’re on your own, we hope you have a friend with a car.”)

    Anyway, yes, I was a little harsh. None of it was directed at anyone in particular; mostly I was just sick of listening to my idiot coworkers spout off as if they knew what it was like to be poor in New Orleans. They didn’t; I don’t; and there are always some who need to be reminded that these are all people.

    If you’re not one who needed to be reminded of that, then I’m glad. And my very best wishes and hopes of safety for your wife.

  4. Matt says:

    Hey, I’m sorry. As I read what I wrote before it sounds very accusatory and negative. The military people we knew had all been very eager to go and help for several days before the aid/deployment plan could be worked out and other people had been very dismissive (as if the National Guard or Navy have any control of their deployment schedule). I agree 100% about protecting the property first and how silly that was.
    Anyway, thanks for tolerating a rant :)I hope DragonCon was a success.

    Matt

  5. Jugger says:

    The people who were shooting cops, or sniping at hospital evacuees — yes, that’s evil. That has to be stopped. But the people looting, whether it’s for food or trade goods or TVs; I’m sorry, but I can’t bring myself to care one way or another. I’m not in a position to say whether they’re making smart choices. I can say that the mayor ordering forces early on to stop looking for survivors and start protecting property was an immoral choice.

  6. Ken Dryden says:

    Acting like New Orleans residents have no responsibility for all the heinous crimes they’re committing now is just as racist as any mislabeled news picture. That’s what you would say about a child who tortures an animal without understanding the consequences.

  7. I’ll stand by that. The people who were shooting cops, or sniping at hospital evacuees yes, that’s evil. That has to be stopped. But the people looting, whether it’s for food or trade goods or TVs; I’m sorry, but I can’t bring myself to care one way or another. I’m not in a position to say whether they’re making smart choices.

  8. scatterbrain says:

    Haha, arsehole factor, I’ve got to write that one down…

    Great fantsy tale.

  9. [...] Life and Times of Penguin” (reprint) in Escape Pod, Sept. 2005. FREE FICTION! *Nominated for a 2006 Parsec Award in the Best Speculative Fiction Story [...]