EP027: Union Dues – Iron Bars and the Glass Jaw

By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by Jonathon Sullivan.
All stories by Jeffrey R. DeRego

“You super folks must think we’re pretty damn foolish, especially us in the law enforcement community.”

Look at him leaning back with his feet up on the desk. Did he just walk out of Cool Hand Luke? Sheesh, you’d think a sheriff would want to be more dignified. “No sir. You and your brethren are integral to the fabric of society. We of The Union are grateful for your hard work and courage.” I can rattle that sort of crap off all day long.

Rated PG. Contains graphic scenes of class conflict and superhuman self-doubt.

Referenced sites:
Beyond the Storm: Shadows of the Big Easy

Comments (31)

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  1. Lou says:

    I loved this story. I’m very interested in the next chapter, and the rest of the series in general. Exploring the issues with being a superhero in a world where the super heroes are quasi-accepted in a labor union style estamblishment.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

  2. John says:

    Excellent cast! Solid story, well presented, and the pre- and post-story matter matters. Among the best you’ve produced. Hmmm, perhaps a year-end poll in January, or next May or June, to spur retrospective analysis of what’s working and what’s not? Should include you, the authors, and the readers, as well as we listeners to be most useful to you.

    As for the “largest” aural fiction collection online, the only competition anywhere near Escape Pod I know of is Jim Kelly’s site, http://www.jimkelly.net/, and associated podcast, http://feeds.feedburner.com/freereads
    He doesn’t restrict himself to short stories and short shorts, and he’s had a lot of material available for more than a year, so if one measures in minutes of fiction, he might be a competitor for the “largest” or “biggest” title.

    The more the merrier, say I! Bravo.

  3. Jesse says:

    Cool tale. Looking forward to the second in this series.

    Sullydog did great work on the voices too.

    As for Jim Kelly’s FREE READS …. it is definitely a rival to EPod’s story count, but looking at the numbers we find he’s not nearly as prolific…. to back this up I don’t have either his exact running time nor ESCAPE PODs at my fingertips but I do have some rough stats for you…

    ESCAPE POD: Approx. 40 stories of flash and short story SF & Fantasy (I’m going from memory here so bear with me) which is equal to APPROX 450 MB – now you also have to remember that intros and extros on Thursday shows by Steve are included in the MB count.

    JPK’s FREE READS: 13 stories + 2 chapters in his new novella Burn (available as a Podcast now too) = APPROX 270 MB

    Now bit rates and other factors will skew the MB numbers (running time is almost impossible to calculate for EP because of the intros and extros). But the sheer number of stories and the almost DOUBLE the size of the MB count makes me extremely confident that EPod is the leader of these two in terms of stories produced and running time. Heck EPod has done more than 26 weeks (1/2 a years worth) of Short fiction alone – it started MAy 12th 2005.

    There are also, possibly, some fiction podcasts that have an almost rivaled number of hours to EPod – but of the content produced but these are almost all novels. Scott Sigler’s EarthCore, Mark Jeffrey’s The Pocket & The Pendant and Tee Morris & Lisa Lee’s Morevi: The Chronicles Of Rafe & Askana are all good length novels (but will fit on one CD-R with space to spare). There are a few other podcasts doing novels and stories but none have been as consistent in their output or going as long as EPod.

    Now non-english language? I don’t know. Maybe someone has a Hungarian fiction collection for free somehwere out there but in English EPod rules.

  4. Peter says:

    I loved this story and I want to hear more of the Union Dues series. Also, Jonathon Sullivan rules so get him on more, too. Thanks for the excellent podcasts!

  5. Hear, hear! Can’t wait to hear more of Union Dues, especially if read by Jonathon Sullivan. Another great episode of Escape Pod!

  6. Steve Binch says:

    This is great story! I’d love to hear as much as you can get us. Its very much like the world of The Incredibles, only under different circumstanses.

  7. Carl Cravens says:

    Excellent story… give us more!

  8. Andy Ross says:

    Perhaps my favourite Escape Pod yet, in just about every way. Fantastic story with an engaging specular (Steve taught me that word) superhero aspect, yet an extremely thought-proving meaning… made even better by Jon’s reading (Megaton’s voice: perfect). I definitely want to hear more of this series and when I get some money I’ll be donating for sure.

    Also, Steve’s intro rocked hardcore. I just love those musings about the nature of stories.. BEST EPISODE EVER!

    We’re all the same, and yet different 🙂

  9. James says:

    I agree, looking forward to the next one.

  10. Chernobyl_2 says:

    i really liked it also, want to learn about the other “mutants”.

  11. Joani says:

    I thought it was great!

    This is my first visit to the site but I’ll be back to hear more of your work.

  12. Graphic scenes of class conflict


    This story was a great addition to the EP library. I say we take up a collection for some Cherry Luden’s though… if Jonathon Sullivan keeps that gravelly voice going, he’s gonna need some kind of throat coat.

  13. Doug Alcorn says:

    this was awesome! very well written. i liked that the author looked beyond the superhero fighting bad guy and at the whole structure.

    i also loved the reader. it was done superbly. i can’t imagine the story done any better.

  14. Andy Goodell says:

    in terms of most free audio fiction, i think miette of miette’s bedtime story podcast http://www.enivrez.com/bedtime/
    is the winner, since she has 76 short stories in audio form, mostly in the 10-30 minute range.

    Loved the story this week, look forward to the others in the series.

  15. I loved this story and eagerly wait to hear more in this series!

  16. Cloysterpeteuk says:

    Nah the site with the best free audio content has to be http://www.podiobooks.com go to search then show all. In terms of quantity there are lots of sites that produce recordings of out of copyright works.

  17. Jeremy VanS. says:

    I would definately like to hear more of this series, and from this author in general. I greatly enjoyed listening to this story.

    As for who has the largest collection of free audio fiction available… I can’t say for sure, but when talking “quality over quantity”, I am absolutely sure that Escape Pod wins.

  18. David Brake says:

    You *have* to play more from this series. The first story is just a ‘setup’. A very promising one but basically unfulfilling. I think we all agree we need to hear more of the actual meat of the story…

  19. Pete I says:

    Great story. Looking forward to the next one!

  20. Milo says:

    This first episode of Union Dues was quite compelling. The story drew me in from the start. I’d especially like to know what happens to Megaton. Please produce more.

  21. Paul Allen says:

    I listened to this story on the way to work this morning. Interesting take on superhumans and their role in a society that may or may not like them. I look forwards to more in the ‘Union Dues’ series.

  22. Scott S. says:

    Definitely want to hear more from the Union Dues series. Great story and I’ll second the comment about enjoying the intro’s musings on the scifi/fantasy axes

  23. Happy Hippy says:

    Having only gotten into Podcatching recently I’ve subscribed to far more podcasts than I can possibly listen to and so I’ve only just gotten around to listening to EPod.

    First thoughts – A comicbook story? Dammit, I’m running this from my laptop while I’m driving to work and I can’t safely reach to turn this drivel off right now.

    Lucky for me because this turned out to be a surprisingly (most free fiction I’ve come across is free for a reason :p) well written and thought provoking story. It reminded me why I got into SF in the first place; reading Asimov’s robot stories with twists, bends and sideways glances at what could otherwise be a bland, uninspired rehash of copious tales gone before.

    So now that’s another podcast I dare not cull and another back catalogue to listen through. I guess that whole “having a life” thing will just have to wait another few weeks 😀

  24. […] Only three weeks later Steve gave us ‚ÄúIron Bars and the Glas Jaw‚Äù, an attempt what might happen if a super-hero messes up his super-heroizing and has to face the consequences in a small-town jail cell and a county-sheriff who just wont stop lecturing him. […]

  25. 3countylaugh says:

    I keep re-listening to this podcast over & over so I finally had to comment on it (even if tardy). I want to listen/read every story related to this series.
    I love this story, it very much reminds me, very flatteringly, ofboth The Watchmen and Kingdom Come comics(very high praise in my geeky opinion).
    I hope DeRego will continue in this vein, as long as it takes.

  26. Roger says:

    Fantastic. Franchise worthy material. Best of Escapepod.

  27. […] very highly recommend EP027: Union Dues – Iron Bars and the Glass Jaw – the first in a “series” of stories. Its about Super Heros too, and its easily one of […]

  28. […] The first Union Dues story (thanks, Aaron!)    Standard Podcast: Play Now | Play in Popup | […]

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  31. Storman_Norman says:

    I’m going through the archives and listening to all the Union Dues stories. Check out Clonepod too, they’re starting up another Union series.