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EP031: Robots and Falling Hearts

By Tim Pratt and Greg van Eekhout.
Read by Alex Wilson (of Telltale Weekly).
All stories by Tim Pratt or Greg van Eekhout.
All stories read by Alex Wilson.

I paused to tie a loose shoelace and a squat robot, like a dirty white trashcan on tank-treads, trundled out of an alley toward me. A red light on top of its domelike top blinked erratically. It said, in a high-pitched voice, “Klaatu barada nikto.” A small panel slid open in its front, and a pole with a cup on the end telescoped out. There were a few coins in the cup, mostly pennies and nickels, and the robot jingled the cup significantly.

“Take me to your leader,” I said, wishing it could be that simple, knowing that these things are never that simple. The robot beeped at me and jingled its cup harder, the coins rattling.

“It won’t go away unless you give it some change,” said a woman standing on the corner. “It followed me all the way to work one day, and hung around outside the door like a dog for hours.”

Rated PG. Contains slight profanity, long flirtations, and excessive Zen. Watch for falling metaphors.

Referenced sites:
Child’s Play
Hooting Yard

Comments (17)

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  1. Sam says:

    I found Escape Pod about a month ago (through Del.icio.us, I think). After hearing a few episodes, I downloaded the entire archive. I didn’t want to miss any of it.

    So, I really have to thank you. Escape Pod is massively, massively entertaining, and this may well be your best story yet.

    (I also want to make a donation, but the PayPal link is down now for some reason…)

  2. Sal says:

    Thanks so much for the review of Hooting Yard! I would be delighted to hear what EP listeners make of it.

  3. Rated PG for slight profanity? I heard the F-word in this one. Y’all ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

    But it’s a wonderfully done performance and production, despite the gratuitous foul language.

  4. me es rojo caliente says:

    I loved this it is right up there with corporate network, lachrymose, and deathtraps

  5. chris m says:

    Yes this story and the performance were both wonderful. I was completely transported. Thanks to all involved.

  6. WOW! What a story. One of the best. I’ve listened to almost every one of the previous episodes, and I like this podcast very much. I am a podcaster myself, so I know how fun it is with feedback. Keep up the good work!

  7. Simon says:

    I really liked the tone of this one, but I will admit I could see the strings a bit.

    The plot is basically a variant on Ursuala Le Guins “The Lathe Of Heaven” with a hint of unreality similar to Lem’s “The Futurological Congress”. But then, since I adore both of those stories I really really liked this.. Keep it up Escape Pod.

  8. Wow. I think this was my favorite so far (except for maybe EP076).

  9. BrandtPileggi says:

    One of, if not my favorite so far

  10. jason elam says:

    Love it, quantum physics, love, technology, and mysticism and in one place

  11. Harris says:

    Daft science fantasy and almost beyond Phildickian.

    Quite a mind bender though.

  12. Ricardo Palala says:

    Thank you for such a nice site you have. I´m from Guatemala Central America and I´m really enjoyin these stories.
    Please keep on going in motivating people into the nice habit of reading.

  13. Raving_Lunatic says:

    I liked this story as well.

  14. […] Robots and Falling Hearts by Tim Pratt and Greg van Eekhout (two of my favorite short fiction genre writers). This is an Escape Pod version of the story, which originally appeared in Realms of Fantasy (and was also in one of the “Year’s Best” anthologies), narrated by my talented Clarion classmate, Alex Wilson. […]

  15. […] Plus, if you prefer fantasy or horror, there’s PodCastle and Pseudopod. RECOMMENDATION(S): Robots and Falling Hearts, by Tim Pratt and Greg van Eeekhout; Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk, by Ken Scholes; End Game, […]

  16. […] too. Plus, if you prefer fantasy or horror, there’s PodCastle and Pseudopod. RECOMMENDATION(S): Robots and Falling Hearts, by Tim Pratt and Greg van Eeekhout; Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk, by Ken Scholes; End Game, […]