EP Flash: Hibernation

By Madge E. Miller.
Read by Stephen Eley.

Two Alaskan Kodiak bears joined a small circus where the pair
appeared nightly in a parade, pulling a covered wagon. The fact that they
had joined the circus was not so strange; the circus life was very popular
even for the better class of bear. The strange thing was that they were
both primitive mutes. This alone elevated or, in the opinion of some bears
still angry about the Great Russian Dancing Bear Revolt of ’06, lowered them
to the level of freak show attraction.

Rated G. Contains non-graphic ursine violence.

Comments (10)

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  1. Danny says:

    Eep. Did anyone else think this story was just…erm…*not good*? I always run into a story I don’t really care for, but I always chalk it up to personal taste and acknowledge that it’s not necessarily *bad*, just not really my favorite. But listening to this one today…. Did I miss something, or was the entire thrust of the story, “Hey look! Bears can talk! Whoo, haha!”? I mean…in general, I don’t really like it when the premise for a story *is the entire story*. Seriously, is there something I’m just not getting?

  2. SFEley says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t like the story, Danny.

    For what it’s worth, the flash fiction we run is likely to be more “experimental” on average than the full-length Escape Pod fiction. This makes it considerably less likely that anyone will like all the flash we run than all the major stories, but we think it’s important to try things. The investment in flash is relatively low, both in money and time, so it’s a lot easier to throw things at the wall and see what sticks.

    (And the comments you leave are the only way to tell that, so please, keep it up!)

  3. Gary C says:

    Well, I thought it was pretty cute. It’s not edgy sci-fi, so if you’re looking for that I can understand why you wouldn’t be into it. The point of the story wasn’t about a punchline, imho, it was more about the characterizations and the anthropomorphization – a sort of a parallel universe kind of place. So in short I didn’t think the premise for the story was the entire story, I thought it was an amusing journey that set the scene fairly effectively. Also flash fiction doesn’t have the time to develop things in great detail with mounds of backstory and huge complexities. For what it was, I think it’s a neat little story that was likely intended more as a fantasy piece for older children.

    Plus, I like bears, so I’m a sucker. To each their own I suppose. 😉

    Bearly yours,

  4. SFEley says:

    Thanks, Gary. I’m glad you liked it.

    For what it’s worth, I appreciate getting all feedback on our stories, positive or negative. I have no expectations that any story will be liked by everyone — the best we can shoot for is stories that most people will find fun, more often than not.

    (And yes, “fun” is my guiding criterion for story selection, well above plot or characterization or beautiful prose. We prefer to have all those too, of course, but only if the story’s fun.)

  5. This story is a rip off of a beutiful story published in a short fiction anthology a few years back.

  6. BrandtPileggi says:

    won’t play for me :/ This bastard is standing between me and my quest to listen to every single thing published to escape pod. Rawr (bear noise)

  7. woozy says:

    That was cute! I think Danny was missing a point of the story in that we in a modern society inappropriately glamorize while misunderstanding “nature” and “simplicity”. We’re fascinated by two people/bears who are throwbacks to what we believe is a more wholistic natural attitude but are contrived and isolate in our fascination thus reducing all our romantism to noise.

    I thought the story was deceptively simple in its straightforward narative and it’s characatures of intellectual ideas.

    My one critique is that it might not have needed “the punchline”. I’m not sure how the story could have ended without it, but I think it’d be as good if not better story if spoiler the bears really were primitive mutes and the bear society continued to trip all over itself in fascination.

    Still, I really good story, I thought.

  8. woozy says:

    BTW, I recieved a note from the author today. She says the story arose from a writing exercise in which she was given just the first line of a story and asked to write a story with the same first line. She says she had never read the original story and doesn’t know what it’s about.

    Doing a quick Google search on the first sentence, I believe the original story is a short (three paragraph) story by Spencer Holts called “Brilliant Silence” which can be read here:


    Perhaps this is why a previous poster called it “a ripoff”.

    “Brilliant Silence” is about normal bears in our world who after getting lost populate a remote wilderness with offspring who generations later perform dances and tricks for themselves. Other than having the same first sentence, they are quite different stories.

  9. Jerry W#aller says:

    I love it! It was my first intro to the genre of flash fiction. The problem is, I can’t find it in text. I don’t remember where I read it, but all I can find are podcasts. Please advise.

  10. It was up in text form on a site called The Deepening, which has since disappeared. I’ve put the story under Creative Commons license and posted to my blog today if you want to take a look there.