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EP054: Tk’tk’tk

By David D. Levine.
Read by Paul Tevis (of Have Games Will Travel).

Shkthh pth kstphst, the shopkeeper said, and Walker’s hypno-implanted vocabulary provided a translation: “What a delightful object.” Chitinous fingers picked up the recorder, scrabbling against the aluminum case with a sound that Walker found deeply disturbing. “What does it do?”

It took him a moment to formulate a reply. Even with hypno, Thfshpfth was a formidably complex language. “It listens and repeats,” he said. “You talk all day, it remembers all. Earth technology. Nothing like it for light-years.” The word for “light-year” was hkshkhthskht, difficult to pronounce. He hoped he’d gotten it right.

Rated PG. Contains scatology and crimes against pronunciation.

Referenced sites:
2006 Hugo Nominees
Shelley the Republican
CAP Alert System
Bento Fanzine
National PTA
Rescuing Recess

Comments (12)

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  1. Heather says:

    Oops, bad link – can’t download!

  2. Chris says:

    bad links

  3. Don says:

    I’m sure that Steve will have that fixed in a jiff. For those of you who can’t wait, the issue is the redirect: at http://www.podtrac.com. Just wack off the redirect and download it directly using this link http://escapepod.podlot.net/EP054_TkTkTk.mp3

  4. Lar says:

    Great story. Hats off to Paul for taking all those unpronounceable words in stride.

  5. [...] I’ve used it twice now for podcasting. I wish I could say something like, “Wow! All I had to was turn the thing on and nightingales dropped dead from envy at my feet.” Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way. New sound gear never works that way. Even on Super Nice mode, I’m still working on tweaking the settings just right. My first attempt (for last week’s Escape Pod intro) used a 6:1 ratio, -8 dB threshold, +6 dB gain. I personally think it came out sounding overpowered, way too flat and pushy. For this week’s intro I used a 4:1 ratio, and made the threshold and gain even at +8 (which the manual recommends). It wasn’t flat this time, but I clipped frequently. This could mean I need to make my mic gain part of the equation too. [...]

  6. Simon says:

    This was great stuff.. I love full blown attempts to visualise alien biology. Kinda reminded me of that old favourite Country Doctor.

  7. I had a reaction, but it’s untypeable. It’s not profane. It just can’t be typed.

  8. Bendy says:

    bad links ?

  9. [...] This morning I finished listening to Paul reading “Tk’tk’tk“, a sci-fi short story by David Levine about an enterprise software salesman on an alien world far from home. It’s currently nominated for a Hugo. I enjoyed the story (you can also read it online), and Paul’s presentation of it was clear and well done. [...]

  10. Neil says:

    Good story – very atmospheric. Only small distraction is the mispronunciation of chitin in the reading. Should be KITE-n.

  11. Pete Butler says:

    Strong story, but I thought its credibility as a science fiction piece was surprisingly tenuous for a Hugo nominee. While the story’s details were sf all the way — I particularly liked how he couldn’t read the street signs or count change because his sense of smell wasn’t up to it — this is a classic example of duct-taping sf trappings onto a non-sf plot. You could tell this exact same story by dropping an American/European character into some foreign culture here on Earth — choose the right Asian culture and you can even keep the polite-to-the-point-of-absurdity dialog pretty much as-is.

    That aside, it was well-written and engaging, and the audio recording overcame some truly formidable challenges. I just want my award-nominated science fiction stories to have a little more science fiction.

  12. SFEley says:

    Hey guys,

    I hate to do it, but I’m going to have to close comments on this one. For some unknown reason, this particular piece has become a spam magnet. I’m deleting them as fast as they come in, but it’s getting to be a real pain.

    If you have more you’d like to say on it, please send your comments to our feedback address (in the “Contact Us” link in the sidebar) and I’ll make sure they get propagated out. Thanks!