EP058: Shadowboxer

(Technical Note: To everyone who caught the incomplete file this morning — my deep apologies. The upload got cut off and I failed to test properly. Here’s the full version.)

By Paul Di Filippo.
Read by Scott Fletcher (of Podcheck Review).
Musical guest: Andy Guthrie.

Generally speaking, I need only three minutes of concentrated attention to kill someone by staring at them. If I’m feeling under the weather, or my mind is preoccupied with other matters–you know how your mind can obsess about trivial things sometimes–it might take five minutes for my power to have its effect. On the other hand, if I focus intensely on my victim I can get the job done in as little as ninety seconds.

…Now the nation is at war. Or so we’re told. I guess that changes everything. A person like me becomes much more important.

Rated R. Contains violence, some sexual content, and disturbing themes.

Referenced sites:
Podsafe Music Network

Comments (22)

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  1. Jeff S says:

    No problem, Steve. The work you do on Escape Pod is always great.

    Especially good intro this week!

    And I’ve never mentioned it before (though I’m sure someone else has), but Daikaiju is the most perfect background music for Escape Pod it’s unbelievable. Keep rocking!

  2. SFEley says:

    Thanks, and I’m sorry again about the confusion.

    Oh, and it’s funny you should mention Daikaiju this week… (Now that you can download the end of the piece, you’ll know why.)

    I’ll have some very cool news involving Daikaiju in a little while.

  3. Dom says:

    This week’s cast is my overall favourite so far. Fantastically unsettling story and Andy Guthrie’s awesome song to finish. *Wonder*ful.

  4. ThePete says:

    Just a quick note from a big fan of the podcast. Steve, you are a unique human being. Therefore you *do* posses knowledge and insight that other people don’t have. Simply expressing your opinions is different from telling people how to think. Personally, I appreciate other people’s views even when I disagree with them. I can’t learn from people if they don’t express themselves. I also don’t think fiction offering answers is a bad thing, either. Star Trek suggested loads of answers and while it wasn’t always good scifi, generally, it was. That said, I do agree that getting political in your intros isn’t terribly appropriate. I agree with everything else you’ve said. Seriously. Every last thing!!!

    Keep up the good work!

    So much for the “quick note”… 🙂

  5. It took a while for me to get really hooked on this story. But I loved the ending!

  6. Simon says:

    One of escapepod’s best.. I mean wow – that voice fitted the timbre perfectly.

    The story wasn’t all that inventive in greater terms, we have all encountered this sort of tale before. What was special about this was the rhythm, the narrative breaks for this guy to discuss his motivations, that gave it a really Kafka esque claustrophobia. This guy can WRITE.

    My faith in escape pod is back! But no more Single White Farmhouses, please….

  7. Colin F says:

    Enjoyed the story – although that’s true most weeks – but didn’t really think the musical outro added anything to the experience, in fact I got fed up of it and skipped through to the end.

    No harm in experimenting with the format, but an indifferent response from this listener I’m afraid.

    All things are relative though. My weekly dose of Escapse Pod is always eagerly anticipated. Now, what ever happened to the flash fiction pieces to help keep us going from one week to the next?

  8. Arne says:

    This is by far the best story I ever heard on Escape Pod and would have been a great contribution at Hugo. I was especially fond of the style of telling which mixed very well with the audio narrator.
    Furthermore the ending music was nice. I’ll probably download it iTunes or will have to import it at my local dealer. That reminds me of a suggestion: Could you please add the information on the songs used at the podcasts to their pages? Thanks a lot and I hope you’ll keep up the good work.

  9. Paul Chiocco says:

    I have to agree with most of the sentiments expressed so far. This was one of the best Escape Pod stories I’ve heard so far.
    I got hooked back in week 23 or 24 and haven’t missed a story.
    Thanks for all you’re doing for the genre and the podcast!

  10. Jeff S says:

    I just realized that this was the same author who wrote “Little Worker.” Wow.

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  12. Pete Butler says:


    Much darker than what I’ve come to expect from Escape Pod, but when the story is this good, I’m not about to complain.

    Props to Mr. Di Filippo for avoiding a trap here — given that the narrator is pretty much resigned to his fate that he’ll never get to see another human being face-to-face as long as he lives, in the hands of a lesser writer he could have come across as flat and uninteresting. Instead, details like “the Daves” were just lively enough to keep me interested without calling into question that they (whoever “they” are) have for the most part broken his spirit. (BTW, was that an oblique Narbonic reference? The Dave Conspiracy?) Very nicely done.

    And I love how he considers killing a mere fifty people or so in his adolescence to be admirable restraint. It’s a chilling detail.

  13. Pavlina says:

    I must admit, this was one of my least favorite stories on Escape Pod. Loved The Voice though.

  14. Will says:

    chilling story. excellent narration.

  15. Magess says:

    You’re right Steve. Great voice. *melt*

  16. Why didn’t this one get nominated for the Hugos? I loved it!

  17. Hockeyrink says:

    C’mon Steve – where are the details on the song?

  18. Hockeyrink says:


    “You be King” by Andy Guthrie

  19. Hockeyrink says:

    One last comment:
    I REALLY liked how this music wrapped up the episode. This ep is among my… top 5. Easy.

    And I like Daikaiju (?), but this song was a very, VERY good wrap to this ep. Perhaps an experiment with one of the many music podcasters is needed to have “guest” tail music once a month? Just a thought…