EP062: Union Dues – The Baby and the Bathwater

By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by Mur Lafferty (of I Should Be Writing and Geek Fu Action Grip)
All stories by Jeffrey R. DeRego

It’s never really dawned on me that the brochures manage to beautifully portray events and activities I’ve never seen as long as I’ve worn the tights and mask. The brochures don’t show the InterCity cops taking pot-shots at our Jump Jets, they don’t show the protestors outside a school when Landaar makes and appearance, or the new recruits worked to the physical breaking point for a year before they are even allowed third string uniform status, they don’t show how we didn’t put out the fire or didn’t rescue the family.

But since when has a marketing campaign ever focused on truth and reality?

Rated R. Contains profanity and… Well, profanity.

Referenced sites:
Union Dues – Iron Bars and the Glass Jaw
Union Dues – Off White Lies
Pseudopod Submission Guidelines

Comments (15)

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  1. Jim in Buffalo says:


    Another excellent Union Dues story, with the flip-side of the life of a superpowered crimefighter told in a gripping present-tense first-person narrative.

    I particularly like the idea of a colorful superhero world being encroached upon by dark political reality, a la the “Wild Cards” series of shared-universe anthologies.

  2. Pete Butler says:

    Mmm. Not bad, but not quite up to the standard of the other two Union Dues pieces. I thought the narrator was being set-up to fail by both her own superiors and by the author; her approach of chirping “It’s in the Charter!” struck me as so dumb and so obviously ineffective it had me grinding my teeth.

    For me, the really interesting stuff came at the end; I strongly felt her parting shot should have been her opening argument. “How do you expect to discipline a child who can kill you?” To me, THAT was the interesting angle here. (I know it’s something Larry Niven has touched on in reference to young Clark Kent, but I don’t know if he ever explored the notion in detail.) Screw the legal stuff; that’s an afterthought, the option of last resort. I really think the narrator should have been driving to the child’s and the parents’ best interests right out of the gate.

    THAT approach might have had some chance of success. And, in my opinion, would have resulted in a much more interesting story.

  3. Jabberwocky says:

    Another great story set in a world with Supers. I like how things are going down hill for the Heros, with the normals are getting tired with the way things are done. And I find it interesting how even teh Heros are starting to become disenfranchised by the way the higher up that run the Union. I look forward the the next story. Keep them coming.

  4. Spork says:

    The file name’s doing it again.

  5. SFEley says:

    Hi Spork,

    I tried sending an e-mail to the address you left in the comments form, but it failed permanently.

    Please e-mail me from an address that works, and I will do my best to work with you to get these issues resolved. In particular I need to know what podcatcher you’re using or how you’re downloading these files.

  6. These Union Dues stories are great! And a Mur Lafferty fest is never a bad thing – no need to apologise for it 🙂

    I totally agree with your walking = disappearance theory being possible… has the daycare place ever taken him to the toddler room to see how he reacts? It would be interesting to watch. I love hearing about your family.


  7. Colin F says:

    Love hearing how your parenting experience compares with our own. My son, who’s a couple of months older than yours, also regularly accosts us, demanding that we read him “a booooo!”.

    An intriguing twist on the parenting issue in the story too. A child who could wind up killing you, but how can you bear to give up your own flesh and blood? What an imagination!

  8. Awesome story… I love the contrast that he puts in with these stories. Superheros are just so cool, and the comics always make them so big, so untouchable, so not me…

    Then these stories come in and you get to see what happens between the panels in the comics. Rock on.

    Sounds like your son’s worried about being a gr’up. Just let him know that not everybody gets funky pustules on his face and becomes a child-eating monster of the dark… or disappears… one of those.

  9. J. R. DeRego says:

    Thans for all the comments folks 🙂

    I love writing these stories and it’s great to know they are connecting with the audience (i.e. you!).

  10. Jeremiah says:

    I really enjoyed the story, especially as a parent. I also have a cat that bites a lot, and I know that if she were bigger, I’d be dead by now. I can relate.

  11. I too love the Union Dues stories, but I think I must’ve missed the first one. What EP is that on so I can go back and listen to it?

    J.R. – I’m not yet a dad, but we’ve got a 12-week fetus and if it turns out to be as screwed up as the “miracle baby”, then I’m glad for this preview!

    Keep it up, I want more!

  12. J. R. DeRego says:

    Timothy, the links to the first two stories are up above just under the lead paragraph.

  13. Tim says:

    I’d love to hear more Union Dues stories but, to be honest, I didn’t find this one very interested. I loved the concept behind it but it just seemed it was more about telling us the history of this universe instead of some kick butt action of the first two Union Dues stories I’ve heard. I liked it but didn’t really love it.

  14. Mitch says:

    I’m hooked on the “Union” universe! Good story & reading, though the first (Glass Jaw) is still my favorite. I’d like to hear what became of Megaton. I liked how the passing references in the first are linking up in this one.

    Also TOTALLY love the “Geek Dad” intros. I have a 2.5yr old boy myself, and he’s a geek in training. I like your “walking abduction” theory- and you totaly blew my mind with your “everything is SF at 18 months”.

    This EP’s comments left me feeling like Escape Pod is on the edge of explosive growth, and we’re here on the leading edge. Keep doing what you’re doing – it’s working!

  15. George says:

    The reader sounds like a high-school actor flinging emotion into every word. It’s very difficult for me to concentrate on the story — the voice just grates on me.

    I wonder how much of this is personal taste?

    Kudos for the great work. I think this is a fabulous idea.