EP089: Bean There

By Jack Skillingstead.
Read by Jim Van Verth (of The Vintage Gamer).
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, April/May 2005.

“You call it crazy,” Aimee said. “I call it Evolution.”

With a capital E. The famous newsclip seen around the world. The aliens arrived neither as an invading force nor as beneficent galactic pals. By their own description they were ‘Harbingers.’

Famous network interviewer: “Harbingers of what?”

Alien: “Evolution.”

Rated R. Contains sexual imagery and themes, and lots of caffeine.

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Comments (33)

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  1. Dave T says:

    It might just be me, but I don’t think the episode’s up on itunes yet.

  2. SFEley says:

    Hi Dave,

    The main iTunes directory page can take a while (sometimes even days) to update. However, if you’re subscribed to our feed in iTunes, you should get the episode as soon as it’s out. If you’re subscribed, refresh your feeds, and still don’t see it, let me know and I’ll look into it. Thanks.

  3. rob says:

    i really liked this story. i really thought that he wouldn’t end up with the girl. YAY for a happy non-cheesy ending!


  4. warcruiserGawk says:

    Its more human touchie feelie version of Arthur C Clark’s “Childhood End” with a happy ending (at least I don’t think of Childhood’s End as having a happy ending) That is a compliment by the way.

  5. Chris says:

    I liked the story, but I was completely derailed when the reader called it “expresso” around 24 minutes.

    Great story, great reading otherwise!

  6. Tiktok of Oz says:

    The story. . . not done with it yet, enjoying it, but not staying up late to listen to it.

    However, am staying up late to go to Amazon.com and subscribe to both Asimov’s and Analog. I hadn’t realized how bad the circulation numbers had gotten. 4k copies? That makes a _comic_book_, a dying industry, look positively wonderful.

    I don’t know if we _need_ SF magazines, but I sure _want_ them. Even if I don’t have time to read them–I never seem to–I can always store them and go back at award nomination time and read the nominees.

    Folks, go vote with your wallets if you want these magazines to live.

  7. L33tminion says:

    There wasn’t any particular element that struck me as bad, but this story just fell flat for me for some reason. The conflict (both internal and external) seems more “told” than “shown”.

  8. slic says:

    Gotta go with L33t on this one. It went on longer than I felt necessary, and just never got my attention. I was more of a personal journey story than sci-fi.
    I also see this story continuing a popular theme I saw started in comics a few years ago with the mini series “Marvels” – the “monumental events through the eyes of a regular guy” idea.

  9. I guess I am a bit similar to the main character in that I really wanted all the touchy-feely alien stuff to be a hoax or a hallucination. I have an aversion to the use of the word “evolve” to signify anything other than its strictly Darwinian sense, partially because my mother is an insufferable New Ager.

    But in terms of the storytelling, I thought it was well-done.

  10. Monty Grue says:

    I didn’t quite like the “happy” ending. My personal bias may be shinning through, but I’d say that opening day at Disney World would be a subject befitting Pseudopod for the psychological torment it would inflict.

    As for sagging subscriptions to the science fiction magazines, I think could do well by subscribing to one or more. Ever since last October, I’ve challenged myself to read a short story a day from various genres and it rarely takes more than ten or fifteen minutes. It has been rather easy once I got into the habit. While I do occasionally fall behind for one reason or another, I can usually catch-up by reading two or more in the same day. Ultimately, I’d like to “read” 500 stories this year: 365 Daily + 52 Escapepod + 52 Pseudopod + 31 Other Audio or Text stores.

  11. Toast says:

    I have to agree with some of the others on this one, the story got a kind of “meh” reaction on my part. This isn’t to say that it didn’t have its moments. It’s hard to be a guy in a changing world and, when the people you love change, it’s hard to accept that. That’s the part that worked for me, but the end seemed a little forced to me.

    As for SF magazines–SF has always been a big staple at our household. When I was a kid, I always thought that “analog” was just the name of a magazine that my dad subscribed to. Sadly, all of the issues I used to smuggle into my room to read were destroyed in a move along with over 2000 books and (thank god) one of the ugliest couches in history. Your plug for magazines reminded me of all the stories my dad tells us about, stories we never got to read after the books and magazines were lost, and the fact that he no longer has a subscription to fiction magazines. Nor, for that matter, do I. So, maybe now’s a good time to start (again.)

  12. DFLee says:

    I’m going to disagree with the critics here – I loved this story, and I loved the way the MC ‘evolved’. I’m new to Escape Pod, but I think what you guys are doing is way cool.

  13. Thanks, DFLee. Stick around, put your feet up, tell your friends.

  14. Margo says:

    I really don’t have a comment on the story. It was good, I liked it, but I really just want to point out something. I got the Escapepod Collection for a Christmas present (awesome by the way!!). I started to listen to the very first episode, I thought that there was something strange about the story. I finally relized what was strange…the sound was completly different from the new episodes.The new episodes sound a lot clearer than the old ones. I just want to thank you for your diligent work on the sound. Keep up the fantastic job!!!

  15. Tiffany Hine Australia says:

    I liked the fact that this story was told from the perspective of a ‘non’ beliver/Evolver whater you want to call him. As Slic said, its not from the usual point of view of the hero or whatever.
    Really enjoyed the story.

  16. Will says:

    Very interesting editorial. Analog & Asimov have only around 30,000 subscribers each? Surprising.

    I discovered Asimov’s when I was 9, in 1981. Read a great Zelazny story about a man who played chess with a unicorn, with the stakes being the future of the world. Sparked my interest in the magazine and the genre– I’ve read almost every issue published since. (I finally subscribed to Analog last year after picking up most issues at the newsstand for the last ten). Asimov’s tone has changed over the last 25 years, but one constant I love is how they’ve always presented good fiction by both established and new writers. As the industry has filled up with TV novels and schlock, they’ve kept the quality strong.

    Bravo to Escape Pod for championing the short story – the gem of the genre. And bravo for recognizing the role of these classic magazines in doing the same for many more years prior.

  17. orkspace says:

    By coincidence, I had just finished reading Childhood’s End before listening to “Bean There.” While I was at first skeptical that the story would simply by Clarke redux, I was pleasantly surprised: this story was much more optimistic, character-driven, and “human” than Clarke — and it retained a strong central SF “idea” that invited thought without being gimmicky (sorry Tortuga). Great stuff!

    I still consider myself a SF n00b — having been trained as an insufferable literature snob, I’m just now discovering the joys of SF. Thank you Escape Pod for these splendid little introductions, and I’ll see if I can find a copy of the mentioned magazines for more.

  18. Janni says:

    What a strange and wondrous story–I liked it.

  19. Adam says:

    WOot bring on the Alien Evolution. I love the StarWars mmorpg and this would be amazing in real life.

  20. scatterbrain says:

    A bit bland, but enjoyably phildickian.

    I think we should combine the four largest sf/f magazines in the world into a new one; how about “Asimov’s Interzonal Fantasy and Analog Science fiction with some Facts”?(This idea is mentally copyrighted(Sorry))

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