EP102: The Angle of My Dreams

By Jay Lake.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in 3SF Magazine, October 2002.

That spring in math class, after we’d all kind of got back to normal about the Challenger blowing up, we were studying angles. Because I do good in class, Mrs. Doornie gave me a protractor to work with, and I used it to measure the angle of my dreams. That’s when I figured exactly how steep a hill needed to be for me to fly in real life.

Rated PG for corporal punishment and death of family members.

Comments (15)

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  1. Le stew says:

    I loved This story! and no that’s not just the Portland Love!

    It was nice to hear something that took place in our world. Not to say that other worlds are bad or that stories need to be plausable (agree with Steve TOTALLY on his outro) here.

    I also think that now as a community we needed to hear this type of story.

    Great choice! I look forward to every week! Keep em comin!!

  2. corwin says:

    Very well read, Steve. I got goosebumps when you recited the names of the Challenger astronauts.

  3. JClark says:

    What a beautiful story. I found the contrast between the narrator’s harsh life and his simple,
    dreamlike take on it both heartbreaking and uplifting. I don’t know what more to say about
    the story, it was wonderful.

    Oddly enough, I have had that same dream, in which all it takes to fly is a willingness to do it
    and the will to just keep moving.

  4. gail says:

    Steve –
    I agree that ‘plausibility’ is a weak reason for rejecting a science fiction story.

    As for today’s story, it was chilling to realize that when we talk about the space shuttle blowing up, these days we have to ask, “Which one?”

    I could not tell where this story was going, but you were right: I was smiling when you finished.


  5. LG says:

    One of the best in a long patch of goodies these last few months, the whole thing was utterly charming.
    A concern: If Escape Pod does decide to fork in to a Fantasy and an SF feed, where would this one go? I’m not generally a fan of fantasy (at least of the He-Man vs Sheera/Swords and Buxom Bimbo-Hero genre), but I’d hate to be missing out on stories like this one in my “Hard SF” diet.
    A closing request: Whilst the narration quality’s always excellent, I’d love to hear a few more female readers.

  6. Great story. very touching. I live the southern accent you used when you read it. Nice Job.
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  7. Alan says:

    I’m going to tell you why.

    I remember the Challenger and I realize I’ve been carrying around that dread and heart-cracking sorrow for twenty-odd years now. The EXACT thing that made the protagonist hurt in this story made me hurt all those years ago as well.

    And because I too dream of flying. For me it’s flapping my arms like a bird, as though I have a nice set of wide, wind-catching, feathered wings as they do. And I know I do it in my dreams because life has so often been not only mundane for me, but awful.

    And because, not unlike our hero, I’ve lost parents.

    And because children are the window to my soul. All my unresolved gunk occurred during those years and I’m still trying to find my way to adulthood. 40-plus years later.

    And because of you, Steve, and what you brought to the story. As you opened by not talking about your son, I could not help but remember how much joy I felt for you and Anna when Alex began to speak. And how much joy I still feel when you share stories about him. And how you let us hear the sound of his voice. And how much more precious to me it sounds, given your earlier fears.

    And because I hadn’t really mourned for Joe Murphy yet. I didn’t think I knew him well enough to do that, even though I knew I’d miss him and knew that as with Alex, I liked his voice.

    This is why I’m so grateful for your choice of this story.

    This is why I cried like a baby.

  8. Chuck LeDuc says:

    That was a very sweet story, it touched even cynical old me. A beautiful story for those of us of a certain age.

    One little question: why PG? Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) was rated G, and that was a frigging snuff film.

  9. SFEley says:

    Why PG: to be honest, it was the image of the grandfather lashing the boy with the belt. Some parents might take issue with exposing their children to scenes of corporal punishment and some might not; hence, parental guidance.

  10. Greetings from Lake Wu, Jay Lake’s first story collection, will satisfy anyone whose appetite has been whetted by “The Angle of My Dreams.”

    I’ve been a Lake fan for the past couple years and so must also plug Jay’s website (http://www.jlake.com/) and blog (http://jaylake.livejournal.com/). Thank You, Jay Lake and Thank You, Steve Eley! May both of you long continue to serve up stuff this good.

    A picnic-flavored review of GFLW can be found at http://www.criticalmick.com/criticalmick_lakewu.htm

  11. JMCampbell says:

    I enjoyed the story, but the ending almost seemed to pat to me. The grandfather seemed so against it he didn’t want to even talk about it, beats the kid because of it, then turns around and buys him a model rocket so he could do it again. I didn’t really get why they bought the rocket to begin with or why the grandfather went along with it at the end. There was nothing in the story to show the grandfather’s change in feelings.

  12. rob says:

    thank you for reading this story, it made me forget about all the not so pleasent things that are happening in the world. i think that any story that can make you forget about what may or may not be happening around you is a good story.

  13. dscarron says:

    I guess I’m just bitter – I didn’t like it. It was both too sweet and straight forward with no twists. Perhaps it just had not enough crunch for me.

    It’s okay really – there have been only a handful of misses in the last hundred or so. So don’t mind me.

  14. Janni says:

    I also agree that plausibility is a weak reason for rejecting a story, and am glad you’re not planning to be bound by it.

    For me, science fiction has never been just about the idea–there’s enough well-written non-fiction science writing out there to satisfy my itch for reading about big ideas. Science fiction is about what happens when those ideas meet and interact with people–and exploring that is something nonfiction can’t do, which is why we need fiction to do it.

  15. […] Escape Pod 102: The Angle of My Dreams, while not necessarily science fiction, is a lovely and heartbreaking story of loss and hope and belief in the impossible. […]