EP120: The Sundial Brigade

By James Trimarco.
Read by Graydancer (of The Ropecast).
First appeared in Glorifying Terrorism, ed. Farah Mendlesohn.
Closing song: “Think For Yourself” by George Hrab

Not long after that, Antonio had an appointment with his curator,
Yoshi, at the Department of Human Heritage. Antonio explained his
situation in the Tyrranean language.

“So you’re unsatisfied with your role as a beggar,” Yoshi said.
“That’s hardly surprising. The unemployed of the early twenty-first
century were also unhappy. Your emotions are true to period, that’s

“But it’s all wrong,” Antonio insisted. “I did well in school. I
studied to be an engineer. If this was the real Italy, someone like me
wouldn’t end up like this.”

Yoshi’s mouth curved into the sterile non-smile of a bureaucrat with
no time for sympathy.

Rated R. Contains strong themes of violence and terrorism, strong language, and some sexual content.

Referenced Sites:
UK Terrorism Act 2006
Stranger Things

Comments (26)

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  1. I remember that in the book the title of this story was “True To Period”, which to my mind works a lot better than “The Sundial Brigade”, which really does not capture the irony embedded in the story.

  2. […] James Trimarco’s story “The Sundial Brigade” is now up on Escape Pod. […]

  3. Veronica says:

    Love this story…my favorite one in a while. I really enjoyed the way this story created a world around me and left me feeling as though I was looking through a peephole – I could see some of the picture, but also felt like it was way bigger than the glimpse I was able to experience. UK Terrorism Act deal blows my mind…is this really enforced to a great extent??

  4. Robin Sure says:

    I liked the story, especially the idea of using bad traits to punish people. While nasty, it’s an idea that I’ve never heard before.
    However, one point that seemed fractured was when the protagonist first meets the Sundial Brigade. He slipped into a political debate surprisingly quickly, although I suppose the story needed to proceed.

  5. Lance says:

    Steve, bravo!
    Thanks for publishing this story! It was good in print, but better in audio format!

  6. Bright Lies says:

    This story made me want to commit acts of terrorism.

    Just kidding… I agree with Veronica’s comments about the space this story created which seemed to realistically extend beyond the known (or at least the given), something that isn’t as common as one might think in SF stories.

    I also agree with Robin Sure’s comment about punishing people with ‘bad traits’. An interesting and unexpected element… Though, I certainly wouldn’t mind being ‘punished’ with many of those traits.

    By the end of the story, I felt like I should have seen it coming with crystal clarity, but simply didn’t. Somehow I found that fully satisfying. The appropriate and predictable, yet critically unexpected ending to this weeks story story left me grinning to myself while listening at work. 🙂

  7. j00 says:

    Excelent story, I throughly enjoyed it. I found the reversal of mental roles refreshing.

  8. Pierson's Pupeteer says:

    First time dropping a comment on this site, I had really never felt a need to until now. I just wanted to express the sheer joy of listening to this story. It felt like a huge throwback to the golden age of science fiction where it was more about big ideas in contrast to todays almost overwhelming array of speculative fiction. I love it but every now and again I want to hear a story about bombs that open up portals to gas giants and the planet earth functioning as a museum. Great story I hope to hear more like it. Oh and just a nod to the author for being able to solidly construct a new different terrifying world in short format, really impressive.

  9. iris says:


    any chance we could get more from Glorifying Terrorism?

  10. David says:

    I couldn’t get past the first 3 minutes of this podcast. Read by a prominent BD/SM podcaster? BD/SM is a self-destructive illness posing as sexual liberation. There’s no health in it. I’ve been listening to Escape Pod for a long time because I love a good SF story, but I’m sad to say I don’t have the stomach for this podcast any longer. Too many disturbing sexual tangents of late. Steve, since you have offered some personal details on the podcast, I have come to care about you and must say that I worry for you and your family. I may get jumped on for this post… so be it… it’s my honest feedback.

  11. SFEley says:

    Thanks for your opinion, David. Sorry you never made it as far as the story.

  12. Wyrd says:

    The story was pretty good. But what I really liked was George Hrab’s song at the end. Yay, George Hrab. 🙂

  13. Link0 says:

    A wonderful addition to the archives. I can say this was my new favorite replacing impossible dreams. Challenging preceptions and breaking down taboos is what good fiction and in particular Sci-Fi is all about. Socrates once said,”The unexamined life is not worth living”. Love this story or hate it, I commend all those that listened and thought. Thank you Steve for challenging your listeners and our perceptions.

  14. Good story, good reading. I t left me wondering why the techie people were so weird, though.

    Regarding David’s comment: I’ve personally never felt the need to consider whether I would be sexually compatible with the people who read on Escape Pod. Hmm… Wichita Rutherford?

    Anyway, I’m sure that nobody is going to hunt down David and force him to participate in any sexual behaviour he doesn’t like. Even if he does listen to podcasts read by evil people.

  15. Jim says:

    Disturbing sexual tangents? Oh, puh-leeeeze.

    Turn on your TV, man; there’s more sexual deviancy in one night of regular network programming than there’s been in all of Escape Pod combined.

  16. Jim, again says:

    On second thought, I’m just as outraged as Dave is.

    There’s deviant sexuality being talked about on Escape Pod, and I find it unacceptable that none of it is happening to me personally.

  17. Alasdair says:

    One of the best stories to date. It managed to communicate the impotent rage of the main characters, as well as the wider point that the anthology was aiming for, without once resorting to preaching.

    This is something SF needs more of. A lot more. Because then, people might actually start paying attention.

  18. chaoservices says:

    Hey, I couldn’t find any info about this in the podcast until I realized that I hadn’t heard it on escape pod but at the same time on NPR! What a coincidence. Anyways this film is probably illegal in the UK: http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0719,hoberman,76577,20.html

  19. Simon says:

    Very good story. I was left irked by the bomb though, liquid hydrogen although hot at the center of a gas giant would be very different in a low pressure environment. I would expect it to cause a huge explosion then absorb all the heat from the environment freezing everything instantaneously (or near to). But I did love the tale and the multiple illusions it used.

  20. Dave (aka Nev the Deranged) says:

    The editing on this one was a little sketchy, but the story was hardcore. Another good choice, Steve. I don’t care for BDMS either, but frankly, if someone’s a good reader, I don’t even care if they’re tied up while they read. As long as they aren’t gagged, obviously. Keep ’em coming! (err, the stories, that is).

  21. Dave (aka Nev the Deranged) says:

    Er, I meant BDSM, my fingers just slipped. Not that it really matters, but I hate typos.

  22. Icepick says:

    I agree with most of the commenters, this is probably the best story I’ve heard in quite some time. Really, it is the genre at its best.

    It does, however, cause me to be very distressed. With landmark stories like this one, 1984, V for Vendetta,… how is it we still end up with leaders like we have and legislation like the Patriot Act and the UK Terrorism Act? Haven’t we learned anything?

  23. Wolf-in-cheep-clothing says:

    This was good and I agree with Icepick. We let them win when we blidn ourselfs with fear. There is nothing we can do about people who are aimed to hurt us. Be it a government, a religion, or individuals. More people die from Drunk drivers then anything else.
    To qoute Rod Serling: “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record: prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own, for the children and the children yet unborn.” from The Mosters are coming to maple street

    “A sickness known as hate; not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ, but a sickness nonetheless; highly contagious, deadly in its effects. Don’t look for it in the Twilight Zone. Look for it in a mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether.” From “I am the night, color me black

  24. Kay says:

    Having recently moved to Munich for work I found this piece particularly interesting because the local love for over-aged traditions and so many other things retro gives you just the creepily right background to listen to a story about a preserved museum city.

  25. […] Terrorist Thought On Escape Pod (the world’s best science fiction podcast) I found the following highly improbable tale: the […]

  26. […] James Trimarco’s story “The Sundial Brigade” is now up on Escape Pod. […]