EP130: What We Learned From This Morning’s Newspaper

By Robert Silverberg
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in Unfamiliar Territory, 1973.

I got home from the office as usual at 6:47 this evening and discovered that our peaceful street has been in some sort of crazy uproar all day. The newsboy it seems came by today and delivered the New York Times for Wednesday December 1 to every house on Redbud Crescent. Since today is Monday November 22 it follows therefore that Wednesday December 1 is the middle of next week. I said to my wife are you sure that this really happened? Because I looked at the newspaper myself before I went off to work this morning and it seemed quite all right to me.

At breakfast time the newspaper could be printed in Albanian and it would seem quite all right to you my wife replied. Here look at this. And she took the newspaper from the hall closet and handed it all folded up to me. It looked just like any other edition of the New York Times but I saw what I had failed to notice at breakfast time, that it said Wednesday December 1.

Is today the 22nd of November I asked? Monday?

It certainly is my wife told me. Yesterday was Sunday and tomorrow is going to be Tuesday and we haven’t even come to Thanksgiving yet. Bill what are we going to do about this?

Rated G. It’s slightly safer to listen to than the New York Times.

Comments (22)

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  1. Lizz says:

    This was a predictable, yet not, story. I knew something was going to happen to these people. OBVIOUSLY, otherwise there wouldn’t be a story. But, I kept expecting the “Injured In Bank Robbery” people to be the neighborhood residents, you know, they make out pretty good on the stocks & sports, then go to get their money and BAM! Karma slaps them in the face.

    The ending in the story was better. It just goes to show that you can change the future, but you just might not be there to experience it. I just kind of wonder if the rest of the world actually disappeared, or if the residents of Redbud Crescent were the ones that disappeared?

  2. Martin R says:

    Haha, Steve, I was wondering why you had this funny lilting smurfy tone to your voice at the beginning of the reading. It was weirdly familiar and I wondered where I had heard you use it before. Then I reached the outro comments and I remembered — the Poly Weekly episode you co-hosted with Minx!

    People, you gotta hear this episode, it’s a document of the Eley in heat!

  3. Me says:

    What happened to the old comments for this episode?

    ooh. are they starting to fade away?

  4. Sciency says:

    Everything goes to gray!?! The cliffhanger plot device is tired and way over-used in sci-fi. What’s wrong with coming to some resolution or at a minimum two possible endings, not just leave it completely open.

  5. Sharga says:

    That’s why I don’t read the newspaper. It’s far too susceptible to the ever increasing instability of the space-time continuum. Not that the internet’s much better. And shouldn’t everything turn a sort of cosmic latte color (aka the color of the universe) rather than just plain old gray?
    All in all this story was interesting but didn’t seem to have any point.

    -Aaron Lambert

  6. Lungdoc says:

    reminds me of an episode of “Twilight Zone”—–the original

  7. Julio Tijuana says:

    Mr. Eley you are the greatest, but I must say this story really looks like a “shaggy dog” story to me.

    From Wikipedia:

    “A shaggy-dog story may not have a pun at all; the humor (if any) is then derived from the fact that the joke-teller held the attention of the listeners for a long time [..] for no reason at all”

    Keep up the good work.
    I love EscapePod!


  8. wonman says:

    I still like “Impossible Dreams” & “{Now + n, Now – n}”
    Call me hopeless romantic …

  9. Josh says:

    Pretty dull, really. This story might’ve been more interesting if it didn’t have quite so many lists of imaginary stock prices.

  10. Pouk says:

    I agree with most of the comments here. It didn’t really seem to have a point. The conclusion wasn’t very satisfying. It wasn’t particularly clever.

    However, the story reminded me of an episode of The Outer Limits, or Twilight Zone – also, The Langoliers — and that was fun. 🙂

    So, while it may not be a killer piece of fiction, I liked listening to it — and ultimately, that’s all I’m really looking for.


  11. Noliana says:

    This reminded me of the TV show “Early Edition” only. . . .in that case it was used for good and not selfish reasons.

    I don’t think the story elaborated on what happened to the other people who had early editions. :tries to remember more than a week back:

    What if they didn’t all get trapped? What about the family who went to see the sister who was going to die?

    If I ever get a paper that’s early, I’m going to shred it and recycle it before it can bring it’s curse on me.

  12. Isn’t buying up stock shares to change the future as well? The characters complained that trying to save Edith’s sister will change the future, but they bought many shares that they wouldn’t have normally. I’d call that changing the future.

    Anyway, I didn’t like the story. It was predictable and the ending just didn’t do it for me.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This one didn’t quite do it for me either. In part because the notion of “entropic creep” pretty much came out of nowhere; in part because the ending didn’t really go anywhere unexpected or new; and in part because the characters in general, and the female characters especially, read a bit like cardboard cutouts.

    I also do find I’m kind of missing having my fantasy and science fiction mixed together, which I’m not sure I expected. But part of the fun was knowing the stories would be all over the map, and that if one week’s story didn’t work for me, the next would be very different. The stories still are different from one another to some extent, of course, just … not as different. And so the feel is different, somehow.

  14. zard says:

    This reminds me of EP093: {Now + n, Now – n}. Not bad, but not brilliant.

    Also, as this is my first post here, hello.

  15. Dave (aka Nev the Deranged) says:

    Criminy. Even the legends of the genre aren’t immune from Nonendingitis.

    You know, if the stories were crappy, I wouldn’t even care.

    It’s the ones that seem to be going somewhere and then show up DOA that kill me.

    Dammit, Steve, buy some stories that END, fer crissakes.

    And otherwise, keep up the good work.

  16. Scott says:

    I think it ended just fine and more than a little creepily. The folks that bought stocks were too greedy and arrogant to think that what they were doing might have bigger repercussions and they paid for that greed with oblivion. Granted it wasn’t rockem sockem and it was no Reggie vs. Kaiju Storm Chimera Wolf but I enjoyed it.

  17. Vance M. says:

    Interesting story…crappy ending. I kinda felt like I waisted my time listening to that one (though of course listening to EscapePod itself is never a waste of time ; )

    -Vance M. Virginia, USA

  18. Sherry says:

    So…I just listened to this story earlier this week. I don’t have a newspaper subscription, but several papers have been delivered to me over the past month or so. The scary thing is – and I am seriously not kidding about this – I got this Sunday’s paper on Saturday. I didn’t even realize it until I was telling my mom “Oh I read that in the paper yesterday” and she said “but it wasn’t in the paper ’til today” I checked the paper I read yesterday and sure enough, it says Sunday!

  19. Great ending.
    The story was a little bland, I heard lots of better future stories. .

  20. scatterbrain says:

    For all those stock results…a bollocks ending.

  21. Steph says:

    Liked this one until the end. I wanted answers, closure, a conclusion, an explanation, something to happen, not just “everything’s gray?” . . .

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