EP144: Friction

By Will McIntosh.
Read by Stephen Eley.

First appeared in Albedo One #30.

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All stories by Will McIntosh.
All stories read by Steve Eley.
Closing music: “Blue Genes” by George Hrab.

Gruen was on the sixty-first master, and while his wisdom had
grown steadily, he had worn very little. He was incredibly
well-preserved–the palms of his three-fingered hands still sported the
deep, swirling ridges that had worn to nothing in most people before
they’d lived thirty years. Indeed, all of the myriad folds and ridges
in his thick maroon skin were for the most part intact. His eyes were
still housed in tight sockets, surrounded by thickly-ridged cheeks.
Besides the feet, the eyes were the greatest point of weakness for those
who aspired to read the works of the masters. Ceaseless up-and-down eye
movement caused the sockets to wear out, and eventually the reader’s
eyes fell out. At that point they were forced to trace the carved words
with their fingers. Friction quickly took its toll on the hands;
readers rarely made it through one master’s teachings this way before
their hands were ground to the wrist, and they were finished.

Rated PG.

Referenced Sites:

Nawashi, a podcast novel by Graydancer

Comments (60)

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  1. The Office Troll says:

    Absolutely amazing. I have made copies of this for many friends who do not subscribe & they have all appreciated it greatly.

  2. Pops says:

    Pretty good. Thank you.

  3. David Phillip Oster says:

    “What happens if you don’t finish?”

    “I’m stumped.”

  4. Gaudio says:

    David Phillip Oster’s post = rofl!

  5. [...] June 2, 2008 Listen to it at Escape Pod. [...]

  6. Brent says:

    Excellent story! The thing I like best about it is the sheer number of interesting ideas you get out of it. The setting draws you in but it the story has a real philosophical side that you can take many different paths down. This reminds me of the great Sci-Fi novels I have read that not only tell a compelling narrative but also raise philosophical insights that are relevant regardless of the setting and era.

  7. [...] fiction podcasts. Very useful when hands are otherwise occupied. The following caught my ear, Friction, by Will McIntosh, a beautifully imagined and carefully paced short [...]

  8. [...] “Friction” by Will McIntosh (read by Stephen Eley), an alien priest spends his whole life reading [...]

  9. [...] September 2008) was both entertaining and thought provoking, and his profound, finely crafted “Friction” (heard over at Escape Pod) is one of my favorite SF stories ever. In “Bridesicle,” he [...]

  10. [...] story is Friction by Will McIntosh and you can hear it read by Stephen Eley as part of the Escape Pod [...]