EP148: Homecoming at the Borderlands Café

By Carole McDonnell.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in Jigsaw Nation, ed. Edward J. McFadden III and E. Sedia.

We don’t see a lot of mixed couples around here, and we’re not like some of the other states in the Confederate United Republic. It’s not like they’re gonna get killed or lynched or nothing. But it’s tough just the same. And although it’s weird enough that they’re an interracial couple, it seems to me that they’re arguing about something bigger than merely coming into this café.

I don’t know any Blacks. You got to go to Laramie, or Cheyenne to see them. But I watch Cosby when it’s on. The Confederacy ain’t as bad as the folks in Columbia might think. Sure everyone’s segregated, but it’s all equal and the Platte County school district is pretty good about African-American History Month.

Rated PG. Contains heavy racial and political themes.

Referenced Sites:
Decoder Ring Theatre

Comments (86)

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  1. Jake Grey says:

    Very resonant with me, this one. I am an atheist, but I have several Christian friends, and sometimes I find it hard to cope with their apparently unshakeable belief in what I see as out-and-out fairytales; I don’t doubt they find my beliefs a little hard to cope with as well, but since we’re all reasonable people -who seem to be an endangered species these days- we generally rub along somehow. I was also reminded rather painfully of my relationship with my own family, from whom I became estranged at least partly due to my relationship with a US citizen.
    For all that, I can’t say I really liked the story all that much. The characters and setting felt rather clichéd, the newsflash scene was both contrived and unnecessary, and the moral message was unsubtle to the point of being preachy.

    PS: Don’t feel bad about the accent. I thought Wyoming was somewhere in Australia anyway.

  2. j. perez says:

    Homecoming at the Borderlands Café is, probably one of top stories that I have listened to since I started my podcast subscription to Escapepod. While I at first felt anger and frustration at the situation, the story then made me proud the stance the main character took at the end. In today’s society racism has changed from outright persecution, to a quieter indirect version, much like the older ones mentioned in the story that chose to ignore the situation. I can identify with being the only person that is different in a crowd of similarity, growing up in a small mining town in Virginia and being half white and Mexican American had its come around difficulties (in which my smaller/younger brother took the brunt of any racist comments). I did like the way the author tied the different people together, that even though they judged each other on what was on the outside, they still held a common ground in which they both could identify with. I felt it was a great story that I will keep for sometime. The only other comment that I would have is this; a son or daughters love for their mother or father can only cover over their faults to a degree, it is when this limit is reached that the child has to stand for what is right even if that means hurting the parents feelings or beliefs.

    (keep up the great work, and from what i have seen in kevin costner westerns the main character has a california accent so i wouldn’t worry to much)
    thank you,

  3. Teaist82 says:

    This was a really great story! I particularly enjoyed that it was introduced as “social science fiction,” which is something I’ve never seen before. I also liked the small seed of optimism that was planted by the main character’s transendance of the social rules with which he was indoctrinated. The only complaint I have is that the whole premise of the story…that so-called red and blue states are separated and left to evolve to their extreme conclusions…can sometimes have the effect of reinforcing the damaging and negative perceptions secular liberals and christian conservatives have of each other. In fact we must take comfort in the belief that neither group is so destructive, and, as the story suggests, that our similarity and humanity will overcome the forces that divide us.

  4. me says:

    We’ve had three helpings of turnips… can we please have a fun story now?

  5. andrea says:

    I found this story depressing, even the insight of the main character seemed to indicate his future would be a miserable struggle with suppression and prejudice and sporadic outbursts of violence. Perhaps that’s because I’m a Brit, grew up in the era of “The Troubles”, in Northern Ireland, and now live in Canada. Separation is rarely neat and painless. A mob approaches with flaming torches? Hasn’t American been there already? We never hear anything really positive from the protagonist about his girl from the Reservation, his rebellion appears to be feeble adolescent stuff.

  6. sideshow_mel says:

    Interesting that the author (apparently an African-American woman) seems to try to be even-handed with the racists, presenting them as having a potential for good… while the “liberals” are cartoonishly evil: Atheists, liberals, and gays will take your baby if they even suspect you believe in God.

    I saw this as a Christian-right polemic, written at maybe a high-school level of competence, using cheap sympathies for oppressed people (and presenting Christians as the most-oppressed) to deliver an unsubtle swipe at those who don’t agree with the Christian right.

    If I’m overreacting to a subtext, I’m sorry, but the American-Christians-as-victims meme (e.g. “The War on Christmas”) really rubs me the wrong way. For a group that has dominated U.S. society for the entire history of the nation to play the victim card feels like the bottomless self-pity of a spoiled adolescent. I just wish the Christians would act less like Pat Robertson and more like, uh, Christ.

    P.S. Sorry for my first comment to be a negative one. Steve, I am a huge fan of the podcast. You do excellent work, this was just a story that didn’t work for me.

  7. Karina says:

    This story makes me want to shoot myself in the head. And then sweep-kick the author in her smug legs. If that were in any way possible. Quelle horreur! Get over yourself, lady.

  8. Zippy says:

    Huzzah! Someone else saw the soapbox as well.
    I listened to the story and though it average at best, but then mulling over it briefly I realized what the author was trying to tell me.
    We should all get along, liberal goverments hate conservative christians and gay ministers hate the bible.
    I don’t mind a little political commentary, but I listen to Escape Pod for the science fiction not to hear some damn fool jumping up and down on their soapbox. To add insult to injury it wasn’t even science fiction, at best it was alternative history and not very good at that either.

  9. Robin Sure says:

    I think I’ve reached a worrying point. I can no longer tell parody from straight insanity. I can understand the former, whereas the latter escapes me. If this is completely serious, I consider it to frankly be terrible, nothing but twenty minutes of a child singing ‘I’m more tolerant than you-ou, I’m more tolerant than you-ou’. If it’s parody, it needs to be a little more obvious, and needs to be a little lighter. I suppose making me think is always good, but this story wouldn’t let me think in any particular direction.

  10. mrgoldenbrown says:

    This story left me wholly unsatisfied.

    First, the setting of a divided US is completely superfluous – this exact story (racist parents disapproving of non-racist children’s behavior)is happening all over the country right now, not to mention all over the world, now and in the past.

    Second, the story itself was pretty shallow. “Racism is bad, and after seeing someone else stand up for himself, our hero realizes he can stand up for himself as well.” What might be interesting to explore instead is what is going on in the mind of the Christian racist mother? What combination of indoctrination and life experiences combine to allow someone to hold such contradictory mindsets?

    Third, I was annoyed by the “christians as oppressed minority” meme. Give me a break. Congress had its first declared atheist declare himself just last year.

  11. secretagent says:

    This story blows. If I want to listen to whiny, self-righteous Christian grandstanding, I’ll turn on Fox News. I have higher expectations from Escape Pod.

    Frankly, I’m surprised this one got past Steve’s filter.

  12. Ogremarco says:

    The reading was quite good, and the author’s use of language was authentic and well-styled.

    Otherwise I truly disliked it.

  13. Put a fork in Escape Pod, it’s done. Steve put a wingnut mastabatory fantasy into the feed so that everyone would leave quickly.

    At least it was a real voice, and not the usual “I just stuck a pen up my nose” faux pretentious reading we usually get.

  14. Ogremarco says:

    I’m going to expound on my above comment, because it’s silly to just say nay and not explain.

    The story is meant to show us our hypocrasy. The liberal readers are expected to nod along with the concept of re-segregation and make shocked infuriated noises about the misconceptions about liberal bias and bigotry towards religion, and the conservative readers are meant to nod along at the concept of liberal idealogical facism and be burned up at the concept that anyone could believe that there would be lynching like that.

    It’s emotional blackmail, a sham a bamboozle.

    I don’t care for that kind of thing at all, but i especially don’t care for it when a rather dense fellow like myself a can suss it out as easily as I did.

    To quote Admiral Akbar, “It’s a trap!”

  15. Gregor Samsa says:

    This stinker does not deserve the time I wasted on it. More whiney paranoia by whigged out Xtians. This is just so much propaganda. I realize that putting together a podcast on a set schedule is difficult but I would prefer silence to this sort of mind warping.

  16. Me says:

    At first I thought it was just that this story wasn’t really ‘sci-fi’ that put me off.

    But even if it had been in-genre the story isn’t that great – I didn’t believe the main character, either the way he thought and acted OR that he could have had such a quick and painless change of heart.

    An interesting premise, but not handled well.

  17. Steve says:

    I thought that the story was bold for taking on large themes and trying to incorporate them into a small, intimate setting. I love stories that can look at a big picture in a “small” story. I believe it meant well, but I also think that the story fell short of achieving its goal.
    The characters and situations seemed simplistic, and almost every character in the story could be seen as “good” or “evil.” I would have enjoyed it more if the characters had been fleshed-out more.
    Another thing that bothered me was the ending. In a story that takes aim at the ills of a society, even a made-up one, and then come to such a pointed ending seems a little hollow to me. I think that a little ambiguity and uncertainty would have taken some what other readers perceived as “piousness” out of the story.

  18. Thanks, Steve, for putting up the story. I found out about it this morning and was sooo excited! I’m very appreciative. Thanks to all who like it. I DO think I tried to make all sides both good and bad. The Christians are shown as both pretty bad and oppressive –to the point of lynching– and also as decent people. The liberals are shown as good and bad also. They certainly don’t lynch people. I don’t know if it’s a perfect story, but I know i did my best to try to show that very few people follow any kind of party-line. And that was the main aim of the story. Thanks to all. -Carole

  19. MadJo says:

    at first I didn’t know what to make of this story. I was kinda afraid of another depressing story, and for a time it felt like that. But the ending made it all better…

    BTW, that storyline is a scary twist on history, and could be applied to current day events, though now less so with white and black. But more with Christians and Muslims. And that’s NOT limited to the US alone.

  20. Wes says:

    I like the tension in the beginning of the story. You want to know if the main character knows the man.
    I like this: “robbers, stealing their comfort”
    She brings up an example of issues that shouldn’t be issues. For example, when the main character wants to get up, but doesn’t want his intentions to be misinterpreted as being racist. This reader/listener wants to know who Nona is. So I continue to listen.
    Columbia is cracking down on conservative Christians. I like how the author shows the weaknesses of conservative and liberal Christians.
    I find out that Nona must be Indian when the main character talks about his mother and the reservation. Then near the end of the story the main character tells us that Nona is an Indian. There is also a character change. The main character finally gets the courage to go talk to Brad. And all of the Cafe’s customers are not as racist as he’d thought. It’s a good story with Christian and racial themes.

  21. Void Munashii says:

    The reading was excellent (I wouldn’t know an authentic Wyoming accent if it hit me upside the head, so if you had not said anything I wouldn’t have even though about it), but that is the last thing I can say good about this story.

    I really wanted to like this story, as I do enjoy a good alternate history (or future, as this story should more accurately be called) type of story, but I just couldn’t. The story just did not engage me, I kept waiting for things to get going, but they never did.

    This story did make me think though. I wanted to figure out why I did not like it. Part of the problem was that someone kept talking to me while I was trying to listen (they had stopped listening very early), and a big part of it was the assertion that liberals, if allowed full control, would not only take children away from anyone who did not think exactly like them, but that they would outlaw Christianity. What a load of crap!

    Aside from my own personal prejudices though, the author failed to show me what the characters were feeling, and told me instead. She spent a large part of the story telling me about the world she was creating instead of showing it me. The world in which her characters live sounds like an interesting one, even if it is based on unrealistically over the top stereotypes, but she completely failed to make me care about the cartoonishly two dimensional characters in it.

    I would be incredibly hard pressed to pick a favourite episode of EP, but I can easily say this is my least favourite. On the bright side, this story made “Pressure” seem like a much better story than I thought it was a week ago.

  22. Marian says:

    Umm, Margaret Atwood and Suzy McKee Charnas had an entire novel to convince us that women could be made into breeding stock. This story suffers because of its length. She hasn’t convinced me that a liberal society that insists that Christianly co-exist with other faiths would start persecuting Christians merely because they are Christian. Even Rome did not start persecuting Christians until they began flaunting Roman law, ie. worshiping the emperor. Perhaps the story might be helped by saying that this couple did the equivalent, like insulting the gay minister. They need to have some faults.

    I do like the conflict that they will face in the new society. She does allow for the pain of compromise there. Both couples will be practicing their faith in a society that does not accept their union. That’s the sort of painful compromise that everyone knows.

  23. Vance M. says:

    I cringed when I heard the premise of this story and had an idea of where it was going. I’m African American and personally I listen to Science Fictiion and Fantasy as a form of escapism. I like stories of hope, strangeness and wonder that are packed with new ideas and concepts. Whenever I hear or read a Sci-Fi story that involves or covers difficult race relations, I groan.

    The story was depressing and no real solution given to the problem, just as there is no real solution to ignorance, hatred and racism in the real world. Human beings are evil little things that judge one another harshly, hate whats different from them (be it race or religion), fear what they don’t understand, and seem to destroy just about everything else (the oceans the environment, the air and each other)

    I for one look forward to our android overlords.

    (And I agree its time for a fun story on Escape Pod.)

  24. Greg Banks says:

    I think the “flaw” if there actually is one here, is only that the world alluded to hear begs to be developed into a larger piece where the author could more fully realize this frightening new world.

    Otherwise I think it’s a great piece addressing issues that I feel Speculative Fiction is meant to deal with, allowing us to see the social issues of our world by looking at them from a different and perhaps less personal perspective.

    It’s also great to just see racial diversity in the works published here, because we don’t get that sort of diversity of cultures and points of view often enough in the Speculative Fiction world.

  25. That was a funny coicidence, Stephen… regarding the Wyoming caucus I mean. While I hope the boy managed to take his brothers car and marry his girlfriend against all odds… I really did not like that story.

  26. Max says:

    Oh Pa Leeese!

  27. L33tminion says:

    Towards the middle of this story, I thought it was meh, but the end was all right. Still, not my favorite.

  28. Ryan says:

    Add my voice to the number who judged this to be a terrible story. So little to redeem it that I infer it was an affirmative action selection. (Didn’t Steve talk about the need for more minority writers a month or two ago in an intro?). Little imagination in the story. Characters serving as representations of political views and nothing more. Setting–a diner–unremarkable. No action. Ugh.

  29. Jerome says:

    I think it’s particularly hard to write a story with race as its primary subject without offending or in someway putting people off. The fact is, some people just don’t like to think about it. On the other side of that coin, some people can’t forget it. I think Steve’s points in the introduction were right on the money.

    I applaud Ms. McDonnell for attacking this subject, especially in this genre. This AU seemed disturbingly realistic.

  30. Dan the Man says:

    This story hit on a number of points for me. For one, I’ve been trying to increase the diversity of the authors I’ve been reading (just started “Beloved.”) and this episode created what I like to think of as “bibliosynchronicity.” This is when you’re reading one story while listening to another (i.e. audiobooks, though not simultaneously while reading) and although they seem unrelated going in, they end up having a great deal of overlap and the two books/stories enhance each other.
    I must also echo the sentiments that the attempt at portraying the liberal left was a bit ham-handed. At the very least, gay ministers don’t hate the Bible, they’re just afraid of what you’re going to do with it!
    Finally, politics aside (if that’s at all possible with a story like this) the story hit home for me as half of a mixed couple. I enjoy small towns, small diners, greasy spoons, etc., and it’s entirely different experience going into small establishments as a mixed family with mixed kids. This story to me was more of an exaggeration of the present than a prediction of the future. There are microcosms of today’s world that are exactly like the locations in the story. This was more about the USA than about the Confederate whatever it was called the same way “1984” was more about 1948 than 1984 (though the stories differ vastly in both scope and quality). I doubt I’m the only race-mixer who was nodding his/her head in recognition at many parts of the story.

  31. Dan the Man says:

    P.S. “Race-Mixer” is like the “N” word. If you’re not one, you don’t get to say it. 🙂 j/k.

  32. melopoiea says:

    I’ve read another story by Ms. McDonnell, “Lingua Franca”, in the collection So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy, and loved it to bits for its vivid setting and interesting main character, whatever its flaws. But “Homecoming at the Borderlands Cafe” just doesn’t have the strength of that other piece for me, and its not just the unappetizing (and unconvincing) “Christian victim” trope either. Full disclosure, I’m liberal (or perhaps a radical….I’m not sure where the line falls) and I’m not a Christian, although I am a person who subscribes to a specific organized religion which I’m working on converting to at the moment. But the thing that broke this story for me, besides the unrealistic setting (the south would never succeed in breaking away nowadays) was the unbelievably wimpy main character, as well as the unbearably slow opening. I know I was supposed to learn something from hearing the point of view of the racist family members of the protagonist, but I really didn’t. They just sounded dumb; I couldn’t understand them, even when they were presented in a way that encouraged me to try.

    I’m ok with losing the futuristic trappings; frankly I’m a person who really loves socially aware sf, and like to read stories written from a diversity of perspectives–straight white boys+shiny toys gets kinda tired after a while. Part of the reason I like Escape Pod is because its more than that.

    I think this was a worthwhile attempt by both the author and Mr. Eley, but I didn’t like it.

    Try again, please? I really mean it. Egads, if we got “Lingua Franca” on here the forums would light up for a MONTH.

  33. Peter says:

    What’s that old adage: show don’t tell. The best parts of this story were the opening lines, the picture that was evoked of the car, the snow, a couple resisting each other’s desires.

    Then it all went downhill and, rather than present complex and interesting characters, the story relies on stereotypes, cliches, and a fatuous divide between liberalism and religion that demonstrates no real understanding of the historical or contemporary intersections between the two.

  34. SFEley says:

    Just a reminder, folks: our episodes are fair game, and any positive or negative comments you care to make about them are fine. But we draw the line at insulting people. I’ve had to remove a couple of comments for disparaging other listeners. Keep it civil, or at least keep it about the story.

  35. Robert says:

    This story touched me deeply, I was the black chick.

  36. ComputerKing says:

    Sorry, I can’t like this one.
    I mean, what, am I supposed to say, “Hey, it’s Racist Whites versus intolerant Atheist-nazis, hooray”?
    I feel a little sorry for the author, she gives the impression that she has been kicked around a little more than most, by both Whites and Non-christians.

  37. Void Munashii says:

    Puts on his spectacles and Freud beard. Strokes beard thoughtfully

    Very interesting, Robert. Please, explain further.

  38. Ari B. says:

    I’m not sure whether or not I liked this story. The characters were awfully flat, but the setting seemed interesting, and I’d love to see it fleshed out further.

    Also, Steve, I’d love to see the Alternate-USA atlas that your professor wrote. Is it online anywhere?

  39. I enjoyed the story. Not bad to be able to write something interesting about people sitting around a diner and looking out the windows. If I had written it, the New York Nazis would of course have been Conservative Christians instead of “Liberals” (haha), but to each their own.

    I’m thinking we’re seeing the story’s world at a point of transition. As the author says, the grandparents are pretty tolerant and the parents are intolerant. The story shows us that the young people have just started marrying across the colour line again.

  40. […] story published in the most recent Escape Pod (a science fiction story publisher) called Homecoming at the Borderlands Café is about a half hour long and extremely interesting to listen […]

  41. Don F. says:

    A… provocative story, to say the least. I was a little turned off by the “Christians as victims” theme, which I find distasteful in North America’s Christian dominant society.
    However, there were parts of the story I found interesting that helped it to become more relevant to me. The story did a good job of showing the ridiculousness of religious extremism. Very few American’s identify to the extreme left or right, but the ones that do always get the most attention. The average person usually lies somewhere in the middle, maybe leaning a little left or right, but usually far from the edge. I felt for the protagonist because he, like most people, doesn’t fit into a specific ideology. He doesn’t belong in either world, and for that he is hated by both.

  42. Stumo says:

    I liked this one actually, quite thought provoking, and reminded me of a similar situation I went through, although not to the same extremes.

    Possibly my perspective is different as I’m an outsider – I’m from the UK, and from what I can tell, here religion is generally far less of an issue than it is in the US. (That’s purely based on what little I’ve read on the net etc. and may be an incorrect perception, please don’t flame me for it).

    Also, sometimes it’s nice to have a story that makes you uncomfortable – you then examine what makes you uncomfortable and sometimes learn a bit more about your prejudices. As an atheist myself, it’s made me think a bit more about how I interact with Christian friends. That’s no bad thing.

  43. Brandon says:

    If I were to give the story a grade, I’d give it a B+

    I liked it. I also enjoyed the issues the story brought up. It’s been great reading all the comments and the various reactions.

    I’m going to have to get my hands on more of Carole’s fiction.

  44. Hi All
    Thanks for listening to my story.

    I’ve noticed that Christians and conservatives seem to think this story is anti-Christian. At the same time, liberals think I’m being anti-liberal. If you read the posts, one poster will call me a christian conservative apologist writing a preachy sermon about how Christians suffer…and then another one will call me a liberal who hates Christians.

    To me, the story is about the inability to fit perfectly into any agenda. The people in the story –those in the Collumbia and those in the confederacy want to believe that people fit neatly into one cookie cutter socio-political package. They fail because love and life will not allow those who truly love or truly feel to be a perfect cookie-cutter representation of a political agenda. The main character knows what he should believe but in his world he has no real allies. It’s only when he sees someone who mirrors his own situation that he realizes there are others like him…and that the game the nation has been playing (everyone is either red state or blue state) just cannot continue any longer.

    As I said, some people think I am picking on Christians or conservatives and others think I’m picking on liberals. This shows that when we listen to a story we pick and choose who to “side” with, who to defend, and to see if the stand-in for our position in the story is being picked on. Everyone in the story is extreme because they themselves have made themselves extreme. It seems pretty much that –characters and listeners of the story — don’t see the oppression of the other, only the oppression of those who are like themselves or those they champion. Which shows how self-involved we are and our this habit we have of labelling ourselves leads to.

    The story is about the inability to squeeze one’s self into a label. All the characters are bad and blaming, not just the conservatives, not just the liberals.

    On a personal level, I’ve been slammed by both conservatives and by liberals…so I have no real alignment with either side. But we have gotten so extreme in our self-labeling that folks in the middle are often seen as “not being on my side.” I’m Christian and conservative and also liberal. My essay on the problem with self-labeling appears in Nobody Passes: Rejecting the rules of gender and identity, a book edited by an ebuddy Mattilda/Matt Bernstein. So I am not anti-gay. Nor am I anti-liberal. I also have many conservative beliefs.

    So, my story judges the listener; it doesn’t really tell what I am or what I believe in.

    Thank you so much for discussing it.

  45. foshizzle says:

    IMHO, the concept was really good; however, the setting seemed cliché and I didn’t have any feelings one way or the other for any of the characters. I think the story could have had more depth with more action and details about the characters. ~It was unnecessary for the liberal minister to be pointed out as gay, but then again most Christians were racists in the story.

  46. Josh says:

    There was real potential here. Yeah, the premise isn’t the most original, but it’s still an interesting one. And I really wanted to like this story – race is an issue addressed far too seldom in science fiction. Black science fiction writers like Samuel R. Delany have tackled the issue admirably, but otherwise, the genre’s treatment of race leaves a lot of be desired.

    But the author lost me by apparently positing that New Yorkers and atheists are actually as bad, if not worse, than the most hateful of Klansmen. I’m sorry, but that’s nonsense. There are centuries of history of racial oppression and violence in this country, from slavery to Jim Crow to lynchings. For all the protestations of the Christian Right, the alleged sufferings of Bible Believin’ Christians pale in comparison – usually they consist of the crime of acknowledging that December holds more holidays than Christmas, or being made fun of for not believing in evolution. And yet this story, while set in a racist society, goes out of its way to attack New Yorkers and atheists as baby stealing Jesus haters. Apparently, in the author’s mind, we’re all the love children of Richard Dawkins and Adolf Hitler.

    I’m relieved to read the comments and see I’m not the only one who saw this subtext to the story.

  47. Void Munashii says:


    I, for one, appreciate you responding to all of our comments, but I take a couple of issues with what you said.

    You seem to put up a blockade, both in your story and in your comments, between liberals and Christianity. I am both a liberal, and a beleiver in Christ, and this is why I found your depiction of liberals to be a bit on the vile side. It was this that put the final nail into this story’s coffin for me.

    You comment that the Christians and Conservatives and the (apparently Godless?) liberals accuse you of being the opposite. That may be true elsewhere, but I am not really seeing that in the discussions here. I went over the comments again, and the best that I saw was a couple of people accusing you of baiting both sides at the same time. I’ll admit that i may have missed the comments you are reffering to, but the opinion seems to put you largely on the conservative side of things.

    I suspect that you really were trying to be fair in your story, and maybe if it had been set on the Columbia side it would have painted the Confederates in even harsher tones, but it wasn’t and it didn’t.

    I liked the ideas in your story, but they probably need a bigger tale to truly do them justice. I just urge you to realize that there are many liberals and progressives out there who are not godless heathens that steal babies from their mother’s arms for violating Orwellian thought laws.

    Even though it was not my cup of tea I do thank you for allowing Steve to expose me to it, and I again thank you for responding to all of us.

  48. mark-ski says:

    Liked it even though it didn’t fit with what I consider sci-fi. I’m a christian who understands there are moral right and wrong concepts and teachings that can come from my faith. That being said, I don’t think the issue of race surfaces in any christian teachings as a morality issue. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any historical church teacher that says it’s OK to think of someone differently because of their race.

    On the story itself, I thought it was interesting how it actually made you both hate and understand the point of view of the people in the story. Despite their beliefs they became quite human through the interaction. I don’t think anyone was spared.


  49. AmberBug says:

    I just didn’t like this one. It was FAR to consious of itself and far too self rightious. Other then the Alternate America Bent it also Just WASN’T Sci-fi enough. We’ve been good little kiddies. I even listened to the state of the podcast address all the way through. Can I please have my GOOD stories back?

  50. I can remember only one entirely non-good EP story. A melodramatic Lesbian love story in a space opera setting. Can’t recall the name of it. I’m all for gay zombies though. Many of my best friends are etc.

  51. R.E.U. says:

    Vance M. I think has a really good post for this week… I’ve never seen an escape pod touch such a live wire! 50 posts! And counting.

    In the US at least race is a hot issue, perhaps the fault of the author is that there wasn’t that separation between reality and home that most of us expect in Science Fiction, but alternative futures is still valid.I didn’t see this as alternative history.

    The fact there are 50 posts, I think shows that this story touched something, and made people react. And I think that’s what an author really hopes for. The start of discourse.

    For me, I think that people fail to see the trappings of what each character was in the story.

    The main character has his flaws too. He admitted them. He could not stand up for his girlfriend, yet still wanted to marry her. And even when he finally did, it was weak. It was filled with hypocrisy.

    His mother also wasn’t 100 percent what you thought her to be. The hypocrisy in her was that she loved her son, but at the expense of her son’s feelings. that because of her love in her twisted POV, she thought she was protecting him. (I have a mother like that too… though on a separate issue.)

    Each character in the story had at least one duality, and I don’t think one of them could come off as completely innocent, except maybe the baby. All of them had a degree of hypocrisy to them.

    And I don’t think the Christian comments were supposed to be taken the way that they were taken. I think the fault lies in the very fact that the word Christian was used. If it was Flabergaten set in the F.E.D. with different races, I wonder if people would have reacted as strongly. (And subsequently defended their “ground”)

    I can’t speak for the rest of the people on this board, nor wish to, but I’ve faced racism before. I know it exists in degrees. It is never all hate or no hate. And each of those degrees was portrayed in the story! I really enjoyed that aspect.

    Facing the fact prejudice exists, I think is really hard for people to take. And I say this as an Asian–which BTW, didn’t show up in the story at ALL. Black, White, and Native American did… I do wonder at the shades of gray missed.

  52. Jennifer says:

    I liked the take on this. I thought it was interesting to make the liberals as bad as the Christians, for a change.

    I do have to agree that it seemed a bit too quick and easy for the narrator to decide to propose to his girlfriend, though.

  53. Randy says:

    I loved it. The only thing that would have made it better is if Wichita Rutherford would have read it.

  54. Connor Moran says:

    I originally come from the heart of this world’s Confederacy–Idaho, the place the narrator thinks is much worse that Wyoming. Then I attended one of the most liberal universities in the United States, and still live in lib’ral country. I reacted very negatively to the characterizations of both groups.

    On Idaho, I’d never be one to argue that Idaho isn’t a racist place–it certainly is. But then, it’s plenty racism here in the heart of Columbia as well. But I can’t imagine lynchings ever happening even in the backwardest parts of Idaho. First off, sad to say it, but there’s just not that many black people. I guess if the lynchings were of Latinos, it would be somewhat credible. But places don’t break down that way. North Idaho is still notorious for having been home to the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations. What people don’t realize is that in the very area the AN occupied, there was one of the highest concentrations of human rights organizations in the US. Whenever the AN would march, they would be met by vastly larger numbers of counter-protesters. And when they were finally thrown out, nobody was sad to see them go. That kind of organized hate is dead, at least in Idaho. I can’t speak to Wyoming, but I can’t imagine it’s that different.

    At the same time, I found the description of Columbia distasteful, for reasons that many others have described. I had a particularly negative reaction because this particular version of the godless liberal distopia is very reminiscent of the novel “Colorado: 1998,” a book published by the anti-gay group Colorado for Family Values in the wake of their (later overturned) amendment forbidding gay rights laws in Colorado. I admit that this isn’t exactly the author’s fault, but when a short story can be mistaken for a thinly-veiled anti-gay tract, it’s a problem.

    So the main problem for me isn’t that the story pushes uncomfortable buttons. It’s that it describes people that I don’t recognize. Racism and anti-conservative Christian condescension are real issues in America. Aside from the lynching and the baby-stealing, they may even be as devastating in the real world as they are in this story. That is to say, I don’t feel like it’s that the story portrayed people as bad that bugs me. It’s that the story portrays them as bad in a way that doesn’t really match they way they really are. This story portrayed both sides as the other side views them, and it just rings false.

    That said, it’s good to see a story stir up this much response. I just kind of wish the story had been better.

  55. Eric says:

    How many ways to address this story?:

    1] Plausible parallel universe -or- “future as near-distant dystopian fantasy”? (Tsunami on TV suggests recent parallel universe.) Certainly closer to “Left Behind” than “Jericho” on the Spec-Fi vs. Sci-fi spectrum.

    2] Successful ‘twist’ of “Liberofascism”.
    -By ‘successful’, I mean that most people probably started fuming about r-a-c-e, before they caught the r-e-l-i-g-i-o-n stuff.

    3] Borderline obvious flamebait?
    There is “provoking discussion” and then there’s “hateful gay minister” (presumably unitarian, and burning bibles).
    Where’s the pacifist death squads?

    4] By “mixed couple”, does the author insinuate that Garrison’s wife is a “liberal”? She is never definitively identified as a christian. Possibly, the only subtle bit in this story

    5] The ‘protagonist’ refers to his girlfriend and ‘the black girl’ as “sensitive minority women”. Well; we couldn’t have an entirely enlightened white male.

    6] The “Shoshone Indian girlfriend” and “the reservation” set up as third party; Nona seems to be used simply as a race object.
    The christian vs. pagan dynamic on “the reservation” is not addressed in this story and it is not clear that the author is aware of it. Perhaps she would have made more use of it, if she was.


  56. Arby says:

    Fox news without the intellectual depth and fairness.

    This story reminded me a lot of “The Turner Diaries” in terms of fairness to the other side.

    The author was not racist, but otherwise has bought into the whole right wing “war on christmas” thing. If anything this country is more in danger of a Spanish inquisition purge of unbelievers fueled by this type of cartoonish polemic.

    In general, stories where the bad guy has no believable motivation are bad.

  57. cosmos says:

    Regarding Stephens’s opening comment that the U.S. was the last country to abolish slavery (from Wikipedia) In 1962, Saudi Arabia outlawed slavery, freeing about 10,000 slaves out of an estimated 15,000-30,000.[22] Slavery was ended by neighboring Qatar in 1952, the Yemen Arab Republic in 1962, the UAE in 1963, South Yemen in 1967, and Oman in 1970. Some of these states, such as Yemen, were British protectorates. The British left South Yemen without forcing it to give up slavery, but did pressure the UAE into giving it up. In 2005, Saudi Arabia was designated by the United States Department of State as a Tier 3 country with respect to trafficking in human beings. Tier 3 countries are “Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”

  58. Audita Sum says:

    This story fell a little flat for me. I think that the political extremes were the problem; if the south were to secede, somehow I don’t think that the Union’s reaction would go as far as taking away the children of conservatives.

    And maybe it’s just because I’m an agnostic and a liberal, but this story seemed a little self-righteously religious to me. I know that the character was supposed to be a Christian in the south and all, but still. The voice was kind of… full of itself. Maybe it was the reading.

  59. Mitch says:

    Not a favorite. Had enough stereotypes to make just about everyone offended.

    At the end, I was left wondering what moral I was supposed to walk away with- it felt like I was being lectured something, but I couldn’t catch exactly what.

    All Christians are hypocrites? America is bad? Rural people are mostly stupid? Minorities are superior, but white folks just won’t stop oppressing everyone including themselves?

    Nope, left this one confused and ready to move on to something else.

  60. Lee says:

    I hate for my first comment to Escape Pod to be a negative one, but… I really hated this story.
    There have been some previous stories on EP that haven’t appealed to me, but I’ve still been able to accept and respect the technical quality of the material.
    I’m afraid the only positive thing I can say about this one is that I hope all the discussion about it will prompt someone else to write a better story that more skillfully addresses the attempted themes in “Homecoming.”

  61. nojojojo says:


    I liked the story. We don’t see enough attention given to sociological science fiction in the genre, IMO, in part because it tends to be controversial and painfully realistic, and so many people are into SF for escape. But it’s my favorite branch of SF, thanks to Octavia and Ursula and other pioneers of the form, so I’m glad to see more here.

    And I’m even more glad to see topics like racism and extremism addressed. Too often science fiction pats itself on the back (undeservedly) for being progressive, when in fact it’s more often aversive and reactionary. Only in the SF community have I met so many otherwise intelligent, admirable people who earnestly believe that racism (and sexism, etc.) will vanish someday if we just stop talking about it. But then, c.f. my previous comments about escapism vs. realism.

    I agree about the headscratchyness of the whole “liberal fascist” idea in the story, but I’m willing to go with the story’s speculation on that thanks to the lessons of history. After all, from what I understand, the Nazis originated as a leftist/socialist group. And we’ve seen recently, thanks to the incredibly asinine comments of feminists like Gloria Steinem, that even the most lauded liberals can have great big blind spots when it comes to race, class, and other issues. Being a liberal does not make one immune to extremism, insularity, amorality, or stupidity. We’re (because I do count myself as a liberal) just as susceptible to all that crap as the most fire-and-brimstone fundamentalists; we often just use different language and methods to express it. That was the message I took from the story, personally.

    So thanks, Ms. McDonnell, for a thought-provoking, powerful story. And thanks too to Steve, for the timeliness of this selection.


    Something I’m not happy about — and am in fact deeply offended by — are the comments I see here which cross the line from critique into the same rhetoric used by “-ists” for years to silence discussion on controversial topics. “An affirmative action selection”?? A threat to sweep-kick the author in her “smug legs”, followed by “get over yourself”?? WTF? OK, some of you didn’t like the story; fine. Most of you expressed that dislike in a civilized fashion; good. But is this level of hostility really warranted?

    Of course it’s not — but then, this level of hostility has nothing to do with the story itself. I didn’t see the comments Steve had to delete, but I can probably guess their content and general tone pretty accurately.

    I suppose here’s where my own yearning for escapism crops up: just once, I’d like science fiction to be as progressive as it claims to be. Just once, I’d like to have an intelligent conversation about race, or gender, or sexual orientation, or whatever, that stays intelligent. But unfortunately, as this story implies so vividly, we’ve still got a long way to go before that happens.

    N. K. Jemisin
    EP #38 (“L’Alchimista”)
    EP #114 (“Cloud Dragon Skies”)

  62. Craybe says:

    I have been listening to Escape Pod since around EP#25 and to date I have not felt the need to post about a story. This is not because I haven’t loved (or to Escape Pods credit, rarely disliked) other stories but I feel that no other story has warranted a resounding cry from the listeners of “Drivel!”.

    I feel this was a very shallow story with transparent characters that honestly made me feel no empathy for the positions of any of the characters. I also feel that this story may have fallen short of its moral of racial unity, it felt more like Racism Bad, Tree Pretty.

    Honestly though the “Religion Good, Atheism Evil” theme could never be overly offensive as it was far too laughably naive. I guess having a good Christian persecution complex would help anyone be so black and white (no pun intended) in their views of a dystopian future society. Give me the Failed Cities any day over this future.

    In the end I’m fuzzy about what the author was trying to beat through my thick forehead… the only thing that would make this story more of a mess would be if there was a man walking around in the background saying “I don’t wear the Cheese, the Cheese wears me.”

    Praise be to the mighty Eley in the sky that there is a Union Dues episode coming up! 🙂

  63. Yicheng says:

    As a non-christian, non-white person who is currently involved in an inter-racial inter-faith marriage, I found the story thoroughly weak and unrewarding. None of the characters were sympathetic to me, and the main character seemed like he was unredeemable in his whining. The scifi setting for this “alternate reality US” seemed like cardboard contrivances just so the author can make her point. The fact that she ties atheism to liberalism and Christianity to racism was the last straw for me. This story might have been mildly relevant 20 years ago, but now it just sounds juvenile and unoriginal.

  64. josh says:

    despite my problems with the ending I liked this piece. I’m a gay christian so it kind of struck me. Not fitting in is a problem in my life.

  65. Steve Swan says:

    A GREAT high school literary magazine entry. PLEASE no more. Boring, unimaginative, and poorly constructed. Can you say. “Predictable!” Your accent kept slipping Steve! You could see EVERY plot twist and turn coming halfway down !-90.
    Still the best literary podcast Steve.

  66. The story failed on the big #1 rule of storytelling: show me, don’t tell me. It was all talk. A couple walked into a restaurant. Pie was ordered. Keys were tossed.

    I also dislike the implied notion that racism and the “war on Christianity” are somehow equivalent. Racism and slavery torn this nation apart and resulted in a bloody civil war with nearly one million casualties. The “war on Christianity” is largely paranoid ramblings, as evidenced by my money still saying “In God We Trust.”

    While I know Steve takes the notion of “sci-fi” pretty liberally, I have no idea how this qualifies in anyway. It is fiction to be sure but there wasn’t a lot of speculation or science involved. Perhaps it qualifies as “preach-fi” but not “sci-fi”.

    There’s some serious stank on this story. I hope to hear better in the future.

  67. scatterbrain says:

    Seems too disturbling realistic to be true.

  68. Brett says:

    This is my first time posting here, and I have the tendency to ramble, so I apologize in advance.

    I’ve listened to every episode of Escape Pod that has been out so far, and even though I love the podcast this is the first time a story inspired me to actually read trough all the comments to use other peoples posts to help me sort out my feelings on the piece. In the past I’ve always liked the story and known why, or disliked it and known why (or not cared, but known why).

    My reaction to this one was mixed. I loved listening to it, then thought I was changing my mind about it when I thought of some things I didn’t like, then decided I liked it again after figuring out what I didn’t like and weighing it against what I liked. Honestly though, the comments made me think as much as the story did.

    I was shocked at the number of negative comments it received, I thought most were undeserved. I didn’t see the story as unfairly demonizing liberals, I got the strong impression that similar scenes were happening in diners in Columbia that would make the confederates look just as bad. What I did think was very strange was the liberals as atheists approach, as a liberal atheist myself, let me tell you we aren’t the majority. I appreciate that liberals do a lot more to make my life easier than conservatives, but I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll see an atheist elected president in my lifetime. Maybe the liberals should have been carrying around new testaments, and taken away the children of anyone who read their kid the last half of Exodus… but persecuting “Bible Believers” just didn’t ring true to me. Even if that rubbed me the wrong way a little, I thought the piece did a great just of showing that all political factions are made up of mostly well meaning but flawed people. Even racists and atheists. I also really identified with the struggle of the main character, as I struggle with how to let my Cristian parents know that the REAL reason I stopped going to church with them years ago wasn’t that I don’t like mornings…

    Sorry for being so long winded, but thank you very much for Carole for writing a story that got people this worked up and out of their comfort zone, I’d love to read more about this setting. Also thank you Steve for running it, the “alternate history” style story is one that I love, Joe Steele is probably one of my top 5 favorite stories you’ve run, and I hope you find more good ones to give us.

  69. This wasn’t an action piece. The plot wasn’t meant to surprise.

    I didn’t see it as a modern day commentary on America. The story seemed as a moral that conflict tends to make each side worse. Or at least that’s how I take it. YMMV.

  70. Michael King says:

    Incredibly close to what could become the reality in a post-modernistic America…especially after seeing “Jericho” and other post-9/11 fiction.

    As a black man who has been on the receiving end of that kind of treatment before, it can be uncomfortable. As a black man who has been on the opposite end of that treatment, it, too, can be uncomfortable.

    But isn’t that what life is supposed to be about — getting beyond that zone of discomfort and bettering the human condition, no matter what our beliefs?

    Kudos, both to Carole for writing the story, and to Escape Pod for carrying it. Well done.

  71. Wow. This story made me distinctly uncomfortable. It seemed kind of pointed, too. I saw the ending coming, but… I’m not sure where else it could have gone and not provoked disgust.

    I’m having a hard time articulating how I feel about the whole thing. One thing it is helping me to realize is that it is told in the first person- we are only seeing the main character’s understanding and perception of things. Now, the author clearly wants to make some points with this story, but we can’t necessarily infer that the main character is speaking “for” her. The narrator was clearly portrayed as being flawed himself. I didn’t agree with, or even like, anybody in this story.

    That said, it was an interesting story. It made me, and a lot of other people, think.

    Sometimes it’s good to be challenged.

    On another note, even during the late 1800s-early 1900s, about a quarter or so of lynching victims were American and European Whites, Native Americans, Chinese, and Mexicans. Most lynchings were perpetrated by gangs of whites, but some by blacks- including eleven documented cases of black-on-black lynchings in Georgia alone. (according to “50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know”, by Russ Kick).

    I’m interested in the “Atlas of Imaginary Americas” but can’t find any info on the web about it… is there a link or ISBN listing for that?

    Keep the stories coming, guys.

  72. Athe says:

    Cardboard cut-out characters and a thin veneer of a plot draped around childish straw-man attacks against both the left and the right. I wouldn’t even rate this high enough to call it a childish polemic.

  73. Interesting comments. I thought the story was pretty weak, but I was very seriously bothered by the cartoony images of a resegregated CSA and the evil, evil liberal States of America. Even for a postulated background, that was ridiculous. It is simply absurd for the author to expect us to accept this background, especially for such a weak story. Political fiction is fine, Steve, but it’s got to be of better quality.

  74. StingRay says:

    I kind of hate to make my first story feedback negative, but this one really, really, really insulted me. I was insulted by the fact that every character was a stereotype. I was insulted by the preachy tone. I was insulted by the cliched plot and blatantly obvious ending. I was insulted because I felt like the author expected her readers to be stupid, or to simply lap at the fountain of hate disguised as commentary.

    There was nothing original in the story, nothing worth discussing (at least, no discussion that wouldn’t be better prompted by a simple “Racism, good or bad, discuss”), and nothing worth going back to.

    I wanted to turn the story off, but I kept listening, hoping for a redemption of the story, as I found in “Instead of a Loving Heart,” and nothing came. I spent the entire story thinking that it would have been far more daring, far more interesting, if the author had had the courage to make the town black, the woman white. That might have made a difference. Otherwise, it was just cliches stacked on stereotypes.

    On a lighter note, I love the podcast, I normally love the stories, and I really did have good things to say about other stories, but they were all driven out by my response to this one. With any luck, I’ll recall what they were, and give a positive bit of feedback elsewhere.

  75. Wesley says:

    I often read short stories that lack a deeper meaning or tracending story.
    This was quite the opposite. It was very contrived, woven with agendas. It lacked a interesting speculative element. This could have been a story in any era.
    I get the lessons, but was unimpressed.

  76. […] Two that are though were outright amazing were Edward the Bear and the Very Long Walk and Homecoming at the Borderlands Cafe. I’ve listened to quite a few of the backlog now (about 40 odd) and the quality is […]

  77. Tayefeth says:

    I have never before felt physically ill after listening to an Escape Pod episode. The use of Imaginary Liberals as the Bad Guys made me want to puke.

  78. ChairmanDances says:

    I don’t see how either side came across looking good here. The christians are portrayed as racists and the liberals as fascists. The “liberals as bad guys” slant, if any is because the story is set on the christian side of the border and even then the narrator plainly disaproves of christians like his mother. Given the background, the story could have just as easily been set on the liberal side of the border with a “mixed ” liberal/christian couple.

  79. LAN3 says:

    I’m a non-religious right-winger, and even I found the liberal state’s depiction to be a bit weak. I personally think a nation ruled by genuinely democratic liberals would be a nanny state of the worst sort, where the individual freedoms would be snapped up in favor of some perceived public good. What? That sounds familiar? That’s because it’s an artifact of big government, and Leftistan will definitely have big government.

    This is not the first story I’ve read where the Christians were an oppressed minority. The other is an unpublished novel, so I can’t give anything away, but, how shall I put this, it took a very unChristian public act, committed in the name of Christianity, that turned the tide towards total-secularism-or-else. It did, in short, what 9/11 did for Islam. There were some other complicating factors that made it possible for Christianity to be essentially outlawed, because that by itself wouldn’t do the trick in the USA that I know– at least, not in my opinion.

    I’d like to see what life is like in the Leftist States of America, and I’d like to know what cities, not highway diners, are like in the christian states.

    This story– it was problematic, but what the hell, any effort to alt-universe by manipulating race is bound to be problematic, since we have to view that universe from the discomfort of this one. But I think it was basically successful, and I wish it had gone farther.

    It also could’ve been a bit more engaging– a story set in a diner is practically a ship in a bottle to the point of cliche. (That’s part of the reason people like diners, I grant you– they’re anachronisms that you can eat in and they’ve got such traditions of community and isolation at adjacent tables, and a broad spectrum of people meet and eat in them.) Picture a restaurant that’s emblematic of the US segregation period: whammo, you’ve got a diner in mind, with blacks standing and whites seated. (Now picture a restaurant shaped like a bus… oh, still a diner.)

    Diners are too loaded. Let’s meet these families in a nicer restaurant, or the dining room at home (in an apartment? maybe a farm house instead), where the inclusing of strangers, and the tendency ot make a scene, are different. In short, let’s have more.

  80. James says:

    Homecoming is one of the most provocative stories I’ve heard here; and I love provocative stories, Thanks. Though, after listening, I feel like I need a shower. Probably the creepiest part about this story to me is just how plausible it is. Obviously it would take extraordinary circumstances to break the U.S. apart, however those same events could make society move in any direction, even backwards.

    As an atheist I was at first angry about the portrail of liberal atheist as bag guys. But then i thought about it this way; in the red states right now ‘liberal’ is used as an insult for anyone who isn’t conservative or christian. It’s easy to imagine that in the Wyoming of the story that ‘liberal’ would be used as an insult regardless of whether the people are liberal, socialist, communist, fascist, or even fanatical atheist. it doesn’t mean those people are anything like the liberals of today.

    And I thought it was brave of you, Steve, to read this story yourself.

  81. Tim Carter says:

    This will probably never get read, as I am playing catch-up on Escapepod stories and have only now gotten to this one. However, I’ve just waded through 80 comments and will throw in my two cents.
    While I realize it was probably intended as speculative fiction, the characters were too extreme – Christians as flaming bigots and liberals as Bible-burning godless Commies (or whatever). With the truth being that 99% of Americans are nowhere close to those depicted here.
    But what really galled me was the fact the the “hero” of the story was just a whiny, spineless, shiftless, bum. He’s mad that his mama is so against his NA girlfriend, but doesn’t have the guts to follow his heart. He says he’s not lazy, he just hasn’t found his place in the world. But there’s no hint (that I can remember) that he even has a job. He’s still living at home, sponging off his parents.
    He feels for the bereaved parent in the Far East, but isn’t man enough to speak up against an unbelievably bigoted and callous comment from another diner, and won’t let his brother speak out, either. And when his sympathy leads him to his friends table his only outward expression toward his friend’s wife is to offer to shake her hand. Not one word of encouragement to someone who has probably endured much and is being stared down (or ignored, whichever is worse) by everyone in the place. I don’t blame her for refusing his hand.
    I agree with some of the writers who saw the story as depressing. Nowhere was there any sign that the situation would ever change, and that made the story unbearable. it’s one thing to describe a world gone bad, but to not offer a glimmer of hope that it would ever get any better just makes me regret having read it.

  82. Woodchuck says:

    I liked the story and was struck at how it took both sides of extremism in this country, both liberal and conservative and showed the overall need for respect that we must give one another. It’s one thing to believe in something, but it’s another to treat someone as less-than-human for having a value system that is different than your own. Liberal extremists would take God and freedom from it’s citizens in favor of a fake Tolerance. Religious zealots would force their ideologies on others. As a religious person it is my responsibility to treat everyone with dignity. While I may not be a minority, or I may not be gay, I still have the responsibility to treat others with respect and expect them to treat me in the same way. The golden rule still applies and should be alive in all of us.

  83. […] 26, 2008 by Pam Phillips While it’s not as graceful as “Family Values,” “Homecoming at the Borderlands Café,” by Carole McDonnell manages to create a world while the narrator, Mike, is sitting in the […]

  84. […] “Homecoming at the Borderlands Café” by Carole McDonnell was the first Escape Pod story of March, depicting mixed marriage in a racist future. Well written, with an excellent reading by Stephen Eley, this is social commentary where the SF aspect is incidental to the power of the narrative. […]

  85. Dalton Walls says:

    good luck

  86. Texvol says:

    I know that I’m late to this discussion, but I only recently discovered Escape Pod and I am slowly making my way through the back catalog of podcasts. I have now listened to about 100 episodes. I really enjoyed the vast majority of those stories, absolutely loved some of them, and disliked only a few. This one, however, I HATED, which is I felt compelled to post my comment.

    This really isn’t a story at all, and it is certainly not science fiction. Rather, it is a distasteful fundamentalist polemic, the fictional equivalent of Fox News” “fair and balanced” coverage. The point of the story appears to be that yes, the fascist, secessionist bigots among us can be nasty at times, but they are nothing compared to those tyrannical tree-huggers and homosexuals!!!!! That is not merely, absurd, but offensive. Please, Stephen, no more stories from this author!!!!!!!!!!!!