EP156: Distant Replay

By Mike Resnick.
Read by Steve Anderson (of SGA Creative and Great Tales Live).
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, April/May 2007.
All stories by Mike Resnick.
All stories read by Steve Anderson.

“Let me show you,” I said, pulling out my wallet. I took my Deirdre’s photo out and handed it to her.

“It’s uncanny,” she said, studying the picture. “We even sort of wear our hair the same way. When was this taken?”

“Forty-seven years ago.”

“Is she dead?”

I nodded.

Rated PG. Contains mature themes and wistfulness.

Referenced Sites:
2008 Hugo Awards
“First of May” by Jonathan Coulton (Not work-safe)

Comments (43)

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  1. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    You know how the Oscars and the Grammies reward mediocrity and banality? How no really creative or unique works get rewarded, as those judging opt for the comfort of films and music that don’t bend the rules or force them to think so much? Well, it turns out the Hugos are the same way. Sheeesh, what a boring story.

    This story was much, much, much better the first time I heard it…when it was called “Dead Again.” (Which incidentally was an excellent movie that didn’t win an Oscar.)

  2. My wife and I both really enjoyed this story, despite it being in no way science fiction. I did not find it to be boring at all, I actually found it to be quite a lovely (and that is the most appropriate word that comes to mind) story.

    I love ‘Dead Again’, it’s my favourite Thompson/Branagh film. I did not really see the similarities between that and this other than soulmates finding each other across time. This was no murder mystery, there was no real intrigue, and even though the ending was predictable, it was still a nice story.

  3. Mike Wills says:

    Wow… what a great story.

  4. nademagnet says:

    I felt like I was listening to an episode of the Twilight Zone.

  5. V says:

    Predictable but lovely in a way. The older Walter’s voicing was a little tiresome after a while, and I don’t see his scheme working in real life.

    But charming nonetheless. I admit to being a bit biased and sentimental… ( :

  6. Storman_Norm says:

    About halfway through I realized where the plot was going, but I still liked the story. I think short stories work better as escapism (Escape pod pun unintentional), not for twists and turns like a novel.

  7. […] Escape Pod #156 – Distant Reply, written by Mike Resnick and read by Steve Anderson . […]

  8. Jiminy Cricket says:

    Not only was this story boring, repetitive, and predictable, it is also seemingly lacking in any kind of purpose for/explanation of the predicament the protagonist finds himself in. Started nowhere, went nowhere, and took way too long to get there.

    This is what amounts to a Hugo nomination? Cripes.

  9. IMBruce says:

    Ok, maybe not sci fi…but spec fic? Yeah.

    Okay, now this is weird to bring up in a comment on a story dealing with “spitting images”. But I think I’ve got a spitting image for the reader.

    His voice & vocal style reminded me eerily of Stuart McLean. He’s a well-known Canadian story teller. The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp, our national TV & radio network) repurposes a lot of its content into podcasts. (Check iTunes.)

    McLean is the host of Vinyl Cafe. It’s a variety show combining stories & songs that tours & records live in towns all over Canada.

    The voice, timbre & rhythm are very close. And the storytelling is great. So I hope Steve is vain enough to read comments on his work. And if others also end up checking out VC, well hey, that’s cool too.

    London, Ontario, Canada

  10. Hawthorne says:

    I liked it, not alot, but it made me smile

  11. Sarah says:

    I decided not to say anything last time, but…

    I’m sorry to say, but it seems like Steve Anderson could kill any story he read, no matter how good it was.

    His halting rhythm and pseudo-hyper-emotionalism, where every….word….carries the whiny….weight….of the world….. is exhausting. There’s no variation in emotion; every tiny word has the same overbearing ponderousness. The rhythm of the story itself is sacrificed to his awkward and unnecessary pauses.

    His reading is not fair to the stories he reads.

  12. Greg says:

    I have to comment since I pretty much have always wanted to get the chance to go back and slap myself for my own stupidity and am equally looking for those familiar features that means a future self has found the way and the slap is coming for me. I regret lots of my past choices and think that when the credits roll at the end of my life flashing before my eyes I’ll be commenting that he wasted lots of time regretting paths not taken.

    Anyhow I guess that you can say that Mike’ s tale hit a cord with me. The relationship I’m in right now and am truly lucky to have almost wasn’t. She pretty much had to chase me and I’m the better for it, now I do not consider myself a good catch by any stretch of the imagination but sometimes I think I may just rate her if I get my crap together and be courageous for once. it is stories like this that say to me take a chance – as far as we know you only get this chance.

    I hope that you are doing well and I look forward to more stories. Who know someday I may hear a story of mine read by you – that is if I ever do write one of the ideas I have …..

    take care

  13. scatterbrain says:

    I don’t care what genre it is: its Resnick!

    That “You look like a Wally” line is unintentially funny for a Englishman like me.

  14. excalibur23 says:

    good story telling and the voice acting was good too. very twilight zoneish.

  15. garg says:

    I enjoyed this story a lot. It was simply wonderful!

  16. Synergy says:

    Meh, cute I guess.

  17. Medicus Qui says:

    Yeah, it’s Twilight Zoneish alright. But not like one of the good episodes like the one where Burgess Meredith is a bookwork, or the one where the little boy puts people in the cornfield, or the cookbook one; more like one of the really lame ones that telegraphs the ending from the very beginning and nothing really happens and then at the end it turns out it was all in the person’s head, or they’re dead already, or something stupid.

  18. Chris says:

    Maybe not the most original story I’ve ever heard but it made me laugh, not just for the unintentionally funny “You look like a wally” line! If I said that in this country the guy would probably punch me 🙂

  19. Katherine says:

    I very much enjoyed this story. I really don’t get how anyone could turn up their nose at it, but maybe this is why: I’m a girl. A very stereotypical, girl’s girl. I don’t like aliens, or robots, or very much in the way of science (I’ve never even watched Star Wars). I really do like this type of science fiction–pertaining to people, and alternate realms/history, and that ilk. I guess you don’t consider this science fiction, but the reason I first looked into Escape Pod was to try and find stories like this, stories like the ones I remember really liking as a kid. Last year’s Hugo Nominee “Impossible Dreams” is my favorite story so far, and an example of what I favor. I understand that a lot of you hard-core sf people would condescend to such a “light” type of tale, but I loved it and found it to be right up my alley.

  20. Sushma says:

    It was rather charming if predictable. I kept hoping it would delve deeper into the enigma of desires, our physical reality in a specific time and space, but it sort of stayed on the surface of its conceit.

  21. Saltheart Foamfollower says:

    Not a bad story, not a great story, but it really dragged in the middle – ok, Deirdre is exactly like DD. We get the picture, already, now stop hammering on about it and get on with the plot!

    (The reader gets a thumbs up from me, btw.)

  22. Wesley says:

    I would expect a nominee to have a more compelling and fresher plot. That is not to say it wasn’t a good story. Contrary to the opinion of some others, I enjoy experiencing a story where I can sense what comes next, especially in short stories. The prose and voice was very good in this piece, exceptional. I also agree that this is speculative fiction, but in no way SF.
    Speaking of speculation, I cannot help but wonder if this was nominated on the merits of a name.

  23. Scott says:

    It was a good story, well told. It was flawed and did indeed go a bit long, but by no means a dud.

  24. Iz says:

    Well, from hearing Resnick talk at a convention, it sounds like he gets offered Hugos like somebody might offer you a stick of gum.

    “So yeah, one night I was bored in my hotel room after a con, and cranked out the story that won me my 8th Hugo. Forgot what that one was about. This other time I wrote something on a napkin, and when I woke up the next morning, I found another Hugo in the mail.”

  25. Blaine Boy says:

    Hurray for the Hugos and for Mr. Resnick for being one of the nominees. He’s a great writer and deserves any and all awards he receives. When you think for a second, you can see the ending coming, but it’s still an ending you want to see. Kudos to all involved. Just one question though for everyone to think over: Could this be an endless series like this, where the next Wally sets up the next couple of Wally’s and Deedee’s?

  26. Mark in St. Louis says:

    Is this story predictable? Sure. But having shared some of Walter’s life experiences, I found the words in this particular order to be most enjoyable. I also really liked Mr. Anderson’s reading of the tale.

  27. Hannes Engelbrecht says:

    A charming story which I really enjoyed.
    Some of those who precede me mention the predictability of the ending, but to be honest, I didn’t see where it was going to go until after the protagonist realised it.
    I’ve plowed through gorgeously-told massive three-volume tomes only to discover that the author had absolutely no idea how to end the story.
    So-called predictibility and unoriginality aside, Mike Resnick sure knows how to END a story in a satisfying way.
    Thanks Steve!!

  28. Mike VLC says:

    A great story precisely because it tells it straight. Great sci-fi story because the mechanism is secondary to the exploration of the theme. When Wells met Chekov…?

  29. Man, I loathe the very concept of “love at first sight” or “soulmates” or any of the other nonsense that romantic culture would have you buy into. It’s flat out harmful to society, it creates a self-reinforcing foundation of unrealistic expectations in young people and cripples them for dealing with real relationships, a state which they either must painfully drag themselves out of through a series of emotionally scarring real life experiences, or persist in clinging to long past evidence to the contrary, often resulting in abusive or at least unhappy relationships.

    All that said, this was a pretty good story.

  30. @ Katherine, if you’re referring to the story about the parallel universe video store, yeah… same type of story. Except that one was a billion times more awesome than this one. Thanks for reminding me, though, I want to go listen to it again.

  31. Audita Sum says:

    Like “The Big Guy,” this one fell flat for me. The plot was predictable to the point of being annoying, and it just wasn’t captivating at all to me. It’s like Resnick is running out of original ideas or something.

    I guess the premise could’ve been written interestingly, but this story wasn’t.

  32. fishyswaz says:

    Cute, like “Story Light”. “Tastes great and less filling” with no aftertaste as an added bonus. Did I enjoy the story? Not so much.

    However, I really must say that Steve Anderson gave a great, and very expressive reading. Love to hear him read something with a lot more beef.

  33. […] You can listen to it on Escape Pod as part of their annual reading of Hugo […]

  34. Sean in Hurley says:

    Though I pretty much figured out the ending halfway through, I really enjoyed this story emotionally. It made me smile. I have enjoyed all of Mike Resnick’s stories that I’ve heard on Escapepod.

    Mr. Anderson’s reading was great. I especially liked his voice for the old man in the story.

  35. tim callender (babylonpodcast) says:

    Steve Anderson does his best William Shatner for a Resnick story that goes nowhere and does nothing.

    Perhaps if there was more soul searching on the elder Walter’s part, regarding why he had been hanging on to an otherwise empty life since his wife had died.

  36. Vance M. says:

    Great story. Sentimental yes, but nice to listen to anyways. Great voice work also, he really kept me interested. I did not have the feeling that it was really science fiction though. But, I’m still glad Escape Pod featured it.

  37. psiclopz says:

    I always love listening to stories read by Steve Anderson. It’s like listening to Tom Selleck

  38. Curtis says:

    This Twilight Zone style story was very comfortable to listen to. The reader made you begin to feel like he is telling his own story! Great choice on that respect. The other thing that grabbed me was the nostalgic nature of this story. Wouldn’t we all like to be able to relive our glory days again, and this Man was given his chance to relive it in these dinners and ultimately through introducing the couple to each other. A match made in …. History?

  39. […] Or, if you enjoy listening to stories more than reading them, you can get an MP3 version of this story at Escape Pod. […]

  40. […] by continuing its now-traditional run of Hugo-nominated short fiction. Mike Resnick’s “Distant Replay” (read by Steve Anderson) is an odd time-travel story, except that what appears to be time […]

  41. […] Distant Replay by Mike Resnick; A Small Room in Koboldtown by Michael Swanwick; […]

  42. Siderite says:

    I am still in the middle of the story and so I can’t comment on the subject, but consider this: I am only listening to escape pod stories because I like Eley’s voice a lot better than most of all the others. Frankly, I can’t even listen to some other people reading the stories. But this Steve Anderson guy, reading this, is awesome!
    Keep it up with the good readers, one can always stop listening to a bad story, but it would be a shame to miss a good one because of an average actor.

  43. vurnglurburnor says:

    rjzkwqbvzvsreunswell, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how’s life? hope it’s introduce branch 😉