Escape Pod Flash: Standards

By Richard K. Lyon.
Read by Frank Key (of Hooting Yard).
All stories by Richard K. Lyon.
All stories read by Frank Key.

After careful examination of your manuscript no 113785, Corbamite, An Insulator Against Gravity, the editors of Review of Physics have concluded that it is not suitable for publication in this journal. This decision is final and further correspondence on this subject will serve no useful purpose.

Since the above may seem somewhat harsh, let me say what I can to mitigate it. The editors do appreciate that you are working under difficult circumstances: when the senior author of a paper is deceased, it is always hard for the junior author to complete the work in an appropriate manner. Also let us assure you that we do believe you. You have told us that with his dying breath Professor Steinhardt handed you his notebook and said, “Have this published in Review of Physics.” Such an action would be completely in character for Steinhardt since he was a true scientist.

As for your claim that Professor Steinhardt made this statement as he was expiring from disintegrator rays wounds suffered during your escape from the City of Disembodied Brains on Altair IV, our believing that is a somewhat different matter but we need to go into that.

Rated G. Contains proven impossibilities.

Statement from Rachel Swirsky:
Richard K. Lyon died on November 21. When I contacted him last month to ask if he still wanted this piece to run on our podcast, he said that the doctors didn’t give him long, but that he hoped this would give the world “one last laugh.”

Escape Artists dedicates this production to his memory. We wish the best to him, and to his family.

Comments (11)

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  1. Lexicat says:


    Just the kind of pick-me-up boost needed after the first two-thirds of a rough holiday season, and yet before the new year shenanigans.

    So short and funny, I am gonna pass along to friends in a diabolical plot to ensnare them in the ecapepody goodness.

    Also: I am a scientist, and both publish and act as a referee in peer-reviewed journals, and I find the author has really hit the nail on the head.



  2. Brave Space Monkey says:

    Farewell, Mr. Lyon. You will be missed.

  3. scatterbrain says:

    Given the strong comparison between the real life author and his dead protagonist, this was truly a weird spoonful of a story and proof that Discordism truly does exist.

  4. DrCrisp says:

    Totally classic!!! That could have been published in any of the finest Science Fiction magazines during their golden heights and fit perfectly in. After watching almost all of the Twilight Zone marathon (yes, and your life is….?) the only thing that could have made that story any better would have been to tune into it on a Philco radio and heard it. And the reader had exactly the correct academic editorial sneer in his reading.

  5. Stevens Miller says:

    I did laugh. Thanks, Mr. Lyon.

    Rest in peace.

  6. Nice. Except for the page turning noise at the end >_<. But otherwise very amusing.

  7. […] On the iPod: I got back to some of the usual podcasts on my ancient iPod Mini: recent episodes of Planet Money; I Should Be Writing #107 (”Goals”); Adventures in Science Fiction Publishing #71 (Bear McCreary);   Escape Pod #184 (”As Dry Leaves That Before the Wild Hurricane Fly,” a fantastic steampunk Santa story by Mur Lafferty); Escape Pod #185 (”Union Dues — All About the Sponsors,” another solid entry in the Union Dues superhero series — like all of them, it’s very dark); and Escape Pod Flash (”Standards”). […]

  8. Daniel Cotton says:

    I cringed when I heard the phrase “he was a true scientist,” I don’t think an editor would really have said that. Other than that though this was a really cool story.

  9. Connor Moran says:

    I’m deeply sorry to hear about Mr. Lyon. I had the opportunity to read and critique some of his stories at Critters (http://www.critters.org/), including what I think were some early albeit very different versions of this.

    Clearly a loss to SF with a sense of humor.

  10. nice, really nice!

  11. […] Posted on April 28, 2009 by Pam Phillips Told as the rejection letter from a science journal, Standards, by Richard K. Lyon, is full of deft hints of adventure and dry put-downs of the sort of mad genius […]