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Episode 201: Harry The Crow

Editors Note: As you may have noticed, episode 201 is appearing before Episode 200.  We’re still working out the kinks of an agreement with the mysterious agent forces mentioned in an earlier update, but we should have that episode for you soon, and we think it’ll be worth the wait.  Rather than keep you waiting any longer, we’re bringing you 201 out of sequence.

By John Kratman

Read by Norm Sherman

First appeared in Aeon Speculative Fiction.

“A construct is no Crow!” Tommy shouted, the ridiculous war bonnet he’d worn to my father’s funeral slipping off his head. He pushed it back with an angry swipe of his hand, glaring at the gathered members of the tribe, daring them to laugh.

“Harry can do everything a man can do,” I said. There were many people in the lodge that I recognized, but there were many more, ghosts of my past, who should have been there and were not. “He can hunt, write poetry, sing a song. He can think and he can feel. I taught him how to shoot and how to track, how to read and how to write. No matter that he sprang from my brain instead of my manhood. He is my son, the only one this old man will ever have. He is a Crow.”

“What can a machine know of tradition and honor?” Tommy asked, his lined face veiled in the shadows cast by the fire. He drew a pipe from his pocket and packed it with angry jabs of his age-spotted hand.

Rated R: contains violence, strong language, and counting coup.

Comments (19)

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  1. Howie Feltersnatch says:

    Fantastic story! It doesn’t really tread any new ground (a robot’s quest for humanity) but it breathes new life into a well used sci-fi theme. Moving story, well-fleshed-out characters, and great writing combine to put this in my top 10 EP stories. And a (not surprisingly) superb reading by Norm.

    MOAR PLZ!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Hm, interesting tale. You go, Harry!

  3. John K says:

    More space rap!!!!

  4. heptapod says:

    Why couldn’t you have done Episode 199.25 followed by 199.5, 199.75, 199.825 and 199.99??? C’mon don’t jump ahead because something else is cooking on the back burner.

  5. Anony says:

    I didnt like this story, it focused too much on the goal of becoming a chief without making me care about it. That would have been fine is there was some lesson to be had, but in the end I didnt see one.
    It was hard for me to accept that the polite childish construct did what he did, seemed too far out of character.

  6. Ken_K says:

    An old meme but told from seldom seen cultural perspective in sci-fi which was very original. Have not seen many NA’s in sci-fi since Star Trek:Voyager’s Chakotay character. Nice touch.

    You probably can (some day) make silicon and metal “think” but how do you give it a soul? Can you give it a soul? Are souls original or can they be created? Very interesting speculations involved here.

  7. scatterbrain says:

    Not a bad story; reminds me a lot of Resnick.

  8. Nicholas Barry says:

    Good fun story.

    What was the song? I’d appreciate having the end music listed in the blog post whenever it’s not the standard fare. Thanks!

  9. Redon White says:

    Nicholas: I found it on Norm’s drabblecast site in the MP3 archive – it’s called Pimp My Satellite.

    Nice story, gained a lot because of Norm’s reading. I listened to some of his podcasts just to hear moar of him – but it turned out that he sounded much beter for Escape Pod! :)

    And to Escape Pod: keep up the good work guys. I only found you recently, and I’ve been listening to your podcasts on my way to work – which sure beats trying to hold a book up to my face against a sardine-packed crowd of Japanese salarymen! I hope you will be able to launch whatever was cooking for EP200 soon!

    Oh, and also, I dunno if you fixed it already, but this mp3 didn’t have an artist or album in the tag, making it a little hard to find on my ancient player :)

  10. J says:

    Neat story, although it ended rather poorly I thought. Harry’s character is portrayed as very sweet and innocent the entire time, I was not convinced in the slightest that he would disobey his father and murder/conceal murder in the end.
    Also, had Harry been a normal teenage boy, I feel like the story wouldn’t have been any different, but I’m not complaining because he sounded like a cool looking robot. :-)

    As far as Norm’s reading: very nice. Have to disagree with Redon White though, if anything his performances on Drabblecast are even better than this. I’ve heard him frequently cited in different places as the best storyteller in podcasting, and IMO he seems to be living up to it.

    The Hubble rap was awesome and hilarious, even the second time around after hearing it on Drabblecast.

  11. Gia says:

    Norm is creepy and I love him.

  12. AndrewR says:

    The reader has a real gift for podcasting – what a great voice!!
    Did you put some sort of effect on the vocal (phaser/flanger?)

    I liked the story but the voicework was what made this one a real treat- very atmospheric and believable

    The ending rap thing was hilarious!! Someone has been channeling JoCo

  13. MattF says:

    I liked the blending of the classic theme, questioning the humanity of robots, and the native american culture. I think it gave the story more than just a search of what it means to be a human by emphasizing importance of ritual and mysticism in human nature that goes beyond just the emotional level that most of these stories seem to have.

  14. MasterThief says:

    Interesting tale – the author is either a Native American or has done a lot of research. I also liked the twist ending. Maybe Creator spirits put more of themselves into their creations than they realize.

  15. yicheng says:

    Great story. Loved the reading. Norm sounds like a cross between William Gibson and Mister Rogers. Give us the name of the ending song please.

  16. Natasha says:

    Great story, really liked the ending.

  17. Great story. Also, I don’t always enjoy Norm’s music, but I’ve been on a Nerdcore jag lately, so this one hit me at just the right time. Nice work, Mr. Sherman. Your unique twist on EP intros almost makes me forget how much I miss hearing Steve.

  18. [...] listened to Harry the Crow on escape pod a few days ago. It’s a tale of tradition in the face of progress, as a [...]