Author Archive

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Soundproof #16

Click here for the epub version.

Hello everyone,

Can we talk about Fringe for a second? It’s somehow managed to survive to a fourth season on Fox, which is a feat in and of itself. But it’s also managed to keep the monsters of the week new and interesting, even when they’re new iterations of the same monsters of the week because we’re now in a slightly more adjacent parallel universe than the one we’d gotten used to. And when the new monsters are the old good guys.

It’s also notable for surviving because we’re kind of awash in fantasy on the (American) teevee right now. Grimm, Being Human, and Once Upon a Time are the new-ish ‘genre’ shows, and SyFy, which some of you elderly folks may remember as the SciFi channel, doesn’t have a science fiction series that isn’t imminently headed for the grave.

Which is kind of a show of how fickle the fates of TV production is, and how swiftly the tide can shift away once a new shiny happy fun ball enters the room.

But Fringe continues to turn in the solid mediations on the endless strange that lurks in the corners of space-time, while keeping you caring about characters even as many of them permutate as the show moves from universe to universe.

This month we bring you a trio of stories from Judith Tarr, Randy Henderson, and Zachary Jernigan. They contain dinosaurs, a future of literature or at least novels, and the souls of Earth — in a convenient travel cube.

—Bill

Bill Peters

Assistant Editor

Escape Pod

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EP327: Revenants

By Judith Tarr
Read by Mur Lafferty
Discuss on our forums.
First published in DINOSAURFANTASTIC from DAW edited by Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg, 1993
All stories by Judith Tarr
All stories read by Mur Lafferty

REVENANTS
by Judith Tarr
Janie wanted to pet the pterodactyl.
“Here’s the auk,” I said. “Look how soft his feathers are. Look at the dodo, isn’t he funny? Don’t you want to give the quagga a carrot?”
Janie wouldn’t even dignify that with disgust. It was the pterodactyl or nothing.
Janie is four. At four, all or nothing isn’t a philosophy, it’s universal law. A very intelligent four can argue that this is the Greater Metro Revenants’ Zoo, yes? And this is the room where they keep the ones that can be petted, yes? So why can’t a person pet the pterodactyl?
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Soundproof #14

Click here for the epub version.

Hello everyone,

You know that column you run into every now and then on how time always seems like it’s going faster as you get older? The one where you can kind of tell that the columnist suddenly realized he hadn’t actually written their weekly twelve column inches and was asking themselves how exactly Tuesday afternoon had arrived on them already (or a TV columnnist for that matter — the first time I ran into it I think I was 7 or 8 and my parents were watching 60 Minutes).

Yeah, it’s kind of been like that lately. I think with Christmas/Hanukkah/[insert midwinter celebration of choice]/Festivus coming up and the rapid shortening of days ahead of the solstice, at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, breed a feeling of loss at the time we had, but really would like to have again. Not quite nostalia, more like (part of me wants to write now-stalgia, but that would be a horribly disqualifying pun) the loss of the recent past that you really wanted to have accomplished more in.

Time travel’s usually all about meeting your grandkids to the nth degree and playing with their cool new gadgets/seeing the future dystopia/utopia/stealing a book of sports statistics, or going back and killing Hitler. But commercial and commoditized time travel would probably just be a bunch of people trying to optimize the days that didn’t go horribly wrong, but didn’t approach the theoretical ur-day that modern days rarely meet.

We’d all make our deadlines, but would be 90 years old after 35 calendar years.

And with that, I’ll let you peruse our fine stories this month. For those of you who NaNoWriMo’d last month, I hope you’re recovering.

—Bill
Bill Peters
Assistant Editor
Escape Pod

—30—

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EP316: Site Fourteen

By Laura Anne Gilman
Read by Mat Weller
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in ReVISIONS from Daw Boooks
All stories by Laura Anne Gilman
All stories read by Mat Weller

This one isn’t for the kids, because of language and heavy content.

Site Fourteen

“Nereus Shuttle Four to Gateway Station, you have control.”

Robinachec nodded confirmation as though the pilot could see him.  “Roger that.  Bringing you in.” Palming the flat-topped lever, I watched as he moved it gently back towards him, pulling the bullet-shaped transport into the shed, an external framework of metal beams just large enough to hold two minisubs, or one shuttle.

Robinechec has nightmares sometimes about something going wrong here.  Forget the fact that it’s the safest maneuver in the entire procedure; he still talks about waking up in a cold sweat because he screwed up.

You’d never know it to watch him.

When you’re six hundred feet down – well below the twilight zone, in the bathypelagic or ‘deep water’ zone– your perception shifts.  Nothing as arcane as the chemical balance in your brain changing, although there’s some of that, too.  No, it’s more the realization, slow sinking into your brain, that there’s not damn-all between you and dying but a duraplas shield and some canned oxy-blend.

You realize that, really process the concept, and you’re okay.  If you can’t, you get the screamin’ meemies and they cart you Topside where you spend the rest of your life on solid dirt, carefully looking anywhere but ocean-ward.

Not everyone’s cut out to be an aquanaut. No shame to it.  Even now, only about a third of the applicants make it into training, and more than half of them dry out before graduation.

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EP314: Movement

By Nancy Fulda
Read by Marguerite Kenner
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in  Asimov’s March 2011 issue
All stories by Nancy Fulda
All stories read by Marguerite Kenner

Movement
By Nancy Fulda

It is sunset.  The sky is splendid through the panes of my bedroom window; billowing layers of cumulous blazing with refracted oranges and reds.  I think if only it weren’t for the glass, I could reach out and touch the cloudscape, perhaps leave my own trail of turbulence in the swirling patterns that will soon deepen to indigo.

But the window is there, and I feel trapped.

Behind me my parents and a specialist from the neurological research institute are sitting on folding chairs they’ve brought in from the kitchen, quietly discussing my future.  They do not know I am listening.  They think that, because I do not choose to respond,  I do not notice they are there.

“Would there be side effects?” My father asks.  In the oppressive heat of the evening, I hear the quiet Zzzapof his shoulder laser as it targets mosquitoes.  The device is not as effective as it was two years ago: the mosquitoes are getting faster.

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Soundproof #12

You can download the ePub version here.

This is the October issue, so I guess I should be sounding all spooky in the editor’s note, but That Holiday Which Must Be Feared is a month away, so instead why don’t we talk about reinvention.

I’m not that great at waiting out long serialized stories, and honestly with longer book series where the author is know for long stretches between novels (Cough-George-RR-Martin-Cough) I usually stop one before the last one out so I can at least control when I’ll restart the story. So comics have never been an ideal form for me, except for when the storyline’s collected into a volume. Or, in the case of The Sandman, 10 volumes.

But we’re a bit into DC’s reboot, and their reinvention means a bit more critical eye is being cast over their crop than would be if they hadn’t resorted to remaking themselves in the great American tradition. And while there are highs in the new crop, the lows have been getting most of the attention, because, well, while any reboot is going to lose you fans, it shouldn’t do this to young female fans: http://io9.com/5844355/

On a happier note, this is one-year anniversary of Escape Pod reinventing a bit of itself into a text product in addition to the audio coming into your ear canals every week. I think it’s been a success, but this is as good a point as any to stop and ask for feedback, so hit up feedback@escapepod.org with your suggestions for what we can do different/better in Soundproof.

This Soundproof is bringing you Lavie Tidhar’s The Insurance Agent, Saladin Ahmed’s The Faithful Soldier, Prompted, and T. L. Morganfield’s Night Bird Soaring. So it’s a strong issue.

Hope you enjoy it,

—Bill

P.S. SF Signal put together an awesome, awesome flowchart of NPR’s top 100 SF/F books. Go get lost in it here: http://www.box.net/shared/static/a6omcl2la0ivlxsn3o8m.jpg

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The 2011 Hugo winners

First the list, from the Hugo blog (Congrats to all the winners):

BEST NOVEL
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)

BEST NOVELLA
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)

BEST NOVELETTE
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)

BEST SHORT STORY
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)

BEST RELATED WORK
Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY
Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse,
written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by
Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM
Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven
Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM
Sheila Williams

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
Lou Anders

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
Shaun Tan

BEST SEMIPROZINE
Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace;
podcast directed by Kate Baker

BEST FANZINE
The Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon

BEST FAN WRITER
Claire Brialey

BEST FAN ARTIST
Brad W. Foster

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer
of 2009 or 2010, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Lev Grossman

Second: Mur was liveblogging the ceremony, held at Renovacon, on the Hugo website through CoverItLive here. Highlights include the fake Hugos, running fashion commentary, and SF/F writers at their most humbled.

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EP306: Radio Nowhere

By Douglas Smith
Read by Wilson Fowlie
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Douglas Smith
All stories read by Wilson Fowlie

Rated Inappropriate for the younger ones, due to words of a naughty nature.

Radio  Nowhere
by Douglas Smith

On the anniversary of the worst night of his life, Liam stood outside the darkened control room of the campus radio station. Over the speakers, the Tragically Hip’s “Boots and Hearts” was just winding down. Behind the glass in the studio, Ziggy’s small triangular face glowed like some night angel, lit from below by her laptop screen. She looked up, her eyes finding Liam’s in the darkness. Smiling, she wrinkled her nose at him. His own smile slid away, falling into the dark place inside him, the place that was always darker on this night.

Ziggy turned back to the mike as the song ended. “I’m closing with a request from an old friend, to an old friend. This one’s for Jackie, from Liam. A hurtin’ song, cuz he’s still hurtin’. Fifteen years ago tonight…” She looked at him through the glass.

Fifteen years. He closed his eyes. Fifteen years, and it still hurt this much.

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Soundproof #10

Download the ePub version here.

Hey folks—

Short editor’s note this month to make sure this goes out reasonably on time to all you faithful listeners. Er, readers.

Last month saw a bit of mopping-up action on the various nominees with Stone Wall Truth, which got nominated in the novella category for the Nebula, and the space-piratical Leech Run.

But most importantly, we hit Episode 300 of the podcast that Steve built with Tim Pratt’s We Go Back. Who Escape Pod goes pretty far back with. His stories are episodes 8, 31 (with Greg van Eekhout), 67, 105, 142, 190, 239, 251 and 276. He’s probably far and away the Escape Pod fan favorite, and Impossible Dreams is still the story I usually recommend as the entry point for new Escape Pod listeners.

It’s been a little over a year since Mur took over and I snuck in through an open side Escape Pod airlock (for closed values of open). We’re still adrift in space, same as it ever was, floating along scanning for the next story, and eventually a planet to set down on. Like many fiction journeys, the path laid out at the beginning is not the path you end up going down, because that would be boring.

Until the next,

—Bill

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Soundproof #9

Click here to download the ePub version.

This month we’re bringing you short story and novella nominees for the Hugo awards, one of the two big Science Fiction and Fantasy awards alongside the Nebula. The Nebulas are awarded by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the Hugos by the attendees of Worldcon. The Nebula’s were awarded in May, and we’ll find out who wins the Hugos next month at Renovation in Reno, Nevada.

It’s always been more than a bit amusing to me to see the inevitable ‘That got nominated? The [insert award name] is losing it’ comments cropping up on our forums and elsewhere. As if the Nebulas and Hugos are awarded by some wise men up on the crags, parsing the year’s crop of stories against the award’s prior canon. The nominations and awards come from a large swath of fandom or one’s fellow writers, and there’s always going to be elements of friendship, politics, fervent loyalty, and emotion in these endeavors.

And yet, the nominating crowds for both pick stories that are good, and worth reading. You won’t like all of them, but you’ll like a lot of them, and that is really the best you can hope for. Fiction is not nearly so varied as fiction readers, and the point of these things is to make sure good stories get the biggest audience then can.

Which is also the point of Soundproof. People write into us about having friends that can’t stand hearing stories, or who have a deaf spouse, or they just prefer to read.

The point of Escape Pod is getting as many good stories out to as many ears and eyes (or fingers, if anyone’s feeding this into one of those Braille boxes) as possible, which is why we’ve worked hard to keep things free, taking advertising when we like the advertiser, and being ever thankful to those of you who donate. We couldn’t do it without you. (Which is why Dave Thompson and Wilson Fowlie have been working hard to bring those who donate the Alphabet Quartet as a thank you.)

Hopefully one of the Hugo nominees in this issue will get the shiny, shiny rocket ship next month. They’re all worthy of it, even if they are [insert ghastly sub-genre].

–Bill