Category: Featured

Tea, Bodies and Business: Remaking the Hero Archetype by Kameron Hurley

Kameron Hurley is the author of the novels God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. She has won the Hugo Award and been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award, BFS Award, and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Her latest novel, The Mirror Empire, will be published by Angry Robot Books on August 26th, 2014.


 

 

Tea, Bodies and Business: Remaking the Hero Archetype

Hero.

Ok, I want you to stop right there.

Think about what image popped into your mind when you read “hero.” The first one.

NO CHEATING.

What’s the first image your mind conjured on reading that word?

Hero.

Who is it?

Who is… he?

These days, when I read “hero” the image that pops up is some superhero, because I’m inundated with Marvel movie images all day. Thor comes to mind. Maybe, if I haven’t been eating movies for awhile, it’s Conan.

Hero: a dude. Muscles. White. Butch.

Hero. First image. Every time.

It takes some additional thought, some re-training, for me to see anything but that archetype when I first think “hero.” I have the same trouble with nearly every term we say is gender-neutral or totally inclusive that… well… turns out isn’t. That’s because when we learned what words meant, we had certain types of images placed in front of us. We learned to associate those images with the word.

We ate what the stories and media fed us, and it’s why, to this day, we conjure them again and again when we see those words in text, when we hear them in conversations. We carry those expectations. It’s why, often, we get so upset or simply surprised when the hero we see on the page doesn’t conform to the image we learned.

Subverting expectations has become a hallmark of the gray, grimdark(er) fantasy tales now, and the even darker obsession in more general media of mythologizing serial killers (Bates Motel, Hannibal), elevating them to, if not heroes, then complex protagonists worthy of having their stories told; it’s cultivating compassion for killers. Yet still, there anti-hero heros are the same sorts of heroes: white, male, butch.

I can think of only two movies with women killers we’re meant to sympathize with, and both because they’d been sexually assaulted – Thelma and Louise and Monster. And to be honest, I don’t imagine anyone would call the women in these films heroes. Red Sonja is, perhaps, a proper hero, but is, once again, motivated by a sexual assault. Male heroes are heroic because of what’s been done to women in their lives, often – the dead child, the dead wife. Women heroes are also heroic for what’s been done to women… to them.

Announcing the third flash contest!

Our flash contest on the forums was so popular a while back that we thought we’d do another! It opens for submission on August 1 and you can read all about it on the forums!

The Escape Artists forum is proud to present the third official flash story contest!

Twice before the forum has hosted flash story contests to a resounding success. The last flash contest, which was divided into three sub-contests, one for each forum, lasted nearly six months from announcement until completion and featured over 300 story submissions between the three podcasts. It was a great experience for all but by the end people were clearly getting a bit fatigued. So, this time round, we decided to space things up a bit more, and we will be running separate contests for each podcast, with a few months for everyone to recharge their writing/voting batteries between.

So, without further ado, here are the official rules and regulations for the third Escape Pod flash story contest:

EP284: On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy

By Desmond Warzel
Read by: Joshua McNichols
Originally published in SFReader
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Desmond Warzel
All stories read by Joshua McNichols
Rated PG: This story contains a real obnoxious dude.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 276
  • Next week… The hopes and dreams of a child, and her pet.

On a Clear Day You can See All the Way to Conspiracy
by Desmond Warzel

You’re listening to the Mike Colavito Show on Cleveland’s home for straight talk, WCUY 1200. The opinions expressed on this program do not reflect those of WCUY, its management, or its sponsors.

Fair warning; I’m in a mood today, folks.

We’ve got a mayor whose only talent seems to be showing up at luncheons and waving at the cameras.

Eighty bucks I had to pay yesterday for not wearing my seatbelt. Show me the seatbelts on a school bus.

I saw a Cleveland athlete on national TV last night wearing a Yankees cap.

And every day I get at least a dozen calls from schmucks who think that people like me are the problem in this city.

Tell me America’s not falling apart.

[pause]

And some of you people–including our programming director, by the way–seem to think I’m running my mouth too much and not taking enough phone calls. I’ve only been number one in radio in this city for ten straight years; what would I know?

You want calls? You got ‘em. Steven in Mayfield Heights, you’re on the air.

“Hey, what’s up, Mike?”

The rent. Art in Seven Hills, you’re on WCUY.

“How you doing, Mike. Just wondering if you caught that ball game last night?”

No. Andrea in Rocky River, go ahead.

“Hi, Mike, first-time caller.”

Well, call back tomorrow and you’ll be a second-time caller. Carol in Cleveland, what’s on your mind?

“Mike, what do you think of waterboarding?”

My wife and I waterboard all the time, and it’s improved our sex life dramatically. Chuck in Parma, you’re on the air.

“Hey, Mike, I heard your show yesterday, and I was just wondering, if you know so much about football, why you don’t take over as head coach of the Browns?”

I wouldn’t want to take the pay cut. Mina in Lakewood, you’re on the air.

“Does your wife think that waterboarding crack was funny?”

Play your cards right some night and you could find out for yourself, Mina. Tommy in Beachwood, you’re on WCUY.

“Hi, Mike, just wondering who you think the Indians should try and trade for next year.”

Your mother. Jane in Euclid, go ahead.

[pause]

Read More…

EP265: We are Ted Tuscadero for President

By Chris Dahlen
Read by: Cheyenne Wright
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Chris Dahlen
All stories read by Cheyenne Wright
Rated PG-13: For sexual situations and adult language.

Show Notes:

  • Election day is always better with clones!
  • Mr. Dahlen is editorial director of Kill Screen, a new print quarterly magazine about videogames.
  • Feedback for Episode 257: Union Dues: The Sum of Its Parts.
  • Next week… We travel to Japan!

We Are Ted Tuscadero For President
By Chris Dahlen

My name is Ted Tuscadero. And I want to be your President.

I say that with a humble heart. I realize that even after eight stellar years in the Senate, some of you are still getting to know me. And I’ll admit, I am not perfect. The other day, when I told a VFW in Littleton I would blast Iran to glass, and at the same exact time I swore off the war at a town hall in Concord? My bad. Or the time that three of me showed up for the big debate in Manchester, and we got in a fistfight over who was going on the air? Yeah, the chattering classes had a few laughs over that one.

And that little incident before the holidays, when I crashed, as lit as a Christmas tree, into a pole and my car exploded, killing me instantly and taking a mailbox, a transformer and a barn cat with me? It looked bad, I know. But that proxy was on the fritz. That’s not me. That’s not who I am. And the more we talk, the better you get to know me, the more you’ll see what I mean.

Keep reading…

EP264: St. Darwin’s Spirituals

By D.K. Thompson
Read by: Mur Lafferty
First appeared in Murky Depths
Host: Norm Sherman
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by DK Thompson
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated R: For paranormal sexual situations

Show Notes:

  • Enjoy our Halloween episode, which mixes a bit of paranormal in with our science fiction. Hey, it’s a special holiday, and we’re apt to get a little crazy around here.
  • If listeners want some lighter Halloween fun, “Horrorworld,” DK’s short story collaboration with Kevin David Anderson, is running as a two-part special at Drabblecast this Halloween. If people have ever had a desire to see Yul Brynner fight zombies, that’s the story for them.
  • Feedback for Episode 256: The Mermaids Singing Each to Each.
  • Next week… A special election day episode!

Saint Darwin’s Spirituals
By D.K. Thompson

The ghosts wanted a threesome – the two of them in Lucy’s body. It wasn’t an unheard of proposition, or so Lucy had been told. Prostitutes considered psychic whoring one of the safest tricks on the streets. All the pleasures of intimacy without the messy clean-up.

Ghosts had a nasty reputation for vanishing the moment after, though, no matter the talisman around your neck or the potion drunk before sunset, and so payments were usually collected up front. Not that Lucy was worried about the money. Her husband was the only thing that concerned her.

She adjusted her brass and leather goggles, peering through the ethereal tinted lenses to examine the ghosts.

They looked like the average apparitions. Both female. One spiraled around Lucy, long and curly hair obscuring her face. Large black blotches covered her body, causing her skin to peel off in patches. The other hovered several feet above the cobblestones in front of Lucy. She had a noose around her throat and her neck was bent so her head hung to the left side. She crossed her arms and took several breaths. Or whatever passed for breaths in the afterlife.

How long had it been since they’d felt someone’s touch?
Lucy wondered. She remembered something her husband had told her long ago, before the murders, before he’d disappeared. “Spirits linger in this world longing to be a part of it, to reconnect, to have some kind of physical, sensual experience,” Thomas had said. “Only a host can provide them that.”

Ghosts aren’t the only creatures haunted by the memory of a touch, my love, Lucy thought. And yet, despite being a devout spiritualist, she shuddered at the idea of the cadaverous spirits making love inside her. She’d never had a ghostgasm before, much less been paid for one. The ghosts looked sincere in their desire, not like dangerous murderers. Certainly not monsters. Still, lonely as she was, a ghostgasm wouldn’t help her find Thomas.

Read more….

EP262: Cruciger

By Erin Cashier
Read by: Kij Johnson
First appeared in Writers of the Future 24
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Erin Cashier
All stories read by Kij Johnson

Captain Harash was its last occupant, the last living man from Earth, and both he and Duxa knew he was dying.

“It’s time, Duxa,” he told her.

She checked the output from his lifechair. While it was still replicating most of his bodily functions for him he did not seem appreciably worse than when she’d last monitored him, less than half a second before.

“We’re not at our destination yet, Captain.”

“You’ll make it there without me, Duxa.”

And the processors that she must have built but could never quite find — she was enormously bulky, and by now some of her was a mystery even unto herself — created an awkward sensation. Duxa told him: “I will be lonely without you.”

“And that’s good,” Harash said.

“You wish me pain?” Duxa asked him.

“No. I wish for you to feel. I wish,” and he paused here, his lips making the smacking noises she knew indicated a loss of reflexive controls as the plague made its way through his cranial nerves, “I wish that there were more things that you could feel, Duxa.”

“I think I feel quite a lot.”

Harash laughed, a coughing sound. “All teenagers do. Remember that, should you actually feel someday, that the white hot intensity fades, but to keep the embers stoking.”

Rated PG: For brief violence, the death of tentacled creatures, and the end of the world as we know it.

Show Notes:

  • Recommended watching: Babylon 5
  • Feedback for Episode 254: A Talent for Vanessa.

Next week… Sibling rivalry never goes out of style.

EP261: Only Springtime When She’s Gone

By Eugie Foster
Read by: Jason Adams
First appeared in Anaisdotmfk
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Eugie Foster
All stories read by Jason Adams

“A takeover of your company with the state your market shares are in is not unreasonable.” Although Soaces was right, there’d be precious little profit, even after he’d liquidated all of Renewal’s assets and released the employees. But that wasn’t why he wanted it.

“You’re going to destroy us, aren’t you? Tear us apart and sell us to the highest bidder.”

“That’s the plan.”

“There’s more to the company than the money. You’ll eliminate so many people’s livelihoods. Good people. Without Renewal, some of them won’t have any other alternatives.”

“Alternative to what? Luddite jobs? Machine labor?” He chose his next words, enunciating each syllable with relish. “It’s all they’re good for, isn’t it? Can’t have the un-teched getting above their station.”

Portia dropped her gaze. “I never said that.”

“But you didn’t deny it.”

Rated PG: For mild sexual situations.

Show Notes:

Next week… A computer has an identity crisis.

EP260: The Speed of Dreams

By Will Ludwigsen
Read by: Mur Lafferty
Host: Norm Sherman
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Will Ludwigsen
All stories read by Mur Lafferty

Brought to you by Audible.com – Get The Alchemist and The Executioness (or any book you like) for FREE today when you sign up for a free trial!

Paige Sumner

8th Grade Science Fair Paper Draft

#

Introduction

It happens all the time: you’re sitting in class, listening the best you can while Mister Waters goes on and on about atoms or sound waves or whatever, when suddenly you fall asleep. Your head lolls against your shoulder and some drool oozes from the side of your mouth. Luckily, Missy Woo kicks you in the knee to wake you up before someone notices, like Mister Waters or–worse–Austin.

What’s weird is that in those few minutes of sleeping, you dream like hours of stuff. You’re all hanging out or playing basketball or walking the mall while everybody else is slowly raising their hands and taking notes. They all get twenty four hours that day, but you get a little extra.

But how much extra?

Rated PG: For mild drug use.

Show Notes:

  • Sponsored by Audible – get a free book today when you sign up for your free trial!
  • Feedback for Episode 252: Billion-Dollar View.

Next week… Love, the viral kind.

EP259: The Lady or the Tiger

By J M McDermott
Read by: Grant Baciocco of Throwing Toasters and The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd
Host: Norm Sherman
First appeared in Apex Magazine
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by J M McDermott
All stories read by Grant Baciocco

Brought to you by Audible.com – Get The Alchemist and The Executioness (or any book you like) for FREE today when you sign up for a free trial!

The only thing I could think of to take my mind off of Sheila, and the crash, was asking my brother about Guj Sarwar, the tiger on the back of the great and mighty lizard, Samarkand. When I was a boy, I didn’t understand why it was the only other thing I could think about, like something was on the tip of my tongue.

And, Jiri knew everything there was to know about the wastes of the far west, the lizards, and the tigers. He was fifteen years old. Next year, he’d be driving cattle up the highway to Io Town in a flyer all by himself. I was only ten. I didn’t even have my own computer terminal yet. I had to share his when he wasn’t using it. Everything I knew about the wastes had been from the computer, and from Jiri.

“On the wastes, Simsa,” said my brother, “you can’t walk on the ground. The sand is all quicksand. It sucks you up and swallows you. You have to ride on the back of giant lizards as big as walking mountains. There’re only twenty-five lizards. They have names.”

Rated PG-13: For blood and revolution and missing fingers.

Show Notes:

  • Sponsored by Audible – get a free book today when you sign up for your free trial!
  • Feedback for Episode 251: Unexpected Outcomes.

Next week… How fast can dreams run?

EP258: Raising Jenny

By Janni Lee Simner.
Read by: Mur Lafferty
First appeared in the anthology Not Of Woman Born
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Janni Lee Simner
All stories read by Mur Lafferty

“I know I can’t do anything about this–” she gestured toward the tangled blankets, the hospital bed, the pale walls. “But I’ve asked the doctors to take some cells–I still have a few healthy ones left, you know, and they’ll keep for some time–“

I could guess the rest. But Susan, ever the biologist, had her lecture after all. “It doesn’t work like that.” Her voice was gentle, as if she were speaking to one of her two sons, not to Mom. “A clone isn’t the same as the original. Your clone would be no more like you than–than one identical twin is like another. It wouldn’t be–” Susan’s voice caught. “It wouldn’t be you.”

“You don’t _know,_” Mom said. “None of the clones are old enough to ask yet. They’re just babies.”

Rated G: Not for kids, but nothing to worry about if you listen around the kids.

Show Notes:

  • Congrats on the Hugo winners and the Parsec winners!
  • We announce the winners of the flash contest.
  • Feedback for Episode 250: Eros, Philia, Agape.

Next week… Difficult decisions, ladies, and tigers.