Archive for Featured

EP257: Union Dues: The Sum of Its Parts


By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by: PG Holyfield of Murder at Avedon Hill
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Langton has been under lock-and-key observation since two weeks ago when he sucker punched Paul right in the middle of a publicity shoot for Stars and Stripes at a USO hall in Phoenix. The five of us almost couldn’t bring him down. The melee wrecked most of our stage props — Van De Graff Generators, Tesla Coils, a whole bunch of blinking and flashing, stuff bought from a bankrupt low-budget film studio. Frida recovered the 30 seconds, or so, of 16mm footage shot that morning. Police found the reporter a few hours later unharmed but minus any memory of the previous two days.

The DC3 taxis to the hangar. Paul joins me at the base of the control tower then the four of us walk down towards the plane.

“Hi gang,” The Corporal says and waves as he lumbers down from the fuselage to the sand. He walks right to Paul. “How’s the chin? Sorry about popping you one. I don’t remember any of it, but Frida says I was a real dope.”

Paul laughs a little. “It’s okay. No broken teeth or nothing.” He rubs his anvil-like jaw with a boxing glove-sized fist. “Next time I won’t go easy on you.”

Rated PG

Show Notes:

  • Show your love for Union Dues at the new website!

EP256: The Mermaids Singing Each to Each


By Cat Rambo
Read by: Christiana Ellis of Nina Kimberly the Merciless and Space Casey
First appeared in Clarkesworld
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“Laura,” a speaker said, as though I hadn’t been gone for six years, as though she’d seen me every day in between. “Laura, where is your uncle?”

I used to imagine her disintegrated, torn apart into silent atoms.

“It’s not Laura anymore,” I said. “It’s Lolo. I’m gender neutral.”

“I don’t understand,” she said.

“You’ve got a Net connection,” I said. “Search around on “gender neutral” and “biomod operation.”

I wasn’t sure if the pause that came after that was for dramatic effect or whether she really was having trouble understanding the search parameters. Then she said, “Ah, I see. When did you do that?”

“Six years ago.”

“Where is your uncle?”

“Dead,” I said flatly. I hoped that machine intelligences could hurt and so I twisted the knife as far as I could. “Stabbed in a bar fight.”

Rated R for violence, language, and memory of sexual violence. And Spar feedback.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 248, Spar

Next week… Union Dues!

EP255: Variations on a Theme


By William Meikle
Read by: Zachary Ricks of Flying Island Press
First appeared in Wrongworld
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They took Johnny Green from class 3a at ten o’ clock on Tuesday morning. He was the last to go. They thought I didn’t notice, but I’ve been onto them for a while now.

It started nearly two weeks ago. Teaching biology is difficult when you’ve got a teenage audience. Almost every topic on the syllabus has something about reproduction in it, and that reduces your typical youngster to giggles, rude jokes or hysteria. I’ve got used to it over the last twenty years, and have come to expect the reactions. I’ve even come to know who to expect them from.

So when Jack Doyle was quiet during my “Asexual reproduction in amoeba” spiel, I knew immediately that something was wrong. And my sense of wrongness really went into overdrive when he stayed behind after class to ask questions.

Rated PG for asexual reproduction and giggling teens.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 245, Bridecicle

Next week… Mermaids and scavengers.

EP254: A Talent For Vanessa


By David W. Goldman
Read by: Dave Thompson of PodCastle
First appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact
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All stories read by Dave Thompson

The young woman, a Ms. Vanessa Kortright-Kingston, untwisted. “No, I mean that he just knows the date like that! As if he could look into the future.”

Marv snorted. “Calendar calculating. They all do that. Not worth a paper dollar, not even in a carnival sideshow.”

“I’ve heard of it, but — ” Her blue eyes were wide as a con man’s smile. “They can all do it?”

“Sure.” Marv tilted back, his big wooden chair squeaking. “All the Counters, anyway. It’s like the Artists — they all draw horses. Or dogs. Which is funny, because back when they got their talents you’d never see a horse here in the city. Dogs, okay, no big deal. But you ask any Artist to sketch you a horse, and blam — if the damn thing galloped off the paper you wouldn’t be surprised.”

Her gaze went a bit distant. “That’s what I’d like,” she said. “To become an artist. Or a musician.”

Rated PG for dreams realized.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 246, The Bride of Frankenstein

Next week… Teaching is quite tough, admittedly.

EP253: Eugene


By Jacob Sager Weinstein
Read by: Tim “ShoEboX” Crist of Worm Quartet, Cirque du So What?, and The Funny Music Project
First appeared in Popcorn Fiction
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All stories by Jacob Sager Weinstein
All stories read by Tim “ShoEboX” Crist

As he puts the cruiser in gear and takes off, I calm down a little bit, and smell something that worries me. I smell Apurna on him, like always, but she doesn’t smell right. She smells of nervousness bordering on fear, and come to think of it, he does, too. It’s an old smell–I’d say from late yesterday evening, just after work–but it’s unmistakable. And there’s a hospital smell, and the smell of Apurna’s pain.

I shouldn’t say anything. Francisco doesn’t like me to pry.

But he took Apurna to the hospital.

But he doesn’t like me to pry.

But he took Apurna to the hospital.

But he doesn’t like me to pry.

But–

“What’s wrong with Apurna?” I say.

Rated PG for minor police excitement.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 245, The Moment

Next week… Talent agencies and regret

EP252: Billion-Dollar View


By Ray Tabler
Read by: John Cmar
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“But my name is Simon.”

Molly shook her head and chuckled. “With a head of hair like that? Nope, from now on your name is Red.”

Simon felt his young face flushing with embarrassment, which would further cement his new nickname. “What if I don’t want to be called Red?”

“Too late, should have shaved your head before I bought your contract.” Molly winked at him, executed a back flip in mid-air and launched herself out of the Labor Mart. “Come on, Red. We ain’t got all day.”

Rated PG for peril and heartbreak and ballads.

Show Notes:

Next week… A very, very good dog.

EP251: Unexpected Outcomes


By Tim Pratt
Read by: Tom “Devo Spice” Rockwell of The Funny Music Project..
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Originally published in: Interzone
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All stories read by Tom “Devo Spice” Rockwell

But the plane just stopped, and hung there, nose tipped at a slight angle, mere feet from the building.

And that’s when the figure — the one people call the Ambassador, or the Doctor, or the Outsider, or the Professor, or a hundred other names — appeared. Just a middle-aged man in a white lab coat, with steel-rimmed glasses and graying hair. His image filled the air above the jetliner, like the dome of the sky had been transformed into an IMAX movie screen.

He said, “People of Earth, I have a message for you.”

Rated PG for ennui and futility of life.

Show Notes:

  • Tim Pratt is serializing a Marla Mason novel, Broken Mirrors at his website. His first anthology is out this summer from Night Shade Books, Sympathy for the Devil.
  • Tom Rockwell’s work can be found at his personal music website, Devo Spice, The Funny Music Project, and his comedy troupe, Cirque du So What?
  • Incidentally, Tom Rockwell, myself, and many other Escape Artist writers and narrators will be at NASFiC next week, so check us out if you’re in the Raleigh, NC area!

Next week… Rescue in deep space. And guitar ballads.

EP249: Little M@tch Girl


By Heather Shaw
Read by Mur Lafferty
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: Tumbarumba
All stories by Heather Shaw
All stories read by Mur Lafferty

It wasn’t that Em disapproved of drug use, you just had to be savvy about which drugs you took. Back before she had to get a day job, she was a M@tch girl, much to the delight of the guys on the club scene. M@tch wasn’t a wimpy drug, but it didn’t turn you into a murderous street zombie either. It was also expensive — a designer “where it’s @!” drug — that the Tweakers couldn’t afford anyway.

Rated R for one sexual scene and drug use.

Show Notes:

  • We’re back, we hope you liked our Hugo offering! Be sure to vote before July 31!

Next week… Escape Pod ventures into the world of novellas.

EP244: Non-Zero Probabilities


By N.K. Jemisin
Originally recorded by Kate Baker for Clarkesworld Magazine, and is used here with their expressed permission.
Discuss on our forums.
Guest Host: Dave Thompson of Podcastle
All stories by N.K. Jemisin
All stories read by Kate Baker

Her neighbor — the other one, across the hall — helped her figure it out, long before the math geeks finished crunching their numbers.

“Watch,” he’d said, and laid a deck of cards facedown on her coffee table. (There was coffee in the cups, with a generous dollop of Bailey’s. He was a nice-enough guy that Adele felt comfortable offering this.) He shuffled it with the blurring speed of an expert, cut the deck, shuffled again, then picked up the whole deck and spread it, still facedown. “Pick a card.”

Adele picked. The Joker.

“Only two of those in the deck,” he said, then shuffled and spread again. “Pick another.”

She did, and got the other Joker.

“Coincidence,” she said. (This had been months ago, when she was still skeptical.)

Rated R: for Lucky Streaks and Getting Lucky.

Show Notes:

  • Enter the Escape Pod Flash Contest! It runs June 1- July 4, stories must be under 500 words. More information at the link.
  • Editor’s note: Thanks so much to Dave Thompson and Peter Wood for taking on this project of securing all five Hugo stories during the hiatus of Escape Pod. Most of the work was done before I joined, and this wouldn’t have happened without them stepping up.

Next week… Another Hugo-nominated story!