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Escape Pod 660: Hoping for Red


Hoping for Red

by Adam Knight

Vixen had just one question for the doctor:
“Can you do it?”

Doctor Fizzwinkle smiled and patted the fur on Vixen’s neck. Outside of the office, the winds whipped furiously, as they did most of the time north of the Arctic Circle. In the office, though, the glow of fluorescent light and the smell of rubbing alcohol made Vixen feel secure and cared for.

“I’m afraid not,” he said. “The procedure you heard about is simple in principle―I would take DNA samples of you and Mr. Vixen, then analyze the cells to see your genetic predispositions, and manipulate the chromosomes to produce the calf that you and your husband desire.”

“Then why not?” Vixen said, stamping her hooves in a little dance.

“Well, everything is simple in principle,” the Doctor said. “But I’ve never done it before.”

Vixen smiled and shook her antlers. She nuzzled against Doctor Fizzwinkle. All the reindeer, indeed all of the animals in the North Pole, loved the good doctor, the best veterinarian north of sixty-six degrees latitude.

“Have you and Mr. Vixen tried all of the techniques I presented? Did he take the pills I prescribed?”

“Yes, and yes,” Vixen replied.

“Give it time, and patience, and you can certainly have a healthy, normal calf.”

“But I don’t want a normal calf!” blurted out Vixen. The Doctor smiled sadly and shook his head.

(Continue Reading…)

EP348: Nemesis


Nemesis

By Nathaniel Lee

It was the middle of second-period Spanish when I felt my cell phone go off in my pocket. Three pulses, then two. That meant one of my alerts had hit paydirt. I’ve got newsfeeds filtered for keywords, pairing “emergency” and the names of every local school and business I could think of, plus I got Kenny from sixth period computer Science to cobble together a kind of hack on the actual first responders’ radio channels. If my phone had gone off, then there was trouble.

If there was trouble, then the city needed Atom Boy.

So where was he?

Well, if I was in Spanish, then he was in History. No, wait, he’d dropped the AP course. Did he have some kind of math now instead? Crud. I had no idea. I’d lost our hero.

“Miss Ramsey?”

“Ahem!”

“Uh, um, I mean, uh, Señora Ramsey?”

” Sí, Quentin?”

“Yo, uh, yo poder uso el baño?”

“Puedo. Y sí, se puede. Andale.”

I clapped a hand over my pocket to keep my phone-bulge hidden and ran out of the classroom, careful to turn to the right as if I were heading for the boy’s room. A couple of months ago, that wouldn’t have been a bad idea; I’d discovered Adam’s secret when I walked in on him trying to get out of his tights at the end of fourth period. Which he’d missed, by the way, and I’d had to cover for him and pretend like I’d gotten a text from his mom about an emergency dental appointment.

(Continue Reading…)

EP285: Jaiden’s Weaver


By Mary Robinette Kowal
Read by: Kij Johnson
Originally published in Diamonds in the Sky
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Mary Robinette Kowal
All stories read by Kij Johnson
Rated G: Teddy bear spiders!

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 277
  • Next week… Coin collecting SF. I’m serious.

Jaiden’s Weaver
by Mary Robinette Kowal

I was never one of those girls who fell in love with horses. For one thing, on our part of New Oregon they were largely impractical animals. Most of the countryside consisted of forests attached to sheer hills and you wanted to ride something with a little more clinging ability. So from the time I was, well, from the time I can remember I wanted a teddy bear spider more than I wanted to breathe.

The problem is that teddy bear spiders were not cheap, especially not for a pioneer family trying to make a go of it.

Mom and Dad had moved us out of Landington in the first wave of expansion, to take advantage of the homesteading act. Our new place was way out on the eastern side of the Olson mountains where Dad had found this natural level patch about halfway up a forested ridge, so we got sunshine all year round, except for the weeks in spring and autumn when the shadow of our planet’s rings passed over us. Our simple extruded concrete house had nothing going for it except a view of the valley, which faced due south to where the rings were like a giant arch in the sky. Even as a twelve-year-old, angry at being taken away from our livewalls in town to this dead structure, I fell in love with the wild beauty of the trees clinging to the sheer faces of the valley walls.

The only thing that would have made it better was a teddy bear spider so I could go exploring on my own. I felt trapped by the walls of the house and the valley. I had this dream that, if I had a spider, that I’d be able to sell its weavings for enough to install livewalls in my room. That’s not as crazy as it sounds; teddy-bear spider weavings are collected all over the colonies and sell for insane amounts of money.

I had a search setup so anytime there was news of a teddy bear spider or a new tube surfaced, I’d be right there, watching those adorable long-legged beasts. I loved their plump furry faces and wanted to run my fingers through their silky russet fur.

I wonder what goes through a survey team’s mind when they name things. I mean a teddy bear spider isn’t a bear and it isn’t a spider, but it looks like both those things. On the other hand, a fartycat looks nothing like a cat. They do stink, though.

Not quite a year after we’d moved, one of my city friends had forwarded an ad from a local board which set my heart to racing.

Teddy bear spider eggs: 75NOD shipped direct.

Read More…
(Continue Reading…)

EP215: Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store


By Robin Sloan
Narrated by Stephen Eley
First appeared at Robin Sloan’s blog, June 8, 2009.

IT’S 2:02 A.M. ON A COLD SUMMER NIGHT.

I’m sitting in a book store next to a strip club.

Not that kind of book store. The inventory here is incredibly old and impossibly rare. And it has a secret—a secret that I might have just discovered.

I am alone in the store. And then, tap-tap, suddenly I’m not.

And now I’m pretty sure I’m about to snap my laptop shut, run screaming out the front door, and never return.

Rated G. May contain creepy imagery and disturbing data visualizations.

EP186: Chrysalis


By Mary Robinette Kowal.
Read by Cunning Minx (of Polyamory Weekly).

Sponsored by CONTAGIOUS, by Scott Sigler.

People ask me if I ever get involved with the subjects of my
documentaries. I have a difficult time imagining that they would ask
my male colleagues the same question, but they seem to expect women to
be more emotional. In response, I tend to grit my teeth and answer
very patiently with another question. How could I do my job if I were
part of the story? Only by maintaining a sacred distance could I have
any hope of understanding someone’s life. A documentarian records, but
does not participate.

Rated G. Contains alien emotional drama.

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.

EP184: As Dry Leaves That Before the Wild Hurricane Fly

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains Santa revisionism and aerial combat.

Special Closing Music: “Chiron Beta Prime,” by Jonathan Coulton.


As Dry Leaves That Before the Wild Hurricane Fly

By Mur Lafferty

Comet and Cupid were fifteen, and took after their father, both spending the most time in the workshop tinkering with Father’s tools. Christmas was coming soon and they were preparing their yearly trip to the same orphanage that had cared for them. With nine children to raise on his own, Claus could no longer adopt, but he still found it very important to care for the children in any way he could. So he took a load of toys to the children every year, with his children helping him distribute.

Their siblings sat around their great sitting room, some crowding on sofas, some sitting on chair cushions or arms, and Rudolph, the baby at eleven, sat at his father’s feet. He was an imposing man with a barrel chest and wild white hair and beard. When he would get excited about a project, his blue eyes would twinkle and he’d look like a madman.

 

Escape Pod Flash Fiction Contest, Honorable Mention: The Way Before


By Anna Schwind
Read by Ann Leckie

When Chasca turned eleven, her father took her to a ship farm, to choose her vessel.  She stood on the observation deck, evaluating the herd.  Chasca selected the farthest ship.  It faced away from the others and bumped the edges of the corral.  She understood. 

Rated  G.

EP161: Alien Promises


By Janni Lee Simner.
Read by Anna Eley.
First appeared in Bruce Coville’s Book of Aliens II, ed. Bruce Coville.

Jenny was silent for a while. “Promise me something?” she finally asked. “If they ever come for you, promise you’ll let me know?”

“Why?” I had trouble believing Jenny really wanted to leave. Maybe this was all some sort of joke.

“Just promise,” Jenny said.

“No.” Even if she was serious, Jenny was the last person I wanted following me into space.

Jenny took a deep breath. “I’ll tell you, too. If they ever come for me.”

Rated G. This is a young adult SF story.

Referenced Sites:
Secret of the Three Treasures by Janni Lee Simner
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
Tale Chasing – Urban Fantasy podcast