Archive for For Kids

EP135: Stu

By Bruce McAllister.
Read by Stephen Eley.
Appears in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories, from Golden Gryphon Press.

The first time I met Stu, I was just a kid and there weren’t any lights hovering over his house. The last time I saw him, when I was grown and we both knew what life could be if you let it, there were. That’s the best way to start, I guess.

That first time, our dad piled us into our old Chevy wagon–the kind you took to drive-in movies with sheets on the seats and your kids in pajamas–and drove us to the north county, saying only, “Stu is an inventor. He’ll never see any royalties from his inventions because the Navy owns them, but he’s an inventor, the kind that made America great.”

How had he first met Stu? How does anyone in the Navy get to know a wide-eyed, crazy-haired inventor who wasn’t at all “strack,” who shouldn’t have been anywhere near the military but somehow was? On a Secret Project, of course. My brother and I‚Äîwho were 10 and 6 at the time–were sure of it. Our dad and Stu had to be working on a Secret Project together.

Rated G. Contains military bureaucracy, but nothing more disturbing.

EP133: Other People’s Money

By Cory Doctorow.
Read by Amanda Fitzwater.
First appeared in Forbes Magazine, October 2007.

Which is why she was hoping that the venture capitalist would just leave her alone. He wasn’t a paying customer, he wasn’t a fellow artist — he wanted to *buy* her, and he was thirty years too late.

“You know, I pitched you guys in 1999. On Sand Hill Road. One of the founding partners. Kleiner, I think. The guy ate a salad all through my slide-deck. When I was done, he wiped his mouth, looked over my shoulder, and told me he didn’t think I’d scale. That was it. He didn’t even pick up my business card. When I looked back as I was going out the door, I saw his sweep it into the trash with the wrapper from his sandwich.”

The VC — young, with the waxy, sweaty look of someone who ate a lot of GM yogurt to try to patch his biochemistry — shook his head. “That wasn’t us. We’re a franchise — based here in LA. I just opened up the Inglewood branch. But I can see how that would have soured you on us. Did you ever get your VC?”

Rated G. Contains Byzantine finance and potentially disturbing art.

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EP131: Hesperia and Glory

By Ann Leckie.
Read by Frank Key (of Hooting Yard).
First appeared in Subterranean Magazine #4.

He told me then of the antiquity and superiority of Martian
civilization, and of Hesperia, which was the greatest of Martian
nations. Each Hesperian learned, from his mother’s knee and
throughout his schooling, the importance of right thinking. “On
Mars,” he said, “we understand that what one thinks makes the world.”

“Do you mean to say that each of us makes our own world with his
thoughts?” I’d heard the idea before, usually at two in the morning
from young men drunk with a heady mix of champagne and philosophy, and
whose lives had yet to run up very hard against reality.

“No, no,” said Atkins testily. “Nothing so trivial. There’s only one
universe. But that universe is formed by thought. If it were left to
undisciplined minds, the world would be chaos.”

Rated G. Contains classic Martian action/adventure and potentially hazardous philosophy.

EP130: What We Learned From This Morning’s Newspaper

By Robert Silverberg
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in Unfamiliar Territory, 1973.

I got home from the office as usual at 6:47 this evening and discovered that our peaceful street has been in some sort of crazy uproar all day. The newsboy it seems came by today and delivered the New York Times for Wednesday December 1 to every house on Redbud Crescent. Since today is Monday November 22 it follows therefore that Wednesday December 1 is the middle of next week. I said to my wife are you sure that this really happened? Because I looked at the newspaper myself before I went off to work this morning and it seemed quite all right to me.

At breakfast time the newspaper could be printed in Albanian and it would seem quite all right to you my wife replied. Here look at this. And she took the newspaper from the hall closet and handed it all folded up to me. It looked just like any other edition of the New York Times but I saw what I had failed to notice at breakfast time, that it said Wednesday December 1.

Is today the 22nd of November I asked? Monday?

It certainly is my wife told me. Yesterday was Sunday and tomorrow is going to be Tuesday and we haven’t even come to Thanksgiving yet. Bill what are we going to do about this?

Rated G. It’s slightly safer to listen to than the New York Times.

EP121: The Snow Woman’s Daughter

By Eugie Foster.
Read by cunning minx (of Polyamory Weekly).
First appeared in Cricket magazine, February 2007.

When I was a little girl, I thought my mother’s name was Yuki, which means snow. That was part of her name, but I didn’t learn the rest of it until the night my father died.

My mother left us on a slate-gray evening when I was five, with her namesake falling from the sky and piled high around the windows and doors. Awakened by raised voices, I watched through a tear in the curtain that shielded my sleeping mat as my mother wrapped her limbs in a shining, white kimono. As far back as I could remember, she had always worn the dark wool shifts that all mountain people wear, spun from the hair of the half-mad goats that give us milk and cheese. In her kimono she looked like a princess, or a queen. Her skin was paler than mine, and I am thought quite fair. Roku, the boy who lived on the northern crest, used to tease me when we were little, calling me “ghost girl” and “milk face.”

Rated G. Contains non-graphic death and childbearing.

Referenced Sites:
Daily Dragon Podcast
Dragon*Con 2007

EP119: Aliens Want Our Women

Ramona Louise Wheeler
Read by Leann Mabry (of Tag in the Seam).

He was a widower, weary of too many years of loneliness. He had decided to travel to someplace distant and exotic, in hopes of finding as a companion someone completely different from his lost love. He had chosen Earth for its very remoteness.

“I want to marry the most wonderful woman on Earth,” he said.

Every female on the planet had just acquired a brand new agenda in life.

Rated G. Contains gender role stereotyping, but no strong sex, language or violence. Sorry.

Blog of the Week:
The Evil Eyebrow
(receives The John W. Campbell Letters, Vol. 1)

Referenced Sites:
Polyamory Weekly
The DrabbleCast

EP115: Conversations With and About My Electric Toothbrush

By Derek Zumsteg.
Read by Jared Axelrod (of The Department of Public Words).

“I read an interesting forum post last night,” my electric toothbrush told me over its low burr.

“Thiff ouff thew be thood,” I said through my mouth of foam.

“It was!” he replied. “Using readily available components, Monkeymonkey turned his Intellibrush into a milk frother.”

I spit into the sink and set my toothbrush in its white ceramic charger. “What would I do with a milk frother?”

“Make cappucinos,” my toothbrush said, with a hint of resignation, as I rinsed and spit again.

“I don’t drink cappucinos,” I said.

“You could start!”

Rated G. Contains a very mild reference to vibrating appliances.

Referenced Sites:
U.S.S. Mariner
Senses Five Press

EP109: Squonk the Apprentice

By P.M. Butler.
Read by Stephen and Anna Eley.

“What’s a ‘prentice?”

Without thinking, Wendel answered. “An apprentice is young person who wants to be a wizard, so they find an older wizard to teach them.”

The moment the words left his mouth, Wendel’s heart stopped and his eyes went wide. If he’d known a spell that could grab those words and stuff them back down his throat, he would have cast it.

Instead, those words scampered all the way across his bedroom, as words are inclined to do, and rushed into the ears of the dragon in the window. Wendel watched in horror as the words sunk into Squonk’s brain. Squonk’s eyes grew wide, his mouth dropped open, and before Wendel could think of anything to say–

“You can learn to be a wizard?! That’s awesome! I wanna be a wizard! Lemme be your ‘prentice!”

Rated G. It’s a children’s story about a dragon raised by a bluebird. Set content expectations accordingly.

Referenced Sites:
EP070: Squonk the Dragon
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman
2007 Hugo Nominees

EP105: Impossible Dreams

2007 Hugo Nominee!

By Tim Pratt.
Read by Matthew Wayne Selznick (of Brave Men Run and Writers Talking).
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, July 2006.
All stories by Tim Pratt.
All stories read by Stephen Eley.

He went to the Sci-Fi shelf‚Äîand had another shock. I, Robot was there, but not the forgettable action movie with Will Smith‚Äîthis was older, and the credits said “written by Harlan Ellison.” But Ellison’s adaptation of the Isaac Asimov book had never been produced, though it had been published in book form. “Must be some bootleg student production,” he muttered, and he didn’t recognize the name of the production company. But‚Äîbut‚Äîit said “winner of the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.” That had to be a student director’s little joke, straight-facedly absurd box copy, as if this were a film from some alternate reality. Worth watching, certainly, though again, he couldn’t imagine how he’d never heard of this. Maybe it had been done by someone local. He took it to the counter and offered his credit card.

She looked at the card dubiously. “Visa? Sorry, we only take Weber and FosterCard.”

Rated G. Contains excessive movie trivia; some of it true.

Today’s Sponsor:

Referenced Sites:
Balticon 2007

EP100: Nightfall

By Isaac Asimov.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, September 1941.

“Of the six suns, only Beta is left in the sky. Do you see it?”

The question was rather unnecessary. Beta was almost at zenith, its
ruddy light flooding the landscape to an unusual orange as the brilliant
rays of setting Gamma died. Beta was at aphelion. It was small; smaller than
Theremon had ever seen it before, and for the moment it was undisputed ruler
of Lagash’s sky.

Lagash’s own sun, Alpha, the one about which it revolved, was at the
antipodes, as were the two distant companion pairs. The red dwarf Beta — Alpha’s immediate companion — was alone, grimly alone.

Aton’s upturned face flushed redly in the sunlight. “In just under four
hours,” he said, “civilization, as we know it, comes to an end. It will do
so because, as you see, Beta is the only sun in the sky.” He smiled grimly.
“Print that! There’ll be no one to read it.”

Rated G. Contains some violence and apocalyptic themes.