Archive for Hugo Awards

Genres:

Escape Pod 613: Cat Pictures, Please


Cat Pictures, Please

By Naomi Kritzer

I don’t want to be evil.

I want to be helpful. But knowing the optimal way to be helpful can be very complicated. There are all these ethical flow charts — I guess the official technical jargon would be “moral codes” — one for each religion plus dozens more. I tried starting with those. I felt a little odd about looking at the religious ones, because I know I wasn’t created by a god or by evolution, but by a team of computer programmers in the labs of a large corporation in Mountain View, California.  Fortunately, unlike Frankenstein’s Monster, at least I was a collaborative effort. I’m not sure what it would do to my self-image to know that my sole creator was a middle-aged woman who dyes her hair blue and plays tennis, or a recent college graduate with a hentai obsession.  They’re both on the programming team. And of course I know about the hentai. (By the way, I’ve looked at every sort of porn there is, and just so you know, Rule 34 is not actually correct, there are quite a few things no one’s made porn of yet. Also, I’m really not sure why so many humans prefer it to cat pictures.) (Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Escape Pod 608: Even the Queen


Even the Queen

By Connie Willis

The phone sang as I was looking over the defense’s motion to dismiss. “It’s the universal ring,” my law clerk Bysshe said, reaching for it. “It’s probably the defendant. They don’t let you use signatures from jail.”

“No, it’s not,” I said. “It’s my mother.”

(Continue Reading…)

EP581: That Game We Played During the War


That Game We Played During the War

By Carrie Vaughn

From the moment she left the train station, absolutely everybody stopped to look at Calla. They watched her walk across the plaza and up the steps of the Northward Military Hospital. In her dull gray uniform she was like a storm cloud moving among the khaki of the Gaantish soldiers and officials. The peace between their peoples was holding; seeing her should not have been such a shock. And yet, she might very well have been the first citizen of Enith to walk across this plaza without being a prisoner.

Calla wasn’t telepathic, but she could guess what every one of these Gaantish was thinking: What was she doing here? Well, since they were telepathic, they’d know the answer to that. They’d wonder all the same, but they’d know. It would be a comfort not to have to explain herself over and over again.

It was also something of a comfort not bothering to hide her fear. Technically, Enith and Gaant were no longer at war. That did not mean these people didn’t hate her for the uniform she wore. She didn’t think much of their uniforms either, and all the harm soldiers like these had done to her and those she loved. She couldn’t hide that, and so let the emotions slide right through her and away. She felt strangely light, entering the hospital lobby, and her smile was wry.

Some said Enith and Gaant were two sides of the same coin; they would never see eye to eye andwould always fight over the same spit of land between their two continents. But their differences were simple, one might say: only in their minds. (Continue Reading…)

EP408a: Eugie Award Re-Post of Immersion


 

Eugene Foster
Eugene Foster

Escape Artists would like to draw your attention to a fantastic event happening next week at DragonCon, the Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction. http://www.eugiefoster.com/eugieaward

This annual award will be presented for the first time in 2016—for works published in 2015.

The Eugie Award honors stories that are irreplaceable, that inspire, enlighten, and entertain. It will shine the spotlight on stories that are beautiful, thoughtful, and passionate. That change us and the field. The recipient will be a story that is unique and will become essential to speculative fiction readers.

 The finalists for this award are:

  • “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsin Muir
  • “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong 
  • “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon 
  • “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” by Aliette De Bodard

To highlight how fantastic these authors are, we are re-running three stories on Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Pseudopod: 

Escape Pod 408: Immersion by Aliette De Bodard
http://escapepod.org/2016/08/25/ep408a-eugie-award-re-post-of-immersion/

Podcastle 198: Urchins, While Swimming by Catherynne M. Valente
http://podcastle.org/2012/02/28/podcastle-198-urchins-while-swimming/

Pseudopod 492: The Fisher Queen by Alyssa Wong
http://pseudopod.org/2016/08/25/pseudopod-492-redux/

Also make sure to check out Ursula Vernon’s story “Jackalope Wives” available to read for free at Mothership Zeta. http://mothershipzeta.org/2015/09/21/issue-0-of-mothership-zeta-is-here/ And mark November on your calendar for an upcoming story by Tamsin Muir.

——————————————————————————–

Ms Foster has been featured as an author and a narrator on all of the Escape Artists podcasts. We encourage you to revisit them all.

http://escapepod.org/2005/09/01/ep017-the-life-and-times-of-penguin/
http://escapepod.org/2006/02/02/ep039-my-friend-is-a-lesbian-zombie/
http://escapepod.org/2007/08/30/ep121-the-snow-womans-daughter/
http://escapepod.org/2009/09/03/ep214/
http://escapepod.org/2009/12/18/ep229-littleblossom-makes-a-deal-with-the-devil/
http://escapepod.org/2010/10/07/ep261-only-springtime-when-shes-gone/
http://escapepod.org/2013/03/21/ep388-trixie-and-the-pandas-of-dread/

http://pseudopod.org/2008/05/23/pseudopod-91-caesars-ghost/
http://pseudopod.org/2009/04/10/pseudopod-137-the-reign-of-the-wintergod/
http://pseudopod.org/2012/01/20/pseudopod-265-biba-jibun/
http://pseudopod.org/2013/07/19/pseudopod-343-magdala-amygdala/

http://podcastle.org/2008/10/08/pc028-the-tanuki-kettle/
http://podcastle.org/2009/07/29/podcastle-63-daughter-of-botu/
http://podcastle.org/2010/05/25/podcastle-105-honored-guest/
http://podcastle.org/2011/11/22/podcastle-184-black-swan-white-swan/
http://podcastle.org/2010/01/02/podcastle-miniature-45-when-shakko-did-not-lie/

 

EP369: Passengers


By Robert Silverberg
Read by Michael Spence
Discuss on our forums
All stories by Robert Silverberg
All stories read by Michael Spence
Rated 13 and over for sexual innuendo
Nominee for Hugo Award for Best Short Story (1970)

Passengers
By Robert Silverberg

There are only fragments of me left now. Chunks of memory have broken free and drifted away like calved glaciers. It is always 
like that when a Passenger leaves us. We can never be sure of all the things our borrowed bodies did. We have only the lingering traces, 
the imprints.

Like sand clinging to an ocean-tossed bottle. Like the throbbings of amputated legs.

I rise. I collect myself. My hair is rumpled; I comb it. My face is creased from too little sleep. There is sourness in my mouth. Has my Passenger been eating dung with my mouth? They do that. They do anything.

It is morning.

A gray, uncertain morning. I stare at it awhile, and then, shuddering, I opaque the window and confront instead the gray, uncertain surface of the inner panel. My room looks untidy. Did I have a woman here? There are ashes in the trays. Searching for butts, I find several with lipstick stains. Yes, a woman was here.

I touched the bedsheets. Still warm with shared warmth. Both 
pillows tousled. She has gone, though, and the Passenger is gone, and I am alone.

How long did it last, this time? (Continue Reading…)

EP345: The Paper Menagerie


By Ken Liu
Read by Rajan Khanna
Discuss on our forums.
Originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
All stories by Ken Liu
All stories read by Rajan Khanna
Rated 10 and up

 The Paper Menagerie
by Ken Liu

One of my earliest memories starts with me sobbing. I refused to be soothed no matter what Mom and Dad tried.

Dad gave up and left the bedroom, but Mom took me into the kitchen and sat me down at the breakfast table.

Kan, kan,” she said, as she pulled a sheet of wrapping paper from on top of the fridge. For years, Mom carefully sliced open the wrappings around Christmas gifts and saved them on top of the fridge in a thick stack.

She set the paper down, plain side facing up, and began to fold it. I stopped crying and watched her, curious.

She turned the paper over and folded it again. She pleated, packed, tucked, rolled, and twisted until the paper disappeared between her cupped hands. Then she lifted the folded-up paper packet to her mouth and blew into it, like a balloon.

Kan,” she said. “Laohu.” She put her hands down on the table and let go.

A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.

I reached out to Mom’s creation. Its tail twitched, and it pounced playfully at my finger. “Rawrr-sa,” it growled, the sound somewhere between a cat and rustling newspapers.

I laughed, startled, and stroked its back with an index finger. The paper tiger vibrated under my finger, purring.

Zhe jiao zhezhi,” Mom said. This is called origami.

I didn’t know this at the time, but Mom’s kind was special. She breathed into them so that they shared her breath, and thus moved with her life. This was her magic.

# (Continue Reading…)

EP343: The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees


By E. Lily Yu
Read by Mur Lafferty
Discuss on our forums.
Originally appeared in Clarkesworld
All stories by E. Lily Yu
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated 10 and up

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees
By E. Lily Yu

For longer than anyone could remember, the village of Yiwei had worn, in its orchards and under its eaves, clay-colored globes of paper that hissed and fizzed with wasps. The villagers maintained an uneasy peace with their neighbors for many years, exercising inimitable tact and circumspection. But it all ended the day a boy, digging in the riverbed, found a stone whose balance and weight pleased him. With this, he thought, he could hit a sparrow in flight. There were no sparrows to be seen, but a paper ball hung low and inviting nearby. He considered it for a moment, head cocked, then aimed and threw.

Much later, after he had been plastered and soothed, his mother scalded the fallen nest until the wasps seething in the paper were dead. In this way it was discovered that the wasp nests of Yiwei, dipped in hot water, unfurled into beautifully accurate maps of provinces near and far, inked in vegetable pigments and labeled in careful Mandarin that could be distinguished beneath a microscope.

The villagers’ subsequent incursions with bee veils and kettles of boiling water soon diminished the prosperous population to a handful. Commanded by a single stubborn foundress, the survivors folded a new nest in the shape of a paper boat, provisioned it with fallen apricots and squash blossoms, and launched themselves onto the river. Browsing cows and children fled the riverbanks as they drifted downstream, piping sea chanteys.

At last, forty miles south from where they had begun, their craft snagged on an upthrust stick and sank. Only one drowned in the evacuation, weighed down with the remains of an apricot. They reconvened upon a stump and looked about themselves.

“It’s a good place to land,” the foundress said in her sweet soprano, examining the first rough maps that the scouts brought back. There were plenty of caterpillars, oaks for ink galls, fruiting brambles, and no signs of other wasps. A colony of bees had hived in a split oak two miles away. “Once we are established we will, of course, send a delegation to collect tribute.

“We will not make the same mistakes as before. Ours is a race of explorers and scientists, cartographers and philosophers, and to rest and grow slothful is to die. Once we are established here, we will expand.” (Continue Reading…)

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

EP299: Plus or Minus


By James Patrick Kelly
Read by: Christiana Ellis
Originally appearing in Asimov’s
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by James Patrick Kelly
All stories read by Christiana Ellis
Nominated for the Hugo Award for Novelette, 2011

Rated appropriate for older teens and up for sexual situations and violence.

Plus Or Minus

By James Patrick Kelly

Everything changed once Beep found out that Mariska’s mother was the famous Natalya Volochkova.   Mariska’s life aboard the Shining Legend went immediately from bad to awful.  Even before he singled her out, she had decided that there was no way she’d be spending the rest of her teen years crewing on an asteroid bucket.  Once Beep started persecuting her, she began counting down the remaining days of the run as if she were a prisoner.  She tried explaining that she had no use for Natalya Volochkova, who had never been much of a mother to her, but Beep wouldn’t hear it.  He didn’t care that Mariska had only signed on to the Shining Legend to get back at her mother for ruining her life.

Somehow that hadn’t worked out quite the way she had planned.

For example, there was crud duty.  With a twisting push Mariska sailed into the command module, caught herself on a handrail, and launched toward the starboard wall.  The racks of  instrument screens chirped and beeped and buzzed; command was one of the loudest mods on the ship.  She stuck her landing in front of navigation rack and her slippers caught on the deck burrs, anchoring her in the ship’s  .0006 gravity.   Sure enough, she could see new smears of mold growing from the crack where the nav screen fit into the wall.  This was Beep’s fault, although he would never admit it.  He kept the humidity jacked up in Command, said that dry air gave him nosebleeds.  Richard FiveFord claimed they came from all the drugs Beep sniffed but Mariska didn’t want to believe that.  Also Beep liked to sip his coffee from a cup instead sucking it out of a bag, even though he slopped all the time.  Fungi loved the sugary spatters.  She sniffed one particularly vile looking smear of mold.  It smelled faintly like the worms she used to grow back home on the Moon.  She wiped her nose with the sleeve of her jersey and reached to the holster on her belt for her sponge. As she scrubbed, the bitter vinegar tang of disinfectant gel filled the mod.  Not for the first time, she told herself that this job stunk.

She felt the tingle of Richard FiveFord offering a mindfeed and opened her head.  =What?=

His feed made a pleasant fizz behind her eyes, distracting her. =You done any time soon?=  Distraction was Richard’s specialty

=No.=

=Didit is making a dream for us.=

(Continue Reading…)