Archive for Hugo Awards

Soundproof #9


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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…)

EP296: For Want of a Nail


By Mary Robinette Kowal
Read by: Mur Lafferty
Originally appearing in Asimov’s
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Mary Robinette Kowal
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Nominated for the Hugo Award for Short Story, 2011

Rated appropriate for teens and up for language.

For Want of a Nail
By Mary Robinette Kowal

With one hand, Rava adjusted the VR interface glasses where they bit into the bridge of her nose, while she kept her other hand buried in Cordelia’s innards. There was scant room to get the flexible shaft of a mono-lens and her hand through the access hatch in the AI’s chassis. From the next compartment, drums and laughter bled through the plastic walls of the ship, indicating her sister’s conception party was still in full swing.

With only a single camera attached, the interface glasses didn’t give Rava depth perception as she struggled to replug the transmitter cable. The chassis had not been designed to need repair. At all. It had been designed to last hundreds of years without an upgrade.

If Rava couldn’t get the cable plugged in and working, Cordelia wouldn’t be able to download backups of herself to her long-term memory. She couldn’t store more than a week at a time in active memory. It would be the same as a slow death sentence.

The square head of the cable slipped out of Rava’s fingers. Again. “Dammit!” She slammed her heel against the ship’s floor in frustration.

“If you can’t do it, let someone else try.” Her older brother, Ludoviko, had insisted on following her out of the party as if he could help.

“You know, this would go a lot faster if you weren’t breathing down my neck.”

“You know, you wouldn’t be doing this at all if you hadn’t dropped her.”

(Continue Reading…)

EP298: The Things


By Peter Watts
Read by: Kate Baker (Thanks to Kate and Clarkesworld for the audio!)
Originally appearing in Clarkesworld
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Peter Watts
All stories read by Kate Baker
Nominated for the Hugo Award for Short Story, 2011

Rated appropriate for older teens and up for language and disturbing imagery.

The Things
By Peter Watts

I am being Blair. I escape out the back as the world comes in through the front.

I am being Copper. I am rising from the dead.

I am being Childs. I am guarding the main entrance.

The names don’t matter. They are placeholders, nothing more; all biomass is interchangeable. What matters is that these are all that is left of me. The world has burned everything else.

I see myself through the window, loping through the storm, wearing Blair.  MacReady has told me to burn Blair if he comes back alone, but MacReady still thinks I am one of him. I am not: I am being Blair, and I am at the door. I am being Childs, and I let myself in. I take brief communion, tendrils writhing forth from my faces, intertwining: I am BlairChilds, exchanging news of the world.

The world has found me out. It has discovered my burrow beneath the tool shed, the half-finished lifeboat cannibalized from the viscera of dead helicopters. The world is busy destroying my means of escape. Then it will come back for me.

There is only one option left. I disintegrate. Being Blair, I go to share the plan with Copper and to feed on the rotting biomass once called Clarke ; so many changes in so short a time have dangerously depleted my reserves. Being Childs, I have already consumed what was left of Fuchs and am replenished for the next phase.  I sling the flamethrower onto my back and head outside, into the long Antarctic night.

I will go into the storm, and never come back.

(Continue Reading…)

EP297: Amaryllis


By Carrie Vaughn
Read by: Gabrielle De Cuir
Originally appearing in Lightspeed
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Carrie Vaughn
All stories read by Gabrielle De Cuir
Nominated for the Hugo Award for Short Story, 2011

Rated appropriate for all young teens and up for reproductive concerns.

Amaryllis
By Carrie Vaughn

I never knew my mother, and I never understood why she did what she did. I ought to be grateful that she was crazy enough to cut out her implant so she could get pregnant. But it also meant she was crazy enough to hide the pregnancy until termination wasn’t an option, knowing the whole time that she’d never get to keep the baby. That she’d lose everything. That her household would lose everything because of her.

I never understood how she couldn’t care. I wondered what her family thought when they learned what she’d done, when their committee split up the household, scattered them—broke them, because of her.

Did she think I was worth it? (Continue Reading…)

EP250: Eros, Philia, Agape


By Rachel Swirsky
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: Tor.com
All stories by Rachel Swirsky
All stories read by Mur Lafferty

The objects belonged to them both, but Adriana waved her hand bitterly when Lucian began packing. “Take whatever you want,” she said, snapping her book shut. She waited by the door, watching Lucian with sad and angry eyes.

Their daughter, Rose, followed Lucian around the house. “Are you going to take that, Daddy? Do you want that?” Wordlessly, Lucian held her hand. He guided her up the stairs and across the uneven floorboards where she sometimes tripped. Rose stopped by the picture window in the master bedroom, staring past the palm fronds and swimming pools, out to the vivid cerulean swath of the ocean. Lucian relished the hot, tender feel of Rose’s hand. I love you, he would have whispered, but he’d surrendered the ability to speak.

Rated PG for marital strife and implied child abuse.

Show Notes:

  • This is a long one, we’re bringing occasional novelettes to Escape Pod now, and what better to launch the effort than a Hugo nominee?

Next week… Escape Pod looks at an alternate history with alternate aliens.

EP248: Spar


By Kij Johnson.
Read by: Kate Baker of Clarkesworld Magazine.
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: ClarkesworldDownload and read the text.
All stories by Kij Johnson.
All stories read by Kate Baker.

The alien is not humanoid. It is not bipedal. It has cilia. It has no bones, or perhaps it does and she cannot feel them. Its muscles, or what might be muscles, are rings and not strands. Its skin is the color of dusk and covered with a clear thin slime that tastes of snot. It makes no sounds. She thinks it smells like wet leaves in winter, but after a time she cannot remember that smell, or leaves, or winter.

Its Ins and Outs change. There are dark slashes and permanent knobs that sometimes distend, but it is always growing new Outs, hollowing new Ins. It cleaves easily in both senses.

It penetrates her a thousand ways. She penetrates it, as well.

Rated X – Graphic language and sexual situations. Not for kids. Seriously.

Show Notes:

  • This particular story and narration were originally recorded by Kate Baker for Clarkesworld Magazine, and is used here with their expressed permission. Thanks very much to Baker and Clarkesworld.
  • The Escape Pod Flash Contest is over! now check out the judging!
  • 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… We’re back to our regularly scheduled programming with a story from Heather Shaw!

EP247: Bridesicle


By Will McIntosh
Read by: Amy H. Sturgis of StarShipSofa
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: Asimov’sDownload and read the text
Guest Host: Ben Phillips of Pseudopod
All stories by Will McIntosh
All stories read by Amy H. Sturgis

“Aw, I know you’re awake by now. Come on, sleeping beauty. Talk to me.” The last was a whisper, a lover’s words, and Mira felt that she had to come awake and open her eyes. She tried to sigh, but no breath came. Her eyes flew open in alarm.

An old man was leaning over her, smiling, but Mira barely saw him, because when she opened her mouth to inhale, her jaw squealed like a sea bird’s cry, and no breath came, and she wanted to press her hands to the sides of her face, but her hands wouldn’t come either. Nothing would move except her face.

Rated PG

Show Notes:

  • Starship Sofa is the first podcast ever to be nominated for a Hugo award, in the “Best Fanzine” category. If you’re eligible to vote in the Hugos, you have less than a month left to put in your vote! Please consider Starship Sofa – it’s a fantastic show on its own merit, and it’s a HUGE credibility booster for all podcasts if it wins!
  • The Escape Pod Flash Contest ends soon! 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… Our final Hugo-nominated story!

EP246: Bride of Frankenstein


By Mike Resnick
Read by: Julie Davis of the Forgotten Classics podcast
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: Asimov’sDownload and read the text
Guest Host: Alasdair Stuart of Pseudopod
All stories by Mike Resnick
All stories read by Julie Davis

Victor can be so annoying. He constantly whistles this tuneless song, and when I complain he apologizes and then starts humming it instead. He never stands up to that ill-mannered little hunchback that he’s always sending out on errands. And he’s a coward. He can never just come to me and say “I need money again.” Oh, no, not Victor. Instead he sends that ugly little toady who’s rude to me and always smells like he hasn’t washed.

And when I ask what the money’s for this time, he tells me to ask Victor, and Victor just mumbles and stammers and never gets around to answering.

Rated PG: for spousal annoyances

Show Notes:

  • The Escape Pod Flash Contest ends soon! 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!

EP245: The Moment


By Lawrence M. Schoen
Read by: Graeme Dunlop
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: Footprints
Guest Host: Norm Sherman of Drabblecast
All stories by Lawrence M. Schoen
All stories read by Graeme Dunlop

One of the first generation of Krenn had lived long enough to reach the site, though none had expected to. The very first Krenn had conceived of this journey in the distant past, dedicating his life and his posterity to the pilgrimage with an ever recycling population of clones. Like their clone-father, each was an optimized collection of smart matter no bigger than a speck. Hundreds of generations of Krenn had lived and died during the voyage, their remains enshrined into niches in the very walls of the vessel that now lay shattered at its destination.

The survivors flooded out upon the steppes of the heel, rejoicing despite the crushing weight that gravity forced upon them. They settled in, constructing mansions of haze and shadow, and waited for enlightenment to come. The mission and purpose of the first Krenn remained with each of them. This place had been the site of the greatest triumph of the greatest archaeocaster in all of history. Before the beginning of the quest, Krenn—the original Krenn—had felt drawn to it. He had cultivated the tales, sifted myth from coincidence, mastered the lost language of the interview-eschewing, spatial curmudgeons of the ancient dark times, and recreated the route through dimensional puzzles to this theoretical location. The odds of success had been so absurd not a single entelechy of Krenn’s crèche dared invest time or expense in the project. And yet, here they were, nearly three hundred unique individuals sharing the template of Krenn.

Rated PG: for Space Exploration and Looking into the Abyss

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!