Archive for Hugo Awards

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!

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!

Episode 197: From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled…


By Michael Swanwick
Read by Sarah Tolbert

First appeared in Asimov’s Feb 2008

Imagine a cross between Byzantium and a termite mound. Imagine a jeweled mountain, slender as an icicle, rising out of the steam jungles and disappearing into the dazzling pearl-grey skies of Gehenna. Imagine that Gaudí—he of the Segrada Familia and other biomorphic architectural whimsies—had been commissioned by a nightmare race of giant black millipedes to recreate Barcelona at the height of its glory, along with touches of the Forbidden City in the eighteenth century and Tokyo in the twenty-second, all within a single miles-high structure. Hold every bit of that in your mind at once, multiply by a thousand, and you’ve got only the faintest ghost of a notion of the splendor that was Babel.

Now imagine being inside Babel when it fell.

Rated PG. Contains the destruction of cities, a lack of trust, and sentient suits.

EP196: Evil Robot Monkey


By Mary Robinette Kowal
Read by Stephen Eley

First appeared in the Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, vol. 2 edited by George Mann.

Special closing monkey music by George Hrab

Sliding his hands over the clay, Sly relished the moisture oozing around his fingers. The clay matted down the hair on the back of his hands making them look almost human. He turned the potter’s wheel with his prehensile feet as he shaped the vase. Pinching the clay between his fingers he lifted the wall of the vase, spinning it higher.

Someone banged on the window of his pen. Sly jumped and then screamed as the vase collapsed under its own weight. He spun and hurled it at the picture window like feces. The clay spattered against the Plexiglas, sliding down the window.

Rated PG. Contains one angry chimp with a potty mouth. Sort of.

EP195: 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss


By Kij Johnson.
Read by Diane Severson (of The Diva’s Divine Days).
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, July 2008.
All stories by Kij Johnson.
All stories read by Diane Severson.

Narration first appeared at and produced by Starship Sofa. Special thanks to Tony Smith and Diane Severson for their kind permission to resyndicate this award nominee.

She sets a stepladder next to it. She claps her hands and the 26 monkeys onstage run up the ladder one after the other and jump into the bathtub. The bathtub shakes as each monkey thuds in among the others. The audience can see heads, legs, tails; but eventually every monkey settles and the bathtub is still again. Zeb is always the last monkey up the ladder. As he climbs into the bathtub, he makes a humming boom deep in his chest. It fills the stage.

And then there’s a flash of light, two of the chains fall off, and the bathtub swings down to expose its interior.

Empty.

Rated PG. Contains 26 monkeys. Also, the abyss.

EP194: Exhalation


2009 Hugo Nominee!

By Ted Chiang.
Read by Ray Sizemore (of X-Ray Visions).

First appeared in Eclipse 2, ed. Jonathan Strahan.

Narration first appeared at and produced by Starship Sofa. Special thanks to Tony Smith and Ray Sizemore for their kind permission to resyndicate this award nominee.

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But in the normal course of life, our need for air is far from our thoughts, and indeed many would say that satisfying that need is the least important part of going to the filling stations. For the filling stations are the primary venue for social conversation, the places from which we draw emotional sustenance as well as physical. We all keep spare sets of full lungs in our homes, but when one is alone, the act of opening one’s chest and replacing one’s lungs can seem little better than a chore. In the company of others, however, it becomes a communal activity, a shared pleasure.

Rated PG. Contains entropy, eschatology, and empirical evisceration.

EP193: Article of Faith


By Mike Resnick.
Read by Stephen Eley.
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Baen’s Universe, October 2008.
All stories by Mike Resnick.
All stories read by Stephen Eley.

“I’m sure,” I said. “Somehow, lunch seems pretty trivial after you’ve been thinking about God all morning.”

“God, sir?”

“The Creator of all things,” I explained.

“My creator is Stanley Kalinovsky, sir,” said Jackson. “I was not aware that he created everything in the world, nor that his preferred name was God.”

I couldn’t repress a smile.

Rated PG. Contains religious themes and some violence.

EP158: Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?


2008 Hugo Nominee!

By Ken MacLeod.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in The New Space Opera, ed. Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan.

When you’re as old as I am, you’ll find your memory’s not what it was. It’s not that you lose memories. That hasn’t happened to me or anyone else since the Paleocosmic Era, the Old Space Age, when people lived in caves on the Moon. My trouble is that I’ve gained memories, and I don’t know which of them are real. I was very casual about memory storage back then, I seem to recall. This could happen to you too, if you’re not careful. So be warned. Do as I say, not as I did.

Some of the tales about me contradict each other, or couldn’t possibly have happened, because that’s how I told them in the first place. Others I blame on the writers and tellers. They make things up. I’ve never done that. If I’ve told stories that couldn’t be true, it’s because that’s how I remember them.

Here’s one.

Rated R. Contains profanity, nudity, and in flagrante delicto.

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Referenced Sites:
2008 Hugo Awards
Free Novels for Worldcon Members

EP157: A Small Room in Koboldtown


2008 Hugo Nominee!

By Michael Swanwick.
Read by Cheyenne Wright (of Arcane Times and Girl Genius).
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, April/May 2007.

That Winter, Will le Fey held down a job working for a haint politician named Salem Toussaint. Chiefly, his function was to run errands while looking conspicuously solid. He fetched tax forms for the alderman’s constituents, delivered stacks of documents to trollish functionaries, fixed L&I violations, presented boxes of candied John-the-Conqueror root to retiring secretaries, absent-mindedly dropped slim envelopes containing twenty-dollar bills on desks. When somebody important died, he brought a white goat to the back door of the Fane of Darkness to be sacrificed to the Nameless One. When somebody else’s son was drafted or went to prison, he hammered a nail in the nkisi nkonde that Toussaint kept in the office to ensure his safe return.

He canvassed voters in haint neighborhoods like Ginny Gall, Beluthahatchie, and Diddy-Wah-Diddy, where the bars were smoky, the music was good, and it was dangerous to smile at the whores. He negotiated the labyrinthine bureaucracies of City Hall. Not everything he did was strictly legal, but none of it was actually criminal. Salem Toussaint didn’t trust him enough for that.

Rated PG. Contains dark, seedy places and dark, seedy characters, only a few of them alive.

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EP156: Distant Replay


By Mike Resnick.
Read by Steve Anderson (of SGA Creative and Great Tales Live).
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, April/May 2007.
All stories by Mike Resnick.
All stories read by Steve Anderson.

“Let me show you,” I said, pulling out my wallet. I took my Deirdre’s photo out and handed it to her.

“It’s uncanny,” she said, studying the picture. “We even sort of wear our hair the same way. When was this taken?”

“Forty-seven years ago.”

“Is she dead?”

I nodded.

Rated PG. Contains mature themes and wistfulness.

Referenced Sites:
2008 Hugo Awards
“First of May” by Jonathan Coulton (Not work-safe)