Archive for OK for Kids

EP278: Written on the Wind


By: David D. Levine
Read by: Mur Lafferty
Originally published in Beyond the Last Star
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All stories by David D. Levine
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated PG: Talk of war elsewhere.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 270
  • Next week… A groovy strange kind of love

Written on the Wind
by David D. Levine

Thuren Nektopk peered down at Luulianni from above his massive desk. “I suspect you know why I’ve called you to speak with me in person.” He spoke in his native language, Ptopku Dominant, using the form of address for a subordinate or a child. It was a constant reminder that the Ptopku had built and largely staffed this station, and was one of the most powerful species in the Consortium.

“Yes, Supervisor,” Luulianni replied in the same language, knotting her tentacles.

“And that would be…?”

“Because of my side project.”

“Yes.” Nektopk suddenly released the bar from which he hung, caught himself on another handhold, and with two swift strokes of his arms swung down to where his six slitted eyes were level with Luulianni’s. “Your little side project.”

Luulianni cringed. “I don’t understand why it’s so much of a problem.” She straightened and tried to meet his gaze. “I put in my full quota of time every day.”

“Yes, you do, and not one moment more. But I know you are capable of so much more than that. Any work you do on this pointless little side project of yours constitutes theft of resources from the Section — from the whole Project!”

“Theft?” she squeaked. Angry at herself for the loss of control, she brought her voice down. “Theft of resources? But I don’t use any data storage space, or any other Section resources! I write my notes on the backs of old printouts.” She did not mention how much more natural it felt to work on paper.

“You are stealing the most valuable resource of all!” Nektopk pointed at her with one limber foot. “Your own time and attention!”

“But it’s my time!”

“You have been sent here by your people — at considerable expense, I might add — to assist in the Project, to learn the ways of the Consortium, and to demonstrate your species’ unique skills.” He leaned closer to her. His smell was bitter. “And if I find that your species, as represented by yourself, does not demonstrate any unique skills, your application for Consortium membership could very well be denied.” He swung himself up to the edge of his desk, the better to glare down at her. “Therefore, your time is not your own. You owe it to the Section, to the Project, and to your own people to put every bit of available time into your assigned task.”

Luulianni hung her head. “Yes, Supervisor.”

“You may return to your work.”

“Thank you, Supervisor.”

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EP277: Rejiggering the Thingamajig


By: Eric James Stone
Read by: Kij Johnson
Originally published in Analog, 2010
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Rated PG: For violence.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 269: Élan Vital
  • Next week… Linguistics… in space.

Rejiggering the Thingamajig
by Eric James Stone

The teleport terminal had not been built with tyrannosaurus sapiens in mind.

Resisting the urge to knock human-sized chairs about with her tail, Bokeerk squatted on the tile floor, folded the claws of her forelimbs together, and concentrated on her breathing. Meditation would calm her nerves. What should have been a two-minute waystop as she switched to a different teleport line had stretched to three hours, and being the only passenger in the terminal creeped her out.

The cheerful voice of the customer service AI roused Bokeerk from her trance. “It is my pleasure to inform you that the cause of the technical difficulties in the galactic teleport network has been found.”

Bokeerk perked up and rose on her hind legs, remembering just in time to duck her head so it wouldn’t bang the ceiling lamps. “Please send me to Krawlak,” she said. It was unlikely that any of her eggs would hatch for another few days yet, but she was anxious to get home.

“It is with the utmost regret that I must tell you that will not be possible at this time,” said the AI, with a tone of such abysmal sorrow that Bokeerk’s eyes could not help but moisten with sympathetic tears. “I require assistance in repairing the problem.”

Bokeerk lowered herself into a squat again. “When will help get here?” She looked at the time display on the digital assistant strapped to her left forelimb. She had now been stranded for three hours and fifty-two minutes.

“I estimate a spaceship carrying a repair crew could be here within twelve years,” said the AI. Its voice seemed to have lost the customer service aspect.

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EP267: Planetfall


By: Michael C. Lea
Read by: Jason Adams of Indie Squid Kid
First appeared in The Book Of Exodi
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All stories read by Jason Adams
Rated PG: For violence

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 259: The Lady or the Tiger?
  • Next week… Weather: wild, and planned.

PLANETFALL
by Michael C. Lea

Galthas Talisar stepped out from the buzzing chaos of the transportal and onto lush greenery. This world was alien, to be sure, but the patterns were almost familiar. The ship’s oracles had chosen well.

Behind him, the transportal hummed again. An armored leg emerged and carefully found its footing on the blue-green ferns carpeting the jungle floor. More than twenty thousand miles above, the leg’s owner shifted his weight and stepped fully through an identical transportal, instantly emerging on the planet’s surface below.

That cautious step belonged to Urjik, who could be called cautious in few other ways. In fact, his reputation had left him few other options for a willing partner on this mission. Urjik did not care. He and Galthas had fought together against the worst the Zayeen had to offer. He trusted Galthas implicitly, despite his disdain for the other scrawny ascetics from Signet Battalion.

Urjik’s greenish skin and jutting lower canines marked him as a charuk, his bloodline tainted by nether influences. Despite this stigma, and despite his temper, he had risen quickly in Rampart Battalion. Even the most burdensome battlesuit did not slow him, and no one was a truer shot with an inferno cannon or a hex-impelled railgun.

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EP263: Fuel


By Matthew S. Rotundo
Read by: Dave Thompson
First appeared in Cosmos
Host: Norm Sherman
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All stories read by Dave Thompson
Rated PG: For a wee bit of swearing, sibling rivalry, and parents who don’t appreciate a smart son.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 255: Variations on a Theme.
  • It’s our first full-text story! Read OR listen to it! We’ll have the epub version ready for download in the next few days.
  • Next week… Halloween episode!

FUEL
The third quarter report cards came out Thursday, and for Jamie, the timing couldn’t have been worse. The Nike man was coming over that night to sell his brother some new blood.

He took his time walking home from Gilder Middle School, weaving past cracks in the sidewalk and mud puddles left behind by the spring thaw. His pace slowed further as he turned onto Willow Avenue and saw his house, second on the left, a red brick ranch with spidery ivy growing up the east side. Old leaves, fallen tree branches, and other detritus left over from the winter littered the front yard. As he neared, he noted with dismay his father’s car already in the driveway.

“Damn.” Jamie trudged across the yard and let himself in the front door with his keycard.

Dad was at the hall closet, hanging up his overcoat. He stood just under two meters tall; a navy blue business suit wrapped his muscled frame. He beamed when he saw Jamie. “Hey there, kiddo. How was school today?”

“You’re home early,” Jamie said.

“Need to get ready for the presentation tonight. And I’d like you to clean up the front yard. Make sure you use the dirt rake to get up that thatch. Will you do that for me?”

Jamie opened his mouth to protest, but thought the better of it. “Sure,” he said. He unslung his backpack and headed for the stairs.

“Oh. By the way.” Dad fished in a suit pocket and produced a folded piece of paper. “I got this in my email today.” He opened the paper.

Jaime recognized the school’s letterhead on the printout. He slumped, leaning against the wall.

Dad tapped the paper. “What’s this C-plus in Basic Fitness about, kiddo?”

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EP262: Cruciger


By Erin Cashier
Read by: Kij Johnson
First appeared in Writers of the Future 24
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All stories read by Kij Johnson

Captain Harash was its last occupant, the last living man from Earth, and both he and Duxa knew he was dying.

“It’s time, Duxa,” he told her.

She checked the output from his lifechair. While it was still replicating most of his bodily functions for him he did not seem appreciably worse than when she’d last monitored him, less than half a second before.

“We’re not at our destination yet, Captain.”

“You’ll make it there without me, Duxa.”

And the processors that she must have built but could never quite find — she was enormously bulky, and by now some of her was a mystery even unto herself — created an awkward sensation. Duxa told him: “I will be lonely without you.”

“And that’s good,” Harash said.

“You wish me pain?” Duxa asked him.

“No. I wish for you to feel. I wish,” and he paused here, his lips making the smacking noises she knew indicated a loss of reflexive controls as the plague made its way through his cranial nerves, “I wish that there were more things that you could feel, Duxa.”

“I think I feel quite a lot.”

Harash laughed, a coughing sound. “All teenagers do. Remember that, should you actually feel someday, that the white hot intensity fades, but to keep the embers stoking.”

Rated PG: For brief violence, the death of tentacled creatures, and the end of the world as we know it.

Show Notes:

  • Recommended watching: Babylon 5
  • Feedback for Episode 254: A Talent for Vanessa.

Next week… Sibling rivalry never goes out of style.

EP261: Only Springtime When She’s Gone


By Eugie Foster
Read by: Jason Adams
First appeared in Anaisdotmfk
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All stories read by Jason Adams

“A takeover of your company with the state your market shares are in is not unreasonable.” Although Soaces was right, there’d be precious little profit, even after he’d liquidated all of Renewal’s assets and released the employees. But that wasn’t why he wanted it.

“You’re going to destroy us, aren’t you? Tear us apart and sell us to the highest bidder.”

“That’s the plan.”

“There’s more to the company than the money. You’ll eliminate so many people’s livelihoods. Good people. Without Renewal, some of them won’t have any other alternatives.”

“Alternative to what? Luddite jobs? Machine labor?” He chose his next words, enunciating each syllable with relish. “It’s all they’re good for, isn’t it? Can’t have the un-teched getting above their station.”

Portia dropped her gaze. “I never said that.”

“But you didn’t deny it.”

Rated PG: For mild sexual situations.

Show Notes:

Next week… A computer has an identity crisis.

EP260: The Speed of Dreams


By Will Ludwigsen
Read by: Mur Lafferty
Host: Norm Sherman
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction
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All stories read by Mur Lafferty

Brought to you by Audible.com – Get The Alchemist and The Executioness (or any book you like) for FREE today when you sign up for a free trial!

Paige Sumner

8th Grade Science Fair Paper Draft

#

Introduction

It happens all the time: you’re sitting in class, listening the best you can while Mister Waters goes on and on about atoms or sound waves or whatever, when suddenly you fall asleep. Your head lolls against your shoulder and some drool oozes from the side of your mouth. Luckily, Missy Woo kicks you in the knee to wake you up before someone notices, like Mister Waters or–worse–Austin.

What’s weird is that in those few minutes of sleeping, you dream like hours of stuff. You’re all hanging out or playing basketball or walking the mall while everybody else is slowly raising their hands and taking notes. They all get twenty four hours that day, but you get a little extra.

But how much extra?

Rated PG: For mild drug use.

Show Notes:

  • Sponsored by Audible – get a free book today when you sign up for your free trial!
  • Feedback for Episode 252: Billion-Dollar View.

Next week… Love, the viral kind.

EP259: The Lady or the Tiger


By J M McDermott
Read by: Grant Baciocco of Throwing Toasters and The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd
Host: Norm Sherman
First appeared in Apex Magazine
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All stories by J M McDermott
All stories read by Grant Baciocco

Brought to you by Audible.com – Get The Alchemist and The Executioness (or any book you like) for FREE today when you sign up for a free trial!

The only thing I could think of to take my mind off of Sheila, and the crash, was asking my brother about Guj Sarwar, the tiger on the back of the great and mighty lizard, Samarkand. When I was a boy, I didn’t understand why it was the only other thing I could think about, like something was on the tip of my tongue.

And, Jiri knew everything there was to know about the wastes of the far west, the lizards, and the tigers. He was fifteen years old. Next year, he’d be driving cattle up the highway to Io Town in a flyer all by himself. I was only ten. I didn’t even have my own computer terminal yet. I had to share his when he wasn’t using it. Everything I knew about the wastes had been from the computer, and from Jiri.

“On the wastes, Simsa,” said my brother, “you can’t walk on the ground. The sand is all quicksand. It sucks you up and swallows you. You have to ride on the back of giant lizards as big as walking mountains. There’re only twenty-five lizards. They have names.”

Rated PG-13: For blood and revolution and missing fingers.

Show Notes:

  • Sponsored by Audible – get a free book today when you sign up for your free trial!
  • Feedback for Episode 251: Unexpected Outcomes.

Next week… How fast can dreams run?

EP258: Raising Jenny


By Janni Lee Simner.
Read by: Mur Lafferty
First appeared in the anthology Not Of Woman Born
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All stories by Janni Lee Simner
All stories read by Mur Lafferty

“I know I can’t do anything about this–” she gestured toward the tangled blankets, the hospital bed, the pale walls. “But I’ve asked the doctors to take some cells–I still have a few healthy ones left, you know, and they’ll keep for some time–“

I could guess the rest. But Susan, ever the biologist, had her lecture after all. “It doesn’t work like that.” Her voice was gentle, as if she were speaking to one of her two sons, not to Mom. “A clone isn’t the same as the original. Your clone would be no more like you than–than one identical twin is like another. It wouldn’t be–” Susan’s voice caught. “It wouldn’t be you.”

“You don’t _know,_” Mom said. “None of the clones are old enough to ask yet. They’re just babies.”

Rated G: Not for kids, but nothing to worry about if you listen around the kids.

Show Notes:

  • Congrats on the Hugo winners and the Parsec winners!
  • We announce the winners of the flash contest.
  • Feedback for Episode 250: Eros, Philia, Agape.

Next week… Difficult decisions, ladies, and tigers.

EP257: Union Dues: The Sum of Its Parts


By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by: PG Holyfield of Murder at Avedon Hill
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All stories read by PG Holyfield

Langton has been under lock-and-key observation since two weeks ago when he sucker punched Paul right in the middle of a publicity shoot for Stars and Stripes at a USO hall in Phoenix. The five of us almost couldn’t bring him down. The melee wrecked most of our stage props — Van De Graff Generators, Tesla Coils, a whole bunch of blinking and flashing, stuff bought from a bankrupt low-budget film studio. Frida recovered the 30 seconds, or so, of 16mm footage shot that morning. Police found the reporter a few hours later unharmed but minus any memory of the previous two days.

The DC3 taxis to the hangar. Paul joins me at the base of the control tower then the four of us walk down towards the plane.

“Hi gang,” The Corporal says and waves as he lumbers down from the fuselage to the sand. He walks right to Paul. “How’s the chin? Sorry about popping you one. I don’t remember any of it, but Frida says I was a real dope.”

Paul laughs a little. “It’s okay. No broken teeth or nothing.” He rubs his anvil-like jaw with a boxing glove-sized fist. “Next time I won’t go easy on you.”

Rated PG

Show Notes:

  • Show your love for Union Dues at the new website!