Category: Shoutouts

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EP355: Grandmother

By Cat Rambo
Read by The Word Whore of Air Out My Shorts
Guest Host: The Word Whore
Discuss on our forums.
An Escape Pod Original!
All stories by Cat Rambo
All stories read by The Word Whore
Rated 13 and up for language

Grandmother
by Cat Rambo

Most people called her Phoenix. Her former crew used “Captain” before that and “Sir” afterward. Ruby and Ada respectively called her “mother” and “g’ma.” Her hair was silver – not white, but genuine, metallic silver, a long fall against her pale blue skin, the color of a shadow on a piece of willow ware, that made her seems ageless despite the century and more that lay upon her, not to mention all those decades of pirating.

They said she’d been the best slideboard rider of her time, and perhaps the best battleship pilot of all time, back before her parents and sister were killed and she turned rogue.

They said she had done terrible things in her pirate days.

They said she’d been ruthless in her rise to power, moving up the chain from god knows where, an origin she’d never, ever spoken of to anyone, not even her own daughter. She’d killed some captains, slept with others, called in favors and maneuvered and betrayed and seized power with a brutal efficiency that still underlay what now seemed a calm and orderly, rules-bound government that she and Mukopadhyay had created.

They said she had killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people — sometimes at a distance, sometimes up close, with knife or fist. They said she’d killed a crew member when the shuttle she was in needed its mass reduced and the man hadn’t even argued, just nodded and stepped into the airlock, never said a word as the door closed and the lock cycled, staring in at his captain as she stared back.

They said time had mellowed her.
 They said working with Mukopadhyay, even though he was crazy as a spiral comet, had mellowed her.

They said helping colonize a whole planet, setting up its government, the rich and intricate power structure that now encompassed the whole solar system called Shiva, had mellowed her.

Not to mention motherhood, they said, a change which no pregnant woman escapes. It alters the hormones in your body. Softens you. Makes you less rash, less harsh. Takes away even the sharpest edge, not to mention the hormonal craziness, which some women never recover from, after all.

Sure, changes you in a good way, they were quick to say. 
But definitely softer.

They said she’d never do those sorts of things now.

#


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Jeff VanderMeer Covers Finnish SF in Two Part Series

Ann and Jeff VanderMeer recently went to Finland to attend lectures and learn about the SFF community there. in a two-part blog series, Jeff talks about authors he met and the experience of interacting with SFF fandom in a country where the government actively supports the arts (including SFF!) communities.

Supported by that community, a number of unique Finnish writers are appearing on the scene—several of whom have been or will soon be translated into English. Two of the most prominent for readers in English this year are Johanna Sinisalo and Hannu Rajaniemi, both of whom, Halme notes, hail from small villages in northern Finland.

Birdbrain

Sinisalo, whose Birdbrain was published this April in the U.S., is a well-known figure in Finland, where she’s written teleplays, screenplays, and been involved in a stunning number of different creative projects. Including Birdbrain on my top 10 fantasy novels list for Locus Online, I wrote, “This slow-burn of a novel relates the story of Finns Jyrki and Heidi as they hike through the wilderness of Tasmania and New Zealand. Sinisalo immerses the reader in the physicality of the trek, and the increasing isolation of the hikers…the atmosphere created is exciting and the trip fascinating to watch play out. When the fantastical element finally enters the story it’s all the more effective because of the careful way in which Sinisalo has brought the reader to that point.”

Finnish Science Fiction and Fantasy: Johanna Sinisalo, Hannu Rajaniemi, and Moomins: Part One
Finnish SF and Fantasy: An Established Community, a Surge of Talent: Part Two

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Spring Reading

Visit these web magazines. Read these stories. It is a moral imperative.

Otherwise you’ll miss out on something really good. A big percentage of the various “Year’s Best” anthologized stories this year came from online magazines like these. Don’t fall behind the curve.

Abyss & Apex
Bots D’Amor by Cat Rambo
Hail to the Victors by Philip Edward Kaldon
and several other stories in their Second Quarter Issue

Apex
Biba Jibun by Eugie Foster
The Eater by Michael J. DeLuca
The Speaking Bone by Kat Howard
The Dust and the Red by Darin Bradley

Clarkesworld
The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu
Matchmaker by Erin M. Hartshorn
The Book of Phoenix (Excerpted from The Great Book) by Nnedi Okorafor
Perfect Lies by Gwendolyn Clare

Daily Science Fiction
Wings for Icarus by P. Djeli Clark
The Blue Room by Jason Sanford
and numerous other stories.

Lightspeed
Maneki Neko by Bruce Sterling
All That Touches the Air by An Owomoyela
Woman Leaves Room by Robert Reed
Saying the Names by Maggie Clark
and yet more stories

Redstone Science Fiction
The Hubbard Continuum by Lavie Tidhar
Perfection by Jay Garmon
Brittlestar by Mike Barretta
First Light by Patrick Lundrigan
Time’s Arrow by J. Chant

Strange Horizons
Pataki by Nisi Shawl (Part 1 and Part 2)
Rising Lion — The Lion Bows by Zen Cho
Trouble by David M. deLeon
The Last Sophia by C.S.E. Cooney

Subterranean Magazine
Show Trial by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Crane Method by Ian R MacLeod
The Crawling Sky by Joe R. Lansdale
The Fall of Alacan by Tobias S. Buckell
Water to Wine by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tor.com
Ragnarok by Paul Park
Shtetl Days by Harry Turtledove
The Lunatics by Kim Stanley Robinson
Chicken Little by Cory Doctorow
Many more stories, excerpts, and reprints at Tor.com/stories.

You can find Escape Pod’s fiction gathered together here.

There are many other stories and magazines out there. Give them all a chance. It would be great to see links to other stories in the comments.

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Genre for Japan

You may have seen it mentioned on Twitter (by Neil Gaiman, no less). You may have seen it mentioned on Facebook or on various blogs. But this week – until Sunday April 3rd, in fact – Genre for Japan is running one heck of an online auction to raise funds for the British Red Cross Japanese appeal, in the wake of the terrible earthquake and tsnunami that struck that country three weeks ago.

Genre for Japan is a collective of authors, editors, publishers, bloggers, reviewers, and people just wanting to help out, who have organised 137 incredible lots of science fiction, fantasy and horror-related items. From signed ARCs, to guest appearances in novels, to writing critiques by professional writers and editors, there is, as the saying goes, something for everyone.

But enough gabber from me. I’ll let them take over:

Genre for Japan is a charity auction designed to raise money for the victims of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We are using JustGiving to donate money to the British Red Cross Japanese Tsunami Appeal.

Responses to our plea for donations have been more generous than we could have hoped – we now have over one hundred fantastic items up for auction!

Now all we need is for you to get your wallets out and bid, bid, bid!

There is a full list of the items here, or you can browse the items by categories on our front page such as artwork or signed copies.

The auctions will close at midnight on Sunday 3rd April. Bidding will take place in the comment boxes on the website. Winning bidders will be notified by e-mail after bidding closes. A full list of auction rules has been posted on the website.

Some of the prizes include:-

  • One year’s supply of books from Tor!
  • Editing/critiques from professional authors and editors!
  • A character named after you in soon-to-be-published novels by Al Ewing, Adam Christopher, Suzanne McLeod or Jon Courtney Grimwood!
  • Limited-edition cover art from Solaris Books and Gollancz!
  • Custom sketches from comic artists and manga artists!
  • Signed books from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett!

Bidding opened on Monday, and pledges have already reached nearly £7,000 ($11,300). And word is that more lots are going to be added this week.

There are no geographical restrictions on bidding or on the auction items, although you need to bid in British pounds Sterling. Just grab your favourite currency calculator, like this one, and convert your bid before posting. Bidding ends at midnight BST on Sunday April 3rd – that’s Saturday 2nd April at 4pm West Coast US, 7pm East Coast US.

It’s a marvellous cause and the generosity of the SF community has been amazing – not only in the bids pledged so far, but in the incredible collection of items on offer. Ever wanted to own a bestselling fantasy author for two days? Or pick up a signed Terry Pratchett ARC from the author’s own library? Now is your chance. Please give generously!

For more information, their website is: http://genreforjapan.wordpress.com, and they are on Twitter as @genreforjapan. If you want to donate something to auction, it’s not too late – email the team at genreforjapan@gmail.com.

Happy bidding!

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Love’s Labours Won

So I haven’t posted here as much as I should, and hope to alter that in the next few weeks. There are things I know I should be writing about (Like, for example, Fringe. Which is a great, great SciFi show. It has heart and a parallel universe and an ancient and mysterious machine.)

But I’m breaking my silence today to relate onto thee, treasured listener, of a really cool thing I was able to facilitate the weekend before last.

A little bit back I got an email from Susan (aka Georgia), who lives in Washington, D.C. with her boyfriend Christie (aka Xie). (Yes, boyfriend. As Susan explained in an early email, “Australians have flexible ideas on what counts as a dude’s name.”)

Like many people who email me, she is a fan of Escape Pod. Unlike many¹ people who email me, she wanted Escape Pod’s help asking her boyfriend, Christie, to marry her.

They listen to Escape Pod together, and apparently Steve Eley fills a void in Christie’s life that others of us fill with Dan Savage or Dear Prudence. The relationship advice columnist void. Get your mind out of the gutter treasured listener.

So we did it, and awoke Steve from his deep slumber. And I spliced it quickly into a copy of EP278 Written On the Wind and sent our favorite robot speeding her way with it.

The text is below, but I’m sure many of you would prefer listening to Steve read it, so click here.

Hi, this is Steve Eley.  Rising from the deep for a special announcement.  There’s a lot going on in the world, but some things are more important than others.  Some of the most important things involve just two people.  Could be any two people, but let’s say two people from the United States and Australia.  Let’s say these two people are in love.  There’s almost nothing more important than that.

They’d have a lot of challenges, these two people.  They’d spend a lot of time on planes.  They’re in love, so it’s worth it.  And maybe they listen to Escape Pod on the plane.  Maybe when they’re together, they listen to Escape Pod together, too.  Making dinner, or walking the kitten.  It’s clearly not the most important thing, but anything two people do together can be special.  And if one of those two people asks us to help, with the most important question — that’s VERY special.  It’s special enough to bring me up out of retirement.  But what’s special is what you two have.

So.  Christie.  I’m talking to you.  Georgia wants to know: will you marry her?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled outro.  Have Fun — and I _hope_ you say yes.

And as Susan emailed me soon after:

He said yes. :) (Or rather… “Well if Steve Eley thinks I should, then of course I will!”)

Thank you so much. And give my thanks to every else too!

And Xie say thanks as well. He didn’t see it coming… He kept saying “that’s just like us!” until, finally, he realized it was us.

And we’re very happy for them both. Best of luck you pair of really hoopy froods.

¹Really, everyone else. So far.

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Snow Day Reading

Quality science fiction short stories continued to accumulate online during the non-stop snow storms of the first few weeks of 2011. Even if you can’t make it out to a bookstore, as long as the power and net connections stay up, there are plenty of good stories to read. We’ve compiled a list of what some of the pro markets have published so far in 2011:

Abyss and Apex
Of Ambergris, Blood, and Brandy by J. Kathleen Cheney
A New Bridge Across the Lethe by Howard V. Hendrix
Mind-Diver by Vylar Kaftan
and more stories in their 1st Quarter Issue.

Apex
Close Your Eyes by Cat Rambo
Langknech and Tzi-Tzi in the Land of the Mad by Forrest Aguirre
The Itaewon Eschatology by Douglas F. Warrick
The Tolling of Pavlov’s Bells by Seanan McGuire

Clarkesworld
Diving After the Moon by Rachel Swirsky
Three Oranges by D. Elizabeth Wasden
Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee
Tying Knots by Ken Liu

Daily Science Fiction
On Paper Wings by Victoria Sonata
And several other stories added weekly

Lightspeed
Long Enough and Just So Long by Cat Rambo
The Elephants of Poznan by Orson Scott Card
Black Fire by Tanith Lee
Cucumber Gravy by Susan Palwick

Redstone Science Fiction
Like a Hawk in its Gyre by Philip Brewer
Fatherhood by Kristen Lee Knapp
Bloodtech by Rhiannon Held
Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359? by Ken MacLeod

Strange Horizons
The Third Wish by Joan Aiken
Pinion by Stellan Thorne
The Space Between Stars by Cassandra Clarke
Source Decay by Charlie Jane Anders

Subterranean
A Long Walk Home by Jay Lake
The Boy Who Followed Lovecraft by Marc Laidlaw
And other stories in their Winter Issue.

Tor.com
Beauty Belongs to the Flowers by Matthew Sanborn Smith
Making My Entrance Again With My Usual Flair by Ken Scholes

And, of course, you can find EscapePod’s fiction gathered together here.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of science fiction stories that are freely available online. Support these sites, their editors, and most importantly these writers by visiting these sites, donating support to them, and checking out their advertisers. Access to quality new science fiction online is a relatively recent development, and we want to see more of it. All these stories are out there, right now, waiting for us. Enjoy.

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Online Science Fiction Whip-Round from November

Every month more and more quality fiction is available online.  This month I limited my search to science fiction and I still found more than twenty stories from markets that are paying their authors.  If you know of any quality science fiction short stories that were published online in November that I have not listed here, please add them in the comments.

We also had two new online publications provided us with fiction in November:

The online fiction community has always been active and it is great to see authors being remunerated for their efforts at an increasing number of online venues.  We can help support this trend by dropping by these online magazines and reading their excellent stories.  These stories are free, like the heat from the distant stars that warm all those habitable planets that are out there, waiting for us.

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Announcements from Pyr, Angry Robot, and Cory Doctorow!

First, Pyr is releasing a free ePub Novelette in celebration of its 100th book published: The Wolf Age by James Enge.

From the press release:

The Wolf Age is the third novel to feature Enge’s character Morlock Ambrosius, a wandering swordsman, an exile, and a drunk. Blood of Ambrose, Enge’s first Morlock novel, was on the Locus Recommended Reading list and a World Fantasy Award nominee for Best Novel.

In honor of this burgeoning Morlock fan base, and to commemorate The Wolf Age’s status as Pyr’s one-hundredth title, Pyr is issuing a free, exclusive, ePub novelette called “Travellers’ Rest.” Featuring a cover by artist Chuck Lukacs, “Travellers’ Rest” is an 8,500 word original novelette, written for Pyr, which takes place before the events of Blood of Ambrose. It is available on the Pyr website, http://www.pyrsf.com, as a free download in ePub format and will also be available via Kindle. (Two previously published Morlock short stories that take place many decades after the events of The Wolf Age—“A Book of Silences” and “Fire and Sleet” —are available on the Sample Chapters section of the Pyr website.)


Angry Robot Books is expanding its ebook store to include short stories from its authors. They’re calling it nano fiction and pricing them at 59p apiece or 10 for £3.49. They also have a fun Advent Calendar at their site, including presents from their authors, which is a unique and fun idea.

(Disclaimer- Escape Pod editor Mur Lafferty hosts and produces a podcast for Angry Robot Books.)


And Escape Pod favorite Cory Doctorow has released a ground-breaking self-publishing venture called With A Little Help. In short, it’s a short story collection. but it’s so much more than that. He’s done a limited edition (which I covet very much — see right), four different soft cover books (I want the Pablo Defendini cover), an audio book with stories narrated by Wil Wheaton, Neil Gaiman, JC Hutchins, and many others (including me!), and, if you know Cory’s work, this part is obvious, a free ebook. He’s been completely transparent thus far explaining his reasoning behind doing this, and how he’s gone about the process,and who has helped him with free work, and what work he paid for. It’s not just a neat book to get, it’s fascinating for anyone considering a self publishing venture.

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October Fiction Roundup

Some of the best speculative short fiction published every month is available online. The quality of the fiction is impressive, and there are more than enough stories to fill an excellent anthology, each month.  We’ve collected story links from several of the top sites for you here.  Give them a look.

The number of stories is amazing, and these links are largely to sites paying a professional rate for fiction.  There is even more work out there, waiting for us, quietly.

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From the darkest corners, the voices can be heard

Y’know, Halloween has always felt like the perfect time for storytelling. Whether it is ghost stories by the campfire, or Hammer horror from the comfort of your own living room (my personal preference), its just the perfectly obvious season for the supernatural and scarifying. While it has ever been thus for people like you and me, it seems to be catching on in the mainstream too. AMC’s zombie TV series The Walking Dead, based on the Eisner award-winning comic book series from Image, premiered to their biggest debut audience ever at 5.3 million viewers. Seasonal television is an American staple (perhaps less so here in the UK), with even series like the surreal college sitcom Community playing quite brilliantly with the zombie genre just a couple of days before.

Halloween also saw the launch of a new, free online podcast magazine and website, showcasing the best in genre short fiction. Dark Fiction Magazine is the brainchild of Sharon Ring and Del Lakin-Smith, two names familiar to the UK genre scene. Their stated aim is to produce a monthly short fiction podcast magazine, featuring at least four short stories in each issue focussed around a distinct theme.

In the spirit of ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ (thanks for that, Mur!), we spoke to Sharon and Del about their new project and what people can expect.

Escape Pod: Thanks for joining us! Let’s start with yourselves – what are your respective backgrounds, and what gave you the idea of starting Dark Fiction Magazine?

Del: I have been working in IT for over 15 years in one form or another and have either run or helped out on numerous websites, so I have my feet firmly in the cloud, so to speak. I’m also obsessed with music, audio engineering and genre.

I launched a podcast in February of last year called WordPunk which covers all sorts of geeky stuff like tech, genre, movies, etc. I had been looking for ways to expand it or cross pollinate with other non-audio based blogs. Sharon ran the idea of Dark Fiction Magazine by me and I was hooked.

Sharon: I got into book blogging a couple of years ago with Dark Fiction Review. From there I moved into working as a freelance editor, mostly on horror novels and short stories. Dark Fiction Magazine was an idea I’d had rattling around my head all summer. Turned out, talking to Del, he’d been thinking along the same lines. And that was it: the coolest partnership in podcasting history was born.

What made you want to make Dark Fiction Magazine a podcast instead of a regular, text-based website?

Podcasts have been around since late 1998, but it was not until 2005 that Apple included native support in iTunes, increasing their popularity massively. These days most people will listen to a podcast in some form, be that a BBC iPlayer Listen Again, an audio book or an internet radio station. So to us, this is the perfect growth medium to launch a short fiction site on. There are many text based short story magazines, and a few audio based ones too, but we saw an opportunity in the market to bring a curated monthly magazine offering high quality genre audio fiction to the masses.

How do you see Dark Fiction Magazine fitting into current landscape of podcasts and free audio fiction? Hugo-winners aside, the UK seems to be lagging a little in the area, with podcasting still dominated by US shows. In particular, free audio fiction in podcast form has been produced Stateside for a long while now – Escape Pod being just one example!

This is a very good question. Both in fandom and publishing, it is a very close knit community. And there are many passionate, selfless people all working together (and apart) to strengthen the community and industry.

When we looked at the current market, we felt that we could add value to the guys and gals already bringing fantastic audio fiction to us. We are UK-centric, certainly, more from circumstance than deliberation, which lets us offer something different and focus more on our audience. We still see ourselves as a global service bringing out stories from authors all over the world.

The liberating thing about being a free service is that the rules of competition and engagement are different. We are not stealing customers from others, as there are more than enough to go round and our service is similar enough to others that any new listener we get is also a potential listener for them. So we are trying to strike that difficult balance of differentiation enough to be intriguing, but not too much where we have nothing to compare ourselves to and align with.

What are your mid- and long-term goals for Dark Fiction Magazine?

To be honest we have been blown away by the positive responses we have had since launch and we are really pleased with how it is going. As for plans going forward, we aim to keep growing our range of stories, authors, narrators and artists while creating a valuable medium for new talent to launch themselves from.

We are also keen to partner with disability charities to ensure their customers get the best access to our free audio stories as possible and we are playing with the idea of expanding the platform into more cutting edge digital experiments. We are all about accessibility, so if there is a way to get great fiction out there, we hope to embrace it.

So, who exactly is Dark Fiction Magazine aimed at? As well as current fiction, will there be readings of old classics? And are you open to submissions or contributions?

Dark Fiction Magazine is for absolutely everyone who loves genre fiction. We’re not tied to one genre or sub-genre, so we’re able to podcast lots of content with broad appeal. Our target audience is anyone and everyone. We hope to get sci-fi readers tuning in to horror episodes; fantasy readers listening in to sci-fi. Too often people stick within their own little reading and listening niches. We’re after a wider audience than that. Good genre fiction knows no boundaries, and neither does Dark Fiction Magazine.

We’re interested in submissions from new and established writers but we would ask people to check out our submissions policy first to see whether their material is eligible for submission.

There may be some classic stories read in time. You’ll have to keep an ear out for future episodes to see which of your own favourites make an appearance!

Del and Sharon, thank-you very much!

Issue 1 of Dark Fiction Magazine is available now, and features stories by Gary McMahon, Sarah Pinborough, Joseph D’Lacey, and Conrad Williams. Authors lined up for future issues include Pat Cadigan, Cory Doctorow, Jon Courtenay, Grimwood, Ramsey Campbell, Rob Shearman, Kim Lakin-Smith, Ian Whates, Lauren Beukes, Mark Morris, Adam Nevill, Gareth L Powell, Jeremy C Shipp, and Jennifer Williams, among others

Dark Fiction Magazine can also be subscribed to on iTunes. Dark Fiction Magazine and its founders are all on Twitter as @darkficmagazine, @dfreview (Sharon), and @dellakin_smith (Del).

Happy listening!