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Soundproof #12

You can download the ePub version here.

This is the October issue, so I guess I should be sounding all spooky in the editor’s note, but That Holiday Which Must Be Feared is a month away, so instead why don’t we talk about reinvention.

I’m not that great at waiting out long serialized stories, and honestly with longer book series where the author is know for long stretches between novels (Cough-George-RR-Martin-Cough) I usually stop one before the last one out so I can at least control when I’ll restart the story. So comics have never been an ideal form for me, except for when the storyline’s collected into a volume. Or, in the case of The Sandman, 10 volumes.

But we’re a bit into DC’s reboot, and their reinvention means a bit more critical eye is being cast over their crop than would be if they hadn’t resorted to remaking themselves in the great American tradition. And while there are highs in the new crop, the lows have been getting most of the attention, because, well, while any reboot is going to lose you fans, it shouldn’t do this to young female fans: http://io9.com/5844355/

On a happier note, this is one-year anniversary of Escape Pod reinventing a bit of itself into a text product in addition to the audio coming into your ear canals every week. I think it’s been a success, but this is as good a point as any to stop and ask for feedback, so hit up feedback@escapepod.org with your suggestions for what we can do different/better in Soundproof.

This Soundproof is bringing you Lavie Tidhar’s The Insurance Agent, Saladin Ahmed’s The Faithful Soldier, Prompted, and T. L. Morganfield’s Night Bird Soaring. So it’s a strong issue.

Hope you enjoy it,

—Bill

P.S. SF Signal put together an awesome, awesome flowchart of NPR’s top 100 SF/F books. Go get lost in it here: http://www.box.net/shared/static/a6omcl2la0ivlxsn3o8m.jpg

Soundproof #10

Download the ePub version here.

Hey folks—

Short editor’s note this month to make sure this goes out reasonably on time to all you faithful listeners. Er, readers.

Last month saw a bit of mopping-up action on the various nominees with Stone Wall Truth, which got nominated in the novella category for the Nebula, and the space-piratical Leech Run.

But most importantly, we hit Episode 300 of the podcast that Steve built with Tim Pratt’s We Go Back. Who Escape Pod goes pretty far back with. His stories are episodes 8, 31 (with Greg van Eekhout), 67, 105, 142, 190, 239, 251 and 276. He’s probably far and away the Escape Pod fan favorite, and Impossible Dreams is still the story I usually recommend as the entry point for new Escape Pod listeners.

It’s been a little over a year since Mur took over and I snuck in through an open side Escape Pod airlock (for closed values of open). We’re still adrift in space, same as it ever was, floating along scanning for the next story, and eventually a planet to set down on. Like many fiction journeys, the path laid out at the beginning is not the path you end up going down, because that would be boring.

Until the next,

—Bill

News- changes at Escape Pod- blog, reviews, text, and rate increase!

Hi SF fans!

I wanted to talk about some changes that are happening here at Escape Pod.

First: DON’T PANIC. What you love about Escape Pod – free stories every Thursday – is not changing. At all. We’re not removing things as a change, we’re adding things.

Second: For a while, this site has been little more than a delivery device for the podcast. But now we’re going to add commentary, reviews, and news. We need help, though. If you’re interested in volunteering material for the blog, simply email me and let me know what you’d like to contribute.

Third: Escape Pod is raising its rates. That’s right folks, we’re shooting for the stars and going for an SFWA pro rate format. We’ll be paying $.05 a word for new stories (maximum $300), $.03 a word for reprints (minimum $100). We’re doing this for a couple of reasons- authors deserve to be paid, of course. We’re hoping we can attract a greater caliber of authors, which will therefore grow our audience. Along with the rate increase, we’ll be asking for ebook rights to the stories so we can print them on our site, which will bring in a bigger audience. The rate increase will start with stories I accept after October 1, 2010.

A side note- we’ll only be able to pay pro rates if the donations help us do so. we’re doing a six month trial; if our donations stay strong, it’ll be a permanent change for 2011, if they don’t, then in April we will drop back down to $100 a story. This depends on your support of the site.

Alternately, if you’re a media publisher of any kind — television, movies, video games, a book seller, or just an indie author who wants to sponsor Escape Pod, that will help us out while also promoting you to tens of thousands of listeners. You can email amanda at escapeartists.net for current rates and details.

EP225: A Hard Rain at the Fortean Café

by Lavie Tidhar
narrated by Sarah Tolbert

This story originally appeared in Aeon #14.

The diner stood off the highway outside a small town optimistically called Hope. Hope was being stuck in the middle of the Northwest and wishing you were someplace, anyplace else. And Hope was also the name on the tag pinned to the dead woman in waitress uniforms that was currently lying against the wall inside the _Barbie-Q Roadhouse_. I had to stop myself from worrying at the connection: looking for patterns when sometimes there are none at all.

I wasn’t worried about Hope (the waitress, not the town). I didn’t get called down here for a murder: shit, murder is an honest-to-God American pastime. Just look at the statistics. No, I got called in because of the Marilyn.

The Marilyn was also dead. All in all, there were five dead people in the Barbie-Q: two waitresses; a balding man who – from his bag full of cheaply-printed catalogues – was some sort of a general salesman; the diner’s manageress; and Marilyn. They had been shot by a machine gun, probably an Uzi. Marilyn’s head left a red smear against the glass of the booth she sat in. She was there alone.

What the hell was a Marilyn doing out here?

Rated R for violence and language.

EP223: The Uncanny Valley

by Nick Mamatas
read by Kathryn Baker

The trouble with knowing everything there is to know, Stephanie Dowling decided instantly, because that’s how clever she was, was that when there was something unknown out there, she had nobody to consult.

And there was something unknown out there, nibbling away at the edge of the economy, and screwing with the Cottrell-Cockshot tatonnements sufficiently that there’d be problems. Shortages of essentials: power cells and answer boxes. Ridiculous surpluses of nonsense like chrome and diamonds. She could tell because the bride was coughing between her lines and the donkey she rode on suddenly looked ill. It would be just like … wossname … that old thing. Capitalism. Till she fixed it anyway.

Wossname?

Rated R.

EP222: Infestation

by Garth Nix
read by Geoff Michelli

They were the usual motley collection of freelance vampire hunters. Two men, wearing combinations of jungle camouflage and leather. Two women, one almost indistinguishable from the men though with a little more style in her leather armour accessories, and the other looking like she was about to assault the south face of a serious mountain. Only her mouth was visible, a small oval of flesh not covered by balaclava, mirror shades, climbing helmet and hood.

They had the usual weapons: four or five short wooden stakes in belt loops; snap-holstered handguns of various calibers, all doubtless chambered with Wood-N-Death® low-velocity timber-tipped rounds; big silver-edged bowie or other hunting knife, worn on the hip or strapped to a boot; and crystal vials of
holy water hung like small grenades on pocket loops.

Protection, likewise, tick the usual boxes. Leather neck and wrist guards; leather and woven-wire reinforced chaps and shoulder pauldrons over the camo; leather gloves with metal knuckle plates; Army or climbing helmets.

Recently appeared in By Blood We Live.

Rated R for violence and very different vampires.

EP220: Come All Ye Faithful

by Robert J. Sawyer

Read by Mike Boris

“Damned social engineers,” said Boothby, frowning his freckled face. He looked at me, as if expecting an objection to the profanity, and seemed disappointed that I didn’t rise to the bait.

“As you said earlier,” I replied calmly, “it doesn’t make any practical difference.”

He tried to get me again: “Damn straight. Whether Jody and I just live together or are legally married shouldn’t matter one whit to anyone but us.”

I wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of telling him it mattered to God; I just let him go on. “Anyway,” he said, spreading hands that were also freckled, “since we have to be married before the Company will give us a license to have a baby, Jody’s decided she wants the whole shebang: the cake, the fancy reception, the big service.”

Rated PG.

EP219: Sleepy Joe

by Marc Laidlaw
narrated by Ben Phillips

originally appeared in The Infinite Matrix

The plan must have come to Rog fully formed that first morning, as he stepped off the elevator into the lobby of Szilliken Sharpenwright and saw the old soldier newly stationed there in his omnichair between the potted silk ferns and the coffee tables.

“Oh. My. God. I am in love.”

Megan, her arms loaded with Rog-House props and paraphernalia she hadn’t had time to ditch yet, said, “You say that an awful lot for someone who styles himself completely asexual. Not to mention atheistic.”

Rated R for adult situations, a smattering of violence, and overly friendly chairs.

EP218: Ode To Katan Amano

by Caitlin R. Kiernan
narrated by Kim the Comic Book Goddess

No one hears when I ease the heavy steel door shut behind me. All the ears in the darkened workshop, all those hundreds and hundreds of ears, but still no one hears a thing. And I stand there for a while, as unmoving as they, not exactly frightened and not exactly uncertain if I should see this through — I think I stand there in reverence. I be-lieve that’s the word that people use for what I feel in that moment, standing there alone, alone with that assembled crowd.

Rated X for violence and strong sexual situations.  As Steve says in the intro, this one isn’t for the kids.

EP216: βoyfriend

by Madeline Ashby
read by Tina Connolly

Violet snapped three photos of herself from various angles, sent them, and waited for her boyfriend’s response. He rang her up—a slow vibrating purr, unlike the staccato door-knocking of her mother’s ringvibe—and said: “Me likey. Now take it off.”

Violet frowned. “You were _supposed_ to dig up the backstory on the dress.”

“Well, you can’t blame me for getting a little distracted. Besides, isn’t it bad luck for me to see?”

“That’s only for weddings, not prom.”

Rated R for language, teen-adult situations, and virtual steadies. Also, Norm’s sexy talk.