EP032: Alien Animal Encounters


By John Scalzi.
Read by Stephen Eley, Anna Eley, Scott Janssens, Deborah Green, Jonathon Sullivan and Marilyn Fuller.

Ted McPeak, Community College Student, Jersey City:

Some friends and me heard that if you smoked the skin of an aret, you could get monumentally wasted. So we bought one at a pet store and waited a couple of weeks until it shed its skin. Then we crumbled up the dry skin, put it in with some pot, and lit up. We all got these insane mouth blisters that didn’t go away for weeks. We all had to eat soup for a month. Though maybe it wasn’t the skin; the pot could have been bad or something.

Rated R. Contains profanity, explicit imagery, and hot alien action.

Referenced sites:
Whatever
Reading is Fundamental
Lies and Little Deaths
Child’s Play
Today in Alternate History

Listener Survey


As I just mentioned in today’s podcast, we’re conducting a brief listener survey:

Why should you fill it out? Because it’ll help us understand how we’re doing, what you like and what you don’t, who listens to us, and it might help us in the future with grants or funding.

And also because I’m giving $1 to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play for each completed survey. Click some boxes, help a kid. How good a deal is that?

UPDATE: Janice’s comment (thanks!) made me understand that I probably ought to be a lot clearer about my intent with this. Yes, the survey was composed by a marketing company. Their intent with it, I think, was to help podcasters prepare a pitch to advertisers. That is not my intent with it. We seriously are doing better with donations right now than I think we’d be likely to do running ads, and I know as well as anyone that if we started running commercials the donations would probably drop to nothing overnight. I don’t want to do that. You all have been incredible in your support, and I want to redeem that trust.

The reason we’re using this survey (despite some annoying questions) is because it was free and ready-made, and that saves us a lot of time. Also, we do want to prepare a pitch — but not to advertisers. I’m hoping that some of this information will be useful in our application to the IRS for 501(c)(3) status, and later on if we decide to go looking for public arts grants or ad-free sponsorships. And some of this stuff we’d simply like to know. I’m far more interested in the questions like “What do you think of the Web design/show length/frequency?” than “How much would you trust this host to recommend real estate products?”

If you find those questions obnoxious, just skip them. I can’t really can’t blame you. Heck, I’m not sure I would trust me to recommend real estate products. If you would, you haven’t seen my lawn.

EP031: Robots and Falling Hearts


By Tim Pratt and Greg van Eekhout.
Read by Alex Wilson (of Telltale Weekly).
All stories by Tim Pratt or Greg van Eekhout.
All stories read by Alex Wilson.

I paused to tie a loose shoelace and a squat robot, like a dirty white trashcan on tank-treads, trundled out of an alley toward me. A red light on top of its domelike top blinked erratically. It said, in a high-pitched voice, “Klaatu barada nikto.” A small panel slid open in its front, and a pole with a cup on the end telescoped out. There were a few coins in the cup, mostly pennies and nickels, and the robot jingled the cup significantly.

“Take me to your leader,” I said, wishing it could be that simple, knowing that these things are never that simple. The robot beeped at me and jingled its cup harder, the coins rattling.

“It won’t go away unless you give it some change,” said a woman standing on the corner. “It followed me all the way to work one day, and hung around outside the door like a dog for hours.”

Rated PG. Contains slight profanity, long flirtations, and excessive Zen. Watch for falling metaphors.

Referenced sites:
Child’s Play
Hooting Yard

EP030: Aliens Love Oranges


By Sue Burke.
Read by Mur Lafferty (of Geek Fu Action Grip).

“They do talk wrong,” she whispered. “They say ‘aboot’ instead of ‘about’ and ‘proh-gress’ instead of ‘prah-gress.’ It’s like they can’t almost speak English right.”

“That’s how you tell,” Lois said. “Aliens can’t figure out how to say the letter O. Have y’all ever heard a body talk like that?”

Rated G. Contains mild provinicialism, non-explicit discussion of sexual preferene, and screwdrivers. (The kind with vodka.)

Referenced sites:
Spaceship Radio Script Factory
Rev Up Review
2B Pictures Filmmaking Podcast

EP029: Crystal Balls


By Susie Hawes.
Read by Evo Terra (of The Dragon Page).

Yeah, that’s it. Oh, that’s nice. You’ve got strong hands, Mister. Are you psychic? Maybe just a little? No? Well, I can fix that.

Naw, I can’t tell you where to find a bottle of Mad Dog, but I can get you the money to buy one.

Rated PG. Contains violence, immoral psychic paraphernalia, and grown women scrying.

Referenced sites:
Rent
The Sci Phi Show
Dead White Guys

EP Collection 1


As I mentioned recently on the podcast, Escape Pod just reached its six-month anniversary. Since May of this year we’ve enjoyed tremendous success, with thousands of listeners worldwide and new fun stories every week. We’re now reported to be the largest source of free audio fiction on the Internet, and of course we’re still growing.

To help us celebrate, Jesse Willis of the SFFAudio.com review site has helped us to design and produce a collectible MP3 CD containing every audio file we’ve podcast in the first six months. These CDs are produced using the LightScribe labeling technology, which burns an image directly to the front side of the disc, allowing us to number and put a customized inscription on each disc. An example of the CD:

We’re offering these CDs as a special reward for anyone who donates $20 or more to Escape Pod between now and January 31, 2006 — or until we’ve made 200 of them, whichever comes first. You can keep it for yourself, to catch up on our archives, or inscribe it as a gift for somebody else and have it sent to them.

(UPDATE: We’ve changed our policy on this. There’s no time limit now; we’ll keep going until we send out all 200. As of the beginning of March, we’ve sent out 75 of them — but we’re still getting orders, so don’t wait too long!)

Want one? All you have to do is include the following information in the comments field of your donation:

  • The name of the recipient (yourself or anyone else)
  • The address of the recipient
  • Any personal message you’d like inscribed on the edge of the CD, up to about 60 characters or so. (There’s no absolute limit, but the longer the text the more we’ll have to shrink the font.)

It’s worth noting that, in accordance with Escape Pod’s values, the *contents* of the CD are all Creative Commons-licensed and can be freely copied for all your friends. However, the front of the disc is absolutely unique, and cannot be easily duplicated. I’d like to think that someday these CDs will have collectible value, just as old science fiction magazines have value today.

Thanks to all of you for your support!

EP028: Your Corporate Network and the Forces of Darkness


By Lucy A. Snyder.
Read by Rob Walch (of Podcast 411) with Mur Lafferty (of Geek Fu Action Grip).

Axedame agrees that the technology provides staffing solutions that have yet to reach public acceptance or full legality. “Undead workers are kind of a gray area as far as the feds are concerned. And you bet your boots the unions are fighting it. But since you don’t have to pay the dead minimum wage, the potential impact this could have on America’s bottom line is off the charts! We’re pretty sure we can get the government on board as long as the GOP stays in charge.”

Rated R. Contains profanity, violence, dark magic, and other typical sysadmin behavior.

Referenced sites:
Plot Patents
Slashdot Commentary
Look What I Found In My Brain!
SFFAudio

EP Poem: Making Monsters


A Poem by Tim Pratt.
Read by Stephen Eley.
All stories by Tim Pratt.
All stories read by Stephen Eley.

He is the reason clowns so often seem
sinister, the reason mannequins and dolls
can be so unsettling, the reason a child’s
tricycle
sitting unattended in a front yard can be an image
suffused with dread. If he goes on
this way, who knows what other objects
will attain an aura of menace?

Rated PG. May provoke disturbing thoughts.

This poem originally ran in Strange Horizons in July of 2004.

EP027: Union Dues – Iron Bars and the Glass Jaw


By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by Jonathon Sullivan.
All stories by Jeffrey R. DeRego

“You super folks must think we’re pretty damn foolish, especially us in the law enforcement community.”

Look at him leaning back with his feet up on the desk. Did he just walk out of Cool Hand Luke? Sheesh, you’d think a sheriff would want to be more dignified. “No sir. You and your brethren are integral to the fabric of society. We of The Union are grateful for your hard work and courage.” I can rattle that sort of crap off all day long.

Rated PG. Contains graphic scenes of class conflict and superhuman self-doubt.

Referenced sites:
HorrorView
Beyond the Storm: Shadows of the Big Easy
SFFAudio