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

EP Interview: Greg van Eekhout


Interviewed by Scott Janssens.

Greg van Eekhout, one of Escape Pod’s most frequent authors, speaks to us about the virtues of very short fiction, babies in blenders, and an explosive new term for flash fiction.

Greg’s site:
http://www.writingandsnacks.blogspot.com

EP026: The Ludes


By Lisa M. Bradley.
Read by Stephen Eley.

That might seem funny to those who’ve ever bothered to attend these performances, to say that someone didn’t belong. The audience is always a motley sort–faculty and spouses, local musicians and artists, music students and jocks who have to attend so many of these things to get credit for required courses, waitresses and office workers desperate for some culture, their school-age children (alternately awed and bored to tears), homeless folks who need a warm place to sleep for a couple of hours, mentally and physically handicapped folks hauled out as someone’s idea of a good deed, and, of course, recreational drug users with nothing better to do.

Still, he didn’t belong. He was Gothic. Not like those kids who hang out at Hot Topic and think wearing black nail polish expresses their inner turmoil, their eternal angst. I’d seen Goths there before and he wasn’t Goth, he was Gothic–dark and looming, faintly chivalrous in manner, seemingly possessed of a great, tragic secret. I thought of Bronte’s Heathcliff.

Rated R. Contains drug use, some profanity, and codependent creatures of darkness.

Referenced sites:
The Sci-Fi Podcast Network
Geek Fu Action Grip
I Should Be Writing
The Secrets
Slice of Sci-Fi
Skepticality
Alien Ethos
The Signal
Earthcore
Ancestor
Morevi

EP Flash: Mount Dragon


By Vera Nazarian.
Read by Stephen Eley.

“Go to hell, idiot,” I said, using an astringent tongue he’d understand. “I
am but a monumental slab of granite, and you, mortality, are like one of
the droppings of a fairly large corpulent deity–an ephemeral honor I would
rather pass me by.”

“And yet, you speak to me, mountain,” said the mote of humanity. “Why is
that?”

I considered that for a moment. The creature had a point.

“I don’t know,” I replied honestly.

Rated PG. Contains some profanity. Paradigms may shift without warning.

EP025: The Great Old Pumpkin


By John Aegard.
Read by Stephen Eley. Music by Toby Chappell.

As you are no doubt aware, I am the issue of solid Dutch stock—the prosperous Van Pelt family of St. Paul. Mine was a comfortable and happy childhood, and I spent much of it in the devoted service of the Great Old Pumpkin. For him, I cultivated an annual pumpkin patch. I also evangelized him in the community, relating the tale of how, every year on Hallowmas Eve, the day when the spiritual most strongly encroaches on the substantial, this mightiest of gourds would rise to revel across the world with the most sincere of his adorers. My neighbors were understandably skeptical; after all, not once had this superbeing ever chosen to grace my pumpkin patch or any other place in our town. I vowed that I would coax him into my backyard, and I set out in the manner of a learned man to discover how I might do this.

Rated PG. Contains dark imagery and terrifying fruit.

Referenced sites:
Eyes of Ligeia
Amphigory
K9Cast

EP024: The Death Trap of Dr. Nefario


By Benjamin Rosenbaum.
Read by Chris Miller (of Unquiet Desperation) with Stephen Eley.

“Well, you know, Doc, safe is a relative thing in my profession, but I
have you on the headset, and I’m picking the lock on these handcuffs
as we’re talking. I think I’ll be fine, the piranhas are still 5 or 6
feet below me.”

“All right, but isn’t our conversation going to distract you?” I
asked. “I know you’re upset, but wouldn’t you rather call back at
another time?”

“I’d really like to talk about it, Doc. I always find talking to you
clears my mind and makes me more effective. I may need to go if the
henchmen come back, though.”

Rated PG. Contains childhood trauma and mild gratuitous villainy.

Referenced sites:
Dead White Guys
The Sci Phi Show