Escape Pod 595: Islands in the Dark


AUTHOR: Sarah Goldman

NARRATOR: Karen Bovenmyer

HOST: Tina Connolly

 

about the author…Sarah Goldman

Sarah Goldman grew up outside of Kansas City and recently graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where she studied sociology and developed a deep hatred for geese. She is a First Reader at Strange Horizons, and her fiction has appeared in Grievous Angel and Cicada. You can find her on Twitter at @sarahwhowrites.

about the narrator…

 

Karen Bovenmyer earned an MFA in Creative Writing: Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. She teaches and mentors students at Iowa State University and serves as the Assistant Editor of Escape Artists’ Mothership Zeta Magazine. She is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writers Association Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. Her poems, short stories and novellas appear in more than 40 publications and her first novel, SWIFT FOR THE SUN, an LGBT romantic adventure in 1820s Caribbean, debuted from Dreamspinner Press March 27, 2017.

 

 

 

 


Islands in the Dark
By Sarah Goldman

Road out from Kaysee was boring as ever. The kids we’d picked up this time weren’t anything to sneeze at: soft-spoken boy with eyes too teched up to blink, real young bratty kid who kept trying to backseat drive me from the hatch of a goddamn pickup, and a girl I hadn’t quite gotten a read on yet. Made me nervous. New things tended to do that. Hal would know their names and their stories, hers included, but that wasn’t my job; socializing was his thing and driving was mine. Talking hasn’t ever been my strong suit. Neither has caring. But I was curious.

I let Hal take the wheel and swung myself back into the hatch. Quiet boy with the bright eyes spoke to me first. Asked me my name and rubbed at the place behind his ear where we’d cut the interface out. Thanks to the spray-on shit Hal kept around, it was scarring up already. We’d grabbed a few cans while we were in the city—we could grow a lot out here, but medical supplies could be hard to come by.

I said, “Call me Lanz.”

“You’re going the wrong way,” the bratty kid told me.

“And how would you know?” I asked. “You ever been out here before?”

“Once, on a bet,” she said. She tucked her hair back and wrinkled her nose. “I made it two hours before my ears hurt too much.”

“We’re going the right way,” said the inscrutable girl. Not soft but not loud either: steady like a lighttrain locked to its tracks. She didn’t say it like she trusted me. It was like she just knew better than the rest of us. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 594: The Spice Portrait


AUTHOR: J.M. Evenson

NARRATOR: Stephanie Morris

HOST: Divya Breed

 

about the author…

 J. M. Evenson lives with her husband and young children in Los Angeles.

about the narrator…

Stephanie Malia Morris works in a bookstore by day and a library by night. She has narrated for StarShipSofa, Far Fetched Fables, and all four of the Escape Artists podcasts, guest-blogged on subjects ranging from book recommendations to zombie turkeys, and performed Shakespeare in a handful of weird churches. She is a recent graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. You can find her on Twitter at @smaliamorris

 

 


The Spice Portrait
By J.M. Evenson

They said my love for my daughter was excessive, that I made her weak by kissing her and singing in her ear at night.

They also said I killed her. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 593: Planetbound


AUTHOR: Nancy Fulda

NARRATORS: Divya Breed and Trendane Sparks

HOST: Mur Lafferty

 

about the author…

 Nancy Fulda is a Phobos Award winner, a Jim Baen Memorial Award recipient, and a Hugo and Nebula nominee. During her graduate work at Brigham Young University she studied artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing. In the years since, she has grappled with the far more complex process of raising four children. All these experiences sometimes infiltrate her writing.

about the narrators…by Susan Yoon

S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. Her short stories have been published at Lightspeed, Tor.com, and other magazines, and her novella ‘Runtime,’ is a Nebula Award finalist. Divya’s writing appears in the indie game Rogue Wizards. She also co-edits Escape Pod, a weekly science fiction podcast, with Mur Lafferty. She holds degrees in Computational Neuroscience and Signal Processing, and she worked for twenty years as an electrical engineer before becoming an author.

 

 

 

Originally born in Texas, Tren eventually escaped and wound his way through a mystical series of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has worked as a software QA Tester for both graphics drivers and video games, a freelance mascot performer, and several jobs on a PBS kids’ show. For most of his life, people have told him that his voice is a pleasure to listen to. But since being a werewolf phone sex operator can get boring, he decided to use his powers to entertain a broader audience.


Planetbound
By Nancy Fulda

There’s a moment that comes, the first time you step on the rim of a planet, when you suddenly realize how breakable you are. When you finally understand that despite the bone density treatments, despite the braces cradling your back and legs, despite the half-dozen hands that support your first faltering steps down the hallway, you will never be more than a hair’s breadth from disaster. A false step, an unexpected nudge, even the tilt of your own head could send you toppling. It’s worse – much worse – than you expected, and for five panicked heartbeats you consider retreating. It’s not too late to grab a flight back to the orbitals, to float again in those serene, majestic habitats. But no. There is something to be learned here; something important. Something that cannot be understood except through the eyes of a floater. And so you grit your teeth and slide your foot awkwardly forward, into this strange new existence.

It is a perilous reality, chaotic and unintuitive. Cloth leaps in strange directions. Objects zip away if you release them. Even the sounds are different. It’s like someone has erased the laws of the universe and written the equations anew.

On the next step something goes wrong and you jolt sideways. Shouts. Hands beneath your shoulders. Your arm flails outward and knocks a vase from a table. It clatters to the ground and stays there, water clinging to the tiles like a living creature. (Continue Reading…)

EP592: When All the Clocks Are Wrong


AUTHOR: Beth Goder

NARRATOR: Ibba Armancas

HOST: Tina Connolly

 

about the author…

Beth Goder works as an archivist, processing the papers of economists, scientists, and other interesting folks. Her fiction has appeared here at Escape Pod, and also in Mothership Zeta. You can find her online at http://www.bethgoder.com and on Twitter at Beth_Goder.

about the narrator… narrator Ibba Armancas

Raised by swordfighters and eastern European freedom fighters, Ibba Armancas is a writer-director currently based in Los Angeles. Her darkly comedic genre sensibilities are showcased in two webseries and a feature film forthcoming later this year. One day she will find time to make a website, but in the mean time you can follow her projects and adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

When All the Clocks Are Wrong
By Beth Goder

 

Jen locks her bike and heads towards the theater. She needs a break from studying, but more importantly, she needs to find Ash, who has her Soil Science notes. Jen promises herself she won’t try to kiss Ash–they’ll see the midnight movie, Ash will hand her the notes, and then, summer vacation. That’s it.

Before she reaches the theater, Jen feels a familiar frisson, disorienting, dizzying. When the red lights of the marquee blink 12:45 a.m., Jen isn’t surprised. The clock thing is happening again. She left her house with enough time to meet Ash outside, buy a ticket, grab a soda. But now, it’s 12:45 a.m. One hour later than it should be.

All her life, time has disappeared like this. (Continue Reading…)

EP591: A House of Her Own


AUTHOR: B. Balder

NARRATOR: Amy H. Sturgis

HOST: Mur Lafferty

Thanks to our sponsor, ARCHIVOS – a Story Mapping and Development Tool for writers, gamers, and storytellers of all kinds!

 

 

about the author…

Bo Balder lives and works near Amsterdam. She is the first Dutch author to have been published in F&SF and Clarkesworld, after winning the prestigious Dutch Paul Harland Award twice. Her short fiction has also appeared in Nature Futures, Futuristica Vol. I and more. Her sf novel “The Wan”, by Pink Narcissus Press, was published in 2016.

about the narrator…ahsshotfour2
Amy H. Sturgis holds a Ph.D. in Intellectual History from Vanderbilt University and specializes in both Science Fiction and Indigenous American Studies. She is regular staff with the StarShipSofa podcast, editor in chief of Hocus Pocus Comics, and faculty at Lenoir-Rhyne University. She lives with her husband in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.


A House of Her Own
By B. Balder

Aoife was only eleven when she caught the little house in the forest. She surprised it as it drank from a puddle, half-hidden under a writhing tree root as large as her own body. Fast as an eel, she snaked her hand around it and held on tight. It was no bigger than a strawberry, all soft and furry and yellow. Even in the gloom of the giant, bad-tempered trees, it shone like a candle flame.

“House,” she whispered, “you’re mine now.” (Continue Reading…)

EP590: Four Seasons in the Forest of Your Mind


AUTHOR: Caroline M. Yoachim

NARRATOR: Stephanie Morris

HOST: Tina Connolly

  • Four Seasons in the Forest of Your Mind originally appeared in the the May/June 2015 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
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Thanks to our sponsor, ARCHIVOS – a Story Mapping and Development Tool for writers, gamers, and storytellers of all kinds!

 

 

about the author…

Caroline M. Yoachim lives in Seattle and loves cold cloudy weather. She is the author of dozens of short stories, appearing in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Daily Science Fiction, among other places.

about the narrator…
Stephanie Malia Morris works in a bookstore by day and a library by night. She has narrated for StarShipSofa, Far Fetched Fables, and all four of the Escape Artists podcasts, guest-blogged on subjects ranging from book recommendations to zombie turkeys, and performed Shakespeare in a handful of weird churches. She is a recent graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. You can find her on Twitter at @smaliamorris


Four Seasons in the Forest of Your Mind
By Caroline M. Yoachim

 

Spring

My tree is a pyramidal cell in the prefrontal cortex of your brain.

There are millions of us here, in the forest of your brain, each with our own region to tend.  My region is a single tree, for I am newly born, just as you are.  It is a lovely tree, with a long axonal root and majestic dendritic branches that reach outward to receive the signals of other neurons.  Like you, the tree is in a springtime state of frenetic growth, reaching its delicate tendrils to nearby cells and more distant targets.  The Omnitude has given me a simple task, a message that comes to me via the entanglement: Save this tree. (Continue Reading…)

EP589: Seb Dreams of Reincarnation


AUTHOR: Aimee Ogden

NARRATOR: Matthew Hamblin

HOST: Mur Lafferty

Thanks to our sponsor, ARCHIVOS – a Story Mapping and Development Tool for writers, gamers, and storytellers of all kinds!

 

 

about the author…

Aimee Ogden is a former science teacher and software tester; now she writes about sad astronauts and angry princesses. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, three-year-old twins, and a very old dog. You can follow her on Twitter: @Aimee_Ogden.

about the narrator…
Matthew is a writer and videographer from Leeds, England. He has a penchant for good stories and a loose grasp of apostrophes. He owns a very cute dog, named Bruce.


Seb Dreams of Reincarnation

By Aimee Ogden

They unplugged Seb’s neurodes at the end of his ten-year tour of duty. He’d known it was coming, had been told before he ever signed the contract that if they left him in any longer his health would start to deteriorate. What they hadn’t mentioned was that his health would deteriorate anyway. Once, Seb had kept six hundred people alive, responded instantly to their needs, and their wishes too when those fell within his power. He had carried them all in his belly, made them part of himself. He thought he would implode under the emptiness of having lost them.

Today, though, his only job was to leave his apartment: something he hadn’t done since the first week he’d moved in. He had groceries delivered, the occasional takeout, odds and ends as he needed them. Supermarkets and corner stores might as well have been on another planet. If they were, he might have actually cared to visit them. He stared out his ninth-floor window while trying to summon up a reason to go out, let alone the will to do so. His fleet-assigned shrink had given him the task and called it homework. Which was of course the exact opposite of what it actually was. Out-of-home work. (Continue Reading…)

EP588: Rocket Surgery


AUTHOR: Effie Seiberg

NARRATOR: Summer Brooks

HOST: Divya Breed

Thanks to our sponsor, ARCHIVOS – a Story Mapping and Development Tool for writers, gamers, and storytellers of all kinds!

 

 

about the author… 

Effie Seiberg is a fantasy and science fiction writer. Her stories can be found in the “Women Destroy Science Fiction!” special edition of Lightspeed Magazine, Galaxy’s Edge, Analog, and Fireside Fiction, amongst others. This is her second appearance in Escape Pod.

Effie lives in San Francisco and likes to make sculpted cakes and bad puns. You can follow her on twitter at @effies, or read more of her work at effieseiberg.com.

about the narrator…SummerB

Summer is a bit of a television addict, and enjoys putting her scifi media geek skills to good use in interviewing guests. She had been a co-host for Slice of SciFi from 2005-2009, the co-host for The Babylon Podcast from 2006-2012, and host of Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas, before returning to Slice of SciFi full time as host & producer in August 2014.

She is an avid reader and writer of scifi, fantasy and thrillers, with a handful of publishing credits to her name. Next on her agenda is writing an urban fantasy tale, and a B-movie monster extravaganza.

Currently, Summer designs and maintains websites for clients in addition to having fun with the Slice of SciFi websites, and also does voiceover & narrations for Tales to Terrify, StarShipSofa and Escape Pod, among others.


Rocket Surgery

By Effie Seiberg

We’d tested plenty of missiles before, but Teeny was the only one that convulsed when we cut him open.

Oh, your viewers need more background? OK, I’ll back up a bit. Lemme tell ya, kids today don’t know their history. Even locked up in here for the past ten years, I can tell. No education. Good thing you’re getting the real story out.

Now. This was back when Hamazi was the supreme dictator of the Ambridian Republic, enemy number one. The whole military was buzzing about overthrowing him, and General Pitticks – I guess he’s Presidential Candidate Pitticks now – wanted to make a name for himself. So the weapons division got a lot of money to make something spectacular.

Previous missiles had AIs, of course. Precision navigation with plasma propulsion that could turn on a dime. Facial recognition to find the target and follow them. The Azimuth5900 could detect genetic debris to avoid hitting decoys, and the Tarzon-A-80’s nano-scales could rearrange to make the outer shell take on any shape to blend in with its surroundings, so if it needed to land to gather more intel it could camo without suspicious shadows giving it away.

But Teeny was something else altogether. (Continue Reading…)

EP587: Someday


AUTHOR: James Patrick Kelly

NARRATOR: Ibba Armancas

HOST: Mur Lafferty

about the author… 

James Patrick Kelly has won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards; his fiction has been translated into eighteen languages. With John Kessel he is co-editor of Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology, Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka, The Secret History Of Science Fiction, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology and Rewired: The Post Cyberpunk Anthology. He writes a column on the internet for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and is on the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine.

about the narrator…narrator Ibba Armancas

Raised by swordfighters and eastern European freedom fighters, Ibba Armancas is a writer-director currently based in Los Angeles. Her darkly comedic genre sensibilities are showcased in two webseries and a feature film forthcoming later this year. One day she will find time to make a website, but in the mean time you can follow her projects and adventures on Twitter or Instagram.


Someday

By James Patrick Kelly 

Daya had been in no hurry to become a mother. In the two years since she’d reached childbearing age, she’d built a modular from parts she’d fabbed herself, thrown her boots into the volcano, and served as blood judge. The village elders all said she was one of the quickest girls they had ever seen — except when it came to choosing fathers for her firstborn. Maybe that was because she was too quick for a sleepy village like Third Landing. When her mother, Tajana, had come of age, she’d left for the blue city to find fathers for her baby. Everyone expected Tajana would stay in Halfway, but she had surprised them and returned home to raise Daya. So once Daya had grown up, everyone assumed that someday she would leave for the city like her mother, especially after Tajana had been killed in the avalanche last winter. What did Third Landing have to hold such a fierce and able woman? Daya could easily build a glittering new life in Halfway. Do great things for the colony.

But everything had changed after the scientists from space had landed on the old site across the river, and Daya had changed most of all. She kept her own counsel and was often hard to find. That spring she had told the elders that she didn’t need to travel to gather the right semen. Her village was happy and prosperous. The scientists had chosen it to study and they had attracted tourists from all over the colony. There were plenty of beautiful and convenient local fathers to take to bed. Daya had sampled the ones she considered best, but never opened herself to blend their sperm. Now she would, here in the place where she had been born.

She chose just three fathers for her baby. She wanted Ganth because he was her brother and because he loved her above all others. Latif because he was a leader and would say what was true when everyone else was afraid. And Bakti because he was a master of stories and because she wanted him to tell hers someday. (Continue Reading…)

EP586: The 1st Annual Lunar Biathlon


AUTHOR: Rachael K. Jones

NARRATOR: Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

HOST: Divya Breed

about the author… 

Rachael K. Jones grew up in various cities across Europe and North America, picked up (and mostly forgot) six languages, and acquired several degrees in the arts and sciences. Now she writes speculative fiction from her secret android lair. Rachael’s fiction has appeared in dozens of venues, including Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and all four Escape Artists podcasts. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones.

about the narrator…

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives and works in Houston as an oncology nurse. She is married and the mother to three brilliant artistic children. She writes because she loves to and also because she has a story (or two, or three…) to tell.


The 1st Annual Lunar Biathlon

By Rachael K. Jones

Raji and I were always designing new torments for ourselves, and then calling them good, and running around the Moon was just the latest idea. We tattooed wedding bands on each other’s fingers after our courthouse elopement, and for good measure, each other’s names. Raji ran down my thumb, and Valanna nestled in his palm along the fleshy crease. We honeymooned outdoors in the dead of winter on the Appalachian Trail, eating garlic couscous boiled in a bag. When we got the flu, we shared it between us like a good book, like a tissue box passed from one nightstand to the other. He worshipped at the mosque, and I at the cathedral. We sinned extravagantly, and we repented extravagantly too. We prayed and fasted with devout abandon. We prided ourselves on our self-denial, on the stares we got when we kissed in our congregation parking lots.

We punished our bodies with crash diets and binge drinking. We took up brutal sports. We ran farther and farther each evening. Eventually, we quit our jobs to seek our limits.

We liked making love on beaches in the rain so the chill drove us closer together. We relished the friction of sand. We got sunburned just to drip aloe down each other’s backs at night. These things reminded us we were alive. Our families called us damned, and most days, we agreed, but this too delighted us. Like Dante, we wanted to pass through Hell at least once before we saw Paradise. (Continue Reading…)