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Escape Pod 646: Subtle Ways Each Time


Subtle Ways Each Time

By Y.M. Pang

A man loses a woman.

It’s happened a thousand times before and it’s phrased like this nine hundred times. A man loses a woman. As if she were car keys, an umbrella, a scraggly doll in the arms of a child. A literal and grammatical object to be lost. Let’s find a truer cliché. It takes two to tango. Let’s try again:

A woman discards a man.

Raised voices in a summer-boiled attic. Old records, lovingly collected, smashed up like jagged pieces of skyscraper windows. They’re in his mother’s house, gazing down at the familiar yard, the scent of peach blossoms wafting through the window. They’d played there on wobbly toddler legs, cussed out teachers as teens wearing cut-off jeans and crooked baseball caps, shared their first kiss in the shadow of the peach tree and afterward neither could say who initiated it or who was more surprised. Little fights dogged them throughout those nineteen years, but children’s minds are better at forgiving and worse at carving scars.

Only during that fateful day in the attic did they say things that couldn’t be unsaid, voice words their adult brains forgot how to forgive. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 645: The Revolution, Brought to You by Nike (Part 2)


The Revolution, Brought to You by Nike, Part 2

by Andrea Phillips

5. THE LAUNCH

Launch day came on a bright Tuesday, amid a flurry of reports that the executive office had pushed through a series of contracts requiring the president’s own hotel properties be the preferred vendor for all federal travel going forward. Another day, another straw that was somehow never the last one.

The first part of Corazon’s campaign was the manifesto. That would take about two weeks.

They seeded a few aspirational pieces of video right away, to model the kinds of things they were expecting from legitimate users. In one of them, a gay couple hugged on camera, and the shorter one said “I’m making a world where love is love is love.” In another, a child in a wheelchair looked at the camera with determination and said, “I don’t want to die.”

They also front-loaded the Beyoncé video, a beautiful declaration of strength and defiance. They had enough of those celebrity videos to release a new one every day for the duration of the campaign. It was going to be so amazing.

The press went wild. Beyoncé, treason, Nike, the Justice Department, hope, plus something small that people could do to feel useful? The clickbait farms didn’t even have to work at the story. It was a done deal from the start.

(Continue Reading…)

On Inclusion and Artemis Rising: An Apology


It has come to our attention, through multiple channels, that the current incarnation of Artemis Rising 5 has caused harm to members of our community.

Thanks to Bogi Takács’s eloquent explanation of how to bring more voices to the table, we are examining the best way to repair the trust we’ve broken. We appreciate the conversations happening on various platforms and thank you for allowing us to participate in them.

Artemis Rising’s aims have always been to highlight the work of underrepresented genre authors and provide training and progression opportunities to junior members of the Escape Artist family who are members of traditionally marginalized groups. The underrepresented groups that we’ve chosen to focus on have changed over time and are likely to continue to change from year to year.

This year, we failed to consider the effect this change would have on people who were previously eligible to submit but were not eligible this year.

Artemis Rising’s submission portals will remain open and stories are being read while we consider how best to move forward, but we feel it is imperative to urgently acknowledge our mistake.

We apologize for the exclusion and hurt caused by this year’s call. We appreciate the feedback we’ve received; to everyone who voiced their objections, thank you for giving us a chance to correct our error. We hear you.

Escape Artists editors

Escape Pod: S.B. Divya & Mur Lafferty
PseudoPod: Shawn Garrett & Alex Hofelich
PodCastle: Jen R. Albert & Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali (and assistant editor Setsu Uzume)
Cast of Wonders: Marguerite Kenner

The 2018 Artemis Rising editors

Escape Pod: S. Kay Nash & Laura Pearlman
PseudoPod: Cecilia Dockins & Tonia Thompson
PodCastle: Krystal Claxton & Elora Gatts
Cast of Wonders: Amy Brennan & Karissa Sluss

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Escape Pod 644: The Revolution, Brought to You by Nike (Part 1)


The Revolution, Brought to You by Nike

by Andrea Phillips

1. THE BRIEF

Corazon clicked to the slide she’d been dreading: long-term trends for brand engagement. It was dire.

She focused on the smudgy mirror at the far end of the conference room, looking past her team to her own reflection. She pulled her shoulders back, like her grandmother had instructed. She tipped her head to the side, disarming but not too flirty. When she spoke, she was a breath apologetic, but not too much: “As you can see, we have our work cut out for us.”

She turned to face the projected line graph behind her. “Year on year sales are down, but we’ve been expecting that due to the current… economic climate.”

That was the euphemism to end all euphemisms. Everybody in that over-air-conditioned room knew exactly what she meant, though, because they were all living on the same rapidly sinking ocean liner. Gregoria, a junior art director, began to nervously shred the paper cup her morning latte had come in.

“The really bad part is this.” Corazon swept her hand along the line labeled Brand Perception, which had plummeted like a stone in the aftermath of the election. “And it’s not just us. The truth is, nobody gives a shit about brands right now.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 643: Disarm (Flashback Friday)


Disarm

By Vylar Kaftan

 

Excerpt

 

We kept in touch through the war, when he messaged me about marching through upstate New York. He always started the same way: “Dear Ryan, Please come kick my commanding officer in the balls.” Then he’d tell me about the latest mess–cracks in their radiation suits, or toxic waterholes that were supposed to be clear. He never got in trouble for the messages; they needed him too badly. My epilepsy disqualified me from the draft, which probably saved my life. Pretty boys like me weren’t exactly Army material. By the time things were bad enough that they needed any warm body, there wasn’t enough human government left to organize a draft.

The ruins at Binghamton were where Trey got sick. By the time I got across the country to him, he’d recovered–well, as much as possible. I remember the doctor’s face as he says Trey will live, but he’ll be in pain.

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Escape Pod 642: Oracle


Oracle

By Dominica Phetteplace

The two biggest applications for predictive software are killing people and selling things. Rita was quite successful at the latter. She founded a nail-polish-of-the-month club that used an online personality quiz to determine customer preferences. Bold cremes for basics, chunky glitters for the outrageous, and dark, sparkly metallics for edgy, forward-thinking geniuses like Rita.  Sales skyrocketed.

She used her money to start other subscription services: whisky-of-the-month, miniskirt-of-the-month.  What had started out as an online quiz morphed into something larger and more complex: a search engine that searched the customer.  It had tapped into a pent-up demand. People loved acquiring material goods but they hated making decisions.  Rita wasn’t just selling nail polish or whisky or miniskirts, she was selling freedom from choice.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 641: Flash Fiction Contest Winners


The Toastmaster

By Kurt Pankau

“Burnt the Pop Tarts again?”

“Yes,” Toaster responded over wifi. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Blender whirred with sympathy.

“Owner was upset,” said Toaster. “She picked me up and looked at my underside to make sure everything was okay.”

“That’s odd,” said Blender. “There’s nothing there but your crumb tray, though.”

“I know, and so does Owner. I don’t know why she did it. It was humiliating.” (Continue Reading…)

Announcing Artemis Rising 5


In March 2019, Escape Pod will bring you ARTEMIS RISING for a fifth year. This special month-long event, across all four Escape Artists podcasts, is a celebration of stories written by women, in the broadest definition of the word.

ARTEMIS RISING specifically highlights women in genre fiction, a demographic that has been underrepresented until recent years. This showcase helps to address that historical imbalance and correct the impression, which continues to persist in some social circles, that women cannot write excellent science fiction.

Guest Editors

We are pleased to announce that last year’s guest editors, Laura Pearlman and S. Kay Nash, will reprise their roles for 2019.

Who Can Submit

Submissions are open to anyone who identifies as a woman to any degree.

In past years, we have specifically included the term “non-binary” in our Artemis Rising submission calls — you may notice it is missing this year.

English is flawed in its ability to accurately represent the breadth of human genders, and as such the language we use is always evolving. We respect the feedback that we’ve received regarding our use of “non-binary” as a catch-all: that it erroneously tilts the perception of non-binary people in a feminine direction.

In a continuing effort to support diversity and inclusivity, we’re changing the language of our ARTEMIS RISING call. Non-binary authors who identify as women are welcome to submit. Your gender is for you to determine, and we support you and take you at your word.

Please note we’re talking about author identity here, not pen names. We fully respect the right of authors to use whatever pen names they like. However, as we note in our Legalese, we require information in the submission form be accurate and truthful.

As always, we strongly encourage submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically under-represented or excluded from traditional science fiction, including, but not limited to, people of color, LGBTQ authors, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States. Our goal is to publish fiction that reflects the diversity of humanity, so we strongly encourage submissions from these and any other under-represented groups.

What to Submit

Send in your best science fiction between 1,500–6,000 words. Original fiction as well as reprints are welcome this year. Payment will be USD $0.06 per word for original fiction, $100 for reprints.

If you have another story under consideration already in the general submissions queue, you are welcome to submit an additional story for ARTEMIS RISING. One submission per portal for a total of two under consideration.

Multiple and/or simultaneous submissions are not accepted.

You can send in one submission for ARTEMIS RISING to each of our podcasts (Escape Pod for science fiction, PseudoPod for horror, PodCastle for fantasy, and Cast of Wonders for young adult), but please don’t send the same story to more than one podcast at a time.

While we’ll be accepting a limited number of stories for ARTEMIS RISING, all stories will also be considered for general submissions as well, in the event that we simply have too much awesome to contain in one month.

How to Submit

A special ARTEMIS RISING Submittable portal will open September 1. Submissions will be open for the month of September 2018. Stories will air in March 2019.

Thanks, and we look forward to reading your stories!

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Escape Pod 640: Paradise Regained


Paradise Regained

By Edward Lerner

My head hurts. I expect it: this is winter. I want it to be spring.

Paradise does not ask what I want.

The winter is young, and I think the dogs are not yet so hungry as to attack me. Still, I hold tight to my spear. Dogs or no dogs, the spear helps me walk through the knee-deep snow.

Only trees show above the snow, and I do not know what is under. In winter, asleep, the plants cannot scream when I step on them.

Because they are asleep, Father told me. Long ago. Before Mother died. Before I left home. I did not understand what he meant. I do not now.

I think Father is gone, too. “Watch the flag,” Father told me, long ago, pointing at the tall pole that stood near Ship. “I will change the flag every day. Unless … I can’t. Then you must come. You must.” (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 639: Me, Meg, and The Thing


Me, Meg, and The Thing

By Gian-Paul Bergeron

I’m Inroom making honest credit, doing Daily, counting breaths, when Meg messages me with extreme urgent markation to say that she got a Thing and I’m like Meg, you loon, please, and then she stresses the urgency with absolute dire markation – i.e. there has never been a realer deal – and so I hyperthink and create some awful anxiety, such that Main recommends exercise, which I do superquick, after which Main allocates extra water and recommends drink, so I do and sit still until 10 minutes, watching my bladder markation rise slowly until it hits Basic Relief, at which point I turn thoughts to nearly zilch and relieve myself all over myself, and Main calls Sanitation to take me to Communal Care, where Meg will be waiting with pissed pants, a fat grin, and maybe even a Thing.  (Continue Reading…)