Tag: "Kij Johnson"

EP409: Mantis Wives

by Kij Johnson
Read by Heather Bowman Tomlinson

Links for this episode:

About the Author…

from the author’s website… She taught writing and science fiction writing at Louisiana State University and at the University of Kansas, and she has lectured on creativity and writing at bookstores and businesses across the country. From 1994 – 2003, she assisted at James Gunn’s Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop, hosted by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas. Since 2004, Kij teaches the Center’s intensive Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Writing Workshop. From 1999 – 2004, she taught a series of writing classes at the GenCon Game Fair. She taught at the 2011 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. As of 2012, Kij is Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing by the University of Kansas English Department.

About the Narrator…

“I’m a horticulturist by trade, current stay at home mom for two children, team mom for the local Goalball team, and advocate for Blind/Visually Impaired causes and adoption causes. I love D20 gaming, reading, camping and canoeing, card playing, and music.” This is her second time narrating for Escape Pod.

 

Mantis Wives
by Kij Johnson
“As for the insects, their lives are sustained only by intricate processes of fantastic horror.” —John Wyndham.

Eventually, the mantis women discovered that killing their husbands was not inseparable from the getting of young. Before this, a wife devoured her lover piece by piece during the act of coition: the head (and its shining eyes going dim as she ate); the long green prothorax; the forelegs crisp as straws; the bitter wings. She left for last the metathorax and its pumping legs, the abdomen, and finally the phallus. Mantis women needed nutrients for their pregnancies; their lovers offered this as well as their seed.

It was believed that mantis men would resist their deaths if permitted to choose the manner of their mating; but the women learned to turn elsewhere for nutrients after draining their husbands’ members, and yet the men lingered. And so their ladies continued to kill them, but slowly, in the fashioning of difficult arts. What else could there be between them?

EP285: Jaiden’s Weaver

By Mary Robinette Kowal
Read by: Kij Johnson
Originally published in Diamonds in the Sky
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Mary Robinette Kowal
All stories read by Kij Johnson
Rated G: Teddy bear spiders!

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 277
  • Next week… Coin collecting SF. I’m serious.

Jaiden’s Weaver
by Mary Robinette Kowal

I was never one of those girls who fell in love with horses. For one thing, on our part of New Oregon they were largely impractical animals. Most of the countryside consisted of forests attached to sheer hills and you wanted to ride something with a little more clinging ability. So from the time I was, well, from the time I can remember I wanted a teddy bear spider more than I wanted to breathe.

The problem is that teddy bear spiders were not cheap, especially not for a pioneer family trying to make a go of it.

Mom and Dad had moved us out of Landington in the first wave of expansion, to take advantage of the homesteading act. Our new place was way out on the eastern side of the Olson mountains where Dad had found this natural level patch about halfway up a forested ridge, so we got sunshine all year round, except for the weeks in spring and autumn when the shadow of our planet’s rings passed over us. Our simple extruded concrete house had nothing going for it except a view of the valley, which faced due south to where the rings were like a giant arch in the sky. Even as a twelve-year-old, angry at being taken away from our livewalls in town to this dead structure, I fell in love with the wild beauty of the trees clinging to the sheer faces of the valley walls.

The only thing that would have made it better was a teddy bear spider so I could go exploring on my own. I felt trapped by the walls of the house and the valley. I had this dream that, if I had a spider, that I’d be able to sell its weavings for enough to install livewalls in my room. That’s not as crazy as it sounds; teddy-bear spider weavings are collected all over the colonies and sell for insane amounts of money.

I had a search setup so anytime there was news of a teddy bear spider or a new tube surfaced, I’d be right there, watching those adorable long-legged beasts. I loved their plump furry faces and wanted to run my fingers through their silky russet fur.

I wonder what goes through a survey team’s mind when they name things. I mean a teddy bear spider isn’t a bear and it isn’t a spider, but it looks like both those things. On the other hand, a fartycat looks nothing like a cat. They do stink, though.

Not quite a year after we’d moved, one of my city friends had forwarded an ad from a local board which set my heart to racing.

Teddy bear spider eggs: 75NOD shipped direct.

Read More…

EP277: Rejiggering the Thingamajig

By: Eric James Stone
Read by: Kij Johnson
Originally published in Analog, 2010
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Eric James Stone
All stories read by Kij Johnson
Rated PG: For violence.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 269: Élan Vital
  • Next week… Linguistics… in space.

Rejiggering the Thingamajig
by Eric James Stone

The teleport terminal had not been built with tyrannosaurus sapiens in mind.

Resisting the urge to knock human-sized chairs about with her tail, Bokeerk squatted on the tile floor, folded the claws of her forelimbs together, and concentrated on her breathing. Meditation would calm her nerves. What should have been a two-minute waystop as she switched to a different teleport line had stretched to three hours, and being the only passenger in the terminal creeped her out.

The cheerful voice of the customer service AI roused Bokeerk from her trance. “It is my pleasure to inform you that the cause of the technical difficulties in the galactic teleport network has been found.”

Bokeerk perked up and rose on her hind legs, remembering just in time to duck her head so it wouldn’t bang the ceiling lamps. “Please send me to Krawlak,” she said. It was unlikely that any of her eggs would hatch for another few days yet, but she was anxious to get home.

“It is with the utmost regret that I must tell you that will not be possible at this time,” said the AI, with a tone of such abysmal sorrow that Bokeerk’s eyes could not help but moisten with sympathetic tears. “I require assistance in repairing the problem.”

Bokeerk lowered herself into a squat again. “When will help get here?” She looked at the time display on the digital assistant strapped to her left forelimb. She had now been stranded for three hours and fifty-two minutes.

“I estimate a spaceship carrying a repair crew could be here within twelve years,” said the AI. Its voice seemed to have lost the customer service aspect.

Read More…

EP262: Cruciger

By Erin Cashier
Read by: Kij Johnson
First appeared in Writers of the Future 24
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Erin Cashier
All stories read by Kij Johnson

Captain Harash was its last occupant, the last living man from Earth, and both he and Duxa knew he was dying.

“It’s time, Duxa,” he told her.

She checked the output from his lifechair. While it was still replicating most of his bodily functions for him he did not seem appreciably worse than when she’d last monitored him, less than half a second before.

“We’re not at our destination yet, Captain.”

“You’ll make it there without me, Duxa.”

And the processors that she must have built but could never quite find — she was enormously bulky, and by now some of her was a mystery even unto herself — created an awkward sensation. Duxa told him: “I will be lonely without you.”

“And that’s good,” Harash said.

“You wish me pain?” Duxa asked him.

“No. I wish for you to feel. I wish,” and he paused here, his lips making the smacking noises she knew indicated a loss of reflexive controls as the plague made its way through his cranial nerves, “I wish that there were more things that you could feel, Duxa.”

“I think I feel quite a lot.”

Harash laughed, a coughing sound. “All teenagers do. Remember that, should you actually feel someday, that the white hot intensity fades, but to keep the embers stoking.”

Rated PG: For brief violence, the death of tentacled creatures, and the end of the world as we know it.

Show Notes:

  • Recommended watching: Babylon 5
  • Feedback for Episode 254: A Talent for Vanessa.

Next week… Sibling rivalry never goes out of style.

EP248: Spar

By Kij Johnson.
Read by: Kate Baker of Clarkesworld Magazine.
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: ClarkesworldDownload and read the text.
All stories by Kij Johnson.
All stories read by Kate Baker.

The alien is not humanoid. It is not bipedal. It has cilia. It has no bones, or perhaps it does and she cannot feel them. Its muscles, or what might be muscles, are rings and not strands. Its skin is the color of dusk and covered with a clear thin slime that tastes of snot. It makes no sounds. She thinks it smells like wet leaves in winter, but after a time she cannot remember that smell, or leaves, or winter.

Its Ins and Outs change. There are dark slashes and permanent knobs that sometimes distend, but it is always growing new Outs, hollowing new Ins. It cleaves easily in both senses.

It penetrates her a thousand ways. She penetrates it, as well.

Rated X – Graphic language and sexual situations. Not for kids. Seriously.

Show Notes:

  • This particular story and narration were originally recorded by Kate Baker for Clarkesworld Magazine, and is used here with their expressed permission. Thanks very much to Baker and Clarkesworld.
  • The Escape Pod Flash Contest is over! now check out the judging!
  • Editor’s note: Thanks so much to Dave Thompson and Peter Wood for taking on this project of securing all five Hugo stories during the hiatus of Escape Pod. Most of the work was done before I joined, and this wouldn’t have happened without them stepping up.

Next week… We’re back to our regularly scheduled programming with a story from Heather Shaw!

EP195: 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss

By Kij Johnson.
Read by Diane Severson (of The Diva’s Divine Days).
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, July 2008.
All stories by Kij Johnson.
All stories read by Diane Severson.

Narration first appeared at and produced by Starship Sofa. Special thanks to Tony Smith and Diane Severson for their kind permission to resyndicate this award nominee.

She sets a stepladder next to it. She claps her hands and the 26 monkeys onstage run up the ladder one after the other and jump into the bathtub. The bathtub shakes as each monkey thuds in among the others. The audience can see heads, legs, tails; but eventually every monkey settles and the bathtub is still again. Zeb is always the last monkey up the ladder. As he climbs into the bathtub, he makes a humming boom deep in his chest. It fills the stage.

And then there’s a flash of light, two of the chains fall off, and the bathtub swings down to expose its interior.

Empty.

Rated PG. Contains 26 monkeys. Also, the abyss.