Posts Tagged ‘aliens’

EP309: The Insurance Agent

By Lavie Tidhar
Read by Christian Brady
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Interzone, 2010
All stories by Lavie Tidhar
All stories read by Christian Brady

Rated inappropriate for seventeen and younger due to language and violence.

The Insurance Agent
By Lavie Tidhar

The bar was packed and everyone was watching the Nixon-Reagan match. The fighters were reflected off the bar’s grainy wood countertop and the tables’ gleaming surfaces and seemed to melt as they flickered down the legs of the scattered chairs. The bar was called the Godhead, which had a lot to do with why I was there. It was a bit of an unfair fight as Reagan was young, pre-presidency, circa-World War Two, while Nixon was heavy-set, older: people were exchanging odds and betting with the bar’s internal gaming system and the general opinion seemed to be that though Reagan was in better shape Nixon was meaner.

I wasn’t there for the match.

The Godhead was on Pulau Sepanggar, one of the satellite islands off Borneo, hence nominally under Malaysian federal authority but in practice in a free zone that had stronger ties to the Brunei Sultanate. It was a convenient place to meet, providing easy access to the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and, of course, Singapore, which resented the island’s role as a growing business centre yet found it useful at the same time.

She wore a smart business suit and a smart communication system that looked like what it was, which was a custom-made gold bracelet on her left arm. She wore smart shades and I was taking a bet that she wasn’t watching the fight. She was drinking a generic Cola but there was nothing generic about her. I slid into a chair beside her and waited for her shades to turn transparent and notice me.

‘Drink, Mr. Turner?’

(Continue Reading…)

EP302: Flash Extravaganza

Winners of our 2010 Flash Contest!
London Iron by William R. Halliar (narrator Andrew Richardson)
Wheels of Blue Stilton by Nicholas J. Carter (narrator Christian Brady)
Light and Lies by Gideon Fostick (narrator- Mur Lafferty)
All Escape Pod Originals!
And we end with a grand “It’s Storytime” montage put together by Marshal Latham!
Discuss on our forums.

EP298: The Things

By Peter Watts
Read by: Kate Baker (Thanks to Kate and Clarkesworld for the audio!)
Originally appearing in Clarkesworld
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Peter Watts
All stories read by Kate Baker
Nominated for the Hugo Award for Short Story, 2011

Rated appropriate for older teens and up for language and disturbing imagery.

The Things
By Peter Watts

I am being Blair. I escape out the back as the world comes in through the front.

I am being Copper. I am rising from the dead.

I am being Childs. I am guarding the main entrance.

The names don’t matter. They are placeholders, nothing more; all biomass is interchangeable. What matters is that these are all that is left of me. The world has burned everything else.

I see myself through the window, loping through the storm, wearing Blair.  MacReady has told me to burn Blair if he comes back alone, but MacReady still thinks I am one of him. I am not: I am being Blair, and I am at the door. I am being Childs, and I let myself in. I take brief communion, tendrils writhing forth from my faces, intertwining: I am BlairChilds, exchanging news of the world.

The world has found me out. It has discovered my burrow beneath the tool shed, the half-finished lifeboat cannibalized from the viscera of dead helicopters. The world is busy destroying my means of escape. Then it will come back for me.

There is only one option left. I disintegrate. Being Blair, I go to share the plan with Copper and to feed on the rotting biomass once called Clarke ; so many changes in so short a time have dangerously depleted my reserves. Being Childs, I have already consumed what was left of Fuchs and am replenished for the next phase.  I sling the flamethrower onto my back and head outside, into the long Antarctic night.

I will go into the storm, and never come back.

(Continue Reading…)

EP284: On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy

By Desmond Warzel
Read by: Joshua McNichols
Originally published in SFReader
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All stories by Desmond Warzel
All stories read by Joshua McNichols
Rated PG: This story contains a real obnoxious dude.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 276
  • Next week… The hopes and dreams of a child, and her pet.

On a Clear Day You can See All the Way to Conspiracy
by Desmond Warzel

You’re listening to the Mike Colavito Show on Cleveland’s home for straight talk, WCUY 1200. The opinions expressed on this program do not reflect those of WCUY, its management, or its sponsors.

Fair warning; I’m in a mood today, folks.

We’ve got a mayor whose only talent seems to be showing up at luncheons and waving at the cameras.

Eighty bucks I had to pay yesterday for not wearing my seatbelt. Show me the seatbelts on a school bus.

I saw a Cleveland athlete on national TV last night wearing a Yankees cap.

And every day I get at least a dozen calls from schmucks who think that people like me are the problem in this city.

Tell me America’s not falling apart.


And some of you people–including our programming director, by the way–seem to think I’m running my mouth too much and not taking enough phone calls. I’ve only been number one in radio in this city for ten straight years; what would I know?

You want calls? You got ’em. Steven in Mayfield Heights, you’re on the air.

“Hey, what’s up, Mike?”

The rent. Art in Seven Hills, you’re on WCUY.

“How you doing, Mike. Just wondering if you caught that ball game last night?”

No. Andrea in Rocky River, go ahead.

“Hi, Mike, first-time caller.”

Well, call back tomorrow and you’ll be a second-time caller. Carol in Cleveland, what’s on your mind?

“Mike, what do you think of waterboarding?”

My wife and I waterboard all the time, and it’s improved our sex life dramatically. Chuck in Parma, you’re on the air.

“Hey, Mike, I heard your show yesterday, and I was just wondering, if you know so much about football, why you don’t take over as head coach of the Browns?”

I wouldn’t want to take the pay cut. Mina in Lakewood, you’re on the air.

“Does your wife think that waterboarding crack was funny?”

Play your cards right some night and you could find out for yourself, Mina. Tommy in Beachwood, you’re on WCUY.

“Hi, Mike, just wondering who you think the Indians should try and trade for next year.”

Your mother. Jane in Euclid, go ahead.


Read More…
(Continue Reading…)

EP278: Written on the Wind

By: David D. Levine
Read by: Mur Lafferty
Originally published in Beyond the Last Star
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by David D. Levine
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated PG: Talk of war elsewhere.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 270
  • Next week… A groovy strange kind of love

Written on the Wind
by David D. Levine

Thuren Nektopk peered down at Luulianni from above his massive desk. “I suspect you know why I’ve called you to speak with me in person.” He spoke in his native language, Ptopku Dominant, using the form of address for a subordinate or a child. It was a constant reminder that the Ptopku had built and largely staffed this station, and was one of the most powerful species in the Consortium.

“Yes, Supervisor,” Luulianni replied in the same language, knotting her tentacles.

“And that would be…?”

“Because of my side project.”

“Yes.” Nektopk suddenly released the bar from which he hung, caught himself on another handhold, and with two swift strokes of his arms swung down to where his six slitted eyes were level with Luulianni’s. “Your little side project.”

Luulianni cringed. “I don’t understand why it’s so much of a problem.” She straightened and tried to meet his gaze. “I put in my full quota of time every day.”

“Yes, you do, and not one moment more. But I know you are capable of so much more than that. Any work you do on this pointless little side project of yours constitutes theft of resources from the Section — from the whole Project!”

“Theft?” she squeaked. Angry at herself for the loss of control, she brought her voice down. “Theft of resources? But I don’t use any data storage space, or any other Section resources! I write my notes on the backs of old printouts.” She did not mention how much more natural it felt to work on paper.

“You are stealing the most valuable resource of all!” Nektopk pointed at her with one limber foot. “Your own time and attention!”

“But it’s my time!”

“You have been sent here by your people — at considerable expense, I might add — to assist in the Project, to learn the ways of the Consortium, and to demonstrate your species’ unique skills.” He leaned closer to her. His smell was bitter. “And if I find that your species, as represented by yourself, does not demonstrate any unique skills, your application for Consortium membership could very well be denied.” He swung himself up to the edge of his desk, the better to glare down at her. “Therefore, your time is not your own. You owe it to the Section, to the Project, and to your own people to put every bit of available time into your assigned task.”

Luulianni hung her head. “Yes, Supervisor.”

“You may return to your work.”

“Thank you, Supervisor.”

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(Continue Reading…)

EP274: Angry Rose’s Lament

By: Cat Rambo
Read by: Mur Lafferty
First appeared in Abyss & Apex (read the text here!)
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Cat Rambo
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated R: for strong language and addiction discussion.

Show Notes:

“Not one of the Big Three? Thought CocaCorp would want a piece of that.”

Rutter had wondered that himself. By all accounts, Solin was a plum piece of real estate, the kind one of the big companies like General M or Bushink would snatch up as an asset. Across the galaxies, they’d grabbed small systems every chance they got. Solin did have a native intelligent race tp be wooed, but there was a surplus of impoverished races deep in debt to the Companies. Very few, the ones who knew to hire themselves savvy (and expensive) legal counsel, managed to keep themselves free.

There was, Rutter figured, something out of the ordinary about Solin. Not out of the ordinary in a valuable way, but something tricky, something slippery or scandalous, some taint the Big Three wanted to avoid. He’d find out soon enough, he guessed.

EP267: Planetfall

By: Michael C. Lea
Read by: Jason Adams of Indie Squid Kid
First appeared in The Book Of Exodi
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Michael C. Lea
All stories read by Jason Adams
Rated PG: For violence

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 259: The Lady or the Tiger?
  • Next week… Weather: wild, and planned.

by Michael C. Lea

Galthas Talisar stepped out from the buzzing chaos of the transportal and onto lush greenery. This world was alien, to be sure, but the patterns were almost familiar. The ship’s oracles had chosen well.

Behind him, the transportal hummed again. An armored leg emerged and carefully found its footing on the blue-green ferns carpeting the jungle floor. More than twenty thousand miles above, the leg’s owner shifted his weight and stepped fully through an identical transportal, instantly emerging on the planet’s surface below.

That cautious step belonged to Urjik, who could be called cautious in few other ways. In fact, his reputation had left him few other options for a willing partner on this mission. Urjik did not care. He and Galthas had fought together against the worst the Zayeen had to offer. He trusted Galthas implicitly, despite his disdain for the other scrawny ascetics from Signet Battalion.

Urjik’s greenish skin and jutting lower canines marked him as a charuk, his bloodline tainted by nether influences. Despite this stigma, and despite his temper, he had risen quickly in Rampart Battalion. Even the most burdensome battlesuit did not slow him, and no one was a truer shot with an inferno cannon or a hex-impelled railgun.

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(Continue Reading…)

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!

EP241: Thargus and Brian

By Stephen Gaskell.
Read by Chris Miller of Unquiet Desperation.
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Stephen Gaskell
All stories read by Chris Miller

Thargus thought the time right. He set the lights to full strength and flailed and gnashed and roared as he’d been practising. He felt rather silly, but the performance seemed to be working. The human, one hand steadying its spin, looked on intensely. It moved the white stick up to its mouth, breathed in, and then stabbed the stick out against the sac wall.

“Don’t be afraid,”  Thargus said, meaning the opposite. He’d seen the trick on old films stored in the moss-brain when humans always said one thing and meant another like “We’re safer if we split up.”

The human exhaled a long stream of smoke. “I’m not,” it said.

That didn’t sound right. Thargus considered his response while staring at the human. It sure was ugly. A patchwork of dirty synthetics over the majority of its body, and on top of its pudgy, pink head, strand upon strand of greasy hair. Ugh!  Thargus felt sick.

“Be afraid, then,” he said.

“Why, are you going to eat me?”

Thargus didn’t feel comfortable telling an outright lie, but that didn’t mean he needed to be too honest. “I might.”

Rated F: for two f-bombs and some serious munchies.

Show Notes:

Next week… we discover that food is, in fact, love.

EP221: Little Ambushes

By Joanne Merriam.
Read by Rachel Swirsky.
All stories by Joanne Merriam
All stories read by Rachel Swirsky

Practically the first thing she did when she took in the alien was to give him a new name. He looked at her outstretched hand long enough to annoy her, and then grasped it with his four opposable fingers and hung on limply until she wrenched her hand out of his moist and over-jointed grip.

She said, “I’m Sarah,” and he said his name, or what she assumed was his name, in return, rolling the syllables around in his mouth like so many rough pebbles. His name was too long, something like Shperidth with extra grunting noises in the middle, like a car backfiring very far away. She tried to repeat it and couldn’t, while he stood on her doorstep sweating and folding his fingers around each other. She frowned at him.

“I can’t say that,” she said.

Rated PG-13 for some adult situations and coarse language.