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Escape Pod 598: On the Fringes of the Fractal


AUTHOR: Greg van Eekhout

NARRATOR: Tina Connolly

HOST: Mur Lafferty

about the author . . .

Greg van Eekhout is a novelist of science fiction and fantasy for audiences ranging from adult to middle grade. His work has been selected as finalists for the Sunshine State Award, the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Nebula Award. His novels include Kid vs. Squid, The Boy at the End of the World, Norse Code and the California Bones trilogy. He’s also published about two-dozen short stories, several of which have appeared in year’s best anthologies. Forthcoming works include the middle-grade novel Starward Bound, about dogs on a deep-space mission. He lives with his wife and dogs in San Diego, California, where he enjoys beach walks and tacos.

about the narrator . . . Tina

Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin and Seriously Wicked series, and the collection On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories. Her books have been finalists for the Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. She co-hosts Escape Pod, narrates for Beneath Ceaseless Skies and all four Escape Artists podcasts, and runs Toasted Cake.


On the Fringes of the Fractal
By Greg van Eekhout

I was working the squirt station on the breakfast shift at Peevs Burgers when I learned that my best friend’s life was over.

The squirt guns were connected by hoses to tanks, each tank containing a different slew formula. Orders appeared in lime-green letters on my screen, and I squirted accordingly. Two Sausage Peev Sandwiches was two squirts from the sausage slew gun. An order of Waffle Peev Sticks was three small dabs of waffle slew. The slew warmed and hardened on the congealer table, and because I’d paid attention during the twenty-minute training course and applied myself, I knew just when the slew was ready. I was a slew expert.

Sherman was the other squirter on duty that morning. The orders were coming in fast and he was already wheezing on account of his exercise-induced asthma. His raspy breaths interfered with my ability to concentrate. You really have to concentrate because after four hours of standing and squirting there’s the danger of letting your mind wander and once you do that you can lose control of the squirts and end up spraying food slew all over the kitchen like a fire hose.

“Wasted slew reflects badly on you,” said one of the inspirational posters in the employee restroom. (Continue Reading…)