Posts Tagged ‘Norm Sherman’

EP447: Rachel in Love


by Pat Murphy
read by Kathy Sherwood

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author Pat Murphy
author Pat Murphy
about the author…

I’m a writer, a scientist, and sometimes a toy maker.

All of my stories and novels have a hint of the strange. Some have been called science fiction, some fantasy, and some neither one. Most of my work falls between categories. I think that the most interesting events happen at the edges, in the borderlands where the lines are fuzzy.

My fiction writing has won a number of awards, including the Nebula Award for Science Fiction, the World Fantasy Award, the Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original, the Christopher Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. I also co-founded the James Tiptree Memorial Award.

When I’m not writing fiction, I write books about science. For upwards of 20 years, I was a writer at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception. These days, I write science books for Klutz, a publisher of how-to books that come packaged with the tools of their trade (from juggling cubes to foldable paper dragons that fly).  This is where I get a chance to try my hand at toy making. Working with at team at Klutz, I help develop the stuff that goes with the books — from origami starfighters to a snap-together skeletal hand.

Sometimes, I also teach writing. I’ve taught in Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and at the Clarion Speculative Fiction Workshops in Michigan and Seattle.

about the narrator…

Kathy Sherwood resides in a (probably only figuratively) magical forest in North Central Florida, with her significant other, two dogs and two cats. She also hosts alternative rock show Not Quite Random on 88.5 WFCF–Flagler College Radio. https://www.facebook.com/notquiterandom  Last read EP396 — Dead Merchandise by Ferrett Steinmetz

EP446: The Way of the Needle


by Derek Künsken

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Author Derek Kunsken
Author Derek Kunsken
about the author…

I’m a writer of science fiction, fantasy,  and sometimes accidentally, horror. I write and read both novel-length and short fiction, with a preference for works that explore really strange places and people.

 

THE WAY OF THE NEEDLE
Derek Künsken

I

The ancient pulsar’s lighthouse beam of microwaves and radio waves spun twice per second. Within the bloom of its magnetic field orbited the single planet that had survived the long-ago supernova, at the cost of its crust and mantle. An atmosphere of carbon dioxide had congealed around the little metallic world, producing oceans of iron and nickel carbonyl, dotted with thickets of steel needles that fanned to catch the microwaves. On the largest islands, the growth of the needles had been coaxed into towers, pedestals, and martial walls. Prickly metal creatures held together by strong magnetic fields scuttled in these towns and forts, on eight articulated legs of steel spines. Their fine quills caught the flashing microwaves, generating the electricity for their quick, agile movements.

One of them, whose fame would not be made for many years yet, was uncomfortable in a disguise. Mok was a Follower of the Needle, an order of martial priests. Whereas other Followers and fighters-at-arms bore large metal claws high on their forelegs, Mok now scurried with only small, shameful servant claws. No one recognized him and no one complimented him. Nor would he earn any compliments from this mission; he’d been sent by Master Hac not as a warrior to fight under the full shine of the pulsar, but as an assassin.

Mok tried to fan his steel quills wider, but the road was too crowded. Fussing builders swung long rods culled from faraway orchards, patching the palisaded walls that lined the streets. Shabby, short-needled monks stood where the upturned points of the streets were overlaid with rusted garbage and sniped at each other with pinching claws and philosophical recriminations. Mok paused at a stall where a thinly needled elder showed off processed snow paste.

Mok hadn’t stopped for the snow paste. He wasn’t hungry. He’d stopped for the view of the Ban estate. The Ban family had consolidated an immense estate on the south road during the clan wars. Its high noble gate showed sprouting buildings and growing towers within the palisade. Slow mercenaries controlled the gate. To the side, at a narrow opening, flowed the swarmers, servants and merchants, short-needled and small-clawed. (Continue Reading…)

EP445: Black Swan Oracle


by Ferrett Steinmetz
read by Amy Robinson Links for this episode:

about the author…

from writertopia A firm believer in the “apply butt to chair, then fingers to keyboard” philosophy, Ferrett Steinmetz writes for at least an hour every day – which helps, he promises. He is a graduate of both the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and Viable Paradise, and has been nominated for the Nebula Award, for which he remains stoked.

Ferrett has a moderately popular blog, The Watchtower of Destruction, wherein he talks about bad puns, relationships, politics, videogames, and more bad puns. He is the creator of the most popular and comprehensive online purity quizzes (this one’s for sex, but he’s also done them for roleplaying and Livejournal). He’s written four computer books, including the still-popular-after-two-years Wicked Cool PHP.

He lives in Cleveland with his wife, who he couldn’t imagine living without.

 

Awesomegirlabout the narrator…

Amy’s voice over training began by taking a short workshop at the Alliance Theatre, instructed by industry veteran, Paul Armbruster.  Having whetted her appetite for the craft, she sought out further voiceover training with experts and agents alike, and finally landed at yourAct studios in Atlanta, GA. Under the expert instruction of Della Cole, a seasoned voice actress with over 30 years experience as both an actress and an agent, Amy grew as an actress and a voice over talent. She continues to sharpen her skills and is constantly working hard to provide the best possible voiceovers in the business. She is now proudly represented by People Store, and Umberger Agency, and works both in local studios and out of her home studio.

Black Swan Oracle
by Ferrett Steinmetz

The crowd waiting below The Oracle’s bulletproof bay window is a mathematically predictable entity. Still, the Oracle relishes any illusion of chaos – and so, every morning, just before she allows herself one single prayer, she sweeps open her curtains to gaze over the crowd.

Her supplicants look up from their shivered huddling as fluorescent light spills out from The Oracle’s bay window; poor women in smudged hoodies squat next to Armani-clad stockbrokers. The Oracle’s hundreds of supplicants put up tents faster than the policemen can tear them down, burn garbage to ward off the Seine’s chill winds, buy gristled chicken hunks from illegal street vendors. The wait can take weeks, so long that people fall in love and fuck and have violently dramatic breakups before The Oracle’s guards fish these poor souls from the crowd to escort them towards an answer made pure with data.

The Oracle’s tide of supplicants is so constant that, like any shantytown, it has developed its own economy… an economy which pulses perfectly in time with the rhythms The Oracle predicted. She’d spent hours developing algorithms to anticipate the crowd you would get if you charged $25,000 for a single question, answers guaranteed (but not to please), in this geographic and demographic cluster. She’d analyzed the local politicians, and the bribes she pays remain within .03% of initial estimates. She’d tracked the movements of the most influential reporters, ascertaining they would pass by here 2.4 times a week, guaranteeing unending press for “The Statistic Mystic,” a name the Oracle loathes. She even predicted the number of e. coli outbreaks from undercooked chicken.

Yet every morning, before The Oracle orders her guards to escort the first supplicant in, The Oracle kneels. She above all people knows how irrational prayers are — multigenerational analyses of billions of lives has allowed The Oracle to thoroughly disprove the effects of prayers, bioharmonics, Zener cards, craniometry, reiki, feng shui, astral projection, the existence of God himself as an active entity, and those laundry balls they sell on late-night TV — but when the data models don’t support the desired results, sometimes all that’s left is hope. (Continue Reading…)

EP426: Flash Fiction Special


Four Tickets, by Leslianne Wilder
Life Sentence, by Ben HalleRt
The Future Is Set, by C. L. Perria
read by Nathan Lee, Angela Lee & Norm Sherman

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EP420: The Shunned Trailer


by Esther Friesner
read by Norm Sherman

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About the Author…

from the wiki about the author…

Esther Mona Friesner-Stutzman, née Friesner (born July 16, 1951) is a prolific American science fiction and fantasy author. She is best known for her humorous style of writing, both in the titles and the works themselves.

Friesner attended the Hunter College High School, a public magnet high school in New York City, as well as Vassar College. She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish and was a college professor at Yale University before becoming a writer.

In addition to short stories, Friesner has published a number of novels and is a prolific editor of anthologies. Among her recent books are Nobody’s Princess, which takes the Greek legend of Helen of Sparta and gives it a new beginning, and its sequel, Nobody’s Prize. She is a frequent guest of honor at science fiction conventions, having appeared at Bubonicon, Arisia, Boskone, Baycon and Albacon in the 1990s and into the 21st century.
Friesner is credited as one of the founders of a parody movement in the 1980s called cyberprep.

Friesner was named Outstanding New Fantasy Writer by Romantic Times in 1986. She won the Skylark Award in 1994. She has been nominated a number of times for the Hugo and Nebula awards, winning the Nebula Award for Best Short Story in 1995 and 1996 for, respectively, “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birth Day”.

EP418: The Dala Horse


by Michael Swanwick
read by Michael Liebmann

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Author Michael Swanwick
Author Michael Swanwick
About the Author…

Michael Swanwick has received the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards for his work. Stations of the Tide was honored with the Nebula Award and was also nominated for the Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. “The Edge of the World,” was awarded the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award in 1989. It was also nominated for both the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. “Radio Waves” received the World Fantasy Award in 1996. “The Very Pulse of the Machine” received the Hugo Award in 1999, as did “Scherzo with Tyrannosaur” in 2000.

His stories have appeared in Omni, Penthouse, Amazing, Asimov’s, High Times, New Dimensions, Starlight, Universe, Full Spectrum, Triquarterly and elsewhere. .
His books include In the Drift, an Ace Special; Vacuum Flowers; Griffin’s Egg; Stations of the Tide; The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, a New York Times Notable Book, and Jack Faust; his short fiction has been collected in Gravity’s Angels, A Geography of Unknown Lands, Moon Dogs, Tales of Old Earth, and a collection of short-shorts, Cigar-Box Faust and Other Miniatures.
He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Marianne Porter, and their son, Sean.

About the Narrator…

Born in New York, Michael Liebmann is a legal secretary now living in Atlanta, Georgia.  He has been everything from a convention organizer today to a trivia master at science fiction conventions in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  He’s also an amateur voice actor who has worked on over 40 projects, most of which are based on Star Trek, and is now at work on the Babylon 5 fan audio drama Novo Babylonia.

 

The Dala Horse
by Michael Swanwick

Something terrible had happened. Linnea did not know what it was. But her father had looked pale and worried, and her mother had told her, very fiercely, “Be brave!” and now she had to leave, and it was all the result of that terrible thing.
The three of them lived in a red wooden house with steep black roofs by the edge of the forest. From the window of her attic room, Linnea could see a small lake silver with ice very far away. The design of the house was unchanged from all the way back in the days of the Coffin People, who buried their kind in beautiful polished boxes with metal fittings like nothing anyone made anymore. Uncle Olaf made a living hunting down their coffin-sites and salvaging the metal from them. He wore a necklace of gold rings he had found, tied together with silver wire.
“Don’t go near any roads,” her father had said. “Especially the old ones.” He’d given her a map. “This will help you find your grandmother’s house.”
“Mor-Mor?”
“No, Far-Mor. My mother. In Godastor.”
Godastor was a small settlement on the other side of the mountain. Linnea had no idea how to get there. But the map would tell her.
Her mother gave her a little knapsack stuffed with food, and a quick hug. She shoved something deep in the pocket of Linnea’s coat and said, “Now go! Before it comes!”
“Good-bye, Mor and Far,” Linnea had said formally, and bowed.
Then she’d left. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Artists Metacast


An urgent update on the status of Escape Artists, its three podcasts, our plans for the future and why we desperately need your help getting there.

Escape Artists Metacast

 

Escape Artists, Inc.
P.O. Box 83
Woodstock, GA 30188
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Sound effects provided by users kasa90 (http://freesound.org/people/kasa90/) and TasmanianPower (http://freesound.org/people/TasmanianPower/) of FreeSound.org

EP286 The ’76 Goldwater Dime


By John Medaille
Read by: Norm Sherman
Originally published in Residential Aliens in July, 2010
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by John Medaille
All stories read by Norm Sherman
Rated G: Coin collecting!

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 278
  • Next week… a taste of time.

The ’76 Goldwater Dime
By John Medaille

I started in 1962, that’s when I became a numismatist. You know what that is? It’s the study of….well, it’s not the study of anything. It’s coin collecting, is what it is.

I was ten in 1962, and Christmas I got my first coin album. I didn’t actually get it. My father gave it to my brother. It was, you know, you’ve seen them, a sturdy cardboard folder with slots punched out that you put the coins in. Behind the slots, the empties, it had a backing of blue felt, I remember that. My dad gave it to my brother, I guess maybe thinking it would straighten him out. But coins, you know, they don’t really have that power. He wasn’t interested. He gave it to me. Me, I was interested.

The album was for Lincoln pennies, 1909 to 1959. I had five cents in the world then and each of the five fit in the slot. It only took me five more days to get the other forty-five. I would do anything for those pennies and slot it in its slot. Anything, anything. When I got my last penny, wow. It was a 1943 steel mint penny, a ‘steelie.’ They had to use steel instead of copper that year cause they needed the copper for all the bombs. I was so proud.

From then on it was just coins for me. My life was coins. I was hooked. They had their hooks in me, boy.

When I was just seventeen I moved by myself down to Washington, DC, cause I got a job there in a coin shop. That was my education. I lived in a one room dungeon in a crumby neighborhood, I loved coins that much.

You know, and I do alright. I made my living. I own my own house. I don’t live in debt like everybody else does. That’s what coins did for me. Coins and specie and spec. I don’t care for paper money, it holds nothing for me.

Me, I’m a specialist. I know generalists, I do business with them, I have to. And speculators, sure. You do what you need to do to survive in the world. But me, I’m a specialist and my friends are specialists. I’ll give an example, I have a friend, he died. But before he died, his specialty was pay toilet tokens. I mean, have you ever seen a pay toilet? In your life? I saw some once in Europe but I don’t even know if they have them there anymore. Anyway, this friend of mine, he spends his life collecting these tokens, these coins, for pay toilets, from around the world and every age. He finds the obscurest pay toilet tokens there are and they’re his. And then he dies alone in his apartment with these thousands of toilet tokens around him. I mean, that’s the way to go. I mean that. To have these objects of joy around you. To you and me, they are not objects of joy, but to him they are. You know, not everybody gets to have that, it’s not something that everyone receives. To have such pleasure from these things, these old things. But he does and I do because, see, we’re specialists. Not everybody understands that.

Other people I know, you know, have their special collections. Any thing you can think of, any given thing and there’s some guy like me out there obsessed with it. I know people, you meet a lot of interesting people in this business, whose specialties are Depression era wooden nickels or peep show tokens, or misprint coins, error coins, or brockage, that’s coins with mirror image stamps on both sides, or obverses or ‘Godless Dollars.’ You ever heard of ‘Godless Dollars?’ Those are dollar coins where the “In God we trust” part got left off. Now, you see, I respect that. Those are people with specialties. They are connoisseurs, like me. Not any old crap will do.

I’ll tell you what I mean. I have a friend, he’s not a friend, he’s a guy I know. And his collection, if you want to call it that, his collection consists of nothing but 1938 pennies. That’s the year he was born, 1938. What I mean is, what is that? Is that a specialty? Not really. It just seems so crude. Do you know how many pennies were minted in 1938? Neither do I, but it’s in the ballpark of two hundred million. This schlub has three million, I think, in his collection. Think of that. Three million 1938 pennies in roles, lying around. That’s no specialty. I mean, I think he also has nickels and dimes and quarters from 1938, but still. I do not consider that a specialty. I consider it some sick fixation. I have no understanding of that. That is not what I do.

My specialty? My specialty is the rarest of the rare, okay? I mean, I have collections and I have collections, but my real collection, the only one that’s not for sale, that’s not in the vault, I’m not even going to tell you where I keep it, guess how many coins I have in my collection. Guess.

I have twelve coins in my collection. That’s twelve. I’ve been doing this for coming up on fifty years and I’ve amassed twelve coins. In my specialty collection. Now you understand my mind.

I brought them here, I got them in my fireproof, waterproof, idiotproof box, just for you. I brought them to show you because I happen to know you will not shoot me and stab me thirty-six times and run off with my pretty little coins. Besides, I paid more money for the lockbox than I paid for all the coins. So, that’s where we are. So allow me to reveal to you, at long last, my specialty.

Okay, this is item number one, this is Exhibit A, okay? I got this in 1981 in my change for a fish sandwich, I kid you not. Don’t smudge it. It’s mint. It’s pristine. It’s almost uncirculated, but in another way, it’s very, extremely circulated. First, before I give this to you, tell me, who’s on the dime?

Very good, FDR’s on the dime. Has been since 1946. Now look at this and tell me, who’s on that dime?

Yes, he’s wearing glasses. FDR wore glasses too but not when posing for coinage. Who is he? No, it’s not Truman. Look closer. Recognize him? That’s Barry Goldwater. Look, that’s him. Yes, I am fully aware that Goldwater was never president. Thank you, Mr. Historian. But that is him and that is a 1976 dime and he’s on it. Now you see. Now you see my specialty.

How did Barry Goldwater get on that dime? I don’t know. That’s not my province. My province is getting that dime in change for my fish sandwich and recognizing it for what it is and keeping it forever. That’s where I come in.

Sure, it could be a hoax. Anything can be a hoax. But I don’t think it is. Because besides me nobody’s looking, besides me nobody cares. That’s a lot of trouble to go to to hoax me, and who’s to benefit? Sure, there are lots of hoax coins, joke coins. It’s an entire industry. Especially in China, but for Chinese coins usually, mind you. You ever heard of a Hobo Nickel? Lots of specialists love those, I deal in them regular. They were big in the twenties and thirties, because of the Buffalo Nickel, you remember that one? Beautiful coin, had a big, fat buffalo on it and on the other side a big indian head with feathers and braids. Replaced the Liberty Head in 1905. Well, what would happen was hobos would get these nickels and, because they have a lot of time on their hands I guess, is they would take these coins and carve them, actually carve into the Nickel. They would give those indians beards, stubble, floppy hobo hats, give them cigars. And some of these things, okay, they’re works of art. So meticulous, these guys, they were true artisans and craftsmen, and these nickels would be little Michaelangelos.

Now, you ask, could somebody have put some glasses on FDR, altered the face a little and put that ’76 back into circulation so I would get it back when ordering a fish sandwich? They certainly could have. But what you have to understand is this: these Hobo nickels, the good ones at least, they take weeks and months of intricate, painstaking work. Scraping and filing and carving. Once you’re done with a thing like that you don’t put it back into the system that wouldn’t appreciate it or know what the hell it was. This is something to be kept and treasured and sold. Plus, the Hobo Nickels always have signs, telltale signs that they’ve been altered. I’ve been staring at coins continuously for half a century, you think I don’t know the signs? Carving the coins like that effects its width, the measurement of the bas relief on the portrait. Believe me, I’ve measured this thing to the micrometer from every angle a thousand times, and it’s spot on, dead set perfect. Nobody’s that good, not even a top of his game counterfeiter. And no counterfeiter would put on a guy who lost the election, either. Not even as political commentary.

No, this is real. I’m convinced of that. I’ve even had it tested and guess what? It’s even radioactive. Calm down, it’s not deadly. It’s in a mylar bag. It’s just more radioactive than the background radioactivity is for such a thing. It’s not fallout, for God’s sake. Don’t worry, it’s not going to mess with your sperm.

What’s it worth? It’s worth ten cents is what it’s worth. It’s worth everything. That’s not the point, is it? It’s only worth something if people want it, and nobody wants it because nobody knows it exists. There’s no market for such a thing. No market but me. Why? Because people aren’t looking for it. You get a numismatist like me, he takes a hard look at every coin he ever gets. He looks at the date stamp, he looks at the quality, the mint mark, the ridges, the condition, the corruption, he looks for errors, misprints, double dies, uncentering, omissions. You know what he doesn’t look at? He doesn’t look at the face of the deceased president, he doesn’t look to see of George Washington’s ponytail has grown in the intervening centuries. He’s seen it a million times. He isn’t interested. Me, I look. Me, I see. So no, nobody else is looking for this, it’s not worth anything. It’s just me. That’s what makes it my specialty.

Okay, okay. Let’s forget that for now. Let’s move to exhibit number two. Take this. Yes, this is a ’72 Kennedy half dollar. Yes, that’s Kennedy on it. But look at that face, look how wrinkly he is. No, that’s not wear, that’s not metal fatigue. Metal doesn’t wear like that, believe me, I know. That’s in the stamp. Which Kennedy is that? That’s not John F Kennedy, that’s Joseph P Kennedy, his father. Look at it. Sure, he ran for president. An anti-Semite, that’s what they said. I’m not going to argue about it now. Give it back. Okay, item three: 1927 penny, Lincoln’s supposed to be on it, but who’s that guy? Look at that beard. That’s John Brown. Number four, 1944 quarter, that guy on it? Eugene V Debs, that commie guy that run for president in 1900. Can you imagine America with a commie president?

Okay, hell with it, look at the rest here:

Huey Long nickel, 1958.

William Randolph Hearst silver dollar, 1969.

Robert E Lee three cent piece from 1888. Don’t be stupid, there was no confederate money in 1888.

1965 dime, that’s Lindbergh on it.

1992 quarter, you know who that guy is on there? Roy Cohn. Took me forever to figure that one out.

1935 penny, Barnum, the circus guy. That one might actually be a forgery, the zinc plating, it’s a little off. Anyway.

1986 nickel, got Herbert Hoover on it. One of the most hated presidents of all time, how’d he get on the nickel?

And lastly, okay, look that this, this is the prize of my collection, 1998 quarter. Who’s on it instead of Washington? That’s Benedict Arnold. I swear before all that is holy. You know, that son of a bitch was a war hero before he turned traitor.

So that’s it. That’s my entire collection right there. Nothing else to show. This is my specialty. You see here my life.

What does it mean? I don’t know the meanings of things. But you know, if you think about these guys who could have been president but weren’t, except for Hoover I mean, that’s their commonality. What I think is that maybe travelers left these coins here. I didn’t say aliens, did I? I said travelers. What I mean is people who travel from other dimensions, alternate histories, that kind of thing. It’s a real thing, with physics and quantum mechanics. I’m a scholar. I read. No, I don’t know exactly how they work, I didn’t say I did. Who am I, Mr. Wizard? But you’re telling me, if you take it as a given that there are such dimensions and that these guys can travel through them, than what? He’s going to check each and every coin he’s got in his pocket for the historical relevancy of the dead, white guy on it? Every time he buys gum or a pair of shoes? People don’t work that way, believe me. That’s the thing with coins, they’re the one thing that everybody gots and nobody sees. Or maybe there are no travelers, maybe the coins themselves are the travelers. Coins get around. Maybe they’re small enough they fall through the cracks on their own. Maybe they plunk down of their own volition onto the sidewalks and in cash registers, world to world to world, I don’t know.

So there you have it. That is my specialty. Alternate reality coins. This is my niche.

What’ll I do with them? What is there to do? I don’t know. I don’t know but I do. I’m going to be buried with them, that’s what I’m going to do. They’re not for anybody else but me. They’re mine now. Thank you, fish sandwich. You know I have no kids, I can’t help thinking the coin thing has some connection with that. Besides, even if I did, do you think they’d be capable of appreciating this? I don’t think they would. They wouldn’t understand.

No, they’re coming with me. Those twelve coins, all in the breast pocket of my best suit with me in the grave in their little mylar bags. That’s where they belong.

These are what I love, everything else can go to hell. I love coins, I’m not ashamed of it. Everybody should be so lucky as this. I don’t feel that I was dealt a bum hand with this…obsession, what you want to call it. I don’t think I was shortchanged in any way. Get it? Not short changed? Anyway, you know, I think that that’s what you’re supposed to do in this life. You find something you love and you never let go. I think that that’s the secret.