Tag: "Tim Pratt"

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EP350: Observer Effects

By Tim Pratt
Read by A Kovacs
Discuss on our forums.
Originally appeared in Diet Soap (2007)
All stories by Tim Pratt
All stories read by A Kovacs
Rated 17 and up for explicit language

Observer Effects
By Tim Pratt

“Ubiquitous surveillance isn’t the problem. Asymmetrical ubiquitous surveillance is the problem.” The Liberator was playing Chinese checkers against himself and talking, talking, talking, like always. “Who watches the watchmen, after all?”

We were superheroes then. Celebrities, back when there were such things. It was a slow night at orbital headquarters, and Eye-Oh was
sitting at the big screen, watching a couple of people fuck — consensually, or we would have done something about it — in an
alleyway. The screen was green with night-vision enhancements, and Eye-Oh’s strange complicated face was perfectly placid and empty as he observed.

“The problem is that we can watch ordinary people, and they can’t watch us,” the Liberator went on. He looked at me longingly, searchingly, and I thought it might be nice to tweak the inside of his brain and get rid of his earnestness, give him a little taste of what infamous brain-damage victim Phineas Gage got when that iron bar slammed through his frontal lobe, a total personality turnaround, from nice guy to sociopath. Let the Liberator be selfish and impulsive and violent and mercurial for a while, so he could appreciate the way normal avaricious sneaky hungry desperate needy people felt.

But that was supervillain thinking, and I’d gone straight and narrow. In those days I cured neurological damage instead of inflicting it. I fixed people. (Except bad people. Those, I was sometimes still allowed to play with with.) I’d refused to give up my supervillain name though. The Liberator had wanted to call me “Dr. Neuro” when I joined his little boys’ club, but I’d insisted on keeping my maiden name, as it were. Doctor. Please. I was a high-school dropout.

“Do you see?” the Liberator said. “If ordinary people could see us, if everyone could see everyone else, it wouldn’t matter if there were no privacy.”

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EP300: We Go Back

By Tim Pratt
Read by: Mur Lafferty
An Escape Pod original!
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Tim Pratt
All stories read by Mur Lafferty

Rated appropriate for younger teens and up – occasional adult language.

Episode 300! Wow!

We Go Back
Tim Pratt

My best friend Jenny Kay climbed in through my window and nearly stepped on my head. If I’d been sleeping a foot closer to the wall, I would’ve gotten a face full of her boot, but instead I just snapped awake and said “What who what now?” and blinked a lot.

“Oh damn,” Jenny said in a loudish whisper. “When did you move your bed under the window?”

“Last week,” I said, sitting up in bed. “I wanted a change.” If you can’t rearrange your life, you can at least rearrange yourself, and if your mom won’t let you dye your hair blue, you can make do with rearranging your rooms.

Jenny Kay dropped from standing to sitting in one motion, making my mattress bounce, and landed cross-legged and totally comfortable. “Hey,” she said. “So I need to borrow your ring.” I couldn’t read her expression in the dim moonlight from the window.

I looked at my right hand, where a thin silver ring looped my index finger, catching what light there was in the room and giving back twinkles. The metal grew cold against my skin and tightened a fraction, almost a friendly little squeeze. The ring — which wasn’t really a ring — could tell when I was thinking about it. “Uh,” I said.

Jenny nodded vigorously, a motion I felt in the jostling of the mattress more than I saw. “I know! I know. But I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important. I mean, you’ve had the thing for more than a year, and I’ve never asked once if I could use it, right?”

I glanced at my closed door — no glow under the crack at the bottom, which meant my parents had gone to their separate beds and turned out the hall light — and switched on my bedside lamp. Jenny was dressed in jeans and a sweater, all in dark grays and blacks, not her usual aggressively flamboyant colorful mishmash style at all. Good for sneaking into people’s windows, I guessed.

I sat up against the headboard, because when you’re about to annoy your best friend, it’s better not to be flat on your back at the time. “I wish I could,” I said — not one hundred percent true, but Jenny was a fourteen-year-old genius, not a human lie detector. “But it’s, like… part of me. You know? I’m part of the mechanism. I can’t just take it off. It’s linked into my, what’s it called, socratic nervous system?”

“Somatic,” Jenny said gloomily. She was almost as good at biology as she was at math. “The part of your nervous system that controls movement, which sort of halfway makes sense, I guess.”

I shrugged. “So, there you go. The ring’s not something I wear. It’s something that wears me. Or we wear each other. What did you want it for?”

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EP276: On a Blade of Grass

By: Tim Pratt
Read by: Mat Weller
Originally published in the Subterranean Press Newsletter, 2008
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Tim Pratt
All stories read by Mat Weller
Rated PG-13: For language, two F bombs, and some parasitic details…

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 268: Advection
  • Next week… Rejiggering stuff – really, this time.

On a Blade of Grass
By Tim Pratt

“Interstellar war is about as exciting as playing chess by mail.” The guy who said that had been leaning into the bar for so long I thought his chest might fuse with the wood. I drifted over, because he wasn’t a regular, and I was bored with all my regulars and their regular bullshit.

“Who plays chess by mail anymore?” I said. “With the ‘net and all.”

“Nobody. Guys in jail maybe, I don’t know. Because it’s boring. My point. Inefficient and slow. Just like this war.” He tapped his glass meaningfully. He was rumpled and sleep-creased and middle-aged and smelly, but a better class of smelly than my usual crowd — like working-all-night-sweaty smelly, not sitting-around-all-day smelly. Long enough tending bar and you can tell the difference.

I refilled his glass. He was a pretty good drinker, but the little guys often are. “They say by the time our warships get out there, to their homeworld, the Phages might even be extinct. Like, just from natural processes, long timescales, like that. Or they might’ve evolved into something new, something that doesn’t… you know…”

“Want to eat us?”

Read More…

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I hear you folks like free fiction…

Some free fiction coming down from Escape Pod favorites:

Jury Service: By Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross (audio only) – (from Cory’s blog) Jury Service is the first of two novellas Charlie Stross and I wrote about Huw, a technophobe stuck on Earth after the Singularity (the other one being Appeals Court). They are both being published, along with a third, yet-to-be-written novella Parole Board by Tor Books as Rapture of the Nerds. We’re starting work on Parole Board in January, and to refamiliarize myself with the earlier novellas, I’m going to podcast both now (with the gracious permission of Charlie and our editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden). Hope you enjoy ‘em – they’re as gonzo as I’ve ever gotten, I think!

The Nex: by Tim Pratt (text and ebook) – (from Tim’s blog) Unlike my other serials, this one isn’t an urban fantasy, and doesn’t take place in an existing series (though it does share a setting with a story, as I mentioned). It’s a novel narrated by a precocious 13-year-old who finds herself a long way from home with some disreputable people in a dangerous world. The book has shapeshifters, giant robots, aliens, kleptomaniacal monsters, heroism, shoplifting, terror, lecherous cyborgs, personable tyrants, steampunk submarines, subterranean tunnels, rustic French cuisine, a cult of teenage girls in fairy wings and leotards, teleportation, and people who get punched so hard they disappear. I hope you all like it. [Ed- this is a free online book, so please support the author with a donation or a purchase of the Kindle ebook]

[UPDATE- apologies, WordPress put the Doctorow file into our feed without me realizing, sorry for those of you who downloaded unwanted content. I've removed it, now you must right-click to download or go directly to Doctorow's page.]

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EP251: Unexpected Outcomes

By Tim Pratt
Read by: Tom “Devo Spice” Rockwell of The Funny Music Project..
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: Interzone
All stories by Tim Pratt
All stories read by Tom “Devo Spice” Rockwell

But the plane just stopped, and hung there, nose tipped at a slight angle, mere feet from the building.

And that’s when the figure — the one people call the Ambassador, or the Doctor, or the Outsider, or the Professor, or a hundred other names — appeared. Just a middle-aged man in a white lab coat, with steel-rimmed glasses and graying hair. His image filled the air above the jetliner, like the dome of the sky had been transformed into an IMAX movie screen.

He said, “People of Earth, I have a message for you.”

Rated PG for ennui and futility of life.

Show Notes:

  • Tim Pratt is serializing a Marla Mason novel, Broken Mirrors at his website. His first anthology is out this summer from Night Shade Books, Sympathy for the Devil.
  • Tom Rockwell’s work can be found at his personal music website, Devo Spice, The Funny Music Project, and his comedy troupe, Cirque du So What?
  • Incidentally, Tom Rockwell, myself, and many other Escape Artist writers and narrators will be at NASFiC next week, so check us out if you’re in the Raleigh, NC area!

Next week… Rescue in deep space. And guitar ballads.

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EP239: A Programmatic Approach to Perfect Happiness

By Tim Pratt
Read by: Stephen Eley
Discuss on our forums.
Originally published in: Futurismic, April 2009.

All stories by Tim Pratt
All stories read by Stephen Eley

Opening poem: “Scientific Romance”

Audible.com Promotion!

Get your free audiobook at: http://audible.com/escapepodsff

My step-daughter Wynter, who is regrettably prejudiced against robots
and those who love us, comes floating through the door in a
metaphorical cloud of glitter instead of her customary figurative
cloud of gloom. She enters the kitchen, rises up on the toes of her
black spike-heeled boots, wraps her leather-braceleted arms around my
neck, and places a kiss on my cheek, leaving behind a smear of black
lipstick on my artificial skin and a whiff of white make-up in my
artificial nose. “Hi Kirby,” she says, voice all bubbles and light,
when normally she would never deign to utter my personal designation.
“Is Moms around? Haven’t talked to her in a million.”

I know right away that Wynter has been infected.

Rated R. Contains mature sexual situations and adult themes. (And robot themes.)

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EP190: Origin Story

By Tim Pratt
Read by: Stephen Eley
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Tim Pratt
All stories read by Stephen Eley
Special closing music: “Skullcrusher Mountain” by Jonathan Coulton.

Audible.com Promotion!

Get your free audiobook at: http://audible.com/escapepodsff

He didn’t call himself The Aerialist at first. The newspapers came up with that later. He called himself Kid Kangaroo of all things, because of the jumping from rooftop to rooftop, even though I made fun of him, called him “Joey,” made jokes about dingoes. Nobody knows his secret identity but me, and I only found out because I snuck into the treehouse one night to smoke a cigarette and found him changing out of his leotard and tights and domino mask. He was only fifteen. I still remember what he said: “Don’t tell anyone — if my identity is discovered, you and mom and dad could be used against me.”

Rated PG. Contains sibling rivalry and comic book deconstruction.

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EP105: Impossible Dreams

2007 Hugo Nominee!

By Tim Pratt.
Read by Matthew Wayne Selznick (of Brave Men Run and Writers Talking).
First appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, July 2006.
All stories by Tim Pratt.
All stories read by Stephen Eley.

He went to the Sci-Fi shelf‚Äîand had another shock. I, Robot was there, but not the forgettable action movie with Will Smith‚Äîthis was older, and the credits said “written by Harlan Ellison.” But Ellison’s adaptation of the Isaac Asimov book had never been produced, though it had been published in book form. “Must be some bootleg student production,” he muttered, and he didn’t recognize the name of the production company. But‚Äîbut‚Äîit said “winner of the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.” That had to be a student director’s little joke, straight-facedly absurd box copy, as if this were a film from some alternate reality. Worth watching, certainly, though again, he couldn’t imagine how he’d never heard of this. Maybe it had been done by someone local. He took it to the counter and offered his credit card.

She looked at the card dubiously. “Visa? Sorry, we only take Weber and FosterCard.”

Rated G. Contains excessive movie trivia; some of it true.

Today’s Sponsor:

Referenced Sites:

Balticon 2007

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EP067: Life in Stone

By Tim Pratt.
Read by Stephen Eley.
All stories by Tim Pratt.
All stories read by Stephen Eley.

After ascending 72 flights of iron stairs, creeping past tentacled sentinels lurking in pools filled with black water, and silently dispatching wizened old warriors armed with glaives and morningstars that proved a close match for his pistols and poisoned glass knives, Mr. Zealand at last stumbled into the uppermost room of Archibald Grace’s invisible tower. All Zealand’s earlier murders were mere journeyman work compared to this final assassination, the murder of a man who’d lived for untold centuries, who’d come to America and enslaved Buffalo spirits, who’d built this tower of ice and iron on the far side of the Rockies as a sanctuary and stronghold for his own precious life.

Rated R. Contains strong violent imagery, some sexual content, and themes of immor(t)ality.

Referenced sites:
Invasion: The Complete Series on DVD
Obsidian River
Spaceship Radio
Decoder Ring Theatre – Main Site
Decoder Ring Theatre – Podcast Site
Sonic Society – Main Site
Sonic Society – Podcast Site
Amazing Pulp Adventures
Pseudopod – The Sound of Horror
Worldcon 2006: Anaheim, CA, August 23–27
Dragon*Con: Atlanta, GA, September 1–4

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EP031: Robots and Falling Hearts

By Tim Pratt and Greg van Eekhout.
Read by Alex Wilson (of Telltale Weekly).
All stories by Tim Pratt or Greg van Eekhout.
All stories read by Alex Wilson.

I paused to tie a loose shoelace and a squat robot, like a dirty white trashcan on tank-treads, trundled out of an alley toward me. A red light on top of its domelike top blinked erratically. It said, in a high-pitched voice, “Klaatu barada nikto.” A small panel slid open in its front, and a pole with a cup on the end telescoped out. There were a few coins in the cup, mostly pennies and nickels, and the robot jingled the cup significantly.

“Take me to your leader,” I said, wishing it could be that simple, knowing that these things are never that simple. The robot beeped at me and jingled its cup harder, the coins rattling.

“It won’t go away unless you give it some change,” said a woman standing on the corner. “It followed me all the way to work one day, and hung around outside the door like a dog for hours.”

Rated PG. Contains slight profanity, long flirtations, and excessive Zen. Watch for falling metaphors.

Referenced sites:
Child’s Play
Hooting Yard