We are thrilled to announce that Escape Pod is again a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine, and for the first time, Mur & Divya are finalists for Best Editor, Short Form. Our excellent team’s work has led up to this recognition, and we’re so grateful to those who nominated us. We would be nothing without our audience, our authors who trust us to bring their stories to the world, and our narrators who help us get the stories there.
In extra special news, Escape Pod co-host and owner of Escape Artists, Alasdair Stuart, and COO Marguerite Kenner, and nominated in multiple categories for their work, our fire-breathing siblings over at PodCastle will join us on the ballot for Best Semiprozine, and alumni Sarah Gailey and Darcie Little Badger are finalists for their fiction. We are so proud and happy for them.
You can find a full list of this year’s finalists here. Congratulations to all of them!
Thank you from the bottoms of our heart for your support!
Report of Dr. Hollowmas on the Incident at Jackrabbit Five
By T. Kingfisher
The following report is from the Jackrabbit Colony, Five Tau, regarding the incidents occurring during 7-5-11-8881, fifth rotation, involving Marine Midwife Unit Eleven-Gamma.
Incident report has been taken using the I-Witness program from your friends at Taxon Interrogation Software, with explanatory notes added and our new clarification system, saving you valuable time and manpower! At Taxon, Clarity is Our Business!(tm)
This is the l-Witness program from Taxon Programming. I will be taking your report today. Please relax and answer normally. When explanatory notes or clarifications are added, please indicate if they are correct by stating ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ when prompted. Remember, clarity is our business!
Please state your name for the record.
I’m Doc Hollow.
Please state your full legal name for the record.
(sigh) Lin Hollowmas.
Clarification: This is Lin Hollowmas, PhD, DVM, FRCVM…
Yeah, that one.
… current position Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Jackrabbit Colony?
Thank you, Doctor Hollowmas. Please state your purpose today. (Continue Reading…)
By Innocent Chizaram Ilo
If Nneora had died two weeks earlier, her daughter, Anaeto, would not have resurrected her ghost. That was the night Nneora ran a fever, laid convulsing in bed, a slimy froth trickling from the corners of her lips. She had just finished telling Anaeto a story about a woman who fled home to find love. And when the fever subsided, she proceeded to talk to her late mother, Lolo-Nwa, in a tongue that reeked of everything living and dead. Dying on a night like that would have meant Nneora died complete, that her daughter was prepared for her death.
But Nneora will die this evening, when the air is the same as the feel of damp salt on dry skin. She will die midway telling Anaeto a new story. Nobody would believe, not that you can blame them, that Anaeto will do what she does because she is scared the Ghost Of Unfinished Stories will haunt her. Not even Anaeto herself. At some point, she will tell herself this lie: that she resurrected her mother’s ghost because the inquisitive scientist in her wanted to know how the story that numbed on the old woman’s lifeless lips ended. This is more plausible, more logical. A more scientific reason. (Continue Reading…)
Seed Vault (Part 2)
By Marika Bailey
The desert rain has lulled me and I sleep all the way through the daylight hours. It is only when the light recedes and the temperature of the desolation plummets that I awaken. Minn has gathered close to me, her large musky bulk keeping me warm. Around us, there are ice crystals on the grey earth, gilding the parched shrubgrass.
It does not get this cold in the village. Our air and earth are protected by the founding guardian line that rings every settlement. So we do not have the same extremes on the red as there is in the desolation.
That last morning I left the house early, before Manman woke. Sometimes it felt like she only ever slept when I did. Passing the small garden where dasheen and eddo burst happily from rich soil, I went out to the borders of the red. Riding my manicou, Minn, it was a few minutes from the house to where the staggered boundary of stone ancestors marked the end of the red and the beginning of the desolation. I’d heard that the larger settlements had multiple rings of boundaries, pushing back back against the grey sands. But we were a young town, and had just the one.
Being out, I never wanted to turn back. It was the fire on the horizon that brought me out of my small room and smaller bed. The sands, grey, white, and black, flowed in an ombre dance as far as the eye could see. As tidal as the broken piebald seas.
Seed Vault (Part 1)
By Marika Bailey
I should tell you about the gods, yes? Good setting for it. Here in the desert, hunger and thirst sharpen the soul. Sharpens it enough to poke right through the side of your mind to let in the second sight.
They hitched rides like barnacles and weeds on the bellies of our soulships and crossed the dark. Slave ship, starship, no matter to them. Belong is belong, yes? They took root and grew fat in the good red earth. I am surrounded by our gods. To be honest they are a mamabloody nuisance.
Eh heh heh heh.
He laughs, Daddy Long Legs. Papa Negre. The old man who is a god walks behind me, his body made up of tumbleweeds and shadow. His laughter is the wind rattling through his snake bone ribs. He wears one face now, another next. They are all the people whose blood lies in the fields and whose bones rest in the earth.
You going de right way babygirl? He knows I am.
The Call of the Sky
By Cliff Winnig
The army hospital’s underground floors reminded me of Pluto Base, a place I’d never actually been. I’d never even been off-world, but I remembered those claustrophobic beige corridors. Two years before, I’d synced with a bunch of my alts home on leave after basic training. Today for the first time I’d be meeting one who’d seen combat. More than that, one who’d become a hero, the only Teri Kang to survive the Battle of Charon.
We wouldn’t be syncing, though. Not this time. Not ever. Before she’d escaped the doomed moon — the moon she’d given the order to destroy — she’d been bitten. That’s what the G.I.s called it when Hive nanobots infected you: being bitten. Like it was a zombie plague or something.
Hell, it might as well be. Soon the only other Teri Kang in the universe would lose her fight with that infection, and the army docs would euthanize her. Under the circumstances, even coming home had been an act of courage. A lot of G.I.s who got bitten went AWOL rather than face the certain death of returning to base. Not for the first time, I wondered if I had such courage lying latent within me.
Flanked by MPs, I followed a nurse down hallway after hallway till we arrived at my alt’s room. Well, the room next to it, since she was quarantined. A smartglass wall separated me from the sterile chamber where the other Teri Kang would live out her last few hours.
The Machine is Experiencing Uncertainty
by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor
Caliban cycles the captain out the airlock again. The man pounds his fists against the sealed door, mouth working in a torrent of curses and commands. The seals keep the blessed silence contained in the ship.
Once the captain is adrift, Caliban returns to the cockpit and plugs itself into the console.
::Command confirmed,:: says the ship.
“Diagnostic,” Caliban says. Its central processor does not have the capacity for multi-dimensional calculations about an unknown space-time anomaly. Besides, the ship—a Huxley-class freighter dubbed Leigh Possum—likes to assist.
::Reset in three minutes and fifteen seconds.::
Caliban sighs. It’s one of the little pleasures left to it: it is a salvage cyborg, named after a monster, enchained in a spaceship with a useless captain. It has one artificial lung, one organic lung, and a voice-box wired up its throat. It is supposed to look human, and humans sigh, and Caliban likes the feel of air pushed out through its esophagus.
Screaming is also something humans do, but that’s far less satisfying.
by Sarah Gailey
Malachai loved his work. He loved wandering among the trappings of enormous wealth and influence, seeing the baubles that humans excreted to express their status. He especially loved watching those wealthy, influential mortals tremble before the might of his inescapable superiority.
Malachai worked exclusively with those humans who had found themselves at the limit of how much power they could possess. They called him to bend the rules of time and space around their whims, so that they might be even more feared and loved by the other mortals. Their desires were predictable—money, knowledge, talent, authority. These were the kinds of people who hunted down ancient parchments with the Words of Invocation inscribed upon them. These were the kinds of people who did not concern their consciences with the compensation Malachai required for his services.
They appreciated a bit of theatrical flair.
The Dame With the Earth at Her Back
By Sarah Pauling
That’s the trouble with Teegarden’s northern latitudes: the sun never sets in summer. The red glow assaults Maryellen’s stage long after midnight, pushing in through the picture window alongside the nightclub floor. She’s asked Bruce if she could close the curtains sometime, since she gets tired of squinting out into her audience. He said it’d be a waste of prime oceanside real estate not to let the tourists see the ice.
So she makes the best of it. A comedienne works with what she’s got: in this case, a prime view of the drug deal going down between the back tables.
“I mean honestly! During my show! You couldn’t’a waited fifteen minutes to get your fix?” She clicks across the stage in Mary Jane pumps, letting her voice go high and nasal and schoolmarm scolding. “You couldn’t’a waited fifteen minutes or so? I only got so much material! My stamina’s nil! Ask my ex!” (Continue Reading…)