A Bold New (Website) Frontier


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Escape Pod 606: Home Sick


AUTHOR: M. Darusha Wehm

NARRATOR: Megan Leigh

HOST: Divya Breed

  • Home Sick originally appeared in Use Only As Directed, Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie eds., Peggy Bright Books (Australia) in 2014.
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about the author . . . 

Darusha writes science fiction and speculative poetry as M. Darusha Wehm and mainstream poetry and fiction as Darusha Wehm. Science fiction books include: Beautiful Red, Children of Arkadia and the Andersson Dexter cyberpunk detective series. Mainstream books include the Devi Jones’ Locker Young Adult series and The Home for Wayward Parrots (forthcoming from NeWest Press).

Darusha’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in many venues, including Arsenika, Nature, Escape Pod, and several anthologies.

Darusha is originally from Canada but currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand after spending the past several years sailing the Pacific.

about the narrator . . .

Megan Leigh is editor of pop culture blog Pop Verse and co-host of feminist speculative fiction podcast Breaking the Glass Slipper.

Her writing has appeared on SWFA, SFF World, Pornokitsch, and Writers’ Workshop.

 

 

 


Home Sick
By M. Darusha Wehm

I was encoding a batch of classic ebooks when the ulu-aliki walked in to the library, the outdoors scent of gardenias and overripe mangoes following him. “Afternoon, chief,” I said, pushing my chair back a bit. Joseph Seru spoke Tuvaluan with his family and the other council members, but his English was so much better than my Tuvaluan would ever be. Besides, even though less than ten percent of us were Aussies or Kiwis, the official language on the SPIT was English.

“Hey ya, Sally,” he answered, lacking his usually jovial demeanour.

“You looking for something in particular?” I asked. The island’s chief was a voracious reader and a bit of a film buff. I usually gave him first crack at the new titles I managed to snag off the satellite internet connection.

“Sort of,” he said, the last remains of his smile disappearing. “You, I guess.”

I frowned. “What’s up, chief?” I asked.

“I’ve got something for the blog.”

I watched as he pulled a chair from one of the tables and sat it down across from my desk. He knew me well enough to leave a decent space between the chair and the desk.

As the island’s librarian, I had also become the de facto editor of the closest thing to a news source we had — the Spitball, the island’s blog. There were about a dozen regular contributors, most of the posts being the weekly scores for the football, kilikiti and ano matches. But things did occasionally happen on the SPIT, and we reported on them all. According to the stats, there were even a handful of people off island who regularly read the thing.

“What’s going on?” I asked again, opening up a text editor on the laptop so I could take notes.

“The bastards finally figured out how to make a buck from us, that’s what’s going on.” Seru usually looked for the positive, but he sounded more like the bitter old fisherman who posted screeds about how overseas politicians screwed us all. I raised an eyebrow and the chief continued. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 605: Straight Lines


AUTHOR: Naru Sundar

NARRATOR: Summer Brooks

HOST: Mur Lafferty

about the author . . . 

Naru Dames Sundar writes speculative fiction and poetry. His work has appeared at PodCastle, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons and is forthcoming at Shimmer Magazine. He lives in the redwoods of Northern california. You can find him online at www.shardofstar.info and on twitter as @naru_sundar.

 

 

about the narrator . . .

Summer is a bit of a television addict, and enjoys putting her scifi media geek skills to good use in interviewing guests. She had been a co-host for Slice of SciFi from 2005-2009, the co-host for The Babylon Podcast from 2006-2012, and host of Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas, before returning to Slice of SciFi full time as host & producer in August 2014.

She is an avid reader and writer of scifi, fantasy and thrillers, with a handful of publishing credits to her name. Next on her agenda is writing an urban fantasy tale, and a B-movie monster extravaganza.

Currently, Summer designs and maintains websites for clients in addition to having fun with the Slice of SciFi websites, and also does voiceover & narrations for Tales to Terrify, StarShipSofa and Escape Pod, among others.

 


Straight Lines
By Naru Sundar

This time they sent someone in a suit, neutral gray silk with utterly glorious creases, monofilament thin.

“I’m Xiao Quan-Fei. They said you like to call yourself Em?”

Emergent Behavior in full, but I always hated the pontificating tone in the name. Fucking shipwrights. Fucking irony too, but let’s not go there yet. Xiao doesn’t begin with questions. Not like the seven others before her, cold military men and women jumping into reconstructions and maps and comm chatter. Xiao is different. Xiao just sits there.

I’m allowed a tiny little virtual. It’s in the charter, as much as they like to snigger at it. It’s still a prison, still a cramped little low bandwidth room with none of the expansive feel of space and star outside my hull. Xiao sits in the rectangular plastifoam chair and examines the coffee table. There are books atop it, unlabelled, empty, just for show. Each spine aligns with the edge of the table, two centimeters from each side.

Fuck. She moved it. She moved one. Not on purpose. Almost by accident, or is it on purpose? I can’t tell. But now that spine is a touch off. I can feel it. I can feel the angular deviation down in my gullet, down in every algorithm-scribed bone of me. It’s Io all over again. I built this damn space for myself and now she comes and moves a book. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 604: Given Sufficient Desperation


AUTHOR: Bogi Takács

NARRATOR: Alethea Kontis

HOST: Divya Breed

about the author . . . 

Bogi Takács (e/em/eir/emself or they pronouns) is a Hungarian Jewish agender trans person and a resident alien in the United States. E writes, edits and reviews speculative fiction, nonfiction and poetry. You can read eir work in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons and Uncanny, among other places. You can find Bogi online at http://www.prezzey.net or read eir book reviews at http://www.bogireadstheworld.com, or eir QUILTBAG space opera webserial at http://www.iwunen.net. Bogi is @bogiperson on Twitter, Instagram and Patreon.

 

about the narrator . . .

Alethea Kontis is a princess, author, fairy godmother, and geek. Author of over fifteen books and contributor to over twenty-five more, her award-winning writing has been published for multiple age groups, across all genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, humor, contemporary romance, poetry, graphic novels, Twitter serials, non-fiction…the works. A former child actress, Alethea hosted over 55 episodes of “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants” on YouTube, and continues to host Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow every year at Dragon Con. She enjoys audiobook and podcast narration, speaking at middle schools across the country (in costume, of course), and one day hopes to make a few more movies with her friends. Alethea currently resides on the Space Coast of Florida with her teddy bear, Charlie. Find out more about Princess Alethea and the magic, wonderful world in which she lives here: https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

 


Given Sufficient Desperation
By Bogi Takács

An ice cream cone.

A ceramic mug—brown with a single green stripe around the rim.

A smartphone—I don’t recognise the brand. It’s been a while.

Two sheaves of corn.

A plush caterpillar toy from some cartoon.

A table—rather worn, I’d say Danish Modern, but I’m not sure.

I need a break. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 603: An Equal Share of the Bone


AUTHOR: Karen Osborne

NARRATOR: Ibba Armancas

HOST: Tina Connolly

about the author . . .

Karen Osborne lives in Baltimore with two violins, an autoharp, four cameras, a husband and a bonkers orange cat. She’s been a reporter, a wedding videographer, a newspaper photographer, a high school English teacher, a Starfleet captain and a Scottish fiddler. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise and the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, and has never been whaling, even if she can play you all the tunes.

 

about the narrator . . .narrator Ibba Armancas

Raised by swordfighters and eastern European freedom fighters, Ibba Armancas is a writer-director currently based in Los Angeles. Her darkly comedic genre sensibilities are showcased in two webseries and a feature film forthcoming later this year. One day she will find time to make a website, but in the mean time you can follow her projects and adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

 


An Equal Share of the Bone
By Karen Osborne

To kill a theriida, you need gunboats and suits, laser cutters and open-mawed cargo bays, brawn and a stout heart, and God on your side.

We, of course, had none of that.

#

I learned in the merchant marines to never shoot a theriida with a standard railgun. They’ll thrash and writhe and put angry holes through your hull, and eating vacuum is nobody’s idea of a good trade run. No: a theriida’s distributed brain needs a distributed solution. If you don’t have a spinal lance capable of wide-range dispersal, move on. Don’t even try. Back in the academy, before Eliot and I signed on with Garuda, we used to inflate massive plastex balloons with pressuregel and deploy them beside our training vessels, taking turns at the lance control. It wasn’t anything like the real thing.

Inexperienced spacers often believe that the glimmering purple sac in a theriida’s bioluminescent belly is the animal’s brain, but that is only because we mammals forget that the universe is a multifarious, violent parade of a hundred thousand ways to be mortal. But we weren’t inexperienced. Our captain, Nate, had thousands of hours of piloting time. I was the best gunner this side of the Mercy War. Eliot could make a working engine out of spit and vomit. That’s why we believed we could handle a theriida kill.

Hubris. That’s the word. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 602: Trash Talk


AUTHOR: Holly Schofield

NARRATOR: Robert Gonyo

HOST: Mur Lafferty

about the author . . .

Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her works have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Tesseracts, and many other publications throughout the world. She hopes to save the world through science fiction and homegrown heritage tomatoes.

 

 

 

about the narrator . . .

Robert A. K. Gonyo is a theatre director, actor, podcaster, sound designer, voiceover artist, musician, and tour-guide residing in Queens, NY. He is the producer of Go See a Show!, New York City’s independent theatre podcast (goseeashowpodcast.com), as well as the producer of Apparitions, a podcast of new radio horror plays.

 

 


Trash Talk
By Holly Schofield

I’m not a complainer, not me. I roll with the punches. I’ll be just another dead trash collector in about ten minutes but, hey, that’s okay. My son won’t die and, here’s a bonus, my life insurance policy will pay out.

Unless they consider it suicide.

Here we are, hugging in the middle of my living room, me in my robo-assist, my fists locked behind Ricky’s head, up high, like a boxer’s. Ricky, that’s my son, he’s pinned right against my chest.

I can’t see much now, things are blurry; must be sweat that’s in my eyes. Maybe that’ll save me ’cause it’ll short out the servos sooner or later. That was a joke. I’m hanging tough. By the way, guys, before you do anything down at the cop shop with this voice record, edit out all the emotional crap Ricky and I said earlier at the beginning, like right when it started recording, okay? Kinda embarrassing. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 601: Wet Fur


AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tolbert

NARRATOR: Adam Pracht

HOST: Tina Connolly

about the author . . .

Jeremiah Tolbert is a web designer and a writer living in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son.

He writes science fiction and fantasy. His work often places an emphasis on working class characters and how genre elements impact their lives. It’s predominantly optimistic about science, and is often set in the Midwest, generally, and his home state of Kansas, specifically.

 

about the narrator . . .

Adam Pracht lives in Kansas, but remains basically unscathed. He works full-time as Admissions Specialist at Salina Area Technical College, and is making a valiant effort to become a “morning person.” He was the 2002 college recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy award for writing about the disadvantaged and has published a disappointingly slim volume of short stories called “Frame Story: Seven Stories of Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Horror & Humor” which is available from Amazon as an e-Book or in paperback. His narration career still in its infancy, he has finally earned enough from his first work on Audible that they have, at last, cut him the first check for $15.36 USD. Then again, Instant Pot Cookbook: 130 Flavor Packed Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker was probably never destined for an Audie Award.

 


Wet Fur
By Jeremiah Tolbert

You can tell the dog owners when they board the plane; they see the black cloud hovering in the first row and their eyes widen in shock, then narrow in fear, followed by a glimmer of a smile, a hope as they glance at so many occupied seats. A hopeful smile that seems to say: “not for me. Not for mine.”

Unease settles over the plane, like a heavy, acrid scent. A few passengers throw suspicious glances at you, and one elderly woman even stops for a moment beside you, opens her mouth as if to speak. You hold your breath. She closes her mouth and shuffles toward the rear of the plane

You breathe again. You try to ignore the man seated next to you. You focus on the safety talk.

When the flight attendant buckles her fake belt, she glances at the cloud off her shoulder, then smiles apologetically at her audience. Like it’s her fault, or perhaps the airline’s? There’s nothing she can do, or anyone else.

You sniff. You smell damp fur. You frown, wondering, perhaps, how that could be? You don’t know what strange links lie between memory and nose, but we do. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 600: At the Rialto


AUTHOR: Connie  Willis

NARRATOR: Mur Lafferty

HOST: Divya Breed

  • At the Rialto was originally published in Omni October 1989. It was a 1990 Hugo nominee and the 1990 Nebula winner for best novelette.
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about the author . . .Connie Willis (33003701454)

Connie Willis is a member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and a Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She has received seven Nebula awards and eleven Hugo awards for her fiction; Blackout and All Clear—a novel in two parts—and Doomsday Book won both. Her other works include Passage, Lincoln’s Dreams, Bellwether, Impossible Things, Remake, Uncharted Territory, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Fire Watch, and Miracle and Other Christmas Stories. Connie Willis lives in Colorado with her family, where she deals with the delights (and the more maddening aspects) of our modern oh-so-connected world on a daily basis.

about the narrator . . .Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is an author and pioneer podcaster who has been involved with Escape Artists since nearly the beginning (after Serah Eley Fed-Ex’d brownies to her as a bribe to spread the word about this new podcast magazine format). She was one of the founding editors of Pseudopod, editor of Escape Pod for a brief time, and then founder and editor of Mothership Zeta, the quarterly ezine for Escape Artists.

She is currently the co-host (with Matt Wallace) of Ditch Diggers, a Hugo Finalist for Best Fancast, and the author of the science fiction murder mystery Six Wakes, out from Orbit.

 


At the Rialto
By Connie Willis

Seriousness of mind was a prerequisite for understanding Newtonian physics. I am not convinced it is not a handicap in understanding quantum theory.

—EXCERPT FROM DR. GEDANKEN’S KEYNOTE ADDRESS TO THE 1989 INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF QUANTUM PHYSICISTS ANNUAL MEETING, HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA

I got to Hollywood around one-thirty and started trying to check into the Rialto. “Sorry, we don’t have any rooms,” the girl behind the desk said. “We’re all booked up with some science thing.”

“I’m with the science thing,” I said. “Dr. Ruth Baringer. I reserved a double.”

(Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 599: What Glistens Back


AUTHOR: Sunny Moraine

NARRATOR: Trendane Sparks

HOST: Tina Connolly

about the author . . .

Sunny Moraine’s short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Tor.com, Nightmare, Lightspeed, and multiple Year’s Best anthologies, among other places. They are also responsible for the Root Code and Casting the Bones trilogies and their debut short fiction collection Singing With All My Skin and Bone is available from Undertow Publications. In addition to time spent authoring, Sunny is a doctoral candidate in sociology and a sometime college instructor. They unfortunately live just outside Washington, DC, in a creepy house with two cats and a very long-suffering husband.

about the narrator . . .

narrator Trendane Sparks

Born in Texas and transplanted to California, Tren has had jobs ranging from Army medic to veterinary technician, freelance clown to kids’ show puppeteer. Nothing has ever made him so happy as voice acting. From video games to narrating stories, voice performers are conduits of magic and imagination.

 

 

 

 


What Glistens Back
By Sunny Moraine

Come back.

You hear the call as the lander breaks up around you. You’re aware of the entirely arbitrary concepts of up and down before you realize what’s happening, and then they’re a lot less arbitrary. Down is not so much a direction as a function of possibility, of what might happen to you, of what is happening now. You finally getdown as an idea.

Come back.

Look up and there it is, floating over you in stable low orbit with its backdrop of stars, long and sleek and lovely, all its modules and portholes out of which you spent so much time looking, and that voice clutches at you like it could hold onto you, and you almost start to fucking cry, and you’re panicking and taking huge gasping breaths and clawing at nothing, and you’re falling. And you can’t come back. So the universe goes away for a while, and when you blink again, that brownish pitted curve beneath you is just a little bit bigger.

“Sean, come back. Do you read? Come back?” (Continue Reading…)