Archive for OK for Kids

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Escape Pod 747: Flash from the Vault


Flash from the Vault

Host commentary by S. B. Divya

Hi there and welcome to the third and final term of Escape Pod’s Summer School, where we post some of our favorite flash fiction from the vault with a new perspective. I’m Divya, co-editor of the pod, and your instructor for this class. This episode also concludes our Summer Flashback series. We’ll be back next week with the best in original and reprint science fiction.

Today, I bring you three flash episodes from long, long ago. First up is “Standards,” by Richard K. Lyon, then we have “Paradox,” by Scott Janssens, and finally, “Stuck In An Elevator With Mandy Patinkin,” by Kitty Myers. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 503: Undeleted


Undeleted

By Aidan Doyle

One of Saito’s guys led Kentaro through the arcade. They passed row after row of black game pods, silent except for the hum of their cooling systems. The idea of crawling into a pod and letting the rest of the world deal with its own problems was tempting, but Kentaro had spent thirty years hidden from society. He needed his old job back. Saito sat in an office in the back of the arcade. He was flicking through a document on his tablet and didn’t acknowledge Kentaro’s presence. Kentaro had plenty of practice at being made to wait. A young guy Kentaro didn’t recognize lounged on a chair in the corner of the room. Saito finally glanced up and motioned to the chair in front of the desk.

“Thank you for making the time to see me,” Kentaro said. He also had plenty of practice of being polite to jerks.

Saito’s gaze strayed back to his tablet. “My wife’s goal in life is to visit every world heritage site. Which do you think would be less boring, Angkor Wat or Petra?”

“I don’t travel much,” Kentaro replied.

Saito laughed. “I guess not. I think we’ll go to Angkor Wat. It says they filmed Audition for Death there. Maybe I’ll meet Akita Yumi.” The young guy guffawed appreciatively.

Kentaro had never heard of Audition for Death or Akita, but tried his best to make his chuckle sound authentic.

“So you’re supposed to be some superhacker?” Saito said.

Kentaro didn’t like boasting, but he needed the money. “I’m good with computers.”

“I already have guys that are good with computers.” The young guy looked as though he was ready to explode with smugness.

“How long were you away?” Saito asked.

“Thirty years.” Yamamoto would have told Saito all this.

“Technology has changed a lot since then,” Saito said.

(Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 427: Samantha’s Diary

Show Notes


Samantha’s Diary

by Diana Wynne Jones

Recorded on BSQ SpeekEasi Series 2/89887BQ and discovered in a skip in London’s Regent Street.

December 25th 2233

Tired today and having a lazy time. Got back late from Paris last night from Mother’s party. My sister is pregnant and couldn’t go (besides, she lives in Sweden) and Mother insisted that one of her daughters was there to meet our latest stepfather. Not that I did meet him particularly. Mother kept introducing me to a load of men and telling me how rich each of them were: I think she’s trying to start me on her own career which is, basically, marrying for money. Thanks, Mother, but I earn quite enough on the catwalk to be happy as I am. Besides, I’m having a rest from men since I split up with Liam.The gems of Mother’s collection were a French philosopher, who followed me around saying ‘La vide ce n’est pas le neant,’ (clever French nonsense meaning ‘The void is not nothing,’ I think), a cross-eyed Columbian film director, who kept trying to drape himself over me, and a weird millionaire from goodness knows where with diamante teeth. But there were others. I was wearing my new Stiltskins which caused me to tower over them. A mistake. They always knew where I was. In the end I got tired of being stalked and left. I just caught the midnight bullet train to London, which did not live up to its name. It was late and crowded out and I had to stand all the way.

My feet are killing me today.

Anyway I have instructed Housebot that I am Not At Home to anyone or anything and hope for a peaceful day. Funny to think that Christmas Day used to be a time when everyone got together and gave each other presents. Shudder. Today we think of it as the most peaceful day of the year. I sit in peace in my all-white living room—a by-product of Mother’s career, come to think of it, since my lovely flat was given to me by my last-stepfather-but-one—no, last-but- two now, I forgot.

Oh damn! Someone rang the doorbell and Housebot answered it. I know I told it not to.

Did I say we don’t give Christmas presents now? Talk about famous last words. Housebot trundled back in here with a tree of all things balanced on its flat top. Impossible to tell what kind of tree, as it has no leaves, no label to say who sent it, nothing but a small wicker cage tied to a branch with a fairly large brown bird in it. The damn bird pecked me when I let it out. It was not happy. It has gone to earth under the small sofa and left droppings on the carpet as it ran.

I thought Christmas trees were supposed to be green. I made Housebot put the thing outside in the patio, beside the pool, where it sits looking bare. The bird is hungry. It has been trying to eat the carpet. I went on the net to see what kind of bird it is. After an hour of trying, I got a visual that suggests the creature is a partridge. A game bird apparently. Am I supposed to eat it? I know they used to eat birds at Christmas in the old days. Yuk. I got on the net again for partridge food. ‘Sorry, dear customer, but there will be no deliveries until the start of the Sales on December 27th, when our full range of luxury avian foods will again be available at bargain prices.’ Yes, but what do I do now?

Oh hooray. Housebot has solved the problem by producing a bowl of tinned sweetcorn. I shoved it under the sofa and the creature stopped its noise.

Do trees need feeding? (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 259: The Lady or the Tiger

Show Notes

Show Notes:

  • Sponsored by Audible – get a free book today when you sign up for your free trial!
  • Feedback for Episode 251: Unexpected Outcomes.

Next week… How fast can dreams run?


The Lady or the Tiger

By J. M. McDermott

The only thing I could think of to take my mind off of Sheila, and the crash, was asking my brother about Guj Sarwar, the tiger on the back of the great and mighty lizard, Samarkand. When I was a boy, I didn’t understand why it was the only other thing I could think about, like something was on the tip of my tongue.

And, Jiri knew everything there was to know about the wastes of the far west, the lizards, and the tigers. He was fifteen years old. Next year, he’d be driving cattle up the highway to Io Town in a flyer all by himself. I was only ten. I didn’t even have my own computer terminal yet. I had to share his when he wasn’t using it. Everything I knew about the wastes had been from the computer, and from Jiri.

“On the wastes, Simsa,” said my brother, “you can’t walk on the ground. The sand is all quicksand. It sucks you up and swallows you. You have to ride on the back of giant lizards as big as walking mountains. There’re only twenty-five lizards. They have names.”

Escape Pod 257: Union Dues: The Sum of Its Parts

Show Notes

Show Notes:

  • Show your love for Union Dues at the new website!

Union Dues: The Sum of Its Parts

By Jeffrey R. DeRego.

Langton has been under lock-and-key observation since two weeks ago when he sucker punched Paul right in the middle of a publicity shoot for Stars and Stripes at a USO hall in Phoenix. The five of us almost couldn’t bring him down. The melee wrecked most of our stage props — Van De Graff Generators, Tesla Coils, a whole bunch of blinking and flashing, stuff bought from a bankrupt low-budget film studio. Frida recovered the 30 seconds, or so, of 16mm footage shot that morning. Police found the reporter a few hours later unharmed but minus any memory of the previous two days.

The DC3 taxis to the hangar. Paul joins me at the base of the control tower then the four of us walk down towards the plane.

“Hi gang,” The Corporal says and waves as he lumbers down from the fuselage to the sand. He walks right to Paul. “How’s the chin? Sorry about popping you one. I don’t remember any of it, but Frida says I was a real dope.”

Paul laughs a little. “It’s okay. No broken teeth or nothing.” He rubs his anvil-like jaw with a boxing glove-sized fist. “Next time I won’t go easy on you.”

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Escape Pod 253: Eugene

Show Notes

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 245, The Moment

Next week… Talent agencies and regret


Eugene

By Jacob Sager Weinstein

As he puts the cruiser in gear and takes off, I calm down a little bit, and smell something that worries me. I smell Apurna on him, like always, but she doesn’t smell right. She smells of nervousness bordering on fear, and come to think of it, he does, too. It’s an old smell–I’d say from late yesterday evening, just after work–but it’s unmistakable. And there’s a hospital smell, and the smell of Apurna’s pain.

I shouldn’t say anything. Francisco doesn’t like me to pry.

But he took Apurna to the hospital.

But he doesn’t like me to pry.

But he took Apurna to the hospital.

But he doesn’t like me to pry.

But–

“What’s wrong with Apurna?” I say.

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Escape Pod 252: Billion-Dollar View

Show Notes

Show Notes:

Next week… A very, very good dog.


Billion-Dollar View

By Ray Tabler

“But my name is Simon.”

Molly shook her head and chuckled. “With a head of hair like that? Nope, from now on your name is Red.”

Simon felt his young face flushing with embarrassment, which would further cement his new nickname. “What if I don’t want to be called Red?”

“Too late, should have shaved your head before I bought your contract.” Molly winked at him, executed a back flip in mid-air and launched herself out of the Labor Mart. “Come on, Red. We ain’t got all day.”

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Escape Pod 251: Unexpected Outcomes

Show Notes

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.


Unexpected Outcomes

By Tim Pratt

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.”

Escape Pod 250: Eros, Philia, Agape

Show Notes

Show Notes:

  • This is a long one, we’re bringing occasional novelettes to Escape Pod now, and what better to launch the effort than a Hugo nominee?

Next week… Escape Pod looks at an alternate history with alternate aliens.


Eros, Philia, Agape

By Rachel Swirsky

The objects belonged to them both, but Adriana waved her hand bitterly when Lucian began packing. “Take whatever you want,” she said, snapping her book shut. She waited by the door, watching Lucian with sad and angry eyes.

Their daughter, Rose, followed Lucian around the house. “Are you going to take that, Daddy? Do you want that?” Wordlessly, Lucian held her hand. He guided her up the stairs and across the uneven floorboards where she sometimes tripped. Rose stopped by the picture window in the master bedroom, staring past the palm fronds and swimming pools, out to the vivid cerulean swath of the ocean. Lucian relished the hot, tender feel of Rose’s hand. I love you, he would have whispered, but he’d surrendered the ability to speak.

Escape Pod 245: The Moment

Show Notes

Show Notes:

  • Enter the Escape Pod Flash Contest! It runs June 1- July 4, stories must be under 500 words. More information at the link.
  • Editor’s note: Thanks so much to Dave Thompson and Peter Wood for taking on this project of securing all five Hugo stories during the hiatus of Escape Pod. Most of the work was done before I joined, and this wouldn’t have happened without them stepping up.

Next week… Another Hugo-nominated story!


The Moment

By Lawrence M. Schoen

One of the first generation of Krenn had lived long enough to reach the site, though none had expected to. The very first Krenn had conceived of this journey in the distant past, dedicating his life and his posterity to the pilgrimage with an ever recycling population of clones. Like their clone-father, each was an optimized collection of smart matter no bigger than a speck. Hundreds of generations of Krenn had lived and died during the voyage, their remains enshrined into niches in the very walls of the vessel that now lay shattered at its destination.

The survivors flooded out upon the steppes of the heel, rejoicing despite the crushing weight that gravity forced upon them. They settled in, constructing mansions of haze and shadow, and waited for enlightenment to come. The mission and purpose of the first Krenn remained with each of them. This place had been the site of the greatest triumph of the greatest archaeocaster in all of history. Before the beginning of the quest, Krenn—the original Krenn—had felt drawn to it. He had cultivated the tales, sifted myth from coincidence, mastered the lost language of the interview-eschewing, spatial curmudgeons of the ancient dark times, and recreated the route through dimensional puzzles to this theoretical location. The odds of success had been so absurd not a single entelechy of Krenn’s crèche dared invest time or expense in the project. And yet, here they were, nearly three hundred unique individuals sharing the template of Krenn.