A film by Karyn Kusama.
Reviewed by Jonathon Sullivan.
Rated PG. Contains supernatural violence, sexual harassment, and telemarketers from Hell. (Not a redundancy.)
Free Will, Baby
By Janni Lee Simner
“Hello, this is Kara Donnelly, with Lucifer Enterprises. Whom am I–”
“Yeah,” the man said, as if he’d been expecting her. “My wife just left me. When she takes me to court next month, I want everything she’s got.”
“Well, I’m certain we can arrange that.” Kara smiled. She’d heard somewhere that if you smiled, your voice sounded more pleasant over the phone. “If I could just get some information, I’ll have one of our representatives call back to arrange a meeting.”
Rated R. Contains profanity and some disturbing imagery.
(Note: Mr. Lundberg has directed that his payment for this story be directed toward Heifer International, providing impoverished people with animals and other resources to become economically self-sustaining.)
By Jason Erik Lundberg
The fat man coughed again and rolled over onto his side. He wheezed and his lungs rattled. A few thousand years of being overweight had caused innumerable cardiac and respiratory problems, but the job demanded it.
“Who can you think of to cover you?”
The fat man pondered for a moment, then said, “Lo ho ho?”
His wife frowned. “You know Loki would just cause a mess, and probably light some children on fire. Who else?”
Rated R. Contains profanity, sexual situations, and criminal intent. Merry Christmas!
Santa In My Pocket
By Mur Lafferty
When I was a kid, I believed it all, like that old wive’s tale that animals would be granted the gift of speech for one hour on Christmas Eve. I tested that out by keeping my cat locked up in my room with me all night. She never spoke, but she did piss in the corner, since she couldn’t get to her litter box. So she still told me a magical Christmas message, loud and clear.
Rated R. Contains profanity, explicit imagery, and hot alien action.
Alien Animal Encounters
By John Scalzi
Ted McPeak, Community College Student, Jersey City:
Some friends and me heard that if you smoked the skin of an aret, you could get monumentally wasted. So we bought one at a pet store and waited a couple of weeks until it shed its skin. Then we crumbled up the dry skin, put it in with some pot, and lit up. We all got these insane mouth blisters that didn’t go away for weeks. We all had to eat soup for a month. Though maybe it wasn’t the skin; the pot could have been bad or something.
As I just mentioned in today’s podcast, we’re conducting a brief listener survey:
Why should you fill it out? Because it’ll help us understand how we’re doing, what you like and what you don’t, who listens to us, and it might help us in the future with grants or funding.
And also because I’m giving $1 to Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play for each completed survey. Click some boxes, help a kid. How good a deal is that?
UPDATE: Janice’s comment (thanks!) made me understand that I probably ought to be a lot clearer about my intent with this. Yes, the survey was composed by a marketing company. Their intent with it, I think, was to help podcasters prepare a pitch to advertisers. That is not my intent with it. We seriously are doing better with donations right now than I think we’d be likely to do running ads, and I know as well as anyone that if we started running commercials the donations would probably drop to nothing overnight. I don’t want to do that. You all have been incredible in your support, and I want to redeem that trust.
The reason we’re using this survey (despite some annoying questions) is because it was free and ready-made, and that saves us a lot of time. Also, we do want to prepare a pitch — but not to advertisers. I’m hoping that some of this information will be useful in our application to the IRS for 501(c)(3) status, and later on if we decide to go looking for public arts grants or ad-free sponsorships. And some of this stuff we’d simply like to know. I’m far more interested in the questions like “What do you think of the Web design/show length/frequency?” than “How much would you trust this host to recommend real estate products?”
If you find those questions obnoxious, just skip them. I can’t really can’t blame you. Heck, I’m not sure I would trust me to recommend real estate products. If you would, you haven’t seen my lawn.
Rated PG. Contains slight profanity, long flirtations, and excessive Zen. Watch for falling metaphors.
Robots and Falling Hearts
By Tim Pratt and Greg van Eekhout
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 G. Contains mild provinicialism, non-explicit discussion of sexual preferene, and screwdrivers. (The kind with vodka.)
Aliens Love Oranges
By Sue Burke
“They do talk wrong,” she whispered. “They say ‘aboot’ instead of ‘about’ and ‘proh-gress’ instead of ‘prah-gress.’ It’s like they can’t almost speak English right.”
“That’s how you tell,” Lois said. “Aliens can’t figure out how to say the letter O. Have y’all ever heard a body talk like that?”
Rated PG. Contains violence, immoral psychic paraphernalia, and grown women scrying.
By Susie Hawes
Yeah, that’s it. Oh, that’s nice. You’ve got strong hands, Mister. Are you psychic? Maybe just a little? No? Well, I can fix that.
Naw, I can’t tell you where to find a bottle of Mad Dog, but I can get you the money to buy one.
As I mentioned recently on the podcast, Escape Pod just reached its six-month anniversary. Since May of this year we’ve enjoyed tremendous success, with thousands of listeners worldwide and new fun stories every week. We’re now reported to be the largest source of free audio fiction on the Internet, and of course we’re still growing.
To help us celebrate, Jesse Willis of the SFFAudio.com review site has helped us to design and produce a collectible MP3 CD containing every audio file we’ve podcast in the first six months. These CDs are produced using the LightScribe labeling technology, which burns an image directly to the front side of the disc, allowing us to number and put a customized inscription on each disc. An example of the CD:
We’re offering these CDs as a special reward for anyone who donates $20 or more to Escape Pod between now and January 31, 2006 — or until we’ve made 200 of them, whichever comes first. You can keep it for yourself, to catch up on our archives, or inscribe it as a gift for somebody else and have it sent to them.
(UPDATE: We’ve changed our policy on this. There’s no time limit now; we’ll keep going until we send out all 200. As of the beginning of March, we’ve sent out 75 of them — but we’re still getting orders, so don’t wait too long!)
Want one? All you have to do is include the following information in the comments field of your donation:
- The name of the recipient (yourself or anyone else)
- The address of the recipient
- Any personal message you’d like inscribed on the edge of the CD, up to about 60 characters or so. (There’s no absolute limit, but the longer the text the more we’ll have to shrink the font.)
It’s worth noting that, in accordance with Escape Pod’s values, the *contents* of the CD are all Creative Commons-licensed and can be freely copied for all your friends. However, the front of the disc is absolutely unique, and cannot be easily duplicated. I’d like to think that someday these CDs will have collectible value, just as old science fiction magazines have value today.
Thanks to all of you for your support!