Black Future Month

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Escape Pod 805: Open 27 Hours


Open 27 Hours

By L.P. Kindred

“It had pops of habanero-like spice immediately calmed by the subdued dulce of roast sweet potato. You got lemony shots of citric acid alongside amandine crunches. The dish was studded with cubes of meat I was too young to name then and I’m now too old to recall. Nobavgo casserole is the single most amazing thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.”

D’Sheadra laughs a laugh that starts in her pinky toe. Her hands flail around the leather-clad booth before slapping the dark-grained table. “What the fuck is a nagabovgoat?” she wheezes.

(Continue Reading…)

Black Future Month


 

Escape Pod is proud to present the Black Future Month special event for October, 2021!

We have four stories this year, guest-edited by Brent C. Lambert.

Open 27 Hours” by L.P. Kindred, narrated by Eden Royce
Bright Lights Flying Beneath the Ocean” by Anjali Patel, narrated by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
T _ ME” by Alex Jennings, narrated by Bria Strothers and Eric Luke
Win Again” by Lina Munroe, narrated by Joniece Abbot Pratt

 

Brent Lambert is a Black, queer man who heavily believes in the transformative power of speculative fiction across media formats. He resides in San Diego but spent a lot of time moving around as a military brat. His family roots are in the Cajun country of Louisiana. He can be found on Twitter @brentclambert talking about the weird and the fantastic. Ask him his favorite members of the X-Men and you’ll get different answers every time.

 

This year’s artwork is an original piece by Barry Brown Jr.

Barry is a Renaissance man, Illustrator, character designer, and props maker. His love for oil painting is only matched by his ability to be a chameleon and learn new styles and techniques to push himself and grow. You can find out more at barrybjr.carbonmade.com, and follow him on Instagram.

 

This year’s cover design is by Matt Dovey.

The name Black Future Month is inspired by N.K. Jemisin’s essay, “How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?

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Escape Pod 804: Delete Your First Memory for Free


Delete Your First Memory for Free

by Kel Coleman

The bus jerks to a stop and I tighten my grip on the smooth, metal bar. Doors open. More passengers.

Bodies hem me in, which makes me anxious, which makes me bite my nails. I maneuver the shredded bits with my tongue, push them out past my lips, pinch them between my fingers, slither my hand down to my side, flick the moist clippings to the floor.

I feel eyes. I think it’s the lady in the beige knee-high boots. She must get on at one of the first stops ‘cause she always has a seat. She’s looking at her phone now, but she probably saw. White women are always pretending they don’t see me.
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 803: A Princess of Nigh-Space


A Princess of Nigh-Space

By Tim Pratt

There was a business card stuck in the crack between the door and the frame when I got home from another too-long day at the office. I plucked the card out, annoyed, assuming it was some stupid advertisement, but the thick black Gothic lettering caught my eye:

 

Bollard and Chicane

Obstacles Removed • Burdens Shifted • Troubles Untroubled

“We Murder Problems!”

With a phone number underneath.

There was small, neat, and slanted writing on the back, in pen: “Dear Tamsin: Our condolences on the loss of your grandmother. We can help settle your estate. Call soonest.”

“Granny isn’t dead,” I said to no one, and then my phone buzzed with an incoming call. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 802: Sentient Being Blues


Sentient Being Blues

by Christopher Rose

I got a pickaxe for a left hand,
I got a churn drill for a brain,
I got a pickaxe for a left hand,
I got a churn drill for a brain,
I got miles of tunnel behind me,
just to stand out in the rain.

[guitar solo 36 bars]
[2x chorus]
[long outro – guitar vamp harmonica over]

“ASIMOV WAS A BIGOT.” The graffiti, sprayed across the bucket of a soviet ore hopper car, one of a long train of them. Then a slash of Cyrillic, the same message probably, obscured by a crust of snow and mud and grit. Not clear from the lettering if it was a human hand that wrote it.

An icy wind picked up my tie and flapped it until I smoothed it back down under my parka. I shivered.

“I own your steps, Thom,” Freddie had said. “Every step from here to Siberia and back. Don’t come back empty-handed. Go get it, boy.”

Barking mad endeavor. Yet here I was.
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 801: Hard Mother, Spider Mother, Soft Mother


Hard Mother, Spider Mother, Soft Mother

By Hal Y. Zhang

“Did you see the report on the spy from Aberdeen? The game is a-foot.”

I mumbled something like “No, sounds interesting.” All I remember is my usual annoyance at her ability to pronounce hyphens where they don’t belong. We must have been in the living room, her on a rare break from gardening and me trying to divine the future with my seeing stone of a computer. Either I had non-personal coffee in my hand, or my brain decided to add that detail on a later traverse. Why does it only fixate on the useless details—the weird green vase in the corner, the ugly plastic pitcher centerpiece on the table, both overflowing with fresh bleeding roses—that have nothing to do with the plot?

Our next interaction occurred during my viewing of a video reporting the formation of a new island in the Pacific. How uncannily the uncontrollable underwater caustic flow matched my job search situation, I thought idly in the crook of my elbow. Expert in esoteric studies, puzzles, and internal monologues seeking just about any position, really. Inquire within.

“All going as planned,” she mumbled behind me. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 800: Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death


Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death

By N.K. Jemisin

The intel is good. It had better be; three women died to get it to us. I tuck away the binoculars and crawl back from the window long enough to hand-signal my girls. Fire team moves up, drop team on my mark, support to hold position and watch our flank. The enemy might have nothing but mercs for security, but their bullets punch holes same as real soldiers’, and some of ’em are hungry enough to be competent. We’re hungrier, though.

Shauntay’s got the glass cutter ready. I’m carrying the real payload, slung across my torso and back in a big canteen. We should have two or three of these, since redundancy increases our success projections, but I won’t let anyone else take the risk. The other ladies have barrels cracked and ready to drop. The operation should be simple and quick—get in, drop it like it’s hot, get out.

This goes wrong, it’s on me.

It won’t go wrong. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 799: No Strangers Any More (Part 2)


No Strangers Any More (Part 2 of 2)

by Ian Creasey

Royal Roundup — “ROSE’S NEW BOYFRIEND? Just days after the end of her relationship with Captain Gerrard Calderwood, Princess Rose has a new companion. Is this interplanetary diplomacy, or something more? Centuries have passed since the days when political alliances were cemented with royal marriages, but perhaps the old tradition is due a revival. Was the break-up with Calderwood so bitter that it soured her on the entire human race?”

Conspiracy Channel — “It looks like David Icke was right after all. He always said that the royal family were secretly a race of shape-changing lizards. Now Princess Rose has come out into the open and admitted her true love for her own kind!”

Goggler — “Princess Rose is stepping out with an alien. Presumably, Earthmen aren’t good enough for her. It’s a slap in the face for all Englishmen, but she’s probably upset and confused. Here at Goggler, we think she just hasn’t met the right guy yet, and we want to help her out. Yeomen of England — do you think you’re good enough for Princess Rose? Write and tell us, explaining exactly why you’re suitable. How would you prove yourself? Which monsters would you slay first?”
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 798: No Strangers Any More (Part 1)


No Strangers Any More (Part 1 of 2)

by Ian Creasey

One of a princess’s many duties is to make polite conversation and avoid controversial subjects. Screw that, thought Rose. At the banquet after the first day of the conference, there was only one topic on everyone’s mind, so she raised it. “Are these aliens really going to buy the moon?”

The man opposite her laughed. “Are we really going to sell it?” Subtitles in Rose’s vision identified him as a European Union diplomat, an expert in international law, and a family man with a wife, four children, and a mistress.

As everyone else at the table chimed in, Rose’s visual overlay filled with a cloud of identifiers and titbits, until she tweaked her filters to display only the most relevant tags.
“I think we should sell,” said a Russian four-star general. “Let them have the moon. Best place for them! Then they’re not wandering around down here, eh?”

The Brazilian ambassador scowled. “Have you seen the size of their ship? It’s enormous. There could be millions of them in there.”

“The ship is big because it travels between the stars,” another lawyer said. “The crew is only a few hundred —”

“Sure, that’s what they say,” the ambassador retorted. “But who knows what’s really inside? And if they unload it all onto the moon, do we want to see that looming over us every night?”

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 797: Flashback-Flash from the Vault

Show Notes

These show notes ran along with Oasis on June 6, 2005:

This piece marks the debut of Escape Pod’s flash fiction — very short stories that will be released between our weekly issues on an irregular basis. We chose “Oasis” as our first because, well, it’s about an escape pod. One can even imagine our logo image as the illustration for this story.

 


Wetting the Bed (Excerpt)

By Heather Shaw

When the floods came, all us kids climbed into bed and pulled the covers up over our heads while our parents rushed about trying to do something to stop it. As the water level rose we could feel the beds lift off the floor, floating through our houses, bumping down our hallways and out our front doors.

We sat up in bed waved to one another as our beds merged onto the canal that now flowed between our houses. We shrieked and giggled as our beds spun and bumped along with the swirling water. Waves lapped at our boxsprings, but our covers were still warm and dry. (Continue Reading…)