Posts Tagged ‘anthology’

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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 795: Tiger Lawyer Gets It Right


Tiger Lawyer Gets It Right

By Sarah Gailey

Vladislav Argyle rested his head on the cool titanium surface of the plaintiff’s table. It dipped a little under the sudden weight of his skull, then hummed as the antigrav lifts adjusted their power to accommodate their new burden.

“Mr. Argyle? Are you alright?” The bandage-swathed tip of Argyle’s client’s primary tentacle crackled near his ear, and he knew that she was touching his temple in a gesture of inquiry. The people of Ursa Vibrania were very skull-oriented in their communications. It was sweet, really, how they wanted to know what was happening inside every other endoskeletal vertebrate creature’s head. How much they wanted to understand.

Argyle clenched his fists in his lap. The Vibranians were so kind, and they had trusted him to help them, and he was failing. As always.

“I’m fine,” he said through his teeth. “Just a little ritual I have after opening statements.” (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 789: The Machine That Would Rewild Humanity


The Machine That Would Rewild Humanity

By Tobias S. Buckell

On a boat on the way to the Galapagos Islands to visit the world’s oldest tortoise, I got a call that the Central Park Human Reintroduction Center had been bombed.

I’d read somewhere that the point of travel was to see the thing yourself. To expose yourself to new points of view and to have new experiences. Before the call I’d spent two point seven seconds regarding the sweep of the Himalayas at the roof of the world and take a backup of my memory of the entire panorama. In Pattaya, I lounged at the beach and watched the aquamarine water lap the sand.

Ten years I’d planned this trip. A time to let my thoughts settle before the big push on the Central Park project.

My life’s work.

A mechanical butterfly perched on my hand with the message. To deliver it, the butterfly had wafted its way over almost two thousand kilometers of ocean boundaries, negotiated with air currents for overflight permissions, and applied for fifty different visas until it tracked my boat down.

The Institute had paid a small fortune to recall me from vacation. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 783: Report of Dr. Hollowmas on the Incident at Jackrabbit Five


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!

Sure.

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?

Yeah.

Thank you, Doctor Hollowmas. Please state your purpose today. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 775: Spaceship October


Spaceship October

By Greg van Eekhout

When you live on a spaceship, you learn to make your own fun. Exploring the tunnels is some of the very best fun the October’s got. After school hour, me and Droller go scuttling through the darkest conduits you ever will find. The starboard Hab gets minimal heat, so our breath clouds in the light of our head torches as we crawl on our hands and knees.

“You hear that?” Droller whispers from a couple of meters ahead.

I do hear it, a deep, wet wheezing that sounds exactly like Droller trying to spook me.

“You better go ahead and check it out, Droller.”

“Naw, Kitch, it’s behind you. It smells your butt. It’s a butthunter.”

I laugh at Droller’s stupid joke, because the stupider, the funnier, and she’s by far my stupidest friend.

We’re both from Aft Hab, both from the same birth lottery, and out of the eight babies born that season, we’re the only survivors. It used to be the three of us, me and Droller, and Jamm, but Jamm died last year along with her parents when the CO2 scrubbers in their cube failed. The scrubbers were item thirty-three on the fixems’ to-do list.

“How much farther?” I ask Droller.

“Just a couple of panels.”

It’s more like a couple dozen panels, but we finally arrive at the section of conduit above Town Square. Using just our fingers, Droller and me remove the fasteners holding the panel in place and slide it aside, just enough for us to peak out.

Down below, a crowd settles on the rings of benches surrounding the lawn. The brass band toots “Onward or Bust” in a marching beat, their jackets sparkling with silver buttons and silver loops of rope. Droller and I exchange a sad look. Jamm wanted to be a drummer and wear a thick, warm jacket like that. The odds were against an Aft Habber like her, but she was good enough that she might have made it.

Once the tooting is over, one of the Vice Captains ascends the grandstand. The audience stands and salutes in respect. Everyone on the October acts as like salutes are required, but White Madeleine told us saluting was never in the contract the original families signed. The Fore Habbers made up the requirement only eighty years ago.

The kind of people who come to witness a Course Correction are the type who do what they’re supposed to.

The Vice Captain says some stuff into a bullhorn. It’s too distorted for me and Droller to make out actual words, but we know what he’s saying, because this isn’t the first time we’ve watched a Course Correction from the conduits. He’s announcing the name of the violator and their crime.

The guards bring out a man, their hands gripping his arms and shoving. He’s dressed in thin brown paper coveralls. His face is bloodless. I bet he’s shivering in the cold.

“I’ve seen him before,” says Droller. She doesn’t know his name, but he does look familiar. Maybe I’ve spotted him in line at Distro, or maybe on a community service detail. Yeah, that’s it. A few months ago we were on the same crew scraping mold off crop troughs in the farm module. He was quiet and sniffed a lot.

“What do you think he did?” Droller asks.

“I bet he buggered a robot.”

Droller laughs, because it’s stupid. (Continue Reading…)

Brave New Worlds, edited by John Joseph Adams


Brave New WorldsAnyone who is interested in the grim meathook side of the science fiction genre should pick up Brave New Worlds, the new anthology of dystopian fiction. Once again, John Joseph Adams has proved that he has a keen eye for a good story. These are not easy stories to read. Few of them have happy endings. However, I found them to be moving works of science fiction that will stay with me for a long time.

Dystopias have been part of science fiction since the beginning. Brave New Worlds opens with “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, which was first published in 1948 by The New Yorker. It is the kind of science fiction that provokes tempers on all sides. People within the genre criticize its lack of obvious scientificitional elements and its magazine of origin. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker’s fiction editor, noted on her podcast that the magazine received angry letters from its readers after “The Lottery” was published. Treisman also pointed out that “The Lottery” is the only story by a woman of the period to be regularly anthologized.

Other classics that have been reprinted in Brave New Worlds include “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. This story should already be familiar to most readers, who will know exactly what to expect when they see Le Guin’s name on a collection of dystopias. However, in this context, it provides a respite for the mind’s eye. The world that Le Guin has built is beautiful — except for that singular, terrible room.

The new stories in Brave New Worlds are also of the highest quality. Carrie Vaughn’s “Amaryllis,” reprinted here, has just been nominated for the 2011 Hugo Award for best short story. “Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment: One Daughter’s Personal Account” by Mary Rickert first appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and was nominated for the British Science Fiction Award and the Stoker Award. I have an abiding affection for this story, in which all the brutality of a world where women are executed for having abortions is filtered through the eyes of a little girl who has never known anything else.

Longtime listeners of EscapePod will recognize “Of a Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs” by Adam Troy-Castro. This is the only story in the collection that I did not completely reread, as I remember how much it affected me the first time. It is, however, not the most brutal story in this book — and the argument over whether or not it even qualifies as a dystopia should be an interesting one.

The stories are grouped loosely by theme. J. G. Ballard’s overpopulation classic, “Billenium,” is followed immediately by “Amaryllis” and Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Pop Squad,” in which children are vanishingly rare. Silverberg’s “Caught in the Organ Draft,” about a world where the young are required to donate their organs so that the terribly old can get even older, stands back-to-back with Orson Scott Card’s heartbreaking “Geriatric Ward,” in which people grow old and die while still terribly young.

Brave New Worlds strikes me as being comprehensive enough to serve as reference book. It even includes a list of suggested reading at the end, for anyone who wants to pursue longer works of dystopian fiction. I recommend this anthology wholeheartedly — on a sunny day, and followed by something cheerful.