Posts Tagged ‘anthology’


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.

Read the full text in the Escape Pod Anthology.

Host Commentary

By Alasdair Stuart

One of the age-old debates in science fiction is what constitutes age-old. It’s not just SF in fact, but all of literature where the patina of respectability gets thicker the longer something has been around.  Look at my backyard, at the various old white men who haunt horror like Banquo’s Ghost at an IHOP, their very presence insisting things should be done at least partially like they’ve always been.

Of course, in some cases that’s not a bad thing and even the toxic ones are being increasingly re-assessed and viewed through different, diverse, fun lenses. It’s nice to see that happen with tropes as well as authors here, and I love how Greg’s taken the idea of the generation ship and looked at it for what it is as opposed to the romance it hides behind. That tells us a generation ship is a group of brave pioneers sacrificing generations of their families to an idea. That tells us this is the future’s cathedrals, built and steered by those with no hope of seeing them land. Faith as fuel. Science as the driving force behind survival.

The truth is…grungier. The truth is power cells failing, is paint fading. The truth is you inherit the space you lived in from your folks. The truth is you’re a passenger in a car where the doors are welded shut, heading somewhere you have no say in, won’t live to see, and no you cannot get McDonald’s drive thru. Chris Bucholz mines some wonderfully dark comedy from this in his novel Severance but Greg takes a subtler, I’d argue braver, route. This is a story not about arriving or even taking control of the flight, but of taking control of yourself and your life. There’s real darkness to it too, lives are going to be lost but the question of sustaining those at the cost of everyone else? Well, that’s not a theoretical argument. That’s disaster capitalism. Or perhaps in this case, deep-space capitalism.

Here knowledge really is power. The question is: What needs the power more and who needs the power now? Expertly written and read, thanks to you both and to everyone who’s brought the anthology to date!


We just started paying associate editors, who are slush readers and the first line of contact for every magazine and author. They are the unsung heroes of the industry and it’s time we sungthem. We’re currently paying all four shows’ associate editors at a reduced rate because we aren’t quite at the target donation yet, but it was time to get this done. So we still need your help especially as in addition, you also pay for everything else! Literally!

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We’ll be back next week with Tloque Nahuaque by Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas, translated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, read by Karlo Yeager Rodriguez hosted by Matt Olivas, with audio production by Adam. Then as now we’ll be a production of Escape Artists, Inc. and released under a creative commons attribution no commercial license. And we leave you with this quote from Contender.


Watching Interstellar didn’t make it better
Reading Carl Sagan, looking kinda vacant
You say you’re buying time but you’re always late
I’m starting to think you don’t even want to go to space


See you next time folks!

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.