Posts Tagged ‘death’

Book Review: The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett


On September 1, my Kindle automatically downloaded my preordered copy of The Shepherd’s Crown. By September 3, I’d finished reading the final Discworld novel. How do I feel about this?

Empty. Satisfied, but empty. The book is closed on the Discworld, at least in this form, and… well… I don’t think I can wrap my head around that.

But anyway, here’s my review of the novel. Spoilers beyond this point for The Shepherd’s Crown by the late Sir Terry Pratchett, and for the rest of the Discworld.

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Escape Pod 481: Temporary Friends


Temporary Friends

by Caroline M. Yoachim

The second week of kindergarten, Mimi came home with a rabbit. Despite numerous mentions of the Temporary Friends project in the parent newsletter, I wasn’t prepared to see my five-year-old girl cuddling a honey-colored fluffball that was genetically engineered to have fatally high cholesterol and die of a heart attack later in the school year.

“I named him Mr. Flufferbottom.” Mimi told me. I glared at Great-Grandpa John, who’d been watching her while I finished up my shift at the clinic. He shrugged. My gruff maternal grandfather wasn’t my first choice of babysitter, but he needed a place to stay and I needed someone to watch Mimi after school.

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to name him, honey?” I knelt down and put my hand on Mimi’s shoulder. “He’s a completely biological rabbit, and this kind doesn’t tend to live very long.”

“Teacher said to pick good names for our rabbits,” Mimi said. “Besides, you put new parts on people, so if Mr. Flufferbottom breaks you can fix him.”

Replacement pet parts were readily available online, and the self-installing models could be put in by anyone who could afford the hefty price tag and follow simple instructions. But replacement parts defeated the purpose of the lesson — research showed that children needed to experience death in order to achieve normal emotional development. Aside from the occasional suicide or tragic accident, there weren’t many occasions to deal with loss. Schools were required to incorporate Temporary Friends into their kindergarten curriculum in order to get government funding.

The school couldn’t control what parents did, of course, but the parent newsletter strongly discouraged tampering with the damned death pets in any way.

“Mimi, sweetie, that’s not how it works this time — I know we get a lot of extra parts for Graycat, but your Temporary Friend is only until…” I tried to remember from the newsletter how long the rabbits were engineered to live. Six months? “Only until March, and then we’ll say goodbye.”

I expected Mimi to put up a big fuss, but she didn’t. She took Mr. Flufferbottom to the cage we’d set up in her room and got him some food and water.

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Escape Pod 468: The Law of Gravity


The Law of Gravity

by Sam Ferree

That sunrise was the best they had made yet.  The air was cool, not cold, and the Termination was just the right shade of pomegranate red around the sun.  The light breeze smelled like oranges.  It reminded me of candy, not real fruit, just that imitation flavor that somehow tastes better than the real thing.

“I think Lauren’s dead,” Lukas repeated, his avatar’s young face contorted in disgust.  Lukas had chosen a runner’s physique, because, out there, he’d been a track star in college; why that mattered to him was beyond me.

“What do you mean you think she’s dead?” I asked.  We were sitting at Reel Café — a not-so clever pun, I thought — at the edge of the patio.  We had met there every Monday morning for years.

My coffee was cold and my cigarette spent.  Lukas had ordered his usual Earl Grey and a grapefruit, but he hadn’t touched either one.

Lukas shook his head.  “Her avatar is in Smith Field.  Just standing there, staring off at nothing.  It’s been doing that for weeks.  I spoke with a friend of mine, an administrator.  They’re shutting down her account because her fees are overdue.  She hasn’t been away from the Flat for more than two days in decades.  She’s dead, Noah.”

“So she’s been away for a few weeks.  That doesn’t mean anything.”

“But it’s a pretty good sign she isn’t coming back.”

The orange scent was fading and Lukas was silent.  I said, “Well, what do we do?”

“What?”  Lukas looked up.  Eventually, he shrugged.  “I suppose we arrange a funeral.”

I nodded, but said, “I don’t actually think she’s dead.”

“She is,” Lukas muttered.  His twenty-something avatar wore an old man’s bitterness.

I picked up my coffee.  The mug looked like it had been made by a five year old.  Everything about the Reel Café had that hokey-imperfection. When you sat in the chairs, you half-expected a distinguished looking gentleman to walk up and ask you to please not sit on the dadist art.

I dropped the mug. It shattered with a disappointing crack.  A nearby waiter started toward me, glowering and brandishing a towel like a gladiatorial weapon.

“Why did you do that?” Lukas asked.

“Just testing,” I said, knowing that Lauren would have been less than amused.   (Continue Reading…)

Book Review: “Death’s Daughter” by Amber Benson


Okay, I’m not going to lie to you: I got myself a copy of Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson because, hey, Tara wrote a book.

Yes, I know, I know, the actor is not the character. And yes, I’ve seen other work Benson has written, performed, and directed. I was kind of expecting a certain type of novel, and to a certain extent, I did get it.

I also apparently stumbled into chick-lit. How did that happen?

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Escape Pod 269: Élan Vital

Show Notes

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 261: Only Springtime When She’s Gone
  • Next week… The future of corporate America

Creative Commons License

Élan Vital by K. Tempest Bradford is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at escapepod.org.


Élan Vital

By K. Tempest Bradford

The few minutes I had to spend in the Institute’s waiting room were my least favorite part of coming up to visit my mother. It felt more like a dialysis room, the visitors sunk into the overly-soft couches and not speaking, just drinking orange juice and recovering. There were no magazines and no television, just cold air blowing from the vents and generic music flowing with it. I’d finished my juice and was beginning to brood on my dislike for overly air-conditioned buildings when my mother arrived attended by a nurse.

I kissed and hugged her, automatically asking how she was, mouthing the answer she always gave as she gave it again.

“I’m fine, same as always.”

It wasn’t strictly true, but true enough.

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Escape Pod 192: Sumo21


Sumo21

By Daniel Braum

“Oh great Emperor,” the gyoji said, continuing the ritual. “These two honorable warriors can not agree who will step aside, and who will join the sacred battle to return you to us. We would gladly send all our sons, but the Council of Infinite Japans says there may be only twenty-one. So now they must fight to decide.”

“May the best warrior join the fight,” the crowd answered in unison with the gyoji.

The gyoji stepped back. Asashoryu stared into Takanasuro’s expressionless brown eyes. The match would begin upon a tacit agreement between them. He kept Takanasuro’s mid section in his field of vision while focusing on keeping his own face blank. He knew the beginner’s lesson as if it were part of him; faces deceive and betray, but all movement starts at the hips.

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Escape Pod 191: This Is How It Feels


This Is How It Feels

By Ian Creasey

Nathan’s eyes stung as he remembered how Jenny used to do just that: the same jump down the stairs, the same windmilling of her arms as she landed…. The grief swept over him like a palpable wave, making him stagger backward.

“Dad?” Christopher kicked his backpack down the hall to the door. “You all right?”

“It’s nothing,” said Nathan. He rubbed the implant-port behind his right ear. It’s nothing. It’s not real.

But it felt real.

Escape Pod 146: Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains strong images of death and violence. Almost certainly not appropriate for small children.


Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk

by Ken Scholes

“Do you know what’s happened to the children?”

Edward swallowed. Suddenly, he wanted to cry. “Yes. They’re… sleeping?”

He hoped and hoped and hoped and hoped, grimacing as he did. He looked around.

Makeshift beds lined the room. Small hands gripped blankets, small eyes stared at the ceiling.

“No.” The boy frowned. “They’ve died.”

“Because of Something Very Bad?”

“Yes. And I need you to be a Very Brave Bear. Can you do that?”

Escape Pod 121: The Snow Woman’s Daughter

Show Notes

Referenced Sites:
Daily Dragon Podcast
Dragon*Con 2007


The Snow Woman’s Daughter

by Eugie Foster

When I was a little girl, I thought my mother’s name was Yuki, which means snow. That was part of her name, but I didn’t learn the rest of it until the night my father died.

My mother left us on a slate-gray evening when I was five, with her namesake falling from the sky and piled high around the windows and doors. Awakened by raised voices, I watched through a tear in the curtain that shielded my sleeping mat as my mother wrapped her limbs in a shining, white kimono. As far back as I could remember, she had always worn the dark wool shifts that all mountain people wear, spun from the hair of the half-mad goats that give us milk and cheese. In her kimono she looked like a princess, or a queen. Her skin was paler than mine, and I am thought quite fair. Roku, the boy who lived on the northern crest, used to tease me when we were little, calling me “ghost girl” and “milk face.”