Posts Tagged ‘Hugo Awards’

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Escape Pod 408: Immersion


Immersion

by Aliette de Bodard

In the morning, you’re no longer quite sure who you are.

You stand in front of the mirror–it shifts and trembles, reflecting only what you want to see–eyes that feel too wide, skin that feels too pale, an odd, distant smell wafting from the compartment’s ambient system that is neither incense nor garlic, but something else, something elusive that you once knew.

You’re dressed, already–not on your skin, but outside, where it matters, your avatar sporting blue and black and gold, the stylish clothes of a well-traveled, well-connected woman. For a moment, as you turn away from the mirror, the glass shimmers out of focus; and another woman in a dull silk gown stares back at you: smaller, squatter and in every way diminished–a stranger, a distant memory that has ceased to have any meaning.

Quy was on the docks, watching the spaceships arrive. She could, of course, have been anywhere on Longevity Station, and requested the feed from the network to be patched to her router–and watched, superimposed on her field of vision, the slow dance of ships slipping into their pod cradles like births watched in reverse. But there was something about standing on the spaceport’s concourse–a feeling of closeness that she just couldn’t replicate by standing in Golden Carp Gardens or Azure Dragon Temple. Because here–here, separated by only a few measures of sheet metal from the cradle pods, she could feel herself teetering on the edge of the vacuum, submerged in cold and breathing in neither air nor oxygen. She could almost imagine herself rootless, finally returned to the source of everything.

Most ships those days were Galactic–you’d have thought Longevity’s ex-masters would have been unhappy about the station’s independence, but now that the war was over Longevity was a tidy source of profit. The ships came; and disgorged a steady stream of tourists–their eyes too round and straight, their jaws too square; their faces an unhealthy shade of pink, like undercooked meat left too long in the sun. They walked with the easy confidence of people with immersers: pausing to admire the suggested highlights for a second or so before moving on to the transport station, where they haggled in schoolbook Rong for a ride to their recommended hotels–a sickeningly familiar ballet Quy had been seeing most of her life, a unison of foreigners descending on the station like a plague of centipedes or leeches.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 407: Mono No Aware


Mono no Aware

by Ken Liu

The world is shaped like the kanji for umbrella, only written so poorly, like my handwriting, that all the parts are out of proportion.

My father would be greatly ashamed at the childish way I still form my characters. Indeed, I can barely write many of them anymore. My formal schooling back in Japan ceased when I was only eight.

Yet for present purposes, this badly drawn character will do.

The canopy up there is the solar sail. Even that distorted kanji can only give you a hint of its vast size. A hundred times thinner than rice paper, the spinning disc fans out a thousand kilometers into space like a giant kite intent on catching every passing photon. It literally blocks out the sky.

Beneath it dangles a long cable of carbon nanotubes a hundred kilometers long: strong, light, and flexible. At the end of the cable hangs the heart of the Hopeful, the habitat module, a five-hundred-meter-tall cylinder into which all the 1,021 inhabitants of the world are packed.

The light from the sun pushes against the sail, propelling us on an ever widening, ever accelerating, spiraling orbit away from it. The acceleration pins all of us against the decks, gives everything weight.

Our trajectory takes us toward a star called 61 Virginis. You can’t see it now because it is behind the canopy of the solar sail. The Hopeful will get there in about three hundred years, more or less. With luck, my great-great-great-I calculated how many “greats” I needed once, but I don’t remember now-grandchildren will see it.

There are no windows in the habitat module, no casual view of the stars streaming past. Most people don’t care, having grown bored of seeing the stars long ago. But I like looking through the cameras mounted on the bottom of the ship so that I can gaze at this view of the receding, reddish glow of our sun, our past.

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Escape Pod 385: The Very Pulse of the Machine

Show Notes

Special thanks to user ERH at FreeSound.org who created and/or recorded the sound effect used in this episode!


The Very Pulse of the Machine

by Michael Swanwick

Click.

The radio came on.

“Hell.”

Martha kept her eyes forward, concentrated on walking. Jupiter to one shoulder, Daedalus’s plume to the other. Nothing to it. Just trudge, drag, trudge, drag. Piece of cake.

“Oh.”

She chinned the radio off.

Click.

“Hell. Oh. Kiv. El. Sen.”

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” Martha gave the rope an angry jerk, making the sledge carrying Burton’s body jump and bounce on the sulfur hardpan. “You’re dead, Burton, I’ve checked, there’s a hole in your faceplate big enough to stick a fist through, and I really don’t want to crack up. I’m in kind of a tight spot here and I can’t afford it, okay? So be nice and just shut the f*** up.”

“Not. Bur. Ton.”

“Do it anyway.”

She chinned the radio off again.

Jupiter loomed low on the western horizon, big and bright and beautiful and, after two weeks on Io, easy to ignore. To her left, Daedalus was spewing sulfur and sulfur dioxide in a fan two hundred kilometers high. The plume caught the chill light from an unseen sun and her visor rendered it a pale and lovely blue. Most spectacular view in the universe, and she was in no mood to enjoy it.

Click.

Before the voice could speak again, Martha said, “I am not going crazy, you’re just the voice of my subconscious, I don’t have the time to waste trying to figure out what unresolved psychological conflicts gave rise to all this, and I am not going to listen to anything you have to say.”

Silence.

(Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 314: Movement (HUGO REPOST)

Show Notes

If you listened to this back when it aired, then you’ve heard it, but I’m reposting it here for the benefit of people who want to experience all the Hugo nominees in a row!


Movement

By Nancy Fulda

It is sunset. The sky is splendid through the panes of my bedroom window; billowing layers of cumulous blazing with refracted oranges and reds. I think if only it weren’t for the glass, I could reach out and touch the cloudscape, perhaps leave my own trail of turbulence in the swirling patterns that will soon deepen to indigo.

But the window is there, and I feel trapped.

Behind me my parents and a specialist from the neurological research institute are sitting on folding chairs they’ve brought in from the kitchen, quietly discussing my future. They do not know I am listening. They think that, because I do not choose to respond, I do not notice they are there.

“Would there be side effects?” My father asks. In the oppressive heat of the evening, I hear the quiet Zzzapof his shoulder laser as it targets mosquitoes. The device is not as effective as it was two years ago: the mosquitoes are getting faster. (Continue Reading…)

It’s Hugo Month!


For years now, we have done our best here at Escape Pod to bring you audio renditions of the Hugo-nominated short stories. Our original reason was to allow the Worldcon voters to have access to all the nominated stories, as some stories wouldn’t be easy to find (eg, it was in the January issue of a magazine you don’t read…). But now, Worldcon is putting out the Hugo pack for its members to receive the stories in ebook form.

Even though the voters now have the stories emailed to them, we still embrace the tradition of dedicating May to the best stories voted on by fandom. So get ready for Hugo month!

Note- even though we have dedicated ourselves to SF-only stories since branching off Pseudopod and Podcastle, we will run non-SF stories during the Hugo month, if they are nominated. (And this year we have three!)

Also, this year we had a new thing happen- An Escape Pod reprint AND a Podcastle reprint were nominated! We are so thrilled to have already offered these stories, but to remind you, and keep all the Hugo posts together, we will be bringing you Podcastle’s recording of “The Paper Menagerie,” and rerunning “Movement” as a mid-week special.

The nominees and the schedule:

“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld April 2011) – Running 5/3/12
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s April/May 2011) – Running 5/10/12
“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s March 2011) – Running 5/14/12
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011) – Running 5/17/12

The very funny “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (Tor.com) will not be appearing on Escape Pod, but you can (and should) read it in its entirety at Tor.com. And here’s a taste:

Night had come to the city of Skalandarharia, the sort of night with such a quality of black to it that it was as if black coal had been wrapped in blackest velvet, bathed in the purple-black ink of the demon squid Drindel and flung down a black well that descended toward the deepest, blackest crevasses of Drindelthengen, the netherworld ruled by Drindel, in which the sinful were punished, the black of which was so legendarily black that when the dreaded Drindelthengenflagen, the ravenous blind black badger trolls of Drindelthengen, would feast upon the uselessly dilated eyes of damned, the abandoned would cry out in joy as the Drindelthengenflagenmorden, the feared Black Spoons of the Drindelthengenflagen, pressed against their optic nerves, giving them one last sensation of light before the most absolute blackness fell upon them, made yet even blacker by the injury sustained from a falling lump of ink-bathed, velvet-wrapped coal.

Read more at Tor.com.

This year’s stories are pretty amazing, (two of them may drive you to tears- long time EP fans will easily guess one of the culprits) and it will be tough voting. But we hope you enjoy Hugo month as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.

You can also get ALL of our Hugo-nominated stories on one feed! Subscribe here!

The 2011 Hugo winners


First the list, from the Hugo blog (Congrats to all the winners):

BEST NOVEL
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)

BEST NOVELLA
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)

BEST NOVELETTE
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)

BEST SHORT STORY
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)

BEST RELATED WORK
Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)

BEST GRAPHIC STORY
Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse,
written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by
Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM
Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORM
Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven
Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)

BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORM
Sheila Williams

BEST EDITOR, LONG FORM
Lou Anders

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST
Shaun Tan

BEST SEMIPROZINE
Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace;
podcast directed by Kate Baker

BEST FANZINE
The Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon

BEST FAN WRITER
Claire Brialey

BEST FAN ARTIST
Brad W. Foster

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer
of 2009 or 2010, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).

Lev Grossman

Second: Mur was liveblogging the ceremony, held at Renovacon, on the Hugo website through CoverItLive here. Highlights include the fake Hugos, running fashion commentary, and SF/F writers at their most humbled.

Science Future: Harking Hugos


Science fiction inspires the world around us. It inspires our future. To discover these influences, we look to the future of science, to Science Future. The Science Future series presents the bleeding edge of scientific discovery and links it back to science fiction in order to discuss these influences and speculate on the future of science fiction.

Harking Hugos

Each year the Noble Prizes are given out to people who have achieved great things in their life. They is given out to people who have furthered the advancement of the fields of science and the humanities and represent great personal achievements for both the recipients and society. Like science, science fiction has its own award called the Hugo Awards, given yearly to the best science fiction stories. As regular listeners may know, Escape Pod has a tradition of presenting the short stories nominated for the Hugo Awards and keeping in theme with the celebration of the Hugo Awards, Science Future is going to present scientific breakthroughs that relate to the Hugo nominated short stories and novellas presented here on Escape Pod.

Artificial Intelligence is something science fiction has dreamed about since the first computer was built. The story Want of a Nail By Mary Robinette Kowal introduces us to an artificial intelligence that lives as a guardian of the memories of a human family traveling the stars. This artificial intelligence acts the family’s historian, both selecting and storing important events for the family to remember. Modern computers couldn’t hope to perform such a complex task, at least not without a major breakthrough, which it may have created at the University of Exeter. Researchers have created a processor which copies how the human brain processes information. The human brain doesn’t differentiate between processing and collecting information like current computer processors and but this new one  uses phase-changing materials that allows it to both process and store data at the same time.

It is not certain, however, that we’ll ever create a true artificial being but science fiction has presented us with other options for our electronic creations such as implanting them in their own bodies. In the story Plus or Minus By James Patrick Kelly deep space explorers have augmentations which allow them to communicate with simple thought alone. Today we are limited to using external devices such as cellphones to communicate with people beyond the range of our physical presence but the University of Michigan has taken steps to fix that with the BioBolt. The BioBolt is a minimally invasive brain implant which is placed on the skull and is connected to a small film of microcircuits that rests on the brain and listens to neurons. Since the entire device is under the skin with nothing sticking out, the chances of infection are greatly reduced. In order to communicate it uses the electrical field produced by skin to transmit to any other device touching the skin, creating a simple way for the brain to be listened to without wires sticking out of the skin.

An entirely new and wondrous place will open up to us the day we can think at each other and be heard. This world will be full of exciting possibilities like direct knowledge transference, language-less communication, and body hacking! Oh wait, we already have that last one. A joint effort by the University of Tokyo, Japan, and Sony Computer Science Laboratories have created the PossessedHand project which has produced a device which lets someone hijack another person’s hand movements. It does this by directly lightly shocking the muscles in the arm allowing people to program a sequence of specific finger movements. The device doesn’t work perfectly yet it does successfully control the fingers of another human being, which is hauntingly familiar to one of Hugo nominees, The Things by By Peter Watts. In The Things creatures find it easy to control the bodies of the humans they find but like the controllers of the PossessedHand project, they can not fathom their prey’s minds.

The creatures in The Things embodied the idea of self-preservation not by fight or flight but with breeding. The ability to breed is also one of the main themes of the story Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn. In Amaryllis a woman is born to a society where food is strictly rationed and therefore the act of breeding is also tightly controlled. The ability to give birth to a child is something perhaps too undervalued in the modern day except by doctors at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Hospital in Sweden. There doctors are preparing to attempt to complete the first successful transplant of a human womb. Among the subjects under review include a fifty six year old woman who is donating her womb to her twenty five year old daughter.

The miracles and breakthroughs envisioned and brought to us by science  and science fiction all deserve our appreciation regardless of any awards given. Congratulations to all the Hugo Award nominees.

Literature that keeps employing new linguistic and formal modes of expression to draft a panorama of society as a whole while at the same time exposing it, tearing the masks from its face – for me that would be deserving of an award. – Elfriede Jelinek

One more Hugo post- Ponies


We didn’t have the rights to Ponies, by Kij Johnson, but we wanted you to have a chance to experience it, so we’re linking to the Tor.com story and reading of it. Ponies is about, well, ponies, but also about little girls growing up, and the darkness that can entail. Dark. Oh so dark…

And we have some art by Skeet Scienski!

That does it for the Escape Pod Hugo offerings. To recap:

Short story:
The Things, by Peter Watts
For Want of a Nail, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Amaryllis, by Carrie Vaughm
Ponies, by Kij Johnson (Link to Tor.com)

Novelette:
Plus or Minus, by James Patrick Kelly
Eight Miles, by Sean McMullen (link to author’s site)
The Emperor of Mars, by Allen Steele (link to author’s site)
The Jaguar House, in Shadow, by Aliette de Bodard (link to author’s site)
The Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made, by Eric James Stone (link to author’s site)

(Apologies all around for my mistake in saying Stone Wall Truth was a Hugo nominated story. Instead it was nominated for the Nebula this year.)

Escape Pod 299: Plus or Minus

Show Notes

Nominated for the Hugo Award for Novelette, 2011.


Plus Or Minus

By James Patrick Kelly

Everything changed once Beep found out that Mariska’s mother was the famous Natalya Volochkova.   Mariska’s life aboard the Shining Legend went immediately from bad to awful.  Even before he singled her out, she had decided that there was no way she’d be spending the rest of her teen years crewing on an asteroid bucket.  Once Beep started persecuting her, she began counting down the remaining days of the run as if she were a prisoner.  She tried explaining that she had no use for Natalya Volochkova, who had never been much of a mother to her, but Beep wouldn’t hear it.  He didn’t care that Mariska had only signed on to the Shining Legend to get back at her mother for ruining her life.

Somehow that hadn’t worked out quite the way she had planned.

For example, there was crud duty.  With a twisting push Mariska sailed into the command module, caught herself on a handrail, and launched toward the starboard wall.  The racks of  instrument screens chirped and beeped and buzzed; command was one of the loudest mods on the ship.  She stuck her landing in front of navigation rack and her slippers caught on the deck burrs, anchoring her in the ship’s  .0006 gravity.   Sure enough, she could see new smears of mold growing from the crack where the nav screen fit into the wall.  This was Beep’s fault, although he would never admit it.  He kept the humidity jacked up in Command, said that dry air gave him nosebleeds.  Richard FiveFord claimed they came from all the drugs Beep sniffed but Mariska didn’t want to believe that.  Also Beep liked to sip his coffee from a cup instead sucking it out of a bag, even though he slopped all the time.  Fungi loved the sugary spatters.  She sniffed one particularly vile looking smear of mold.  It smelled faintly like the worms she used to grow back home on the Moon.  She wiped her nose with the sleeve of her jersey and reached to the holster on her belt for her sponge. As she scrubbed, the bitter vinegar tang of disinfectant gel filled the mod.  Not for the first time, she told herself that this job stunk.

She felt the tingle of Richard FiveFord offering a mindfeed and opened her head.  =What?=

His feed made a pleasant fizz behind her eyes, distracting her. =You done any time soon?=  Distraction was Richard’s specialty

=No.=

=Didit is making a dream for us.=

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 296: For Want of a Nail

Show Notes

Nominated for the Hugo Award for Short Story, 2011


For Want of a Nail

By Mary Robinette Kowal

With one hand, Rava adjusted the VR interface glasses where they bit into the bridge of her nose, while she kept her other hand buried in Cordelia’s innards. There was scant room to get the flexible shaft of a mono-lens and her hand through the access hatch in the AI’s chassis. From the next compartment, drums and laughter bled through the plastic walls of the ship, indicating her sister’s conception party was still in full swing.

With only a single camera attached, the interface glasses didn’t give Rava depth perception as she struggled to replug the transmitter cable. The chassis had not been designed to need repair. At all. It had been designed to last hundreds of years without an upgrade.

If Rava couldn’t get the cable plugged in and working, Cordelia wouldn’t be able to download backups of herself to her long-term memory. She couldn’t store more than a week at a time in active memory. It would be the same as a slow death sentence.

The square head of the cable slipped out of Rava’s fingers. Again. “Dammit!” She slammed her heel against the ship’s floor in frustration.

“If you can’t do it, let someone else try.” Her older brother, Ludoviko, had insisted on following her out of the party as if he could help.

“You know, this would go a lot faster if you weren’t breathing down my neck.”

“You know, you wouldn’t be doing this at all if you hadn’t dropped her.”

(Continue Reading…)