Posts Tagged ‘free in audio’

“Ghosts of New York”, by Jennifer Pelland

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Warning: This story is not appropriate for children.  It is not fun.  It may offend you, that I chose to list it at all, or that I chose to list it today.  But it helped me get ready for today, and I thought some of you might not know about it.

“Ghosts of New York”, as I’m sure you can guess, is a story about the fallout of 9/11.  The story, particularly, of the ghosts that it left behind.  Literal ghosts–not ghosts as in the images of destruction that every one of us over fifteen can call up, but haunts.  The spectral remainders of the people who jumped.

There are no answers in this story.  For one thing, it has a severe weak point, in that it never explains why only jumpers become ghosts.  It doesn’t solve, salve, or soften 9/11.

It does remind me of the feelings that I had on that day.  It doesn’t make me experience them again, but it removes enough of the scab to remind me that tragedy and death, however horrible, are part of the flow of history and our lives.  This isn’t the first time New York has had a disaster.  It won’t be the last.

Please, let it be the last time it’s deliberate, though.

Text: Available courtesy of Apex Publications
Audio: Podcastle 153

“Card Sharp”, by Rajan Khanna

September 5, 2011 4 comments

New systems of magic. Vengeance. Master and apprentice. Desperate action. This story came from an anthology called The Way of the Wizard, and while I haven’t read all of the stories in the book, if this story is indicative, I’m going to have to.

Rajan Khanna is a familiar name to me most because he narrates a lot of stories over at Escape Artists, the parent organization for Escape Pod, Podcastle, and Pseudopod. He’s a great reader, but I’m only starting to get a sense of how good a writer he is, too.

“Card Sharp” is a story set in a Maverick-like pulp-Western world, so the story is almost genre even without the magic. The magic, however, is fairly unique and well implemented. Card sharps can enchant a single deck of cards, giving them 54 (jokers count) spells. In a lifetime. No more. The usual tropes of magic ranging from magic as unlimited resource to magic as something you have to rest to recuperate don’t begin to limit a “mage” as much as this does–the quotes are because I don’t even feel comfortable calling someone a mage when magic is so rare even in their lives.

The story goes quickly and is compelling, and the reading is excellent. This story gets a high “fun” rating from me.

Text: From The Way of the Wizard, but the story is available for free.
Audio: Podcastle 147

“Mars: A Traveler’s Guide”, by Ruth Nestvold

March 10, 2011 6 comments

This story has no plot and no characters.

Okay, okay, I suppose it does have a character.  However, that character is never seen and never heard.

You see, the entire story is told in the responses that a computer has to the character.  And all the character does is look things up on the computer.

Of course, the things the person looks up have a specific agenda. . . rescue.  Alone on Mars.

Funny, scary, and very, very well done.

“Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” in print (as part of the linked .pdf)
“Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” in audio

“Evil Robot Monkey”, by Mary Robinette Kowal

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Remember “The Orange”, where I said that it would be faster if you just believed me and went and read it because it fit on one page and why are you still here when you could be reading the story already please go? “Evil Robot Monkey” isn’t that short, but it’s still short enough that why are you still here?

Nominated for the Hugo. The link above contains the text and hosts audio.

This is one of the saddest pieces I’ve ever read, and one of the reasons that I know that Mary Robinette Kowal is a writer to watch. I have not yet read her Shades of Milk and Honey, but I will, and I have her collection Scenting the Dark on order.

A Tim Pratt road-trip triptych.

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Thought I was gonna miss my deadline, didn’t you? Be honest–you wanted to see me crash and burn. Ha!

I actually have a mostly done draft of another post ready, but as some of you know, I’ve been on a road-trip this week, driving about 2,500 miles, from Washington to California and back. That’s consumed a lot of podcasts. Lots of stories, but three stand out. As I’m currently in the parking lot of a Jack in the Fog, I thought I’d write something fresh. This does mean I’m invoking the rule that allows me to have crap formatting…. Until I clean the post up, later.

Remember when I said I wasn’t going to recommend any more Tim Pratt for a while? Sorry, man. He’s just excellent.   I’m also not going to apologize for the fact that all three of these are available freely only in audio.  Either learn to read with your ears or toss the man some money.  The print link is to his collection Hart and Boot and Other Stories.  Well, okay, that’s not possible, but I can’t even pick which stories to tell you it contains, I like them all so much.  Does include “Impossible Dreams” and “Terrible Ones”….

Podcastle 136: “The Christmas Mummy” (audio)
Podcastle 140: “Terrible Ones” (NOT FOR CHILDREN) (audio or print)
EscapePod 276: “On A Blade Of Grass” (NOT FOR CHILDREN) (audio)

“The Christmas Mummy”: Tim actually wrote with his wife, Heather Shaw, and I do apologize to Heather for getting this far without mentioning her, but again, writing on smartphone in fog. The story… Imagine if your weird uncle was Indiana Jones instead of being an embarrassing alcoholic. Then imagine that his archenemy sends you a gift. Imagine further that that gift is a mummy, and it arrives on Christmas. Very funny.

“Terrible Ones”: Tim, you need to follow up this short story with a series of novels. I love Marla, but I could love Zara, too. Please give me the chance?  See, Zara is an actress, who starts out in a classic Greek play… Before she gets selected for a very different role in Greek mythology. Which I guess isn’t mythology if it’s real. Which it is. In this story. It’s important that you know I can tell the difference.

“On A Blade Of Grass”: a great story about interstellar war and intestinal parasites that is not at all harmed by being surrounded by the second funniest bit of writing I’ve ever heard Norm Sherman do.

Also, Tim posts stuff about his son, River, and the adventures that River has at Tim’s day job, to Twitter, and it’s often hilarious and touching. Look for hashtag #officebaby or just mentions of Officebaby.

Update 2/8/11: “On A Blade of Grass” is now available as part of the Sound-Proof Escape Pod #4.

“Eight Episodes”, by Robert Reed

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

NOT FOR CHILDREN.  There is sex implied.

I confess.  I’m a browncoat–a disappointed Firefly fan.   And the first time I read this story, the idea of a short-run TV series representing an alien invasion tickled and thrilled me.

 “Eight Episodes”, by Robert Reed, is the story of a TV series.  I’d call it a bad TV series, except that “bad” implies that it wasn’t successful, and we’re not clear if it was or not.  Because we don’t know who’s judging.

You see,  Invasion of a Small World may have failed as a Terran TV series, but it may very well have been a blinding success as a message from the stars.

Much of the story details how the show didn’t match the expectations of its viewers, except for those viewers who were of a more scientific bent.  Nearly every decision made by the supposed producers of the show–and we never quite know who they are–is wrong for TV. . . but right for truth.  And when the DVD set is released, long after cancellation, with the remaining unaired episodes on it, we see that the scientists who heard something of the truth in this show may have been right.  We start getting details of the arrival of the  invading force–all two rice grains of it–as it approaches Earth, and some of the details are not only correct for what science knows but the public doesn’t, but others turn out to be correct only with scientific observations made after the DVDs are released.

This is not a character driven story–most of the characters are as cardboard and stiff as the animation that was supposedly done of them. but the description of the ideas in “Eight Episodes” is brilliant, and the sentiment that life overcomes. . . is well expressed.

What is the nature of the outer universe?  Do intelligent species leave their planets?  Are they likely to fling tiny starships at other solar systems to influence the natives’ likelihood of attempting star travel?  Is there a level of intelligence at which that message can be translated into a TV show, however unsuccessful, instead of a simple text message or voice simulacrum? 

Who’s out there?  And why can’t they produce compelling serial drama? 

Text of “Eight Episodes”
Audio of “Eight Episodes”

Buy “Eight Episodes” at Amazon

“The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change”, by Kij Johnson

September 25, 2010 3 comments

“We prefer our slaves mute.”

I had read this story twice when I chose it to recommend.  Then I read it again, to make it fresh in my memory, to write this.

This story is told in two interlocking parts–it details the stories of the dogs in North Park, and also the Stories of the dogs in North Park.  Capital-S Stories.  Their mythology.  I had been so fascinated by this part of the story that I didn’t allow myself the full emotional impact of the actual tale of the dogs that are telling these stories.  And let me tell you, it’s a hard one.  I’m really trying not to spoil anything, but this is a very sad story, and I’m amazed that I didn’t see it the first two times through.

The Change, referred to in the title, you see, is that all domesticated animals suddenly become able to talk.  And gain the memory that comes along with speech.  But Johnson’s animals aren’t political allegory, like in Animal Farm, or even people.  They’re still dogs and cats. . . but now we know what they think of how we treat them.  And of us.

“We prefer our slaves mute.”

On a happier note, this is our first post with a “guest editor”.  You see, Kij Johnson is a very good writer, with several stories I had to choose from.  I happened to still be corresponding with Tim Pratt, who I emailed to ask his permission to link to the Wayback Machine’s copy of “Impossible Dreams”, and asked him if I should recommend this story or one of her other works, “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”.  I was leaning towards this one, and Tim agreed, so I get to count him as a guest editor and still do whatever I want.

“The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.  “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, and won the World Fantasy award.

This story’s text
This story’s audio

This story for sale at

“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” text
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” audio
“26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” does not appear to have been collected.