Tag: escape artists inc.

Short story: “Rocket Surgery”

“Rocket Surgery,” by Effie Seiberg

First appeared in Analog in 2016; featured in episode 588 of Escape Pod

3,330 words

A charmingly optimistic story of artificial intelligence. Well, optimistic about technology, anyway—General Pitticks doesn’t sound like a great candidate for the presidency to me.


Short story: “The Ninth Skeleton”

“The Ninth Skeleton,” by Clark Ashton Smith

Appeared in Weird Tales, Volume 12, Issue 3, September 1928; collected in The End of the Story (Night Shade Books); featured in Pseudopod 331, April 26th, 2013; online here at The Eldritch Dark and here on Wikisource

1,865 words

I didn’t really get this story, and I don’t think there’s much to get. On the forums, readers suggest that it’s about the main character’s girlfriend’s pregnancy and/or their future together, but it ends a bit open-endedly for me. Perhaps the end means the couple is infertile and Guenevere will take him with her to the grave childless.

Short story: “Toward the Banner of the King”

“Toward the Banner of the King,” by T. R. North

Featured in PseudoPod 558, September 1st, 2017

4,287 words

A good PseudoPod episode. Authentic period voice. The reading by Justine Eyre is excellent.

I was surprised by the heavy allusions to The King in Yellow, but I suppose it’s sufficiently well known to horror readers that it needs no explanation. This story fits neatly into Chambers’ short story collection by that title.



Short story: “A Doll Full of Nails”

“A Doll Full of Nails,” by Ville Meriläinen

Featured in PseudoPod 554, August 4th, 2017

Maybe 3,000 words? Not sure 2,918 words—I was pretty close

Creepy doll stories are always good. I like how the doll’s stories increasingly shed light on the dollmaker’s past, but never quite reliably.

Also the title is great.


Short story: “The Magician’s Apprentice”

“The Magician’s Apprentice,” by Tamsyn Muir

First appeared in Weird Tales, Issue #358 or #359 (Volume 66, No. 3, Winter 2012), edited by Ann VanderMeer; reprinted here in Weird Fiction Review, July 3rd, 2012; reprinted in The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2013, edited by Rich Horton; reprinted in The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Five, edited by Ellen Datlow; featured in PseudoPod 515, November 4th, 2016; reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine issue 88 (September 2017), online here

4,860 words, says Lightspeed

(Spoilers.) I love the reference to Lolita, and Mr. Hollis’s analysis of it, and this line: “You see, I’ve got nowhere else to go.” He evidently gave her the book as a hint about what he’s really up to. I’m not totally convinced that John/Mr. Hollis has eaten Cherry’s childhood, though, despite her food name, despite the ending. His relationship with her doesn’t strike me as all that sick up until the secret he reveals—the secret of what it really means to be a magician. It’s more as though he’s eaten her adulthood. She’ll never be the same after this.

Did he train her, selfishly, in order to soothe his loneliness? It must be lonely to be a magician, devouring without end.

Mr. Hollis’s comment about “dead joggers” is great. The last line is also great.


Short story: “The Jamcoi”

“The Jamcoi,” by J. M. McDermott

First appeared in the collection Disintegration Visions (Apex Publications, 2012); reprinted by Apex here, November 26th, 2014; read with gusto by Setsu Uzume in PseudoPod 570, November 23rd, 2017

6,516 words

I enjoy this very much. It makes me think of lobsters, which have to be boiled alive to get the right flavor, and veal calves, which have to be confined in tight pens and deprived of iron—even the scanty iron they could derive from licking their own urine off the floor—to get the right tenderness. And foie gras.

I like that when the husband suggests that the bird really doesn’t feel anything, and really it only feels pleasure at the endorphin rush (he doesn’t seem to notice the contradiction), the wife says, “Don’t ever say that again, David. Please, don’t ever say that to me again.” I like the vision of the imaginary daughter, drinking from her little teacup.

I feel like this story could go further, could do something beyond just the intense descriptions of suffering and the rather literary ending. Not sure what.


Short story: “A Howling Dog”

“A Howling Dog,” by Nick Mamatas

Featured in PseudoPod 562, September 29th, 2017

2,166 words

Clever, though I thought the ending was rather abrupt and over the top. Of course, if you leave off the ending, it’s not horror.


Short story: “Sweetness”

“Sweetness,” by B. C. Edwards

First appeared in 2010 in the anthology Zombiality: A Queer Bent on the Undead (edited by Bill Tucker); collected in The Aversive Clause; read by Sam Ferree in Pseudopod 445, July 3rd, 2015

No idea how many words; the Pseudopod episode is 30:12

This is the second time I’ve listened to this story. It’s poignant—”lovers at the end of the world” poignant. The narrator does a good job with the repetitions.


Short story: “Saturday”

“Saturday,” by Evan Dicken

Appeared in the September 2015? issue of Shock Totem; read by Mikael Naramore in PseudoPod 465, November 20th, 2015

Maybe 5,000 words?

Creepy speculative stuff going on as a backdrop to a really creepy main character. Not sure I caught all the nuances, but I liked it.


Short story: “Bad Newes from New England”

“Bad Newes from New England,” by Moaner T. Lawrence

Read by Dave Robison for PseudoPod 466, November 26th, 2015

Probably less than 4,000 words?

Very authentic-feeling setting and voice. I thought the Native American burial grounds thing was a bit meh. Nice, though, to know that payment for the story is going to this charity.