Tag: podcasts

Short story: “Beyond the Dead Reef”

“Beyond the Dead Reef,” by James Tiptree, Jr.

Appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1983; won a 1983 Locus Award for best short story; collected in Tales of the Quintana Roo (Arkham House, 1986), which won a 1987 World Fantasy Award for best collection); appeared in PseudoPod 603, July 13th, 2018 (though not reprinted as text—perhaps there was a problem getting the rights)

A few thousand words

Interesting, but the initial buildup strikes me as long and not closely related to the main story (even though I love the murder plot), the monster is silly, and the moral at least borders on heavy-handed. Perhaps I’m reading it from the wrong era.

The framing comments on how unreliable the narrator is ought to undermine the story, it seems to me, but don’t. Is that typically the case? Are we wired to enjoy a good story regardless of what we think about the storyteller?


Short story: “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

“Love Will Tear Us Apart,” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

First published in Zombies vs. Unicorns (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010); appeared in PseudoPod 581, February 9th, 2018, and replayed July 20th

7.075 words

(Heavy spoilers.) I was hooked from the first few lines. Talking mac and cheese, indeed.

I don’t quite believe Jack would invite Grayson to feed on his father’s body, at least not at the drop of a hat.

Short story: “From the Root”

“From the Root,” by Emma Törzs

Appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, June 2018 (Issue 97), and in the podcast (read and listen)

6,670 words

(Heavy spoilers.) Fascinating, especially the scientific breakthrough the protagonist makes.

The doctor’s anger at being “tricked” struck me as an unforgivable betrayal, not to mention a ghoulish one, but the story surprisingly doesn’t dwell on it, and neither apparently does the protagonist.

The author’s work has also appeared in Ploughshares and won an O. Henry. She says in her interview, “I’m new to writing science fiction/fantasy, and as a grown-up writer I’d never written what you’d call a speculative story until this past summer, when I attended Clarion West.” Nice to see authors successfully moving across those genres.

Short story: “The Plutonian Drug”

“The Plutonian Drug,” by Clark Ashton Smith

First published in Amazing Stories, September 1934; appeared in PseudoPod 591, April 20th, 2018, and replayed July 27th of the same year; also online here

4,072 words

Clever. The initial dialogue infodump is a bit clumsy, but maybe that was a common convention at the time. (Or does it count as infodump if it’s mainly for worldbuilding rather than having much effect on the plot?)

Short story: “What Gentle Women Dare”

“What Gentle Women Dare,” by Kelly Robson

Appeared in Uncanny Magazine Issue Twenty-Two, May 1st, 2018, read by Erika Ensign on the podcast (read and listen here)

6,574 words

The different voices Ensign does in the podcast are very effective. I imagine the written voices would be almost as effective if I’d read the story with my eyeballs.

Rocket Stack Rank says (spoilers) that the child turns out to be a figment of Lolly’s imagination, but I don’t understand where that’s indicated. Maybe I’d have to reread—I do see that some of Meg’s dialogue is in italics instead of quotes, as though projected directly into Lolly’s head, which is something I of course couldn’t hear in the podcast. I disagree with Rocket Stack Rank’s suggestion that the story advocates mass murder; it seems to me that the plan is meant to be a chilling solution to a frustrating problem, the treatment of women in Lolly’s society.

Short story: “Red Lizard Brigade”

“Red Lizard Brigade,” by Sam J. Miller

Appeared in Uncanny Magazine Issue Twenty-Three, the Special Shared-Universe Dinosaur issue, and on the podcast episode 23A (read and listen)

3,217 words

(Spoilers.) A sad, bleak story, despite the fun science fiction elements.

At the end I really wanted Osip to run, but you can’t argue with love.

Short story: “Mr. Try Again”

“Mr. Try Again,” by A. Merc Rustad

Appeared in Nightmare Magazine, March 2018, issue 66 (read or listen)

4,338 words, though it feels more substantial than that

The prose is dizzying. I feel like this story is about survivor’s guilt? Though there’s a sense of quasi-complicity that goes beyond everyday survivor’s guilt.

Short story: “Ways to Wake”

“Ways to Wake,” by Alison Littlewood

Appeared in issue 70 of Nightmare Magazine, July 2018

5,998 words

I really like the main character’s struggle, and the ambiguity about his state of mental health. But the ending leaves me hanging. Rereading, I still don’t get it. It seems like the character doesn’t want to be alone, and for that reason doesn’t kill the cat, even though he knows it may kill him?

Pretty impressive the way the character remains sympathetic after what he does.

Short story: “On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy”

“On a Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy,” by Desmond Warzel

First appeared on SFReader April 15th, 2009, the winner of the SFReader 2008 Story Contest; featured in Escape Pod episode 284, March 17th, 2011, and later as a Flashback Friday piece in episode 634 June 28th, 2018

3,280 words

I can see why this would be considered a classic Escape Pod story. Escape Pod seems to define itself as fun more than anything else, even if it does embrace darker stuff sometimes.

Short story: “Jack’s Garden”

“Jack’s Garden,” by V. S. Naipaul

Appeared in the New Yorker October 6th, 1986 (online to subscribers here); read by Karl Ove Knausgaard for the New Yorker Fiction Podcast episode released June 1st, 2016

A lot of words

I was barely able to follow this story on the podcast. I have to agree with Knausgaard that it’s “boring,” but unfortunately I didn’t recognize the redeeming quality he sees in it. At the end it did feel like there was a small, meaningful revelation—too late to capture my attention.