Archive for the 'Stories' Category
PseudoPod 488: A Thing Of Terrible Beauty

by Roger Zelazny

“A Thing Of Terrible Beauty” was first published in Fantastic Stories of Imagination, April 1963.

Roger Zelazny (1937 – 1995) was an American poet and writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels, best known for The Chronicles of Amber. He won the Nebula award three times and the Hugo award six times. In his stories, Roger Zelazny frequently portrayed characters from myth, depicted in the modern world. Zelazny was also apt to include numerous anachronistic present-day elements and references to various drama classics into his fantasy and science-fiction works. His crisp, minimalistic dialogue also seems to be somewhat influenced by the style of wisecracking hardboiled crime authors, such as Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. The tension between the ancient and the modern, surreal and familiar was what drove most of his work. He has a crustacean named after him! Many thanks to Trent Zelazny for working with us to share this story with you. While you’re in the mood for fiction, check out some of his work. We recommend starting with his excellent collection “The Day the Leash Gave Way and Other Stories“.

Your narrator – Ben Kohanski initially became interested in voice work thanks to Pseudopod. He has been an avid listener since all the way back in 2006, and having developed a love of audio fiction, decided to pursue narration. He has since professionally recorded and produced one audiobook, as well as a previous story for Pseudopod, and is available for contract on ACX (hint hint). Though he hails from the grim primordial forests of northwestern Connecticut, he currently lives in Niigata, Japan where he teaches English.

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How like a god of the Epicureans is the audience, at a time like this! Powerless to alter the course of events, yet better informed than the characters, they might rise to their feet and cry out, “Do not!”—but the blinding of Oedipus would still ensue, and the inevitable knot in Jocasta’s scarlet would stop her breathing still.

But no one rises, of course. They know better. They, too, are inevitably secured by the strange bonds of the tragedy. The gods can only observe and know, they cannot alter circumstance, nor wrestle with ananke.

My host is already anticipating the thing he calls “catharsis.” My search has carried me far, and my choice was a good one. Phillip Devers lives in the theater like a worm lives in an apple, a paralytic in an iron lung. It is his world.

PseudoPod 487: Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Nyarlathotep

by Nick Mamatas

NICK MAMATAS is the author of several novels, including the Bukowskiesque zombie novel THE LAST WEEKEND and the murder-mystery at a Lovecraft convention title I AM PROVIDENCE. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Lovecraft’s Monsters, BLACK WINGS II, FUTURE LOVECRAFT, and FUNGI, the journal of revolutionary letters known as SALVAGE, and many other venues. He is also published by Wildside Press – check them out!

“Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Nyarlathotep” originally appeared in FUTURE LOVECRAFT, by Innsmouth Free Press and later when Prime Books reprinted the entire anthology.

Cheyenne Wright is a freelance illustrator and concept artist. He is the color artist on the three-time Hugo Award winning steampunk graphic novel series Girl Genius, and co-creator of many other fine works; Including 50 Fathoms and the Ennie award winning Deadlands Noir for the Savage Worlds RPG. He has also produced graphics for Star Trek Online, the Champions MMO, and t-shirt designs for T.V.’s Alton Brown.

Cheyenne lives in Seattle with his wife, their daughter, and an ever growing stack of unpainted miniatures. In his spare time he is teaching himself animation, and narrates short stories for a variety of audio anthologies where he is known as Podcasting’s Mr. Buttery ManVoice ™

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Newspace was a lot like old space. Well, posters of old space stacked atop one another and constantly shuffled and re-shuffled. In the little waffle-iron spacecraft was the thunderous Niagara, any number of mansions on emerald hills, all piled up in a corner with Escheresque staircases going downwise and anti-spinward, marmalade skies and airships in the shape of giant, open-mouthed fish, the Pyramids of Egypt poking out from every horizon, and long, dark hallways in blue-and-purple neon everywhere, absolutely everywhere, as this is what the New Ones thought VR would look like, back when they were all children.

And the New Ones had fun playing like children. As it turns out, virtually all problems faced by Humanity, save the million-year war with the Old Ones, were resource problems. No Old Ones, no resources, no problems. Virtually no problems, anyway, which is an awful pun, it’s true. So, the New Ones spent their days naked and immortal, writing songs no fleshy ear could comprehend, inventing new languages to describe disembodied emotional states, engaging in virtual nucleic exchange and reproducing wildly to the humming databases, with beings unheard of and indescribable.

The waffle iron was busy, too. Zipping around space and whatnot, eating dark matter and printing copies of itself, in case something happened to it. And oh, yes, something was happening to it. Naturally, the poor little waffle iron didn’t quite understand that the something happening was the drive to laze-lathe meteoroids into replicas of itself. Oh, and then, within the guts of the waffle iron, ghosts started showing up everywhere, upsetting and terrifying the New Ones with their googly eyes and their siren howls. And they loved to eat the New Ones. Beautiful, tow-headed, pink children with cloth diapers and bows in their wispy hair. Lovely children with rich, brown skin and smiles to light up a room. Obnoxious children who sat on the couch all day, pretending to kill with their minds for fun. Children who flailed their hands about and slammed their heads against the wall because they saw the wrong kind of penny. Ghosts were indiscriminate—the ugly and the exquisite both were consumed, leaving naught but wrinkled husks behind.

You have to realize that words like eyes and children, and even husks, make little sense; it’s being dumbed down for you and the quaint bag of chemical reactions you keep in that bone bowl. We’re talking a density matrix, here. So, when a character is introduced, as one is about to be, understand that you’d be just as accurate, were you to imagine her as a blurry, yellow ball of light floating around in a black field, instead of as a person. Which is to say, you’d be much more accurate, after all.

Pseudopod 486: Hinterlands

by William Gibson

William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian speculative fiction novelist and essayist who has been called the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre. Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome” (1982) and later popularized the concept in his debut novel, Neuromancer (1984). In envisioning cyberspace, Gibson created an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. He is also credited with predicting the rise of reality television and with establishing the conceptual foundations for the rapid growth of virtual environments such as video games and the World Wide Web. Needless to say, Gibson is a major influencer to the existence of Escape Artists. “Hinterlands” originally appeared in Omni Magazine, October 1981

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, composer, and heliocentrist George Hrab has written and produced six independent CDs and a concert DVD; published two books; and has recorded hundreds of episodes of Geologic Podcast. George Hrab has traveled to four continents promoting critical thinking, science, and skepticism through story and song. George is considered one of the preeminent skeptic/science/atheist/geek-culture music icons currently living in his apartment.

The New York City premiere of George’s composition for string quartet and voice called “The Broad Street Score” will be on May 12th, 2016 at NECSS, the North East Conference for Science and Skepticism.

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When Hiro hit the switch, I was dreaming of Paris, dreaming of wet, dark streets in winter. The pain came oscillating up from the floor of my skull, exploding behind my eyes in wall of blue neon; I jackknifed up out of the mesh hammock, screaming. I always scream; I make a point of it. Feedback raged in my skull. The pain switch is an auxiliary circuit in the bonephone implant, patched directly into the pain centers, just the thing for cutting through a surrogate’s barbiturate fog. It took a few seconds for my life to fall together, icebergs of biography looming through the fog: who I was, where I was, what I was doing there, who was waking me.

Hiro’s voice came crackling into my head through the bone-conduction implant. “Damn, Toby. Know what it does to my ears, you scream like that?”

Pseudopod 485: Softly into the Morning

by Liz Colter

Your guest host this week is S. B. Divya the new Assistant Editor of Escape Pod.

Softly into the Morning is a Pseudopod Original. The title and the story were inspired by Sarah McLachlan’s song “Answer.” The line “Cast me gently into morning, for the night has been unkind” struck her as especially powerful. Being a speculative fiction writer, it inspired thoughts of what might constitute a truly “unkind” night and what the morning might bring. From there, the story took its own twists and turns as she wrote it.

Liz Colter lives in rural Colorado and spends her time off with her husband, dogs, horses and writing. She is a winner of the Writers of the Future contest and has also had stories published in places like Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, Urban Fantasy Magazine, as well as a story “Penance” here in Pseudopod. In longer works she has three completed fantasy novels. A full list of her publications and news of her writing can be found at lizcolter.com and you can check out some of her other stories as well as ones by S. B. Divya in the free ebook Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors.

Your narrator is Devin McLaughlin. Devin is a man from South-western Ontario who has a harder-than-normal time of writing about himself from the third-person perspective. This seemingly simple task utterly baffles him. Also, he sometimes narrates things. Devin has a few narrations upcoming on the podcast Tales to Terrify. Should you be interested, you can follow his narration work by carefully peering into his bedroom window at night. Devin just asks that you please keep it down, as people inside are trying to sleep.

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The shimmering glow of Sol appeared at the edge of Mercury. Jack watched the growing crescent of fiery gold from the best seat in the house, the center console of the large forward window. The privilege had been coincidental, the consequence of a flight engineer needing less space for screens than the captain or navigator.

The window tinting wasn’t keeping pace with the increasing light and Jack’s eyes watered from the intensely focused brightness. Still, he couldn’t turn away from that life-giving light amidst all this vast darkness. Dawn had always affected Jack. Even at home in the Florida Keys he never failed to be up in time to see the sunrise. And today he was closer to the sun than any human in history.

“Time to earn our pay,” Wainwright said. The captain had been standing at Jack’s left to watch the spectacle, but tugged himself now into his chair and snapped his harness into place. A muscle twitching below one eye was the only telltale that the unflappable Edward Wainwright was as tense as his crew.

Earning their pay was the least of their worries, Jack knew; if the sails didn’t deploy, it was doubtful any of them would live to see Earth again.