PseudoPod 859: We, the Ones Who Raised Sam Gowers from the Dead

We, the Ones Who Raised Sam Gowers from the Dead

by Cynthia Zhang

Yes, to answer your questions, we were the ones who did it; we were the ones who dabbled into the forbidden arts, who so casually threw away the good Christian values of our country for a flash of bloody vengeance. We are the ones you want, the ones who raised Sam Gowers from the dead.

Who were we, you ask? No one, really. We were baristas and booksellers and outreach directors for local nonprofit organizations, ad copyists and sales assistants and grad students in French and Francophone Literature. We worked nine-to-five or three jobs part-time or not at all, some of us the lucky beneficiaries of fellowships or wealthy older men, others perpetual couchsurfers or street corner philosophers with a talent for urban scavenging. We were amicable exes and messy polycules and complete strangers to each other, a smile at a bar, a shared glance at the farmer’s market, a million small signs that said I see you.

You too know what we are; the words are already on the tip of your tongue, itching to be let loose. Come on. Say it. We’ve heard it all before.

Not all of us knew Sam personally, but we all knew of him—the news cycle made sure of that, plastering endless images of his face on social media feeds and late-night TV. Sam Gowers: age nineteen, gangly in the ways of teenagers still new to adulthood. Dead in an alley two months before his next birthday, a drunken argument turned scuffle turned manslaughter. Crime of passion, the defense called it, their arguments lined with the raw taste of homophobia—what did Sam expect, really, skinny fey kid walking into a bar full of red-blooded American men? A dive bar to be fair, one of those places where newly out gaybies made out in bathrooms and college boys came to experiment with being heteroflexible, so really the presence of three straight frat boys was the anomaly, but still, what did Sam expect, trying to talk to men like that? Treating them as if they were like him, like they were—well. You know.

Do you need anymore? You know how this script goes. Queer kid, homophobic assholes, a few too many drinks on both sides. No possible outcome but a gay bash.

Still, there were small mercies. We were glad, when we read the police reports, that we had helped pay for top surgery last summer and that Sam had been on T long enough to be read as merely gay boy and not fake boy. Bad enough to be gay, but to be gay and trans is to invite another kind of violence, the kind meted out by men who think the lack of a dick means they’re entitled to a stranger’s body. Sam had long lashes and high cheekbones, the kind of delicate features made for music videos and photoshoots. In the aftermath, as the media misgendered and mischaracterized him, as his parents came to collect the body of the kid they’d kicked out, we clung to those mercies, telling ourselves that it could have been so much worse. A small salve for a pain, a bandage over the great bloody hole of our anger.

Overall, would we recommend necromancy? Not particularly. We too would have preferred less collateral damage, fewer buildings torched and storefronts smashed. That is what the headlines forget—that they were our schools too, our workplaces and bookstores and pizzerias with the cute bus boy who snuck us leftover slices after hours. Our communities, even if many of them would never truly recognize us. Magic is powerful, but it is also volatile, and necromancy is the most dangerous art of all. It takes far more than one life to bring back another, and even now, with so many of us in jail and on government watchlists, it will be years before the balance is paid—if, indeed, it ever can be.

But what else were we supposed to do?

We tried, you know. Did all the things you’re supposed to do when tragedy strikes—protested in front of City Hall and donated to official Gofundmes, Tweeted petitions and collected signatures outside the YMCA. We called our Senators even when they were America First jackasses who thought liberal education was turning children soft, because surely even they must be susceptible to public outcry, surely that was how democracy worked?

We were peaceful. We were law-abiding. We showed up, did the work, tried not to let the anger make us cruel, reminded ourselves that ideology and echo chambers could blind otherwise sensible people. All of us had someone to mourn, a loved one or a former favorite teacher turned conspiracy theorist with a few clicks of an algorithm. We were reasonable, we were reconcilable. We tried to reach across the other aisle.

And in the end, what? In the end, a police investigation that was little more than a character assassination, officers honing on every time Sam skipped school or showed up high to work. Coaches and family friends of the accused writing op-eds to the paper, long personal essays about Boy Scouts and football scholarships and promising young men who had made a few poor choices but were not bad, not really. It helped that the accused were all-American photogenic and could cry on camera, crocodile tears running down cheeks still rounded with baby fat. It helped that their daddies had money, could afford the best lawyers that money and a lack of morals could buy, men with no qualms about using legal precedent from a time where homosexuality was still classified as a mental illness to paint the act as justifiable panic and not murder.

In the end, this: all three of the accused acquitted of manslaughter, because even if it was three against one and Sam was a skinny scrap of a kid, the pocketknife in his jacket meant it was self-defense. Two hundred hours of community service so they could think about their actions, but no jail time, not when the accused were all so young—barely twenty, and white too, which made them practically children in the eyes of the law.

In the end, this: another of us in the dirt, Sam’s parents burying him in a dress and the name of a dead girl.

It was Sam’s cousin, Sasha, who came up with the idea. Sasha from the coffee shop, with the blunt self-cut bangs and the eye of Osiris tattooed on her ankle; Sasha, who used to smoke with her cousin on rooftops, who’d offered him a place on her couch after he first came out, a baby-faced teenager who still wore braces and cried at animal adoption ads. Sasha, who had known Sam when they were both chubby-cheeked, grubby-handed kids, downing pixie sticks by the handful and smearing their mothers’ makeup over their faces; Sasha, who had stroked his hair and patted his back during his first night of being black-out drunk, held his hand and brought him ice cream after his first heartbreak; Sasha, who had watched her cousin die on a thousand grainy YouTube screens, listened to weeks of debate over whether the men who kicked his ribs in had technically committed a hate crime or were just boys being boys; Sasha, who had stood beside us, spoke at the rallies, pleaded with the press to remember her cousin the way he was to us—not the high school dropout, not the teenage runaway, not the boy who stole chocolate bars and gum from Wal-Mart with the ease of a Dickens pickpocket. Sasha, who after all the television, was left with her apartment, a job that paid her a dollar above minimum wage, and a world without her cousin in it.

Some people when they grieve turn to alcohol and self-destruction, others to God or Buddha or alien cults promising a reprieve from life’s suffering. Sasha, she turned to necromancy.

Look. Sam’s death was tragic, but it wasn’t just that. It’d been a series of long, hard years—of marches and vigils, abortion bans and evictions and steadily rising rent. We’d attended town halls and turned up to local elections, campaigned for politicians who broke their promises once they were in power. If Sasha wanted to indulge in a little dark magic, who were we to stop her? There were plenty of us who sympathized, who were willing to join her. Hell, light a bonfire and bring some beer, and we might as well make an event out of it.

Grimoires and Lovecraft devotees will tell you that necromancy is an elaborate and delicate process, finicky as a chemical reaction with a dozen steps that have to be done just right if you don’t want the magic to blow up in your face. It’s possible they’re right—we certainly wouldn’t know. Those of us who dabbled in magic were hobbyists, Tarot aficionados and occasional purchasers of crystals. Whatever tattered paperback or obscure online forum Sasha plucked her spell from, however, was decidedly uninvested in pageantry. A few hairs, a withered tooth from childhood, a little blood, and a lot of anger—that was all it took in the end, really.

Mary Shelley, all respect to her, had it all wrong, as did all the movies after her. There was no flash of lightning, no sudden wind or shift in the air that told us everything had changed. We held hands, lit candles, chanted a few times until it felt like we’d done it right, and that was it. Sasha placed Sam’s favorite suit and bowtie on his grave, a quiet apology for being unable to stop his parents from burying him in silk and ribbons. A few of us stuck around afterwards, shooting the breeze and splitting spiffs, the type of shit we always did when a group of us met up like this. Eventually though, even the night owls drifted back home, leaving behind dried candle wax and cigarette butts in their wake.

It was not a dark and stormy night, but a bright summer morning when Sam Gowers rose from the dead.

When Sam Gowers walked out of Forest Park Cemetery into the city proper, no one noticed, not at first. No matter how times his face had been on television, Sam Gowers was still a skinny white boy—wearing rainbow suspenders and a floral bow tie scuffed up in grave dirt, but ordinary enough beyond that. The magic had been strong enough to paper over the start of decay, leaving Sam pale and peaky but otherwise human. White enough for no one to call the cops on him, disheveled enough for people to glance away when he approached, missing all the signs of decay.

Past the parking lots and the hipster boutiques Sam walked, the pizza places where we snuck pepperoni from vats and the coffee shops where we pumped syrup and packed espresso into filters for businessmen on their lunch break.

The first boy was inside a corner Target, a shopping basket in one hand and a roll of toilet paper in the other. CCTV captured it all: a grainy figure at the edge of the screen, blue hoodie and baseball hat, a red basket on his arm as he dawdled in front of the toiletries aisle. He did not look up when a boy in a ragged Goodwill suit walked into the frame, too intent on the choices of toothpaste before him to pay attention to anything else. Only when Sam Gowers was inches away, close enough for cold breath to ghost over warm skin, did the boy turn.

A stumble backwards, the basket and its contents spilling across tile. The camera quality was too poor to capture his expression and the video had no sound, but we imagine that his eyes must have widened, his mouth opening on an aborted scream of no or please or how.

On the camera, Sam stepped forward. The boy was tall, so much so that Sam must step on his tiptoes to reach him. One hand cupped his face, another wrapping around the back of his neck in a lover’s embrace. For a moment they stood like that—two boys inches from each other, a clandestine moment caught on grainy videotape.

And then, with strength he never had in life, Sam twisted, not stopping until he reached a full three hundred sixty degrees.

There is a moment after something monumental happens, a pause as the world works to catch its breath. Blood dripped down Sam’s shirt, garish in the fluorescent light, but with the surveillance cameras the only witness, the store continued to quietly buzz around them.

Then Sam stepped out of frame, making his way past customers towards the front of the store, and the world exploded into light and noise.

Someone pointed; someone screamed. Heads turned; phone cameras slid to life. A visiting suburbanite fainted. The security guards, stupefied at first, sprang into life, reaching for tasers and shouting requests for backup into crackling walkie-talkies.

Walking steadily forward, Sam Gowers paid them no attention. A trigger-happy cop shot at him. The bullet slid through Sam like sound through water, ricocheting off the sidewalk by the Aeropostale and making a group of teenagers scream. A brave Samaritan charged him, fists raised, but his punches simply went through Sam, left him gasping with ice-blue skin as Sam strode forward. What, after all, is pain to the dead?

Sam had been a gentle kid, but death had no space for gentleness. Those brave enough to get close were shouldered aside like ragdolls, props ignored and unnoticed. Eventually, they backed away, a small circle of spectators terrified and unable to look away.

The second boy was at a gym, AirPods in and cutting him off from the world. Perhaps someone should have predicted that Sam Gowers would head for him, should have tried to warn him. Perhaps one of the onlookers, filming live to Instagram as they trailed after Sam’s phosphorescent blue footsteps, should have tagged him in their Tweets and Insta stories so that he could know what was coming. Perhaps none of us wanted to.

There was the smell of smoke and sparks in the air, a carnival excitement mixed to near intoxication. Sam was our orchestra conductor, our parade marshal, our pied piper leading us to the pier, and we could do nothing but follow.

It was a gathering crowd of us that made our way into the Gold’s Gym, past the absent security guard and crowds of white women practicing downward dog. We were not quiet; we were not unobtrusive. Still, there was a lot that can be covered by headphones and exertion, and with music in his ears and twenty-pound dumbbells in each hand, it is little wonder that the second boy did not notice us at first.

When he saw Sam’s face reflected in the mirror, the color fell from his face like the weights crashing by his feet.

Macho man, the boy threw a punch, clearly expecting what had worked in life to translate over into death. The blow landed like a pebble tossed into a pond—Sam did not waver, only continued implacably forward. That was when he tried to run.

He didn’t get very far. Sam’s entourage was thick by then, and even if they had been sympathetic, he was slick with sweat from running for an hour already, and Sam Gowers had all the patience of the dead.

Amidst the gasps and screaming, you could hear the beginnings of a cheer, feel the slow swelling of something giddy pulsing through the crowd. Yes, yes, this was happening; yes, yes, at last.

Blood splattered in Pollock patterns across his sleeves, Sam pushed his way out the gym down and down the streets, picking up stragglers as he went. Someone found an empty beer bottle, doused a rag in gasoline, and threw the burning cocktail at the police station. Someone cheered.

The last boy had barricaded himself in his apartment, a shotgun in one hand and a cleaver in the other.

If he was smart perhaps, he could have gotten into a car or hopped on a plane to fly cross-country. That might have bought him time—months, even. Perhaps in that time the US government would have been able to figure out a defense, put together an elite team of magicians and exorcists to defuse an avenging corpse.

But Sam’s killers were stubborn tough guys, certain in their ability to lone cowboy through all obstacles. They had grown up on zombie movies and survivalist fantasies, one man and his shotgun against the world. They were men, and they would not run.

Helicopters whirred ahead, the news crews struggling to keep up with the story as it unfolded—there was an armed shooter on the loose? No, reports indicated that no gunshots were fired at the scene. A knife maybe, or an inmate from rehab center down on Downing? On the list of probable news stories they had expected to break that morning, none of the journalists would have put down supernatural vengeance from beyond the grave. It took a while for the larger media outlets to believe it, and by the time CNN and Fox sent reporters, the event was already trending on Twitter.

At the train platform, a few commuters glanced as Sam jumped the turnstile, but none spared him more than a moment’s notice. There was dirt on Sam’s face and dried splotches of brown blood on his suit, but he was quiet and not visibly high or aggressive, and this made him of no more note than the rats scuttling between the tracks. The crowd that followed him could have been anyone—a group of tourists on a bar crawl, groupies on their way to a concert, the inebriated aftermath of a sports game. Unless they approached you, a few rambunctious travelers were less important than the name of the upcoming stop.

It was not far. A townhouse in the better part of town, where the legacy admits and richer college students could afford to live. Perhaps if the boy had been in his family home in the suburbs that day, he would have had time to formulate a plan beyond bunkering down for a last stand. But there had been a DKA party that weekend, and he had been sleeping off the last of a hangover as Sam clawed his way up through wood and grave dirt.

Sam ripped the front door off its frame, and headed towards the kitchen, where the last of his killers crouched with a rifle beneath the counter.

He shot at Sam. Odd thing about people—even after you watch something fail a million times on live TV, you still believe that it must be different with you, that the rules of the world would right themselves for you. The bullets ghosted through Sam Gowers, as ineffectual as they had been hundreds of times before. The cleaver slid through his shoulders in butter-smooth strokes, but the knife came up with no blood, flesh beneath splitting apart and rippling back together like gelatin.

That was when the boy came to his senses and broke for the street.

Outside, there was a circle of us, and while the boy still had the knife in hand, we were not unarmed either—bricks and boards we’d picked up from the side of the road, batons taken from fallen police officers and trash lids stolen as impromptu shields.

He wet himself, in the end. This is not a story they will tell or show on TV and in your newspapers, nothing that will be mentioned by the pundits and preachers ready to make martyrs out of Sam’s killers. Twenty years old as he stared fearful into the face of certain death, perhaps he felt true remorse in that moment, a real knowledge of what he had done. If he been allowed to live, perhaps he would have been a changed man, one who did not see differences and automatically condemn them.

Mercy, though, is a quality for the living. Death has no time for what-ifs or promises for next time, only the cold, hard parity of scales weighed and balanced.

A simple twist of the wrist sideways, and there, that was it. The neck bent askance, a spine snapped neatly into two, and all the terror and hate dissipated, leaving nothing but a sad sack of meat behind.

The clock struck midnight. The doormen changed to fluff and fleas, the carriage reverted to rotting pumpkin flesh, and the creature that wore Sam Gowers’s face turned to dust.

Lucky for Sam Gowers, really.

In many ways, the aftermath proceeded as it always did. Whether it was a school shooting or a burning school, we’d all lived this script before: a body on the floor, and the cops all shaking their heads and carefully wording their statements for the press. A risk of the job you know, sad but you can’t help it, just the way things are. Our thoughts and prayers to the families of the deceased.

Except this time, this was not a gun or a knife or even anthrax, something tangible and understandable. This time, the weapon was magic, and no one knew how to talk about that.

In the Before—before Sam Gowers, before necromancy so rudely announced its return to the realm of the possible—magic had been permissible because it was small, because it was manageable. Magic was party tricks and white bunny rabbits, Buffy and dark-eyed goths who put too much stock in Tarot cards. Magic might put out good vibes or help your backache, but it did not raise men from the dead and burn down a third of downtown. We were reasonable people, after all; we lived in a reasonable world, one where justice was served according to the laws made by powerful white men and upheld by their powerful white descendants.

And if a group of disgruntled queers could raise a vengeful dead boy from the grave, then what next? Would the families of children shot by the police start plotting next, bringing an army of corpses to bear on our most precious institutions? Would the men who spent sixteen hours at assembly lines begin cursing their supervisors, striking billionaires in their clean California mansions dead with a word?

God, we hope so. Perhaps they will be skeptical at first—most of us, when we showed up at the cemetery that night, didn’t believe in magic either. When we chanted the spell, it was the way we threw darts at pictures of politicians and cut ex-lovers out of photos: because it was something to do, a ritual that helped us feel less powerless against a world so large and hostile to our existence. Dear God, or goddess, or Judy Garland, our Lady of Lost Causes and Tragic Ends. Give us today strength, grace, the power to move through this moment, another tragedy in a string of tragic deaths. And amen, and onwards to the next protest or the DSA meeting, to another day of faking customer service smiles and calling our state representatives with the hope that they might listen. With the exception of Sasha and some of the ex-evangelical kids, none of us actually thought it would work.

And then, of course, it did. And then, of course, the panic.

They sentenced Sasha to twenty-five years in prison two weeks ago. Less time than what the mobs had wanted, but with no extant laws on witchcraft, the prosecutor had struggled to come up with charges that would stick. Some of us, those with longer histories with the police or more melanin in our skin, have since joined her.

But there are too many of us, too many only tangentially involved or at least smart enough to hide the evidence. And even after the dust had cleared, we are still there—your baristas and sales associates, the cashier whose smile twitches just so when another angry mother asks why Barnes and Nobles carries so much woke YA propaganda.

Oh, you can jail us, and you can kill us. But death is not the end, and there will be more of us after, legions and legions of the dead and living with an undying grudge against your neat order—impervious to bullets and curses and pleas for civility, driven by nothing but the putrefying anger of the grave.

Do you regret it now? Are you afraid?

Host Commentary

PseudoPod, Episode 859 for March 31st, 2023.

We, the Ones Who Raised Sam Gowers from the Dead, by Cynthia Zhang [Sin-thee-ya Jah-Ahng (Zhang is one syllable, to my Western ears, more “chung” with a ringing inflection – Kat]

Narrated by Serah Eley; hosted by Kat Day and audio by Chelsea Davis

Hey everyone, hope you’re all doing okay. I’m Kat, Assistant Editor at PseudoPod, your host for this week, and I’m excited to tell you that for this week, and in particular for Transgender Day of Visibility, we have

We, The Ones Who Raised Sam Gowers from the Dead, by Cynthia Zhang.

This story is a PseudoPod original.

Author bio:
Cynthia Zhang is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture at the University of Southern California. Her novel, After the Dragons, was published with Stelliform Press in 2021, and was shortlisted for the 2022 Ursula K. LeGuin Award in Fiction as well as the 2022 Utopia Awards in the category of Utopian Novella. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Solarpunk Magazine, Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth, Kaleidotrope, On Spec, Phantom Drift, and other venues. She is on the web at and cz_writes on Twitter. As always, check for links.

Narrator bio:
Our narrator this week is Serah Eley. Serah sent us this bio: Serah Eley is the original producer, editor and host of Escape Pod. She mispronounced her name as Steve Eley at the time, but has since realized that life is much more fun as a woman, and came out as transgender in 2015. Serah lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her two spouses (she prefers “spice”), Sadi and Cat. So if there were ever any betting pools on what happened to Steve: the dark-horse winner is “changed sex and joined a committed lesbian love triangle.” She is, obviously, still Having Fun.

And now we have a story for you, and we promise you, it’s true.


Well done, you’ve survived another story.

And what a story. I pulled this out of the pile in September 2022, which I mention because you might imagine, given everything that’s happened over the last few weeks, that we commissioned it especially for today.

We didn’t. Sometimes the real world just does come together like that.

When I first read this story six months ago I commented that there were, “beautiful turns of phrase and a lot of unbridled fury.”

As I re-read the story for this hosting slot, that fury was back, even stronger than before. This part, especially: “We were peaceful. We were law-abiding. We showed up, did the work, tried not to let the anger make us cruel. All of us had someone to mourn, a loved one or a former favorite teacher turned conspiracy theorist with a few clicks of an algorithm.”

Oh good lord yes. And haven’t we seen that play out?

On March 15th this year, many outlets reported that JK Rowling, one of most famous authors of all time, as saying about trans people: “I am fighting what I see as a powerful, insidious, misogynistic movement, that has gained huge purchase in very influential areas of society.” and “time will tell whether I’ve got this wrong.”

Then, on March 17th, in Melbourne, about 30 neo-Nazis turned up to side with so-called gender critical protesters when the British activist Kellie-Jay Keen – also sometimes known as Posie Parker – held an event in the city. We know they were neo-Nazis because the were not hiding their affiliation: they marched along Spring Street near the Victorian parliament performing Nazi salutes. They also held signs calling transgender people offensive names – the photographs are easy to find if you want to see for yourself.

Later, photographs emerged of so-called gender critical women, otherwise known as TERFS, talking to, taking photos with, and even shaking hands with the neo-Nazi men. On social media, they tied themselves in increasingly complicated logical knots as they tried to justify or deny the apparent connection.

They argued that all kinds of people agreed with them – that some of those people happened to hold other, unpleasant, views was merely unfortunate coincidence and that everyone must “keep our eye on the ball,” and “stop shitting on each other”. They complained that the whole thing was, yet again, women being asked to apologise for the actions of men.

My personal favourite, and I do hope my tone is obvious, was, “you must realise how evil your ideology is when even Nazis come out to protest against you, right?”

Ah yes, the Nazis, who famously respected and supported all members of society. “You’re fighting them and therefore you must be worse than they are,” is one HELL of a take, isn’t it?

I am inclined to think that if you find yourself on the side of Nazis, it’s time to ask whether it’s less a case of “time will tell” and more a case of “time has told, AND YOU. PICKED. WRONG.”

In her speeches Kellie-Jay Keen screeches: “they hate us because we’re old,” and “I want to tell each and every one of you young women, you will become us!”

I am, if the internet is to be believed, a handful of years older than her and, for the record, cis. And I. Have not. Become her. And I am not alone. She does not speak for me, nor many other women I know just like me.

In this story, We, The Ones Who Raised Sam Gowers From The Dead, by the incredibly talented Cynthia Zhang, restitution comes in the form of necromancy and violence. And I get it.

But at the same time, the real world, the one that we have to live in, has seen more than enough pain and hatred. It would seem that actual Nazis parading down a street in broad daylight, protected by police, has shocked quite a few people who were, until recently, doing a lot of well-there-are-two-sides-ing. The Australian state of Victoria has said it will ban the Nazi salute. Let’s hold a tiny flame of hope in our hearts.

And because I like to be hopeful – it’s that or endless screaming after all – I’m going to relate two more tiny anecdotes:

I was a teacher for many years and, just before I left, I had a sixth-form (for my American friends that’s 11–12th grade) tutor group. The school was celebrating pride week, and my students said to me: “why are we doing this, miss? It’s just NORMAL.”

And it was normal, for them. Same-sex civil partnerships became law in 2005 in the UK – same-sex marriage came later in 2013, but that was a nuance that didn’t matter much to these 17-year-olds in 2019. The point is they couldn’t remember a time when same-sex relationships weren’t accepted and normal. They certainly couldn’t remember a time when they were illegal, and LGBTQ people lived in fear.

They are the young men, and women, that Kellie-Jay Keen is spitting her poison at, and I do not think they’ll give up the world they grew up in so easily. And GOOD FOR THEM.

And finally one more: on International Women’s Day this year I listened to my boss talk about attending pride marches 30 years ago. “I don’t like what’s happening now,” I admitted.

“We fought it once,” she said, “we will fight it again. And we’ll win again.”

Sometimes reality comes together neatly, and sometimes it doesn’t, but stories tell us love wins, in the end. Oh, maybe not in horror stories, but they are warnings, we have a duty, all of us, to make sure the world doesn’t become one of those.

Stay safe. Love to every single one of you that listens to our stories, week after week.

What did you think of this story? If you’re a Patreon subscriber, we encourage you to pop over to our Discord channel and tell us.

And on the subject of subscribing and support, PseudoPod is funded by you, our listeners. We pay everyone, and we’re very proud of that, but it relies on your generosity. As always, if you can, please go to and donate by clicking on “feed the pod”. If you can’t afford to do that, and we get it, times are tight – then please consider leaving reviews of our episodes, tweeting about them, or generally making a noise on whichever form of social media seems the least awful this week. And if you like merch – who doesn’t – Escape Artists has a Voidmerch store with a huge range of fabulous hoodies, t-shirts and other goodies. The link is in various places, including our pinned tweet. Check it out!

PseudoPod is part of the Escape Artists Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and this episode is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license. Download and listen to the episode on any device you like, but don’t change it or sell it. Theme music is by permission of Anders Manga.

Next week we have – this is going to be fabulous – Time Enough at Last, by Lyn Venable. Narrated by Andrew Leman, hosted by Alasdair Stewart with audio production from Chelsea Davis.

See you soon, folks, take care, stay safe.

About the Author

Cynthia Zhang

Cynthia Zhang

Cynthia Zhang is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture at the University of Southern California. Her novel, After the Dragons, was published with Stelliform Press in 2021, and was shortlisted for the 2022 Ursula K. LeGuin Award in Fiction as well as the 2022 Utopia Awards in the category of Utopian Novella. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Solarpunk Magazine, Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth, Kaleidotrope, On Spec, Phantom Drift, and other venues. She is on the web at and cz_writes on Twitter.

Find more by Cynthia Zhang

Cynthia Zhang

About the Narrator

Serah Eley

Serah Eley is the original producer, editor and host of Escape Pod. She mispronounced her name as Steve Eley at the time, but has since realized that life is much more fun as a woman, and came out as transgender in 2015. Serah lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her two spouses (she prefers “spice”), Sadi and Cat.

So if there were ever any betting pools on what happened to Steve: the dark-horse winner is “changed sex and joined a committed lesbian love triangle.” She is, obviously, still Having Fun.

Find more by Serah Eley