Tag Archive: “podcastle”

Story Synopses for May 26

I have backlog of notes on story podcasts. Here are limerick synopses for a scant few of them:

Remembrance Is Something Like A House by Will Ludwigsen (via Podcastle 100)

A house that was home is forsaken;
abandoned in shame, it awakens.
With a creak and a lurch
it sets off on a search
to put right what once was mistaken.

Acceptable Losses by Simon Wood (via Pseudopod 191)

Mission’s the same, boys – collect our dead
with shovels and buckets and dread.
Many battles are won
and the Queen thanks you, son,
for her best weapon needs to be fed.

Intelligent Design by Ellen Klages (via Drabblecast 159)

In the kitchen with Grandma, baking,
young God learns the way of world-making.
“A pinch, a touch – you see?”
But He breathes life care-free;
another batch of bugs is waking.

Posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010.

Words About Words I Done Heard

Regulars by Frank Oreto (via Pseudopod 158)

Business is good at Jimmy’s bar, Drakes –
a regular crowd’s all that it takes.
They pay cash to devour
loners caught after hours –
it’s money, but still Jimmy’s heart breaks.

You have to make sacrifices if you want to succeed in this business.

AtroposWoman Called Witch by Doug McIntire (via Dunesteef 145)

What shape does Fate take
to end men in her embrace?
All will see her face.

The narrator witnesses an old woman intervene in a bank robbery. He is a petrified hostage; she is grandmotherly, inexplicably calm, and in one brief but decisive moment, terrifyingly fearsome. She is called Witch, and one day you may know her, too.

What Fluffy Knew by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (via Drabblecast 153)

Fluffy, housecat queen,
spies wee earwig invaders
and begins the hunt.

Ignore your vet – the tabloids are right. If your pets suddenly become vicious, it’s due to mind control parasites deployed by little flying saucers. Fortunately, Fluffy the domestic diva was present to observe the miniature aliens plant their bugs in her tomcat housemates’ ears. As anyone who’s ever played with a cat knows, there are certain threats our feline friends are well equipped to confront – so the outlook is grim for invaders who make such fun-to-chase morsels.

Film-Makers of Mars by Geoff Ryman (via StarShipSofa Aural Delights 57)

Dusty reels; real FX.
John Carter of Mars conquers
on film and in flesh.

Footage from an early silent movie adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series surfaces at a film festival. In some ways it is predictably dated, but the apparent age of the actors and the astounding quality of the special effects – from a grisly slaying to the fluid motion of the indigenous Tharks – raise doubts about the film’s vintage. As the protagonist investigates, however, he finds evidence that the footage is entirely authentic.

Bridesicle by Will McIntosh (via StarShipSofa Aural Delights 124)

The lost are not gone, just kept on ice:
brides are in stock, revived for a price.
Each date’s a taste of life
for each unwed dead wife –
and also, one, whose love lies alike.

As if cryogenic preservation wasn’t creepy enough, imagine adding a dose of mail order marriage to the mix. That’s the world of Bridesicle, where the dead may find themselves arrayed like so many flavors in an ice cream freezer to be sampled by wealthy suitors. It’s hard enough to repeatedly suffer a few minutes of rusty reanimation just to be rejected and returned to death, but Mylee, the main character, must reconcile this desperation with her disinterest in the men who could fund her resuscitation.

A Light in Troy by Sarah Monette (via PodCastle 94)

“There is still a child!”
She is chattel, but she guides,
and he holds her hand.

An aged master, more scholar than menace, beholds with mercy the hope of a woman whose people his crushed. Hope springs eternal.

The Identifier by Mark Patrick Morehead (via Pseudopod 184)

We who remain sort
history’s debris in bins,
and yet still we sing.

The human spirit prevails, even as our pitiable remainder is made to sift through the rubble of civilization. A tabletop IED, a bottle of wine, and a scratched Tchaikovsky CD make for one last wonderful evening in hell.

Posted on Thursday, March 25th, 2010.

More Haiku Reviews

These aren’t really reviews so much as partial summaries (and spoilers).

Fuel Pressure by Dennis Egan (via Variant Frequencies 90)

Fatal asteroid
inspires escape for a few;
justice, undermined.

I view this as a parable about the value of communication and the risks of sabotage. Do you fully understand the actions and intents of those you would oppose, and have you made your meaning clear to those who would oppose you? Sometimes, the aims of rebellion can be achieved through cooperation. And sometimes not.

Naught but Ash by Anne Stringer (via Variant Frequencies 92)

No smell of spilled blood
plants doubts about a hanged man,
death, and those he killed.

Mob rule has no patience for details – and the Devil is in the details.

Got Milk? By John Alfred Taylor (via Pseudopod 160)

In gross communion,
doctor, wife, and world drink;
man’s black milk compels.

Some have asked why men have nipples. Here, the question is what a man should do if he sprouts a third or fourth and it starts to secrete some sinister oily goo. I’m not really sure; seeking medical care seemed like a good idea, but when your condition subverts most sensibilities and exerts dominion over all you know, your options are limited.

What’s realistic about this delightfully perverted dairy tale is that the real fright isn’t the abomination but the actions of the normal people who must confront it.

Chinatown by Greg van Eekhout (via PodCastle Miniature 47)

A thousand-year soup
brings business and greedy fiends;
brothers save the broth.

I love the idea of a soup that’s been kept simmering for generations. Eat some of it and add something to it every day; think of all the experience represented in that concentrated flavor.

Anyway, when the antagonist and his simian aides come to demand the soup, the cafe’s proprietor calls on her many brothers to defend the desired pot. Although they are each introduced with some peculiar power, it is simple smarts that save the day. In this way, the story’s neat delivery of a lesson reminds me of a fable.

Moral: common sense often offers a clever solution.

Wind from a Dying Star by David D. Levine (via Escape Pod 238)

Return home, Old John:
your tribe accompanies you,
in hunger, to Earth.

Here’s a far-future story of spacefaring “humans” who travel back to their place of ancestral origin, enduring hardship in order to provide companionship for their eldest, Old John. Sacrifice and revelations ensue.

What is the balance of material and emotional needs? The characters in Wind from a Dying Star must negotiate physical and social scarcity. As Escape Pod host Steve Eley notes, “the greatest crime in this tribe is to allow anyone to be alone.” Space is big, and it is mostly empty.

The Gambler by Paolo Bacigalupi (via StarShipSofa Aural Delights 121)

Celebrity pap
gives serious news long odds
in blitz media.

Initially I was concerned that this was one of those cyberpunk packets that reads like a gadget blog (you know the type – all hot and bothered about the internet, software licenses, and human interface accessories), but I plowed ahead and found it to be a good – even touching – story.

A gentle Laotian journalist, escaped from an oppressive regime, writes thoughtful environmental articles for a media conglomerate more interested in traffic generated by Russian rap scandals. Chastised, he has an opportunity to cash in on exclusive access to a Laotian starlet. But, annoyed by her complicity in the cycle of trash news, and inspired by his father, a gambler and resistance pamphleteer, he bets on another article about botany.

(Speaking of StarShipSofa, my Hugo post has attracted some discussion. I guess that’s what happens when you write something topical of broader interest than AppleScripts for Yojimbo. Hmm. Anyway, take a look!)

Posted on Sunday, February 28th, 2010.

Listen to fiction / instead of in-depth reviews / enjoy my haikus

The City Quiet as Death by Steven Utley and Michael Bishop (via Tor.com Story Podcast 9)

Don Horacio:
abandoned by God and Man,
mad as the old stars.

The universe reverberates in Horacio Gorrión’s ears, a grand clamoring neurosis of action, stasis, and scale. Counseled on one hand to find purpose through investment in the new physics of Genesis, and counseled on the other hand to accept the benevolent disinterest of a distant Prime Mover, Horacio ultimately succumbs to the briny discord of the squid in the locket.

Existential dread is the fundamental ingredient of Lovecraftian horror, and The City Quiet as Death delivers a compelling portrait of an aged bachelor overwhelmed by the incessant continuity of Creation. The well-realized setting of his Caribbean household provides plenty of calories – and the threat of tentacles is an appropriate garnish.

Morris and the Machine by Tim Pratt (via Drabblecast 150)

Today love grows cold –
travel back to set things right;
time is no arrow.

Morris is a tinker who has built something in the basement. His wife is become weary of his work and wary of his absences. Morris has made a great breakthrough, but it is a bittersweet victory. He returns from each test of his machine and of himself to find no progress towards his heart’s goal, which slips further away with each day.

Good story. Sad stories often are.

Biographical Notes To “A Discourse On The Nature Of Causality, With Air-Planes” By Benjamin Rosenbaum by Benjamin Rosenbaum (via Podcastle 90)

Aboard an airship,
the Plausible Fabulist asks
in whose plots we act.

Set in a fanciful alternate reality populated with zeppelins, assassins, and helpful mechanical Wisdom Ants animated by the Brahmanic field, this story’s endangered protagonist – a writer – considers how his protagonist – an inhabitant of a rational “materialist” world like ours – might reason his way out of such improbable peril. Through the lens of fiction, the fictional Benjamin Rosenbaum discerns a solution to his plight.

We, too, can view fiction as more than mere entertainment. Each story is a pattern; equipped with the memory of many patterns, more situations become recognizable and more challenges become tractable. This is how imagination enhances experience. (But don’t forget to vet intuition with reason.)

Posted on Saturday, February 13th, 2010.

Audio Fiction Limericks Volume 2

Catch ‘Em in the Act by Terry Bisson (via Tor.com Story Podcast 7)

There once was a dude whose name was Lou
who lived alone with nothing to do.
He bought a camcorder,
which caused some disorder,
yet after it all he still felt blue.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen ads for those Crimestoppers™ cameras myself. Catch ‘Em in the Act is written in a repetitive pattern pleasantly reminiscent of a folk story.

The Twa Corbies by Marie Brennan (via PodCastle 82)

Thanks to ravens whose speech he did dread,
a peddler found a knight who was dead.
He told the knight’s lady
who seemed a bit crazy;
later she died and birds ate her head.

Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010.

Reviews in Rhyme: Podcast Fiction Edition

Continuing the theme from yesterday’s book reviews, here are limericks about some short stories I listened to today. (Spoiler warning!)

Another End Of The Empire by Tim Pratt (via PodCastle 88)

The dark lord ruled the land with no ruth,
but his doom was to lose it to youth.
To escape prophesy,
he ruled graciously,
and in peace came the oracle’s truth.

Sometimes audio narrations make me cringe (especially when men attempt to deliver female dialogue in falsetto), but Cheyenne Wright’s reading of this story was great fun.

The Last Great Clown Hunt by Chris Furst (via Drabblecast 148)

On the Plains roam the tribes of the clowns,
the Bozos who were banished from towns.
A clown hunter-cum-cop
who’s tasked to the big top
meets his brother, the chief, which confounds.

I don’t like clowns, but I love the “native” clown names in this story, such as Runs With Scissors. Hilarious sound effects complement the somber telling of this tale.

The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles by Kij Johnson (via Tor.com Story Podcast 6)

In Japan lived a cat who was small
with her aunts by a gardened old hall,
but the earth shook and turned
and the garden was burned
so the cat ran away from it all.

The encounter with the monk at the end of this story nearly brought a tear to my eye. (Actually, it seems the narration was abridged, so the story continues after that scene. Fortunately, the beautifully-illustrated full text is available in a variety of formats.)

Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2010.