Category Archives: Podcast
By Eugie Foster
Read by Cori Samuel
The first time I see a new patient, I try to fix upon something distinctive or idiosyncratic about them as a mnemonic to keep them straight. Oftentimes, a physical quirk or peculiarity is more effective than any amount of note taking, and there’s nothing quite so embarrassing, not to mention unprofessional, as bringing up a salient point in a patient’s case history, only to discover that I’ve misremembered their background. I’ve often wondered if some purported cases of repressed memories have been due to overzealous efforts on the part of my less scrupulous compatriots to cover their gaffes.
However, I found myself struggling to identify anything memorable about the woman sitting across from me. Her features were unremarkable, neither attractive nor homely, and her choice in apparel was wholly generic in cut, color, and style. Even her voice was neutral, being neither high nor low in pitch or volume, and lacking any discernable accent. Frankly, her most remarkable feature was that she was utterly unremarkable.
I was so distracted by this deficiency that I found myself inattentive during our introductory interview, going through the motions of collecting her information with only half an ear. I admonished myself for my reprehensible negligence, and undertook to give her my undivided attention when she began telling me her reason for this consultation […]
By Rob Shelsky
Read by Rob Shelsky
They were all dead when we found them–all of them. We knew how they had died. Telltale clues were waiting there for us to discover, to painstakingly piece together, bit by horrible bit, and just as we had done twice before in two other solar systems. But why? That question haunted us. It stalked our every waking hour. Because, you see, there was a twin ghost to that question, and that was a foreboding, a dread as to what it all might mean.
Yet, we were careful never to speak of that fear. We never acted, for the most part, as if we were even aware of it. Each of us too afraid, I suppose, that if we did it would make it real, make it manifest. So, from that dark wellspring of anxiety, that potential prophecy surged a constant apprehension. It rankled daily in the pits of our stomachs. Its bitter bile mounted in our throats to sour our hopes, and magnify all our fears…
* * * * *
“There it is.” Javier, a stocky but soft-spoken man, was the first to see it. There was no missing his excitement. His voice vibrated with it, making it sound husky.
Our destination, an alien solar system, lay ahead of us. Its star glowed buttercup yellow on our view screen.
“It’s marvelous,” I said, speaking for everyone, I think, because all our eyes were alight with wonder, an almost greedy awe. And why not? After all, we were the very first, us three, to behold unknown worlds that orbited a sun other than our own.
Exploring it, however, would involve a number of relocations. These would be tricky because the Interstitial Drive, or ID as we called it, was not available this close to a star. We’d have to employ our secondary drive, which was matter-antimatter. It beat using chemical rockets, but still, it took time, precision, and much effort […]
By E. N. Wilson
Read by Jodi Krangle
As Bar Dan emerged at the top of the castle tower for the two hundred and forty-second time, pigeons bombarded him for the two hundred and forty-second time with their droppings, and then a shadow blotted out the sun.
Bar Dan looked up, prudently shielding his eyes with one hand, to discover that the shadow did not belong to a pigeon of unusual size as he had supposed. Instead, it was produced by a dragon of rather normal size–not that Bar Dan had ever seen a dragon, but when people kept describing something as “large as a house” or “looming like a mountain,” an impression formed that the something was pretty darn big. The small boy struggling in the dragon’s claws and screaming at the top of his lungs helped to add perspective.
“That looks like the Archmage’s son,” thought Bar Dan. “Too bad it isn’t a princess. A princess would have been perfect.”
The village elders had said “If you can’t rescue a princess, see if you can kill a man-eating giant with your bare hands. That should be worth something.” Bar Dan hadn’t seen a princess or a giant, even a vegetarian one, in the four weeks since he had graduated from barbarian finishing school with the top honor of Most Likely to Survive. The village had taken up a collection and raised enough furs to send him over the Dark Karpulth mountains into the civilized East in the hope that the East had a shortage of well-muscled young men able to wrestle a boar to the ground while looking good in a fur Speedo. His instructions were to travel to the capitol city of Kang-Res Dar, and then find a king or queen to hire him as champion. After that, he merely had to rescue a princess, collect an enormous reward, and then come straight home–doing a little pillaging if time permitted. […]
By Robert A. Madle
Read by Joe Dickerson
Allen Barton was a very imaginative young man. In fact, so imaginative was he that his neighbors and acquaintances doubted that he was entirely sane. But Allen Barton was far from being insane; at least he convinced himself of his sanity, and he had little consideration for the views of others, especially when it came to the question of just how mentally unbalanced he was. Anyway, he considered the majority of the people a little lower than morons, so why should he worry about what they thought?
Allan was what is commonly known as a dreamer. He would often lie awake, gazing at the stars and planets above him from his position in the fields surrounding his home. The “fact” that many of the heavenly bodies were inhabited appeared obvious to him, and he often speculated upon the types of life the various planets spawned. Someday, he often told himself, man, with his inventive genius, would be capable of exploring the farthest corners of the universe. And then he would, lapse into a brooding mood, brought about by the utterly unfortunate circumstances that had caused him to be born in the twentieth century […]