Escape Pod Shortlist – Part 4 – 280-380

Many of these episodes take us to different settings or give us somewhat different characters. This might seem like a stupid thing to say, of course science fiction takes you to different places – but I feel like this stretch of 100 episodes was particular diverse in setting and characters. Here are the twenty-four I’ve shortlisted from this group.

On A Clear Day You Can See All the Way to Conspiracy – Written by Desmond Warzel, narrated by Joshua McNichols

This story, which is told by a radio talk show host, immediately brought to mind the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Then I looked up the respective dates, and it seems that this story came first!

The ’76 Goldwater Dime written by John Medaille and narrated by Norm Sherman

I thought this story was quite a lot of alternative history/alternative timelines fun.

Amaryllis written by Carrie Vaughn and narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir

A story from a slightly dystopian future where the authorities regulate pretty much everything in order to keep the human population within Earth’s bio-capacity.

Episode 302 Flash Extravaganza

This episode includes three flash fiction stories, London Iron by William R. Halliar (narrator Andrew Richardson) Wheels of Blue Stilton by Nicholas J. Carter (narrator Christian Brady) and
Light and Lies by Gideon Fostick (narrator- Mur Lafferty)

[SPOILER ALERT] I have never really understood the drawing power of a certain infamous serial killer who lurked in Whitechapel in 1888, so the first in the collection, despite being really well presented, didn’t really entertain me. The second in this little collection though, was quite nice fun, and the third was also nice.

Midnight Blue – Written by Will McIntosh and narrated by Paul Haring

This is a nice “kid safe” story that’s not just enjoyable for kids!

The Faithful Soldier, Prompted – written by Saladin Ahmed and narrated by Rajan Khanna

Receiving strange messages, a veteran of a future war sets out on the road to Cairo, hoping to save his wife from a slow death.

Nightbird Soaring – written by T.L. Morganfield and narrated by Mat Weller

In the future of an alternate world where Hernan Cortes and the Conquistadors were defeated and the citizens of the Aztec Empire explore the galaxy, a boy is dedicated as a future sacrifice to the Gods. When he falls in love as a young man, he begins to question the necessity that he in particular be sacrificed…

Movement – written by Nancy Fulda and narrated by Marguerite Kenner

A girl with a neurodiversity that her parents can’t understand tries to communicate her desires as they contemplate an experimental ‘treatment.’ What’s especially good about this story is that there isn’t really a ‘bad guy,’ there’s just different people with different ideas.

Site 14 – written by Laura Anne Gilman and narrated by Mat Weller

What if, instead of a Space Race, there had been an Ocean Race? This is an old-fashioned-y adventure tale set in such a world, on an ocean-exploring station.

The Ghost of a Girl who Never Lived – written by Kelly Kehrli and narrated by Mur Lafferty

Devour – written by Ferrett Steinmetz and narrated by Dave Thompson

This is not a light listen, as you are warned in the intro, and it is perhaps just as easy to classify as “horror” instead of science-fiction, but it is one of those stories where I found myself recognizing it’s emotional power even if some of it I didn’t believe/agree with.

The Eckener Alternative – written by James L. Cambias and narrated by Mur Lafferty

This one, on the other hand, is pretty fun. It’s got time travel and zeppelins.

Counting Cracks – written by George R. Galuschak and narrated by Mat Weller

When the mind-melting extra-terrestrials invade, only the neurodiverse shall be left to defeat them.

Run, Bakri Says – another written by Ferrett Steinmetz and narrated by Mur Lafferty

Although it’s not as dark as Devour, this is a gritty exploration of what happens when you’re placed in a loop of violence.

Paper Menagerie – written by Ken Liu and narrated by Rajan Khanna

Warning, Warning, this story of magic, origami, culture-crossing and familial loss might make you cry.

Hawksbill Station – written by Robert Silverberg and narrated by Paul Tevis

This story dates back several decades. I thought it was nice of EscapePod to bring me a story that I didn’t know before from the past. I assume they obtained rights to it! This is a longer story than most EscapePod episodes, so you’ll have to settle in to it a bit. What is it about? Well, it’s set on a prison colony… in the distant past. Filled with (all male) political prisoners, who are losing their minds.

Food for Thought – written by Laura Lee McArdle and narrated by Christiana Ellis

Ok, this story is about a sentient cow on a reality TV show. Yes, it’s silly, just goooo with it.

Concussion – written by David Glen Larson and narrated by Mat Weller

Who knew brain damage could be so entertaining?

Lion Dance – written by Vylar Kaften and narrated by John Chu

This is the story of a guy and his brother living through a quarantine, which is really quite prescient. Written in 2012, and depicting a situation worse than the one we’ve got, but it has masks, prejudice against Asian Americans, economic problems for small businesses, over-crowded hospitals, violence in the streets, and the boredom of inactivity.

Shutdown – written by Corry L Lee and narrated by M.K. Hobson

A ballerina-turned-super-commando attempts to retrieve information vital for the future of the planet.

Real Artists – written by Ken Liu and narrated by Ann Leckie

As a fan of people being involved in films and art and work in general, this one is…kinda creepy. In a nice way. It’s a PG story (although young kids would probably be bored with it, it’s not a kid’s story.) But it’s still…kinda scary in a “Yeah, unfortunately, this seems to be the way we are being pushed” way.

Like a Hawk in its Gyre – written by Philip Brewer and narrated by Tim Crist

The bicycle is ….alive?

113 Feet – written by Josh Roseman and narrated by Mur Lafferty

A “what’s that mysterious thing in the ocean?” story, and also a story about a gal and her father.

The Caretaker – written by Ken Liu (again!) and narrated by Tom Rockwell

A man who has survived a stroke is given a robotic live-in aide, and reluctantly must learn to make peace with it.

I also want to mention that Episode 325 – Bad Dogs Escape, written by James Patrick Kelly and narrated/performed by A. Kovacs, John Cmar and Pamela Quevillon, is an example of a radio script, being produced as a radio drama, instead of a narration. Unfortunately, the story is a bit squicky, and the production and performances, while perfectly fine, do pale when compared to the professionalism of, say, BBC productions or old time radio. I can’t really recommend this, but I do commend EscapePod for giving radio drama a try.

I am nearly half way through listening to all the EscapePod episodes now! And still enjoying this adventure, fortunately.

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