Four Escape Pod podcasts

Another set of podcasts, this time from Escape Pod, which podcasts science fiction stories. These are a little scattered in ordering. I grew dissatisfied with Google Listen’s (the default Android podcast catcher) features and particularly it’s user interface and switched to BeyondPod. BeyondPod, though the UI wasn’t exactly intuitive, worked much better once I got used to it. Super-easy, just not explained too well in the app. Anyway, BeyondPod had the ability to go back further than Listen did, so after listening to Infestation, the next bunch of podcasts were from months earlier.

Infestation by Garth Nix

Episode 222 contains Infestation by Garth Nix from the John Joseph Adams edited By Blood We Live, narrated by Geoff Michelli. The Adams anthology is vampire themed, and this story seems like what I would imagine a pretty typical vampire story to be. What I would imagine is a key phrase here, as I don’t really read much vampire fiction, the odd bribe to read Stephenie Meyer excepted. A bunch of semi-amateur vampire hunters go into a closed off zone where a nest of them have been discovered. For some reason vampire hunters get first dibs at them before the government levels the place with explosives. I don’t know why, but it does lead to certain plot twists that could not have happened without that caveat. One of the hunters is an old pro, the rest are relatives of vampire victims claiming blood. They fight. Mostly interesting for the interplay between the various hunter characters, but still about average overall. Love Michelli’s narration though. He has a very fluid voice that I like but that I haven’t heard in much audio fiction.

Will You Be an Astronaut? by Greg van Eekhout

Jumped back to Episode 202, which had Greg van Eekhout‘s Will You Be an Astronaut?, narrated by Christiana Ellis. I really didn’t like the narration here, but I don’t think it’s Ms. Ellis’ fault. The story is written as a pseudo child’s story, so Ms. Ellis reads it as if reading it to a class of small children, with the kinds of inflection that parents and teachers and librarians use with children. Maybe I’d make a bad parent because of it, but I never use that tone of voice or inflection with kids. I hated being talked to that way, and I hate talking to anyone that way. But that’s the way people do things with kids, so I can’t really blame Ms. Ellis.

The story itself is okay. As I noted, it’s written as a pseudo-children’s book, telling the story of an astronaut in the future. In that future, Latin America has taken the lead in space exploration after the failed Apollo moon mission (it made it there, but didn’t make it back). But astronauts aren’t so much explorers as they are young soldiers, because aliens are attacking Earth, and astronauts have to shoot them down. The hook isn’t so much the science fiction as the juvenile fiction style. One thing that comes through with that form is just how indoctrinating it is.

The Legend of St. Ignatz by Samantha Henderson

Episode 203 was The Legend of St. Ignatz by Samantha Henderson, read by Ray Sizemore. A less than honorable priest is stationed on an alien planet to minister to extraterrestrials that look like insects and also to plunder their resources, both for himself and for the church. Only things go terribly wrong. Bringing the Gospel to a foreign culture that doesn’t speak your language and doesn’t share your background is ripe for issues. A very solid story.

The Fifth Zhi by Mercurio D. Rivera

Episode 204‘s story comes from Mercurio D. Rivera, The Fifth Zhi read by Steve Eley. A clone (#5 of hundreds of Zhi’s) is part of a wave of humans attacking a giant stalk from space that’s landed on Earth and causing nightmares for humans. No one knows what it’s purpose is, but it puts up a force field to protect itself against the humans. The fifth Zhi is the only one to make it through; he carries a poison designed to kill the stalk if he can make it through. But despite the science fiction element, this is really a father-son story in an age of clones, not so much an alien story. Only the son is one of all of many nearly identical clones, bred for a singular purpose. That messes with familial bonds. I like this one, because it started off letting the reader think it was about one thing, but revealed itself to be something else by the end.

I’m going to need to figure out how to title these podcast roundup reviews, since they are going to start getting duplicative. But I’ll figure that out next time.

Categories: Short Fiction Reviews.

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