A sadistic tale from a sadistic future on the Drabblecast this week; we bring you a Drabblecast original from People’s Choice Award winning author Robert Reed. Brought to you by the ever-sexy and captivating voice of the internet’s one and only Word Whore.
For Drabblecast Bsides subscribers only!
A work colleague suffers a stroke and gets whisked to Intensive Care, where an experimental neurostimulant is pumped into the blood. The drug can be therapeutic, and he recovers. Sort of…
On this week’s Drabblecast, Norm and NPR’s Chioke I’Anson bring you stories about the voices in your head, including “Go Between” by acclaimed writer China Mieville.
“Go Between” tells the tale of a man who, for several years, has been receiving strange instructions to deliver seemingly random items from location to location. Agonizing over effect his deliveries, he considers stopping, unsure whether the deliveries support a malignant cause or aid a good one.
“Something was in the bread. Morley was cutting, and on the fourth strike of the knife, the metal broke.
Behind him, his friends talked over their food. Morley pried the dough apart and touched something smooth. He had marked it with a scratch. Morley could see the thing’s colour, a drab charcoal. He frowned. It had been a long time since this had happened…”
China Tom Miéville is a British urban fantasy fiction author, essayist, comic book writer, socialist political activist and literary critic. He often describes his work as weird fiction and is allied to the loosely associated movement of writers called New Weird.
We also dive into a discussion about unsung women in Science Fiction, like Leigh Bracket and James Tipree Jr. Why use a pen name after all? And how might you use punctuation as sound?
Child, you sing all the time- when you’re walking, when you’re eating, even when you’re laughing. You people make the most beautiful music in the entire galaxy…
Drabblecast Director’s Cut Specials are special features where we bring back a story from the archives and play them uncut as Part 1. Then in Part 2 we replay the episode with bonus commentary from the author.
As a part of the Relaunch Prelaunch we revisit a listener favorite with special insight from the author, David D. Levine. Enjoy the “Director’s Cut: Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely.”
Our feature originally aired in Episode # 113 way back in 2009. It is a unique tale set inside a televised cartoon world. Our main character, Charlie the purple giraffe, has a disturbing and profound view of his world, one not shared by his best friend Jerry the orange squirrel. Floating question marks, colored word balloons, it may not be as light, airy, and humorous as appears at first blush.
Stick around or skip ahead to minute 22:00 for Part 2 of the episode, with Special Commentary and conversation with David and Norm.
A change came over Charlie then, like a cloud passing in front of the sun. He placed his hands flat in his lap, straightened his neck, and took a deep breath. “Us,” he said at last. “They read us.”
A delightful Drabble evokes a sage summation of the style from Norm: the mark of a good drabble is the rolling of the eyes and sounds of chuckling. The feature is a unique tale set inside a televised cartoon world. Our main character, Charlie the purple giraffe, has a disturbing and profound view of his world, one not shared by his best friend Jerry the orange squirrel. Floating question marks, colored word balloons, it may not be as light, airy, and humorous as appears at first blush.
“Pardon, Winston Sinclair, I am not here to sell you something. I am not here to buy something. Winston Sinclair, sir, I am here to apologize…”
Jeff Soesbe, graduate of The Viable Paradise Workshop, gives us a tender feature about a family of the future, and a unique robot with a special purpose. In Drabble News, Norm Sherman makes all the men jealous with the tale of a sexual powerhouse: a prolific, philandering Guinea Pig! Norm tells us more about the Mega-Beast Death-Match. Feedback is for Episode #70 “Reality Bites!” and Episode #71 “Perfect Down Further.”
The ghost in my attic is Margaret, but she lets me call her Margie. She was seventy-six years old when she died, and now that she’s a ghost she sits in her rocking chair day and night, holding a tiny baby in her arms. The baby rarely moves and almost never cries. His name is Gavin, and he is thin and wrinkly and covered in fine brown hair. Funny looking, as preemies often are, but sweet nonetheless. Margie keeps him wrapped in a blanket of cobwebs, which I think is disgusting. I’ve always hated spiders.
John was born with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, and he often wondered why. But as a boy, it was simply wonderful to have those abilities. He could lift his father’s tractor overhead before he learned to read. He could outrace a galloping horse. He couldn’t be cut or bruised or burned. He could fly…
My car was broken, and I had a class to teach at eleven. So I took the city bus, something I rarely do.
I spent last summer crawling through The Big Thicket with cameras and tape recorder, photographing and taping two of the last ivory-billed woodpeckers on the earth. You can see the films at your local Audubon Society showroom. This year I wanted something just as flashy but a little less taxing.
Perhaps a population study on the Bermuda cahow, or the New Zealand takahe. A month or so in the warm (not hot) sun would do me a world of good. To say nothing of the advance of science. I was idly leafing through Greenway’s Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. The city bus was winding its way through the ritzy neighborhoods of Austin, stopping to let off the chicanas, black women, and Vietnamese who tended the kitchens and gardens of the rich.
The bar is plenty kitschy: goofy statues made from coconuts everywhere and strings of shell beads hanging from the ceiling. I smile when I see a coconut sporting a pair of mouse ears made from scallop shells.
Tourists from all over the world are sitting around, ordering drinks non-stop because the sun is so hot at this time in Indonesia that you’ll wilt if you go outside and also because the drinks are so watered down. But that’s all right with me. I’m here to blend in, not to get drunk.
Between 1347 and 1450 AD, bubonic plague overran Europe, killing some 75 million people. The plague, dubbed the Black Death because of the black pustules that erupted on the skin of the afflicted, was caused by a bacterium now known as Yersinia pestis. The Europeans of the day, lacking access to microscopes or knowledge of disease vectors, attributed their misfortune to an angry God. Flagellants roamed the land, hoping to appease His wrath. “They died by the hundreds, both day and night,” Agnolo di Tura tells us. “I buried my five children with my own hands . . . so many died that all believed it was the end of the world.”
Today, the population of Europe is about 729 million…
I have a wife and a daughter. They are visiting me today. Their names– Alice. And Anna.
I can see, sort of. Everything is blurry. I am submerged in a coffin, a clear coffin with green water. There’s a tube in my mouth so that I can breathe, machine-like.
My legs are transparent. I see veins and arteries, thin muscles that look like spiderwebs bundled together. The doctors say my memory will be fuzzy. It’s supposed to come back quickly.
The theme of this Drabblecast Trifecta is “if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.” In Faithful Servant, a long-suffering butler’s poorly timed fit of temper is nearly the end of him. In Selfless, a man with an incurable illness goes to great lengths to ensure his wife and daughter enjoy a normal, happy life. In Prophecy Negotiations, a fateful farm boy learns that if you want to rise to a new station, it pays not to accept the first offer.
Another child was born in the great Mother, excreted from the tube protruding from the Nursery ceiling. It landed with a wet thud on the organic bedding underneath. Papa shuffled over to the birthing tube and picked the baby up in his wizened hands. He stuck two fingers in the baby’s mouth to clear the cavity of oil and mucus, and then slapped its bottom. The baby gave a faint cry.
“Ah,” said Papa. “She lives…”
This episode of the Drabblecast is about awakenings and transformations. In the drabble, not all its memories of a man’s life make sense to an undersea creature. In the feature, generations ago the survivors of a ruined world struck a deal with their Mother, an enormous creature merging flesh and technology. They live symbiotically within her, helping her do everything from navigating to digesting food while in return she provides them safety and sustenance. When Mother is injured beyond repair, starved for both food and fresh genetic material, she passes on a dying gift.
“You don’t have to talk like that to us, mister,” I said. “We know town-speak just fine.”
The man with the hat put it back on his head and smiled with a hint of embarrassment. “Sorry, folks. Sometimes it helps, you know, smooth the way.”
That man with the computer was lurking by the corner of our porch, holding it up and aiming some kind of camera at the eaves. He steered a pair of laser beams from one end to the other. I figured I’d let him do what he was doing if I didn’t see any harm.
“Smooth the way for what?” I asked. I knew what was coming next, what was always coming: talk of imminent domain, of making way for progress.
“Something exciting,” he said, lifting up a foot onto the lowest step. “Opportunity of a lifetime…”
This episode of the Drabblecast explores science of the future. In the drabble, a lab rat learns to speak but still cannot talk the scientists studying him out of his eventual dissection despite their similarities. In the feature, government agents try to convince a family of aging farmers to join the rest of humanity by being uploaded into the singularity, a virtual world where everyone can lead any life they can dream up. No one can be left behind..
Now if we, like those characters in recent movies, discovered specific clues in the world around us suggesting that we do in fact live in a simulation, we would of course consider those clues carefully to see what they say about how we should live our lives. — Robin Hanson
Norm begins this episode of the Drabblecast with an introduction to the new and improved Drabblecast.org, and thanks the many contributors who made this possible. The Drabble by John Murphy remembers a simpler time in video games, though a time not free of consequence. The feature by Aubrey Hirsch provides, as described in the title, a didactic set of rules for living in a simulation (a universe constructed especially for us).
I passed the sign that read Warning: Shark Zone. The sun was setting,
lighting up the tops of the condos sticking out of the water. They had been
swallowed by the swollen ocean, when it spilled over, like everything else:
the skyscrapers, the cars, the fast food joints, the schools and
supermarkets and liquor stores…
I take time-lapse photographs of an orange. The result is always the same.
First I remove the previous orange from the spike in front of the black
velvet backdrop and replace it with a new orange. I set an incandescent
spotlight out of frame as a light source…
My earliest fear, the one I remember anyways, was of great pulp magazine robots with hot water heater bodies and vacuum tube eyes. My brother forbade me to touch his precious magazines, so I wouldn’t. I’d stare and stare at the covers through; hourglassed damsels in diaphanous gowns draped over thick slab altars, and the robots, always the robots with their cylindrical torsos and pincer claws for hands….
It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it’ll all have an end when all the stars run down. The sun will last twenty billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last a hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that’s all…
On this special episode celebrating the Drabblecast’s 200th episode, we feature sci-fi milestone The Last Question by the ubiquitous genre giant Isaac Asimov. Norm takes listeners along for a thankful, whistful retrospective of the podcast’s history. The episode then moves in to a full cast, sweeping production of the sci-fi epic. The Last Question is an existential piece occurring over a grand timeline in the fullness of outer space, as mankind and artificial intelligence alike consider immortality, the end of all things, and what it means. The episode features chapter illustrations, and announces the 2010 People’s Choice award winners.