This week’s Escape Pod episode is my story “Chrysalis” which came out in Aoife’s Kiss.Â Cunning Minx gives it an evocative reading.
People ask me if I ever get involved with the subjects of my documentaries. I have a difficult time imagining that they would ask my male colleagues the same question, but they seem to expect women to be more emotional. In response, I tend to grit my teeth and answer very patiently with another question. How could I do my job if I were part of the story? Only by maintaining a sacred distance could I have any hope of understanding someoneâ€™s life. A documentarian records, but does not participate.
I read this weeks Escape Pod, Reparations by Merrie Haskell. To paraphrase Steve Eley, this isn’t a 9/11 story, but it was the right day to run it. The story is beautifully, painfully written. The text was easy to read, the content was not. I encourage you to listen to it.
I just swab my arm and administer the cocktail, a booster for my radiation immunization. The taste of brass fills my mouth in seconds, and I know that the cocktail has flooded my system. With this stuff burbling inside, I can stare down three sieverts without blinking, or, more importantly, losing my immune system, teeth, hair, and intestines.
When I finish with my dose, I grab the skin on the newbieâ€™s arm, swab her and shoot her up, too. â€œOw!â€ She jumps and rubs her arm. I watch carefully to see her smack her lips at the taste. â€œYou couldâ€™ve warned me.â€
â€œNo time,â€ I say, doctoring Ken and the others just as abruptly. Weâ€™re pressed, and they know it.
Weâ€™re all nice and anodized on the inside at 8:12. Weâ€™re waiting for 8:16, or thereabouts. There arenâ€™t any atomic clocks in 1945, so all times are approximate, internally speaking. And from here on in, thereâ€™s no point speaking any other way.
Rated PG. Contains mass destruction and graphic descriptions of the wounded.
Yay!Â I’ve been wanting to break into Escape Pod forever, because, man, do I love that podcast.Â
Here’s a teaser of the opening
People ask me if I ever get involved with the subjects of my documentaries. I have a difficult time imagining that they would ask my male colleagues the same question, but they seem to expect women to be more emotional. In response, I tend to grit my teeth and answer very patiently with another question. How could I do my job if I were part of the story? Only by maintaining a sacred distance could I have any hope of understanding someone’s life. A documentarian records, but does not participate.
That mantra was the only thing keeping me from gnawing my arm off with frustration while Geroth and Iliath had their latest spat. Iliath wanted Geroth to undergo Chrysalis. Geroth wanted to stave it off until he finished his mathematical treatise. Geroth and his betrothed brayed their points like sea-lions mating.
Q: What happened when you arrived at the address in question?
A: My Partner Lori opened my door and I jumped out. I arrested a suspect!
Q: Yes, Officer Bull. But I would like you to tell me exactly what happened, in detail, from the time you got out of the car.
A: Okay. My skulltop showed me which house, and I ran toward it. A man and three dogs ran out the door. One of them was a bitch with pretty haunches. She was in heat, and I really really really liked the way she smelled. I wanted to run after her, but I knew I should go after the man. So I did. Even though I liked the way she smelled!
Of course, I might have just liked it because dogs are on my mind right now.
The reading went quite well. We had a full house, which was a relief. I was afraid no one would come and besides our friends, there were even people that we didn’t know there. We sold copies of the anthology!
Best of all, Matt hooked set up his mic and recorded the evening. I present to you my story, The Shocking Affair of the Dutch Steamship Friesland.
For me, one of the most annoying things is that I’ve been recording so much lately that I’ve developed some bad live reading habits. I’ve trained myself to listen for minor stumbles — things that no one would notice live, but which are unacceptable in recorded form — and to pause, then restart the line, which is totally wrong when reading live. In any case, it should be interesting for you to hear the difference between me reading live after hearing me read for recordings.
At Readercon, someone asked me if I had ever made a puppet show from one of my stories.Â Two.Â Sort of.Â Beauty Will Come is something I did for Pixel-Stained Technopeasant day last year and is not really a puppet show, though it might look like one for a moment.
I used toy theater technique to create moving illustrations for an audio story.Â If it were a true puppet show, I’d have cut the narration and shown with action rather than words.Â Still, it’s the closest thing I’ve got recorded.
I’ve written for stage, but always adapting someone else’s work.Â My only original script was for Willamette Radio Workshop‘s Murder of Crows.Â Huh. I just remembered that Shades of Milk and Honey started as a radio script for a serial.
The other puppet show from my fiction is a monologue by a talking dinosaur, which was a short I wrote in first person, so it was kind of a no brainer about adapting it for stage. Most of my short fiction is ill-suited to puppetry either because it’s an all human cast or because there are too many scenic locations to work for stage. Hm… Evil Robot Monkey and Clockwork Chickadee are the only ones that I can think of that might make the transition. Everything else? Too many people and very little reason to need puppets.
If anyone has time, I could use help with two tasks.
1) I recorded a story (not mine and I promise it’s good) and I need to listen to it to make sure that we didn’t leave any of my stumbles in it. I’m tuning out my own voice. The story is two and a half hours long, but the section in question is just in the first half hour.
2) I have to turn in a list of books that one of my novel length manuscripts resembles. I’ve got one name to offer and then I blank. Is anyone willing to read this puppy and offer suggestions? You don’t even have to read the whole thing! Just enough to say, “This reminds me of [blank].” The only catch is that I’d like to turn in the list on Monday. It’s Urban Fantasy.
Edited to Add: Many thanks to Julia and Scott for responding so quickly!
And now, I’ll go back to doing the layout which is paying the bills.
This month, Clarkesworld magazine is offering my story, “Clockwork Chickadee,” as one of their two fiction offerings. Plus, “The Secret in the House of Smiles” by Paul Jessup, and non-fiction by Ekaterina Sedia, Jeff VanderMeer and Neil Clarke.
The clockwork chickadee was not as pretty as the nightingale. But she did not mind. She pecked the floor when she was wound, looking for invisible bugs. And when she was not wound, she cocked her head and glared at the sparrow, whom she loathed with every tooth on every gear in her pressed-tin body.
The sparrow could fly.
The story is available in two flavors, written or read aloud. Clarkesworld is offering audio fiction now, and my story kicks that off.
They’ve got a comment thread, so do let them know what you think.
I’ll start by saying that our recording setup is far, far, far from ideal, especially after working at Willamette Radio Workshop.But, it’s New York and one makes compromises. In this case, trying to get my schedule to coincide with an affordable studio was challenging. So I’m recording in the hallway at home. The sound, as you might imagine is very bright. The Japanese screen mostly holds the microphone and does almost nothing to dampen the sound.
I’m using one of Rob’s microphones, specifically a Schoeps CMC-41S. The note next to it reminds me to turn the refrigerator off before I start recording and to turn it back on when I finish. Last week, before we implemented the note, I came home to find the contents of our freezer melted. The microphone is sensitive enough that it picks up the hum of the fridge, even though it is in another room. Granted, there’s no door on the room, but still.
In the living room, behind a closed door, we’ve got my computer and a Shure FP-33 portable mixer. The mixer functions mainly as a power supply for the microphone but also boosts the signal some to provide cleaner sound. Or, at least, I think that’s what Rob said when I asked.
For the past several days, I’ve been getting up at 3 a.m. to record because it’s the only reliably quiet time in my apartment. Now why, I ask you, has my upstairs neighbor gotten out of bed to take a shower at this time of morning?
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the literary magazine “The First Line” — where all stories in an issue begin with same opening line — presents an evening with some of its favorite writers. Three authors will read select work from the new anthology, â€œThe Best of The First Line: Editorsâ€™ Picks 2002-2006,â€ and share some insights on writing for this unique quarterly.
Pass the word and come hear us on July 24th at 7pm.
Swing by PodCastle and listen to me read Goosegirl by Margaret Ronald.
â€œYou came with the Princess Alia, didnâ€™t you?â€ says a tall man with an understewardâ€™s chain. â€œThey must have low standards up north if youâ€™re the sort of thing she brings along.â€
I shake my head; the world slides in and out of focus. â€œI didnâ€™t come here for that. Iâ€™m not â€” help.â€
He raises his eyebrows. â€œOh, so youâ€™re not with the help? You must be one of the nobility, then?â€ He tweaks my skirts, and a ragged hem tears. â€œSo what did you come here for, if youâ€™re not with the princess?â€
The words sound wrong even as I think them, but I say them nonetheless. â€œTo be married.â€
He bursts out laughing. â€œPoor girl,â€ a woman at the back of the servantsâ€™ hall says. â€œSheâ€™s simple. Canâ€™t tell between herself and the princess.â€
Rated PG. Contains sorcery, blood, and theft of memory.
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]