EA Roundup: Artemis Rising 2 with Pseudopod

The Toad Witch by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, read by Sandra Espinoza and hosted by Kat Rocha
The lies children tell themselves are radiant, immutable and defining. The fictionalized armour we write ourselves to get through the often horrific first few years we have on Earth is never quite taken off. Instead we internalize it, use those same polite lies we tell ourselves as the foundation for our adult lives. Sooner or later some of us realize that our foundation is fragile, even dangerously unstable. The bravest realize that they have to do something about it. That’s where this story lives.
Black Hearts by Shannon Peavey, read by Tina Connolly and hosted by Wendy N. Wagner
The atmosphere in this piece is just amazing. It’s dusty and hopeless and has that quiet, suspended violence of every great Western with none of the redemption some of those stories shoot for. Horrifying in a dozen different ways and brilliantly read and hosted.

Bug House by Lisa Tuttle, read by Heather Welliver and hosted by Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West
Stories like this, and endcaps like this, are one of the reasons I love this job. Because, fundamentally, I really didn’t like this story. It’s got a great decaying house/body vibe to it and the language is wonderful but for me it plays more like an exercise in style, with an ending that could charitably be said to have not aged well, topping it all off.

But here’s the thing; that’s the point.

People ask, a lot, whether I have any editorial control at Escape Artists. I don’t, and shouldn’t. A couple of times every few years I’ll point at a story and yell how great it is until the editors look at it and, usually, run it, but that’s a rare occurrence. Most of the time every story that runs has gone through multiple slushers and multiple editors to get to you. That means you’re guarunteed a variety of stories and approaches and, as a result, you’ll be challenged by a piece every now and again.

I was challenged by this and, better still, educated. The outro is worth the download alone, where Andrea and Alexandra dissect the story almost to the molecular level. By the end of the episode I had a better understanding of why it was built like it was, what the themes were, the different ways it could be read and, best of all, the cultural context. I’m still not fond of it but I have a rock solid understanding of both the story and it’s worth now and that’s all down to this episode. Brilliantly done all round folks. Thank you.

Jay’s Place by E. Lee McVicar read by Joe Scalora and hosted by Julie Hoverson
This is The Dioanaea House. It’s one of my favorite pieces of fiction. Jay’s Place, for me, is as good. McVicar creates this astonishingly difficult thing; a sense of something awful and the refusal we have to engage with it. There’s a suspended tension to this piece which is as unsettling as it is gripping and the story glories in denying you answers or safety. Amazing work.

Like Dolls by J Lily Corbie read by Kim Lakin-Smith and hosted by Marguerite Kenner

Again, the endcap here does a great job of putting the story in context. The idea of a reverse version of the ‘wailing on your grave’ ballads is great. The awful, sticky body mechanics of gradual reanimation are nightmarish and the payoff is killer. A real high note to finish the month on.

And that’s Pseudopod. Join me back here tomorrow for Escape Pod and please, if you liked these stories, donate if you can.

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