Escape Artists Announce Artemis Rising

Bust of Artemis after Kephisodotos (Musei Capitolini), Rome. Image from Wikipedia


This month at Escape Artists, we’re doing things a little differently. ‘Artemis Rising’ is a month long event that will take place on all three shows. Throughout it, the stories presented will be written by, read by and hosted by women. Aside from a couple which were written by a woman but have a male protagonist so we decided to get a male reader for it.

This is a huge deal for us and we’ve all worked really hard on the event. Editorial dealt with very specific submissions in a compressed time frame, our guest hosts are an excellent mix of new faces and some surprisingly familiar ones and the stories are brilliant. We’re really proud of the results and I hope you will be too. I’ll be putting links to each story up here too as they go live so if you’re not a podcatcher, itunes or ‘go to the website and download it from there’ user, then you’ll find the stories here too.  Check back over the course of the month and you’ll see them all added.

12 (or so, February’s weird) stories.

3 shows.

1 event.

Artemis Rising.


(And yes I’ll be back on Pseudopod in March, don’t worry)

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The Escape Artists’ Next Big Trick

Hello! I bought a company this year! Let me explain why!


I’ve worked for Pseudopod for around eight years. I love my job. I get to indulge my fundamental need to aurally cosplay as Chris Stevens whilst simultaneously doing my favorite job; being the MC. Every week a new horror author comes on stage, the narrator does their magic and then I come back and tie stuff off at the end. It’s a wonderful job, just enough limelight to feed my ego, just enough analysis to keep my inner academic happy and every single week I learn a little more about horror fiction.

I love it. It’s my home, a job I’ve held longer than any other.

Last year it almost ended.

Rising costs, small donations and an organizational structure that accreted rather than being built meant that by the time we put out that colossal metacast at the end of last year, we had six weeks operational costs left.

I’ve been a temp in a lot of places. I’ve been a freelancer a lot of others. Neither of those jobs has permanence to them and I’ve had my fair share of contracts end, companies fold and magazines shot out from under me. That’s the nature of the game and if I couldn’t deal with it, I wouldn’t do it.

But I’d never had a company close around me before.

It terrified me.

So, after we’d hauled the metacast on course and got enough donations to secure a good ten months out, I got thinking. Firstly about how amazing our listeners and staff are and secondly about the one question I didn’t want to think about.

What happens next time?

No one likes to have to save someone twice. The thought of having to do this all over again, with diminished returns, broke my heart.

So I got talking to Dan Sawyer and we hatched a plan. Dan is an old friend of mine, a kickass audio engineer and author in his own right. We’d worked together on the Crudrat kickstarter and that had dovetailed neatly with the six weeks of me being up to my elbows in EA’s chest gore screaming ‘DON’T YOU DIE ON ME! DON’T YOU *DIE ON ME*!’. After the third week of hearing me complain, he suggested something.

‘Why don’t we just buy the company?’

There was, it turns out, no reason not to. So, we reached out to then publisher Paul Haring and EA’s own Stan Lee, Steve Eley and made the initial offer. They both said yes. In fact, they both did the equivalent of nodding vigorously in prose form and so we were under way. After five months of admin and due diligence, which, in Alasdair years, felt a little like five years at times, we signed off. So, Dan and I bought the company back in July.


We waited this long to announce because we knew, regardless of how we reassured folks, some people would still worry that would mean a drastic editorial step change. It doesn’t, and never will. We’re publishers, not editors and I’ll put this next line out by itself because it’s important.


We will never, ever dictate editorial policy. We have some of the best editors in the business. Getting in their way would be as foolish as it would be unnecessary.


Instead, our job is to secure the company as it is and expand. Right now, the metacast is going up on the various feeds and that’ll talk about what we’re doing but the Cliff Notes version is this:

Escape Pod, Pseudopod and Podcastle aren’t going anywhere.

-There’s going to be a Kickstarter next year to fund a massive expansion, all contingent on the kickstarter funding.

-This will include two new shows, which we’ll announce nearer the time.

-A massive cross company website overhaul that we’ve needed for ages.

-Narrator pay.

-Expansion into digital publishing.


2014 has been vast amounts of behind the scenes work getting this set up. None of it has been easy, not all of it has been fun but it’s all been necessary. Thanks to our listeners we’ve got a rock solid foundation. Our job now is to build on that to create something even more extraordinary than EA already is.

In other words, the water tank is full, the padlocks have been doublechecked and the timer has been started. But, for the first time in a long time, the Escape Artists have a full lung full of air and a PLAN. Go listen to some of the finest people I know talk about what we have planned for next year.

Also, Alasdan fan art. Make it happen, internet.

In the meantime, it’s good to be home.

The 400th Pseudopod

I’m amazed, and delighted, to report that Pseudopod hit episode 400 this week just gone. It’s been a long road between there and here and it’s one that’s got me thinking about horror, the past, the future and where we are as a show.


Trust me there are jokes too.


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Parsec Awards 2014: Here Come The Judge

That’s my office windowsill. On the left is a magnificent Cthulhu Tiki mug by graphic designer and Tiki genius Jonathan Chaffin. You’ll notice the Black Lagoon minifig is worshiping it whilst Bad Cop is trying to work out how to arrest it. On the right is a fantastic Lego prop driven aircraft that, along with a large ball of rubber bands, is my Go To thinking toy.


In the middle is my Parsec award.

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Still Alive

Triumph. Note. Huge success. Etc.

First up, the Escape Artists websites, including the ones you don’t see but that we use to help run the ones you do see, are either borked or going very slowly at the moment. We’re aware of the problem, aware of its scope and the fix should start in a couple of days. We’re also very aware that this is, at least, the third time this has happened in the last year and believe me, we’re all as utterly pissed off about it as you are. We’re looking at a server change and better IT support in the short term. The plan’s in place, should be implemented soon and maybe next time will be the leap home. Or we’ll land on servers not powered by flywheel as, frankly, these seem to be.

So yeah, there’s an issue, we know there’s an issue, we’re sorry there’s an issue and we’re working on solving the issue. Also, we have always been at war with Eurasia.

In other news:

I am currently deep in the forest of deadlines, hacking a path through the underbrush and really, really hammering a metaphor into a thin flat sheet. There will be a Friday Film this week, even if all it consists of is either the words FILM AM GOOD written in 72 point letters or me explaining, in detail, why I may prefer the Robocop remake to the original.

Anyway, I’m still here just under a series of guns. Comic reviews are done, one interview is done and I’m 3000 words off the end of a ridiculously fun Victoriana assignment which has involved almost no crushingly tedious rules gonkery and an awful lot of marvellously loopy ideas. I really hope my concept for the Shepherds (Supernatural Church cowboys hunting the shards of the archangel Gabriel that were embedded in Arizona and its inhabitants 50,000 years ago when he exploded and caused Meteor Crater. AND I AM BEING PAID TO MAKE THIS STUFF UP!) makes it through for one. Once Victoriana’s done I may make myself take a day off and then come back with next week’s stuff which, right now, looks like this:

-One interview

-Comic reviews

-Three weeks of Pseudopod endcaps

-Two weeks of Escape Pod endcap

-Follow up emails for three more projects

-10th Doctor sourcebook

Oh yes, it’s also now officially official, and will be in another blog post, that I’m writing the 10th Doctor sourcebook for Cubicle 7’s excellent Doctor Who RPG. Writing the 6th Doctor one (Out this year!) completely changed my perception of 6’s run, for the better, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with 10 here. There are huge chunks of his run I love (The entire Donna year, two of the specials, some of the Torchwood season) I love and chunks of it (Fear Her, the rest of the Torchwood season, the entire endgame for the Martha season, the other two specials) that I really don’t get on with. Be interesting to see how that changes.

So yes, busy and indeed busy. More soon, promise.

Escape Artists Needs Your Help

So, this year’s metacast just went up. These are shows we put together to update you on how the shows are going, what our plans are, all that stuff.


This one is a little different, because we’re in very serious financial trouble. Like, we will cease to be an active and functional market by the end of 2013 levels of serious.


The show’s over here, and we sweated blood over this thing so do please click anywhere on this line to go listen to it.


If you can’t, or don’t have the time to listen to the whole show, here’s the text of my section which will give you the gist. It’s rough, there are sign off points to things you won’t get without listening in there, but it’s a good cliff notes version.


Good news first. We’re putting together some premium content to mark this metacast. It’ll be ready in December, so, if you are an existing subscriber on November 30 OR you have donated a one time of $50+ between this show going live and November 30, you will receive the premium flash content in December. See, plenty of time to jump aboard.

Now the bad news. This time is going to be a little different. You’ll get that, don’t worry, but you should know, upfront, we’re in serious financial trouble. So serious we’re looking the end of the company in the eyes at the end of 2013 unless you can help. The last thing we wanted to do was to just blindly beg for help without giving you some idea of what, and who, you’re going to be helping out though. So, get ready to meet the team. Listen to them, to their love for this work and what they have planned and please stay listening to the end. Because we’re not done. Not if you can help us.


First up we have Escape Pod, the Galactica of our ragtag fugitive fleet. Edited by Norm Sherman, with production, submissions and feedback being provided by the inimitable Mat Weller and Nate Lee, it’s produced over 400 episodes of science fiction. Here’s the guys, walking you through what they do, why they love it and what their plans are. Take it, Norm.

Thanks chaps. Now, let’s talk about Pseudopod. I’m actually smiling as I write this. I came to Pseudopod entirely through dint of being cocky. I heard that Mur was leaving, emailed Steve and literally said ‘I’d be dead good at this. Pick me. Go on, pick me.’ And to my rank amazement I was apparently top of his list for possible replacements. We reconfigured the show, with two-fisted uber genius Ben Philips taking full time duties as editor and me taking full time duties as host and away we went.

Go back and listen to my first show. It’s around episode 49 I think. I sound both young and TERRIFIED. It was a deeply weird feeling, sitting down in front of the mike and talking to the entire internet. Or at least a good chunk of it. I got less scared, I got better at it and I started…opening up. A lot of the stories we run affect me, and I found myself talking about how they did this through the lens of personal experience. I’m not joking when I say doing that kept me balanced and healthy during some of the things that have happened in my personal life during my time on the show. I wouldn’t be me, without Pseudopod.

I love this job. I can’t put it more plainly than that. Nothing I do is more enjoyable, and means more to me, than this. Nothing.  Shawn is one of the finest editors I’ve ever had the privilege to work with and Graeme, our sound producer does amazing work. I would dearly love to still be doing this job in 2014. We all would. Now, here’s Shawn to walk you through Pseudopod.


Now for something completely different. As I said at the top of the show, If you are an existing subscriber on November 30 OR you have donated a one time of $50+ between this show’s release date and November 30, you will receive the premium flash content in December. But as a special bonus,  Nathan from Escape Pod is here with a piece of flash fiction. Because even when were in trouble it’s still all about the stories.


Our youngest show next, Podcastle. I used to say fantasy wasn’t really my bag but that’s changed and that’s  entirely down to Podcastle. The sheer variety, and quantity, of stories Anna and Dave curate and put out has shown me just what a wonderful, deep genre it is and their love for it shines through in everything they produce. Now, here they are to talk about the show.


Thanks guys. Now, We’ve talked about how the company’s in trouble but now it’s time to hear not only just what’s going on but what you can do about it. Here’s our publisher and accountant, Paul to take things down to brass tacks.


That’s our show, folks. And if things don’t get better in three months, that really is our show.

You’ve heard from us all, heard what we’ve got planned, what this job means to us and how you can help. I’m not going to belabour the point, I’m just going to say this; we love this work, we love what we do. Please help us keep doing it. Without you, we’re gone at the end of the year.


Thanks for listening.


And from me…to me. Here are the links to the show websites. There are donation buttons on there and if you like the show, and can, please use them. I know some of you have issues with PayPal and I’m sorry, right now that’s all we’ve got and we’re working on an alternative. Unfortunately I have no time table for when that will be. When I do, I’ll let you know.


Here are those links:


Escape Pod





Don’t Let The Page Win

(Originally recorded for Podcastle Episode 254: Sundae by Matt Wallace, read by Dave Robison. The ebook of Sundae is available here. You should buy it.)


There’s a unique strand of heroism which hits me right in the chest, and it’s wrapped up in this idea of the good death, of making your peace with what’s happened to you and deciding that just because you are where you are doesn’t mean you have to lay down and die. This is the moment of absolute peace Matthew Broderick talks about in The Graduate when he talks about the freedom inherent in being completely screwed. It’s the way George Kirk smiles when he hears his son for the first and last time. It’s the good death, tapping you on your shoulder and telling you it’s time to go.

And you spitting on the ground and saying ‘Not yet.’ And bringing your hands back up.

Because there’s always work to do. There’s always something to defend and heroes like Sundae are the ones who have to do it.

An awful lot of abject bullshit is spewed about writing. Write what you feel. Write what you know. Work this way. Obsessively check GoodReads this way. Always work for a set amount of money. Always take any money you can get.  Sit here, write that way, use this sentence, read this book.

It’s all, all of it, without exception, crap.

Well, kind of. But we’ll get to that.

Write. Just write. It’s in the damn word. Sit down and start writing. Plan if you want to, rearrange your desk if you want to, make a playlist if you must but when it comes down to it it’s always, always you and the white page. At the end of the day if the page is blank, it’s won.

Don’t let the page win.

Your creativity, your sense of self, your confidence are all, odds are, battered and crumpled and sewn back together. I’ll let you into a secret, mine are. I work constantly and about half of what I do I’m paid for on a very very good day. I recently finally had an invoice cleared for work I did five years ago and had been too insecure and self-deprecating to bother chasing. I didn’t push, I didn’t strive, I didn’t show up for the fight.

Until I did. And I won.

Stand your ground.

Matt Wallace threw his life in the back of a truck two years ago and went to LA. He’s got scripts being shopped around, he’s picking up more and more work and he never, not ONCE, has stopped moving forwards.  Matt has fought and kicked and gouged for every single break he’s got and to my mind he’s got, maybe 10% of what he should. He doesn’t complain about that, because that isn’t the work and when you do this it’s always, always about the work.  And protecting yourself enough to do it.

As I write this I’m waiting to hear back about a job. It’s a massively important one to me because it’s a job in publishing. It’s one I’m experienced enough to do, it’s with people I know and like and everyone I’ve talked to tells me I’m a strong candidate.

It doesn’t mean shit. Because all it will take is three or four other people with better qualifications and I won’t even get an interview and I got to tell you that’s going to be hard to swallow. Because I’ve made my career one week at a time for a long time and I’m only just getting to the point where things are starting to move. I’m not sure what’s going to happen if I don’t make it to interview, I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to bounce back.

But I know I will.

I’ll have another scar, another wound that’ll heal differently but I’ll get back up and I’ll go looking for the next one because that’s what writers do and any writer who doesn’t have a little streak of Sundae, of the hero to them, ANY writer who doesn’t defend their ideas and their successes to the death and beyond isn’t deserving of the title.

Plan if you want to, rearrange your desk if you have to, make a playlist if you must but when it comes down to it it’s always, always you and the white page. And your version of Sundae, holding off the doubt.  Make sure they’re fully armed and then, WRITE. And don’t ever stop. Except to buy Matt’s book.


Where I Am This Week


Here’s where you can find my stuff this week:


Bleeding Cool

Free Graphic Novel About The Winnipeg Riots and The Murder of Mike Sokolowski

Graphic Novel Program Helps Young Canadian Offenders Break The Cycle

10 (Ish. Shut up, 3 is illegal, creep! Send him to the isocubes!) Things About The Dredd Trailer

The Upcoming Films of Alan Moore



Final Girl Theory by AC Wise.



Wane, by Elizabeth Bear. I co-read this with Marguerite and it’s just huge fun. It’s part of Bear’s New Amsterdam series, an alternate history where the Aztec Empire never faded. Picture an unusual, uneasy combination of courtly intrigue, magic and punching.  I got to read a Prince, a Colonial Governor, an Aztec diplomat and a politely vampiric Spanish detective, it was great.




Where’s Al?

Because some people have asked about this, I’m going to put up some links to where I can be found online at the moment.


The excellent ‘Raising Eddie‘ is up at Pseudopod this week by Mark Felps and read by Cayenne Chris Conroy.  It’s a great story and as usual, I’ve done the intro and outro.

I also narrated ‘Castor on Troubled Waters‘ for Podcastle last week.  Written by Rhys Hughes it’s the story of one man, lots of pirates and a series of unlikely coincidences.


I’m part of SFX’s team of bloggers and my most recent piece went up this week.  Called ‘Surviving the Zomblogalypse‘ it’s about the aptly named, a web series about traditional flat sharing concerns like doing the shopping, who does the washing up, the rise of the undead and what the exact rules of ‘meat legs’ are.

I’ve been blogging for SFX for a while now and it’s led me to some really interesting subjects including these beautiful aerial robot penguins (Yes, really) and this piece, about why geeks have in fact won and some of us have no idea what to do next.

Meanwhile my reviews of the pilot episode of Warehouse 13 and what may be the only episode of Virtuality are up at Total Sci Fi.


I’ve been doing a lot of Twitter fiction recently.  It’s a fascinating form, telling a story in less space than most song lyrics and I’ve sold several to some of the major Twitter anthologies.  One of the first, Thaumatrope, archives its stories by author and mine can be found here.

I also sold this piece to Nanoism which is the second oddest thing I’ve ever written but still makes me smile.


Over at Hub which I’m now editing, our most recent issue features short fiction from Simon Frayne, a piece about sexuality in Torchwood, an interview with the creator of Usagi Yojimbo, Stan Sakai and reviews including Moon and Torchwood: Children of Earth, the latter contributed by me.