Welcome back! This week we’ve got steampunk, It Follows esque inevitable horror, magic bones, Dance Dance Revolution, the world’s best and worst way to time travel and a wizard in the backyard. Let’s get started, shall we?
Episode 517: Budo by Tade Thompson and read by Suyi Davies Okungbowa
The story of a very unusual traveler and the impact he had on the young translator who worked with him. A steampunk story, originally printed in the Sarah Hans edited anthology Steampunk World from Alliteration Ink press, Tade Thompson’s story is like all expertly machined pieces of equipment; far more complex under the surface.
There’s a clear and overt discussion of imperialism here that’s presented with the pragmatic anger that subject is best dealt with. There’s also a story about prejudices of multiple sorts, the impact of technology on society and a romance. It’s a complex, nuanced narrative that reveals more facets the more you think about it and it’s one of my favorites so far this year. Suyi’s narration is just as nuanced, portraying a character talking in a second language about a version of himself he no longer quite is.
Episode 399: The Authenticator by Greg van Eekhout and read by Gregory Austin
Set in the same universe as Greg’s excellent Daniel Blackland books, this is a hell of a story that focuses not just on the possibility of power and respect but what we do with that possibility. Covering issues of faith, pride, class and guilt it’s effortless to listen to thanks to Greg’s words and Gregory’s voice. I can only imagine how much work went in behind the scenes to make it look so easy. Also, stick around for the outro on this one, provided by the incomparable MK Hobson. One of my favorite writers and people, MK breaks down just why this story is so amazing with customary precision and perception in the outro. Stick around for it, you’ll learn. I did.
Panic Twice, Spin by Malon Edwards
Malon Edwards is one of those authors I instantly take notice of. He produced one of my all time favorite Escape Pod stories and I’m always delighted to see his work land places. This particular story, from MZ Issue 1 and offered for free on the website, is filled with the same invention and wit as all his work. Plus this? Is a story you have to dance to.
Also, Issue 2 cover reveal! Go! Click! Marvel! Order!
Staff Picks month continues at Cast of Wonders with a couple of absolute doozies.
Episode 191: Makiesha in Time by Rachael K. Jones, read by Laurice White and picked by Jeremy Carter
Jeremy talks about why this story matters in the outro and he, like the entirety of the Cast of Wonders team, does an amazing job of it. This is a classic, and that’s not a word I use lightly. It’s a take on time travel I’ve never seen before and Rachael’s exploration of the emotional and psychological weight of that ability is incredible.
Her use of it as a lens to explore the erasure of both women of colour and women in general from history is, if anything, better.
This is a brilliant, epic, tiny, angry, hopeful story that Laurice White brings to world weary, determined life with every single syllable. This is an all time great as both a story and a performance. Go listen to it.
Episode 192: There are No Marshmallows in Camelot by Christian Mckay Heidicker, read by Marguerite Kenner and picked by Alexis Goble
Christian’s story is one of those pieces of work that takes a tiny, simple idea and runs with it in the hardest direction possible; plausibility. It’s ludicrous and wonderful, a sweet natured look at how childhood gives us a clear view of the incredible. Also, marshmallows. Also, Marguerite never turns in work that’s less than impressive but she had fun on this one and it shows.
Again though, listen to the outro. Alexis’ work there blew me away. It’s a perfect examination of why these stories and this genre matter. It looks at the vast diversity within YA, what it can do for its readers and why its such an important genre. Amazing work and, like all these stories, work I learnt from. Thanks everyone, and thanks especially to Alexis.
And that’s the EA week. As ever you can find our back catalogues on line through the links so do dive in and, if you can, please subscribe, donate and maybe throw us a review at Itunes. We’ll see you back here next week.