The Best of Podcastle 2019

written by David Steffen

Podcastle is the weekly fantasy podcast published by Escape Artists, which at the beginning of 2019 was co-edited by Jen Albert and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali.  During the year Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali stepped down and now at this time the podcast is co-edited by Jen Albert and Cherae Clark. As well as weekly full-length feature episodes, they also publish occasional standalone flash stories as bonus episodes, as well as multiple short-short stories for the occasional feature episode collection.

Podcastle published 50 stories by my count in 2019.

As it happens, every story on this list was originally published prior to 2019, so none of them are eligible for Hugo and Nebula awards, but there are plenty of other great stories published there for you to consider if you like that sort of thing.

The List

1. “The Resurrectionist” by J.P. Sullivan, narrated by Wilson Fowlie
The skill of resurrecting people has fallen out of favor but there are still people who do it, it’s a matter of visiting the deceased in their dreamlike interstitial space and bringing them back across the divide by hook or by crook.

2. “The Bone Poet and God” by Matt Dovey, narrated by Eliza Chan
Every bone carries four magical runes on their body, engraved to the bone, including one that they are born with and isn’t revealed until they die.

3. “The Masochist’s Assistant” by Auston Habershaw, narrated by Matt Dovey
It is no easy job being the assistant of a magical masochist who demands he be killed at regular intervals every day.

4. “Balloon Man” by Shiv Ramdas, narrated by Kaushik Narasimhan
Whatever is true, the opposite is also true. That is the way of stories.

5. “The Deliverers of Their Country” by E. Nesbit, narrated by Katherine Inskip
Dragons are back in the world and proving to be quite a menace, which Effie only finds out when one gets stuck in her eye.

Honorable Mentions

“I am not I” (part 1 and 2) by G.V. Anderson, narrated by Tatiana Grey

A Toy Princess” by Mary de Morgan, narrated by Eleanor Wood

“When Leopard’s-Bane Came to the Door of Third Heaven” by Vajra Chandrasekera, narrated by Peter Behravesh

The Best of Escape Pod 2018

written by David Steffen

Escape Pod is the weekly science fiction podcast, one of the Escape Artists family of podcasts.  At the beginning of 2017 it was edited by Norm Sherman, but when he stepped down from the role two co-editors have filled the positions: S.B. Divya and Mur Lafferty.

In February Escape Pod once again participated in the Artemis Rising event across the Escape Artists podcasts, publishing fantasy stories written by women and nonbinary authors.

Escape Pod published a total of 42 stories in 2018, which is lower than usual because of a combination of longer stories that were split across multiple episodes, as well as mixing in “Flashback Friday” episodes this year, which are republications of stories published earlier in Escape Pod’s history–since Flashback Friday stories have already been considered for previous Best of Escape Pod lists here, they were not considered this time.

Every short story that is eligible for Hugo nominations this year which were first published by Escape Pod are marked with an asterisk (*). 

The List

1.”And Then There Were (N-One)” (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4) by Sarah Pinsker
The author Sarah Pinsker attends a convention of Sarah Pinskers from other dimensions. And then Sarah Pinsker is murdered! Dun dun DUUUUN.

2.”The Revolution, Brought to You By Nike” (Parts 1, 2) by Andrea Phillips
Nike’s new viral marketing campaign is aimed at changing the world.

3.”Caesura” by Hayley Stone
Finding ways to make an AI write poetry as a form of grieving.

4.”Beatrix Released” by Shaenon K. Garrity*
Beatrix Potter, controlling a team of clever animals.

5.”Anna and Marisol in Time and Space” by Tim Pratt
Time travel romance!

Honorable Mentions

“After Midnight at the Zap Stop” by Matthew Claxton*







The Best of Cast of Wonders 2016

written by David Steffen

This has been a big year of change for Cast of Wonders, the young adult podcast edited by Marguerite Kenner.  Starting at the beginning of 2016, Cast of Wonders joined the Escape Artists family of podcasts as their fourth podcast.  And, as part of this change, they greatly increased their writer pay rates from just a few pounds to professional rates for original stories, which I believe should’ve started the timer for becoming a SFWA-qualifying market.

This year there have been some technical issues with the feed that have resulted in long stretches between episodes.  What’s more confusing is that, to compensate for these issues, several episodes have been renumbered, and a bunch of episodes were added late in the year but with earlier dates posted on them.  I don’t say all this to complain but that… I’m not 100% sure that I have actually heard all of the episodes this year, because the changed dates and changed episode numbers have made a mess of the feed.  I tried my best!

All of the stories on this list are eligible for Hugos and Nebulas this year. (that’s why they’re all marked with asterisks.

Cast of Wonders published 30 stories in 2016.

The List

 

1. “The Jungle Between” by Holly Schofield*
Story with dual points of view–of human scientists and dinosaur-like aliens they are studying, centered around their perceptions of the other.

2. “This Story Begins With You” by Rachael K. Jones*
Stories with power to transform everything around them.

3. “The Authorized Biography” (part 1 and part 2) by Michael G. Ryan*
What if you found a  book that gave your complete biography, including what hasn’t happened yet?

4. “The Four Stewpots” by DK Thompson*
Speculative Yelp review!

5. “Welcome to Willoughby’s” by Michael Reid*
Space taxidermy!

 

 

The Best of Pseudopod 2012

written by David Steffen

Not too much to say in preamble to this list. Pseudopod is awesome as ever. You should listen to the show. Here’s some of my favorites that you can check out.

1. The Crawlspace by Russell Bradbury-Carlin
I couldn’t tell throughout this story where it was going, which is hard to find these days. Creepy, compelling, good stuff.

2. Just Outside Our Windows, Deep Inside Our Walls by Brian Hodge
I’m not sure if this story is sweet or creepy, but I like it.

3. Pumpkinhead by Rajan Khanna
Oz-based horror story from the anthology “Shadows of the Emerald City” anthology of Oz-based horror stories.

4. Kill Screen by Chris Lewis Carter
Fun horror story that appeals to my love of retro video games.

5. That Ol Dagon Dark by Robert MacAnthony
Evil tobacco. Nuff said.

6. The Meat Forest by John Haggerty
Carnivorous forest in the heart of politically torn Russia.

Honorable Mentions:

The Orchard of Hanging Trees by Nicole Cushing

The Dark and What it Said by Rick Kennett

Dancing by Donna Glee Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy Fitches: David Thompson and Anna Schwind

Anna Schwind and David Thompson are the co-editors of Podcastle, a weekly podcast of fantasy fiction. It’s one of a trio of podcasts produced by Escape Artists, the others being Escape Pod (for science fiction) and Pseudopod (for horror). They’ve stepped up to fill the editorial position recently vacated by Rachel Swirsky. I’ve very much enjoyed the stories that Rachel has chosen, but I’m excited to see what new editorial directions these two will steer the publication toward.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with these podcasts, you should check them out. My Best of Podcastle list would be a good place to start. They’ve carried stories by many of my favorite writers, including Tim Pratt, Greg Van Eekhout, Cat Rambo, and Edgar Allen Poe. Each podcast provides an audio story every week, free to download. They depend on donations to pay their authors, so if you like the story enough, you might want to consider dropping them a few bucks. I know both editors from the Escape Artists forums, where Dave and Anna are known as DKT and anarkey, respectively. If you like to discuss the good and bad qualities of stories, stop by.

When David Thompson isn’t editing, he’s also a writer, who wrote Last Respects (among other things) which made it on my Best of Pseudopod list. You can find him on LiveJournal as well where he talks about many things, including the new season of LOST.

Anna is also a writer who’s been published in Escape Pod and Every Day Fiction. You can find out more about her on her website.

David Steffen: How were you chosen to co-edit Podcastle? Had either of you expected it or was it completely out of the blue?

David Thompson: In August 2009, Rachel emailed us and asked us to come aboard and help with some of the details-oriented tasks at PodCastle like finding narrators for stories, scheduling introductions, manage the schedule, record feedback, those kinds of things. It was kind of hinted at that she might want to hand over the editorial reigns at some point, but then we got another email a little over a month later saying that time was now. We all kind of sat on it for a while, and convinced Rachel to stay until the end of the year, but that’s when we started reading slush and selecting stories. So it wasn’t completely out of the blue, but it all happened very fast. At least, that’s how I remember it.

Schwind: I remember it exactly the same way! Except with talking trains and a rotting orange and the secret message in a bottle from that werewolf guy.

Thompson: Ben Phillips is a werewolf? That explains so much.

Steffen: Can you give any hints about the stories you’ve bought? How do you think the stories you two choose will be different than Rachel’s?

Thompson: For the most part, I’d rather keep what we bought and what Rachel bought slightly ambiguous. I can tell you that we’ve run stories that Anna and I have selected, and we’re still running stories that Rachel selected, as well. I’m not entirely sure how our selection will differ from Rachel’s. That might be a question better suited to our listeners a year or so from now.

Schwind: I can give you the following hint: we’ve bought some great stories. Stories which Dave and I are really excited, I mean hand-rubbing and cackling excited, to share with listeners. Some of them will be stories Rachel never would have bought, and some of them will be stories that are exactly what she would have bought.

Steffen: Is editorial work what you expected?

Thompson: I’m not really sure what I expected, to be honest. It’s certainly very satisfying work – we’re doing something we believe in, telling stories to thousands of people. And since we were both longtime fans of the Escape Artists podcasts, it feels like we’re really giving back. But it’s definitely more complicated than I thought it’d be – it’s more than just reading stories. There’s also looking for narrators, recording introductions, recording other stuff like announcements or feedback, scheduling. It’s a big job. But I love it!

Schwind: Pretty much, yeah, what I expected. I knew it was too much work for one person, actually, which makes the extensive work Rachel put into PodCastle all the more remarkable. I’m really glad to have someone to share the responsibility (and the joy) with. Oh, wait, did I write that? Now my co-editor is going to think I like him or something.

Steffen: What’s the hardest thing of the job? The most rewarding?

Thompson: Okay, I’ll cop to one story that was our pick: Samantha Henderson’s “The Mermaid’s Tea Party.” I loved it when I first read it a couple years ago, and blogged about it, and shared it with a few friends. But when we ran it at PodCastle, we got to share a story we loved with over 10,000 people. For me, that’s the best part – sharing stories we love. That it was well-received by our listeners was also nice. As I said before, the details of everything else is the hard part, at least for me. There’s so much more than just finding a story you love that goes into the podcast.

Schwind: Fishy bitches!

Thompson: OMG. “Fishy bitches” should be the logo on the next PodCastle t-shirt.

Schwind: Ok, on a more serious note: the toughest thing for me is knowing there’s stories out there which I adore, but because of rights situations or inappropriateness to audio or wrong genre or no ability to contact the author or whatever, we just can’t bring to listeners. And let me just insert a PSA right here: PodCastle solicits stories sometimes, and we can’t solicit your story if you, as an author, have not included a way to be contacted on your webpage. You’d think that’d be totally basic, but alas, no. You, author, go put a contact me button on your webpage RIGHT NOW.

Steffen: How do you split the duties? If one of you likes a story and the other doesn’t, how do you decide whether to buy it or not?

Thompson: We both read the stories that Ann Leckie, our incredible, tireless slush reader, forwards to us. If one of us likes a story and the other one doesn’t, we have a discussion on what’s working for us in the story and what isn’t and why. After that discussion, we’re usually on the same page. As for splitting the duties, I record intros once a month and record outros/feedback segments for every episode. I think that’s really the only thing that I do that Anna doesn’t.

Schwind: One thing I like about working with Dave is that we complement each other so well. Often he’s perfectly happy to do the aspects of running the podcast that I find tiresome. I believe he feels similarly, and he’ll ask me if I’d mind doing something that to him seems an onerous chore and I’m overjoyed to do it. Splitting duties has been relatively painless because of that. As to deciding on stories where we feel differently, it’s about – like Dave said – talking it through. We’ve not yet had a knockdown drag out fight over anything. I’m actually hopeful that we do, at some point, just to see what that’s like, but so far we’ve been able to make a case that sways the other or not about each individual story. That sounds civil and boring. I should probably have made something up, about a contest of wills or a platinum battle in the astral plane.

Thompson: I didn’t realize fights on the astral plane were an option. Now I’m going to have to go out of my way to pick a fight over a story.

Schwind: Eeeeexcellent, Thompson. We shall meet in the metaphysical arena of stars and infinite night, each wielding our ineffable auras as a finely honed weapon, and the first to fall shall give over the right to peddle one story.

Thompson: I’ve got dibs on the Possible Sword!!!

Steffen: What sort of stories have you seen too many, and what sort would you like to see more?

Thompson: We’ve seen a lot of stories featuring pirates. But I’m actually fine with that. I wouldn’t mind seeing more…weird stuff in general. New weird, I guess. I wouldn’t mind finding some Sword and Sorcery that really blew my mind, but I haven’t read it yet.

Schwind: Let’s see…we see a lot of stories where the implications of the worldbuilding aren’t acknowledged within the story and lots of stories where the author thought fantasy was an excuse to skip their research. We also see lots of run of the mill fantasy, with no distinguishing marks, whether it be urban or faux medieval or pre-columbian or whatever. On reflection, I’m considerably less interested in what I see too much of than in what I’d like to see more of. I’d generally agree with Dave that I have a strong attraction to stories that court the weird. Give me some Fortean phenomena, or some cockroach-shaped, lightning-emitting unicorn, or some vividly described but unusual setting and I’m there. I don’t think anyone’s sent us a story where the plot hinged on the outcome of a soccer game between centaurs, or one where their furniture is trying to murder them at the behest of an angel. We don’t get many stories set in Africa. It’d be nice to get a city story about Mumbai or SÃ’ o Paulo, instead of New York. We don’t get any fantasy set in the 1950s or the 1970s; it’s either current or in the far past. Cold war fae? Quetzalcoatl and the Sandinistas? I could get into that. Very few stories from the point of view of a bug have come to our inbox. In fact, since I’m on point of view, I will also say we don’t get many stories in omniscient POV. I like tight third and first person narrations as much as the next reader, but fantasy has a well-established tradition of omniscient POV and I really enjoy it, when it’s deftly executed. So, you know, there’s plenty of leeway for surprise and delight. There are innumerable situations I haven’t seen or read about, and those are the ones I want to see and read about.

Thompson: Come to think of it, I could go for more whimsy. I love the dark and gritty stuff. The fishy bitches and the goblin sweatshops. But we’ve got a story coming out by Merrie Haskell that’s very adult but at the same time completely charming. It’s not a kid’s story – it has some pretty mature stuff happening in it. But it’s permeated with whimsy, and we don’t see a lot of that in our slush.

Steffen: Besides the editorial change, are there any other changes in the works for Podcastle?

Thompson: Nothing major. We’re doing some smaller things, like running reviews. We have our first, full-length PodCastle original coming out soon. The other EA podcasts run originals regularly, but PodCastle’s run almost only reprints. So that’s kind of a new thing. But for the most part, getting out a feature-length story every week and a piece of flash fiction every third week keeps us pretty busy.

Schwind: Busy Fitches!

Steffen: When you’re not editing, writing, or reading, what do you like to do?

Thompson: Ha! I don’t think I have time to do too much else. Spend time with my family. I need to make more time to write – I haven’t had as much time to do that in the last six months as I’d like to.

Schwind: I’m strongly tempted to make something up here. I’ll tell you two lies and one truth: I like to watch TV, I like to fold origami, I like to bake cakes.

Steffen: Who do you admire most?

Thompson: To be honest, I’d have to say I think I admire my children most right now. They’ve both had some difficult times this past year, and yet they’ve handled it all with far more grace than I would have. I appreciate their grounding me, and I admire how much joy and wonder they both radiate.

Schwind: Most? Seriously? I have no idea. I admire the way my cats can sleep in uncomfortable positions and the way the sun glints on the Atlantic and the way Obama speaks in public and the way Suzanne Vega sings and the way Darjeeling tea tastes in the morning.

Steffen: In exactly 6 words, what is the meaning of life?

Thompson: Love everyone. Do not be afraid.

Schwind: Inhale. This, too, shall pass. Exhale.

Steffen: What was the last book you read?

Thompson: I’m listening to Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer right now. I’d read the entire Book of the New Sun series years ago, but I just found it online at Audible, and I’m having a great time listening to that on my commute and at work. It’s such a challenging, layered, weird book. I’m also reading Jim MacDonald’s The Apocalypse Door, which is fun. I’m crazy excited for Escape Artist authors who have books coming out: Greg van Eekhout, Tim Pratt (who is serializing Broken Mirrors online for free right now), M.K. Hobson, Samantha Henderson, N.K. Jemisin, and Mary Robinette Kowal – they all have novels coming out soon, and that makes me really happy, because I became a fan of all of them from listening to their stories at Escape Artists.

There’s always way too many things I want to read.

Schwind: The Book Thief by Mark Zusak.

Steffen: Your favorite book?

Thompson: Oh, there’s a few I love. I still remember just needing to take a few hours to think after reading Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in high school. Alex Garland’s The Beach really channelled the GenXer in me. In college, I wanted to escape and live in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I’m still kind of blown away by all the cool weirdness that China Mieville crammed into Perdido Street Station.

Schwind: I can’t fail but notice that all of these questions come in the singular. This makes me sad.

Steffen: Wait a minute… What do you mean “all of these questions”? It’s almost as if you know what questions are coming even before I ask them. But that’s impossible! What am I thinking of right now?

Thompson: Erm, who is your favorite author?

Steffen: I’m the one who asks the questions around here. Now, where was I? Ah yes, now I remember: who is your favorite author?

Steffen: Who is your favorite author?

Thompson: My favorite? That’s a difficult question for a short story editor to answer! Thinking more along novel-length stuff: Gaiman and Mieville, definitely – they’ve had the strongest influence on me.

Schwind: I am wallowing in sadness.

Steffen: What was the last movie you saw?

Thompson: Wow. The last one I saw in the theaters was the last Harry Potter, I think. The last DVD I watched was District 9. But it seems like lately, I’m watching a lot of TV on DVD like Veronica Mars, Pushing Daisies, and The Wire. And, of course, the final season of Lost.

Schwind: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. I love Terry Gilliam.

Steffen: What is your favorite movie?

Thompson: Empire Strikes Back, easily. I would love to carve out nine hours one day and rewatch all the Lord of the Rings movies. I also tend to quote Get Shorty randomly.

Schwind: Now I weep.

Thompson: You don’t like Empire Strikes Back? Or Get Shorty? I’m…not sure I can work with you anymore.

Schwind: As long as we agree that Han shot first, I may be able to stop crying over the tyranny of the singular favorite.

Thompson: Hrm. Guess we can keep working together, then.

Steffen: Incidentally, Anna, could you stop using my invisibility cloak as a hanky? Human tears make it all shimmery, and it costs a fortune to get it dry-cleaned. Now, do you have any upcoming publications you’d like to tell us about?

Thompson: Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe? I’ll have to get back to you on this one.

Schwind: No. I’m trying to be better about submitting stories, but well.

Steffen: Do you have any writing works in progress you’d like to tell us about?

Thompson: Oh, some short stories, a couple novels. You know, the usual. But at this point, I’d feel more comfortable just saying enjoy PodCastle.

Schwind: All my writing consists of works in progress. Very little gets finished or revised. I feel badly for whomever has the task of going through my papers when I die. That said, I expect to be starting a new novel soon, perhaps before the year is out. If you want to read it you’ll need to join my crit group, though. 🙂

Steffen: Thanks to both of you for taking the time to answer a few questions. I know you’ll keep doing a great job in your new roles. I’ll be listening.

Schwind: Thanks for taking the time to interview us. I believe this may be the first time I’ve ever been interviewed.

Thompson: Yes, thank you! It’s a first for me too. Although I do feel kind of ripped off that there weren’t any cockroach-like unicorns to mark the occassion…

Steffen: You didn’t see them because they’re invisible. And pink. I know when they’re nearby because my nose hair tingles and I taste royal purple on my tongue at the same moment that I get a craving for garlic.

Thompson: Ah, yes. I see them now!

New Story: “The Disconnected”

PseudobanI’m happy to announce that my 2nd piece of published fiction has now been set loose on the unsuspecting public. The story is titled “The Disconnected” and is available as a free audio file download from Pseudopod.

Pseudopod is a fiction horror podcast produced by Escape Artists, the same company behind Escape Pod (science fiction) and Podcastle (fantasy). Every week Pseudopod releases one short story in audio format, often reprints from professional publications. Each story has an intro and outro, usually featuring Alasdair Stuart remarking on aspects of life and media that relate to the story in some way or another–his part is entertaining all by itself, let alone the story. A cast of volunteer readers provide the voices for each story. Audio fiction is an entirely different experience from text because it is performed rather than just provided–a good reader can make a good story even better.

The Disconnected is a tale about a possible future, in a world where cell phones have grown so important that to imagine living without them is unthinkable. If I had to pigeonhole it, I would classify it as dark science fiction with a little action/adventure mixed in. The story is not a reprint–it hasn’t been seen anywhere else before this publication. And it’s free, so you have nothing to lose but a half hour of your time. Whether you like it or not, I’d like to hear what you think. You can leave comments on this thread, or you can leave a comment on the story thread at the Escape Artists forums. Negative comments are okay too, though if you dislike the story I’d prefer if you would be willing to explain why. For those of you who don’t like spoilers, you might want to avoid reading the comments below this thread until after you’ve listened to the story.

Whether you liked my story or not, you might want to check out the rest of Pseudopod’s offerings. Their tastes cover a very broad range of horror from zombies to suspense to serial killers to horror/humor to any other sort of dark fiction. My story is the 169th short story they’ve published, as well as a couple dozen pieces of flash fiction. If you are looking for a place to start, you might want to check out my list of The Best of Pseudopod. Over the last few months I’ve listened to every story that Pseudopod had to offer, and here I provide links to my favorite stories of the podcast.

If you like the stories that Pseudopod provides, you might want to consider donating a few dollars to Pseudopod by clicking on their “Feed the Pod” button, but that’s completely up to you.

The Best of Pseudopod

PseudobanSince I was a kid I’ve always enjoyed reading fiction, but for some reason I’d never really considered audio fiction a very intriguing offering. But when I sold my story “The Disconnected” to Pseudopod (due out some time this mont), it was as good a time as any to try out this whole audio thing. I love it! Now I wonder how I ever did without it. I listen to stories on my commute, which transforms the drive into something I look forward to.

For those of you who don’t know, Pseudopod is a horror fiction podcast. Every week they post a new story to their site, usually somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes long. It’s free to download, and you can share it with whoever you want as long as you don’t alter it or sell it. Audio fiction has a whole new dynamic because the reader can add or take away so much. Some stories are much better in audio, and some are better in print, it just depends on the way the story is laid out. Besides the great stories, each week has an intro and outro, usually done by the excellent Alasdair Stuart. These are worth the download alone, as he talks about the themes of the week’s story and relates it to other things in pop culture or his own life.

And for those of you who don’t like horror, you also might want to consider the other fiction podcasts published by Escape Artists, the creators of Pseudopod. Escape Pod is for science fiction and Podcastle is for fantasy. I’m just starting to listen to Podcastle’s backlog, so I expect I’ll do a “Best of Podcastle” article when I finish. <EDIT: I’ve now down a Best of Podcastle and a Best of Escape Pod>

Since July I’ve been plumbing the depths of Pseudopod’s backlog and now I’m sad to say I’ve listened to everything they’ve offered to date. Now I only get one new Pseudopod a week like the rest of the world (released every Friday). But now that I’ve listened to all of Pseudopod’s offerings, I feel qualified to make a list of the Best of Pseudopod, my top ten favorite stories that have been posted to the site (and a few that ALMOST made the list). If you think you might want to give this audio fiction thing a try, these stories are a great place to start. If you like them, I encourage you to help Pseudopod’s continued success by donating, writing a blog post about it, buying an archive disc, or sharing the file with potential fans.

1. Deep Red by Floris M. Kleijne
Read by Ben Phillips
Very few suspense stories actually make me feel the suspense. Not that I don’t enjoy them as entertainment, but they don’t really get me going. This story is the exception. By the end of the story my heart was pounding and I didn’t even take the time to analyze the plot to death as I was listening because I was just so enthralled. This story works really well as an audio tale, as the reading really adds to the experience.

2. Suicide Notes, Written by an Alien Mind by Ferrett Steinmetz
Read by Phil Rossi
This is a dark science fiction tale. In this future, there is an interplanetary war between humans and an alien race with powerful psychic abilities. How can you fight something that can warp your mind and turn you into a weapon against your allies?

3. Stockholm Syndrome by David Tallerman
Read by Cheyenne Wright
Though this story takes place in a post-apocalyptic zombie-filled world, the zombies are not the scary part.

4. Come to My Arms, My Beamish Boy by Douglas F. Warrick
Read by Phil Rossi
No two ways about it, I am scared shitless of Alzheimer’s. The protagonist in this one is an Alzheimer’s sufferer, which is compelling enough as it is, but there’s much more to this tale than that.

5. The Button Bin by Mike Allen
Read by Wilson Fowlie
I would never have thought that buttons could be an element of horror, but this story is simply amazing. The beginning is a bit slow, and the 2nd person is off-putting, but if you stick with it there’s a lot of original ideas in this, and some really vivid imagery.

6. Last Respects by Dave Thompson
Read by Scott Sigler
In a post-Twilight world saturated with fanpires and Stephenie Meyer copycats, it’s really hard to find a vampire story that isn’t just everyone else’s vampire story rehashed. This is a vampire story that breaks past all the stereotypes and succeeds. The protagonists are vampires and the story occurs after the vampires have won the war against the humans. But the vampires themselves have their own humanity. They are sympathetic despite what they are. The horror of this story does not scream for you to pay attention to it. The horrific elements are presented with such a nonchalance and everyday language that they become that much more horrific because of it.

7. Hometown Horrible by Matthew Bey
This one starts off slow, but give it a chance, it’s well worth the time. The story is told as a writer sets out to tell the story of Hellmut Finch, a Wisconsite writer who wrote dark tales. The tales all have a common thread which each other, which begins to become clearer as the story goes on.

8. Stepfathers by Grady Hendrix
Read by Elie Hirschman
Horror comedy is a very tricky subgenre to tackle, but this story manages it perfectly. An Elder God is summoned, but is a little different than he’s expected to be.

9. The Music of Erich Zann by Howard Phillips Lovecraft
Read by BJ Harrison
This is an oldy but a goody, which Pseudopod posted for their 100th issue. This is the one and only H.P. Lovecraft story that I’ve heard (or read for that matter). It starts very very slowly, without much of a hook, but I attribute that more to the style of the times than to any actual failing on Lovecraft’s part. I was expecting tentacled Elder Gods, but I was pleasantly surprised at the turns this took. Despite a plot hole or two, and a slow beginning, the imagery and conclusion of this story were just fantastic. A must listen.

10. Garbage Day by Russell L. Burt
Read by Elie Hirschman
This one’s a fun little flash fiction. It’s a short and sometimes humorous trip following the reasoning of an irrational mind.

Honorable Mentions

The following stories were all close competitors for the top ten, but didn’t quite make it. I could expand it to a top 15 instead, but 10 is such a nice number. Every one of these is well worth your listening time.

Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me by Eugie Foster
Read by Paul S. Jenkins

Bottle Babies by Mary A. Turzillo
Read by Ben Phillips

Clockwork by Trent Jamieson
Read by Ben Phillips

Geist by Chandler Kaiden
Read by Richard Dansky

What Dead People Are Supposed to Do by Paul E. Martens
Read by Ben Phillips

Counting From Ten by Michael Montoure
Read by JC Hutchins