written by David Steffen
Another year, another round of Best Of lists.
Pseudopod, and the other Escape Artists casts had a bit of a crisis to overcome this year–they realized that although they had a great listenership, only 1% of the listeners donated, and it wasn’t enough to keep the publications afloat. The good news is that when they revealed this there was a strong reaction to add subscriptions–if you read this and you like the cast, consider adding a subscription.
And I thought this was another strong year for Pseudopod, and I’m not just saying that because two of my own stories were published during the year. Since I don’t consider my own stories for Best Of lists, I’ll just mention them briefly here. “Meat” is the story of a domestic housebot doing the best he can under difficult circumstances. “Helpers” is a special dark Christmas episode.
Pseudopod published 58 stories in 2013, of which these are my personal favorites.
1. Neighborhood Watch by Greg Egan
Point of view of a monster summoned by the leaders of a suburban neighborhood to make it prey on only the wrong kind of person for the neighborhood. Not very many monsters come off as original, but this one was done extraordinarily well and the narration of Ron Jon Newton really made it even better.
2. The Murmurous Paleoscope by Dixon Chance
A lot of steampunk stories seem like the steampunk elements are just set dressing, goggles and gears without any real consideration for how the world would have to be different to make this environment. This is the story of a female archaeologist during a time period when archaeology digs were viciously competitive. Each side has its own steampunk gadgets to use in its work, and it really gets interesting when they find something in the dig.
3. Bunraku by David X. Wiggin
This story is about an incredibly lifelike puppet, which in the hands of its creator the master puppeteer attracts the love of a man. The puppeteer and the man work out a bargain to allow the man to continue his romance with the puppet. Ugghhh, yeah creepy.
4. Cell Call by Marc Laidlaw
The protagonist of this story takes a wrong turn on his way home, and ends up somewhere just sideways of normality. He’s on the phone with his wife, his only connection to his regular life.
5. Cry Room by Ted Kosmatka
You know how in some churches, they have a separate room for parents to take their crying babies? What happens to the kids who are too noisy for the cry room? Oh, you didn’t notice the door in the back?
6. Boxed by Donald McCarthy
What would you do if you had a magic box which had the ability to wipe away any memory you chose?
The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold
FootSteps Invisible by Robert A. Arthur Jr.
The Bungalow House by Thomas Ligotti