The Best of Journey Into… 2013

written by David Steffen

Marshal Latham continues on with his podcast, which runs both new stories newly produced and recordings of old radio shows from the heyday of radio. He also had a special Edgar Allen Poe month at the beginning of 2013 wherein he asked for submissions of Poe-esque stories which also are inspired by and share names with Poe story titles. In November he posted a podcast every single day in an event he dubbed the Superhero Marathon Spectacular. Good stuff!

In 2013 he published about 38 stories, by my reckoning.


The List

1. Sorry, Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher
A disabled woman accidentally ends up getting a crossed line when trying to dial her husband, and overhears plans for a murder. She then tries desparately to get the police to act on her evidence. This story is particularly interesting because it’s so rooted in a state of technology that was only the norm for a short time window–before that, phones weren’t prevalent. After that, phones didn’t need operators for routine connections. Without that specific window of technology, there’s no story here.

2. Emily 501 by Tamara Hladik
Researcher discovers and studies alien artifacts. Can she come to understand these strange creatures by what they left behind?

3. Kellerman’s Eye Piece by Mary Elizabeth Counselman
A man receives an apparently defective eyepiece for his telescope which makes him see strange things when he looks at the moon. He comes to the conclusion that the lens is not actually defective, but somehow allows him to see things which would ordinarily be invisible.

4. The Masque of the Red Death by Lee Lackey
No, this isn’t a plagiarism of Edgar Allen Poe. This is one of the winners of the Edgar Allen Poe contest. Though it shares the title of the story, it otherwise is not connected to it. It uses the title to good use.

5. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Some might think it wrong for me to put such a famous and revered work at #5. It’s not that I don’t like the story. I do. But I also read it for the first time a decade and a half ago, and much of my interest in fiction is for novelty. If this were my first read, it may have been higher. Still, it made the list despite my longtime familiarity with it, so that says something for its lasting appeal.


Honorable Mentions

The Martian Crown Jewels by Poul Anderson
With over-the-top but fun voice-acting by Bronson Pinchot.



The Best of Journey Into…

written by David Steffen

Journey Into… is one of the newer fiction podcasts out there, its first episode running in June 2011. It is the brainchild of Marshal Latham, who I’d mostly known as one of the staff members over at Escape Pod (a forum moderator, among other things). But just because it’s new doesn’t mean that it isn’t quality. He’s had prior production experience as one of the volunteer episode producers for the Dunesteef podcast.

Journey Into… is a little different from the other podcasts I listen to in that mixed in with newly produced fiction, he also mixes in episodes from old time radio fiction like X Minus One and Suspense. Part of the reason he does it is to help with time budgeting so that he doesn’t have so many stories to produce from scratch, but it gives the podcast a unique feel and gives me a chance to listen to some of those old shows that were before my time.

Good work, Marshal, and keep it up!

1. Red Road by David Barr Kirtley
Usually I’m not a big fan of stories with talking animals taking human-like roles. At least not in adult stories–in kid stories they’re fine. I just find them very hard to take seriously. But this story is a strong exception. I first read this in Intergalactic Medicine Show some years ago, and it is very powerful. A good quest with a solid emotional core and solid characters. Parts of this leave me with chills.

2. The Machine Stops (Part 1 and Part 2) by E.M. Forster
A very interesting story of a future world where we have become over-dependent on a network of machines that has joined together into one massive world-spanning machine that makes all of our decisions for us. The world society all but treats it as a deity, but without saying so. But some members of the society are bothered by this.

3. Dream Engine (Part 1 and Part 2) by Tim Pratt
Tim Pratt is my favorite short story author, so it’s no surprise that his story would end up here. This story takes place in the Nex, a city that exists in a hub of parallel worlds, with other worlds constantly rotating around it in near reach. The economy and well-being of this world depends on the engines that grab goods from these nearby worlds, but now a monster threatens the Nex and everyone in it.

4. The Trial of Thomas Jefferson by David Barr Kirtley
Time travel is possible, but you can’t change history because it takes huge amounts of energy to keep the reality on the other side in existence. What you can do is open a portal to the past and pull something back through to your time. In this story, prominent figures from history are pulled through to stand trial for their crimes. No one balks when this is Adolf Hitler, but what about those members of history that most see in a more positive light?

5. Zero Hour by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury does creepy children stories extremely well, as in this story where children claim that invisible aliens are communicating with them.

6. The Last Days of the Kelly Gang by David D Levine
Australian steampunk with a steam-powered armor suit coming into the hands of a legendary outlaw.


Honorable Mentions

Hop Frog by Edgar Allen Poe
Never heard of this one by Poe, but it is very good, very dark.

The Fog Horn by Ray Bradbury
You’ve got to love a story that makes you sympathize with a monster.

The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein
Instead of developing a highway system for transport, this world creates moving conveyor belt network that covers the country.