I do love me some talking dog stories. They’re such fun! And you don’t even have to take them for walksies. Just listen to a reading of “Eugene,” by Jacob Sager Weinstein.
Eugene is a dogman serving as a police officer. There’s such an immense amount of charm in his narration. The story itself is a day in the life thing, going on patrol, catching bad guys, saving people. Even Eugene has to overcome his doubt that he is a good person, and he does it with reassuring enthusiasm.
It’s a good story, yes it is.
You have to wonder what’s the point of making android robots, if not to, um date them. In “Eros, Philia, Agape” a robot suffers emotional abuse from a woman he’s designed to love, but he questions that. In Tim Pratt’s “A Programmatic Approach to Perfect Happiness,” a robot suffers sexualized abuse, but he’s programmed himself to enjoy that, so he doesn’t question that. It’s an interesting question, whether or not you ask it, and I liked both stories. Also the reading of teh latter one of Escape Pod gave me a nice, evil laugh at the end.
Since this story is about banging robots, there’s a lot of justifiable f-bombs.
In New Skies, there are a fair number of classics which are heavily anthologized elsewhere, such as “Out of All Them Bright Stars” and “They’re Made Out of Meat“. Most of the stories seem to be directed at young people who haven’t read science fiction before. I think if that were the case for me, I would have liked better the one about the woman who walked around the Moon, or the one about the guy fighting his way down and up an immense, city-like tower. But what led me to look for this collection was a wonderfully creepy reading on Escape Pod of “Will You Be An Astronaut?,” by Greg Van Eekhout. This story takes the whole idea of a science fiction for young people in a whole, weird direction.
One nice thing about my iTouch is that I can carry it outside and play in the garden while catching up on listening to fun stories like “Sleepy Joe,” by Marc Laidlaw. This amusing story got a fabulous reading on Escape Pod.
There is only one water feature in “Betting the Family Farm” by Wenonah Lyon, so the story is quite dry. I like the dry descriptions of events as an alien comes to Earth to play golf. I like the dry reading it got on Escape Pod. It doesn’t even rain in the story.
So, for today, we’re dry.
I’m finding stories I like again, but not yet from the Hugo nominations. I’m having fun listening to old Escape Pods. “Semi-Autonomous,” by Jim Kling really cracks me up. Told by a semi-autonomous answering machine, it’s a short tale that escalates hilariously.
Collected in Futures From Nature.
Where “Evil Robot Monkey” touched my heart, “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang engaged my brain. No, wait. It stole my brain and turned it inside out in one long thought experiment. The reading on Escape Pod perfectly matches the dry tone of the narration. Opening with the jarring image of exchanging lungs for freshly charged ones as a daily routine, the narrator steadily discloses a strange world with familiar concerns.
“Evil Robot Monkey“, by Mary Robinette Kowal presents yet another talking animal for me to fall in love with.
Told as the rejection letter from a science journal, Standards, by Richard K. Lyon, is full of deft hints of adventure and dry put-downs of the sort of mad genius who submits patents for perpetual motion machines and trisects angles in his sleep. And I think that sentence is almost as long as the story. I just wish I could thank Mr. Lyon for giving the world a good laugh.
Go listen to it.
If you’re looking for a moving story about sacrifice that’s not related to the holidays, you might appreciate “Reparations” by Merrie Haskell, in an excellent reading on Escape Pod. Like “Wikihistory” it involves time travel to Worrld War II, but it’s the polar opposite in tone.