When I was in university, I travelled by train a lot. Mostly this was due to having a long-distance relationship for two and a half of the three years (we’re now living together, and will be soon celebrating five years of our relationship, for anyone who cares) and travelling two to three hours across the country most weekends. And to fill that time, I read.
To start with, I read novels and magazines. The likes of Black Static and Interzone and the now sadly defunct Murky Depths. I devoured fiction, and even sometimes my textbooks. It was in this mad hunger for the storytelling — and a desire to escape the interminable boredom of public transport — that I discovered the Escape Artist podcasts.
It was actually through TTA Press’ own (apparently also now-defunct) podcast Transmissions from Beyond that I came to encounter first Escape Pod, then Pseudopod. And I was hooked throughout and beyond my university years. More lately I’ve even started listening to the third sibling, PodCastle.
But now these titans of (free) genre fiction are under threat, and they need your help.
If you’re already a listener, then you’ve likely already heard the podcast released under all three titles, calling for donations as a matter of urgency. If not, you should still give it a listen. As things stand, the three Escape Artists podcasts only have enough funds to survive until the end of the year.
Their business model relies on audience donations to fund their costs and pay their authors. The podcasts are all free, so there’s very much an honesty box principle at work.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that these podcasts publish the very best fiction. And the narrators they use are almost always perfectly matched to the stories. It’s a great way of dipping your toes in the wide and varied oceans of the three speculative genres, and even if you’re an accomplished sailor then you’ll find them fair winds and pleasant waters.
And I think I’ve laboured that metaphor quite enough.
I’ve been listening to Escape Pod through Steve Eley, Murr Lafferty and Norm Sherman, and Alasdair Stuart’s hosting on Pseudopod has become every bit as essential listening as the stories. I’m tossing them what spare change I can afford, but in all honesty there isn’t much I can give in the way of money.
But I might be able to give publicity.
So if you haven’t encountered Escape Artists yet, then please go and take a look. Escape Pod, Pseudopod and PodCastle all have extensive back catalogues to leaf through, including flash fiction as well as the longer pieces. It’s all good stuff, but I’d recommend Escape Pod‘s rendition of Robert A. Heinlein’s time-travel classic “All You Zombies”.
And if you listen, and if you like, and if you can afford it, please consider feeding the pod. There are donate buttons on all the sites, and you will be helping to ensure the three of the most innovative magazines active today. It would truly be a travesty if these fine podcasts were forced to close, a loss to all of us.