Author Topic: All time top ten Escape Pod episodes  (Read 5249 times)


  • Palmer
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on: February 27, 2014, 11:58:04 PM
I made an off-hand comment when posting about EP 432 -- Inappropriate Behavior that it was a rare treat to listen to an episode that puts itself in my personal All-Time-Top-Ten-Escape-Pod-Episodes camp.  Which of course made me think about what episodes make that list.

I will admit that while I haven't listened to literally every Escape Pod episode, and there are some reasonably big chunks that I missed, I've probably listened to more than half.  I listened to the first 50 or so at one point after I'd been listening for a while, I listened to a big bunch when I started listening around episode 92 and 93, and of course I'm still listening in the present with occasional big gaps (stupid law school).  Here's my top 10 as of today.   I'd love to hear other people's!

10. Escape Pod 116 – Ej-Es, by Nancy Kress
One of the recurring themes of this top ten list is going to be stories where the SF element gives rise to an occasion for big emotion.  This one culminates with a literal cry of loss that is only possible given the SF scenario proposed.  I still remember it half a decade later, which is by itself a good compliment.

9. Escape Pod 112 – The Giving Plague, by David Brin
My enjoyment of this one is a bit more cerebral.  I like the central conceit of a microbe that impacts human behavior in a major way and how that calls into question our sense of what is "us" and what is "other."  I also love the protagonist, who thinks of himself as a selfish bastard who anyone observing from the outside would probably regard as a once-in-a-century hero.

8. Escape Pod 111 – Mayfly, by Heather Lindsley
Here's one in a theme of stories I love of people who are in some ways vastly alien and in another totally comprehensible.  Mayfly—telling the story of one of a race of apparently human creatures who live only a very brief time—is a great example.

7. Escape Pod 143 – Flaming Marshmallow and Other Deaths by Camille Alexa
This story got me to buy the anthology Machine of Death, an anthology of stories all based around the same central premise—a device will tell you (cryptically, often) how you are going to die, but not when.  This story, which leads the anthology, puts that technology in the hands of teenagers on the cusp of adulthood and really captures that moment—fraught both for the teenager and her father.  In my mind, it is easily the best in the anthology.

6. Escape Pod 432 – Inappropriate Behavior, by Pat Murphy
Here's the one that inspired this list.  Another example of an "alien" mentality giving rise to a dramatic struggle that I felt intensely.  In this case, though, the alien mentality is not alien at all but that of a child on the autism spectrum.

5. Escape Pod 217 – The Kindness of Strangers, by Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress' second entry on the list.  I always thought this one could make an awesome low budget SF film.  Given the history of the phrase, any story using the title would have to use it in the most bitterly ironic way possible, and I think this story hits that mark.  Big emotion plus rumination on the human character.  Score.

4. Escape Pod 104 – Impossible Dreams, by Tim Pratt
Well-deserved Hugo winner.  "The Magnificent Ambersons – Director's Cut" was all I had to hear.  Plus, because it is a Tim Pratt story, excellent interpersonal relationship depiction.

3. Escape Pod 161 – Alien Promises, by Janni Lee Simner
I still remember crying as I listened to this one and did the dishes.  The idea of a group of people with nothing in common other than the fact that they feel utterly disconnected from humanity is so evocative and that they find each other and that it's…better, but still no substitute for their dreams.  So much good.

2. Escape Pod 194 -- Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
I think there's a little contest for my affections for who can construct the weirdest world that tugs my heartstrings.  This story wins that contest with its world of mechanical, air-powered beings. The world is weird, but the fundamental problem—all things must pass, entropy conquers all—is deeply familiar.  Awesome story.

1. Escape Pod 144 -- Friction, by Will McIntosh
Some on this list are probably kind of controversial.  It is a testament to this story that I'm pretty confident it won't be.  I'm not saying it's the top of everyone's list, but I think there are few long time Escape Pod listeners who wouldn't at least consider putting it on the list.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one for whom, six years later, this the unquestioned standard by which Escape Pod episodes are judged.  I remember I listened to it the same day as I listened to the Mindwebs production of Harlan Ellison's "'Repent Harlequin,' Said the Ticktock Man," which is regarded as a classic.  "Friction" cleaned its clock.  Many sad and joyous tears were shed over this one, let me tell you.