PodCastle Episode 288: Flash Fiction Contest Strikes Back!

Originally posted at PodCastle.org

This week we’re back with a special episode collecting the winners of our recent flash fiction contest! A huge congratulations to our winners – we’re looking forward to hearing more stories from them!

3rd Prize:
“Georgina and the Basilisk,” by Leslianne Wilder
Read by LaShawn Wanak

2nd Prize:

“The Bear,” by Taven Moore
Read by Christiana Ellis

1st Prize:

“Wuffle,” by Chantal Beaulne
Read by Nathaniel Lee

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Pseudopod 361: The Murmurous Paleoscope

I narrated another story for Pseudopod, and now it’s live!

“The Murmurous Paleoscope” was originally published in THE THREE-LOBED BURNING EYE and can be read there. The story accurately reflects a few elements of 19th century fossil hunting culture: the importance of shales; the early women fossil hunters (including Mary Anning, for whom the Lens in the story is named); and the fossil “Bone Wars” of Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope, which really did get violent and excessively paranoid.

DIXON CHANCE is the “just for the joy of it” pseudonym of David Ellis Dickerson, a regular contributor to “This American Life” and other public radio shows, and the author of the memoir HOUSE OF CARDS (Riverhead 2009) about my career as a writer at Hallmark. My work has appeared in The Atlantic MonthlyThe Gettysburg Review, and Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror.

This story was an enormous amount of fun. You should listen, and then donate to support the great work that Escape Artists do in Pseudopod, Escape Pod and Podcastle!

And I must say that I was utterly DELIGHTED by the way I am introduced as the narrator by Alasdair Stuart, the host:

“High Queen of Awesome and close friend of Nina Kimberly the Merciless. Evil space creatures cringe at her tread.”

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Something Ventured, Nothing Gained #3

A re-watch of The Venture Brothers continues!

Join Christiana Ellis, Justin Diehl, and Jared Axelrod for a re-watch of the greatest cartoon ever!

In this episode, they discuss the episodes: “The Incredible Mr. Brisby”, and “Eeney, Meeney, Miney, Magic!”!

Here is the link to the bonus commentary from the creators of Venture Brothers for Home Insecurity

Music is “Found Friday” by Chooch Schubert

Find all things Jared Axelrod at JaredAxelrod.com

And Justin Diehl is participating in the Dog Days of Podcasting Challenge!

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Guest Appearance: Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things #59

Ken Lopez was kind enough to invite me onto his Game of Thrones podcast!

Originally posted here!

Welcome to a brand new episode of “Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things.”


“Suffragette City“

Today we carry on with a month-long season #3 wrap up by talking about some of the ladies of Game of Thrones.

The great Matt Murdick, from “Podcast Winterfell,” and Christiana from the “Beyond the Wall” podcast join me to talk about the female warriors of the story.

These women are tough. They fight and buck the system. They’re fierce…..but are still women to the core.

On the docket today:

1. The Wolf-Girl

2. The Mother of Dragons….who’s also a scared, idealistic little girl.

3. The remarkable evolution of Osha the Wildling.

4. Daughter of Salt and Stone

5. A Wildling in Love

6. A revolutionary Concept: The truly feminine knight

We’ve had bad-ass female characters as focal points in the last 20 years: Clarice Starling, Dana Scully and Buffy…..but in this story, we’re treated to at least 7!

These women are strong, physical, and ruled just as much by their hearts as their heads.

Complicated and endlessly fascinating.

Long may these women reign!


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Balticon 2012 Hubble Telescope Writing Contest

In this panel from Balticon 2012, Christiana Ellis, Mur Lafferty, Scott Sigler and Nathan Lowell participate in a live story-writing contest based on the real science of black holes. Also featuring Dr. Pamela Gay and George Hrab.

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Beyond the Wall S2 – Episode 0

P.G. Holyfield moderates this week’s panel discussion with Chooch, Vivid Muse, Christiana and Nutty.

P.G. Holyfield (author of Murder at Avedon Hill and SFM Founder
Nuchtchas (Host of Nutty Bites Podcast)
Chooch (Into the Blender Podcast Co-Host, and bassist of Ditched By Kate)
Vivid Muse (Into the Blender Podcast Co-Host), Girls’ Rules Podcast Host)
Christiana Ellis (too many podcasts to list here;-)but you can check out all things Christiana at her site.

Contact Us:

Email: btw at specficmedia.com
Phone: 6199-BTW-GoT (619-928-9468)

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Escape Pod Episode #335 – The Water Man by Ursula Pflug

Reposted from http://escapepod.org

By Ursula Pflug
Read by Christiana Ellis
Discuss on our forums. 
Originally appeared in Anthology Series: Tesseracts # 3, 1991
All stories by Ursula Pflug
All stories read by Christiana Ellis
Rated 13 and up for language

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I got a Playstation Vita. Here’s what I think about it…

The Hardware:

The Vita feels very natural in the hands, comfortable to hold, feels like a well-manufactured product. It’s not too heavy, the buttons feel good and responsive, and the two analog joysticks work great. It doesn’t disappear into the hands like a regular PS3 dualshock controller, but that’s not a big complaint given that we’ve got a really big beautiful screen in the middle of it. I know I’ll be echoing a lot of other online reviews when I say this, but you really have to see the screen in person to fully appreciate it. The picture is big and sharp, the colors are bright. It really pops. You see this thing in action, you want to see more, you want to hold it, to play with it. It’s really a well-designed little gadget.


So let’s get this out of the way. Setting it up is a moderate pain. Kind of a Sony thing already, and I got the 3G model, so add AT&T into that mix. First, the Vita requires a day one firmware update. Fine. But a firmware update that actively prevents you from following the quick start guide that ships with the device? It produces a loop of error messages that can only be bypassed by doing things in a different order. Embarrassing. Then there’s the fact that, apparently, I can’t have my iPad 3G plan and my Vita 3G plan use the same email address. What?

I eventually got all that settled, and it’s working fine now, but this sort of stupid crap can really sour the new buyer’s experience, especially for someone who may have less experience with Sony and AT&T’s crap.

User Interface:

However! Once you do get it going, the new UI is actually pretty slick. Unlike the PS3’s XMB, the Vita uses icons that evoke bubbles, and sheets that you flip through like pages in a book using the touch screen. It’s very intuitive and fun to navigate. “Welcome Park” places itself front and center, bouncing up and down when you first start up, leading you to a collection of minigames that introduce several of the features of the vita, (touchscreen, camera, microphone, rear touchscreen, etc.) Nothing too meaty there, but it gets the job done. More substantive is “Near” which I think may only be on the 3G versions. It’s sort of a GPS-enabled social-networky sort of thing. It’s a little inscrutable without much in the way of tutorial, but it seems like it could be fun and I look forward to playing around with it a bit more.


Before I get into the specific games, I think it’s telling that I ended up getting way more games more quickly than I expected. Originally, I planned to just buy Uncharted and Super Stardust Delta, but the more I held it in my hands, I just wanted to try more and more. Not from feeling that either of those games was lacking, but just a feeling of “Whoa, cool! What else can it do?” Now, onto the games I got.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss

This shows right away why the Vita’s dual analog sticks set it apart from other portables. An action game like Uncharted really demands it, and this is something that your iPhone or 3DS just can’t do. The game looks beautiful, almost on par with the first Uncharted on the PS3. I’m not that far into the game yet, but the action plays really well. I have to say the script isn’t quite up to the same standard I’ve come to expect from previous Uncharted games. That doesn’t make it bad, exactly, just ordinary. Still, this seems to me like one of the best games to really show off the system.

Super Stardust Delta

If you’ve tried the original Super Stardust on the PS3, then you pretty much know what to expect here, but it scales perfectly to the smaller screen and controls like a dream. Basically it’s a twin-stick arcade shooter, where you move around a planet with the left stick and fire in any direction with the right stick. You’re taking out asteroids and aliens and things get frenetic really quickly. No story really, but lots of fun.

Lumines: Electronic Symphony

I never played any of the other versions of Lumines, but I gather the basic game is the same. It’s a vaguely Tetris-y puzzle game with up-tempo electronic music and trance-inducing visuals. I don’t feel like I have a lot else to say about it except that every portable needs a solid puzzler and this’ll do just fine.

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack

“Nothing moves the blob!” Well, except for you, of course. This is another sequel to a PSN game, but it it’s beautiful and fun and funny and cheap. You control a blob, and in revenge for all the experiments that have been performed on you, you are going to eat the world! Well, absorb it and add its mass to your own, anyway. It’s a challenging platformer with a delightfully funny aesthetic. Loved it. It’s not long, but it’s the first vita game I’ve beaten and it was definitely worth it.

Rayman Origins

This is a port of the game that’s already been on other consoles, but I almost feel like I like it better here. I tried the demo on the PS3 but it didn’t grab me for whatever reason. However, on the Vita, the bright colors and the short portable-friendly levels make it a great fit.

PSP Games:

One of the very nice things about the Vita for me is that it is backwards compatible with PSP games. (As long as they are purchased through the PSN, anyway. The UMD’s don’t work.) However, because I never had a PSP, now I have access to that library of games, and there are some good ones! These are the three I’ve picked up so far. (Since they’re not new, I’ll be brief)

Half-Minute Hero

Another perfect fit for a portable. Imagine a Super Nintento Final Fantasy spit into a blender and shredded into dozens of frantic thirty-second chunks! Now add in shooter bits, RTS bits, and all sorts of other stuff. It sounds crazy and it is, but fun too.

Corpse Party

Speaking of the SNES aesthetic, who would have thought you could make an ACTUALLY SCARY horror RPG with it? I wouldn’t have, but here you go.

Patapon 2

Rhythm Game + RPG + Hyper-cuteness = Patapon 2. Better play it with headphones or anyone else in the room will try to murder you. http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/03/03

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Escape Pod 299 – Plus or Minus

By James Patrick Kelly
Read by: Christiana Ellis
Originally appearing in Asimov’s
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by James Patrick Kelly
All stories read by Christiana Ellis
Nominated for the Hugo Award for Novelette, 2011

Rated appropriate for older teens and up for sexual situations and violence.

Plus Or Minus

By James Patrick Kelly

Everything changed once Beep found out that Mariska’s mother was the famous Natalya Volochkova.   Mariska’s life aboard the Shining Legend went immediately from bad to awful.  Even before he singled her out, she had decided that there was no way she’d be spending the rest of her teen years crewing on an asteroid bucket.  Once Beep started persecuting her, she began counting down the remaining days of the run as if she were a prisoner.  She tried explaining that she had no use for Natalya Volochkova, who had never been much of a mother to her, but Beep wouldn’t hear it.  He didn’t care that Mariska had only signed on to the Shining Legend to get back at her mother for ruining her life.

Somehow that hadn’t worked out quite the way she had planned.

For example, there was crud duty.  With a twisting push Mariska sailed into the command module, caught herself on a handrail, and launched toward the starboard wall.  The racks of  instrument screens chirped and beeped and buzzed; command was one of the loudest mods on the ship.  She stuck her landing in front of navigation rack and her slippers caught on the deck burrs, anchoring her in the ship’s  .0006 gravity.   Sure enough, she could see new smears of mold growing from the crack where the nav screen fit into the wall.  This was Beep’s fault, although he would never admit it.  He kept the humidity jacked up in Command, said that dry air gave him nosebleeds.  Richard FiveFord claimed they came from all the drugs Beep sniffed but Mariska didn’t want to believe that.  Also Beep liked to sip his coffee from a cup instead sucking it out of a bag, even though he slopped all the time.  Fungi loved the sugary spatters.  She sniffed one particularly vile looking smear of mold.  It smelled faintly like the worms she used to grow back home on the Moon.  She wiped her nose with the sleeve of her jersey and reached to the holster on her belt for her sponge. As she scrubbed, the bitter vinegar tang of disinfectant gel filled the mod.  Not for the first time, she told herself that this job stunk.

She felt the tingle of Richard FiveFord offering a mindfeed and opened her head.  =What?=

His feed made a pleasant fizz behind her eyes, distracting her. =You done any time soon?=  Distraction was Richard’s specialty


=Didit is making a dream for us.=


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Video! Unboxing of my new PC!

I open my new computer from Doghouse Systems.

YouTube Link: Chrisitana\’s new PC Unboxed!

A few people asked for the system specs:

A few people asked for specs, so here they are. It is an Armor TL 570 from Doghouse Systems.
Armor TL 570
* Second-generation Intel Core i7 2600K Unlocked Quad-Core Processor (Factory overclocked to 4.4GHz Max Turbo Frequency)
* Corsair H50 closed-loop water-cooled CPU cooler
* 8 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600 Memory (4 x 2GB DIMMs)
* NVIDIA EVGA GTX 570 Video Card
* One 1 TB 7,200 RPM WD Black Edition SATA Drive
* One EVGA GTX 570 video card (1GB GDDR5 SDRAM)
* 750W Corsair Power Supply
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