Lavie Tidhar’s latest short story, “Set Down This”, has just been published in audio form at Pseudopod, read by South African voice actor Elan Russel. The story was originally published in Phantom, an anthology edited by Sean Wallace and Paul G. Tremblay.
On my brother’s computer, a video file shows an American fighter plane pinpointing a group of men in Iraq.
‘Do it?’ the pilot says.
‘Ten seconds to impact.’
Where the men have been there is a huge explosion, and black smoke covers the grainy grey streets. ‘Dude,’ the pilot says.
I have no faces and no names to put to the men. The black smoke must have contained the atoms of their flesh, their bones (though bones are hardy), vaporized sweat, burnt eyebrows and pubic hair and nose hair (unless they used a trimmer, as I do), in short, the atoms of their being. Later, I think, one could find, lying in the street, a tooth or two, the end of a finger that had somehow survived, fragments of bone, a legless shoe. These men are nothing to me. They are pixels on a screen, a peer-shared digital file uploaded from sources unknown, provenance suspect, whose only note of authenticity is that young pilot’s voice when the smoke rises and he says, quietly – ‘Dude.’
Mexican writer Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s story, “Bed of Scorpions”, originally featured in the anthology Tesseracts 13, is now available in audio at Pseudopod, read by Christiana Ellis:
“It scares me,” she said finally.
“That he’s dying.”
She turned to look at him.
“He’s filthy rich, you know,” Ramon said as he smoked a cigarette. Normally he wore gloves to avoid staining his fingers, but he had foregone such formalities in this remote corner of the state.
“I don’t want to marry him.”
“I said he was rich.”
“Maybe he will not want to marry me.”
“He better, and you better please him. There’s more money here than we’ve ever had.”
“Then you please him.”
Ramon grabbed her by the jaw, fingers digging into her flesh, and pulled her forward.
“I’ve had my share of old, ugly bitches in my bed. Sores and wrinkles and grey hair. All to keep you fed and dressed.”
“To keep us fed and dressed,” she muttered.
Lavie Tidhar’s South African-set story, “Bophuthatswana”, is now available as a podcast on Pseudopod, read by Elan Ressel.
‘You know what they call people like us in America?’ I say.Wez looks at me sideways. His pupils are large, his dark hair falling over a delicate oval face. ‘I don’t know, bru. Super-heroes?’‘No, asshole,’ I say. I take a hit on the spliff and pass it to him. The smoke percolates through my lungs and the definition of light outside grows sharper. Wez is Chinese and lives with him mum down near Bruma Lake. His mum’s a born-again Christian. He is the colour of pine and burnt amber. Beside him, I am Ethiopian Mocha, drunk with cream. ‘They call us “people of colour”.’Wez takes a toke on the spliff and shakes his head. ‘That’s fucked up, bru.’ The car races down past walled suburban prisons decorated in barbed wire and electronic alarms and “Beware The Dog” signs. ‘Does that mean white people are called “colourless”?’‘No,’ I say. ‘I think they’re just called people.’