Source: Escape Pod, Episode 100
Length: 1 hr, 31 min
Reader: Stephen Eley
The story: "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov is a classic of science fiction by one of the genre's greatest writers. Astronomers on a planet in a solar system with multiple suns have predicted an event that will mean the end of their civilization, if they are right. In their observatory, the scientists are visited by a reporter who, along with the rest of the planet, has ridiculed the astronomers' prediction. Now, as the supposed moment of doom approaches, the reporter is seeking an interview.
I think what makes this story work is that Asimov invites the reader to be a scientist as well. We have information that the scientists in the story do not have, but we must apply it in an unfamiliar context: an alien world whose details we learn bit by bit in conversation among the characters. This set-up forces us to form and reform hypotheses while we wait along with our fellow scientists for the experiment to come to fruition.
The reader: Steve Eley is a wonderful narrator. Along with being the host of Escape Pod, he reads many of the stories, so he's had plenty of experience in getting his intonation right, acting characters' voices, editing out noise, and all the other skills that go into making a clean, enjoyable recording. This episode is the 100th of Escape Pod's history, so in the intro Eley gives a bit of a look back at what Escape Pod is and how it started. If you haven't heard much Escape Pod before, this is a great place to dip your toes in; it's got an interesting intro, an excellent narrator, and a classic story.