Friday, June 4, 2010

"Sinner, Baker, Fablist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast" by Eugie Foster

Source: Escape Pod, episode 214 (mp3)
Length: 57 min
Reader: Lawrence Santoro

The story: As always, I've selected a story connected to the audiobook review. This week, the connection is that the author of the audiobook, Mur Lafferty, has taken up the reins as editor of Escape Pod, the source of this week's story. For 5 years, Steve Eley did an admirable job producing, editing, and hosting the best fiction podcast anywhere (see Escape Pod 100 for a reason why). Every week, I would look forward not only to the story being presented that week, but also Steve's commentary on the story and bits about his own life. Steve, you will be missed. I'm glad you've left Escape Pod in such capable hands.

This story describes an alien race which uses high-tech masks to take on a different identity every day. Foster uses this culture to explore issues of identity and the faces we show in different situations. The story is the winner of the 2009 Nebula Award for best  novelette and is currently a nominee for the 2010 Hugo Award for best novelette. For those of you who don't keep up with these things, those are the two biggest science fiction awards.  I chose this story not only for its excellence, but also because the themes of a persona that is changed out for another can apply many of the people I "know" through the internet, such as Steve Eley. I realize I may never know the real person (if such a thing exists), but I've had a great time getting to be friends with that one particular persona. Thanks.

Rating: 9/10

The reader: Santoro sounds like a professional audiobook narrator. His voice is deep and clear, with a standard American accent. He speaks not as if he's reading, but as if he actually is the character. The tone, pacing and emotion of his voice are as close to perfect as I've heard. This is a great reading of an excellent story. As always, Escape Pod is introduced by a host, which this time is not Steve, but another host, Alistar. His recording set-up isn't as clear, so if you're new to Escape Pod, you may want to fast forward to about the 1:05 mark where the story begins.

Warning: This story contains explicit descriptions of sex and violence.

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