The Drabblecast is a podcast which puts out a short story every week. Their tagline is “strange stories, by strange authors, for strange listeners”, and they deliver. I listened to five of their stories, and four of them are probably the weirdest stories I’ve read during my magazine quest. (The fifth was a fairly conventional urban fantasy.)
These aren’t the type of stories I’m looking for, but if boredom with current SFF offerings leads you to desire something weird and bizarre, you might find it on the Drabblecast.
Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs (podcast #381) by Lauren Beukes. A South African woman uses her mech to battle a giant hairball on the streets of Tokyo, then, when her mech is incapacitated, searches for the source of the hairball on foot.
Music played all during the reading of this story, and while this was only a minor annoyance when I listened with headphones, it often made the story unintelligible over my car speakers.
I also didn’t like the main character, as I’m not fond of sociopathic protagonists. Her team is killed during the opening scene, but she’s only upset because their blood got on her boots. Her boots were made from the penis-skin of a whale, something the author found so clever that she had to mention it three times. Sadly, the penis references didn’t end there. I’ve crunched the numbers, and found that, for me, the optimal number of penis references in any story is zero.
The Four Generations of Chang E (podcast #380) by Zen Cho.
Generation #1: wins emigration lottery, moves to the moon, where she is looked down upon by the super-smart aliens who live there.
Generation #2: has surgery to make her eyes look like the aliens’. Doesn’t like sentient rabbits.
Generation #3: marries a sentient rabbit.
Generation #4: apparently still human. Travels to earth to bury her mother’s ashes.
Giraffe Cyborg Cleans House (podcast #378) by Matthew Smith. In future Tanzania, household chores are done by enhanced giraffes, lions, and Acacia trees.
Here There Be Monsters? (podcast #377) by Robert Russell. Kids at a fat camp (who mostly seem to be bullies) link up with some monsters at an insufficiently-scary monster camp. The kids have seen too much scary stuff (presumably on TV?) to be frightened, but suggest that the monsters go after adults. They know their parents are scared of “house bubbles” and “reptile dysfunction”.
The story delves into politics at the end, and while I normally hate politics in my SFF, I was OK with it here, because it took shots at both sides equally. One monster calls into a right-wing radio show, telling the host that there is going to be a gay president, and all the black helicopters will become pink helicopters. Another monster meets a group of hippies, and convinces them that oil companies will do “sky fracking” to get at the cow-fart methane in the atmosphere.
Ghost in the Coffee Machine (podcast #375) by Charity Tahmaseb. A ghostbuster who traps ghosts in her coffee machine faces a new competitor who traps ghosts in a teakettle. This was the story that was more traditional urban fantasy, and less bizarro weirdness.