The Overcast is a podcast, based in the Pacific Northwest, which puts out a short story every two weeks or so. It must be as rainy as they say in that part of the country, as there are approximately one gigazillion podcasts there which have named themselves “The Overcast”.
I haphazardly selected seven stories from the Overcast. I found most of them to be three-star stories (out of five), with a couple of them dipping lower.
Protector of the Village Near Death (podcast #60) by Voss Foster. A young man with a sword wants to defend/rescue a village, but the villagers don’t want him around.
Almost Angels (podcast #59) by Ian McHugh. When the human colonists die, the robots have to come up with a new goal.
Long As I Can See the Light (podcast #58) by Maria Haskins. The main character thinks aliens are taking over everyone’s brains. He has some mild form of autism, so they can’t get in his. He runs off and lives in the woods for years. He returns, and the people tell him aliens haven’t possessed them, they’ve just cured them of the human race’s negative traits, thereby ending war, internal combustion engines, etc.. He lets the aliens in his brain, and learns that it is a takeover, as his consciousness is completely smothered and/or snuffed out.
How to Paper Train Your Dragon (podcast #57) by Nadya Duke. A little girl adopts a stray dragon, thinking it will keep her sister’s unicorn from poking her in the butt.
A Slow Constant Path (podcast #50) by Erica Satifka. Earth sends out colonists on a generation ship, but wants them to have cultural stability, so sends along long-life robots imprinted with human personalities to guide the successive generations. Earth hit on the idea that humans don’t trust other humans, but like pets, so the robots were given synthetic cat bodies, and also some cat programming so they would move and act like cats. The robots’ combination of cat indifference and human vindictiveness doesn’t work out well for the colonists.
The Humpback’s Wardrobe (podcast #40) by Timothy Day. Kind of a funny idea about a coat-hanger repair shop, but the story turns into more of a relationship blah blah than an exploration of the idea.
At the end of each podcast, the author gets to talk a bit about their story. In this case, it illuminated something for me. There was a section late in the story where I got confused, saying to myself, “What? That character is his wife?”. The author states that he hadn’t planned for that character to be the other character’s wife, but decided while writing to make it so. So, it’s like he wrote the story stream-of-consciousness, and never went back for an edit. If that’s how people are writing short stories these days, it could explain a lot of what I’m reading.
Blink Twice (podcast #30) by Rebecca Birch. 99% married-couple drama, 1% time travel.