Can robots feel sadness? In Episode 6, AE and Mona read "Robots Don't Cry" by Mike Resnick, first published in the July 2003 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. In this story, a pair of scavengers discover a deactivated robot on an abandoned planet. You can read along here http://www.baen.com/Chapters/9781625791511/9781625791511___3.htm Credit for Greenwillow's background wind effect goes to Enviro Ambient on YouTube.
Does the difference between natural and artificial matter when they are indistinguishable? In Episode 5, AE and Mona read "Beneath Impossible Circumstances" by Andrea Kneeland, first published in the April 2012 issue of Strange Horizons. In this story, a lesbian cyborg tries to deal with her wife's desires for a "natural" baby. You can read along here http://strangehorizons.com/fiction/beneath-impossible-circumstances/
How do we get cops to stop shooting black people? In Episode 4, AE reads "The Venus Effect " by Joseph Allen Hill, first published in the December 2016 issue of Lightspeed Magazine. Joining him for the first time is a woman (that is, for the podcast. AE has seen plenty of women) to provide female voices for the female characters. "The Venus Effect" is a fun piece of metafiction. In it, the narrator struggles to get out a coherent story before the protagonist is killed.
You can read along here: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-venus-effect/.
What is the role of a messiah in a future when one can be created in a lab? In Episode 3, AE Reads the entirety of "The Lord of Discarded Things" by Lavie Tidhar, first published in the October 2012 issue of Strange Horizons, and then incorporated into a larger collection of stories that take place in the same setting. Generally, a location in Israel called "Central Station" takes prominence. As with other Central Station stories, this one features a slice-of-life form wherein nothing major happens, but the reader learns something about the people and their relationship to the world around them.
You can read along here: http://strangehorizons.com/fiction/the-lord-of-discarded-things/
How can one keep a tight budget (or waistline) when even the local food truck has innovative culinary delights? From the August 2016 issue of Lightspeed Magazine, Nico (the narrator) is trying to save up to become a freelance accountant, but must battle with his love of food trucks. He discovers that Alberto, an acquaintance from a cooking class he took as a child, is a vendor of a popular food truck near his work. Alberto has invited Nico to the exclusive food truck circus.
Can love fight past the intolerance of the 1950s? What if it's between a human and an alien? For our first episode of AE Reads Skiffily, AE shares an except from Dale Bailey's "Teenagers from Outer Space,"which first appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine in August of 2016. The excerpt depicts Nancy Miller's (the narrator) visit to Bug Town, an alien enclave that popped up in Milledgeville, Ohio in the early 1950s. Nancy's best friend Joan Hayden has run away to Bug Town to escape her overbearing father. Joan's ex-boyfriend Johnny Fabriano wants to take Joan from Tham (the alien's name is actually Sam, but the aliens have a lisp and Nancy is quite the irreverent narrator) for stealing his girlfriend and ruining the top of his Mercedes Coupé. I chose this story and this excerpt because Bug Town sounds so evocative. The alien ghetto sounds both enticing and dangerous, like a dangerous narcotic or really good cheese dip.
Read along here: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/bailey_08_16/