Personal Essay: Rachael K. Jones
I could write volumes about what Pseudopod has been to me: as a listener, a fan, an Escape Artists volunteer, and as a guest host and narrator. Over the years, I’m proud to say I’ve come to count many of the Pseudopod staffers as dear friends.
I can’t think about what Pseudopod has meant to me without talking about Eugie Foster’s “When It Ends, He Catches Her." Eugie Foster, an award-winning short fiction author and beloved Escape Artists narrator, passed away on September 27, 2014 from complications related to cancer. A week after that, I found myself in at an Atlanta brewery with Alex Hofelich, Pseudopod’s co-editor. I think it was Red Brick Brewing, but it might’ve been Orpheus—whichever it was, they served a delicious dark stout. We sat around a table with our spouses, swirling our drinks, the Saturday night crowd roaring in the background while Alex and I grappled with Eugie’s passing.
You can’t talk about a favorite author without remembering their work. We did a lot of remembering as the beer ran out and the candle floating in the jar on the table drowned in its own wax. Eugie Foster left behind a large body of extraordinary work. And then there was silence for a long minute at our table, something that never happens when we get together.
“Her last story,” I said, “have you read it yet? It published the day before she passed away, and it’s beautiful.”
“I haven’t seen that one yet,” Alex said.
“You have to read this. You need to read this. It belongs on Pseudopod.”
I sent the story to Alex when I got home that night, and the rest is history. Pseudopod produced the story with an incredibly moving narration by Tina Connolly and an audio tribute to Eugie Foster’s stories and voice work over the years, just in time to welcome its 2015 Nebula nomination.
I’m ridiculously proud of what Alex, Shawn, Alasdair, Tina, Graeme, and the whole Pseudopod staff did with this particular episode. To me, it captures the very best of what audio fiction can do and be. It transcends mere entertainment, and becomes a powerful force of good in the lives of those of us it brushes. Because Pseudopod answered the real-life horror of loss and grief with the only weapon we have against such unspeakable things: by pulling together as a hurting community to make something beautiful together, something healing, something we can share.
Eugie Foster’s “Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me,” which ran in Pseudopod’s very first year, is included in the Kickstarter anthology. That alone makes this anthology well worth your time, and I highly recommend reserving your copy by backing today.
Rachael K. Jones is a science fiction and fantasy writer living in Athens, GA where she is treating aural deficiencies in dimetrodons. Her fiction work has appeared in dozens of venues, including Strange Horizons, Escape Pod, Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and PodCastle. One of her stories will appear in Pseudopod in early 2017. She is a SFWA member, an editor, a secret android, and a not-so-secret Dagon cultist. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones and to volunteer to assist with her upcoming academic paper on the benefits of pumpkin beer by increasing the study sample size.