Personal Essay: Alasdair Stuart
I have a story for you . . .
Have you ever noticed that absence right before your make a really good decision? It’s like the volume is turned down on the world, and you just know what you’re going to do. You step forward before being consciously aware of doing so, your hand is up before you remember you have limbs you can move. It doesn’t feel pre-ordained, but it just feels . . . right.
Almost ten years ago, sitting on the floor in a house whose entire back wall was made of rain it sometimes seemed, I listened to Mur Lafferty explain that she was having to step away from Pseudopod as editor. I listened on a 56k dialup line that was creaky enough it took twenty-five minutes for an episode to download.
I sent an email. It was completely unlike any email I’d sent before. It was basically me going “ME! ME! PICK ME! I’M ACE!” Which, for an offshore Brit like myself, is very, very unusual.
I got a reply. It wasn’t no. It was “Yeah, we were just about to email you.”
The smile that email caused has never quite gone away.
This is the oddest job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some pretty odd ones. But nothing else has ever taken over my brain like this one has. I grew up watching Midnight Caller and Northern Exposure, and Chris Stevens from the latter in particular is a huge influence on me. For a quarterback-sized nerd growing up on a tiny island in the middle of the Irish sea, seeing a man who loved not just learning, but communicating what he’d learned with enthusiasm and humour and joy was like releasing a breath I didn’t know I was holding. I secretly wanted his job and never for a second imagined I’d get it. And here I am, doing my very best Pontypool impression every Sunday. Only without the linguistic meme. You hope . . .
Pseudopod has been a constant in my life for a decade. It’s been the rock I leant on when things were bad. But it’s also the place that introduced me to the love of my life, Marguerite. Without the show, we wouldn’t have met when we did. We’ve been a couple for five years as of a few weeks ago. We forgot our anniversary. Because we were too busy with Escape Artists stuff. “Too busy” meaning having too much fun. (Makes mental note to buy flowers. You’re all witnesses.)
I’ve worked with some of the very best people I know on Pseudopod. Legions of brilliant authors and narrators —the incomparable Ben Phillips, who taught me so much, and more recently Shawn Garrett, Alex Hofelich and Graeme Dunlop, whose editorial discernment and astounding audio production skills have made my job just ridiculously easy and better still, fun. And Chelsea, Victoria, Moaner and the new generation of audio producers and associate editors have come in and continued to raise our collective game.
And now, you. Seeing our listeners, our friends, and our community come out to support us on this project has warmed the sub-cockle region of my dark little Manx heart. It’s an honour to work with and for you and I can’t wait to get started on our second decade together. Thank you all so much.
This is the best job I’ve ever had.
And I promise you . . . it’s true.
Alasdair Stuart is the owner of Escape Artists, Inc., as well as host of PseudoPod and co-host of Escape Pod.
His work has appeared in the Guardian, How It Works, the Fortean Times, Sci Fi Now and Neo. He also blogs for Tor.com, SFX, and Bleeding Cool, not to mention his personal blog, The Man of Words. In 2012 he published "The Pseudopod Tapes Vol 1: Not the end of the world, just the end of the year" - a collection of his outros from a year of Pseudopod episodes. As part of this campaign, approximately 100 preorders have been pledged for Volume 2.
"The first podcast I ever remember listening to all the way through was the first episode of Escape Pod. It took 25 minutes to download onto my pea green imac from a dialup line that I had to plug into the phone socket. The second podcast I can remember listening to was episode 1 of Pseudopod. And that was the point I realized I was, despite my epic spaceship love, probably a horror guy." in an interview by Sandra M. Odell.