I've just uploaded a fantastic reading of my friend Hugh Spencer's short story, "Sticky Wonder Tales," which originally appeared in On Spec, the excellent Canadian science fiction magazine. Hugh's work never fails to crack me up and make me think, and this is no exception. It's an epistolary fiction, taking the form of an exchange of letters between siblings whose lives and biology are being transformed by radical alien technology that has been beamed to Earth by psychic radio. One is learning to be a fighter pilot for wars in a distant galaxy, the other his having his body remade by alien parasites who are turning him into a super-being.
The story is touching and weird, speculative and human -- a perfect metaphor for the anxiety that we feel whenever technology remakes our beloved selves and institutions. The reading is performed by Hugh and award-winning horror writer David P Nickle, and they're having so much damned fun in the course of the recording that you can't help but be captivated by it.
You have to love a story that opens with: “Hey, Squiffy: Sorry to hear about the bowel infection. Even sorrier to hear that it’s one of the intelligent ones.” Through a series of back and forth letters, Hugh A.D. Spencer’s Sticky Wonder Tales (Fall, 2006) follows the evolution of two brothers who, via government sponsorship, undergo physiological and mental changes in order to understand alien telepathy or technology. Stephen is busy turning into an alien turtle with an IQ of 350. Andrew grows breathing pores and tendrils that link him to an alien ship’s software. Neither foresees what happens when government mavens cut their programs. By the end of the story, a worse fate than being shelved looms on their horizon.