Episode 55: Final Exam by Edward McKeown

First contact between humans and a being from another planet happens in the New Mexico desert, near a nuclear testing range. The humans are a group of wide-eyed teenagers, and the otherworldly being calls itself Hotkas. Hotkas does not come in peace.

Also, Ank-Oatfield talk about aliens, the era of optimistic Science Fiction, and Disney’s upcoming The Princess and the Frog.outtake

Today’s story is produced by Liz Mierzejewski. Also special thanks to Wes Desantis, Garry Gulledge, Sharon Mierzejewski, Mark Mierzejewski, and Liz Mierzejewski for lending their voices to the story.

Right click to download the episode HERE.


Related Links:
Edward McKeown on SFWA and on SFReader
Rosengarden Media
Liz Mierzejewski’s Site
Some sound effects in today’s episode are from Freesound.org and Sounddogs.com
Music is by Matthew Tyas
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


15 Responses to “Episode 55: Final Exam by Edward McKeown”

  1. I enjoyed that story a lot. It had a “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel” feel. Good job Liz and everyone involved in production. That’s just a ton of work.

    As usual, I feel most compelled to respond to the post-story babble. You mentioned The Great Mouse Detective! That is my favorite old Disney movie. I saw it in the theater when I was 9 and immediately named one of my toy mice Basil. I adored pretty much everything about it – the Henry Mancini score, the over-the-top characters, the extremely-racy-for-a-Disney-movie chorus girl song. I never understood why I could not find related paraphernalia as a child.

    What’s more, that movie stands the test of time. I loved Little Mermaid as a teenage girl, but as an adult, I can hardly stand to watch it – insipid characters taking themselves oh-so-very seriously. Ursula is the only one who is any fun, and she dies. However, I will still happily watch GMD with anyone. It invites playful mockery that doesn’t detract at all from enjoyment of the film, and my brother and I still quote the one-liners.

    I guess I understand why it’s so obscure. The animation is pretty awful. The main female character is an adorable, cheeky little girl without an ounce of sex appeal. The male lead is a nerd, primarily attractive for his intellect, and he seems to be crushing more on his male sidekick than on the chorus girls. But I still laugh at the jokes as an adult, and I still think the solutions to the problems are clever and fun to watch. It’s fairly difficult to make a Holmes movie that does not please me.

    So, yeah, that’s my advert for The Great Mouse Detective. If you’ve never seen it, check it out.

  2. I liked everything about this story except the title.

    Was Todd just Big with some pitchbending on his voice?

    The voice and modulation on Hotchkiss was PERFECT for this story — it lent the perfect ambiguous air to the first meeting with him, and gave the story as a whole a sort of “Primer” (the film) feel to it, the way the MC in that story narrates from the future.

    This sort of story can’t really be told in the present, but telling it in the atomic era is great.

    I can’t remember all the discussion points after the show, but I did get a kick out of Rish’s description of that guy who sent the preview of his story. Reminds me of when the editor of a publication posted his response to my query on his blog — the word limit was 8k, and I queried because I had a perfect story for his publication but it was 16k. So at least I asked him, and politely. He responded just as politely, but then talked about it on the blog (did not use my name because I was polite and professional in my query). I felt like a tool. I’m sure that other guy didn’t.


  3. Todd was Mark M doing his “Yankee Fan” voice.
    The Hotkas voice was fun to do. It’s interesting to not sound like myself at all. Thank you, Garage Band, for the modulation.

    More Rapping please. Although I nearly ran off the road, it was hysterical.

  4. Liz – Hotkas was you? That’s awesome! :D It really did sound perfect.

  5. Yeah, Liz, wow. I didn’t guess that Hotkas was voiced by you. Funny, when you sent me your list of credits, I saw your name on there as a voice and thought, I wonder what voice was hers. I figured that it had to be one of the peripheral friends who only had a few lines.

    What Garage Band filter did you use on the voice?

  6. Yeah, I’d looked at this story (was my second choice of the six I saw) and I had no idea how I would’ve cast Hotkas. I think you nailed it!

  7. The music was very effectively chosen and I liked how it was laid into the story. Kind of creepy, kind of nostalgic/evocative. That was a pretty great story, and the production enabled it to come right through. One corner of my mind was thinking, ‘there’s no way there won’t be legal repercussions for that young man’s murder.’ Sort of a useless line of thinking.

    and I’ll admit it, I replayed that opening sequence about 15 or so times. hahahaha. ‘okay…….never again.’ hahahahha ‘Nigel will understand’ haha. (I do, by the way.)

  8. I really loved what the “Dunesteef players” did with my story. It was as much fun as I have had with my clothes on. It’s inspired me to try another piece for Dunesteef when you reopen. Open Twenty-four hours is a more humorous story, set when Earth is rediscovered in the far future. Thanks again for the splendidly entertaining job and the for the kind comments after. In the future though you can just use the version of my name that is like that of the poet, Rod McKuen as apparently the usual version of the name does not translate well. Cheers Ed

  9. Ed, that was one tough cookie! It was a blast to cut my teeth on that story. I learned A LOT about editing with it.

    For those geeks out there asking about how the Hotkas voice was accomplished, here’s the down-and-dirty:

    Garage Band Effects used
    Under Male Voice
    Choose Deeper Vocals
    Removed Master Echo
    Lowered Master Reverb to 15
    Unchecked Noise Gate, Bass Reduction Flanger
    Checked Compressor and Voice Transformer

    Liz M

  10. HAHA your new banner is awesome!
    Who did the caricatures?

  11. Edward McKeown Says:

    I was wondering if I could get a version of this to keep. I tried to download it but nothing seemed to happen? Does it download and if so is it an MP3 file? thanks

  12. Sir Bigglesby Anklevich Esquire created the little avatars displayed above. The likeness is remarkable.

    As for downloading an mp3 of the show, that’s how I listen to it. Just right-click on the “HERE” above the Play button and save the link to your computer. It may be easier to just go to the main page and do it from there.

    Though I didn’t mention it on the episode (as I hadn’t heard it yet), I was amazed by how great a job Liz did with Hotkas’s alien voice. It was as good as my illustration of the character was bad.

  13. The cartoons of us came from a website that I came across. I put a link to it in the side panel. It’s called Abi-Station. It’s pretty cool. There’s an awful lot of different looks you can try. It won’t work for everyone (I tried doing one for Announcer Man, and it wasn’t even close, and don’t get me started on 080T).

    Also, Ed, to download any of our episodes, you right click on the link (where it says HERE), select Save Target As (Save Link As if you’re using a mac), and save the file to your hard drive. Maybe I’ll start including that in the show notes for those who have never dealt with that before. It’s like they say, if one person asks the question, then ten other people have that same question but didn’t ask. I didn’t know how to do it either until one day I came across a website that spelled it out for me, after all.

  14. Ooooo! Love the new new banner! Nice job, Big!

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