StarShipSofa No 330 Leah Cypess and Mary Soon Lee

March 25, 2014 by acpracht

Coming up…

Mothering Sunday Special! (March 30 in the UK): Two stories of maternal angst.

Main Fiction 1: “Pause Time” by Mary Soon Lee 03:40

Twenty minutes into the transatlantic flight, Connor started wailing. Pauline cradled him in her arms. Then she rocked him, she offered him her breast, she sang to him; Connor continued to cry.

The man sitting on her right gave her a thin smile. “Did you forget the baby’s pauser code?”

“No,” Pauline mumbled, wishing she could sink through the floor into the cargo hold. “I’ve never used the pauser.”


In 1992 Mary started writing and submitting short stories, mainly in the science fiction and fantasy genres. She has had over seventy stories published, including appearances in The Year’s Best SF #4 and #5, edited by David Hartwell; her story “Cause and Consequence” (Interzone #136, October 1998) won first place in the Best of Soft SF Contest.

She has two collections in print: a science fiction collection, Ebb Tides and Other Tales, and a fantasy collection, Winter Shadows and Other Tales. AB Word did the beautiful cover illustrations for both books.

In 2000, Mary began writing poetry as well as short stories, and her poetry credits include American ScholarIodine Poetry JournalMain Street Rag, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Fact: Science News by Jim Campanella 32:00

Main Fiction 2: “Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess

Copyright (c) by Leah Cypess

Everybody knows you don’t keep a nanny for more than three months. The agency even asked me, when I hired Steph, if I wanted to make an appointment to interview someone new in February. I actually laughed out loud – I can barely keep an appointment I make a week in advance – and I told them I would call.

Which I intended to. I really did.


Leah wrote her first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, she wrote her first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).

After selling her first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, she gave in to her mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at  Brooklyn College. She then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. She kept writing and submitting in her spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after her first short story acceptance, she sold her first novel to Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins). Her most recent novel, Death Sworn, is about a sorceress forced to serve as magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins. It was published by HarperCollins in March 2014.

She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with her husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and their three children.

Interview: Lucius Shepard recorded in 2010.  01:40:00

Narrators: Amy H. Sturgis and Mur Lafferty

Amy is an author, editor, scholar, educator, speaker, and podcaster with specialties in the fields of Science Fiction/Fantasy and Native American Studies. She lives with her husband, Dr. Larry M. Hall, and their best friend, Virginia the Boston terrier, in the foothills of North Carolina, USA.


Mur Lafferty is an author, podcaster, and editor. She lives in Durham, NC, with her husband and 11 year old daughter.

  • Books: Starting with podcast-only titles, Mur has written several books and novellas. Her first professionally published book, The Shambling Guide to New York City, is in book stores now. The sequel, The Shambling Guides 2: Ghost Train to New Orleans will be out March 4. She writes urban fantasy, superhero satire, afterlife mythology, and Christmas stories.
  • Podcasts: She has been podcasting since 2004 when she started her essay-focused show, Geek Fu Action Grip. Then she started the award-winning I Should Be Writing in 2005, which is still going today. She was the editor of Escape Pod from 2010-2012, and she also runs the Angry Robot Books podcast.
  • Nonfiction: Mur has written for several magazines including Knights of the Dinner Table, Anime Insider, and The Escapist.

In January 2014, Mur graduated from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine with an MFA in popular fiction.


  1. Great stories! And I loved the choice of theme.

    I wonder how much the “pauser” in the first story was intended to be a metaphor for delayed parenting in general. The sci-fi element lets people in the story procrastinate on procrastinating and put off “waiting for the right time” until after the child is already born. But there are a lot of great parallels: The obvious benefits in moderation but potential for runaway effects, how that fosters intolerance of the messy or uncontrolled aspects of parenting, how it favors the sort of intensive parenting that’s hard to implement if you’re not rich.

    Mary Soon Lee wrote “PauseTime” the year after the birth of her first child. And that was after two masters degrees and a decade of post-university work. So it seems like this is probably a good example of writing from personal experience in a science-fictional context.

    Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how people time decisions about parenting and about how parenting fits into society, so I found that story particularly moving and thought-provoking.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Minion! I really thought these worked well together, too.
    Pauser resonated for me with some of the reactions I see from others to breastfeeding in particular and judgmental, armchair parenting in general.

  3. A fine combination of stories indeed. “PauseTime” brought back memories of raising my children and the stresses involved.

    Thank you, Tony, for the Lucius Shepherd track. It was bittersweet to listen to after his death. Too young.