REVIEW: “And Never Mind the Watching Ones” by Keffy Kehrli

Review of Keffy Kehrli, “And Never Mind the Watching Ones “, Escape Pod Ep. 725– Listen online. Reviewed by Kat Samp.

This two-part story portrays a cast of teenagers dealing with bizarre alien frogs, on top of all the drama of their daily lives. Each character faces relatable problems with fitting in and forming relationships, and layered onto their stories are their encounters with the glitter frogs, colorful frogs that appeared out of nowhere one day and cover the world. It is one of those wonderful stories where the SFF elements illuminate and strengthen a powerful message about what it means to be human.

The stylistic quirks accompanying some of the perspectives made me prefer reading this story, rather than listening to the podcast. But both were excellent, and I highly recommend reading “And Never Mind the Watching Ones” for a lot of feels, as the teens might say.

REVIEW: “Falling Through” by Steen Comer

Review of Steen Comer, “Falling Through”, Escape Pod Ep. 725– Listen online. Reviewed by Kat Samp.

This story hit a chord for me, because I recently had a moment where I saw a protective wall near my house that I had never seen before. It looked old and worn, but I had never noticed it despite walking by it at least hundred times. Was it just a fluke of memory, or had I woken up in a parallel universe where everything was the same except the wall?

A phenomenon like the “Mandela Effect” becomes an interesting and compelling complication for the main character, a ‘shifter’ who is constantly falling through parallel realities. The format of the story is a journal, where he documents memories of past universes even as he shifts into new ones. The confusion of memory, the questioning of reality, and the search for human connection were strong threads throughout.

What worked for me: The author offers an excellent inner look into how shifting through alternate realities would affect the human psyche. It is fascinating to hear how the main character navigates personal identity, dreams for the future, and above all, making (or fearing to make) meaningful human connections. His loneliness and doubt, but also hope and determination, make this an emotionally fulfilling read. Additionally, I liked how the author keeps listeners/readers on their toes with details that contradict earlier statements, signalling that a shift has happened.

What didn’t work (spoilers): I was surprised and disappointed by the ending of the story. It felt like the work that the main character did to reach out and make connections, despite his fear and apathy in the face of an uncaring and constantly universe, was completely undone. Some readers might prefer this (mostly) sad ending, but I felt a bit thrown off-balance by how it veered off from the tone in the first half.