Saint Sadist by Lucas Mangum: Narrated by Melody Muzljakovich

Filth and purity.
These words will mean something to you as you follow along with Courtney’s awful narrative. They’re appropriate words to have in mind as you read Mangum’s Saint Sadist. In a strange sense, there’s an overarching theme of filth and purity, the duality of those two things, and the way they reflect one another throughout the whole story.
Courtney’s father was a violent and abusive man, until she discovered she could use her burgeoning sexuality as a shield to protect herself from those bouts of cruelty and violence. Becoming a victim of a wholly different sort of abuse, teenage Courtney believes she’s taken control of the situation, both protecting herself and preying upon her father’s weakness.
Then she gets pregnant.
Reading this, you might think this is the end…but it’s only the beginning.
Courtney escapes from her home, hoping to provide a better life for her incestuous offspring by living the life of a harlot.
Few authors would look at what they’d created thus far and decide they haven’t gone far enough. Lucas Mangum is one of those few.
The story grows increasingly vile and violent. The voice in Courtney’s head and the visions she experiences force us to wonder how much is real and how much is the result of severe psychological damage and depravity visited upon a young girl.
This is an unpleasant, raw, and disgusting masterpiece.
Melody Muzljakovich breathes life into both Courtney’s Texas drawl and the hissing whispers and chanting of her inner voice with equal skill. Other characters are similarly well-narrated.

Randomize by Andy Weir: Narrated by Janina Gavankar

Andy Weir’s Randomize is a fascinating exploration of the superficial topics regarding advancements in and increasing availability of quantum computing devices as well as the impact those things could have on a world not yet prepared for those things. More than that–and the saving grace of the story–it’s a layered story about predictability vs. unpredictability and human nature. That human element is the important thing to focus on.
There’s a lot to unpack in this short story about the capacity to apply pattern recognition to things with seemingly no patterns.
The science behind the technology in this story is lacking in several ways, but that’s often going to be the case in fiction. I’ve grown accustomed to overlooking those elements to enjoy the stories I read regularly. It does sort of invalidate the premise underpinning the whole narrative if you pick away at it too much.
I rather like the final message I took away from the story, in that it wasn’t the highly advanced computational device that got the protagonists/antagonists what they wanted, but the computational abilities of a brilliant human mind. There’s a moral to this morally questionable tale, in that a great piece of advanced technology will never be half as useful without a similarly great mind behind the operation.
Janina Gavankar’s narration is effective, especially in her portrayal of Sumi Singh.