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We decided to kick off the podcast with one of my favorite short stories of all time, by an author more people should really know about.

Jane Rice was an incredibly prolific writer in the middle of the twentieth century, like so many of the great pulp writers – you had to be, if you wanted to make a living.

But Jane didn’t need to write; she had a classic midcentury housewife’s life, complete with doting husband and wonderful son.

No, Jane wanted to write, and she was dang good at it. Her stories would be what we today call “the new weird” or “contemporary fantasy,” maybe even “urban fantasy” – they inject a hint of the strange, the uncanny, the creepy into completely mundane modern situations, turning our safe and comfortable little worlds on their heads.

No swords and sorcery here, no alternate worlds and different realities. This is our reality, as of the time Jane was living and writing, only…just a little off-center.

Dang, but I love her work.

Anyone who digs modern urban fantasy should get to know Jane Rice, because she did it first. And arguably better.

“The Refugee” is one of her most famous short stories, and deservedly so. It’s been reprinted more times than I could count since its original publication in John W. Campbell’s Unknown magazine in October 1943, although most of those reprints are, themselves, out of print now.

You can still find the story online thanks to the Library of America, though. Go read it – the nuance in print is just as fantastic as the narrated version.

Want to learn more about Jane? This profile is a great place to start.

Yearning to learn more about the creative cookery of the World War II rationing era? You can’t do much better than the classic How to Cook a Wolf by the seminal food writer MFK Fisher.

Have you voted for next week’s episode yet? Don’t forget! Just head to the homepage and choose what sort of story you’re looking to hear…

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