PC025: Anywhere There’s a Game

By Greg Van Eekhout.
Read by Benjamin Manoochehri.
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky.
First appeared in Realms of Fantasy.

I got a call from Sports Illustrated yesterday. They’re doing one of those sidebar pieces where they ask guys to name their starting five, the best basketball players they ever shared a court with. “You don’t want that,” I told the kid on the phone. “I was in the NBA for seventeen years. I could tell you about guys like Lon McGee, who wore one pair of sneakers his entire career, held together with tape and glue and sheer will-power. Or Pig-Iron Von Ziegler, who smelled like machine oil and whose joints screeched like a stepped-on cat by the end of his career. The best? Who cares about the best? Why settle for the best when I can give you the most remarkable?”

The kid thanked me politely, but he told me that wasn’t what he needed for his piece. He’d talk to his editor, though, and mention my idea to him. He’d get back to me.

Well, I’m not going to live forever, and I can’t wait for his editor. I’ve got tales to tell, and I’ve got to tell them while I’m still kicking. So here it is, my starting five. Not the most talented guys I’ve ever played with, but instead, the dirt workers and edge cases and oddballs and sideshow escapees. These are the guys that I’ll never forget. These are the characters.

Rated PG. Contains locker room talk (and bouncing balls).

Please visit the thread on this story in our forums.

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15 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    David Barr Kirtley : Blog : Now on PodCastle: “Anywhere There’s a Game” by Greg Van Eekhout said,

    September 17, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

    […] There’s a Game,” a medley of vignettes about very unusual basketball players, is now up on PodCastle. I really enjoyed this story when I read it in Realms of Fantasy, and the story made it onto my […]

  2. 2

    David said,

    September 17, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

    Interesting main character; an excellent player cursed to stand with men and women more talented, determined and unusual than he could ever hope to be.

  3. 3

    Travis said,

    September 18, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

    The sound was echoing and in one place the same line was repeated 3 times before continuing on, but the story itself was interesting. I could definitely picture this story done as an episode of The Twighlight Zone or The Outter Limits or some other similar television show.

  4. 4

    epilonious said,

    September 18, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

    I really enjoyed this story. Mainly because the little surprises that occurred felt like they should have been predictable, but weren’t until they were revealed.

    There was a perfect blend of foreshadowing without spoiling… I love it when a story can do that.

    Furthermore… each little arc was well contained. I felt like I was getting four stories instead of just one, and each had it’s lessons and delights.

    Just wonderful.

  5. 5

    Hyperion said,

    September 19, 2008 @ 1:54 am

    “Anywhere There’s a Game” took me back to late nights at the park, under the lights, nothing better than waiting for Next. Greg Van Eekhout clearly knows his basketball, and I liked how the Fantasy aspects melted in without Pomp and Fizzle, like a Garcia Marquez novel.

    I have only been coming here a couple of weeks, but in that time have already come to expect Haters complaining about a dearth of dragons or swords (or whatever they were looking for).

    I am a fan of great Story, wherever they come from, and Hats Off to the Editors for going out of their way to provide so many different takes on Fantasy. This was an unusual but delightful choice.

  6. 6

    scatterbrain said,

    September 21, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

    Ah, my request for more zombies was fulfilled along with some Hindu mysticism and Voodoo magic as well. Thank you Rachel Swirksy!

  7. 7

    WriterDan said,

    September 22, 2008 @ 5:43 pm

    Not my favorite. Very little actual, solid fantasy until very near the end, and even then it was kind of iffy. Very little impact for me, with less and less within each successive sub-story.

  8. 8

    Bingorage said,

    September 23, 2008 @ 9:47 pm

    Excellent story. I went to school with many folks who treated basketball as religion and the end all/be all; and find it unsurprising as a setting for the piercing of reality.

    PS: Thanks for the mention of a previous comment of mine, but, it is not pronounced “Bing Orange”, but bingo-rage, like road rage.

  9. 9

    Old Man Parker said,

    September 24, 2008 @ 2:26 am

    Good tale. Moody and weird. No silly goofy winks to the audience to apologise for being fantasy.

  10. 10

    Blaine Boy said,

    October 5, 2008 @ 11:43 pm

    Nice story. Good story. Good choice. Except on the reader. Mr. Manoocheri had a sort of flat voice and so every character seemed the same (I mean he got the emotion in there all right, but every character seemed blended). I know it seems awkward when you’re changing voices to fit a character, but it’s worth it.

    Your faithfully,
    the Blaine Boy

  11. 11

    Kirsty1181 said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 8:08 am

    Not normally one to comment on stories, I’m not a writer so listen for the pleasure not the analysing but I felt compelled to say something about this one

    I am not a sports fan and when I heard the introduction of this story I was worried. But I dutifully as always listened to the end and was shocked to find I loved it.

    The shock comes because I’m still not 100% sure what makes me listen to it over and over again? I’m not sure if it’s the Story or the reader or a bit of both.

    Well done Podcastle I’m loving the series

  12. 12

    Soren said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

    I liked it a lot.

    Now I don’t want to complain, but this story wouldn’t have been out of place on pseudopod.

    Event though there was very little horror in it, the mood was like the one in “the twilight zone”, the good episodes any way.

    Not that it didn’t fit in podcastle, it was just a thought.

  13. 13

    The Fix | From the Podosphere: September 2008 said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 8:51 am

    […] “Anywhere There’s A Game” by Greg Van Eekhout is an episodic tale about basketball (though being British and not a sports fan, I took a while to fathom this out). A few hints of magic justify its place in PodCastle, even though none of the magic seems to have any structure or justification, so the story is essentially a character study. Maybe it would mean more to someone into basketball, or a sports fan in general, but I found it aimless and unsatisfying, despite Benjamin Manoochehri’s competent reading. […]

  14. 14

    Fred said,

    February 25, 2009 @ 11:48 am

    I am not a sports fan. I’ve never managed to work up any interest in basketball or football or any of the other sports type things that many people, particularly most males, seem to love so much. The premise of this story really shouldn’t have appealed to me, but I listened anyway, knowing I could simply hit “Next” on my player if I didn’t like it.

    Like it? I loved it! This was one of my favorite episodes so far. I didn’t really follow the sports references, but the characters were interesting and the emotions rather intense. I don’t have to know what a forward point back (whatever) is to relate to the determination and drive the characters were experiencing. The last segment in particular … wow, now *that* is a real drive to play the game you love!

    Well done. Insert some appropriate sports analogy here. (“Go Local Sports Collective!”)

  15. 15

    Sabre Runner said,

    March 26, 2009 @ 8:53 am

    It was about half expected, the audio file is a bit corrupted and the range of the narrator wasn’t that fulfilling. But this story is about atmosphere, about wonder, and it got it across beautifully.

    I like it when stories are built well, don’t try too hard, just go with their own flow and yet, through the tiny sandbox of contained awareness, they reach out and touch your heart. This is one of those stories.

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