“The Sounds of Old Earth”
Lightspeed Magazine and io9.com
Ed. John Joseph Adams
January 1, 2013
2013 Nebula Award finalist for Best Short Story. 2013 Locus Recommended Reading List. Recommended Reading List 2014 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy (Prime Books, ed. Rich Horton). Honorable Mention 2014 Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Edition (Macmillan, ed. Gardner Dozois)


  • 2013 Nebula Award nominee for Best Short Story
  • 2013 Locus Recommended Reading List
  • 2014 Best Science Fiction & Fantasy (Prime Books, ed. Rich Horton) – Recommended Reading List
  • 2014 Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Edition (Macmillan, ed. Gardner Dozois) – Honorable Mention


“This is a powerful story that is both tragic & hopeful–unexpectedly. And beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it.” — Joyce Carol Oates

“This is gorgeous, melancholy, and heartbreaking. I highly rec it (I cried through most of it).” — Ellen Datlow

“The best story in the January issue…the story is nicely felt and nicely characterized, and the frog pond that the old man has nurtured for decades and is reluctant to abandon to its fate is nicely symbolic of all the things about Old Earth that are being callously lost in the process.” — Gardner Dozois for Locus

“Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, had a good year, featuring strong work by Jake Kerr, Matthew Kressel, Carrie Vaughn, M. Bennardo, Matthew Hughes, and others.” — Gardner Dozois in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Edition

“The frog pond is an idyllic and well-chosen symbol, as amphibians are among the most sensitive creatures to environmental degradation. The conclusion is heartwarming.” –Lois Tilton for Locus Online

“‘The Sounds of Old Earth’ by Matthew Kressel is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, which is perhaps exactly what makes it the flawlessly balanced tale that it is.” — SkyBoat Media

“That connection with the past and with life…is why we, the audience become concerned. If human life beyond Old Earth has any hope of retaining its unique identity—retaining what we gained from Old Earth—we will need as many people like Abner as possible.” — Samuel X. Brase for Cosmic Vinegar  (in-depth review here).

“The story asks if we could give up this world to feed the birth of another, or whether we would rather hang about until this one shrivels and dies.  The descriptions are great and the sentiment feels real.” — Jimmy Rogers forSynthetic Voices

“Matthew Kressel’s short story visits the small tragedies and triumphs that make up a life and in the process presents a touching narrative on what it is that makes a home.” — Carl V. Anderson for Stainless Steel Droppings (in-depth reviewhere).

“I will not reveal the ending, only to say that it brought tears to my eyes. Obviously, I liked this story.” — Sam Tomaino for SFRevu

“I loved this piece for its perspective of home and place, and the idea of how those things form identity.  Solid writing.  Highly recommended.” — Ron Collins for Typosphere

“It is sad and wistful, seen through the eyes of a sentimental old man who doesn’t want to leave his home and homeworld, even though it is taking all of his technological skill to keep the poisoned world from intruding onto this one small place of habitation.  It is beautiful, from that perspective, and sad. And, it is wonderful.” — Adventures in Reading