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PodCastle 374: Poet-Scholars of the Necropolis

by M.K. Hutchins
read by Julia Rios

A PodCastle original!

Hedrana, the Lord-Governor’s aunt, arrived the next morning. She banged on the necropolis door as if she’d been locked out of her own house. “Hello! I won’t be kept w-aiting!”

If Hedrana’s shrill, sing-song voice couldn’t wake the dead, nothing would.

Royzca was already awake, but she took her time shuffling down the hall, her hip aching as it did every morning. Onyo joined her from his room. “Do we have to let her in?”

“If we’re nice, maybe she’ll go away more quickly,” Royzca said. “She’s only here to flatter herself.”

Rated PG.

M.K. Hutchins‘ YA fantasy novel Drift is both a Junior Library Guild Selection and a VOYA Top Shelf Honoree. Her short fiction appears in IGMS and Daily Science Fiction. She studied archaeology at BYU, giving her the opportunity to compile ancient Maya genealogies, excavate in Belize, and work as a faunal analyst. She blogs at mkhutchins.com.

Julia Rios is a writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator. Her previous PodCastle narrations include “The Transfiguration of Maria Luisa Ortega” by E. Lily Yu, “Who in Mortal Chains” by Claire Humphrey, “Mermaid’s Hook” by Liz Argall, and “Haunts” by Claire Humphrey. Her own story, “Oracle Gretel” was featured in episode 261, narrated by Marguerite Kenner. To find out more about Julia and her work, visit juliarios.com or find her on Twitter @omgjulia.

 

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PodCastle 373: Sweet Potato Woman

by Chris Barnes
read by Graeme Dunlop

First published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (ASIM) #28, in 2007.

The voice hummed the tune again, softer. George blinked, rubbed his eyes and focused on the bedside clock’s green glowing hands. Twelve-something.

Kitchen. The song was coming from the kitchen. He sat up and listened. The tempo slowed, the voice faded, vanished. The house fell silent, expectant.

George climbed out of bed, switched on the lamp, put on his glasses and stumbled into the hallway. He stood and listened. Nothing. Through the living room, the dining room, into the kitchen. The linoleum chilled the soles of his feet. He tried the back door. Locked, as it should be. Then where …?

The sweet potato woman?

Rated PG.

Chris Barnes attended the inaugural Clarion South writing workshop in 2004. He hasn’t written many stories after the initial flurry of those years, but those stories helped secure a job at the consumer organisation CHOICE where for the past 10-odd years he has written stories on more mundane subjects such as vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers. (Oh the glamour!)

 

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PodCastle 372: The Character of the Hound

by Tony Pi
read by John Chu

First published in The Dragon and the Stars, a DAW anthology that appeared in 2010.

Unlike the other wheel-ships in the fleet, which had been rigged with trebuchets, this squat vessel held on deck only a windowless cabin with a door slightly ajar. I gathered my courage and entered.

Two men stood in heated argument in the lantern-lit chamber. I recognized the wispy-bearded man in his early fifties as Admiral Zhang, bedecked in his imposing lamellar armor. A veteran of the war against the Jin, Zhang had been given the command of our river fleet by the Spirit General himself.

The other, a balding man in his thirties, bore a deep diagonal scar crossing both lips. His uniform marked him as a Yongdui, a platoon commander.

 

Rated PG.

Dr. Tony Pi is a writer based in Toronto, Canada, with a Ph.D. in linguistics. Originally from Taiwan, he was nominated previously for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and is a double nominee in the 2015 Aurora Awards for Best English Short Fiction and Best English Poem/Song.

He has a story in The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk from Running Press. It’s called “Cosmobotica” and was co-written with Costi Gurgu.

You can follow Tony’s adventures at tonypi.com.

John Chu is a microprocessor architect by day, a writer, translator and podcast narrator by night. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Uncanny, Lightspeed and Tor.com. He is the winner of the 2014 Hugo for Best Short Story, for “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere.”

He blogs (occasionally) at blog.johnchu.net. You can find him on Twitter @john_chu.

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PodCastle 371: The Fairy Ring

by Joe Pitkin

read by Steve Anderson

A PodCastle original!

I noticed another person in the room, the only other person, peering at me through a monocle. That was when lots of people in the city were wearing monocles—this wasn’t the first monocle I had seen today. The barista with the neck tattoos and the barbershop quartet moustache had a monocle when he served my tea. But this new person looked a little old for a hipster: short, slender, angular, wearing a three-piece cream colored suit, a fedora just taken off to reveal close-cropped thick black hair, barely graymy first impression (which is everybody’s) was that the antiquarian was a person of great power. In fact, for a moment I thought Leonard Cohen was standing in front of me.

The antiquarian gestured at the chair opposite me to inquire whether it was free. With a sinking feeling I offered it: I foresaw small talk with a lonely old person. Not that I was especially interested in reading, but I was sitting there with a book—shouldn’t that have signaled something?

The antiquarian, I learned, was not much for small talk. “You are looking for a job, I see.” The voice was high and cracked, but still quite beautiful. “I am in need of a factotum.”

Rated PG.

Joe Pitkin has lived, taught, and studied in England, Hungary, Mexico, and most recently at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. He has done biological field work on the slopes of Mount St. Helens, and he lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and daughters. You can follow his work at his blog, The Subway Test: thesubwaytest.wordpress.com.

Steve Anderson has narrated stories for all three Escape Artists podcasts (including a Parsec Award-winning story for PseudoPod).  He narrates audiobooks and produces online videos out of a home studio at SGAcreative.com, and he writes and performs live history programs on tour at GreatTalesLive.com. Steve says, “If that sounds like an odd patchwork of things to piece together to do for a living… well, it is.  But thanks to this story, I finally have a succinct and impressive way of describing it: I’m a freelance factotum.”

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