PodCastle 324: Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

by Saladin Ahmed
Read by Steve Anderson
Originally published in Rags & Bones, edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt.

I do not know how he brought us to this land of blood and iron masks. I know only that I am a real
man trapped in a mad landscape of living lessons.

My brothers and I were spirited here from my home in…Damascus? Yes, praise be to God that I can remember that. The sound of the street-preachers, and the smells of the spice vendors’ stalls.
Damascus.

We were sipping tea in a room with green carpets, and I was laughing at a jest that…that someone was making. Who? The face, the voice, the name have been stolen from me. All I know is that my brothers and I suddenly found ourselves in this twisted place, each aware of the others’ fates, but unable to find one another. Unable to find any escape.

Now my eldest brother has been slain. And my next eldest brother has disappeared.

Who am I? I do not know how he changed our names. But in this world of lions and giants and the blinding shine of armor, I am called Joyless, as if it were a name.

It was not my name. It is not my name. But this is his place, and it follows his commands.

Rated R. Contains violence, including gore.

Editors’ Note: Saladin Ahmed’s house has flooded, and they’ve accrued thousands of dollars in damage. Click here to find out how you can help him and his family out.

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PodCastle 323: The Ascent of Unreason

By Marie Brennan
Read by Wilson Fowlie (of the Maple Leaf Singers)
Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

“I want to make a map of Driftwood.”

Watching Last cough up his wine at the words wasn’t the only reason for Tolyat’s declaration, but he had to admit it was part of the appeal.  The man was a guide, and had seen so much, experienced so much, gone so many places, that it was hard to crack his shell of burnt-out weariness.  One pretty much had to say something so outrageous it should never be uttered by a sane man.

Tolyat leaned back, and nearly fell out of his hammock.  They were in Kyey, where the local people had given over most of what remained of their world to the cultivation of some plant with an unpronounceable name, whose chief virtue was the production of tough fiber.  The Kyeyi ate a little of it, sold a lot, and used the rest to make practically everything around them.  Even the walls were mostly fiber, woven between the occasional piece of imported timber.

Despite coughing, Last balanced on his hammock like he’d been born Kyeyi.  He wiped his chin and set his wine horn on the table — more fiber, mixed with mud and baked hard.  Even the wine was a byproduct of that damned plant, from the liquid drained off during fiber extraction.  Tolyat thought it tasted like fermented rope, but Last, for some inexplicable reason, liked it.

Last said, “Only idiots bother trying to make maps of Driftwood.”

Rated PG. Contains Dying Worlds, Flying Monsters, and Other Fun Stuff

 

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PodCastle 322: Saving Bacon

by Ann Leckie

Read by Alasdair Stuart (of Pseudopod, Escape Pod, and Many Other – Possibly All – Good Things)

A PodCastle Original!

The continuation of the race is of course the first and highest priority of those privileged to be born into the ancient family of Vachash-Troer, and I, Slale Vachash-Troer, am so privileged. As a male, I am unable to perpetuate the family name, but one still likes to promote connections to other families of similarly distinguished ancestry, connections that, so I’m told, increase the wealth and influence of our noble line.

Still, I had a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it when Aunt Eone tried to marry me off.

Rated PG. Contains pigs and marriages (or at least, attempts at marriages)

Editor’s Note: Due to some technical errors, we’ve removed the original file. We’ll correct it, and repost it tonight.

Editor’s Note 2: An updated file has been posted. Enjoy Bacon!

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PodCastle 321: Paya Nak

by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Read by Nina Shaharuddin (of the Bright Club)
Originally published in Scigentasy. Read it here!

I am dead, and she knows.

My tangled hair does not impede desire. My excavated belly, loose sagging skin, does not make her avert her eyes. Her fingers touch the scars of birth and do not shy away. Her mouth closes over the coldness of my skin and does not spit it out.

I am a ghost, and she does not mind.

There is a thing in the cradle I rock, a lump of flesh, stained in my fluids. This is what killed me. A parasite that took all my food, stole all my breaths, until one day I woke up to find my heart stopped.

Rated R: Contains Death, Ghosts, and Children

 

 

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