PodCastle Miniature 003: Pahwahke

By Gord Sellar
Read by C. G. Furst.
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky.
First appeared in Fantasy Magazine, 2008 (full text at link).

The smoke in my longhouse swirled thick, thicker still around their strange faces. They sat all around me on brightly-colored mats and frowned, wrinkled their big noses as they tried to speak our language. I offered them bone spoons and cedar plates loaded with salmon and seal oil and nuts and blackberries.

“We’ve brought many gifts,” they said, our words heavy like stones on their tongues. They opened the bags, and set down handfuls of colorful round beads, hard axes, pouches bursting with long-traveled pemmican, braided sweetgrass, and tobacco. They set these things down before me, and then one of them—their chief—stared across the fire at my eldest daughter.

They gave me so much that I couldn’t refuse their unsaid request. Pahwakhe wept and shivered when I offered her to them. Her sisters and mother beat their breastbones and cried, but what could I do? They could have stolen her away, or stolen all of them, if they wanted. I had no choice. So we married her to their young chief. Our women sang mourning songs as young men danced, feathers swirling in firelight as drums pounded in darkness.

Rated PG. Contains spirits, violins, dusty bones, and an old man’s regret.

Why PodCaslte miniatures? According to wikipedia, the word miniature is derived from the Latin minium, red lead, and is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript. We thought it was a good way to describe very short stories with a fantasy theme: a word that indicates brievity, manuscripts, and a medieval atmosphere.

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13 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mari Mitchell said,

    May 2, 2008 @ 4:58 am

    This dark than I was excepting.

    I love a story that has a real sense of place.

    I thought this was nicely told.

  2. 2

    val said,

    May 2, 2008 @ 1:37 pm

    Wasn’t sure whether this was originally a folktale or just came out of his head when I reviewed this story after its appearance in Fantasy Magazine; glad of the clarification. (http://thefix-online.com/reviews/fantasy-online-jan-2008/)

    As I said then– good stuff!

    Kudos for getting it “on the air” as it were.

    Also, I like the variation in opening music….wasn’t a fan of the music you started out with as much…this has more energy.

  3. 3

    Armhead said,

    May 7, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

    The explanation before the story ruined it for me for this story and another I’ve listened to so far. I felt like I was on the rails of context rather than swimming in the sea of my own imagination.

    I am also a huge fan of this opening music over the previous music. The previous song’s vocals interfered with your narration which made it difficult to hear you on a busy subway car.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  4. 4

    Pete S said,

    May 9, 2008 @ 8:26 am

    I personally didn’t like this one much at all. The characters never grabbed me and never ‘popped’ into being for me, and the plot felt pretty thin. I found myself zoning out a few times as I listened to it, so perhaps I missed something, but to me the plot felt like:

    Thug hired to kidnap woman. Uses seduction methods to lure her away. Falls in love with her and gets her pregnant, so never hands her over to his employers. They punish him. 20 years later he collects the son to go take his revenge on those employers.

    Take that plot, sprinkle some magic on it, hook it into real world events, and that felt like all I was getting.

    I might have been more kindly inclined towards it if it hadn’t followed the Ant King story, which was also of this “fantasy realism” genre.

    I hope we get back to more traditional fantasy with fresh new worlds soon.

    Contrary to the previous commenter, I enjoyed the intro, and in fact it was my favorite part of this episode.

  5. 5

    Pete S said,

    May 9, 2008 @ 8:28 am


    Somehow I added this comment to the wrong post. *face palm*

    This was in response to “Hotel Astarte”, not Pahwahke.

    Mea culpa!! Any chance a kindly sysadmin can move it?

  6. 6

    Spork said,

    May 14, 2008 @ 7:12 pm

    Yeah, so…other than Native Americans prone to magical thinking, where was the fantasy in this story?

    Also, let me cheer the change in theme music from the Enya ear-vomit to the new stuff. It’s much, much more tolerable.

  7. 7

    The Fix | From the Podosphere: May 2008 said,

    June 15, 2008 @ 7:43 pm

    […] PodCastle begins with the third of its miniatures, “Pahwahke” by Gord Sellar (read by C. G. Furst), though it’s on the long side for flash fiction. […]

  8. 8

    Fantasy Magazine » Steampunk Noticed By Mainstream Media; Iron Man Does Well At Box Office And In Depictions Of Women; Battlestar Gets Twisty (Again) said,

    July 13, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

    […] Pahwahke by Gord Sellar at PodCastle: First Seen @ Fantasy Magazine! […]

  9. 9

    Pahwakhe : gordsellar.com said,

    August 23, 2008 @ 8:42 am

    […] Update (2 May 2008): The PodCastle podcast is live! Listen to it here! […]

  10. 10

    Pahwakhe Podcast is Up : gordsellar.com said,

    August 23, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

    […] When you have a quarter of an hour to spare, go check it out! […]

  11. 11

    Welcome, Asimov’s Readers! : gordsellar.com said,

    August 23, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

    […] the sidebar, you can find links to more stories online (including the text and podcast of “Pahwakhe,” which was drafted in the same week of Clarion West, or my Greg Egan […]

  12. 12

    Pahwakhe « Writing Every Day said,

    August 28, 2008 @ 11:28 pm

    […] Posted on August 28, 2008 by Pam Phillips In an atmospheric reading that casts a spell on you, “Pahwakhe” by Gord Sellar brings you into the borderlands […]

  13. 13

    First Homework! : Gord’s Classes said,

    September 11, 2009 @ 8:11 am

    […] Monday, Sept. 14th: read this PDF of my story “Pahwakhe.” (Or listen to the MP3 of a reading performed for a podcast.) And while you’re at it, review this wikipedia article on the notion of The Death of the […]

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