Archive for June, 2008

PC013: Spell of the Sparrow

By Jim C. Hines.
Read by Tina Connolly.
Introduction by Erin Cashier.
First appeared in Sword and Sorceress, XXI.

I was in the woods behind our cabin, trying yet again to dissuade my daughter from this wizarding business.

“I _like_ magic,” Mel protested. “And I’m good at it. Remember the spell I made up last week?”

“The spell that changed my daggers into caterpillars?” James and I were still pulling cocoons out of the laundry.

“No, the other one.”

I crossed my arms and did my best to look parental. “The one that sent my undergarments on a mad dash for freedom?”

She covered her mouth, trying to hide a gap-toothed grin. “I got it right the next time. Don’t your clothes smell nicer?”

“They do… those that aren’t hightailing it for the border.”

It was no use. After two years, I knew I couldn’t win, but I kept trying. James and I thought that if we could teach her another skill, something respectable…..

Rated PG. Contains ghost cats, precocious girls, and amorous spouse-stealers.

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PodCastle Miniature 005: Directions

By Caleb Wilson
Read by Chris Furst
First appeared in Diagram (full text at link).

Some things you will need are a full tank of gas, a flashlight, an axe, a bicycle.

Heading north on Route 110, turn left onto Entwhistle. The street will be paved in dark, fresh asphalt and tree-lined. The web of shadows, light dark light, will fall through the teeth of the leaves onto the windshield. Drive through four lights and beneath an iron railroad bridge.

Rated G. Contains a journey into rampant surrealism.

Why PodCastle 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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PC012: Barrens Dance

By Peter S. Beagle.
Read by Stephen Eley (of Escape Pod).
Introduction by Summer Brooks.
First appeared in Wizards Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, 2007.

Carcharos. One tends to think of wizards either as bearded and severe, bearded and bumblingly kindly, or bearded and dark and vaguely sinister. Carcharos was none of these things. There were broad blond planes to his friendly face, and if his blue eyes were a bit small, they were yet as candid as they could have been. His hair was red-gold in any light, as though the sun were always behind him. When he spoke, there was a deep thrum to his voice, like the singing of a giant cicada. There was no one living in the Barrens who was not afraid of Carcharos.

Yes, there was. One person. But that comes later in the story.

Rated G. Contains strange animals and high magic.

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PC011: Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery

By John Schoffstall
Read by Heather Lindsley
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky
First appeared in Strange Horizons (full text at link.)

Featured intro Link: Postal Experiments

Christopher:

I received a letter from you today, expressing contrition for your past bad behavior and requesting a reconciliation with me. It was written in blue felt-tip pen, with big blurry spots that I think you intended to be taken as the marks of tears. However, when I burned the letter those spots did not produce the characteristic yellow flame that indicates the presence of sodium. I conclude that you made those stains with water drops, or some other aqueous liquid. Definitely not tears. Therefore, I am unconvinced of your sorrow, but reassured as to your guile, insincerity, and general incompetence.

Still hating you,

Jessica

P.S.: All further tear-stained letters will go directly into the In-Sink-Erator.

Rated R. Contains surrealism and wandering body parts of the naughty variety.

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PC010: Magic in a Certain Slant of Light

By Deborah Coates
Read by Cat Rambo
Introduction by Ann Leckie
First appeared in Strange Horizons (full text at link.)

“If you could wish for something magical, what would you wish for?” Jeff asks Nora as he enters the kitchen.

Jeff has been gone all day, helping a friend fix the plumbing in his basement. There’s no “Hello,” or “How was your day?” Just Jeff, in the doorway, asking about magic. “It can’t be about yourself,” he continues. “I mean, like making yourself immortal. Or about world peace. It has to be—”

“Talking dogs,” Nora says.

Jeff smiles in that way he has that seems to change his face. He’s wearing faded jeans and a sweatshirt that’s been washed so many times its cuffs are all unraveled; it’s a change from pin-striped suits and crisp white shirts. “You know, Dexter made a dog talk once and it didn’t work out like he figured it would. That dog was annoying.”

“Well, I don’t know how to tell you this”—Nora chops onions under running water, then transfers them to the frying pan on the stove—”but I don’t rely on Dexter’s Laboratory for my scientific knowledge.”

“Talking dogs are not scientific.”

“Yeah, magical.” Nora turns the heat up on the pan and looks through the cupboards for the spices that she needs. She swears that they’re never where she put them, no matter how often she returns them to their proper place. “That’s what we were talking about, right? Magic? You tell me, what would you wish for?”

“Zeppelins,” he says without hesitation.

“Uhm, zeppelins actually exist.”

He stands in the kitchen doorway, slouched against the frame, and she knows that he will leave her. There is something in the way he looks, a shadow in his eye, that wasn’t there yesterday or even this morning. And it almost kills her, like being stabbed right through the heart, because he’s the only one she ever really loved.

“Zeppelins,” he says, crossing to her and putting his arms around her waist from behind as she turns back to the stove, “are a collective figment of the imagination.”

“Zeppelins are totally possible. Plus, you can ride in one.”

He kisses the back of her neck and it feels like the soft brush of sun-warmed honey. “Bring me a zeppelin,” he says. His words murmur against her skin as he talks and she can feel his smile through the small hairs along the nape of her neck. “Then I’ll believe you.”

Rated PG. Contains zeppelins. Of a sort.

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