Archive for August, 2008

PodCastle Metacast #2

PodCastle editor Rachel Swirsky introduces three new features:

Flash Fiction Fall: wherein a flash episode will be aired once a week along with the feature episode, beginning with a set of four fables by Peter Beagle. Flash fiction fall will let PodCastle work through the archive of flash episodes which we’ve inherited from Escape Pod, getting the stories off the shelf where they’ve been gathering virtual dust and out where they belong – before the listeners.

Holiday-themed stories: for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and election day.

PodCastle Giants: special long episodes that will air once every three months, giving fantasy the room it needs to luxuriate.

Discuss on the forums.

PC022: Dead Girl’s Wedding March

By Cat Rambo
Read by Rachel Swirsky.
Introduction by Ann Leckie.
First appeared in Fantasy Magazine, 2006 (full text online).

“The Physician came with eager steps, for new cases were few and far between. He insisted on examining Zuleika from head to toe, and would have had her disrobe, save for her father’s protest.

“She seems well enough to me,” the Physician said in a disappointed tone.

“She believes she wishes to marry.”

“Tut, tut,” the Physician said in astonishment. “Well now. Love. And you wish this cured?”

“Before the contagion spreads any further or drives her to actions imperiling us all.”

Rated G. Contains love between a rat and a girl five thousand years dead.

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PodCastle Miniature 009: What Dragons Prefer

By Dayle A. Dermatis
Read by Loupe Savich
First appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine

“Dragonslayer,” he greeted, his smile slick beneath his well-oiled mustache. “Thank you for coming to aid us in our time of terror.”

“I prefer ‘Dragonseeker,’” I said politely. “It is not enough to have the skills to slay a dragon–one must learn about him as well. To know one’s enemy is to destroy him.”

And most people knew so little about dragons. I knew, for example, that dragons only fed once every twenty years, and then usually only one human. Is that such a bad thing, really, when wolves kill so many deer in the forest to survive, or humans kill sheep because roast mutton is so tasty? But people panicked if they saw a dragon glide far overhead on the highest currents, or if they caught a faint whiff of its acrid scent when the wind turned just right.

Rated PG. Contains draconic lechery.

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PC021: Hallah Iron-Thighs and the Change of Life

By K. D. Wentworth
Read by M. K. Hobson
First appeared in Chicks in Chainmail (Baen)

“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you,” I called after him. “This pass is dangerous. You never know when you’re going to run into a bunch of low-down, dirty, skulking ban–”

“And just who are you calling `dirty’ there, ducks?” a familiar male voice called down from the rocks above. “Actually, I’m thinking the two of you could do with a bit of spit and polish your own selves.”

“Lomo, you skunk!” Corpsemaker’s hooves clattered as I pulled her up.

“That’s Lomo, King of the Bandits, to you,” he said haughtily.

I leaped out of the saddle, my sword Esmeralda in hand. “I thought I split your thieving head open the last time you waylaid us!”

“That,” he said loftily from his unseen perch, “was merely a clever ruse on my part.”

“Rats and eels, I hate it when they won’t stay dead!”

Rated PG. Contains scantily clad barbarians of the female persuasion.

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PC020: Cup and Table

By Tim Pratt
Read by Stephen Eley (of Escape Pod)
First appeared in Twenty Epics (All Star Stories)

The Old Doctor welcomed Sigmund, twenty years old and tormented by visions, into the library at the Table’s headquarters. Shelves rose everywhere like battlements, the floors were old slate, and the lights were ancient crystal-dripping chandeliers, but the Old Doctor sat in a folding chair at a card table heaped with books.

“I expected, well, something _more_,” Sigmund said, thumping the rickety table with his hairy knuckles. “A big slab of mahogany or something, a table with authority.”

“We had a fine table once,” the Old Doctor said, eternally middle-aged and absently professorial. “But it was chopped up for firewood during a siege in the 1600s.” He tapped the side of his nose. “There’s a
lesson in that. No asset, human or material, is important compared to the continued existence of the organization itself.”

“But surely _you’re_ irreplaceable,” Sigmund said, awkward attempt at job security through flattery. The room shivered and blurred at the edges of his vision, but it had not changed much in recent decades, a few books moving here and there, piles of dust shifting across the floor.

The Old Doctor shook his head. “I am the living history of the Table, but if I died, a new doctor would be sent from the archives to take over operations, and though his approach might differ from mine, his
role would be the same — to protect the cup.”

“The cup,” Sigmund said, sensing the cusp of mysteries. “You mean the Holy Grail.”

Rated PG. Contains mysteries, religious and philosophical.

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PodCastle Miniature 008: Believe

By Katherine Sparrow
Read by Ann Leckie
First appeared in Son and Foe (full text at link)

“I’ve been practicing.”

Kenya nods her head. “It takes a lot of practice.”

“How long did it take you?”

“Forever!” Kenya claps her hands and makes two more quarters appear. At lunch she buys two chocolate milks with her quarters and gives one to Maria. It is sweet and thick and better than the wheat bread and yellow rubber-cheese sandwich her Mom packed for her.

They have a test in long division after lunch and Maria feels mad that Kenya can just get an ‘A’ with magic but she has to work hard. She knows how to do it but keeps forgetting to carry the ones and the twos and the only thing that matters to the teacher is getting the answer right. I believe I’ll get an A, Maria thinks as hard as she can. D into A, D into A!

“Can you do more magic?” Maria asks Kenya at recess.

“Yes.”

“Will you show me?”

“Maybe tomorrow. I have to believe more first.”

Rated G. Contains quarters in unexpected places.

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PC019: Galatea

By Vylar Kaftan
Read by Rachel Swirsky
First appeared in Heliotrope (full text online)

Since I moved to the city, I’ve been dying piece by piece. It’s not really the smog, or the crowds, or my tiny apartment above the Arabic bookstore, or any of the things that bother most people. It’s the way people hurry around, their faces to the sidewalk, darting through the streets like ants swarming over a dead lizard. City life is fractured into thousands of pieces–faceted like the view from insect eyes. Maybe it makes sense to ants. To a small-town girl like me, it’s overwhelming.

The problem is that I’ve been here long enough to start dying. I lost two fingers last week. They fell off while I was sleeping. I found them next to my pillow in the morning, and put them in a shoebox with my big toe.

Rated PG. Contains alienation from community and spirit.

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