PC024: It Takes a Town

By Stephen V. Ramey.
Read by Bill Ruhsam.
Introduction by Deborah Coates.
First appeared in Strange Horizons (full text online).

“They ain’t really going through with this,” Tom said. “Are they?” The pig smell intensified, driving off more pleasant fumes of paint and honest sweat. “First the casino. Then the amusement park. Now a rocket?” He chuckled. “Won’t you crazy townies never learn?”

“This is different. This will really put Thornhope on the map.” Anthony turned back to his work. “The whole town is pitching in.” He finished outlining the final T and selected a sash brush from his tool belt. The brush’s upper portion was crusted but the tips were flexible enough. He dipped it into black paint.

“What about materials?”

“Folks are donating–”

“And what about the rocket? Where you gonna get that?”

Anthony licked his lips, trying not to lose concentration. “There’s talk about that old silo on your property–”

“My silo!” Tom laughed hard and slapped his thigh. “What in hellfire makes you think a bunch of morons and a queerball crossdresser can launch a silo to Mars?”

Anthony rolled his eyes. This was exactly the attitude he hoped to escape. “Who’s to say we can’t?”

Rated PG. Contains impossible science and a skyward thrust.

Please visit the thread on this story in our forums.

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19 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    The Evil Eyebrow » PodCastle Reading said,

    September 9, 2008 @ 11:37 am

    […] I have it on good authority (the editor, Rachael, tells me so) that the story I read for PodCastle will be posted today. (edit: here’s the link) […]

  2. 2

    Brave Space Monkey said,

    September 9, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

    Solid and enjoyable story. Well written and well read. However, the audio of the intro and exit are sub-standard, and nearly impossible to listen to. In fact the sound quality is down right painful through the standard speakers that sie on my desk at work.

    Please listen to the podcast before posting it. Please use cheap computer speaker or crap headphones when pre-listen to the podcast. Not everyone one has $200 desktop speakers, or even $20 head phone. At work here I’m stock with the speakers the came with the computer.

    The Escape Artists’ catalog of podcast should be know for their high quality stories, not their sub standard audio quality.

    Brave Space Monkey – Out!

  3. 3

    Old Man Parker said,

    September 10, 2008 @ 8:03 pm

    Oh jeepers creepers, that story was worse than the horny house story!

  4. 4

    L33tminion said,

    September 11, 2008 @ 12:08 am

    Yeah, this story was blah.

    Also, it wasn’t very fantasy-ish at all. If bad science was all you needed to distinguish fantasy from science fiction, there would be a lot less science fiction and a lot more fantasy.

  5. 5

    Amaster said,

    September 11, 2008 @ 2:32 am

    I thought it was quite good. It reminded me of the time my town got hit by a tornado, and the entire town banded together to make sure everybody had a place to stay, food to eat, and a person to talk to. It is in my opinion that when enough people band together, miracles can happen.

  6. 6

    J said,

    September 11, 2008 @ 4:59 am

    Yet another sentimentalist tale pushing the ideals of community and optimism. ugh. I hear so many of these that not only have i become numb to them and their cliched hopefully happy endings, but i now find myself slightly nauseated.

    thanks podcastle

    How about next week we get a rationalistic story promoting self reliance and the ability to deal with the world as it is, rather than as one might like it to be?

  7. 7

    Shawn said,

    September 11, 2008 @ 9:47 am

    I should have known to stop listening after the soap box speech at the beginning – as punishment I listened to the whole story. Excuse me I now have to go clean up the blood that is dripping from my ears… I give this podcast a rating of 0(zero) pink piggy spacesuits with frilly tail covers.

  8. 8

    Jennifer said,

    September 11, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

    This is one of those stories that seems to work better in text than aloud. The switching viewpoints got confusing for me while read aloud, but it made more sense looking at the SH text.

  9. 9

    phignewton said,

    September 14, 2008 @ 5:23 am

    When i was a youth i made a short animated film [2.5 minutes shot on 8mm] involving a character [a person with no nose since i had not advanced to drawing that bit of physiology] building a rocket and.. taking off… build build build… fiddle with wires…. whoooosh, up the rocket goes… it is a mythic human conception, full of humanity and such, unfortunately i forgot while shooting the blastoff scene to take into account the camera was mounted away from me so it came out as blasting down instead of up. oh… so yes, i liked the story.

  10. 10

    scatterbrain said,

    September 17, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

    What a load of bollocks! It was utterly unspeculative, never mind not fantasy at all, and instead of giving a message of hope which I suppose it intended, it just said it was alright to run away from your problems and believe in “visions” rather than do something worthwhile.


  11. 11

    Wiz said,

    September 18, 2008 @ 9:56 am

    After the first three hours of the intro, I was ready to skip the whole episode. The intro was really boring, really long, and really poorly read. I decided to try to find the story, though. I finally managed to scan forward to find the beginning of the story – searching through the remaining 10 hours of intro only took another half hour or so – and finally found a really oddly dictated story filled with really offensive and unrealistic stereotypes. I hope the rest of the story was better than the first five minutes, but I was so irritated with the whole production by this time, that I ended up skipping it.

    First time I’ve done that with a PC episode – usually, I can’t wait to hear them. I guess “PC” meant something different this time.

  12. 12

    Smithereens said,

    September 24, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

    I didn’t have a chance to form an opinion on the intro since I couldn’t hear it over the background music. I generally love the PodCastle music but it strikes me that if you find an intro important enough to include we should at least be able to hear it. Maybe it could be cut to play just the instrumental portion – I found the singing particularly distracting.

  13. 13

    Blaine Boy said,

    September 29, 2008 @ 12:07 am

    Nice enough story, but I really don’t think it counts as fantasy. It’s just seems like a piece of short fiction is all. But I do have a comment on your outros. I know that you use the same outros time and again, but sometimes it’s nice to hear something different. Something that relates to the story something quirky and funny. Other than that, great job!

    Yours faithfully,
    the Blaine Boy

  14. 14

    Spork said,

    October 1, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

    Don’t compete with your background music during your intro.
    Don’t make your intro a mile long.
    Don’t run lousy stories like this again.

    Please, and thank you.

  15. 15

    Ogion The Ski-napper said,

    October 7, 2008 @ 6:08 am

    There’s a discussion about podcastle intros at

  16. 16

    The Fix | From the Podosphere: September 2008 said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 8:35 am

    […] more normal times the inhabitants would dismiss as absurd fantasy. Stephen V. Ramey’s “It Takes a Town” (read by Bill Ruhsam) is a fantastical speculation on a small town community uniting behind […]

  17. 17

    The Evil Eyebrow » Audio Interface Saga said,

    November 15, 2008 @ 10:22 am

    […] in August, we decided that if we really are going to do this podcasting thing, we should invest in better equipment than a $40 logitech […]

  18. 18

    The Evil Eyebrow » LibriVox said,

    January 25, 2009 @ 11:28 am

    […] have now recorded two stories for Podcastle, one which came out last September and other which hasn’t been published yet. On both occasions, I have been generally satisfied […]

  19. 19

    Fred said,

    February 25, 2009 @ 11:40 am

    Apparently I’m one of the few people that liked this story. It wasn’t my favorite episode or anything, but I did like it.

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