Archive for January, 2010

PodCastle Minature 46: Debris

by Kiini Ibura Salaam

Read by Ann Leckie

Originally published in Ideomancer

It is legend how my mother kept my grandmother’s eye sockets clean with the pure white feather of a cockatoo. She often sent me to the forests to pick marigolds to stack high around Grandmother’s skull. Grandmother loved the smell of the marigolds. She told me so every time I entered the house with an armful of fragrant weeds.

After my grandmother’s head had been sitting in the altar room for a month, my mother realized my grandmother was dying, not because of her missing body, but because she was bored. Mother brought Grandmother into the living room and positioned her right in front of the window. There Grandmother sat happily for a week until Dad caught her promising her skull to an epileptic candy vendor.

Rated R: For Skulls, Sweet and Otherwise, and Days of the Dead

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PodCastle 88: Another End of the Empire

by Tim Pratt.
Read by Cheyenne Wright.
Originally Published in Strange Horizons.

“I am here,” Mogrash said. “Give me the bad news.”

“A child dwells in the village of Misery Chin, in the mountain
provinces to the east. If allowed to grow to manhood, he will take
over your empire, overthrow your ways and means, and send you from the
halls of your palace forever.”

Mogrash relaxed. This was, at least, not an immediate threat‚ not like
the pronouncement of metastasized bone cancer she’d given his
grandfather. He sighed. “So I’m expected to send my Fell Rangers to
the mountains, raze the village, leave no stone upon a stone, enslave
the women, and kill all the younglings to stop this dire prophecy from
coming to pass.”

“It’s what your father would have done.”

“Yes, but I’m more modern than he was. Besides, we’ve seen this happen
a thousand times‚ the attempt to stop the prophecy will make it come
to pass, won’t it?”

Rated PG for superseded oracles, despots past their expiration dates and probability witches.

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PodCastle 87: Narrative of a Beast’s Life

by Cat Rambo

Read by Paul Jenkins (of the Rev Up Review)

Originally published in Realms of Fantasy.

We were taken to a market in a city. None of us had ever seen such a place before and there were sights and sounds and smells such as I had never witnessed. The buildings were made of clay brick, laid together so snugly that no mortar or cement was necessary. Some buildings were built on top of each other, and stairs meant for no Centaur led up and down the outside.

Here we were sold, each to separate masters. Mine fastened me in a coffle with other beings: a Sphinx of that city that had committed murder, two Djinni, and a snake-headed woman. Oxen drew the cart to which we were shackled, and chained on it was a Dragon, not a large one, but some eight feet in length. A small herd of goats marched behind us in turn, intended for the Dragon’s sustenance.

Rated PG: Contains the Enslavement of Magical Creatures

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PodCastle 86: Tio Gilberto and the Twenty-Seven Ghosts

By Ben Francisco

Read by Brian Lieberman

Originally Published in Realms of Fantasy

Before I can even ring, Uncle Gilberto opens the door and gives me a
big hug and a kiss that smells of gin and menthol cigarettes.  His
dog, Ganymede, barks and snuggles his head between my legs.  The cat
eyes me suspiciously from the next room.  From behind me, someone
helps me slip off my jacket.  I look over my shoulder, but nobody’s
there.  “Who’s that?” I ask my uncle.

“That’s Daniel,” he says.

“Hey, Daniel,” I say.  “Been a while.”

Gilberto shakes a finger at the air behind me.  “No, you cannot also
take his shirt!  I told you to behave.”  Uncle Gil throws both hands
into the air.  “Dios mío, what have I done?  Bringing my innocent
nephew into a house with twenty-seven horny ghosts.  Qué barbaridad.
You tell me right away if any of them try anything, me entiendes,
James?”

Rated R: Contains Love, Ghosts, and San Francisco

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PodCastle 85, Giant Episode: The Narcomancer

By N.K. Jemisin.
Read by Rajan Khanna.
Originally published in Helix.

“Death is not a Gatherer’s business,” Cet said. Did the woman realize
how greatly she had insulted him and all his brethren? For the first time
in a very long while, he felt anger stir in his heart. “_Peace_ is our
business. Sharers do that by healing the flesh. Gatherers deal with the
soul, judging those which are too corrupt or damaged to be salvaged and
granting them the Goddess’ blessing — “

“If you had learned your catechisms better you would understand that,”
the Superior interjected smoothly. He threw Cet a mild look, doubtless to
remind Cet that they could not expect better of ignorant country folk. “And
you would have known there was no need for payment. In a situation like
this, when the peace of many is under threat, it is the Temple’s duty to
offer aid.”

The men looked abashed; Mehepi’s jaw tightened at the scolding. With a
sigh, the Superior glanced down at some notes he’d taken on a reedleaf
sheet. “So, Cet; these brigands she mentioned are the problem. For the
past three turns of the greater moon, their village and others along the
Empty Thousand have suffered a curious series of attacks. Everyone in the
village falls asleep — even the men on guard duty. When they wake, their
valuables are gone. Food stores, livestock, the few stones of worth they
gather from their mine; their children have been taken too, no doubt sold to
those desert tribes who traffic in slaves. Some of the women and youths
have been abused, as you heard. And a few, such as the village headman and
the guards, were slain outright, perhaps to soften the village’s defenses
for later. No one wakes during these assaults.”

Cet inhaled, all his anger forgotten. “A sleep spell? But only the
Temple uses narcomancy.”

Rated R for nightmares, broken oaths and mended persons.

This episode of PodCastle is illustrated! The illustration has been provided by Shaun Lindow.
Narcomancer Illustration by Shaun Lindow

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PodCastle Miniature 45: When Shakko Did Not Lie

By Eugie Foster.
Read by Melissa Bugaj.
Originally published in Cricket.

The maiden’s amber eyes glowed in the moonlight. A single tear glistened
and rained down her moon-white face.

“Don’t cry, lovely one,” Shakko barked, alarmed.

The maiden lifted the sleeve of her jasmine-yellow kimono and dabbed at her
eyes. “Why should I not cry?” she asked. “My champion says he will sleep
as Master Sun opens his house to the heavens, and when his windows close at
dusk, I will surely die.”

Rated PG: for outfoxing foxes.

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