Archive for June, 2010

PodCastle 111: And Their Lips Rang With The Sun

by Amal El-Mohtar

Read by N.K. Jemisin

Originally Published in Strange Horizons.

There was once a Sun-woman, glorious as any of them, named Lam. She was nimble, lithe; she was all of eighteen, quite in her prime, while her bright-eyed acolyte had only just learned the sacred alphabet off by heart. She was a sensible teacher, and differed from her sisters in only one respect.

It was her custom, once the dawn-dance was done, to look out to the very farthest reaches of the horizon and imagine how far the fingers of the Rising Sun could reach, what they touched where her gaze failed. And when the evening was shaken out like a sheet between the arms of her sisters, then, too, rather than look to the closing of her palms, she would chase the last ray of the Sun as it vanished over the desert and the mountains, and wonder where She went, where She slept, and in whose bed.

These were unnecessary thoughts for a Sun-woman to have, to be sure, but perhaps none had loved the Sun quite so completely as she.

It happened one afternoon that Lam looked out, as was her wont, towards the west, and wondered. But while she thought her puzzle-thoughts, she became aware of eyes on her, and looked down to the great square before the temple of the Sun.

Rated PG: Contains Stories for Travelers Who May or May not be Passing Through

Read the text here.

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PodCastle Miniature 51: Jaguar Woman

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Read by Anna Schwind

Originally Published in Shimmer

The bearded Spaniard says little to her. He prefers to kiss her and mount her and have her pour his drink for him.

But the priests speak often, furiously. They show her drawings, they explain. The priests have images of martyrs drenched in blood, holding their own heads on a platter, their bodies pierced by arrows.

The priests make her kneel before their blessed Virgin and pray. She has prayed to others before and it is not so difficult to pray to new gods. It is more difficult to have lost her name. Even more difficult to have lost the jaguar shape.

But she does not remember much about those times either. It must have been years ago. She’s been the Spaniard’s mistress for an eternity. It has been like this forever, eating at his table, sleeping in his bed. Although it must not have been forever; she remembers there was a time when she could barely understand him and now his words are clearer although his meaning is the same.

Rated R for Violence, Including Gore

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PodCastle 110: The Alchemist’s Feather

by Erin Cashier

Read by Dave Thompson

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

I have always done as I have been told, and most of my actions have not been kind ones. I know because the Alchemist did not always tell me to forget and so, trapped inside my jar, I was cursed to remember.

I dreamt the dreams of dolls, and those were the times I could see the past most clearly. I remembered the time I crept inside a true man’s workplace to hide false evidence. And when I delivered a botched love potion into a poor serving girl’s tea and hid behind a jug of milk to watch as she retched black blood and green bile across the floor.

Tonight as I dreamt, I became aware that these were horrible things. They did not bother me at the time, and they do not bother me now, but I am aware of them in a way that I have never been before. And in the morning I realize one of my fingers is gone.

Rated R for Violence

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PodCastle 109, Bonus Episode: Watermark

by Michael Greenhut

read by Amy Elk, Voice Actress for Hire

Originally published in Fantasy Magazine

Dear Father:

If you are reading this, Dariael murdered me.

Though I am not your favorite daughter, you also know I’m not the type of sixteen-year-old to feign suicide for sympathy. For the moment, I ask only that you believe in my abilities as a threadkeeper. If my sorcery works, you can save me in your universe. If you’re too busy to follow my instructions, you’ll never see me again.

In my timeline, I wrote this letter with your (presumably) grieving hands after you channeled me through a favorite memory. Naturally, Dariael was in the memory too. We had surprised you with that golden fleece jacket for your thirty-fifth birthday. You hugged Dariael, and I hugged you both.

Rated PG for Father’s Day Issues – we hope yours turns out better than this!

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PodCastle 108: The Goats are Going Places

by Tina Connolly

read by Melissa Bugaj of the Night Light Stories podcast

Originally published in Shiny

Once in the most boring lunchroom of the most boring junior high
school in the world, there sat a girl who refused to be bored for one
more minute.  Renee Ryder cut P.E. and found some interesting girls
who liked to hang behind the shop building and get artistic with spray
paint.  She decided to be their leader.  With Renee in charge, the
girls got very good with spray paint.  In the amount of time it took a
red light to change, they could paint an entire ocean on a car, with
goldfish and seahorses and two dolphins doing it.  But then they got
busted for tagging the vice-principal’s minivan, and then Renee was
snarky and got expelled, which was fine with her because she’d
mastered both the graffiti and the girls by now and it was all so
boring.

Renee’s parents shrieked, which was also boring, but then Renee’s aunt
Simone stepped in and said Renee could come live with her and go to
the very best junior high in the City.  Renee’s mother, who often
called her sister something rhyming with witch, cackled.  ”Whatever
happens to you, you’ll deserve it,” she said.

“Six bedrooms, a hot tub, my own flatscreen the size of a bed?  You
bet I deserve it,” said Renee.  She packed her ripped jeans and her
cans of spray paint, her old teddy bear and her lighters, and went to
live on 1313 Strega Place with her aunt.

Rated PG for School Spirit, Goats, and Life in the J.H.

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PodCastle 107, Giant Episode: The Behold of the Eye

by Hal Duncan

read by MarBelle of the Directors Notes podcast.

Originally published in Lone Star Stories

Flashjack had hauled himself up beside her on the rim of the wine-glass he was skinnydipping in, shaken Rioja off his wings, and looked around at the crystal forest of the table-top he’d, just a few short hours ago, been born above in a moment of sheer whimsy, plinking into existence at the clink of a flippant toast to find himself a-flutter in a wild world of molten multicolour mandalas wheeling on the walls and ceiling, edges of every straight line in the room streaming like snakes.  He’d skittered between trailers of wildly gesticulating hands, gyred on updrafts of laughter, danced in flames of lighters held up to joints, and landed on the nose of a snow-leopard that was lounging in the shadows of a corner of vision.  He’d found it a comfy place to watch one of the guests perform an amazing card trick with a Jack of Hearts, so he’d still been hunkered there, gawping like a loon at the whirl of the party, and making little flames shoot out of his fingertips (because he could), when Pebbleskip came fluttering down to dance in the air in front of him.

“Nice to get out once in a while, eh?” she’d said.  “Hi, I’m Pebbleskip.”

“I’m… Flashjack,” he’d decided.  “What’s in a while?  Is it like upon a time?  And out of what?”

Her face had scrunched, her head tilted in curiosity.

“Ah,” she’d said.  “You must be new.”

Since then she’d been explaining.

Rated R for Foul-Mouthed Fairies and Ever-Shifting Landscapes

(Check out the shiny new Directors Notes iPhone App)

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PodCastle Review 2: The City and the City

The City and the City by China Miéville

Reviewed by Peter Wood

The City & The City, Miéville’s latest novel, is stylistically quite different than some of his previous work and, I think, considerably more accessible. In short, The City & The City is a crime novel that follows Inspector Tyador Borlú as he investigates a murder. The tricky part, for Borlú is that while the body was found in his city, Besźel, the murder appears to have been committed in the neighboring city of Ul Qoman. Additionally, there seems to be political slant to the case, putting Borlu in conflict with some very powerful people in both cities. He travels to Ul Qoman and teams up with his counterpart in that city, Qussim Dhatt and together they attempt to bring the murderer to justice. And of course, there are red herrings strewn about and further fatalities as the investigation proceeds (as any proper detective story should have).

Minor plot-oriented spoilers. DO NOT BREACH.

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PodCastle 106: Little Gods

by Tim Pratt

read by Dave Thompson

Originally published in Strange Horizons

“I wish I could be a little goddess of cinnamon,” my wife Emily says,
closing her eyes and leaning in close to the spices. I’m used to Emily
saying things like that, so I don’t take any notice, just nod and pick
up a bottle of peach nectar off the shelf, slosh it around, wrinkle my
nose. I know all the gunk in there is supposed to be fresh natural
goodness, but to me it just looks like gunk. Emily says that I deny
the truth of natural origins. Emily likes peach nectar, so I put the
bottle in the basket.

“A little goddess of cinnamon,” Emily repeats. “Or brown sugar.” She
crosses her arms, her silver-and-brass bracelets tinkling together.

“As opposed to a big goddess of cinnamon?” I move on down the aisle
with my basket over my arm.

“Little things get little gods,” Emily says. “It’s only natural.” She
trails after me, running her finger along the shelves, pausing to
sniff at the black teas, to open the lid on a jar of sugar-free
gumdrops. Emily is always prodding, smelling, caressing — she says
that she is experiencing the world.

“So big gods are for big things, then? Like, say, whales?”

Emily sighs behind me. “Big things like . . . I don’t know . . . love.”

Rated PG for the Little Gods of Hanging On

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