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Archive for January, 2011

PodCastle Miniature 58: Before the Uprising

by Katherine Sparrow

Read by Jen Rhodes (of the Anomaly Podcast)

A PodCastle Original!

We fly out into the unseen world, biking as hard as our muscles allow, and then pushing on, faster, onward, go. It’s dark and all the sisters wear black, which is the color of night, which is the color of freedom.

Everything looks better now, the little sisters whisper from the backseat of our bikes, even though they mean they see only darkness as they cling and breathe into the sweat of our necks.

Rated G: Contains Bicycles

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 141: The Bear in the Cable-Knit Sweater

by Robert T. Jeschonek

Read by Cheyenne Wright

A PodCastle Original!

How’d you like to go through life looking like a werewolf, right down to the hair on your palms?  All thanks to the miracle of hypertrichosis, the disease that blasts hair growth into perpetual overdrive.

Welcome to my world.

Imagine the constant ridicule and abuse I put up with from day one.  Imagine being abandoned by my parents at age three, then juggled like a hot potato from one foster family to the next.  Always the freak, always the outcast, always the dog-faced boy.  Growing up to scrape by as a home-based telemarketer.  Hardly ever leaving my apartment, and then only with everything under wraps.  Always just hanging on to life and sanity by the skin of my teeth.

Imagine living like that, and maybe you’ll get it.  Maybe you’ll understand just how happy I was with Stan and the bears.

And why it hurt so unbelievably bad when I lost them.  Why that birthday party turned out to be my last happy night on Earth.

Rated PG: Contains Some Violence

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 140: Terrible Ones

by Tim Pratt.
Read by M.K. Hobson.
Originally appeared in The Third Alternative.

Someone coughed, and Zara opened her eyes and lifted her head. “Holy shit,” she said.

The Greek Chorus was back—when had they gotten on the train? They must have come from another car, creeping quietly, sliding open the adjoining doors without a squeak. Or, more likely, Zara had fallen asleep, and just hadn’t noticed them. They stood in the middle of the aisle, holding onto the grabrail above their heads, though there were any number of empty seats. They all stared at her, silently, swaying a little with the movement of the train.

Zara thought about getting up and going to another car, but what if they followed her? “This had better be a coincidence,” she said. “We just happen to be going in the same direction, right? You aren’t following me, are you?”

The Chorus did not answer, just looked at her. “So, what are you, mimes? You were plenty talkative before. Or are you just frat boys?”

Still no response.

Zara snapped open her purse (black vinyl, decorated with little silvery skulls) and rummaged until she found a mostly used-up tube of lip balm. She held it between her thumb and forefinger, took aim, and threw it at one of the Chorus member’s faces.

The tube bounced off his nose, and he squawked like a bird and flinched away.

“Just fuck off,” Zara said.

“We’ve heard things,” the Chorus said, hesitantly, half of them mumbling, none of them quite in synch. “But only from strangers. Those who carry messages have no power.”

“So you’ve got a message for me, then?” Zara said. “What is this, guerilla marketing? Viral advertising? How much do you get paid?”

“Torrents of blood will fall from the sky. Justice brings new pain; on a fresh whetstone, Fate sharpens her sword. Each charge is countered by another, and who can fairly judge between them? Yet whoever acts must be punished. Such is the law.”

“The only law you should be concerned with is the one against pissing me off,” Zara said. “If you don’t get away from me, I’m going to kick your asses, concurrently or sequentially, whichever you prefer.”

The Chorus member in front, the one she’d hit with her lip balm, said, “Go on. My heart trembles with fear.”

Rated R for: sex, language and violence.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 139: To Follow the Waves

by Amal El-Mohtar.
Read by Marguerite Croft.
Originally published in Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories.


Building a dream was as complex as building a temple, and required knowledge of almost as many trades—a fact reflected in the complexity of the braid-pattern in which Hessa wore her hair. Each pull and plait showed an intersection of gem-crafting, metal-working, architecture and storytelling, to say nothing of the thousand twisting strands representing the many kinds of knowledge necessary to a story’s success. As a child, Hessa had spent hours with the archivists in Al-Zahiriyya Library, learning from them the art of constructing memory palaces within her mind, layering the marble, glass, and mosaics of her imagination with reams of poetry, important historical dates, dozens of musical maqaamat, names of stars and ancestors. Hessa bint Aliyah bint Qamar bint Widad

She learned to carry each name, note, number like a jewel to tuck into a drawer here, hang above a mirror there, for ease of finding later on. She knew whole geographies, scriptures, story cycles, as intimately as she knew her mother’s house, and drew on them whenever she received a commission. Though the only saleable part of her craft was the device she built with her hands, its true value lay in using the materials of her mind: she could not grind quartz to the shape and tune of her dream, could not set it into the copper coronet studded with amber, until she had fixed it into her thoughts as firmly as she fixed the stone to her amber dopstick.

Rated R.

Editors’ Note: Anyone interested in pre-ordering/purchasing Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories, please check out editor JoSelle Vanderhooft’s LJ. There’s also a Facebook page.

ETA: JoSelle Vanderhooft has an update on how you can grab a copy of Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories on her LJ. Check it out and go grab one!

Latest Update: SteamPowered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories is now available for order! Go buy it now!

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 138: Balfour and Meriwether in the Adventure of the Emperor’s Vengeance

by Daniel Abraham.
Read by Paul S. Jenkins.
Originaly published in Postscripts #19: The Enemy of the Good.


“Assistant Curator Olds,” the man said. “I was working with Lord Abington on behalf of the museum. I was supposed to have been present at the unsealing, but Lord Abington ordered me out at the last moment.”

“Lead on, young Mr. Olds,” Meriwether said. “There may not be a moment to lose.”

The halls of the museum rose above the men in a gloom darker than the autumn sky. The scent of dust and still air gave the great triumph of English culture the unfortunate aspect of a necropolis. Their footsteps echoed against the marble and stone, dampening even Meriwether’s gay affect. Mr. Olds led them down a long corridor, up one long flight of stairs, and then another to a hall designed around a pair of great oaken doors. Two other men, clearly minor functionaries of the establishment, huddled in the harsh light of a gas sconce. The hissing of the flame was the only sound. Balfour stepped immediately to the closed doors, scrutinizing them with an expression so fierce as to forbid speech. Meriwether paced back and forth some length down the hall, his pale eyes moving restlessly across every detail, his footsteps silent as a cat’s.

“Something’s happened,” Balfour said, stepping back from the doors with a nod. Meriwether strode to Balfour’s side licked his fingertips and held them before the doorway.

“Yes, I see,” he said.

“What are you talking about?” Lord Carmichael asked. “What do you mean something’s happened?”

“The room within is not sealed,” Meriwether said, his voice unnaturally calm. “All through the museum, the air has been still as the grave, but here there’s the faintest of breezes. What other access ways are there to this workroom?”

“None, sir,” one of the functionaries said. “There was a back way, but it was bricked up years ago to make more storage room for the collection.”

“Light?” Balfour asked.

“Gas lamps, sir,” the functionary said. “Same as the rest.”

“And during the day?” Balfour said. “Are there windows?”

“Well, yes sir. But they’re set at the rooftop. The workrooms are high as a cathedral, some of them sir.”

“We’ll want rope,” Meriwether said. “And ladders that will reach the roof. There’s little time.”

“What do you suspect?” Lord Carmichael asked as the functionaries scattered to Meriwether’s command.

Meriwether shook his head silently and gave no other reply. A few minutes work brought the discovery that the window high above the workroom had indeed been breached, and less than a half hour more allowed the pair of special agents to be lowered into the stygian darkness within.

Rated PG.

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