Archive for February, 2011

PodCastle Miniature 59: Rainmaker

By Benjamin Thomas

Read by Wilson Fowlie (of The Maple Leaf Singers)

A PodCastle Original!

I was eight then, which made her eleven. We lay on a grassy knoll. The earth dampened my flesh: buttocks, shoulders, elbows, and heels. It was late spring, and a light breeze chilled me in pleasant contrast to the tingling warmth of May sun on skin.

“I see a peacock,” I said. It didn’t look like a peacock, a bird, or even a fan. Clouds never really looked like anything, unless you squint just right.

“That one looks like,” Arida furrowed her brow, crinkling up her glass smooth face, “a circus.” The wind gusted.

“It does not,” I protested. “It doesn’t even look like a …” my voice caught. The panorama shifted subtly yet suddenly. I saw the circus; her circus.

The center formed an enormous tent. Crowds milled around it. They moved in less than real time, but at a steady pace. One person spit fire, another juggled. A bear balanced speckled ball in front of the main entrance. In those days, I had seen a few paintings, and none compared to this monochrome play in the clouds.

Rated G

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PodCastle Wants You!

PodCastle wants you! We’re continually looking for volunteers of all backgrounds and ethnicities to read the cool stories we’ve bought. So if you’re listening to this, and you’ve ever wanted to read for PodCastle, or any of the Escape Artists podcasts, and you have recording equipment, we’d love for you to send us an audition.

Here’s what you do: Record a sample of you reading something, an excerpt from a story or a book, preferably under five minutes, just so we can get a feel for how you sound. If you can do accents – Creole, Spanish, Southern, Irish, Turkish, French, Japanese – please include that in your audition, and mention it in your email. Then drop us a line at editor@podcastle.org with your audition attached. .wav, .mp3, .aif attachments are preferred. Please mention “audition” in the subject line.

As I said, we’re looking for readers of all backgrounds and ethnicities, but what’s driving this casting call is an urgent need for a story featuring an African American man in Louisiana. Here at PodCastle, we’ve always prided ourselves in bringing you a selection of diverse stories, and we’d love to have more people of color read these stories for you.

If you have any questions, please post on our forum, or email us at editor@podcastle.org. Thanks for listening, and we look forward to hearing from you.

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PodCastle 145: Hart and Boot

by Tim Pratt.
Read by Amy Elk.
Originally appeared in Polyphony 4.

“You have any money?” Pearl said. She didn’t have any more bullets, but she could hit him on the head with her gun, if he had something worth stealing.

“I don’t think so.”

She sighed. “Get out of that hole. I’m getting a crick in my neck, looking down at you.”

He climbed out and stood before her, covered in dirt from head to toe, naked except for a pair of better-than-average boots. Hardly standard uniform for a miner, but she didn’t get flustered. She’d seen her share of naked men during her eighteen years on earth, and she had to admit he was one of the nicest she’d seen, dirt and all, with those broad shoulders. Back in Canada (after seeing the Wild West show, but before deciding to leave her husband) she’d had several dreams about a tall, faceless man coming toward her bed, naked except for cowboy boots.

Apart from the dirt, and the lack of a bed, and her not being asleep and all, this was just like the dream.

Rated R for: sexuality, language.

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PodCastle 144: To Ride Beyond the Wide World’s End

by Caitlin Brennan.
Read by Steve Anderson.
Originally appeared at BookView Cafe. This story is a prequel to a novel: House of the Star (Tor, November 2010).

“Those verses of yours,” old Coel said as the fire died and the hall subsided into a sort of rollicking quiet, “they’re clever. Especially your description of that son of a swine down the valley–how did you know he’s wall-eyed and has a distinct left hook to his private member?”
“Well,” said Madog, “the eye’s easy to see when you’re singing in front of him. As to the other — let’s say it’s a trade secret.”
Old Coel’s bushy white brow arched; he laughed. “Caught him in the jakes, did you?”
Madog shrugged and smiled. Sometimes it was safer to let the patron decide how the story went.
Coel thumped him on the shoulder, and grinned when he barely swayed. Madog was light and wiry as horsemen often are, but he was strong as they often are, too. “Gofannwy won’t thank you for the things you sang of him, but I’ll be warming my evil old heart for days with the thought of them. I owe you a debt for that; I’d like to pay it, for my honor and your pleasure. You’re a horseman, you say? And yet you walked through my gate.”
Madog nodded. His throat still tightened when he thought of his beautiful mare down and gasping in the snow, so far gone with pain that she could not even will to move. He had cut her throat for mercy, and wept for hours after.
Old Coel saw the tears that brimmed in his eyes, and nodded. He was a horseman, too. “In the morning,” he said, “we’ll go out to the fields and see what’s minded to follow you on your travels.”

Rated G.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! The Curandero and the Swede: A Tale from the 1001 American Nights

Happy Valentine’s Day from PodCastle!

Long time listeners may remember that about a year and a half ago, PodCastle published Daniel Abraham’s “The Curandero and the Swede: A Tale from the 1001 American Nights.” Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties, and the sound quality was extremely poor. We’d hoped to get back together with Kip Manley, who originally recorded it, but that never worked out. However, with Mr. Abraham’s blessing, we’ve re-recorded his fantastic story for all of you, and are happy to bring it to you this Valentine’s Day.

We’ve both replaced the original file, and put the new recording up in this post for your convenience. Enjoy!

ETA: Well, this is humiliating. It turns out that there were some blips – repeated lines, etc. in the narration. If you haven’t listened yet, you should probably late until the corrected version gets posted. Apologies to everyone, especially to Mr. Abraham. We’ll have it fixed as soon as possible.

ETA 2: Thanks to everyone for your patience. The audio has been corrected.

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PodCastle 143: Hurt Me

by M.L.N. Hanover

Read by Elizabeth Green Mussleman

Originally Published in Songs of Love and Death

“It’s a good, solid house,” he said, nodding as a trick to make her nod along with him.

“It is,” she said.  ”The price seems low.”

“Motivated seller,” he said with a wink.

“By what?”  She opened and closed the kitchen cabinets.

“Excuse me?”

“Motivated by what?” she said.

“Well, you know how it is,” he said, grinning.  ”Kids grow up, move on.  Families change.  A place maybe fits in one part of your life, and then you move on.”

She smiled as if he’d said something funny.

“I don’t know, actually,” she said.  ”The seller moved out because she got tired of the place?”

The realtor shrugged expansively, his mental gears whirring.  The question felt like a trap.  He wondered how much the woman had heard about the house.  He couldn’t afford to get caught in an outright lie.

Rated R: Contains Violence, Including Sexual Assault, Sex, Language

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PodCastle 142: Abandonware

by An Owomoyela.
Read by Christopher Reynaga.
Originally appeared in Fantasy Magazine.


I sat at my desk, feet jammed between the Quadra’s tower and my Dell’s, window cracked to let in the wet air. It’d been raining. Andy loved how the air smelled after it rained; I didn’t smell anything. I was just looking through Andy’s zip disks, thinking about her.

I opened one case and a disc fell out, dropping between the wheels on my chair. It’d been stuck between the pages, not fit into one of the pockets, and that was weird, considering Andy. Whatever the original label said had been worked over in sharpie, and the new label read only BURN THIS DISK.

Obviously, she hadn’t.

Andy was always open with me–ten years older and thinking she could tell me the secrets of life. She wanted me to tell her about girlfriends and classes and any juvenile delinquency I got into, and she told me about alcohol and sex and everything Dad didn’t want to talk about, like the time she got busted sneaking into a topless bar. I couldn’t think what she’d want to burn.

I turned on the zip drive, booted up the computer, and stuck the disk in. It was an early drive and an early disk, and it made a lot of noise for 100 megs, but it worked pretty well. Andy kept it fixed up.

The disk was named EraseMe. It had one file in it, a 77Mb document named SELDON.crn.

Rated PG.

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