Archive for May, 2011

PodCastle 159: Judgment of Swords and Souls

by Saladin Ahmed.
Read by Stephanie Morris.
Originally appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Layla bas Layla’s breath came raggedly and her blue silks were soaked
with sweat, but she was pleased with her performance. Ten beheaded in
threescore water-drops. She lowered her forked sword.

The clay-and-rag dummy skulls littered the packed-dirt training yard
of the Lodge of God. Boulder-faced Shaykh Saif kicked one aside. He wore
the same habit of silk blouse and breeches as she – he had been a
member of the Order for thirty years longer than she — but even smiling,
his craggy features somehow made the bright blue garments seem muted.

“Only seven-and-ten years old, and you’re better with the forked
sword than I was as a Dervish in my prime. And I was the best, God
forgive me my boasts!”

Layla bowed and sheathed her sword. She ran a hand over her stubbly
head and wondered idly how it would feel to have long hair like the
women outside the Lodge of God.

As if he sensed her thoughts, Shaykh Saif’s smile faded. “Almighty
God willing, someday perhaps your soul will be as disciplined as your
sword arm!” There was a reprimand in his eyes as well as his words.
Layla fingered the red silk scarf wound around her blue scabbard, the
only difference between her garments and her teacher’s. It was the
cause of the discord that was tearing the Lodge of God apart.

She said nothing.

Rated PG.

PodCastle Spotlight: The Dragon’s Path

Welcome to a new feature we’re doing here at PodCastle: Spotlights! They’re not reviews, and not interviews. Rather, we’re inviting authors who have written for PodCastle to shine a spotlight on their books.

To kick things off, we’ve invited Daniel Abraham, author of “The Curandero and the Swede: A Tale from the 1001 American Nights,” “Balfour and Meriwether in the Adventure of the Emperor’s Vengeance”, and “The Cambist and Lord Iron” to talk to us about his new book The Dragon’s Path.


PodCastle 158: Gone Daddy Gone

by Josh Rountree

Read by Dave Thompson

Originally published in Lone Star Stories. Read it here for free.

He remembers Priscilla in the surf with her sisters.  That image will never leave him no matter how many miles she runs, Prissy wearing not a stitch, gold hair plastered to her back as she paddled the surfboard out far enough to catch the big waves, and then the turn of her head and the silent laugh at something one of her sisters said and Moon Doggie could just make out the silver glint of her eyes and that was it, done deal, he was in love and there was no turning back.

Six leather jackets lay sunning on the rocks.  Moon Doggie braved the crashing waves and found the one he knew was hers. Still couldn’t say how he knew but he knew.  Snatched it up, took it back to his T-Bird.  It smelled like the earth and the sky.  The leather was cracked and ancient.

Moon Doggie watched them throughout the afternoon.  He felt a shiver and a sudden queasiness when they finally started swimming for shore, surfboards abandoned to the sea.  They saw him, all of those silver eyes, but kept their distance.  Wet arms slipped into jacket sleeves.  An eruption of euphoric smiles and then they were airborne, lifted up in a sudden storm of feathers.

Moon Doggie wasn’t the least bit surprised.

Rated R: Contains some funky language, Daddy-O.

PodCastle 157: As Below, So Above

by Ferret Steinmetz

Read by Norm Sherman (of The Drabblecast)

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read the story here.

Up at the shimmering edge of the sky, where the water met the air, Son spread his tentacles out beneath the terrible shadow of his father. They were waiting for the ships. Son felt the approaching heart-thrum bouncing off the coral-crusted hulls below as the ships crested the painwall.

Are you sure you should do this, Father? Son thought. He twisted his mantle around to gaze at the scarred stumps of his father’s tentacles. You’ve trained me well. There’d be no shame in letting me take this harvest.

My name, thought Two-Father, his beak clacking shut with the finality of a ship’s hull crunching into stone, is Two, formerly One. It is a name I earned, one murder at a time. And I will carry out the harvest until Dysmas decides I am no longer worthy. He flexed his tentacles experimentally, then added: Perhaps He already has.

Rated R: Contains Violence and Disturbing Imagery