Archive for July, 2011

PodCastle 167: Portage

by An Owomoyela

Read by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Originally published in Apex Magazine.

When it came time to carry her father’s soul down from the mountain, she had nothing to carry it in.  The bowl her mother had carved from heirloom ivory, fit together like a puzzle mosaic and watertight without needing glue, had been shattered just that morning in an argument with the father’s retainer.  No other bowl had been carved with the requisite love for him.  But her father’s soul couldn’t be left up at the temple on Mount Ossus, so she went with the pilgrims to claim him before the sun did.

She stood in rank with them as the soul-preparers poured distillations from the cleaned skulls of the dead. When they came to her, a girl whose name was soonafter forgotten, she set her jaw and cupped her hands out like a beggar.  “Give me my father,” she said.

They did.  She took him down the mountainside cupped in her hands, tightening her fingers until they ached against every drop, until the piercing blue sky gave her terrors because it, too, was the color of soul water and it had spilled across the horizon, out of her hands.

Rated R. Contains Adult Themes.

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PodCastle Miniature 65: Blood Willows

by Caroline M. Yoachim

Read by Vashtriel Bloodfrost (Follow him on Twitter: @Vbloodfrost)

Originally published in Flash Fiction Online. Read it here!

“Bug bite?”

“It’s been like this for three days.  I’ve been nauseous, but I thought it was the twins.”  She picked at the bump with her fingernail and winced.

“Well that’s why it hasn’t gone away.  You’re picking at it,” he scolded, laughing and grabbing her hand.

There was a dot of blood on her fingernail.  He wiped it away and opened the medicine cabinet to look for a bandage.  When he turned around, Mara was crying.

A blood willow sapling was growing from her hip.

Rated PG

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An Alphabet Quartet Update (This Time, in Audio)

So there’s good news, bad news, and more good news. Briefly:

Good news: The stories are all done and ready to go.

Bad news: The new software our technomancers have been developing isn’t quite finished yet, so we haven’t been able to send it out yet.

More good news: We should be sending it out to you very soon.

I do apologize for the delay, and thank you for your patience.

-Dave

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PodCastle 166: Stereogram of the Gray Fort, in the Days of Her Glory

by Paul M. Berger

Read by Graeme Dunlop and Ann Leckie

Originally Published in Fantasy Magazine. Read the story here!

The path, which had once been a broad road, was pitted with holes. Back in the heyday of the fort, the paving stones had been interspersed with scraps of iron the humans had salvaged from their own defunct machines. It had hurt to march that road—our feet had burned, and my regiment stayed to the verge and fields whenever possible. In the years after the Elven triumph we had sent out details of Men to pick the poison from the earth here and the other places they had defended against us, and throw it into the sea.

Jessica was wearing loose silk for me. A cool breeze came down out of the hills and played the fabric over the smoothness of her shoulders. I delighted in the sensation, and she knew it. I smiled at her, and my beloved hesitantly returned my gaze for a moment. Our pair-bond was still new enough that she found it disorienting at times; looking into each other’s eyes could throw her into an infinitely recursive image of ourselves, with a vertigo that twisted both our guts. She would require gentle handling, for a while. It had been so with my first wife as well: an awkward initial adjustment period that settled into centuries of intimacy and trust, ever strengthened by the continual sharing of our five senses. I knew every facet of her life, and I would not have traded a moment of it, even during those last long years of pain when her illness gripped her more closely than I could. When she died I was amazed to find that I had not gone with her, and for decades afterwards I had no use for this drab and colorless world, or even for our own. Although it is not often done, I think it was wise to choose a human for my bride this time; they are frail and short-lived, and I will not be faced with another such lingering illness or the same depth of love.

Rated R: Contains some violence.

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PodCastle Spotlight: Welcome to Bordertown

Dave and Anna go to Bordertown with guests Ellen Kushner, Holly Black, Amal El-Mohtar, and Tim Pratt! So grab a beer at the Dancing Ferret (it’s on us), and enjoy the tour!

“Stairs In Her Hair” art by Rima Staines (watercolour and pencil). You can grab a print of it Etsy. And the “Stairs in Her Hair” music video is at youtube.

Check out the Bordertown Website and the Bordertown Music Page! And be sure and check out Welcome to Bordertown and the other B-town books!

There’s plenty of other backdoor guides to Bordertown – so check out the following links!

Shannon’s Law,” by Cory Doctorow, is over at Escape Pod.

Ellen Kushner talks at the Geeks Guide to the Galaxy.

Tor.com (and Tim Pratt) goes to Bordertown.

A Prince of Thirteen Days,” by Alaya Dawn Johnson, at Fantasy Magazine.

Enjoy the trip!

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PodCastle 165: The Paper Menagerie

by Ken Liu

Read by Rajan Khanna

Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.

I reached out to Mom’s creation. Its tail twitched, and it pounced playfully at my finger. “_Rawrr-sa_,” it growled, the sound somewhere between a cat and rustling newspapers.

I laughed, startled, and stroked its back with an index finger. The paper tiger vibrated under my finger, purring.

“Zhe jiao zhezhi,” Mom said. This is called origami.

I didn’t know this at the time, but Mom’s kind was special. She breathed into them so that they shared her breath, and thus moved with her life. This was her magic.

Rated PG.

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PodCastle Miniature 64: Five Rules for Commuting to the Underworld

by Merrie Haskell

Read by Amanda Fitzwater

Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read it here!

Rule One:

You may not eat in the Underworld if you ever expect to leave again.

Dis Pater is an angry god. Well, not so much angry as _really annoyed_. Like many people in management, he’s been promoted past the level of his competence—and Persephone knows it. It’s always good to have a layer of ruthlessly competent middle management beneath you to keep you afloat, but you do not want said middle management to know how much you rely on them. Persephone knows; Persephone doesn’t lick Dis Pater’s boots, and that means she doesn’t consult with him when situations arise. She handles problems with iron grace, and occasionally briefs her husband afterward.

Rated R: Contains Language, and General Post-Life Unhappiness

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PodCastle 164: A Hunter’s Ode to His Bait

By Carrie Vaughn

Read by John Trevillian (Check out Talliston: The Hidden Place)

Originally published in Realms of Fantasy. Read the story at Fantasy Magazine.

After a week of sitting in the cold, the creature came.

It stepped out of the trees, out of the twilight mist, head low to the ground and nostrils quivering. A silver shadow in the form of a horse, seemingly made of mist itself. The long, spiral horn growing from its forehead reflected what little light remained in the world and seemed to glow.

The girl’s gasp carried all the way to Duncan’s blind. The unicorn’s head lifted, ears pricked forward hard, and he feared that she’d startle the thing away. But no, her scent was strong, and its instinct was powerful. Instead of cringing in fear, she got to her knees and reached toward it with both hands, whispering to it.

It leaned toward her, like a horse would to a bucket of grain. It made careful, silent steps, not even rustling the fallen leaves. Its thick mane fell forward, covering its neck. It huffed quick breaths at her, stretching forward to sniff at her fingers. The girl cupped her hands. The unicorn rested its muzzle on her palms and sighed.

Duncan shot his arrow, striking the creature’s neck.

Rated R: Contains Sexuality and Graphic Violence

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