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Archive for November, 2012

PodCastle 236: Architectural Constants

by Yoon Ha Lee

read by Graeme Dunlop (of Cast of Wonders)

Originally Published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

Eskevan Three of Thorns had dropped his lensgear in the gutter. Twice he had been splashed by murky water while determining the best way to retrieve the lens. He had another hour before the water started circulating. Having sullied the yellow-trimmed coat that declared him a licensed librarian, Eskevan felt doubly reluctant either to remove his gauntlets or to plunge them into the water.

There the lensgear gleamed, polished and precise. Enough dithering. He would have to hope that no one questioned his credentials tonight. The master archivist always said a shabby librarian was no librarian at all, but it could not be helped.

Other parts of the city boasted libraries of indexed splendor. Other librarians handled nothing more threatening than curling vellum and tame, untarnished treatises. Eskevan did not aspire to any such thing. In the dimmest hours, he admitted that he exulted in the wayward winds and the grime underfoot, the heady knowledge of the paths words traveled.

He had heard the whispers up and down the city’s tiers, and the whispers distilled into a single warning: The Spider ascends. Eskevan, who lived merely three tiers underground, a child of the chasm’s kindly shallows, could not fathom the depths to which the city descended or the vast distances that the Spider must traverse.

Rated R: Contains some violence, and Disturbing Imagery

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 235: Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas

by Alberto Yáñez.
Read by Brian Lieberman.
Originally appeared in Strange Horizons, January 2012. The text is available.


“You do that better than your sisters, Gabe,” Mom says to me as I
spread the corn masa on the soaked husk and spoon the right amount of
shredded spiced beef onto it. The aroma of meat braised in a sauce of
chiles, garlic, bay, pepper, and cloves makes every breath feel like
Christmas. My stomach growls softly in a tiny fit of impatient hunger.
It’s the first time I’ve been actually allowed to help with the
tamales since . . . well, since a long time. My sisters are good
cooks, too, so Mom’s praise isn’t cheap. “They always overstuff them.”

I wrap up the tamal and try not to smile too much, but Mom ignores my
pride anyway. She doesn’t want me getting too cocky. This is women’s
work she’s letting me do, and she thinks it wouldn’t be good for me to
be too proud about it. I think she forgets sometimes, but I _am_ a boy
after all.

Because of that, I probably shouldn’t be standing there in her
daisy-yellow kitchen learning how to make tamales properly, but Dad
isn’t home right now and my brothers aren’t going to notice so long as
the food’s good.

It will be. Mom’s cooking is still the best.

Rated PG.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 234, Giant Episode: The Tricks of London

by Elizabeth Bear

Read by John Trevillian

Originally published as a Chap Book by Subterranean Press.

“That’s the third damned dead whore in seventeen days,” Detective Inspector Rupert Bitner said, his educated tones incongruous to his choice of words. He slurped tea loudly from the chipped enamel lid of a vacuum flask. Before Detective Sergeant Sean Cuan could warn him of the narrow figure approaching through the shadowy line of uniformed constables behind, Bitner continued, “And why we’re out here in the rain because somebody’s doing us a favor, can you explain to me?”

“Hello, Crown Investigator,” Cuan said, louder and sooner than necessary. He pushed past Bitner, the wings of his greatcoat brushing the senior investigator’s legs, and dropped his hastily capped fountain pen into his own coat pocket. Cold rain dripped from the rim of Cuan’s tipped umbrella and somehow worked past the brim of his bowler to trickle down his collar. He firmed his jaw to hide the flinch and extended his right hand.

“This is DI Rupert Bitner. I’m DS John Coen. We’re with CID.”

Introducing the DI first wouldn’t mollify Bitner enough–nothing would sweeten his mood after an encounter with one of the Crown’s Own, especially this one–but it might help blunt the edges. Unfortunately, reciting their ranks made it a little too plain that the newly established Criminal Investigations Division was modeled closely on the Crown Investigators–and that Garrett ranked them.

Cuan cleared his throat and finished, “We’re certainly relieved to see you.”

Someone leaning out one of the lamplit windows two or three stories above catcalled. Someone else hollered at him to shut up. Cuan didn’t look up to mark from which rooms the noises issued. The Detective Crown Investigator squinted at his hand as if unfamiliar with the appendage, but after a moment she transferred her blue velvet carpetbag to her left hand and laid her dainty glove across his palm before withdrawing it just as quickly.

She didn’t carry an umbrella, as if impervious to the rain, but Cuan noticed her dress was sturdy, warm wool rather than silk or organdy. Her back was straight in her corset and her expression never flickered, even when Bitner snorted and slurped more tea, deliberately discourteous.

“DCI Garrett, Detective Sergeant.”

Rated R: Contains violence.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 233: Study, For Solo Piano

by Genevieve Valentine

Read by Laurice White

Originally published in Fantasy Magazine. Read it here! (Fantasy Magazine’s podcast is at the same place.)

The Circus waits in leaking trailers while Boss takes her lieutenants through the house.

Then, her lieutenants are Elena from the trapeze, and Panadrome the music man, who presses his accordion bellows tight to his side to keep it from sharp edges, and Alec, their final act, who folds his gleaming wings tight against his back so he can fit through the hole in the wall.

Inside, the ceiling is waterlogged and sagging, but when Alec opens his wings even the nails sing for him.

Alec laughs, and the birds in the rafters scatter as if he’s called them down.

(Alec will be dead in a year; these are the last birds he sees.)

Rated PG. 

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle Miniature 73: Sugar Skulls

by Samantha Henderson

Read by Emily Smith

Originally published in Jack-O Spec: Tales of Halloween and Fantasy

My Abuela is making sugar skulls, and Tia Bibiana is helping her.   

Yesterday was the first of November, the Día de los Angelitos, and Abuela and Ramon and the neighborhood kids made the altar for the children.  I said I was too old to help, like I’m too old to go from house to house, but I stayed in the kitchen and watched. The last two years it was Lilia’s alone, with a plate of mac and cheese, and sugar-crusted tamarind candy, and the Clementine tangerines Lilia loved, and would steal from the wooden box and get in trouble because she ate them all. She used to peel the loose skin so it made an empty tangerine and would give it to me laughing when it collapsed under my eager thumb. We put her stuffed animals around the legs of the card table where the altar was set.  Abuela wrote her name on the skull with pink icing. 

Rated R: Contains disturbing imagery, themes, and candy.

Discuss on the forums.

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