Rated R. Contains violence, including gore.
Editors’ note: This episode originally aired as PodCastle 324. We are reissuing it to celebrate PodCastle’s 10th anniversary. This story was in fourth/fifth place in a listener vote that was held to determine PodCastle’s most-loved episodes over the past decade.
Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy
by Saladin Ahmed
I do not know how he brought us to this land of blood and iron masks. I know only that I am a real man trapped in a mad landscape of living lessons.
My brothers and I were spirited here from my home in…Damascus? Yes, praise be to God that I can remember that. The sound of the street-preachers, and the smells of the spice vendors’ stalls.
We were sipping tea in a room with green carpets, and I was laughing at a jest that…that someone was making. Who? The face, the voice, the name have been stolen from me. All I know is that my brothers and I suddenly found ourselves in this twisted place, each aware of the others’ fates, but unable to find one another. Unable to find any escape.
Now my eldest brother has been slain. And my next eldest brother has disappeared.
Who am I? I do not know how he changed our names. But in this world of lions and giants and the blinding shine of armor, I am called Joyless, as if it were a name.
It was not my name. It is not my name. But this is his place, and it follows his commands.
About the Author
Saladin Ahmed was born in Detroit. His debut novel Throne of the Crescent Moon, praised by George RR Martin as “a rollicking swashbuckler,” received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal, and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the Nebula Award for Best Novel. Throne of the Crescent Moon won the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and has been translated into a half-dozen foreign languages.
Saladin’s poems and short stories, nominated for numerous awards, have appeared in publications ranging from Slate to Callaloo to BuzzFeed, and have been widely anthologized and translated. His essays on politics, geek culture, and Muslim American issues have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Salon. He lives near Detroit, and is currently writing Black Bolt for Marvel Comics.
About the Narrator
Steve Anderson has narrated stories for all three Escape Artists podcasts (including a Parsec Award-winning story for PseudoPod). He narrates audiobooks and produces online videos out of a home studio at SGAcreative.com, and he writes and performs live history programs on tour at GreatTalesLive.com