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PodCastle 379: The Truth About Owls

by Amal El-Mohtar

read by Amal El-Mohtar

First published in Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories (Twelfth Planet Press, 2014), edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein. Winner of the 2015 Locus Award for Best Short Story.  Reprinted in Strange Horizons (January 2015) and Jonathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year vol. 9 (May 2015). Read it here!

Owls have eyes that match the skies they hunt through. Amber-eyed owls hunt at dawn or dusk; golden-eyed owls hunt during the day; black-eyed owls hunt at night.

No one knows why this is.

Anisa’s eyes are black, and she no longer hates them. She used to wish for eyes the color of her father’s, the beautiful pale green-blue that people were always startled to see in a brown face. But she likes, now, having eyes and hair of a color those same people find frightening.

Rated PG.

Amal El-Mohtar is the Nebula-nominated author of The Honey Month, a collection of very short fiction and poetry written to the taste of 28 different kinds of honey. Her work has recently appeared in Uncanny magazine and in Lightspeed magazine’s Queers Destroy Science Fiction special issue. She’s 1/4 of DOWN AND SAFE, a new podcast discussing iconic British science fiction program Blake’s 7, along with Scott Lynch, Liz Myles, and Michael D. Thomas. She also reviews books for NPR, Tor.com, and Lightspeed, edits Goblin Fruit, and presently divides her time and heart between Ottawa and Glasgow. Find out more at http://amalelmohtar.com, or follow her antics on Twitter @tithenai.

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PodCastle 378: Flash Fiction Extravaganza! Strange Destinies

“Yaga Dreams of Growing Up,” by Eileen Wiedbrauk
Read by Elizabeth Tennant
Originally published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. No. 29

When Yaga grows up, she wants to have a house on chicken legs so it can walk away from solicitors, would-be-thieves, nosy strangers, village raiders, tax collectors, Anya the cartwright’s daughter, and all of Anya’s friends.

“Mrs. Stiltskin,” by Bonnie Joe Stufflebeam
Read by Alasdair Stuart and Marguerite Kenner!
Originally published in Lakeside Circus, March 2014.

Q: You say you knew nothing of the stolen babies?
A: I knew nothing.
Q: And you didn’t suspect anything?
A: Not one little thing. Officer, my husband’s always been an eccentric little man. He’s always been peculiar. I knew nothing, you see.

“Marking Time,” by Stephanie Burgis
Read by Kim Mintz
Originally published in Daily Science Fiction in February 2015.

The next bead marks graduation. Your parents were there, in the background, at least, smiling tightly and watching you with big, worried eyes, while you held yourself rigid: waiting, just waiting to leap to Tom’s defense the moment that they made a single wrong move. They never understood how special he was, and he was right, he really was–they always tried to ruin everything.

Rated PG!

 

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PodCastle 377: Ray

by Mario Milosevic

read by Joe Scalora

First published in Space and Time Magazine, Spring 2013

You know that episode of M*A*S*H, the one where they have to pick up stakes, pack everything up and move to another location? Me neither. I never watched that show, but Liz, who works the booth where people throw darts at balloons on a cork wall, and who is thirty years older than me, has seen every episode of that show at least three times. She said every time we break down the rides and get ready to move on, she thinks about that episode.

“It’s like Colonel Potter said they had to bug out because they were about to be in a shooting zone, and we bug out for the exact same reason.“

“The same reason?“ I said to Liz. No one was going to be shooting at us, I was pretty sure.

“Yeah” she said, “because now that the carney’s over, they don’t want us in town, you know? They make it a hostile environment so we’ll leave them alone. They’re scared is what it is. They’re scared of us and they’d just as soon kill us as look at us.”

I wasn’t quite seeing it, but I thought it best not to challenge her on the issue. When she told me this, I had been on the job only a couple of weeks, and we’d been to two fairs. We were packing up to move on to the next one, somewhere in the Columbia River Gorge. “You got Ray all packed away yet?” I asked.

She patted the side of the trailer, folded up like a wrapped birthday present. “Ray’s always right here with me,” she said.

Rated PG-13.

Mario Milosevic is a prolific author of novels, short stories, and poetry. Find out more about him and his storytelling at mariowrites.com.

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PodCastle 376: Ink

by Sandra M. Odell

read by Sean D. Sorrentino

A PodCastle Original!

A woman stood at the tattoo parlor’s door. Small, damp from the storm, hair disheveled and slightly askew. Comfortable in her clothes, not her skin. The sight of her made Tiger’s chest itch, and his tattoos tingle. He turned down the stereo. “Can I help you with something?”

The woman looked at the shelves stuffed with pattern books, the posters of half­-naked men and women displaying their tattoos and piercings. “Is this Stars And Stripes Ink?”

Her voice had a touch of falsetto.

“That’s what the sign says in the window.”

She brushed aside her bangs, tugging her hair back into place in a way Tiger supposed he wasn’t meant to notice. “I would like a tattoo.”

Rated R.

Sandra M. Odell lives with her husband, sons, and cats in Washington state.  Her work has appeared in such venues as Jim Baen’s UNIVERSE, Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Galaxy’s Edge.  A Clarion West 2010 graduate, she is currently hard at work on plotting her second novel.  Or world domination.  Whichever comes first.

THE TWELVE WAYS OF CHRISTMAS, her collection of speculative fiction holiday stories, is available from Hydra House Books.

Sean D. Sorrentino lives in the Raleigh North Carolina area with his wife and his dog.

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