Archive for Podcasts

PC 476: Clay and Smokeless Fire

Welcome to PodCastle’s first Eid issue.

by Saladin Ahmed
read by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
hosted by Farah Rishi
First published in Slate Magazine

Rated PG-13

Qumqam stood upside-down atop a cellphone tower, twirling at its pinnacle on his fingertip. When the humans had first started to besmirch the Earth with the things, Qumqam had thought them hideous. But he’d come to love dancing on them the way he’d once loved dancing on ziggurats. Click here to continue reading.

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 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.

Picture of Khaalidah Muhammed-AliKhaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming, and gardening. She has written one novel entitled An Unproductive Woman available on Amazon. She has also been published  in or has stories upcoming in Escape Pod, Diabolical Plots, and Fiyah! Magazine. Khaalidah also coedits Podcastle.org where she is on a mission to encourage more women to submit fantasy stories. Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to long youth. She can be found online at http://khaalidah.com and on Twitter at @khaalidah.

 

 

An interview with Saladin Ahmed:

How has your faith/culture influenced your writing?

I grew up in an Arab immigrant enclave in the US rust belt, a kind of particular culture unto itself. The sounds of Arabic, the smells of Lebanese and Yemeni food, the call to prayer — these were all part of my fabric of being growing up, and they remain so to this day. We write who we are even when we think we’re doing otherwise. So it was almost inevitable that the sounds and tastes and brown faces that were such a part of forging me would emerge often when I write.

The question of faith is a different one. I’m very unorthodox in my practice of Islam, but I am a person who believes in God. As a person who considers himself part of an divinely ordered universe, I think I approach questions of plot and causation and narrative framing a bit differently than the average secular writer.

Have you ever worried that your faith/culture would be a barrier to other people enjoying/accepting your writing or your ability to publish? How did you overcome that?

Yes, and it’s not a baseless worry. If you are a Muslim writer you WILL encounter skittish publishers, clueless editors, well-meaning readers expecting you dispel their racist stereotypes, and hardcore hate-spewing jerks. You have to be ready for that. Sadly, many Muslims in the west ARE ready for skittishness, cluelessness, and hate because we’ve lived with it our whole lives.

Everybody finds their own way to fight this darkness. For me it has helped to connect with other ‘Other’ writers – Black writers, women writers, Asian writers, queer writers, trans writers. To try to stand together even when that camaraderie is imperfect. And to remind myself that there are thousands of curious, open-minded, empathetic readers out there looking to hear different stories than the ones they’ve been told. If you’re going to survive you HAVE to listen to these people harder than you listen to the haters.

Is there a topic or style you have yet to tackle but would like to in future writing? If yes, elaborate.

TV or film would be great! But I’ve been pretty blessed in that I’ve had a a chance to try out and publish in a pretty wide variety of forms and styles. For instance I’m working on a project right now that goes further in the direction of horror than I’ve gone before, and that’s fun and challenging. I will say that I am trying do a better job of writing characters who aren’t heterosexual men. But that sort of thing is a lifetime’s work.

What’s next for you regarding your writing?

Each week, I chip away at a sequel for THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, but it’s very very slow going and it will be years before that’s done. In the meantime, I’ll be publishing more short stories, essays, and even poems. I’m currently writing BLACK BOLT for Marvel, and there are other possible projects on the horizon. The best way to keep up with all this is my twitter feed @saladinahmed.

 

Discuss on the forums.

PC 475: The Dauphin’s Metaphysics

by Eric Schwitzgebel

read by Tatiana Grey

First published in Unlikely Story

Rated PG-13.

“— which suggests possible applications, if the cobbler is much younger. Don’t you think, Miss Professor?”

The Dauphin sat twelve rows back — teenage heir apparent to the throne, playing at Academy student — smug smile, a ring of vacant seats around him, his speech casually slurred, ostentatiously humble with plain quill and standard-issue student gown (expensively pressed).

I intended my gaze to crucify him. Softness to students is a graybeard luxury; a young woman can only be hard. All the more so, I was sure, in this particular case. I nursed silence to the edge of discomfort, coiling the spring. “It is a thought experiment that depends on immaterial souls transferred by miracle,” I said. “There can be no practical applications.”

I paused again, as if gathering my thoughts. “Or do you perhaps mistake yourself for God?”

Click here to read more.

Picture of Author Eric SchwitzgebelEric Schwitzgebel is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, and a cooperating faculty member in UCR’s program for Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science. (Yes, you can get a PhD in Speculative Fiction at UC Riverside.) His short fiction has appeared in F&SF, Clarkesworld, Nature, The Dark, and elsewhere. He has published bunches of academic articles and op-eds on what it means to believe something; on people’s failure to understand their own character and experiences; on robot rights, group minds, and A.I. consciousness; on ancient Chinese philosophy; on whether we might all be living in a giant computer simulation; and on the mediocre moral behavior of professional ethicists. He blogs about all this stuff and more at The Splintered Mind.

Picture of Narrator Tatiana GreyTatiana Grey is a critically acclaimed actress of stage, screen, and the audio booth. She has been nominated for dozens of fancy awards but hasn’t won a single damned thing. She does, however have a feature film hitting the festival circuit called Serious Laundry. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. See more about Tatiana at www.tatianagrey.com.

Discuss on the forums.

PC 474: Asymmetry

by Kendra Fortmeyer

read by Dagny Paul

hosted by Setsu Uzume

First published in Forge Journal

Rated PG-13.

She arrived at his apartment ten minutes late and discovered that she was already there.

The woman was a champion worrier, but this was something she had not thought to worry about. She had considered: is this a date, is this not a date, am I ready, is he a psycho/rapist/murderer who is going to drug/rape/murder me, what if I am a bad kisser, and even what if dinner makes me gassy and he leans in to kiss me and I let one rip and the whole evening comes down around our ears.

She rang the doorbell and the man appeared with a rosy smile that drained slowly from his face like paint.

Click here to continue reading.

Picture of Author Kendra FortmeyerKendra Fortmeyer is a writer of strange fictions. She attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ workshop in 2016 and has work appearing or forthcoming in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Lightspeed, the Toast and elsewhere. Her debut magical realist novel is forthcoming from Little, Brown in June 2017. She loves mermaids and the word ‘swamp,’ and can be found at kendrafortmeyer.com.

Picture of Narrator Dagny PaulDagny Paul is a former English teacher, failed artist, and excellent waitress who lives in New Orleans with an insanely talented roommate, a mostly-toothless Pomeranian, and her comic book collection. She likes writing, drawing, and spending time with her five-year-old son.

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PC 473: The Wizard of 63rd Street

by Shane Halbach

read by Dominick Rabrun

A PodCastle Original!

Rated PG-13.

2016

Russell walked past the Check-‘n-Go and the cell phone shops on either side of it. It was cold, and the bare branches of the leafless trees reached up to snatch plastic bags from the sky.

He paused at a bit of graffiti low down on the brick of the abandoned corner building. Someone had written, “CA$H MONEY”. Most folks tuned that stuff out, and even if they didn’t, they wouldn’t see any significance in this particular tag. But Russell did; he recognized it for what it was. It was a pretty good one too: even folks who knew what to look for might have missed this one.

Click here to continue reading.

Shane Halbach lives in Chicago with his wife and three kids, where he writes software by day and avoids writing stories by night. This is Shane’s first appearance on PodCastle and officially completes his Escape Artists “connect four”, with stories on each of the 4 Escape Artists podcasts. Additionally, his fiction has appeared in Analog, Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction, and elsewhere. He blogs regularly at shanehalbach.com, or can be found on Twitter @shanehalbach.

Dominick Rabrun is an artist living in the United States. He is the creator of Dom’s Sketch Cast, a show that runs on YouTube. DSC features interviews with creative individuals, animations, and other experimental art videos: youtube.com/generaldom. And you can follow him on Twitter @CountBlackula.

Show notes and additional links:

Escape Artists Forum: forum.escapeartists.net

Flash Fiction Contest Submissions Portal

Discuss on the forums.

 

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