Archive for Rated PG

PodCastle 335: The Gorgon

by Clark Ashton Smith

Read by Norm Sherman (Maybe you’ve Heard of him from Escape Pod or the Drabblecast?)

Originally published in Weird Tales, 1932 (and check out The Dark Eiodolon and Other Fantasies, edited by S.T. Joshi, out now from Penguin Books!)

I have no reason to expect that anyone will believe my story. If it were another’s tale, probably I should not feel inclined to give it credence myself. I tell it herewith. hoping that the mere act of narration, the mere shaping of this macabre day-mare adventure into words will in some slight measure serve to relieve my mind of its execrable burden. There have been times when only a hair’s-breadth has intervened betwixt myself and the seething devil-ridden world of madness; for the hideous knowledge, the horror- blackened memories which I have carried so long, were never meant to be borne by the human intellect.

A singular confession, no doubt, for one who has always been a connoisseur of horrors. The deadly, the malign, and baleful things that lurk in the labyrinth of existence have held for me a fascination no less potent than unholy. I have sought them out and looked upon them as one who sees the fatal eyes of the basilisk in a mirror; or as a savant who handles corrosive poisons in his laboratory with mask. and gloves. Never did they have for me the least hint of personal menace, since I viewed them with the most impersonal detachment. I have investigated many clues of the spectral, the ghastly, the bizarre, and many mazes of terror from which others would have recoiled with caution or trepidation… But now I could wish that there were one lure which I had not followed, one labyrinth which my curiosity had not explored…

More incredible than all else, perhaps, is the very fact that the thing occurred in Twentieth Century London. The sheer anachronism and fabulosity of the happening has made me doubt the verities of time and space; and ever since then I have been as one adrift on starless seas of confusion, or roaming through unmapped dimensions. Never have I been quite able to re-orient myself, to be altogether sure that I have not gone astray in other centuries, in other lands than those declared by the chronology and geography of the present. I have continual need of modern crowds, of glaring lights, of laughter and clangor and tumult to reassure me; and always I am afraid that such things are only an insubstantial barrier; that behind them lies the realm of ancient horror and immemorial malignity of which I have had this one abominable glimpse. And always it seems to me that the veil will dissolve at any moment, and leave me face to face with an ultimate Fear.

 Rated PG. Contains monsters.

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PodCastle 330: DRINK ME (A Flash Fiction Extravaganza)

Presenting an Intoxicating and Delicious Flight of Fantasy Fiction for Listeners with Discerning Palettes! Please indulge in the following tastes:

“The Wine,” by M.C. Wagner
read by C.S.E. Cooney
A PodCastle Original!

It’s always the wine.  A glass at my elbow, or a servant tottering after, stoppered flask in hand.  Marvelous…  rich and dark or light and fruity by the season.  I could subsist on it alone, although I am always in place at the royal banquets, sneaking ladylike bites… and there’s the fruit of the orchard, clipped with slivered shears as I wander those primrose paths.

“I Wrung it in a Weary Land,” by Kenneth Schneyer
read by Dave Thompson
A PodCastle Original!

The tiny interior was cool, smelling of earth and the first hint of mildew.   Bottles lined the walls floor to ceiling; a few I recognized — a 55-year-old Macallan or a 2009 Chateau Margaux — but most were strange and whimsical, garnet or cobalt glass with labels that might have been Icelandic or Tibetan.  A single lamp on the far counter granted just enough light for me to read them if I got close.

“The Forgetting Shiraz,” by E. Lily Yu
read by John Chu
Originally published in the Boston Review. Read it here!

I had always found it strange that in a world as advanced as ours, in an age when we shot men to the moon and mapped the planets around alien suns, we still lacked a true anodyne. Alcohol’s soft fog burns off by morning, at best, and at worst holds a magnifying glass to what we try to forget: her name, her voice, her face, her smell. Nor do we have surgeries precise enough to slice off specific memories. Whatever form it took, chemical, neurological, or psychological, the inventor of the anodyne would be rich in a blink, and the journalist who broke the story would never want for assignments again.

“The Rag Man Mulls Down the Day,” by Amal El-Mohtar
Read by Marguerite Croft
A PodCastle Original!

At the edge of the world is a rag-man, a thin man, a man wisped in grey, with a great iron pot and an even greater stick. Morningtimes he leans on his stick and watches the light change, watches it flood your sky with fire and heat. But before it can get too hot, before it can burn your cheeks to a ruddy cinder, he raises his stick, tilts the sky-pan just so, and coaxes the great slow pour of it all into his iron pot.
 
While it gathers there, he mulls it.

“Behemoth Brewing and Distribution Company,” by Tim Pratt
read by Dave Thompson, Roberto Suarez, Mur Lafferty, Graeme Dunlop, M.K. Hobson, and Cheyenne Wright
Originally published in the Fortean Bureau

Brewery tours available by appointment only.

Rated PG. Contains alcohol. Lots of alcohol. But no hangovers.

Music for “Sasquatch’s Old Hairy Bastard Stout,” “Aztec Nectar Ale,” & “Giant Whale Ale” provided by DocWood, music available at  CD Baby  and Amazon.
Music for Angelic Effluvia Lager, Lo! Calorie Light Beer, and Deathly Pale Ale composed and recorded by Peter Wood, more music at  http://soundcloud.com/livingtheliminal

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 329: Araminta, or, the Wreck of the Amphidrake

by Naomi Novik

Read by C.S.E. Cooney

Originally published in Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Lady Araminta was seen off from the docks at Chenstowe-on-Sea with great ceremony if not much affection by her assembled family. She departed in the company of not one but two maids, a hired eunuch swordsman, and an experienced professional chaperone with the Eye of Horus branded upon her forehead, to keep watch at night while the other two were closed.

Sad to say these precautions were not entirely unnecessary. Lady Araminta—the possessor of several other, more notable names besides, here omitted for discretion—had been caught twice trying to climb out her window, and once in her father’s library, reading a spellbook. On this last occasion she had fortunately been discovered by the butler, a reliable servant of fifteen years, so the matter was hushed up; but it had decided her fate.

Her father’s senior wife informed her husband she refused to pay for the formal presentation to the Court necessary for Araminta to make her debut. “I have five girls to see established besides her,” Lady D— said, “and I cannot have them ruined by the antics which are certain to follow.”

(Lest this be imagined the fruits of an unfair preference, it will be as well to note here that Araminta was in fact the natural daughter of her Ladyship, and the others in question her daughters-in-marriage, rather than the reverse.)

“It has been too long,” Lady D continued, severely, “and she is spoilt beyond redemption.”

Rated PG. Contains Pirates.

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PodCastle 328: The Old Woman With No Teeth

by Patricia Russo
Read by Wilson Fowlie and M.K. Hobson (PodCastle’s Sons of Buttery Thunder)
Originally published in Clockwork Phoenix 4, Edited by Mike Allen.

When The Old Woman With No Teeth decided to have children, she didn’t go about it in the usual way.  Well, really, what else could you expect from The Old Woman With No Teeth?   If she ever did anything the usual way, even boiling a pot of water, the world might start spinning widdershins on its axis.
 
“Now you just stop that.  I can read perfectly well, you impudent ragger.  Set down what I told you, and don’t believe all the stories you’ve heard about me.”
 
There are many stories about The Old Woman With No Teeth, but people should not believe all of them.  The most popular one is that she wore away her teeth by chewing a tunnel to the six-sided world.  Nobody knows if this story is true.  Many people have looked for the passageway she is supposed to have gnawed through reality, but none of the venturers have managed to pinpoint it.
 
“None of the ones who’ve come back, you mean.  Silly bastards.”
Rated PG.

 

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