Archive for Rated PG

PodCastle 300: Ilse, Who Saw Clearly

by E. Lily Yu

Read by Wilson Fowlie (of the Maple Leaf Singers)

Originally published in Apex, 2013. Read it here!

Once, among the indigo mountains of Germany, there was a kingdom of blue-eyed men and women whose blood was tinged blue with cold. The citizens were skilled in clockwork, escapements, and piano manufacture, and the clocks and pianos of that country were famous throughout the world. Their children pulled on rabbit-fur gloves before they sat down to practice their etudes, for it was so cold the notes rang and clanged in the air. It was coldest of all in the town on the highest mountain, where there lived a girl called Ilse, who was neither beautiful nor ugly, neither good nor wicked. Yet she was not quite undistinguished, because she was in love.

One afternoon, when the air was glittering with the sounds of innumerable pianos, a stranger as stout as a barrel and swathed to his nosetip walked through the town, singing. Where he walked the pianos fell silent, and wheat-haired boys and girls cracked shutters into the bitter cold to peep at him. And what he sang was this:

Ice for sale, eyes for sale,
If your complexion be dark or pale
If your old eyes be sharp or frail,
Come buy, come buy, bright ice for sale!

Only his listeners could not tell whether he was selling ice or eyes, because he spoke in an odd accent and through a thick scarf.

Rated PG.

Thank you so much for being with us for 300 episodes!

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PodCastle 298: The Shadowcrafter

by Ken Liu

Read by Aki Gibbons

Originally published in Nine.

This story begins, as all of my creations do, in shadows.

No story is without its particular emphases and elisions, just as no woman goes about without her makeup.  Many women on our home island of Uchinaa (they call it _Okinawa_ here in Japan), and on the other islands that make up our Kingdom of Ruuchuu, copy the rumors of fashion in Nanjing and Beijing, in Kagoshima and Edo, and smother their faces with smooth creams and bright rouge, sweet-smelling powders and red lip wax.

But they do not understand the true secret of the art of enhancing a woman’s beauty, which now I will teach you.

A face is not a flat piece of paper.  Like the surface of our island, it has heights and depths, peaks and valleys.  That means shadows.

Rated PG. Includes war, and violence.

 

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PodCastle 297: The Tower of the Elephant (Featuring Conan the Barbarian)

by Robert E. Howard

Read by Graeme Dunlop

Originally published in Weird Tales.

The shimmering shaft of the tower rose frostily in the stars. In the sunlight it shone so dazzlingly that few could bear its glare, and men said it was built of silver. It was round, a slim perfect cylinder, a hundred and fifty feet in height, and its rim glittered in the starlight with the great jewels which crusted it. The tower stood among the waving exotic trees of a garden raised high above the general level of the city. A high wall enclosed this garden, and outside the wall was a lower level, likewise enclosed by a wall. No lights shone forth; there seemed to be no windows in the tower—at least not above the level of the inner wall. Only the gems high above sparkled frostily in the starlight.

Shrubbery grew thick outside the lower, or outer wall. The Cimmerian crept close and stood beside the barrier, measuring it with his eye. It was high, but he could leap and catch the coping with his fingers. Then it would be child’s play to swing himself up and over, and he did not doubt that he could pass the inner wall in the same manner. But he hesitated at the thought of the strange perils which were said to await within. These people were strange and mysterious to him; they were not of his kind—not even of the same blood as the more westerly Brythunians, Nemedians, Kothians and Aquilonians, whose civilized mysteries had awed him in times past. The people of Zamora were very ancient, and, from what he had seen of them, very evil.

He thought of Yara, the high priest, who worked strange dooms from this jeweled tower, and the Cimmerian’s hair prickled as he remembered a tale told by a drunken page of the court—how Yara had laughed in the face of a hostile prince, and held up a glowing, evil gem before him, and how rays shot blindingly from that unholy jewel, to envelop the prince, who screamed and fell down, and shrank to a withered blackened lump that changed to a black spider which scampered wildly about the chamber until Yara set his heel upon it.

Rated PG. Contains violence.

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PodCastle Interlude: Wing (Miniature 78)

by Amal El-Mohtar

Read by Danielle Daly

Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read it here!

In a cafe lit by morning, a girl with a book around her neck sits quietly at a table.

She reads—not the book around her neck, which is small, only as long and as wide as her thumb, black cord threaded through a sewn leather spine, knotted shut. She reads a book of maps and women, turns every page as if it were a lock of hair, gently. Every so often, her fingers stray to the book that sits above her sternum, twist it one way, then the other; every so often, she sips her tea.

“What is written in your book?” asks the man who brought her the tea. She looks up.

Rated PG.

Editors’ Note: This week, we’re taking a small break and bringing you a miniature by one of our favorite authors. We’ll be back next week with a feature length story.

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