Archive for Rated R

PodCastle 306: Flash Fiction Special – Tales of Strange Inspiraiton

“Beauty and Disappearance, by Kat Howard, read by Ann Leckie.

Originally published in Weird Tales, 2010.

The statues were disappearing from the museums.

Not as a result of theft, petty or otherwise, nor from careless misplacement. This was quite clear, as soon as the disappearances began, because the statues were not disappearing in their entirely. Rather, only certain pieces were lost.

The open hand of an elegant marble woman, outstretched as if in welcome, gone. The laurel wreath and lyre of an ancient poet, vanished.

Art experts and detectives were called in, inquiries made, vandalism quickly ruled out. The statues were otherwise undamaged. There were simply pieces, small fragments of beauty, missing.

“A Duet in Reyes,” by Caleb Wilson, read by John Michnya.

Originally published in A Journal of Sein and Werden.

One Saturday evening around the turn of the century the composer Arnauld Reyes was walking home along Vi Tuba when a tentacle of wind licked his hat straight off his head and over the rail into the Magoro River. He watched the hat sink as the current whisked it south, and then decided that since his route home was through the market square he would purchase a new hat on the way. At the market, he browsed several hatter’s kiosks until he found a hat which was identical to the lost one, but for a dark red velvet band–which, he hoped, would set him apart from the crowd. He bought it, placed it directly on his head, and continued home. He did not notice that, as he walked, several dozen powdery pink moths emerged from beneath the band and crawled into his ears.

While Reyes slept that night, the moths chewed his brain, severing certain synaptic connections. When he awoke, his brain had been split into two separate minds. At first the composers noticed nothing amiss. They breakfasted–during which their housekeeper was either very attentive or strangely shy–and walked to Zarbigny Park, where they intended to work on a suite of rustic dances.

“Ten Cigars,” by C.S.E. Cooney, read by Anna Schwind, Graeme Dunlop, Amal El-Mohtar, Norm Sherman, Tina Connolly, Ann Leckie, M.K. Hobson, Dave Thompson, Wilson Fowlie, and Peter Wood.

Originally published in Strange Horizons, 2013. Read it here!

“Not much is known of Danaus Incendiarius, family Nymphaidae, order Lepidoptera,” writes popular entomologist Aurora Bismarck. “Mentions crop up through history, usually signifying the birth of a great statesman or the ratification of a peace treaty. They are dark gray, with a wingspan of six to eight inches, and black markings that look like roses in bloom. Once, on vacation in Edinburgh, I was privileged to see a swarm. Director Amy Riedel had just won Audience Choice Award at the film festival. Her friends were laughing, passing around champagne and cigars. Suddenly the room was full of rare Incendiarius butterflies . . . .

Rated R. It May be Beautiful, but it ain’t Always Pretty.

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PodCastle 305: Heartless

by Peadar Ó Guilín

Read by Veronica Giguere (Check out her audiobooks and ACX profile, if you want to hire her for voice work!)

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

“No one asks for death.” This was the proud boast of the city of Kalegwyn. “No one ever asks for it.” Until Malern did. A bad move for her, as it turned out. She awoke on Castellan Garvinger’s operating table with his favourite surgeon elbow-deep in her chest.

“This is going to hurt,” said Garvinger from somewhere in the background. “Scream all you want.”

And she did. She couldn’t help herself, although she knew her cries were being conveyed magically to the people in the plaza beyond.

She screamed until something seemed to snap in her throat, and after that the best she could manage was a wheezing, bubbling sound that carried no hint of her former insolence.

The surgeon kept working, ripping and tearing. He made sure she could see everything. They had pointed a mirror at her chest and had pinned her eyes open.

Swinging from the roof hung a cage with Garvinger’s window witch inside. The creature babbled spells to keep Malern alive and conscious throughout the whole operation. Malern could not see its mad, warty little face, but now and again, cool drops of its sweat fell onto her fevered skin.

“Remember,” Garvinger told her, “you don’t have to die. You can be a witch instead.”

Rated R. Contains Graphic Violence, including Gore.

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PodCastle 304: Titanic!

by Lavie Tidhar

Read by Ian Stuart

Originally published in Apex, 2013. Read it here!

10 April 1912

When I come on board the ship I pay little heed to her splendour; nor to the gaily–strewn lines of coloured electric lights, nor to the polished brass of the crew’s jacket uniforms, nor to the crowds at the dock in Southampton, waving handkerchiefs and pushing and shoving for a better look; nor to my fellow passengers. I keep my eyes open only for signs of pursuit; specifically, for signs of the Law.

The ship is named the Titanic. I purchased a second–class ticket in London the day before and travelled down to Southampton by train. I had packed hurriedly. I do not know how far behind me the officers are. I know only that they will come. He made sure of that, in his last excursion. The corpses he left were a mockery, body parts ripped, exposed ribcages and lungs stretched like Indian rubber, he had turned murder into a sculpture, a form of grotesque art. The Japanese would call such a thing as he a yōkai, a monster, otherworldly and weird. Or perhaps a kaiju. I admire the Japanese for their mastery of the science of monstrosity, of what in our Latin would be called the lusus naturae. I have corresponded with a Dr Yamane, of Tokyo, for some time, but had of course destroyed all correspondence when I escaped from London.

And yet I cannot leave him behind. I had packed hurriedly. A simple change of clothes. I had not dressed like a gentleman. But I carry, along with my portmanteau, also my doctor’s black medical bag; it defines me more than I could ever define myself otherwise; it is as much a part of me as my toes, or my navel, or my eyes; and inside the bag I carry him, all that is left of him: one bottle, that is all, and the rest were all smashed up to shards back in London, back in the house where the bodies are.

Rated R. Contains violence.

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PodCastle 302: Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

Read by Eleiece Kraweic (Check out her voice acting work in Star Trek: Outpost, Star Trek: Excelsior, and Misfits Audio Productions!)

Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read it here!

Jump up! Take arms! Bare teeth!

We fight for these sands.

Sink iron knives and white teeth into their scented flesh, their soft city flesh, those stealers of our homes. This is our city now, this desert with its winds that scour our cheeks, its dunes that join us in song, its rare springs that we lap at so gently. We once gulped rivers of rubies and pearls; now they do and we will never be able to claim them back. We will not let them take this final city of air and graveyards from us! Jump up!

We fight for these sands with everything we have and sometimes we forget the feel of a sister’s shoulder beneath our heads, we’ve been so long without sleep–but today will be remembered for more than this.

Today we retrieve the bodies of our Saints.

Rated R. Contains foxes and violence. Revolutions are rarely bloodless.

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PodCastle 301: In Metal, In Bone

by An Owomoyela

Read by MarBelle (of the Directors Notes podcast)

Originally published in Eclipse Online. You can read it here!

Colonel Gabriel met him in a circle of canvas-topped trucks, in an army jacket despite the heat of the sun.  he stood a head taller than Benine, with skin as dark as peat coal, with terrible scarring on one side of his jaw.  When his gloved hand shook Benine’s bare one, he closed his grip and said, “What do you see?”

Benine was startled, but the call to listen in on the memories of things was ever-present in the back of his mind.  It took very little to let his senses fuzz, obscured by the vision curling up from the gloves like smoke.

He saw a room in a cottage with a thatched roof, the breeze coming in with the smell of a cooking fire outside, roasted cassava, a woman singing, off-tune.  He had to smile.  There was too much joy in the song to mind the sharp notes.  This must have been before the war; it was hard to imagine that much joy in Mortova these days.

The singing had that rich, resonant pitch of a voice heard in the owner’s head, and his vision swung down, to delicate hands with a needle and thread, stitching together the fabric of the gloves.  Neat, even rows, and as the glove passed between the seamstress’s fingers, he could see the patterns of embroidery on the back.

Benine banished the vision and pulled his hand back.  ”But these are women’s gloves!”

Colonel Gabriel gave him an appraising look.  ”So you can do something,” he said.  ”Not just superstition and witchcraft.”

Rated R. Contains war.

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PodCastle 296: Ill Met in Ulthar (Featuring Marla Mason)

by T.A. Pratt (Find out more about Marla Mason here!)

Read by M.K. Hobson

Originally published in Witches: Wicked, Wild, and Wonderful, edited by Paula Guran.

Dr. Husch slid the panel over the window shut as the beast continued battering against the door. “Don’t worry, it can’t get out. The interior of the room is lined with rubber, reinforced by magic. We used to keep a paranoid electrothaumaturge locked up there. There are no electrical outlets or light fixtures, either—when we found the creature in Barrow’s room, it had smashed the light bulbs, and was suckling at the outlets like a hamster at a water bottle.”

Marla took off the glasses and rubbed her eyes. “What is that thing?”

“Barrow calls it an arc-drake. The live in the haunted mountains called the Lightning Peaks, north of the Sea of Surcease, a vast lake of liquid suffering.”

“You sound like the trailer for a bad fantasy movie,” Marla said.

“Appropriate, as Barrow was a fantasy writer. Though he wasn’t a particularly bad one, especially by the standards of his time. He was a pulp writer, mostly, published alongside the likes of Clifford Simak, Doc Smith, Sprague de Camp, Marsham Craswell—did you ever read much science fiction and fantasy, Marla?”

“Not really. I was too busy smoking and having sex with boys. I was always more interested in this world than in imaginary ones.”

Husch sniffed. “As a sorcerer, you should be ashamed. Magic is the act of imposing your will on reality. But without imagination, what good is even the strongest will? So what if you can do anything, if you can’t think of anything interesting to do?”

Rated R. Contains, well, Marla Mason. Also violence and profanity.

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PodCastle 295: The Gunner’s Mate

by Gene Wolfe

Read by C.S.E. Cooney and Dave Thompson

Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

“There’s something about this island—“ Muriel began.

Liza shook her head.  “I don’t like it either.”

“I didn’t mean that.  I didn’t mean that at all.”  Muriel put down her piña colada.  “It feels, well, welcoming.  It keeps telling me I’m home, that it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

“You’d better quit drinking this pineapple stuff.”

“I’ve only had one,” Muriel protested.  “This is my second.  You’re on your third.”

“Kirk drank my first one.  Can’t you feel the hostility?  The terrible loneliness?  It’s like – I don’t know.  It makes me think of a haunted house fifty miles from nowhere.”

Rated R. Really, this pretty well straddles the line of dark fantasy/horror.

Dave’s review of Gene Wolfe’s The Land Across audiobook for the AudioBookaneers!

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PodCastle 294: Sand Castles

by Desirina Boskovich

Read by Dave Thompson

Originally published in Realms of Fantasy. We miss you!

“We’re on a journey,” Radley says.

“We have a map,” Audra says. She speaks quietly, barely above a whisper, but I have no trouble hearing her, even in the noisy bar.

“Yeah,” Radley says. “We have a map.”

“But what we don’t have…” 

“Is a car,” Radley finishes. 

I’m amused, but not surprised. Artists—this is about all you can expect. “So exactly where is this map leading you?” I ask.

“Somewhere on the Gulf of Mexico,” Audra says. “A beach.”

“There’s one outside, you know.” 

“We need this particular beach.  Because of the sand,” Radley says.    

“What?”  

“Because we need it,” Audra says. And they won’t say anything more.

Rated R. Contains some drug use. HELLO, COLORADO!

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PodCastle 292, Giant Episode: Scry

by Anne Ivy

Read by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Originally published at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

By dawn, the house of Eyr Eth Lun had fallen. Dead soldiers and laser-cauterized pieces of soldiers littered the stairs and bridges into the palace. The sun rose slowly over the spires, flushing the sky pink and pale blue, gleaming off broken glass, bringing color to the gore. Anubises, wading into the midst of the detritus, carried the bodies away. The dead, victorious and defeated alike, all went to the crematorium together.

The metal gates into the house hung warped and melted on their hinges. The inside echoed, empty, threatening. The first to set foot on the foyer’s metal floor had been electrocuted.

Eyr Eth Lun and his liege, the fugitive prince Ben Tur Ibren, were long gone. Some of Karnon Nameless Dae’s followers hoped their quarry—Lun and Ibren—was hiding somewhere in the house, sure to be flushed out. Most knew better. Lun’s soldiers had fought with the desperate furor of those who knew themselves dead. They’d been fighting to buy their masters time to escape, not to save their own lives. They’d succeeded, and their ranks—brave, loyal, and dead—lay in unflinching testament to the cost of Lun’s contingency plan.

Rated R: Contains some violence and sex.

Dramatis Personae:

Eyre Isri Esth: The finest scryer on the planet, and the wife, or former wife, of Lun.

Eyr eth Lun: Esth’s former husband, head of a royal house, and protector of the fugitive prince Ibren.

Ben Tur Ibren: The fugitive prince, who is being hunted down by Karnun Dae.

Karnun Nameless Dae: An alien bent on revolution, and overthrowing the prince and his supporters.

 

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PodCastle 290: Maxwell’s Demon

by Ken Liu.
Read by Aki Gibbons, of the website Okinawa Blue.
Originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

February 1943

Application for Leave Clearance, Tule Lake War Relocation Center

Name: Takako Yamashiro

Question 27: Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?

I do not know how to answer this question. I am a woman, ineligible for combat.

Question 28: Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any and all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese Emperor or any other foreign government, power, or organization?

I do not know how to answer this question. I was born in Seattle, Washington. I have never had any form of allegiance to the Japanese Emperor, so there’s nothing to forswear. I will swear unqualified allegiance to my country when my country frees me and my family.

Rated R for violent content, specifically war atrocities.

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