PC042: De La Tierra

Show Notes

Rated R. An LA thriller. With elves.


De La Tierra

by Emma Bull

She was out on the patio by the pool, stretched in a lounge chair. From there a person could see a corner of the Marmont bungalow where Belushi had overdosed. He was pretty sure she knew that; they liked things like celebrity death spots.

Some of them almost anyone could recognize–if almost anyone knew to look for them. They’re always perfect, of their kind. That’s why so many of them like L.A., where everybody gets extra credit for looking perfect. Try going unnoticed in Ames, Iowa, looking like that.

She had wavy golden hair to her shoulders, and each strand sparkled when the breeze shifted it. She wore a blue silk halter top, and little white shorts that showed how long and tan her legs were. She could’ve been one of those teen-star actresses pretending to be a Forties pin-up, except that she was too convincing. She sipped at a mojito without getting any lipstick on the glass.

For fun, he jabbed his molar with his tongue to see if Biblio could tell him anything about her–name, age, rank. Nada, y nada mas. None of them were ever in the database. Didn’t hurt to try, though.

“Your disposal record is remarkable,” she said, with no preface.

“I do my job.”

PodCastle 41: Dragon Hunt

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains dragons, knights, and deputy archivists.


Dragon Hunt

by Sarah Prineas

The king shrugged. “What news do you bring us from West Cornhold?”

The peasant fell to his knees on the rush-covered floor before the high table. “Your Majesty, it is a dragon!” He dropped his hat to gesture widely with his hands. “We-we’ve seen it, My Lord! Huge it is, breathing great gobs of fire, shining in the sun, flying over our fields and houses, sharp c-claws, teeth, and–“

“Silence!” Prickett shouted. In a sharp voice, he continued. “To talk of dragons, sirrah, living ones, in the court of King Kenneret Death-of-Dragons, is to talk treason. It cannot be a dragon.”

The peasant stared. “It bloody well is a dragon,” he shouted, climbing to his feet, spittle flying from his lips. “Claws! Wings, great wide wings, like sails! Stealing sheep, and–“

“That’s enough,” ordered the counselor.

“–And goats!” the headman added.

Well. There was going to be trouble. The court held its breath and stared at his Royal Majesty. Someone was for the headsman’s axe.

PC040: Hell Is the Absence of God – PodCastle Giant

Show Notes

Rated R. Contemplates existential issues.


Hell Is the Absence of God

by Ted Chiang

It was an unexceptional visitation, smaller in magnitude than most but no different in kind, bringing blessings to some and disaster to others. In this instance the angel was Nathanael, making an appearance in a downtown shopping district. Four miracle cures were effected: the elimination of carcinomas in two individuals, the regeneration of the spinal cord in a paraplegic, and the restoration of sight to a recently blinded person. There were also two miracles that were not cures: a delivery van, whose driver had fainted at the sight of the angel, was halted before it could overrun a busy sidewalk; another man was caught in a shaft of Heaven’s light when the angel departed, erasing his eyes but ensuring his devotion.

Neil’s wife Sarah Fisk had been one of the eight casualties. She was hit by flying glass when the angel’s billowing curtain of flame shattered the storefront window of the café in which she was eating. She bled to death within minutes, and the other customers in the café — none of whom suffered even superficial injuries — could do nothing but listen to her cries of pain and fear, and eventually witness her soul’s ascension toward Heaven.

Nathanael hadn’t delivered any specific message; the angel’s parting words, which had boomed out across the entire visitation site, were the typical Behold the power of the Lord. Of the eight casualties that day, three souls were accepted into Heaven and five were not, a closer ratio than the average for deaths by all causes. Sixty-two people received medical treatment for injuries ranging from slight concussions to ruptured eardrums to burns requiring skin grafts. Total property damage was estimated at $8.1 million, all of it excluded by private insurance companies due to the cause. Scores of people became devout worshipers in the wake of the visitation, either out of gratitude or terror.

Alas, Neil Fisk was not one of them.

PC039: Honest Man

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains some bleakness — but mostly fun and games (well, con games).


Honest Man

by Naomi Kritzer

“Excuse me…” The man from the front of the restaurant was talking to the waitress, his face obviously distressed. “I am so, so sorry, ma’am, but I just realized that I left my wallet back at my room. I’m going to have to go get it before I can pay, but I don’t want you to think I’m running out on my bill. I can leave my instrument here as security…” He had a violin case, Iris saw; he opened it up to show the waitress the violin inside. “This is a good violin. I paid fifty dollars for it, a few years back, but I think it’s worth more.”

The waitress glanced at it and grunted. “It looks like it’s worth more than your meal, anyway. Go ahead and get your wallet.”

“I’ll be right back,” he promised, and went back out into the rain.

Iris was finishing her sandwich when she heard Leo say, “Can I take a look at that?”

“What, the violin?” The waitress shrugged. “I don’t see why not.”

Leo opened the case and took out the instrument, turning it over in his hands and holding it up to the light. She heard him let out a long, appreciative breath, and looked up to see him swallow hard. For a moment, his eyes darted around the room, like a man with a poker hand that he knows will win the night. Then he looked back up at Iris, and at the waitress. “My God,” he said. “This is a Stradivarius.”