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PodCastle 362: Amma’s Wishes

by M. E. Garber

read by Marguerite Kenner

First published in MZB’s Sword & Sorceress 29.

The door to the Dragon’s Beard Tavern slammed open and wintry winds gusted within, twisting Amma’s skirts about her legs like the arms of a drunken hero. Amma stumbled, sloshing ale from the tankards on her tray onto her skirts. She glared towards the door, where three men dressed in crimson-edged blacks let the door bang shut behind them.

Damn these fighters. Couldn’t they just once enter like human beings? They swaggered to the far table, ignoring everyone in the crowded tavern. “Stew!” one yelled over his shoulder.

“Wench! Hurry with that ale. We’re thirsty men!” a helmed man at the table before her demanded. Those around him roared their agreement.

Rated PG.

M. E. Garber grew up reading about hobbits, space-travel, and dragons, so it’s no wonder that she now enjoys writing speculative fiction, and dreams of traveling the world(s). She used to live near the home of Duck Tape, then near the home of Nylabone. Now she lives near the home of Gatorade. You can find her blog at: http://megarber.wordpress.com.

Marguerite Kenner is a native Californian who has forsaken sunny paradise to be with her true love and live in Merrye Olde England. She frequently wears so many hats that she needs two heads. When she’s not grappling with legal conundrums as a trainee solicitor or editing Cast of Wonders, she can be found narrating audio fiction, studying popular culture (i.e. going to movies and playing video games) with her partner Alasdair Stuart, or curling up with a really good book. You can follow her at her personal blog, Project Valkyrie, or on Twitter via @LegalValkyrie.

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PodCastle 361: Traveller, Take Me

by Kate Heartfield

read by Wilson Fowlie

First published in On Spec.

The Canadian National Railway wants to know what to call the copper town tucked into the dogleg on the border between Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The radio operator says they’re threatening to call it Flin Flon – if they don’t hear any different from us.

We all laugh ourselves giddy at that, all of us in the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co. Ltd. Go ahead, we say, call it Flin Flon. Bad luck to call it anything else. It’s the only name the place has had for its 15 years now, and if that’s not the judgment of history in these uncertain times I don’t know what is.

All of us in the mine company know the story of how Tom Creighton named the place for a character in a dime novel, back in 1914. Tom himself tells it to anyone who’ll half listen.

But he never tells the story of how he found the novel in the first place, and what that book did, once he started to read it. He never says where the book is now. I hope it’s fallen apart, battered into mush by the rain and snow. Unreadable.

Rated PG.

Kate Heartfield is a journalist and fiction writer from Manitoba who now lives in Ottawa, Canada. Her stories have appeared recently in places such as Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, Crossed Genres and Lackington’s. She is on Twitter as @kateheartfield and her website is heartfieldfiction.com.

Wilson Fowlie has been reading stories out loud since the age of 4, and credits any talent he has in this area to his parents, who are both excellent at reading aloud.

He has been narrating stories for more people than his own family since late 2008, when he answered a call for readers on the PodCastle forum from PodCastle’s then-editor, Rachel Swirsky.

The first story he recorded for PodCastle was episode 51, “The Cambist and Lord Iron” by Daniel Abraham, which is still one of his favourite narrations. Oddly, due to circumstances that he’s still not entirely clear about, his first *published* narration was episode 41, “Dragon Hunt” by Sarah Prineas.

Since then, he has gone on to become PodCastle’s most prolific narrator, reading or appearing in nearly 30 episodes. He’s also narrated for many other podcasts, including, of course, PodCastle’s sister ‘casts, Escape Pod and Pseudopod, as well as StarShip Sofa, Protecting Project Pulp, Crime City Central, Tales To Terrify, Beam Me Up, Cast Macabre, Dunesteef Audio Fiction magazine and the Journey Into… podcast.

He fits in all this narrating between his day job as a web developer for a tech company in the Greater Vancouver area in Canada, and being the director of a community show chorus called The Maple Leaf Singers.

He’s still hoping to find a paying gig narrating stories, or maybe, since he doesn’t really have the time to go looking for it, that one will find *him*.

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PodCastle 360: 21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One)

by LaShawn M. Wanak
read by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

First published by Strange Horizons. Read it here!

When a spiral staircase appears in front of you, don’t panic. Just know that if you place your feet on that first step, it shows commitment. You can’t go back. You can only go up and up and up until you reach the very top.

Watch your step. That’s the main thing to remember. Some people think they can race to the top, or take the steps two at a time. All it takes is one stumble, one slip, and soon you’re tumbling, arms pinwheeling, shins banging, down, down, down.

You don’t want to be rejected by a spiral staircase. It’s painful.

Rated PG

LaShawn M. Wanak was formerly Associate Editor at Podcastle. She stepped down to focus more on her writing. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter, as well as her blog, The Cafe in the Woods. “21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One)” is her second story in the Escape Artists family. Her story “Future Perfect” can be found at Escape Pod.

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-five years 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 self-published one novel entitled An Unproductive Woman, has published a story at Escape Pod and has a story upcoming in the An Alphabet of Embers anthology. Khaalidah also reads slush at Escape Pod where she is on a mission to encourage more women to submit science fiction 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.

You can catch her posts at her website, www.khaalidah.com, and you can follow her on twitter, @khaalidah.

 

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PodCastle 359: The Litigatrix

by Ken Liu

Read by Anaea Lay

First published in GigaNotoSaurus. Read it here!

The fifteenth day of the first month in the seventh year of the Huayin Era:

The old man, Hae-wook Lee, had been bedridden for months. He lay on the sleeping mat, wrapped in a blanket. The drugs helped him sleep, and forget about the harsh words of his son.

It was an unseasonably warm winter day, here in this corner of Northeast Asia. Though the fire in the kitchen hearth next door had been extinguished, thegudeul smoke passages below the floor would continue to radiate residual heat for several hours. The room was so warm that the maid, Kyoon, had left the windows open to give the old man some fresh air, dry and invigorating after the new snow of the day before.

He dreamt that he was having a dinner of gogi gui. That pretty girl from years ago served him. He felt a pang of regret.

Rated PG.

Ken Liu is an author and translator of speculative fiction, as well as a lawyer and programmer. A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards, he has been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science FictionAsimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons, among other places. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Ken’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings, the first in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, was published by Saga Press, Simon & Schuster’s new genre fiction imprint, on April 7, 2015. Saga will also publish a collection of his short stories, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, in November 2015.

Anaea Lay lives in Seattle, Washington where she sells Real Estate under a different name, writes, cooks, plays board games, takes gratuitous walks, runs the Strange Horizons podcast, and plots to take over the world.  You can hear her audio work in other places including John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey’s The End is Nigh and The End is Now anthologies.  You can find her writing in places such as Lightspeed, Apex, Daily Science Fiction and Escape Pod.  You can stalk her blog or follow her on twitter @anaealay.

Dave Thompson‘s Kickstarter campaign: click here!

Dave’s story “Saint Darwin’s Spirituals” at Variant Frequencies.

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