PodCastle Essay: We Have Always Fought: Challenging the “Woman, Cattle and Slaves” Narrative

written and read by Kameron Hurley
Originally published at A Dribble of Ink, edited by Aidan Moher. Read along here!

I’m going to tell you a story about llamas. It will be like every other story you’ve ever heard about llamas: how they are covered in fine scales; how they eat their young if not raised properly; and how, at the end of their lives, they hurl themselves – lemming-like- over cliffs to drown in the surging sea. They are, at heart, sea creatures, birthed from the sea, married to it like the fishing people who make their livelihood there.

We at PodCastle are very proud to present a little piece of extra fantasy non-fiction. We don’t know how often we’ll present essays to you, but this one felt like it was worth doing something we haven’t really done before. We hope it challenges you. We hope it inspires you. We hope it makes you think. As always, thank you for listening.

(And don’t worry – We’ll have a fantasy fiction story for you in the next few days!)

 

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PodCastle 319: America Thief

by Alter S. Reiss
Read by John Michnya
Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read it here!

I looked around the table. Most of the people there weren’t paying much attention. Lansky looked a little embarrassed, and Siegel shook his head. “You want me to find out if Chaim Goldberg can turn lead into gold, or if he’s running some sort of scam,” I said.

“Of course he’s running a scam,” said Lansky. “I want to know how he’s doing it.”

“My friend Meyer is unfortunately narrow-minded,” said Rothstein. “I am willing to entertain the possibility that he’s getting his gold through means that are not generally considered possible. Which is why I have entrusted this task to your care.”

“So you want me to find out where Goldbug is getting his gold from,” I said. “And?”

“No and,” said Rothstein. “Just that. It’s a simple job, and I’ll give you a thousand dollars for doing it.”

“A thousand dollars is a lot of money, Benny,” said Legs, putting his oar in. “Live things up a little, show your girl a good time.”

Rated R. Contains Mobsters and Magic.

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PodCastle 318: The MSG Golem

by Ken Liu
Read by Anaea Lay (of the Strange Horizons podcast)Originally published in Unidentified Funny Objects 2, edited by Alex Shvartsman.

On the second day after the spaceship _Princess of the Nebulae_ left Earth, God spoke to Rebecca.

“Rebecca Lau, listen to me. I need you.”

The ten-year-old girl took off her headphones. The cabin was silent save for the faint rumble of the spaceship’s engines. “Dad, did you say something?”

“It’s me, God.”

“Right.” Rebecca climbed onto a chair to examine the speakers in the ceiling. The voice did not seem to be coming out of them.

She climbed down and peered closely at her computer. “If I find out you had anything to do with this, Bobby Lee …” she muttered darkly. Bobby had been jealous when he heard that her family was going on this cruise to the vacation colony on New Haifa for winter break. It was entirely possible that he decided to play a trick on her by programming her computer.

“Bobby has nothing to do with this,” God said, slightly miffed.

Rated PG. Contains God, a Golem, and a Spaceship.

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PodCastle 317: Bee Yard

By Cole Bucciaglia
Read by Sue Brophy
Originally published in Timber Journal, Volume 3, February 2014

I grew up next to a fire-haired girl whose sister was made of paper. You can only imagine what sort of trouble this caused. My own sister and I built castles in our living room, castles of blankets and upright pillows, with the electric flame of a flashlight illuminating them from within. We bent our heads together, her golden curls against my straight, black hair, and we giggled into the night. Of course the fire-haired girl couldn’t do this with her paper sister. If they had bumped foreheads, the girl made of paper would have gone up in flames. It was difficult enough for them to be in the same room together. I don’t think they spoke much.

The girl made of paper was mild-mannered and well-liked. Her eyebrows, her nose, the braided strands that made up her lips: they were all made of paper. Her features were expressive: they folded and crinkled into all of the positions that people made of flesh would have come to expect. She ran and played with all of the other children in the neighborhood. She must have read a lot because she seemed to know a lot about the world for someone so young. On rainy days, everyone on our street would gather into one person’s living room, build a castle from blankets and upright pillows, and listen to her tell us stories about monsters as big as bridges who lived under the sea or birds that could turn into men once they had flown into their lovers’ bedrooms.

The fire-haired girl never joined us. Everyone was too afraid of her to invite her to play, and she never asked. Her sister rarely mentioned her. The girl made of paper did once tell us that the fire-haired girl had never learned to read. Every time she tried to hold a book, the orange flames that whipped around her shoulders sent the pages curling backward and away from her.

What the girl made of paper didn’t tell us—what we observed—was that her sister could play in the rain. Of course, this was something which was too dangerous for the girl made of paper: her paper eyebrows, nose, and lips would have turned to mush and fallen right off her face, I’m sure. The fire-haired girl, however, seemed to love the rain. We sometimes heard her singing while within our living room castles, and we lifted our eyes discreetly over the window sill to spy, like cats watching for a bird.

Rated PG. Contains Fire, Bees, and Sisters.

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