PodCastle 538: Itself at the Heart of Things


Itself at the Heart of Things

by Andrea Corbin

“The acts of life have no beginning or end. Everything happens in a completely idiotic way. That is why everything is alike.” Tristan Tzara, 1922

On the floor, I hiked my skirts up and began to disassemble myself, starting with my left knee.

“How is that going to stop the Szemurians? How is that going to protect us? Can’t you help me, for God’s sake?” Benoît said this, sounding increasingly frantic, on each pass through the sitting room as he tried to gather up whatever he could — to board the windows, bar the door, barricade the entire house, as though that were important. He broke apart the dining table we had found on a trip to Lyon in 1921, so he could use the boards to block the picture window. It had been a good table, or at least we had good meals at it over the past three years. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 537: To the Moon

Show Notes

Rated: PG-13, for inhumanity and painful truths.


To the Moon

by Ken Liu

Long ago, when you were just a baby, we went to the Moon.

Summer nights in Beijing were brutal: hot, muggy, the air thick as the puddles left on the road after a shower, covered in iridescent patches of gasoline. We felt like dumplings being steamed, slowly, inside the room we were renting.

There was nowhere to go. Outside, the sidewalk was filled with the droning of air conditioners from neighbors who had them and the cackling of TVs at full volume from neighbors who hadn’t. Add your crying to the mix, and it was enough to drive anyone crazy. I would carry you out on my shoulders, back in, and then out again, begging you to sleep.

One night, I returned home after another day of fruitless petitioning at the Palace of Mandarins, having gotten no closer to avenging your mother. You sensed my anger and despair and cried heartily in sympathy. The world seemed so oppressive and dark that I wanted to join you, join the sound and the fury that filled the mad world. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 536: The Threadbare Magician — Part 2

Show Notes

Note that this is one part of a two-part episode. You can read and listen to the first part here.

Rated R, for cursing wizards and magical desires.

See below for links to Cat’s projects:

Cat’s Patreon.

The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, which offers live and on-demand classes aimed at fantasy and science fiction writers. Fun fact: co-editors Khaalidah and Jen met at one of Cat’s workshops. They are highly recommended!

Some books and collections for sale: Hearts of TabatNeither Here Nor ThereMoving from Idea to Finished Draft.


The Threadbare Magician — Part 2

by Cat Rambo

[Continued from Part 1, available here]

I hadn’t consulted an oracle in years. Never in this area.

I went to a closet and took down the usual sorts of accumulated boxes before finding a box of cedarwood, holding a small red velvet pouch. I took out the contents and cast the runes.

And frowned at them. Had I been overly casual, insulted them?

I took the time to center myself and cast again.

The same result. Which couldn’t be right.

An Oracle here in Friendly Village itself? Pleasant, unmagical Friendly Village?

Only a few trailers away? (Continue Reading…)

ARTEMIS RISING 5: Call for Submissions


In March 2019, Escape Artists will bring you ARTEMIS RISING for a fifth year. This special month-long event across all four Escape Artists podcasts is a celebration of stories written by women, in the broadest definition of the word. This year, PodCastle’s ARTEMIS RISING guest editors will be Krystal Claxton and Elora Gatts!

ARTEMIS RISING specifically highlights women in genre fiction, a demographic that has been underrepresented until recent years. This showcase helps to address that historical imbalance and correct the impression, which continues to persist in some social circles, that women cannot write excellent genre fiction.

Who Can Submit

Submissions are open to anyone who identifies as a woman to any degree.

In past years, we have specifically included the term “non-binary” in our Artemis Rising submission calls — you may notice it is missing this year.

English is flawed in its ability to accurately represent the breadth of human genders, and as such the language we use is always evolving. We respect the feedback that we’ve received regarding our use of “non-binary” as a catch-all: that it erroneously tilts the perception of non-binary people in a feminine direction.

In a continuing effort to support diversity and inclusivity, we’re changing the language of our ARTEMIS RISING call. Non-binary authors who identify at any time/to any degree as women are welcome to submit. Your gender is for you to determine, and we support you and take you at your word. If you feel you have a story that helps cast light on the multitudinal existence that is womanness, please don’t self-reject.

Please note we’re talking about author identity here, not pen names. We fully respect the right of authors to use whatever pen names they like. However, as we note in our Legalese, we require information in the submission form be accurate and truthful.

As always, we strongly encourage submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from traditional speculative fiction, including, but not limited to, people of color, LGBTQ authors, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States. Our goal is to publish fiction that reflects the diversity of the human race, so we strongly encourage submissions from these and any other under-represented groups.

What to Submit

Send in your best speculative fiction between 1,500–6,000 words. Original fiction as well as reprints are welcome this year. Payment will be USD $0.06 per word for original fiction and $100 for reprints.

You can send in one submission for ARTEMIS RISING to each of our podcasts (Escape Pod for science fiction, PseudoPod for horror, PodCastle for fantasy, and Cast of Wonders for young adult), but please don’t send the same story to more than one podcast at a time.

If you have a story under consideration already in the general submissions queue, you are welcome to submit an additional story for ARTEMIS RISING. One submission per portal for a total of two under consideration.

Multiple and/or simultaneous submissions are not accepted.

While we’ll be accepting a limited number of stories for ARTEMIS RISING, all stories will also be considered as general submissions as well, in the event that we simply have too much awesome to contain in one month.

What We’re Looking For

We’re living in times that send people scrambling for the nearest wardrobe door. Dark times. The sort of times that make you want to curl up in a chair with a blanket, some noise-canceling headphones, and a great story; the sort of times that draw us to protagonists who, despite living in hard times themselves, have the power to do something.

This year, we want stories that tap into the zeitgeist’s current existential anxiety and focus on overcoming it in unconventional ways. That can be a quiet, understated story where the protagonist faces a personal crisis or a sprawling epic where literally everything is on the line.

Regardless of scale, we want stories with:

  • Protagonists who have agency over the plot
  • While confronting complex, insurmountable antagonistic forces
  • To earn a hopeful resolution

We’d like to see characters with nuance and stories with endings that leave us with a glimmer of hope, no matter how faint. We want protagonists who know when to reach out and when to fight. (Magical empathy powers are a bonus.) Remember that not every conflict is settled with violence and rarely are victories absolute.

Stories we love:

  • “A Whisper in the Weld” by Alix E. Harrow (Shimmer (and podcast by us Here!)
  • “The Glow-in-the-Dark Girls” by Senaa Ahmad (Strange Horizons)
  • “And The” by Alyc Helms (Daily Science Fiction)
  • “Odonata At Rest” by Nancy Au (Liminal Stories)
  • “Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny)
  • Silence by Shūsaku Endō
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
  • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (and the film of the same name)
  • Princess Mononoke (film)
  • Daredevil (TV Series)
  • The 100 (TV Series)
  • Steven Universe (TV series)

We’re open to all Fantasy subgenres, but some subgenres and story elements we especially hope to see in AR 2019 submissions follow (feel free to mix-and-match!):

  • Magical girls
  • Crisis of faith
  • Superheroes
  • Queer characters
  • Film noir
  • Found families
  • Liminal fantasy
  • Love (romantic, platonic, familial)
  • Mannerpunk
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Beautiful, experimental prose
  • Redemption or reconciliation
  • Femme characters

Hard Sells:

  • Pointless suffering/unfulfilling endings
  • Fables, myths, and fairy tales that are part of the Western canon  
  • Deals with a literal demon/devil
  • Grimdark or noblebright
  • Mustache-twirlingly evil antagonists
  • Fridged characters

How to Submit

Start writing now! A special ARTEMIS RISING Submittable portal will open September 1. Submissions will be open for the month of September 2018. Stories will air in March 2019.

Thanks, and we look forward to reading your stories!

 

Krystal Claxton and Elora Gatts

PodCastle ARTEMIS RISING 5 Guest Hosts