PodCastle 528: Properties of Obligate Pearls

Show Notes

Rated PG-13 for hard choices and the treasures they produce.


Properties of Obligate Pearls

By L. S. Johnson

You have to know what to look for. Younger, definitely — stones from the elderly are heavy and black, decades of layers dulling the luster. No one wants the weight of a grandmother’s worries around their neck.

Take the young woman sitting across from me. I saw her in the supermarket, late on Friday night. She should have been out partying, or on a date; instead, she was pushing a cart that was equal parts cat food, stew meat, and adult diapers. Everything about her spoke of exhaustion and embarrassment.

Even under her jacket, I could glimpse the fullness of her torso, that hint of bloating directly beneath her sternum. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 527: Flash Fiction Extravaganza! In the Beginning…

Show Notes

Rated G, for godlike.

Note that the text for “Intelligent Design” is a story sample; the whole story is only available in audio format.”Intelligent Design” is a re-run of PodCastle Mini 24.

Latte-colored afterglow: the average color of the entire universe is a pale beige officially dubbed “Cosmic latte”. (See https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap091101.html)

Raspberry: Sagittarius B, a massive cloud hanging out in the Milky Way, contains ethyl formate, one of the key chemicals giving raspberries their flavor.
(See https://io9.gizmodo.com/this-space-cloud-smells-like-rum-and-tastes-like-raspbe-1695890013)

Raisins in raisin bread: The raisin bread analogy is the standard mechanism for explaining Hubble expansion, aka the expansion of the whole universe. (See http://cmb.physics.wisc.edu/pub/tutorial/hubble.html)


Recipe: 1 Universe

by Effie Seiberg

Recipe: 1 Universe

Serves: everybody

1) Start with nothing. If you don’t have nothing, discard everything. Discard your house and your bed, your friends and your family and the dog who barks hello to you every time you pass it on your way to work. Discard your work. Discard your hopes and your dreams, your love of peanut butter, and the little crinkle you get at the side of your smile when you smell the seashore. Discard yourself.

(Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 526: When Shadow Confronts Sun

Show Notes

Rated: PG-13.


When Shadow Confronts Sun

By Farah Naz Rishi

[Allah] will say, “Enter among nations which had passed on before you of jinn and mankind into the Fire.” Every time a nation enters, it will curse its sister until, when they have all overtaken one another therein, the last of them will say about the first of them, “Our Lord, these had misled us, so give them a double punishment of the Fire.” He will say, “For each is double, but you do not know.” (7:38)


The paan seller’s cart has a very particular smell: burnt roses, sugar syrup, cumin. Spicy and sweet, like Nani’s sticks of sage, the ones she burns every Sunday after fajr to ward off jealous eyes and jealous spirits. But I am hungry and I breathe it in, letting the newfound familiarity of the fragrance settle into my bones. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 525: Rabbit Grass

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Rabbit Grass

by Kelly Stewart

Mama says, “Never let Rabbits into the garden, Aril, or they’ll eat up everything.”

This makes working in the garden troublesome because there is almost always a Rabbit sitting just on the other side of the fence. The fence isn’t nothing fancy, just old dry timber trussed up with wire.

But Rabbits won’t come in unless they’re invited. No one would invite them, except they have their ways of smoothing things over with the folks around here. For one thing, you’d hardly know them from any old Person, except for the long ears perched atop their heads, all covered with velvety fur and turning this way and that to listen for things. They dress nice, too. They can be real charming. That’s how folks around here get their gardens et up. (Continue Reading…)