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PodCastle 682: TALES FROM THE VAULTS —Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

Show Notes

Rated R.

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by departing co-editor, C.L. Clark. “Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” originally aired as PodCastle 324.


Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

by Saladin Ahmed

I do not know how he brought us to this land of blood and iron masks. I know only that I am a real man trapped in a mad landscape of living lessons.

My brothers and I were spirited here from my home in…Damascus? Yes, praise be to God that I can remember that. The sound of the street-preachers, and the smells of the spice vendors’ stalls.

Damascus.

We were sipping tea in a room with green carpets, and I was laughing at a jest that…that someone was making. Who? The face, the voice, the name have been stolen from me. All I know is that my brothers and I suddenly found ourselves in this twisted place, each aware of the others’ fates, but unable to find one another. Unable to find any escape.

Now my eldest brother has been slain. And my next eldest brother has disappeared.

Who am I? I do not know how he changed our names. But in this world of lions and giants and the blinding shine of armor, I am called Joyless, as if it were a name.

It was not my name. It is not my name. But this is his place, and it follows his commands.

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PodCastle Miniature 102: What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide


What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide

by Eleanor R. Wood

The ball bounces off the tide-packed sand and Bailey leaps to catch it with lithe grace and accuracy. He returns to deposit it at my feet for another go. It’s nearly dusk; the beach is ours on this January evening. It stretches ahead, the rising tide low enough to give us ample time to reach the sea wall.

Bailey’s devotion to his ball is second only to his pack. He is never careless with it, relinquishing it only at my command or to give Bernie the occasional chase. Bernie brings up the rear, my shaggy bear, staying close but lacking Bailey’s fierce duty to his ball.

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One Last Time


Hello, readers and listeners, lovely visitors to the castle!

We have some bittersweet news to announce. After an enjoyable tenure, Jen Albert and Cherae Clark are leaving their positions as co-editors of PodCastle. There are, simply put, not enough hours in the day, and they both need to focus on their rapidly expanding careers. Jen will be pursuing book editing and acquisitions at ECW Press, while Cherae focuses on writing (including the sequel to The Unbroken).

They are thrilled, however, to leave the keys to the castle in the capable hands of Eleanor R. Wood and Shingai Njeri Kagunda. We’ll let them introduce themselves to you at length a little later on, but briefly:

Eleanor has been working with PodCastle as an associate editor and copyeditor at PodCastle for over four years and is an excellent writer as well. Her stories have appeared in Galaxy’s Edge, Diabolical Plots, PodCastle, Nature: Futures, The Best of British Fantasy 2019, and various anthologies, among other places.

Shingai is a Kenyan writer of flash, short fiction, novel, and poetry who’s finishing her MFA at Brown University. During the pandemic, she co-founded Voodoonauts, a empowerment and educational organization constructed to uplift Afrofuturist Writers. Her story in Fantasy Magazine, “And This Is How to Stay Alive,” will reprint in 3 best-of anthologies this fall as well as sprawl into the novella, & This Is How to Stay Alive, at Neon Hemlock.

 

The upcoming stories through the rest of the year will likely be some combination of stories that Jen and Cherae picked out from the submissions periods of 2020, and the stories that Eleanor and Shingai pick out from this year. And in the future, who knows? Jen and Cherae may show up for a narration or to guest host an episode or two.

So, in all honesty, this is probably not the last time that you’ll hear from either Jen or Cherae–once you’re part of the Escape Artists family, you’re kinda stuck. With that, please give a warm welcome to Eleanor and Shingai! We all look forward to how their vision shapes the future of PodCastle.

From Jen and Cherae–thank you all for being a part of our lives for the last several (Jen)/few (Cherae) years. We’ve loved reading your stories and your reactions to the stories we aired. Thank you also for the confidence you’ve placed in us as you nominated and voted for us in the Hugos, the Ignytes, the British Fantasy Award, and more.

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PodCastle 681: TALES FROM THE VAULTS —Wolfy Things

Show Notes

Rated R.

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by departing co-editor, Jen R. Albert. “Wolfy Things” originally aired as PodCastle 429.


Wolfy Things

by Erin Roberts

 

Tonight, me and Lee gonna kill the wolf. Been digging a pit out in the woods all summer, filling it up with wolfsbane and sharp rocks big as our heads, covering it up with leaves so wolfy eyes can’t tell it’s there. Lee even snatched a whole chicken outta his Pa’s coop, snapped its neck and threw it on the pile like some kinda wolf Christmas come early. Wolf just has to go sniffing over by the edge and we give a good push and we’ll be Nicky and Lee, honest-to-God wolf-killers.

Lee says they still gonna be talking ‘bout us when our grandkids is old and crook-backed, just like they do Old Cooper Lyons. Coop’s mean as a snake in a wood pile, but ever since he tricked that whole pack into calling truce and then burned ‘em to the ground, cubs and all, they ‘bout throw him a parade whenever he comes through town. So by sunup, ain’t nobody gonna care why I ain’t got no Daddy or where Lee’s Ma went off to or how I got my devil eyes. And once that damn wolf’s good and dead, he won’t be coming ‘round my house no more.


First time I seen the wolf was two years past, day I turned ten. Old enough to handle a knife and stand watch like Lee done for his Pa three years already. Wasn’t really nothing to see out there but the same old trees and stars and Lee’s Pa’s cabin down the way, but better’n watching Ma sniffle and drip tears all over the floor like a leaky roof. She been like that since forever, river in her eyes and stone in her throat, always gulping out things ‘bout vows and sins and being sorry, and ain’t a man alive what wants to watch his own Ma cry.

I woke mid-watch, leaned up against the side of the cabin, knife on the ground and wolf in my face, its goldy eyes flashing like fireflies. Froze me up faster than a tongue on ice—barely got my legs squeezed together tight enough not to piss the ground. Lee always says a wolf’ll kill you right off soon as it sees you, add you to its coat of little boy skins. But this one just stood there tall on hind legs, hairy and naked as a hound-dog, smelling like new-killed hogs and dirt and bare feet after running. Then it honest-to-God started talking, real words and everything, voice deep as far-off thunder.

“Your Ma know you’re out here?”

Hearing it talk about Ma unfroze me right quick. Man can’t let no beast come for his kin. I reached for the knife, but the wolf grabbed hold of my wrist and laughed. I tried turning this way and that, but it didn’t make no difference. Its palms was spongy-soft, but they clamped down tight as a bear trap all the same.

“Let go!”  I said, voice coming out high and squeaky.

“So you can grab your knife and gut me?”

“Do what I have to,” I said, growling in my throat to get my voice deep. “Protect my kin.”

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