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PodCastle 661: The Engineer of the Undersea Railways

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The Engineer of the Undersea Railway

By Varsha Dinesh

The undersea engineer Persis Makhanwala cut a solitary figure to all those who knew her. The gossip rags reeled in the wake of her spangled saris and perpetually bruised eyes, scrambling to dredge up old dark-eyed paramours and sad, sparkling scandals. They called her such epithets as Queen of the Undersea and Siren of the Rails, crowding to get a glimpse as she emerged from a pincered little car at Bombay’s Marine Drive. Cameras clicked; lights flashed. Chai vendors, journalists and spectators jostled.

As Persis glowered, a train’s whistle sounded. The underwater tunnel lit up. The arc of it glimmered like a diamond necklace, stretching as far as the eye could see, into the mists of the Arabian Sea. A roar went through the crowd. Persis stepped off the promenade and into the waves, disappearing into a carefully concealed elevator.

It was a historic moment. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 660: TALES FROM THE VAULTS — The Husband Stitch

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 associate editor Kaitlyn Zivanovich. “The Husband Stitch” originally aired as PodCastle 409.


The Husband Stitch

By Carmen Maria Machado

(If you read this story out loud, please use the following voices:

Me: as a child, high-pitched, forgettable; as a woman, the same.

The boy who will grow into a man, and be my spouse: robust with his own good fortune.

My father: Like your father, or the man you wish was your father.

My son: as a small child, gentle, rounded with the faintest of lisps; as a man, like my husband.

All other women: interchangeable with my own.) (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 659: My Country is a Ghost

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


My Country is a Ghost

By Eugenia Triantafyllou

When Niovi tried to smuggle her mother’s ghost into the new country, she found herself being passed from one security officer to another, detailing her mother’s place and date of death over and over again.

“Are you carrying a ghost with you, ma’am?” asked the woman in the security vest. Her nametag read Stella. Her lips were pressed in a tight line as she pointed at the ghost during the screening, tucked inside a necklace. She took away Niovi’s necklace and left only her phone.

“If she didn’t die here, I am afraid she cannot follow you,” the woman said. Her voice was even, a sign she had done this many times before. Niovi resented the woman at that moment. She still had a ghost waiting for her to come home, comforting her when she felt sad, giving advice when needed. But she was still taking Niovi’s ghost away.

Stella paused. She gave Niovi a moment to think, to decide. She could turn around and go back to her home taking the necklace with her. Back to her unemployment benefits and a future she could no longer bring herself to imagine, or she could move down the long stretch of aisles, past the dimming lights and into the night, alone, her mother’s ghost left behind—where do ghosts return to in times like this? Niovi would be a new person in a new country, wiped clean of her past.

Foreign ghosts were considered unnecessary. The only things they had to offer were stories and memories.

Niovi had prepared herself for this, and yet she had hoped she wouldn’t have to leave her mother behind. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 658: The Cursed Noel

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The Cursed Noel

By Tim Pratt & Heather Shaw

It was supposed to be a Very Zoom Christmas, but the internet went out on Christmas Eve, and out here, it usually took a couple of days to get going again. Travis didn’t expect things to happen any faster during the holiday. He could get a bar on his cell phone if he stood in the right spot in the cabin, but that wasn’t enough for a video call. He could always drive into town tomorrow where the service was better, but sitting in some parking lot in the cold, looking at the thumbprint-sized faces of his mother and sisters and cousins on his phone, all broadcasting from their own places of pandemic isolation, didn’t exactly sound festive.

Travis went to the window in the kitchen and looked out at the whitened evergreens. Loneliness settled onto him, like the weight of all that snow on those branches. The smell of his morning coffee was already dissipating in the chill air. The original plan, back when everyone thought the pandemic would surely be under control by the end of the year, was to fly to Chicago for the traditional giant gathering, but the Midwest was even more ravaged by the virus than everywhere else. So he was staying here instead, wintering for the first time in the cabin in the North Carolina mountains he’d inherited from his grandfather, and only used as a summer place before. The isolation hadn’t bothered him much so far, but like the snow in the song, the pandemic didn’t show signs of stopping, and it had all become a bit wearying. (Continue Reading…)