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PodCastle 736: The Gorgon’s Glass

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Gorgon’s Glass

by M.E. Bronstein

 

There are people who try to blame Oken’s unhappy demise on the Gorgon, but if you read Oken’s notebooks carefully (and it’s my job to read his notebooks carefully), you know that he was already dying when he first met her. In fact, that is why he sought the Gorgon out; he needed someone to craft his “monument more lasting than bronze” — i.e. a brilliant thing to preserve his memory.

In his notes, Oken often revisits his first meeting with the Gorgon:

. . . Certain denizens of the township nearest to the Gorgon’s workshop attempted to dissuade me from seeking her out. They called her a witch. It is disheartening, though hardly surprising that her style of artistic production would elicit such reactions. I ventured into the Swamp anyway, and rather enjoyed my solitary escapade into the wilderness, until I found myself caught in circles and stumbled across the same lightning-blasted yew, again and again.

Then I heard a silken rustle, and beheld, in frightening proximity, a serpent — it unfurled from a ragged hole in the moss, a faint rainbow iridescence clinging to its scales. I stepped backwards in careless haste and a rock gave way beneath my foot; I fell upon my rear, something tore, and there was the snake, a line of wriggling calligraphy some demonic hand had written into the earth. It came closer and closer, and I realized with horror that my trousers were quite firmly caught upon a bramble. I struggled and cried out —

I could not die in such a manner (so many intelligent medical men had already foretold another end for me, and how impolite to contradict them!).

And then — the artist herself.

A slight creature with flyaway black-and-gray hair and a grimly set jaw. She wore a ragged shawl and a basket across one shoulder.

She stared fixedly at the serpent, then drew closer, careful not to make a sound, to stir any rocks, all the while untying her shawl — which she then tossed so that it fell across the beast. It writhed, confused by the sudden surrounding weight. The Gorgon pounced upon her quarry, bundled her shawl into a knot, and tossed it into the basket lashed across her back.

To think that so wild a creature should be my object! But there are mysteries and powers beyond our understanding that often choose strange receptacles for their dearest secrets.

 

A snake brought me to the Gorgon, too.

I first met her glass when I was a girl. I’d chase sand fleas through riverside muck, and there was a worming thing, half buried. See-through, like a newborn squid or shrimp, but hard and motionless. Just one fragment of a larger glass serpent.

That happens, sometimes. Although the Gorgon’s workshop in the Swamp rotted long ago, her sculptures still crop up, carried by the river. Like they want to crawl back ashore.

I found the glass snake by stepping on it, and it sliced into the sole of my foot and glittered and I bled and yet it went on drawing my eye through my tears, and my mother had to work to pry it out of me. She sent the piece of sculpture to the Estate.

Perhaps that is why I wound up here, too, over two decades later. Tugged by a rope made of glass.

That said . . . I confess: I used to prefer Oken’s writings about the Gorgon’s work to the work itself. I wished up likenesses between myself and Oken — a natural result, maybe, of transcribing someone’s words and ideas, day after day, so that you almost take them for your own.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 735: The Artists’ Colony

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Artists’ Colony

Patrick Freyne

 

Dear ­­­­­­­______,

I think you would love it here. It’s so peaceful and you were always saying, back in the city, that we needed to get away.

So let me describe what I can see from my writing desk. Outside my window I can see a silver lake which is very still. Behind the lake there is a hill that is partly covered with coniferous trees. Above the hill there is a mottled grey sky. The trees on the hill look like they’ve been painted against that sky with vertical dashes of paint and their reflections in the lake look like inverted impressionist renderings of the same scene.

There is no sound. No engines. No construction. No destruction. No children. No birds. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 734: An Incomplete Account of the Case of the Bird-Talker of Yaros

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


An Incomplete Account of the Case of the Bird-Talker of Yaros

by Eleanna Castroianni

 

 

PANAYOTIS M., interviewed by Eleni Haji, November 1975

When I first saw her, she was covered in wings. Sea birds flocked to her as if she was honey and they were the bees. Watching from the men’s prison, we could always tell which was her cell window by the cluster of flapping, squawking gulls.

The guards were furious. They would thrash around to drive the birds away or even keep her locked in isolation in windowless rooms. But I know she still spoke to them, all of them. A chirrup here, a cry there. You can’t stop them. Birds carry words, my father used to say. Their wings are speech.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 733: Flash Fiction Extravaganza – Rough Patches

Show Notes

“Water We Made to Breathe” Rated PG-13

“Secret Keepers” Rated PG

“A Partial Record of Enchanted Cheeses I’ve Fed My Wife” Rated PG


Water We Made to Breathe

By Marisca Pichette

When we were fourteen we went looking for the ocean at the heart of the woods. I remember the smell: earth and algae and damp, air thick as water. Our sweat mixing with the summer sun, our clothes in a pile on the shore. Max jumped in, his shoulders swallowed by green waves.

I could never tell Max’s parents why I came back alone. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 732: Fire in His Eyes, Blood on His Teeth

Show Notes

Rated R


Fire In His Eyes, Blood On His Teeth

By R.S.A. Garcia

 

He comes to me with fire in his eyes and blood on his teeth. Sometimes the blood is his enemies’. Sometimes it’s mine. Eventually, it’s mine. Always.

He is different today, striding across the sandy soil toward my home with scuffed, much-mended boots. Often, he’s charming and beautiful, like the first time I met him. Smooth brown skin and white smiles, smelling of freshly scraped coconuts. Sometimes he is fierce and tall and smells of the salty sea, with a glorious shining beard braided around the fuses he hides beneath his battered hat. His teeth are longer, yellow, and his skin burned from the sun. They call him a pirate then, and men on land and sea tremble to speak his name. He has harsh words, but there are no teeth for me yet. They come later.

They come with the fire and a shadow on the sun. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 731: The Travel Guide to the Dimension of Lost Things

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Travel Guide to the Dimension of Lost Things

By Effie Seiberg

 

Have you ever felt so tired that you just don’t feel anymore? Where you wake up, burrowed under the covers with a shaft of light somehow piercing through them and right into your brain, and realize that here comes one more day you need to endure, to wait through, until you can blessedly sleep again and stop experiencing this whole existence thing?

This is where I am. I’m deeply considering whether it’s worth just snaking my hand out of my bed-burrito to grab my phone, bring it in, and then just play solitaire until I can fall asleep again instead of even considering what I need to get done today . . . until I realize that the light piercing through is bright green. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 730: The Augur and the Girl Left At His Door

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door

by Greta Hayer

The augur looked at the bridegroom’s back and sighed. He bent close to the bridegroom’s skin, examined every bump and line in his flesh. Most apparent were the red lines, claw marks from fingernails. A less experienced fortune teller would have seen those marks and spoken of the satisfaction of the young man’s new bride, perhaps suggested the imminent birth of a child, but the augur had done this for many years. He knew how to read the skin of a person, living or dead. He knew that there would be no happiness for the couple. There would be a child — there was already a child quickening in the belly of the bride; that much was obvious by the angles of the cuts, the swell of the muscles by the shoulder blades — but that child would be the end of them. It was as clear as dark moles on pale skin; as obvious as the ridge of a spinal column.

The augur told the bridegroom to put his clothes back on. He did not tell the bridegroom about the darkness in his future. The augur had seen other soothsayers punished when they told people things they did not want to hear when he worked for the emperor many years ago. But the augur did not lie. He never lied. And to not tell the whole truth — that was no lie. (Continue Reading…)

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Hugo Award 2022 Finalist!


We’re over the moon to announce that PodCastle has been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine for the second year running. We’re once again honoured to share this nomination with our spacefaring sister, Escape Pod, and we’re humbled and delighted at this recognition of our hard work over the past year. We’re amongst some stellar company in this category – congratulations to our fellow nominees!

The full list of nominees in all categories can be found here.

We’re so grateful to everyone who nominated us, and we’re thankful to all of our staff for their hard work and to our authors for entrusting us with their wonderful stories.

Winners will be announced at ChiCon8, which takes place between 1-5 September 2022.

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PodCastle 729: Bride, Knife, Flaming Horse

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Bride, Knife, Flaming Horse

by M. L. Krishnan

 

To Kalavati, it was well known that if one reached marriageable age, parents and aunties and cousins thrice-removed would clump themselves into anthills of worry. Missiles of relationship managers and matrimonial websites would then be launched to nab a match. It would be a process of adjustments — of settling and tucking and hiding. Of second-rate suitors with second-rate mustaches and identical beige shirts. That was what Kala had always believed, had always known to be proper and true as an oft-repeated lie.

Until she met the man that was a ghoul, but also a knife. Until she met the woman that was a deity, but also a mare.

(Continue Reading…)

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Special Submissions Call: Indigenous Magic


PodCastle is incredibly excited to announce our call for Indigenous Magic stories of Global homegrown mythologies and legends. We want stories that center Black, Brown, and Indigenous cultures, histories, belief systems, philosophies, and perspectives. These are the stories of fireside tellings that are tied to the land on which they are written, the stories that reflect our cultural and historical trajectories in the wivestales and gossip on the tongues of our mothers and grandmothers.

While our general guideline of receiving stories primarily in English still applies, we especially encourage stories that incorporate more than one language or dialect, stories that offer alternative structures to the expected linear standardized arc, and stories that offer a fresh take or new perspective on a history that has not been considered universal.

This is an opportunity to draw on the softly surreal and the deeply fantastical in oral histories that have been passed down.

It is important that these stories are told by the people they belong to. We respect the traditions they are drawn from and honour the need to make space for marginalized voices to tell their version of any given story. We welcome authors who are writing from indigenous perspectives that are within their realm of experience and personal history. If you’ve written a story about a culture that is not your own, please refrain from submitting it to this particular call.

We’re a fantasy publication, so all stories must have a fantasy element that’s crucial to the tale, though it can be subtle. We are unable to consider science fiction or straight-up horror, though dark fantasy is more than welcome. We will consider both originals and reprints for this call, paying our standard rate of 8 cents per word for originals and $100 for reprints. We’re looking for stories between 2,000-6,000 words, though we will consider up to 7,000 words for reprints. These upper limits are strict: unfortunately we cannot consider reprints above 7,000 words or originals above 6,000 for this submissions call.

We’ll be open to Indigenous Magic submissions for the month of July 2022. Please submit through our Moksha portal. Our standard guidelines apply to anything we haven’t specified here.

We can’t wait to see your stories!

 

~Shingai Njeri Kagunda and Eleanor R. Wood, PodCastle Co-Editors