Archive for Giants

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PodCastle 457: Blade and Branch and Stone

Show Notes

read by Graeme Dunlop (as Lassan), Wilson Fowlie (as Dhar), Kay Steele (as Kahirun)


Blade and Branch and Stone

by Spencer Ellsworth

Lassan

The trees screamed. Mortars shattered white wood that bled golden sap. The Fei looked down from the ridge with cold blue eyes, raised their muskets and hailed lead onto the human lines. Blood blossomed on white shirts around Lassan, under black-coated Imperial jackets.

“Form a wedge!” Lassan yelled. “Prime and load! One more round before we rush the hill!” Around him men fell to one knee and musket plugs tamped down powder and ball. Lassan looked over his men, memorizing every face. They were good people, settlers and drilled regiment all. They would probably all die today and they would do it under his orders.

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PodCastle 400: Night at the Opera (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated PG-13 for some violence.

With a special full-cast reading!

  • Wilson Fowlie as the Narrator
  • Big Anklevich as Amadel
  • Rish Outfield as Reynard
  • Kevin Powe as Nicolas
  • M.K. Hobson as Lady Shankir-Clare
  • Tina Connolly as Belina Shankir-Clare
  • Dave Thompson as the Mystery Man
  • Graeme Dunlop as Idilane

The story takes place in Martha’s Ile-Rien universe, in which she’s written five novels and several short stories. Find out more!


Night at the Opera

by Martha Wells

Reynard Morane was at his usual table in the Cafe Baudy, a somewhat risqué establishment built on a barge in the Deval Forest pleasure garden’s lake, when a beautiful man approached his table. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence, especially in this cafe, but this beautiful man was a stranger. He said, “Captain Morane?”

From his features and dark skin, the man was Parscian, a little younger than Reynard but not by much, tall and well-built, and dressed in an elegant but understated way which suggested some level of the upper class. The coat was too expensive for the man to be from a university. For some reason, Reynard attracted a high percentage of men of academic persuasions. “Yes.” Reynard smiled warmly. “Please join me.”

The man hesitated, then drew out the opposite chair. “A friend told me about you.”

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PodCastle 396: Spirits of the Wind (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

RatedPG-13

Read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.


Spirits of the Wind

by Brendan Detzner

She was surprised how fast she’d caught herself missing the time that she lived here. She knew that she and Jessica and Rina had been driving each other crazy all cooped up together, and she remembered climbing up to the third floor and down again and how she thought she was going to slip and fall on the ice each winter when the landlord never laid down salt, and she missed it anyway, and could anticipate feel herself looking back and missing it more and more. A simple thing, gone now.

The truth, which she knew and thought everybody in the room had to know too,was that this had been a big year. They’d reached the top of a hill and were on their way down, and some of them were heading towards other hills and maybe some of them weren’t. People’s parents were dying. Guys were going bald, girls were covering up tattoos and using concealer. Mike, who was always a little crazy and fun to have around and who liked to drink, wasn’t around anymore, and still liked to drink and probably was drinking out there somewhere. Kat missed him, but she knew it was better that he was gone. She couldn’t afford to be around a guy like that anymore.

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PodCastle 341, Giant Episode: Balfour and Meriwether in the Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs

Show Notes

Rated R: Contains violence and monsters in the Victorian fashion.

Originally published as a novella by Subterranean Press. Pick up your copy here!


Balfour and Meriwether in the Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs

By Daniel Abraham

It was the twenty-eighth of April, 188- and a day of warmth, beauty, and commerce in the crowded streets of London, but Lord Carmichael’s features had a distinctly wintery aspect.  He stood by the front window of the King Street flat, scowling down at the cobbled streets.  The snifter of brandy in his left hand was all but forgotten.  Behind his back, Meriwether caught Balfour’s gaze and lifted his eyebrows.  Balfour stroked his broad mustache and cleared his throat.  The sound was very nearly an apology.  For a long moment, it seemed Lord Carmichael had not so much as heard it, but then he heaved a great sigh and turned back to the men.

The flat itself was in a state of utter disarray.  The remains of the breakfast sat beside the empty fire grate, and the body of a freshly slaughtered pig lay stretched out across the carpeted floor, its flesh marked out in squares by lines of lampblack and a variety of knives protruding from it, one in each square.  Meriwether’s silver flute perched upon the mantle in a nest of musical notation, and a half-translated treatise on the effects of certain new world plant extracts upon human memory sat abandoned on the desk.  Lord Carmichael’s eyes lifted to the two agents of the Queen as he stepped over the porcine corpse and took his seat.

“I’m afraid we have need of you, boys,” Lord Carmichael said.  “Daniel Winters is missing.”

“Surely not an uncommon occurrence,” Meriwether said, affecting a lightness of tone.  “My understanding was that our friend Winters has quite the reputation for losing himself in the fleshpots of the empire between missions.  I would have expected him to have some difficulty finding himself, most mornings.”

“He wasn’t between missions,” Lord Carmichael said.  “He was engaged in an enquiry.”

“Queen’s business?” Balfour said.

“Indirectly.  It was a blue rose affair.”

Balfour sat forward, thick fists under his chin and a flinty look in his eyes.  Among all the concerns and intrigues that Lord Carmichael had the managing of, the blue rose affairs were the least palatable not from any moral or ethical failure — Balfour and Meriwether understood the near-Jesuitical deformations of ethics and honor that the defense of the Empire could require — but rather because they were so often lacking in the rigor they both cultivated.  When a housewife in Bath woke screaming that a fairy had warned her of a threat against the Queen, it was a blue rose affair.  When a young artist lost his mind and slaughtered prostitutes, painting in their blood to open a demonic gate, it was a blue rose affair.  When a professor of economics was tortured to the edge of madness by dreams of an ancient and sleeping god turning foul and malefic eyes upon the human world, it was a blue rose affair.  And so almost without fail, they were wastes of time and effort, ending in conformations of hysteria that posed no threat and offered no benefit to anyone sane.  Meriwether took his seat, propping his heels on the dead pig.  As if in response, a bit of trapped gas escaped the hog like a sigh.

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PodCastle 334, Giant Episode: Quartermaster Returns

Show Notes

Rated R. Contains lots of alcohol, some death, and some undeath.


Quartermaster Returns

by Ysabeau S. Wilce

When Pow walks into the hog ranch, everyone turns to stare at shim. At the whist table, the muleskinner gurgles and lets fall his cards. The cardsharp’s teeth clatter against the rim of his glass. The cowboy squeaks. At the bar, the barkeep, who had been fishing flies out of the pickle jar, drops her pickle fork. On the bar, the cat, a fantastic mouser named Queenie, narrows her moon-silver eyes into little slits. At the pianny, Lotta, who’d been banging out Drink Puppy Drink on the peeling ivory keys, crashes one last chord and no more.

Even the ice elemental, in the cage suspended over the whist table, ceases his languid fanning. He’s seen a lot of boring human behavior since the barkeep brought him from a junk store in Wal-nuts to keep the hog ranch cool; finally a human has done some- thing interesting. Only Fort Gehenna’s scout doesn’t react. He wipes his nose on a greasy buckskin sleeve, slams another shot of mescal, and takes the opportunity to peek at his opponents’ cards.

The bar-room is dead silent but for a distant slap and a squeal—Buck and the peg-boy in the back room exercising—and the creak of the canvas walls shifting in the ever-present Arivaipa wind.

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PodCastle 316, Giant Episode: The Meaning of Love


The Meaning of Love

by Daniel Abraham

The name Sovereign North Bank referred to a strip of land along the river Taunis within the great city of Nevripal, but not of it. It existed first as an accident of politics. When, centuries before, the wizards of the Hanish Empire sued for peace after the War of Ten Emperors, the lands surrounding the slow, dark river were ceded to the Council of Nestripon, but an exception was made for the Hanish winter palace and its grounds which were the favorites of the Empress. In a sentimental gesture of good faith that often follows wars between monarchs who are also family, the land remained technically within the Hanish Empire, though no official or citizen remained there. The mayor and burgers of Nevripal, not sharing the familial fondness for their defeated enemies, declared that the Sovereign North Bank was, in essence, its own problem. With no Hanish to oversee it and no Nestripon willing to take responsibility, it became that rarest of all places: an autonomous zone where the law protected and enforced lawlessness.

Over the ages since, the north bank had become a curiosity. The detritus of a dozen cultures found their way there, or were forced to it when there was no other refuge. The sluggish, dark waters of the Taunis carried barges and rafts to the muddy shores. Criminals and debtors fled to it, refugees of wars national and domestic, the addicted and the poverty-lost. And like the vast and mindless organism that it was, the Sovereign North Bank grew.

That there were no magistrates did not mean there were no planners, no architects, no geniuses or madmen. Rather it meant there was no restraint to those who lived there and invented.

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PodCastle 292, Giant Episode: Scry

Show Notes

Dramatis Personae:

Eyre Isri Esth: The finest scryer on the planet, and the wife, or former wife, of Lun.

Eyr eth Lun: Esth’s former husband, head of a royal house, and protector of the fugitive prince Ibren.

Ben Tur Ibren: The fugitive prince, who is being hunted down by Karnun Dae.

Karnun Nameless Dae: An alien bent on revolution, and overthrowing the prince and his supporters.


Scry

by Anne Ivy

By dawn, the house of Eyr Eth Lun had fallen. Dead soldiers and laser-cauterized pieces of soldiers littered the stairs and bridges into the palace. The sun rose slowly over the spires, flushing the sky pink and pale blue, gleaming off broken glass, bringing color to the gore. Anubises, wading into the midst of the detritus, carried the bodies away. The dead, victorious and defeated alike, all went to the crematorium together.

The metal gates into the house hung warped and melted on their hinges. The inside echoed, empty, threatening. The first to set foot on the foyer’s metal floor had been electrocuted.

Eyr Eth Lun and his liege, the fugitive prince Ben Tur Ibren, were long gone. Some of Karnon Nameless Dae’s followers hoped their quarry—Lun and Ibren—was hiding somewhere in the house, sure to be flushed out. Most knew better. Lun’s soldiers had fought with the desperate furor of those who knew themselves dead. They’d been fighting to buy their masters time to escape, not to save their own lives. They’d succeeded, and their ranks—brave, loyal, and dead—lay in unflinching testament to the cost of Lun’s contingency plan.

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PodCastle 272: The Tree of Life (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated PG


The Tree of Life

by C.L. Moore

Over time-ruined Illar the searching planes swooped and circled. Northwest Smith, peering up at them with a steel-pale stare from the shelter of a half-collapsed temple, thought of vultures wheeling above carrion. All day long now they had been raking these ruins for him. Presently, he knew, thirst would begin to parch his throat and hunger to gnaw at him. There was neither food nor water in these ancient Martian ruins, and he knew that it could be only a matter of time before the urgencies of his own body would drive him out to signal those wheeling Patrol ships and trade his hard-won liberty for food and drink. He crouched lower under the shadow of the temple arch and cursed the accuracy of the Patrol gunner whose flame-blast had caught his dodging ship just at the edge of Illar’s ruins.

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PodCastle 266, Giant Episode: The House of Aunts

Show Notes

Rated R for vampires, and their extended families.


The House of Aunts

by Zen Cho

To the women of my family.

The house stood back from the road in an orchard. In the orchard, monitor lizards the length of a man’s arm stalked the branches of rambutan trees like tigers on the hunt. Behind the house was an abandoned rubber tree plantation, so proliferant with monkeys and leeches and spirits that it might as well have been a forest.

Inside the house lived the dead.

The first time she saw the boy across the classroom, Ah Lee knew she was in love because she tasted durian on her tongue. That was what happened–no poetry about it. She looked at a human boy one day and the creamy rank richness of durian filled her mouth. For a moment the ghost of its stench staggered on the edge of her teeth, and then it vanished.

She had not tasted fruit since before the baby came. Since before she was dead.

After school she went home and asked the aunts about it.

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PodCastle 242, Giant Episode: A Memory of Wind


A Memory of Wind

by Rachel Swirsky

I began turning into wind the moment that you promised me to Artemis.

Before I woke, I lost the flavor of rancid oil and the shade of green that flushes new leaves. They slipped from me, and became gentle breezes that would later weave themselves into the strength of my gale. Between the first and second beats of my lashes, I also lost the grunt of goats being led to slaughter, and the roughness of wool against calloused fingertips, and the scent of figs simmering in honey wine.

Around me, the other palace girls slept fitfully, tossing and grumbling through the dry summer heat. I stumbled to my feet and fled down the corridor, my footsteps falling smooth against the cool, painted clay. As I walked, the sensation of the floor blew away from me, too. It was as if I stood on nothing.

I forgot the way to my mother’s rooms. I decided to visit Orestes instead. I also forgot how to find him. I paced bright corridors, searching. A male servant saw me, and woke a male slave, who woke a female slave, who roused herself and approached me, bleary-eyed, mumbling. “What’s wrong, Lady Iphigenia? What do you require?”

I had no answers.