Archive for Giants

PodCastle logo

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.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 215, Giant Episode: Ours is the Prettiest

Show Notes

Rated R for language, sex

Ours is the Prettiest

by Nalo Hopkinson

The camel bus had a black banner draped around it. The lettering on it was made to look ike bones, and read “We Dead Awaken.” Through the windows we could see the musicians, all of them wearing funereal black suits, including top hats tricked out with black lace veils. Even the musicians were playin’ mas’. It was a brass band, instruments shouting out the melody to a song I almost recognized.

Today was Jou’vert; the daylong free-for-all we were pleased to call a “parade” ushered in the week of bacchanalia that was Bordertown’s more or less annual Jamboree. Word had gone around town that thi year’s theme was “jazz funeral.” I was dressed as a Catrina from the Dia de los Muertos — a gorgeous femme skeleton in sultry widow’s weeds, complete with a massive picture hat.

I suppressed a sneeze; my sinuses were tingling. Juju breeze for true, blowing a withcy front of magic from the Realm into Bordertown. Juju weather always made things in Bordertown especially…interesting.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 207, Giant Episode: Hope Chest

Show Notes

Rated R: Contains violence.

Hope Chest

by Garth Nix

One dusty, slow morning in the summer of 1922, a passenger was left crying on the platform when the milk train pulled out of Denilburg after its five minute stop. No one noticed at first, what with the whistle from the train and the billowing steam and smoke and the labouring of the steel wheels upon the rails. The milk carter was busy with the cans, the station master with the mail. No one else was about, not when the full dawn was still half a cup of coffee away.

When the train had rounded the corner, taking its noise with it, the crying could be clearly heard. Milk carter and station master both looked up from their work and saw the source of the noise.

A baby, tightly swaddled in a pink blanket, was precariously balanced on a large steamer trunk on the very edge of the platform. With every cry and wriggle, the baby was moving closer to the side of the trunk. If she fell, she’d fall not only from the trunk, but from the platform, down to the rails four feet below.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 178, Giant Episode: Braiding the Ghosts

Braiding the Ghosts

by C.S.E. Cooney

That first year, when Nin was eight, she wanted her mother so desperately. But Noir was dead, she was dead, and would always be dead, thanks to Reshka.

Reshka liked to say, “I’m not above keeping ghosts in the house for handmaids and men-of-all-work. There must be ghosts for sweeping, for scrubbing, ghosts for plunging the toilets or repairing the roof, ghosts to fix the swamp cooler and to wash and dry the dishes. But,” said Reshka, “but I will be damned—I will be damned and in hell and dancing for the Devil—before I summon any daughter of mine from the grave.”

So Reshka had Noir cremated three days after her death. Afterward, she prepared the funeral feast in Noir and Nin’s small apartment kitchen.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 175, Giant Episode: El Regalo

Show Notes

Rated PG

El Regalo

by Peter S. Beagle

“You can’t kill him,” Mr. Luke said. “Your mother wouldn’t like it.” After some consideration, he added, “I’d be rather annoyed myself.”

“But wait,” Angie said, in the dramatic tones of a television commercial for some miraculous mop. “There’s more. I didn’t tell you about the brandied cupcakes—”

“Yes, you did.”

“And about him telling Jennifer Williams what I got her for her birthday, and she pitched a fit, because she had two of them already—”

“He meant well,” her father said cautiously. “I’m pretty sure.”

“And then when he finked to Mom about me and Orlando Cruz, and we weren’t doing anything—”

“Nevertheless. No killing.”

Angie brushed sweaty mouse-brown hair off her forehead and regrouped.

“Can I at least maim him a little? Trust me, he’s earned it.”

“I don’t doubt you,” Mr. Luke agreed. “But you’re fifteen, and Marvyn’s eight. Eight and a half. You’re bigger than he is, so beating him up isn’t fair. When you’re . . . oh, say, twenty-three, and he’s sixteen and a half—okay, you can try it then. Not until.”

Angie’s wordless grunt might or might not have been assent. She started out of the room, but her father called her back, holding out his right hand.

“Pinky- swear, kid.” Angie eyed him warily, but hooked her little finger around his without hesitation, which was a mistake. “You did that much too easily,” her father said, frowning. “Swear by Buffy.”

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 146: The Surgeon’s Tale (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated R

The Surgeon’s Tale

by Cat Rambo and Jeff VanderMeer

Down by the docks, you can smell the tide going out–surging from rotted fish, filth, and the briny sargassum that turns the pilings a mixture of purple and green. I don’t mind the smell; it reminds me of my youth. From the bungalow on the bay’s edge, I emerge most days to go beach-combing in the sands beneath the rotted piers. Soft crab skeletons and ghostly sausage wrappers mostly, but a coin or two as well.

Sometimes I see an old man when I’m hunting, a gangly fellow whose clothes hang loose. As though his limbs were sticks of chalk, wired together with ulnar ligaments of seaweed, pillowing bursae formed from the sacs of decaying anemones that clutter on the underside of the pier’s planking.

I worry that the sticks will snap if he steps too far too fast, and he will become past repair, past preservation, right in front of me. I draw diagrams in the sand flats to show him how he can safeguard himself with casings over his fragile limbs, the glyphs he should draw on his cuffs to strengthen his wrists. A thousand things I’ve learned here and at sea. But I don’t talk to him–he will have to figure it out from my scrawls when he comes upon them. If the sea doesn’t touch them first.

He seems haunted, like a mirror or a window that shows some landscape it’s never known. I’m as old as he is. I wonder if I look like him. If he too has trouble sleeping at night. And why he chose this patch of sand to pace and wander.

I will not talk to him. That would be like talking to myself: the surest path to madness.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 121: The Warlock and the Man of the Word (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated R: Contains Violence (Including Gore), and Language

This episode of PodCastle is proudly sponsored by:

The Native Star by M.K. Hobson

You can read the Prologue and Chapter 1 online now! Check back on Friday for an exclusive audio chapter read by M.K. Hobson!

The Warlock and the Man of the Word

by M.K. Hobson

Mrs. Jorgensen ran the whores out of a big square building that had once been butter-yellow but had weathered to the color of chicken fat left out on a plate. The place was built sturdy, of white pine and fir, and had fine scrollwork supporting the eaves. The windows were covered with stretched oilpaper, ripped in places. At night, behind the oilpaper, shadows moved in the light of kerosene lamps. Some of the shadows had horns, some did not.

The building had three floors. The saloon was on the ground level, and above it there were two floors of small rooms where the girls worked. It was in the room on the east corner of the top floor that the demon prince Methe Pyrtrogo was shot dead.

It was past midnight on a Saturday, a hot night after a day when the thermometer outside Jowett’s General Supply had risen to a hundred and three. The hot thick dark air was split by a sound like branches being snapped. Two cracks. No one downstairs heard the sounds. Miners from the Baby Boy and the Independence and the May Queen had gotten their monthly envelopes that day. There was every kind of miner in the dance hall that night–alive and undead, Indian and white, human and demon. The noise they made was deafening.

Then Minnie, a young whore with yellow hair, came stumbling down the stairs. She was splattered with black blood, a great deal of it, all over her face and the front of her dress.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 107: The Behold of the Eye (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated R for Foul-Mouthed Fairies and Ever-Shifting Landscapes

(Check out the shiny new Directors Notes iPhone App)

The Behold of the Eye

by Hal Duncan

Flashjack had hauled himself up beside her on the rim of the wine-glass he was skinnydipping in, shaken Rioja off his wings, and looked around at the crystal forest of the table-top he’d, just a few short hours ago, been born above in a moment of sheer whimsy, plinking into existence at the clink of a flippant toast to find himself a-flutter in a wild world of molten multicolour— mandalas wheeling on the walls and ceiling, edges of every straight line in the room streaming like snakes.  He’d skittered between trailers of wildly gesticulating hands, gyred on updrafts of laughter, danced in flames of lighters held up to joints, and landed on the nose of a snow-leopard that was lounging in the shadows of a corner of vision.  He’d found it a comfy place to watch one of the guests perform an amazing card trick with a Jack of Hearts, so he’d still been hunkered there, gawping like a loon at the whirl of the party, and making little flames shoot out of his fingertips (because he could), when Pebbleskip came fluttering down to dance in the air in front of him.

“Nice to get out once in a while, eh?” she’d said.  “Hi, I’m Pebbleskip.”

“I’m… Flashjack,” he’d decided.  “What’s in a while?  Is it like upon a time?  And out of what?”

Her face had scrunched, her head tilted in curiosity.

“Ah,” she’d said.  “You must be new.”

Since then she’d been explaining.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 93: The Mermaid’s Tea Party (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated R for carnivorous mermaids, sexual shenanigans in the presence of a minor, and near death experiences. This one’s not for the kiddies.

This episode was brought to you by The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, out now from Orbit. You can read the first three chapters of the book at

The Mermaid’s Tea Party

by Samantha Henderson

The mermaid barely slowed her breakneck pace as she approached and ran herself halfway up a yellow beach, belly-down and arching her back so her torso was almost upright. At the same time, she flung Cassandra casually upon the sand, half-knocking the breath out of her. Cassandra gulped for air, then scrambled as best she could up the beach, out of reach of the mermaid’s grasp — or so she profoundly hoped.

The mermaid watched her and made no move towards her, a nasty grin on her face.

“I’ll find the tea, and you’ll make us a party,” she said. “Then, maybe, I’ll bring you some food.”

Cassandra stared. Then the import of the creature’s words struck her and she looked around, beginning to panic. The island was perhaps a mile around and very flat, save where white ridges were raised above the surface. A large wave would have swamped it. A few trees she recognized from picture books as palms clustered off-center, a green haze underneath them. There was not much else.

Nothing to eat, certainly.

The sand clung in a fine film to her dress and bare legs, and itched. Miss Murchinson would have been scandalized.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 85: The Narcomancer (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated R for nightmares, broken oaths and mended persons.

This episode of PodCastle is illustrated! The illustration has been provided by Shaun Lindow.
Narcomancer Illustration by Shaun Lindow

The Narcomancer

by N.K. Jemisin

“Death is not a Gatherer’s business,” Cet said. Did the woman realize how greatly she had insulted him and all his brethren? For the first time in a very long while, he felt anger stir in his heart. “Peace is our business. Sharers do that by healing the flesh. Gatherers deal with the soul, judging those which are too corrupt or damaged to be salvaged and granting them the Goddess’ blessing — ”

“If you had learned your catechisms better you would understand that,” the Superior interjected smoothly. He threw Cet a mild look, doubtless to remind Cet that they could not expect better of ignorant country folk. “And you would have known there was no need for payment. In a situation like this, when the peace of many is under threat, it is the Temple’s duty to offer aid.” (Continue Reading…)