Archive for Podcasts

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 607: TALES FROM THE VAULTS — Who in Mortal Chains

Show Notes

Rated R.


Who in Mortal Chains

by Claire Humphrey

I almost had friends in 1965.

Ryder was a brewer in those days, when brewing was a thing no one much cared to do. He was well loved among a circle of twenty or so, every one with a lost art. Mylene was a weaver; Tom worked leather; Eskil kept bees. Up on the mountain, Andy ran a print shop, with a hundred fonts of lead type, sorted by letter into a hundred wooden trays. Clifton made images with light: albumen prints, salt prints, silver negatives on glass.

I suppose I could have taught someone the art of the bayonet, or the language of signal-flags, but I was mostly just hanging around getting drunk with them. It was almost like hanging around people my own age, except that everyone my age is an asshole.

I did teach Ryder how to bake bannock over coals. We ate his first attempt with some of Eskil’s honey, and mugs of beer pulled from the cask. Clifton took a daguerreotype of all of us seated on blankets under the arbutus tree behind Ryder’s house.

He made copies for everyone, but I wrecked mine, of course.

The only thing I’ve managed to keep from that time is a rough forging from the shop of Jason the blacksmith. Steel, and therefore tempered against my temper. Jason would have made it a blade, but I told him I’d only end up cutting someone.

The rough forging sits now on the windowsill in my kitchen, half a continent away and four decades later. The window itself has been replaced by an ill-fitting piece of Plexiglas held in place with duct tape. The things I break, I cannot always fix.

To read the rest of this story, visit Strange Horizons

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 606: River’s Giving

Show Notes

Rated PG for jolly old beasts of terror.


River’s Giving

Heather Shaw, River Shaw, and Tim Pratt

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Alexander who lived in a village by a river in a valley in the shadow of a mountain. Every year when the days grew short and the air grew cold and the snow fell, the village would hold a celebration called River’s Giving. The festival kept spirits bright as darkness grew, and the people there looked forward to the cold of the longest night as much as they did the warmth of the longest day. At least they did until the year it all went wrong.

The young adults spent all summer tending sheep and spinning thread, and the older children spent the fall knitting long nets to string across the river. They decorated the nets with bright green sharp-edged leaves and sprigs of white and red berries that were no good for eating but beautiful for seeing. They also hung tiny bells all over the nets, and these jingled in the water, a sound that always meant joy to Alexander.

In the week before the festival, those adults who were so inclined would wield their slings and bows and stones and arrows to display their hunting prowess, or toss logs and heavy stones in shows of strength, all in friendly competition, with cheers for the winners and consolation drinks for the losers. Alexander’s mother usually came in second or third with the bow these days, after winning five straight years in a row. Some people said she was losing her touch, but Alexander’s father whispered that she just thought it was nice to let other people win sometimes. Life in the village was like that; people shared everything, even victory. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 605: Blood, Bone, Seed, Spark

Show Notes

Rated R for secrets, science, and sexuality.


Blood, Bone, Seed, Spark

By Aimee Ogden

Upstairs, in the little rowhouse on the thirty-sixth meridian of the city of Leth Marno, the scuffling grows louder. Heels ring out against the floorboards, and shouts are muffled; by the rugs, perhaps, or a hand that grasps to cover a mouth.

Anell Nath sits downstairs by the flower-arrangement pedestal. Her hands shake as she trims leaves from a bundle of pale peonies. She is more certain with the tools of her trade than with the instruments of the gentleperson’s art, but dissection scissors would make slow work of the thick waxy stems. As she works she counts the blows from the level above; categorizes and classifies each cry that makes its way down to her. Cool observation distances her from what is happening up there. That is her job, and always has been: to study, to take notes. To seek understanding, or at least knowledge.

Hasn’t she had enough understanding for a lifetime by now? How deep must understanding be, before she drowns in it? The blades of the shears snap methodically, and leaves fall to the ground between her bare feet.

Years of hard, grinding work in the library and the laboratory have honed the great desire of Anell’s heart into a scalpel, a sharp point ever driving toward that goal. The blade is so keen, though, that by its very nature it has flensed away everything else.

The shears are heavy in her hand. A scalpel would have been defter. She sits, and cuts, and waits. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 604: No Mercy to the Rest

Show Notes


No Mercy to the Rest

by Bennett North

Sadie parked in the lee of Castle Inferno, where she would be spared from the wind, and sat while the engine ticked, trying to convince herself to let go of the steering wheel.

The castle stood stark against the sky, dark stone walls leaching the saturation from the blue. One tower was burned out and soot-streaked. No sign of repair. Was Dr. Inferno hard up for cash or did fresh tarmac interfere with the mad scientist aesthetic?

Sadie grabbed the swinging St. Christopher medal from the rearview mirror and squeezed it. “Keep an eye on me, Gemma,” she said. “This is for you.”

The stairs that hugged the foundation ended at a pair of wooden doors set into a stone arch that had to be thirty feet tall. Sadie ducked into the corner of the arch, out of the wind, and pressed the plastic doorbell button.

Something heavy thunked inside, then one of the doors opened enough for a woman to lean out. She was white, with frizzy, graying hair, a Red Sox T-shirt, and jeans.

“Sadie Jones?” the woman asked, looking her up and down.

“That’s me,” said Sadie. “I’m looking for an . . . Igor?” (Continue Reading…)