Archive for Rated G

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PodCastle Miniature 008: Believe

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains quarters in unexpected places.


Believe

by Katherine Sparrow

“I’ve been practicing.”

Kenya nods her head. “It takes a lot of practice.”

“How long did it take you?”

“Forever!” Kenya claps her hands and makes two more quarters appear. At lunch she buys two chocolate milks with her quarters and gives one to Maria. It is sweet and thick and better than the wheat bread and yellow rubber-cheese sandwich her Mom packed for her.

They have a test in long division after lunch and Maria feels mad that Kenya can just get an ‘A’ with magic but she has to work hard. She knows how to do it but keeps forgetting to carry the ones and the twos and the only thing that matters to the teacher is getting the answer right. I believe I’ll get an A, Maria thinks as hard as she can. D into A, D into A!

“Can you do more magic?” Maria asks Kenya at recess.

“Yes.”

“Will you show me?”

“Maybe tomorrow. I have to believe more first.”

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PC018: Illuminated Dragon

Show Notes

Rated G. Warning: contains mythical creatures such as dragons and mermaids. May be illegal in some jurisdictions.


Illuminated Dragon

by Sarah Prineas

The neatly lettered sign hung askew. Shards of glass spilled out from the front window, and scraps of charred paper blew around the front door, which hung crookedly from one hinge. Rafe came closer and, shaking, peered into his shop.

Shredded papers lay everywhere, in drifts on the floor and the worktable. Any representation of human or animal, Rafe knew, had been hacked out and burnt; the hearth was choked with ash and half-charred pages. Across one wall was a splash of vivid vermilion. The other colors had been tipped onto the floor and ground underfoot. Rafe crept further in, shards of the broken window crunching underfoot. With trembling hands, Rafe opened the book.

The bestiary was missing from its wooden stand in the corner. Rafe fell to his knees, pushing tattered papers aside, searching for it. A shard of glass cut his hand, and he left bloody fingerprints on every page that he touched. At last he found the book underneath his worktable, and for a moment his heart leapt; it seemed to be unharmed. With trembling hands, Rafe opened the book. He looked at it for a long moment, then closed it and laid it gently on the floor.

Most of the destruction in the shop had been done by unsubtle thinkers, typical Men of Truth, all brutality and swagger and the knowledge that they were, absolutely and rationally, Right.

But someone else had done the book. Someone subtle, surgical. The pages were nearly untouched. Except that every illuminated picture, every dragon, pard, gryphon, or mermaid, had been carefully and neatly excised.

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PC017: Goblin Lullaby

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains not necessarily overlapping groups of heroes and good guys.


Goblin Lullaby

by Jim C. Hines

“I’ve never seen a goblin infant,” said the elf, stepping closer.

“You thought goblins sprang fully formed from the rocks for you to slaughter?”  She jammed a knuckle into Jig’s mouth for him to suck.  His baby fangs were just beginning to pierce the gums, but the pain in her finger was better than listening to him cry.

“We slaughtered nobody.”  The voice came from below the outcropping.  The elf relaxed his bow and knelt, hauling his companion up onto the ledge. “You goblins attacked us.  We defended ourselves.”

Grell stepped to the edge and studied the woods below.  Goblin blood turned the earth a gruesome shade of blue.  Elves wove through the trees, making no noise save the twang of bowstrings and the ripping sound of blades tearing through goblin armor and flesh.  “Defended yourselves?  Next time, why don’t you defend yourselves over in the hobgoblin tunnels rather than sneaking onto our land to do it?”

The archer caught his companion by the arm.  “She’s an old woman, Jonathan. With a child.”

“She’s a goblin, Rindar.”  But he relaxed slightly.  He was bulkier than his companion, and the mane of red hair meant he was no elf.  Red stubble dotted his chin, though he was too young to grow a proper beard.  He wore a heavy mail shirt, with a green tabard depicting a white dragon coiled around a tree.  “If we let her live, she’ll lead another attack against us.”

Grell kicked the corpse of the goblin drummer.  “If you let me live, I’ll go back to the nursery and get some sleep.”

“I won’t risk letting you go free,” said Jonathan.  “Not until my quest is complete.”

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PodCastle Miniature 005: Directions

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains a journey into rampant surrealism.


Directions

by Caleb Wilson

Some things you will need are a full tank of gas, a flashlight, an axe, a bicycle.

Heading north on Route 110, turn left onto Entwhistle. The street will be paved in dark, fresh asphalt and tree-lined. The web of shadows, light dark light, will fall through the teeth of the leaves onto the windshield. Drive through four lights and beneath an iron railroad bridge.

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PC012: Barrens Dance

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains strange animals and high magic.


Barrens Dance

by Peter S. Beagle

Carcharos. One tends to think of wizards either as bearded and severe, bearded and bumblingly kindly, or bearded and dark and vaguely sinister. Carcharos was none of these things. There were broad blond planes to his friendly face, and if his blue eyes were a bit small, they were yet as candid as they could have been. His hair was red-gold in any light, as though the sun were always behind him. When he spoke, there was a deep thrum to his voice, like the singing of a giant cicada. There was no one living in the Barrens who was not afraid of Carcharos.

Yes, there was. One person. But that comes later in the story.

 

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PodCastle Miniature 002: Giant

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains a heart, once carefully hidden.

Why PodCastle miniatures? According to wikipedia, the word miniature is derived from the Latin minium, red lead, and is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript. We thought it was a good way to describe very short stories with a fantasy theme: a word that indicates brevity, manuscripts, and a medieval atmosphere.


A few words on “Giant,” from Associate Editor Ann Leckie:

Today’s story is a riff on the classic trope of The Giant Who Had No Heart which you can take a gander at on wikipedia, if you happen to be unfamiliar.

Nearly every culture has fairy tales, and many of them are strikingly similar to tales told by other, very distant peoples.  That may be the long process of transmission between different groups, stories passed along in a game of telephone thousands of years long, or it may be that fairy tales spring from, and engage, something basic in human psychology. It’s hard to say, really.

The tales themselves are stripped down, very concise and economical. Close-in examination of a character’s psyche, or even more than rudimentary character development, doesn’t exist in fairy tales. Even in stories with little or no magic, strange things happen with no obvious reasons, let alone explanation. We may hear of beautiful maidens, perhaps even with hair of ebony or flax, shining dresses of gold or silver, mountains of glass–but without much in the way of detail.

And good and evil are clearly marked. We know which is which–one sister speaks, and jewels fall out of her mouth. The other utters toads. There are no qualifications, no mitigating circumstances, no shades of gray. It’s all very straightforward.

Today’s story is “Giant” by Stephanie Burgis. It plays on a tale that’s very popular, one that, like most fairy tales, has plenty of variants. It’s the story of the ogre who’s hidden his heart–or sometimes his soul–in an unlikely and hard to reach place. His vulnerability is in an iron box at the bottom of the sea. Or in an egg in the mouth of a fish inside a crow that came from a deer. Or else he can only be killed in very specific, very unlikely circumstances. But once the secret is known, he’s vulnerable.

What does it mean to have to hide one’s heart? To never be able to trust anyone — even one’s own beloved — with the secrets of one’s own existence? To always have to protect your heart from those closest to you within the egg, inside the crow that came from the deer?

But, of course, since we’re talking fairy tales, the ogre must be evil. Surely. Surely, he must deserve his fate.


Giant

by Stephanie Burgis

I’ve hidden my heart in an egg, in a box, in a well at the end of the world. My father taught me that trick a long time ago.

If I’d kept my heart, I would be in trouble now. This princess is too beautiful.

 

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PodCastle Miniature 001: Stone Born

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains children, school buses, and elves.

An Escape Pod flash fiction contest submission.
Flash Fiction Contest thread for Stone Born

*According to wikipedia, the word miniature is derived from the Latin minium, red lead, and is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript. We thought it was a good way to describe very short stories with a fantasy theme: a word that indicates brievity, manuscripts, and a medieval atmosphere.


Stone Born

by Loreen Heneghan

They weren’t friends — she being a girl. Plus she had a crooked smile, a  snorting laugh, and a face like some stone-age ax. Even so, he and Brenda were the last kids on the bus route out past those cliffs. Mark let her sit with him when all the other boys were gone. He’d heard her parents were fighting over her, too. Fighting mean.

They never talked about that. As they rumbled along, Brenda taught him to look forward, never turning, even when the faces were like a crowd at the edge of the road. It was cool, like seeing into a strange, goblin world.