Archive for Rated PG

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PodCastle 713: Candy Canes, Comics, and Christmas

Show Notes

Rated PG

Candy Canes, Comics, and Christmas

by Gary McKay

I met Marlene atop Lily Hill on December 17th 1983, two weeks after my tenth birthday. The news of the Harrods bombing — the IRA’s crime against Christmas — was all the talk in Ballykey that afternoon, but I was too young to understand. I’d popped out to get some sweets and on a whim, decided to climb Lily Hill while the weather wasn’t awful. This was one of my favourite places to read superhero comics in peace — at home, Ma told me I was filling my head with nonsense and at school, both the boys and girls teased me. It’s grown in popularity in recent years as a tourist destination, but back then, not many people came to Lily Hill, which suited me just fine.

I didn’t realise someone was already there until I rounded the final bend of the hill. It was a girl with short, blonde hair, dressed in a jumper and skirt. A necklace with a series of stars on it hung from her neck. I paused and considered retreating, but she’d seen me. The girl waved and skipped over before I could move.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 712: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Thorns

Show Notes

Rated PG

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. Today’s bonus episode was chosen by associate editor Kaitlyn Zivanovich. “Thorns” originally aired as PodCastle 279.


by Martha Wells

We reached the landing above the Hall.  Below, Electra’s husband, Mr. John Dearing, was personally receiving a guest, a young man in the act of handing his greatcoat to the butler.

There were no guests expected, and just before the dinner hour is not considered an appropriate time for casual calls, yet Dearing was greeting this presumptuous fellow as a prodigal son.

He was a striking figure. (The guest, I mean.  Dearing is a stout bewhiskered muskrat of a man, a fit mate for Electra.)  Blond curls, broad shoulders, a chiseled profile.  I felt a feather of unease travel down my spine; old instincts rousing, perhaps.  His garments, though somewhat the worse for travel at this rainy time of year, were of fashionable cut and fine cloth.

Frowning, Electra caught the attention of one of the footmen stationed at the bottom of the stairs, and called him up to her to ask, “Why, William, whoever is that?”

“Madame, they say it’s a foreign Duke, the son of the King of Armantia.”

“I see,” Electra dismissed the man and looked to me, her mild dove eyes vaguely troubled.  “Oh, dear.  A prince.”

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PodCastle 708: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Ilse, Who Saw Clearly

Show Notes

Rated PG

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. Today’s bonus episode was chosen by associate editor Ziv Wities. “Ilse, Who Saw Clearly” originally aired as PodCastle 300.

Ilse, Who Saw Clearly

by E. Lily Yu

Once, among the indigo mountains of Germany, there was a kingdom of blue-eyed men and women whose blood was tinged blue with cold. The citizens were skilled in clockwork, escapements, and piano manufacture, and the clocks and pianos of that country were famous throughout the world. Their children pulled on rabbit-fur gloves before they sat down to practice their etudes, for it was so cold the notes rang and clanged in the air. It was coldest of all in the town on the highest mountain, where there lived a girl called Ilse, who was neither beautiful nor ugly, neither good nor wicked. Yet she was not quite undistinguished, because she was in love.

One afternoon, when the air was glittering with the sounds of innumerable pianos, a stranger as stout as a barrel and swathed to his nosetip walked through the town, singing. Where he walked the pianos fell silent, and wheat-haired boys and girls cracked shutters into the bitter cold to peep at him. And what he sang was this:

Ice for sale, eyes for sale,
If your complexion be dark or pale
If your old eyes be sharp or frail,
Come buy, come buy, bright ice for sale!

Only his listeners could not tell whether he was selling ice or eyes, because he spoke in an odd accent and through a thick scarf.

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PodCastle 706: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – The Newsboy’s Last Stand

Show Notes

Rated PG

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by associate editor Sofia Barker. “The Newsboy’s Last Stand” originally aired as PodCastle 365.

The Newsboy’s Last Stand

by Krystal Claxton

She stood up on her tip-toes, extending a slightly wilted white daisy up to Romulus, her whole body pointed and straight in the effort of reaching something that was entirely beyond her reach.

For his part Romulus knelt down and took the flower and gave her a sad smile and watched her run back across the street. And even though he had another line of news, it was sad, so he called it quits for the day and went home. He put the daisy in a jar of water and ate his cake from the bakery (yes, the bakery, not the cakery) and went to sleep.

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PodCastle 704: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Where Virtue Lives

Show Notes

Rated PG

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by our audio engineer, Peter Adrian Behravesh. “Where Virtue Lives” originally aired as PodCastle 246.

Where Virtue Lives

by Saladin Ahmed

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the best ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat, was weary. Two and a half bars of thousand-sheet pastry sat on his plate, their honey and pistachio glazed layers glistening in the sunlight that streamed into Yehyeh’s teahouse. Adoulla let out a belch. Only two hours awake. Only partway through my pastry and cardamom tea, and already a panicked man stands chattering to me about a monster! God help me.

He brushed green and gold pastry bits from his fingers onto his spotless kaftan. Magically, the crumbs and honey-spots slid from his garment to the floor, leaving no stain. The kaftan was as white as the moon. Its folds seemed to go on forever, much like the man sitting before him.

“That hissing! I’m telling you, I didn’t mean to leave her. But by God, I was so scared!” Hafi, the younger cousin of Adoulla’s dear friend Yehyeh, had said “I’m telling you” twelve times already. Repetition helped folk talk away their fear, so Adoulla had let the man go on for a while. He had heard the story thrice now, listening for the inconsistencies fear introduces to memories– even honest men’s memories.

Adoulla knew some of what he faced. A water ghul had abducted Hafi’s wife, dragging her toward a red riverboat with eyes painted on its prow. Adoulla didn’t need to hear any more from Hafi. What he needed was more tea. But there was no time.

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PodCastle 703: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Super-Baby-Moms Group Saves the Day

Show Notes

Rated PG

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by associate editor Aidan Doyle. “Super-Baby-Moms Group Saves the Day” originally aired as PodCastle 356.

Super-Baby-Moms Group Saves the Day

by Tina Connolly

From: Stef Jones-Tanaka <>
To: <>
Subject: Intros

Hey Super Moms! Here’s the email group I mentioned to a couple of you at preschool today. Teacher Stacie said there are four of us families in the system right now at Little Darlings Preschool and shared your emails with me–hope that’s ok! I think we can learn from each other!

Please go ahead and introduce yourself and your kids, and feel free to share a problem you’re having right now. Chances are you’re not alone.

As for me, I have twin four-year-olds Isabel Ko and Beatrix Ai. Isabel has super strength and Beatrix has X-ray vision. Isabel is going through a hitting phase. Our front door has been obliterated twice. Beatrix knows all about sex from looking through the neighbors’ walls (apparently the neighbors have way more fun than we do.) I’m tempted to put both girls in a cement dome covered in foil until they’re twenty.

Hope to hear from you all!

hugs, Stef

Live each day like the planet might explode tomorrow. Who knows, right?

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PodCastle 702: Hummingbird

Show Notes

Rated PG


by Eisuke Aikawa and Toshiya Kamei

The translucent Ōe-san steps out of the bathroom and sits at the table as usual. He spreads butter on an invisible slice of bread, takes a bite, and chews it, holding the morning paper in his other hand. Just like a mime. I sit on the floor and observe his movements.

He showed up about a month ago.

Of course, his sudden apparition took me by surprise, even frightened me. To my dismay, his ghost spends his days in my apartment. On top of that, he owned this place before I moved in.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 701: Flash Fiction Extravaganza — Flash Fiction Contest VI

Show Notes

Rated PG.


By Ally Chua

“There’s a monster under my bed,” my son said, stifling his yawn.

I looked at Timmy, his sleepy eyes hidden beneath a mop of messy hair.

I ruffled his head and nodded. “I’m sure.”

“It keeps kicking my bed at night, Dad. He wants to play.”

“Oh, yeah? Is that why you’re yawning?”

Timmy shrugged. “Sometimes I throw paper balls for him to catch.”

I thought about the crumpled paper balls I had seen in his room recently. “Well, tell him I don’t like messy rooms.” (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 700: Rulebook for Creating a Universe

Show Notes

Rated PG


Novel promotion!

The Annual Migration of Clouds is a “cli-fi” post-apocalyptic novella by author Premee Mohamed. It takes place in the distant future, after the climate crisis has entirely disrupted life as we know it, and a mysterious mind-controlling fungus has wormed its way through the scattered population. The story focuses on a choice: Reid, a young woman who carries this parasite, has been given a chance to move far away, to study in one of the few communities sustained by pre-disaster technology, but her mother is ill, and in a world where the planting season is planned down to the minute, every body counts. It’s not easy for her to leave her loved ones behind. To set her family up for life, Reid decides to take part in a foolhardy and dangerous mission. To accomplish this task, she must ask others to put great trust in her, but she can’t easily separate her own thoughts from the parasite’s will, making it difficult for her to even trust herself.

If you’re not yet familiar with Premee Mohamed, you’re sure to hear of her soon. She’s an Indo-Caribbean scientist and author based in Edmonton, Alberta, where this book is set, and a rising star in speculative fiction. Premee is a biologist and works in the field of climate science, so the depiction of Reid’s parasitic passengers is eerily plausible, and the climate disaster scenarios in the book are grounded in modern-day research predicting an all-too-likely future.

Yet there’s still hope to be found here: rather than doubling down on the hardships of life-after-technology as so many gritty apocalyptic novels do, this book’s focus is on connection and friendship, the things that bind us together. It shows the world moving forward after terrible hardships — including natural disaster and plague — and reflects upon the importance of community, our duty to take care of one another, and our collective ability to get through difficult times. In other words, it is exactly the sort of book we need right now.

Rulebook for Creating a Universe

by Tashan Mehta

In an island that floats at the beginning of time, there is a Rulebook for Creating a Universe. This book is old, with instructions on how to make forever-worlds. It says, “When stitching a universe, think carefully about the kind of sun you want. Will it be hot or cold, moss or vein? Your sun will last forever and your planetary color palettes will depend on it. Choose wisely. Follow the blueprint.” (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 699: The Last Petal

Show Notes

Rated PG

The Last Petal

by Anna Madden

Miss Lily Dale preferred hands to faces. Hands told a story that faces could hide.

Her father’s hands had become so gaunt, so fidgety. A shipping merchant without ships was a man without a livelihood. He spent his days inside their new home writing letters to the port master. The ink looked like dried blood under his fingers.

A good daughter wore a smile, but Lily’s lips faltered, betraying her. “I’m headed to market, Papa. I’m going to—”

“Go along then, child. I must finish this.” His attention barely wavered from his parchment.

Lily drew back. Better she had been born a son, destined to build rather than hinder. As matters stood, her father had sold off their valuables to pay off the debt collectors, and there was little she could do to help. (Continue Reading…)