Archive for Rated PG

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PodCastle 700: Rulebook for Creating a Universe

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Rated PG

 

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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

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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…)

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PodCastle 690: The Gannet Girl

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Rated PG


The Gannet Girl

by Frances Rowat

They said Castermay’s mother had held sea-glass in her mouth when she’d lain with the girl’s father, and that was why Castermay was standoffish and still, tongue weighted by salt and sand, and eyes the colour of the leeside lichen found on the chalk rocks in the saw-bladed grass. Castermay was not warmly welcome in the village longhouse where she lived with the other children who had no brothers or sisters, but her mother’s work was too valuable for her to be turned away.

Her mother lived down on the beach in a small hard house built on a flat rock between high tide and low, the roof of which was a favored perch for gannets. Four times a year, clear sky or storm, she walked into the waves and cut herself to bleed for the sea with a heavy bone knife, and so the sea within a day’s sailing was thick with life. The village sustained itself, and had more to cure with smoke or salt and trade uproad and inland, and losses to the sea were lighter than they might otherwise have been.

Castermay worked like any other child of an age to do so; she pulled in her own weight and more on the days she worked the nets, and her fingers were sure and her knots were firm, if ungainly. When she did not work, she walked the strip of rough beach between high tide and low with her mother, or spoke with the gannets that rested on the roof. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 687: In September

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Rated PG


In September

by Aimee Ogden

On a humid night in mid-July, Emily can’t sleep. Her hand keeps sliding into the cool open space on the far side of the mattress. She slips out of bed and pads down the hall, into the kitchen. The breakfast barstool screeches when she pulls it out, but there’s no one in the house to wake. The wall calendar from the bank has a picture of some lake up north for this month; Emily flips ahead to August’s verdant farm, to September’s antique schoolhouse. She counts the days from here to there, as she has a hundred times before. (Continue Reading…)