Archive for Rated PG

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PodCastle 655: Mariska and Major

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Mariska and Major

By Damini Kane

Mariska is not an Indian name. I think that’s what caught my attention. She looked Indian enough, but there was something otherly about her, as though she spent too much time reliving childhood fantasies in her head. Still, she was nice, and we were neighbours, so we became friends.

She was the newest addition to our town. You wouldn’t know where I grew up; it doesn’t exist anymore. The people who lived there have moved on, their children based in expensive countries with jobs like Doctor and Lawyer and Techxpert. Our town was on a mountain. It snowed in the winters and burned in the summers. The little houses there were like grit in a nail bed, clinging to nooks and crevices in the rock, held together by a thread of a road. Sometimes, a bus would come to take us downhill, but we rarely ever boarded it. I believe my town might have been the last idyll in India, my country now full of choking cities. Today there’s a shopping mall over my home. The mountain was blown to pieces and in the winter, it is ash, not snow, that falls from the sky.

But this is not about any of that. Those are big things, Development, Environment, The Passage of Time. God knows I’m too small for such big things. This story can fit inside a coin purse. You could spend it at the corner store. You might drop it on the street and not even notice. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 654: 8-Bit Free Will

Show Notes

Rated PG.


8-Bit Free Will

By John Wiswell

They exist, then don’t exist, then exist again. They are monsters where the game’s probability fields call for them, attached to every tile of the dungeon. They are invisible to the player, whether they are there or not, until combat. If they’re lucky, they’ll get the chance to die.

The player always gets to exist, has always existed, and may as well always exist. The Hollow Knight and HealBlob don’t exist again until the player starts struggling with the other enemies. Then the Hollow Knight and HealBlob are re-spawned, to die in battle and smooth out the difficulty curve. They don’t exist long enough to know they’re in love before the player strikes. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 650: Luella Miller

Show Notes

Rated PG.


Close to the village street stood the one-story house in which Luella Miller, who had an evil name in the village, had dwelt. She had been dead for years, yet there were those in the village who, in spite of the clearer light which comes on a vantage-point from a long-past danger, half believed in the tale which they had heard from their childhood. In their hearts, although they scarcely would have owned it, was a survival of the wild horror and frenzied fear of their ancestors who had dwelt in the same age with Luella Miller. Young people even would stare with a shudder at the old house as they passed, and children never played around it as was their wont around an untenanted building. Not a window in the old Miller house was broken: the panes reflected the morning sunlight in patches of emerald and blue, and the latch of the sagging front door was never lifted, although no bolt secured it. Since Luella Miller had been carried out of it, the house had had no tenant except one friendless old soul who had no choice between that and the far-off shelter of the open sky. This old woman, who had survived her kindred and friends, lived in the house one week, then one morning no smoke came out of the chimney, and a body of neighbours, a score strong, entered and found her dead in her bed. There were dark whispers as to the cause of her death, and there were those who testified to an expression of fear so exalted that it showed forth the state of the departing soul upon the dead face. The old woman had been hale and hearty when she entered the house, and in seven days she was dead; it seemed that she had fallen a victim to some uncanny power. The minister talked in the pulpit with covert severity against the sin of superstition; still the belief prevailed. Not a soul in the village but would have chosen the almshouse rather than that dwelling. No vagrant, if he heard the tale, would seek shelter beneath that old roof, unhallowed by nearly half a century of superstitious fear. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 646: TALES FROM THE VAULTS — The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock

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 rerun and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by associate editor Emmalia Harrington. “The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock” originally aired as PodCastle 255.


The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock

by Pamela Rentz

Violet Spinks checked her to-do list for the ceremony: canoe, plants, medicine cap, trails. List-making might not be traditional, but no one would blame her for needing a brain prompt. She set the list in her medicine book and picked up the TV remote. She clicked through the channels and stopped when she spotted a young man with a torso like polished bronze. He shook out a bundle of black rubber cables and attached them to a shiny disk. The camera zoomed in on his brawny arms and legs as they worked the cables with the disk spinning in the middle. He looked like he wrestled a spider. A notice on the screen said three easy payments of $14.99 plus tax and shipping.


Find the rest of this story in the Red Tape anthology. You can find it here.