Archive for Rated PG

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PodCastle 702: Hummingbird

Show Notes

Rated PG


Hummingbird

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.


Catch

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…)

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PodCastle 690: The Gannet Girl

Show Notes

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

Show Notes

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…)

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PodCastle 685: Love, Your Flatmate

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Love, Your Flatmate

by Stephanie Burgis

From: Emmeline.Heatherton@gmail.com
To: faevix@hotmail.com
Subject: HELP

Mum,

I understand that you didn’t actually believe there would be a lockdown when you agreed to let your friend’s daughter stay at my flat ‘for just a week.’ (Remember that promise? I do. I also remember that you didn’t ask me first.) (You also remember, I am sure, that I sent you SEVERAL ARTICLES about that possible lockdown in the weeks beforehand. But…moving on. Deep breaths.)

I know that cultural exchange is healthy. I’m glad that you and Lady Silvana had such a wonderful time as flatmates all those years ago, and I understand that humans and fey have different attitudes because of our different lifespans and expectations. I get it, okay? As you’ve always reminded me, I haven’t done much travelling, but it’s not like I’ve made my assumptions about the fey based on trashy shows like Fey Nights. I grew up on your anecdotes, remember? (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle Miniature 102: What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide


What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide

by Eleanor R. Wood

The ball bounces off the tide-packed sand and Bailey leaps to catch it with lithe grace and accuracy. He returns to deposit it at my feet for another go. It’s nearly dusk; the beach is ours on this January evening. It stretches ahead, the rising tide low enough to give us ample time to reach the sea wall.

Bailey’s devotion to his ball is second only to his pack. He is never careless with it, relinquishing it only at my command or to give Bernie the occasional chase. Bernie brings up the rear, my shaggy bear, staying close but lacking Bailey’s fierce duty to his ball.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 671: TRIPLE FEATURE! A Mindreader’s Guide to Surviving Your First Year at the All-Girls Superhero Academy; Chameleon; The First Stop Is Always the Last

Show Notes

Rated PG.


A Mindreader’s Guide to Surviving Your First Year at the All-Girls Superhero Academy

by Jenn Reese

The day you arrive at the academy, you spend just three minutes outside the car before begging your mom to drive you back home. There are too many girls. They’re too loud. They’re laughing. Some of them are flying. Even if you weren’t a mindreader, you’d be overwhelmed.

Your mother, who took a day off work and has driven eleven hours straight to get you here, refuses. She is the worst mother ever.

A girl approaches, her eyes so sharp you expect her codename to be DAZZLE or CHARISMA or SINGULARITY. You can’t stop yourself from reading her mind: she calls herself Meg.

You refuse to shake Meg’s hand and demand that she leave you alone. You tell her your superpower and that nothing she thinks is safe from you. You tell her you don’t want or need friends.

You’re grateful she’s not a mindreader, too.

Meg shrugs and tells you she can blow things up with a thought. She offers to show you to your dorm. Bewildered, you hug your mother goodbye, grab your duffel, and follow Meg, whose hair is brown and whose eyes are lighter brown and whose codename should be TEMPEST or HURRICANE or AVALANCHE based on how she’s making you feel.

For the next three weeks, the days are a blur of headaches and other girls’ anxieties.

I’m not strong enough to stop a train.

I’m too slow to defuse the bomb.

My witty rejoinders are not actually witty.

That creepy mindreader is probably reading my mind.

(Continue Reading…)

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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…)