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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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British Fantasy Award Nominations


The 2021 British Fantasy Award shortlist has been announced, and we’re honoured to have been nominated once again in the Best Audio category! Our tentacled sister, PseudoPod, has also been nominated again in this category, so we’re in the very best company.

As if that wasn’t enough lovely news, one of our stories has also been nominated for Best Short Fiction. We’re delighted that “8-Bit Free Will”, by John Wiswell (PodCastle 654), is up for the award, and we’ll be on tenterhooks for John as well as ourselves.

And yet more news! Escape Artists’ Head Honcho Alasdair Stuart is also up for Best Nonfiction for his weekly pop culture newsletter, The Full Lid. Cake and balloons for everyone!

Winners will be announced at FantasyCon, which takes place this year on September 24th – 26th in Birmingham, UK.

Please join us in congratulating PseudoPod, John, Alasdair, and all the other nominees. Huge thanks from us here at the Flying Castle to all our listeners, our narrators, and our wonderful authors, and to our superb editorial team for all their hard work.

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PodCastle 689: Gitl Schneiderman Learns to Live With Her In-Laws

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Gitl Schneiderman Learns to Live With Her In-Laws

by Rebecca Fraimow

Shprintze, you nudnik,

Before you ask again, I’ve gotten all your letters scolding me for not writing—and Esther and Sarah’s too. Well, I’m sorry about it, but with one thing and another, my cousin’s kid crying all the time on the one side of me and Gitl crying all the time on the other, I haven’t had two wits to rub together, let alone two words to put onto a page for you. Anyway, what’s the point of going on a visit only to spend all your time talking to the same people you’d talk to at home? But everything’s calm to the point of boredom now, so I can spare a little time to catch you up, and then you can share this letter around and catch up everybody else. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 688: Aeaea on the Seas

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Aeaea on the Seas

by Hester J. Rook

“Oh, go to the crows,” I snarled under my breath as the knocker slammed home. The door was supposed to be a discouragement to visitors, large and heavy and dark, the handle made up of a curl of iron shaped like a beautiful maiden with fanged dogs at her thighs, eye tormented. Scylla, in the form I’d turned her into so many years ago: Remember my power. Do not come to me lightly.

But no, there it was again, a rapping that echoed through the old house.

“What’s wrong, flower?” Her voice was strangled down the phone.

“Don’t worry, darling. I just have a visitor.”

She chuckled, low and dry. “I really need to teach you my old trick for dealing with them.”

“You forget, my love. I have my own tricks.” (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 686: Guardian of the Gods


Guardian of the Gods

by Tobi Ogundiran

Ashâke shed her priestly raiment and slid into the river.

The water was surprisingly warm against her skin, like falling into the embrace of a mother. Ashâke liked to think that the divine cocoon of the river goddess herself embraced her, and if she listened carefully, she could just hear Osun revealing deep mysteries.

Ashâke muttered an invocation: “Osun iya mi. Iya olodo, iya ajose ati iloyun, iya arewa ati ife. Ba mi soro. Si ona okan re kio si se afihan kayefi re.

She sighed. The gods, like always, were deaf to her supplication. The other acolytes had long since been able to commune with the gods, to divine knowledge from the arbitrary patterns of cowrie-shells across divination boards. Soon they would choose their patron gods and become full priests, and eventually get sent out to other temples across the ten kingdoms. They would leave her, forever an acolyte, forever deaf to the gods. (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 684: In the Dim Below

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


In the Dim Below

by Teresa Milbrodt

This had been the routine since I was born, bombs coming every few years, or every few months, whenever there was another reason for everyone on one side of the river to get mad at everyone on other other side of the river, or vice versa. The sirens blew and we had to go inside, or down below, until the blasts stopped, the smoke mostly cleared, and we could come up and see what was left of the world.

It was bad when you were a kid. Bombs had no eyes to make decisions, couldn’t tell soldiers from children. Each of us had seen at least one friend’s body carried from a pile of stone that had once been a house. Our parents told us not to worry because they were shooting bombs back across the river to keep us safe. We didn’t know how that was supposed to stop the other bombs, or why faceless enemies imagined us as soldiers instead of friends. Didn’t they have kids on the other side of the river, kids who looked something like us? But we couldn’t ask questions, we just had to find a tiny space where bombs could not find us. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 683: Three for Hers

Show Notes

Rated R.


Three For Hers

by Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko

 

The second time one of Vida’s brothers came home with strips of flesh cut out of his back, she decided it was time for the Margrave’s rule to end.

‘Don’t go,’ her middle brother sobbed. His bandages had soaked through, blood clumping where it met the grimy floor. ‘I was brave and fierce, and it was not enough.’

‘Don’t go,’ her oldest brother pleaded. His back had scarred a long time ago. So had his spirit. ‘I was strong and stubborn, and it was not enough.’

‘Please don’t go.’ Her father’s face was the hardest to ignore. Vida bundled the last of her belongings. It did not take long: the Plemitschi allowed them only food and clothing.

‘We have served the rulers of this land since it was young.’ Vida looked down as she spoke. Her father remembered a time when their service had been freely given, one Yagichari to another. She did not wish to see that nostalgia on his face. ‘I will not stop now.’

‘I’ll go instead,’ her father said. ‘You cannot do this to your brothers. They rely on your good cheer. I cannot bear to see your heart harden in the Margrave’s service.’

Vida did not want to upset him. She did not say, My heart hardened the day the Plemitschi came. Or, My heart broke the day the plague broke out, and I have pretended ever since, for you and for my brothers, because I knew I was stronger. Or, There is no heart where the Plemitschi tread.

‘I will serve,’ Vida said, and left.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 682: TALES FROM THE VAULTS —Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

Show Notes

Rated R.

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 departing co-editor, C.L. Clark. “Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” originally aired as PodCastle 324.


Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

by Saladin Ahmed

I do not know how he brought us to this land of blood and iron masks. I know only that I am a real man trapped in a mad landscape of living lessons.

My brothers and I were spirited here from my home in…Damascus? Yes, praise be to God that I can remember that. The sound of the street-preachers, and the smells of the spice vendors’ stalls.

Damascus.

We were sipping tea in a room with green carpets, and I was laughing at a jest that…that someone was making. Who? The face, the voice, the name have been stolen from me. All I know is that my brothers and I suddenly found ourselves in this twisted place, each aware of the others’ fates, but unable to find one another. Unable to find any escape.

Now my eldest brother has been slain. And my next eldest brother has disappeared.

Who am I? I do not know how he changed our names. But in this world of lions and giants and the blinding shine of armor, I am called Joyless, as if it were a name.

It was not my name. It is not my name. But this is his place, and it follows his commands.