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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.


Thorns

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 711: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – The Red Priest’s Vigil

Show Notes

This episode was previously unrated by PodCastle staff.

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 tech barbarian, Graeme Dunlop. “The Red Priest’s Vigil” originally aired as PodCastle 256.


The Red Priest’s Vigil

by Dirk Flinthart

Your Grace:
I believe you are correct. Tomaso Dellaforte is the most dangerous man I have ever met.
I followed your instructions to the letter. Your information as to the whereabouts of the condottiere de Mortibus was accurate. It was with very little difficulty that I purchased the inn, and as a matter of goodwill, I was careful to retain all of the long-term tenants. De Mortibus lived in a room on the upper floor, and made a poor living as a teacher of weapons. I had expected more from the man who led the sack of Mallorze.
I allowed the passage of a month, in order to allay suspicion, before I began to administer the draft. Once again, I congratulate you on the accuracy of your information. Administered in wine, in precisely the proportions ordered, the poison produced in the man every symptom of a most terrible, wasting illness.

Though he had little money, to my alarm de Mortibus was afforded a chirurge by a patron: an old friend, I believe. I did not manage to ascertain who it may have been. In any case the chirurge professed himself puzzled, and bled the man profusely, to no avail. Indeed, I suspect his ministrations were responsible for a sharp decline in de Mortibus’ condition, and I was forced to reduce the proportion of the draft in the wine for a time. De Mortibus continued to fail.

Perhaps two months after I began this work upon him, de Mortibus confronted me in the kitchens. By this time he was much weakened, and could get about only with great effort. He had not been able to pursue his livelihood for some time, and had come to depend upon my charity, as I had planned. Therefore, something of trust and familiarity had grown between us, and I was not surprised when he sought me out alone.

“Take this, good Marotti,” he said to me, and pressed a sealed packet into my hand. “I beg you see it delivered to the hand of Konrad Heisenck, whose Free Company you will find in the city square this month. There is no other I may entrust with it, and I swear to you that it means more than my very life.” He forced the packet upon me, and even produced a gold coin which I made much play of refusing. I promised his letter would be delivered, and sent him to his bed with a stoup of hot wine.

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PodCastle 710: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – A Hollow Play

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 associate editor Devin Martin. “A Hollow Play” originally aired as PodCastle 277.


A Hollow Play

by Amal El-Mohtar

Dear Paige,

So, I’m here, but Anna’s not, and I awesomely left Memoirs of a Space Woman at home in spite of knowing I’d have two hours to kill, so I figure I’ll just keep writing to you.

Cabaret! I have no idea what to expect. Have you ever been to a cabaret show? I wasn’t sure how to dress for it either — when I asked Anna she just laughed and told me to use my imagination — so I’m wearing the red top you gave me, the button-down one with the sleeves that flare out and curl from the elbows. I can’t believe I still have it — it’s been, what, ten years, three moves? It’s not fitting so great now — since I started taking derby more seriously (I’m EMILY THE SLAYER now! Strong like Buffy!) my arms have gotten huge, and you should see the butt on me — but it’s still pretty and I love it, and it still matches my favourite earrings best.

I should probably tell you more about Anna, since obviously there’s more to her than being trans and my co-worker. She’s really great, and really cute — she just cut her hair short last week and dyed it bright orange-red, so she looks kind of like Leeloo from The Fifth Element. She’s vegan (sometimes I swear she likes the fact that I’m not, because it gives her an excuse to play “Meat is Murder” on loop in the cafe for the duration of my lunch break, which no one notices, because it sounds like every other Smiths song except the good ones, which she refuses to accept no matter how many times I explain it), an amazing cosplayer, and getting into burlesque. She hasn’t performed in public yet, just for friends in her living room, but she’s been developing this number that involves a chef’s hat, mixed greens, and oversized serving implements.

We’re not dating or anything. I’ve only known her for about a month, though it feels like way longer — and I refuse to entertain a crush, because she’s been in a closed poly triad for a while and they’re kind of going through a rough patch that she hasn’t told me much about. So I’ll tell you more about this cabaret thing instead.

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PodCastle 709: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – America Thief

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 associate editor Hamilton Perez. “America Thief” originally aired as PodCastle 319.


America Thief

by Alter S. Reiss

I looked around the table. Most of the people there weren’t paying much attention. Lansky looked a little embarrassed, and Siegel shook his head. “You want me to find out if Chaim Goldberg can turn lead into gold, or if he’s running some sort of scam,” I said.

“Of course he’s running a scam,” said Lansky. “I want to know how he’s doing it.”

“My friend Meyer is unfortunately narrow-minded,” said Rothstein. “I am willing to entertain the possibility that he’s getting his gold through means that are not generally considered possible. Which is why I have entrusted this task to your care.”

“So you want me to find out where Goldbug is getting his gold from,” I said. “And?”

“No and,” said Rothstein. “Just that. It’s a simple job, and I’ll give you a thousand dollars for doing it.”

“A thousand dollars is a lot of money, Benny,” said Legs, putting his oar in. “Live things up a little, show your girl a good time.”

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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 707: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints

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 associate editor Tierney Bailey. “Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints” originally aired as PodCastle 302.


Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

Jump up! Take arms! Bare teeth!

We fight for these sands.

Sink iron knives and white teeth into their scented flesh, their soft city flesh, those stealers of our homes. This is our city now, this desert with its winds that scour our cheeks, its dunes that join us in song, its rare springs that we lap at so gently. We once gulped rivers of rubies and pearls; now they do and we will never be able to claim them back. We will not let them take this final city of air and graveyards from us! Jump up!

We fight for these sands with everything we have and sometimes we forget the feel of a sister’s shoulder beneath our heads, we’ve been so long without sleep–but today will be remembered for more than this.

Today we retrieve the bodies of our Saints.

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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 705: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Selected Program Notes From the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer

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. Today’s bonus episode was chosen by associate editor Emmalia Harrington. “Selected Program Notes From the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer” originally aired as PodCastle 269.


Selected Program Notes From the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer

by Kenneth Schneyer

34.     Magda #4 (1989)
Oil on poplar wood, 30 x 21″
Private collection

Sometimes called “Devotion” by critics, this nude the earliest extant work featuring Magda Ridley Meszaros (1963-2023), Latimer’s favorite model and later her wife.  The lushness of the flesh and the rosiness of the skin are reminiscent of Renoir’s paintings of Aline Charigot (See, e.g., The Large Bathers (1887) (Fig. 8)).  Latimer maintains microscopic hyperrealism even as she employs radiating brushstrokes which emanate from the model, as if Meszaros is the source of reality itself.

Discussion questions:

a.      The materials and dimensions of this painting duplicate those of Da Vinci’s La Gioconda (c. 1503-1519) (Fig. 17).  Is this merely a compositional joke or homage by Latimer?  How does it change the way you see the painting?

b.      Most biographers agree that Latimer and Meszaros were already lovers by the time this work was completed.  Is this apparent from the composition or technique?  From the pose of the model?  As you proceed through the exhibit, note similarities and differences between this and other portrayals of Meszaros over the next 34 years.

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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 <bilingualbiologist@supermail.com>
To: <superbabymoms@superdupergroups.com>
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?