300 episodes

PodCastle is the world’s first audio fantasy magazine. Weekly, we broadcast the best in fantasy short stories, running the gammut from heart-pounding sword and sorcery, to strange surrealist tales, to gritty urban fantasy, to the psychological depth of magical realism. Our podcast features authors including N.K. Jemisin, Peter S. Beagle, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Jim C. Hines, and Cat Rambo, among others.



Terry Pratchett once wrote, “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” Tune in to PodCastle each Tuesday for our weekly tale, and spend the length of a morning commute giving your imagination a work out.

PodCastle Escape Artists, Inc

    • Fiction
    • 4.6 • 467 Ratings

PodCastle is the world’s first audio fantasy magazine. Weekly, we broadcast the best in fantasy short stories, running the gammut from heart-pounding sword and sorcery, to strange surrealist tales, to gritty urban fantasy, to the psychological depth of magical realism. Our podcast features authors including N.K. Jemisin, Peter S. Beagle, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Jim C. Hines, and Cat Rambo, among others.



Terry Pratchett once wrote, “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” Tune in to PodCastle each Tuesday for our weekly tale, and spend the length of a morning commute giving your imagination a work out.

    PodCastle 741: Between The Island and the Deep Blue Sea

    PodCastle 741: Between The Island and the Deep Blue Sea

    * Author : Jaxon Tempest

    * Narrator : Soleil Knowles

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Eric Valdes

    *

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    PodCastle 741: Between The Island and the Deep Blue Sea is a PodCastle original.





    Rated PG-13

    Between The Island and the Deep Blue Sea

    By Jaxon Tempest

     

    No one knew how the island floated, but everyone knew it shouldn’t.

    Four thousand square miles of concrete bones and metal veins, a million people circulating daily, and yet it sat in the middle of the Atlantic like a feather on a still pond. Even those with the most rudimentary understanding of physics would cry b******t. Everyone had their theories, of course. Some called it an act of God, others a miracle of science, and a small yet loud minority called it a 10G interface meant to hack into their minds as a part of the new world order. When the three clashed, normal family dinners and rail rides to work turned into a three-ring circus of physics, theology and conspiracy theories.

    I watched their interactions with a subdued smile. They were wrong, but their commitment to their ideals was adorable.

    In rare instances, the three sides of the debate came together — when outside forces got involved. They came in the form of greedy foreigners with deep pockets and silver tongues. The Bahamas was no stranger to such people, even before the sea rose over the islands. They promised investments and jobs and economic boosts, then took all their money and fled the country at the slightest inconvenience.

    It wasn’t different now. Instead of exploiting the sun, sand, and sea, they exploited the island’s secret, chased it like a cryptid. They came with cameras, diving equipment, and promises to uncover the mystery. Despite the warnings from the locals, they dove into the tongue of the ocean.

    I killed them all.

    First, it was a German engineer who thought the island possessed some secret technology she could replicate. I snapped her neck before she made it fifty feet down. Then came the BBC film crew, twenty strong. The metallic tang of their blood tainted the water for days. I popped the head off a social media influencer and left it on the south sea wall, hoping, in vain, it would deter them.

    Human stupidity was as vast and endless as the stars, and as surely as stars burned until they burst, they kept coming. Scientists, free divers, hobbyists. They treated the island’s secret like some grand discovery they could name after themselves or a feat to be conquered — the Mount Everest of the ocean. I’d sooner claw my way to the earth’s core and die in a fiery ball of torment before someone planted their raggedy flag in my domain.

    At least my humans knew how to conduct themselves. They spent their summers carousing instead of diving into my waters. Goombay season, they called it, a time of food and drink and Junkanoo. My favorite time of the year.

    Lucaya Square was awash in aqua and gold light and draped in colorful feathers and strings of beads. People drifted from end to end, wrapped in luminescent clothes that turned their bodies into walking raves. Vendors lined the east and west side, wafting steam from their carts coloring the air with the scents of conch fritters and grouper fingers. Blenders whirred, bottles shook and cups overflowed with rum and daiquiris.

    It was bright. It was loud. It was glorious.

    No one gave me a second glance as I waded through the sea of bodies. I looked just like them,

    • 26 min
    PodCastle 740: Beck’s Pest Control and the Case of the Drag Show Downer

    PodCastle 740: Beck’s Pest Control and the Case of the Drag Show Downer

    * Author : Abra Staffin-Wiebe

    * Narrator : Christiana Ellis

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Devin Martin

    *

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    PodCastle 740: Beck’s Pest Control and the Case of the Drag Show Downer is a PodCastle original.





    Rated PG-13

    Beck’s Pest Control and the Case of the Drag Show Downer

    by Abra Staffin-Wiebe

     

    I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast and arguing with my daughter, when my work phone broke the silence of our discussion.

    Not happening, I signed, quickly swallowing my last bite of peanut butter toast so I could talk on the phone. Bedbug infestations are a no-go.

    Moooooom, she answered, holding the word for emphasis. You promised!

    “Beck’s Pest Control,” I answered my phone. “This is Beck. How can we help you?”

    My mind was still on my argument with my daughter. I had promised, a month ago. You can’t break promises to kids, not even when they ambush you in a moment of weakness. And I confess, I was proud of her grasp of strategy.

    Annie’s a smart, observant girl. She waited until I came back from a rough call. She ran me a bubble bath. She let me soak away the last traces of puke and ectoplasm. She waited until I settled into my armchair with a cup of hot chocolate, also provided by her. Then she’d sprung her request on me.

    “Yeah,” a male voice answered me. “José Hernández said you might be able to . . . fix my problem?”



    I perked up at the hesitation in his voice. Hesitation meant this was probably one of my unusual — and therefore better-paying — gigs. José’s had been.

    “What’s the problem? Beck’s Pest Control can help.” I signed, Job.

    Annie rolled her eyes. Not done talking about this.

    I nodded my capitulation. Later.

    I would follow through on my promise to take her class on a field trip. After all, she’d already made sure the parents met me and signed permission slips on Career Day. But there was no way in hell I was taking a class of kids into a bedbug-ridden apartment.

    I was determined that Annie wouldn’t suffer socially because her mom was the gross bug lady. It was hard enough being raised by a single mom who was also a small business owner. I would never forgive Melissa for leaving us when Annie was only five, when we started to realize the full extent of how our daughter’s profound deafness would affect our lives.

    Annie liked her high school. She was doing great in her classes and she’d made friends. I was relieved by how well she was settling into high school, because there aren’t a lot of choices for Deaf schools. I did not want to screw that up.

    “You have to experience it to understand,” my new client said.

    If I had a dollar for every time a man told me that, I wouldn’t have to worry about paying for Annie’s summer astronomy camp.

    I grabbed my pad of job forms. “Your name?”

    “Justin Coleman. I own The Juicy Patty.”

    I recognized the name. “The burger joint?”

    “Yeah. We open at 11 a.m. Can you meet me then?”

    “Sure.” Interesting. Most property owners tried to keep pest control away from paying customers.

    The drive to school was usually a peaceful time in my day. Today, though, I could tell that Annie was up to something. She was practically bouncing in her seat. It wasn’t the field trip, because I’d already agreed to discuss that later.

    She sprang it on me as soon as I pulled up to the student drop-off point.

    • 47 min
    PodCastle 739: ‘Til Death

    PodCastle 739: ‘Til Death

    * Author : C.J. Lavigne

    * Narrator : Nicola Seaton-Clark

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Eric Valdes

    *

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    PodCastle 739: ‘Til Death is a PodCastle original.





    Content warnings for grief





    Rated PG-13

    ‘Til Death

    by C. J. Lavigne

     

    My dear Clarinda,

    They tell me that when you heard of my wedding, you shattered a goblet, fell to the floor in a swooning fit, and did not arise for three days. I hear that the entirety of the manor was wreathed in black. Really, darling, it seems a bit much. I’m fine.

    I know it’s not the choice you would have made. If it’s any consolation . . . in the moment when I found myself there, caught between the noble prince and the eternal night, I did think of you. It was all very dramatic, Jordan standing there in a shaft of brilliant light, his hand outstretched, begging me to leave Gareth’s side. I was glad he’d thought to break the window boards, or that whole scene would have been significantly bloodier; I could feel Gareth, pressed against my back, and his fingers were gentle on my shoulder but his teeth were bared.

    Your voice was there, I promise. I heard you say think of the sunlight and death is what gives life meaning and he has loved you since childhood and, yes, all of it was true. So please don’t feel guilty; don’t think “if I’d only been there” or “she was confused” or “I could have changed her mind.” I wasn’t confused. You didn’t change my mind. But I know you, and I knew you would have tried.

    We are very different people, you and I.

    I hope, though, that we can still be friends. I assure you, I retain all of our life’s affections, and I wish you only the best. I won’t visit; Gareth tells me it will take time before the bloodlust abates, and I do not wish to frighten or harm you. But write back! Just give the parchment to a spider, or a bat — leave it on the windowsill, if you like. They will know it’s for me.

     

    All my heart,

    D.





     

    Clarinda darling,

    You wrote! I shall be delighted at that instead of worrying about exactly how many exclamation marks you used, and — Clarinda, I didn’t know you could be so vulgar. I have clearly had more of an influence on you than I thought.

    You have so many questions. I can’t be surprised about that.

    First of all, no, it doesn’t hurt. It’s strange; I don’t miss the sunlight, but I do occasionally miss the oddest things, like the taste of roast beef with gravy or the smell of strawberries. I suppose I could smell strawberries if I wanted to; there just aren’t any here. It’s mostly stone and wind. I’ve been ordering weaving from the village — honestly, who goes three centuries without once changing the drapes? It’s not that I’m particularly fussy; it’s just that all the bat droppings are a bit much.

    Second, I do regret that Jordan is sad. Please make sure he eats, and gets out on his horse, and goes to those jousts that he likes. You’re not wrong: I did love him. He was warm summers and stolen kisses in the stables; he was my first dance. He gave me my first sword.

    He stood there bleeding and bruised with his whole heart in his eyes, and I won’t lie to you: I almost ran to him.

    But please understand that Gareth was behind me, poised there in the shadows with all of his broken edges and his terrible, beautiful smile. Jordan will smile for anyone. Gareth smiles only for me,

    • 36 min
    PodCastle 738: The Bones Beneath

    PodCastle 738: The Bones Beneath

    * Author : Vanessa Fogg

    * Narrator : Tatiana Grey

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Devin Martin

    *

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    PodCastle 738: The Bones Beneath is a PodCastle original.





    Content warnings for violence and death





    Rated PG-13

    The Bones Beneath

    by Vanessa Fogg

     

    Four years ago, the bones began pushing up from the earth. Fay is now seventeen, and she feels the bones’ movements more strongly each year. It’s the end of winter, but not yet the beginning of spring. Snowmelt has turned the fields to mud, and the grass is dead and brown. The trees still bare, the air still chill. Mist in the morning, or her own breath white as frost.

    She wakes in the darkness, dresses, and combs her hair. She puts the tea kettle on the stove, heats bread on the griddle beside it. Her father has already left for his job in the local government’s accounting office. Her mother lies abed late. Like many, Fay’s mother suffers spells of sleeplessness and dizziness at this time of year, and headaches that make her cover her eyes.

    Fay leaves a bit of bread on a plate for her little brother when he wakes. She closes the front door behind her.

    The bare field is on the outskirts of town, several miles away. But she can still feel it as she walks to school. She feels the movement of buried bones there, the remains of the little creatures of the earth — mice, voles, and moles. Things that once saw light, and things that stayed underground, blind and digging. Hidden things, forgotten things.

    Deep underneath, the earth is frozen. But it’s thawing near the surface. Fay feels the twitch and shiver of waking bones in the dirt, like the wingbeats of new birds trying to fly.



    The first-hour teacher is new. A young woman straight out of university, arrived from the capital six months ago. The last teacher left after a nervous breakdown. And the one before that . . .

    The students don’t speak of it. Just as they don’t speak of their missing peers. The ones fled, disappeared, or worse.

    They stand at attention for the morning announcements. A voice over the loudspeaker proclaims the nation’s strength and solidarity, its soaring economy. Snippets of news are read: a new factory is being built in the next province over; schoolchildren are doing good charity works; a teenage boy has saved a child from a river-drowning.

    The teacher’s shoes click on the floor as she strides back and forth at the front of the room. She writes equations that fill the chalkboard. She’s gamely doing her part to educate the nation’s young, to prepare them for the future.

    At the back of the room, a girl sobs quietly, her head in her arms.

    Outside, it begins to rain. Fay listens to the patter on the window. In her mind, she sees the water rushing through the streets and flooding the fields. Mixing with snowmelt, and seeping into the hidden pockets of earth.



    Fay thinks of Tess as the rain pours down. Tess who loved the rain, who splashed in puddles and played in the mud. Who loved digging holes in the dirt, looking for worms and beetles to overturn. Tess who climbed trees to peer into birds’ nests, who planted special flowers just for the butterflies, who rescued an injured mouse and kept it as a pet; Tess who loved every animal. Tess who was full of stories, who believed in magic. Who made Fay believe, too.

    Tess who is gone, and all the bright colors of the world with her.

    • 46 min
    PodCastle 737: The Eight Hundred Legs of the Rio-Niterói Bridge

    PodCastle 737: The Eight Hundred Legs of the Rio-Niterói Bridge

    * Author : Renan Bernardo

    * Narrator : Diogo Ramos

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Eric Valdes

    *

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    PodCastle 737: The Eight Hundred Legs of the Rio-Niterói Bridge is a PodCastle original.





    Content warnings for death of a parent, grief, and brief mentions of torture





    Rated PG-13

    The Eight Hundred Legs of the Rio-Niterói Bridge

    by Renan Bernardo

     

    Have you seen pictures of the unfinished Presidente Costa e Silva Bridge, with its columns telling stories of falls and drownings like tombstones for the never found and the cemented alive?

    I saw many in 1972, soon after Papai vanished during the bridge’s construction, mostly by peering over my mother’s shoulders while she flipped through documents and pictures, sobbing and wondering if some ferryman could’ve rescued Papai. Perhaps a fisherman saw a hand waving desperately for help in the water? How could she be sure without staring into the glazed, distant eyes of a deceased husband? After those days, I convinced myself I’d never look at pictures of the bridge under construction again, those tall columns with their gray, ominous girders jutting out of the stone like the last, frantic gestures of hands begging for help.

    Except now, twenty years after the accident, I have pictures of the unfinished bridge scattered over my desk.



    The reports are confused and scarce. O Globo mentions a small navy boat sinking under the bridge. Jornal do Brasil mentions a lot of trash afloat near the columns. Both of them mention people or animals walking on the columns’ bases. And less trustworthy outlets speak of monsters swimming along the bay. I flip the pictures, grabbing a few recent ones to jot down numbers on the pillars, marking those where the incidents have been reported. Probably cases of piracy or robbery. Though they’re rare so far into Guanabara Bay, it’s the most plausible explanation. With a little star, I tick the column that was built over the tomb of my father and his colleagues.

    Mãezinha and I buried our incomplete grief in the ‘70s, when the government ordered no attempts to rescue the missing people that worked in the bridge’s construction. Accidents were commonplace. Finding the dead? Not so much. The military minds behind the country stated that progress, like a bridge, was a path that needed to be trodden from one end to the other, not a place to linger. Maybe that’s why I’m eager to pursue this line of investigation regarding the bridge, why I’m flipping through the black-and-white photos and the frazzled newspaper clippings over my office’s desk. A silent, personal rebellion to linger where no authorities felt they needed to at the time.

    I pick up the telephone and dial my editor’s extension line, seizing the moment to steer my eyes away — even if for a moment — from the multiple versions of the unfinished bridge over my desk.

    “Alberto, where can I rent a boat?”



    I’ve never been under the Rio-Niterói Bridge — I’m grateful most people don’t call it by the official bridge’s name, that of the dictator — and on the rare occasions I traveled by car across the bridge itself, a queasiness took hold of me. It was like walking over a cemetery, one of invisible, unidentified watery graves. I shudder when the fisherman, Mário, guides us through the straight shadow of the bridge and the sunlight ceases warming my face for a few seconds.

    “Which one, Mister?” Mário asks.

    PodCastle 736: The Gorgon’s Glass

    PodCastle 736: The Gorgon’s Glass

    * Author : M. E. Bronstein

    * Narrators : Rachael K. Jones and Dave Thompson

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Peter Adrian Behravesh

    *

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    PodCastle 736: The Gorgon’s Glass is a PodCastle original.





    Rated PG-13

    The Gorgon’s Glass

    by M.E. Bronstein

     

    There are people who try to blame Oken’s unhappy demise on the Gorgon, but if you read Oken’s notebooks carefully (and it’s my job to read his notebooks carefully), you know that he was already dying when he first met her. In fact, that is why he sought the Gorgon out; he needed someone to craft his “monument more lasting than bronze” — i.e. a brilliant thing to preserve his memory.

    In his notes, Oken often revisits his first meeting with the Gorgon:

    . . . Certain denizens of the township nearest to the Gorgon’s workshop attempted to dissuade me from seeking her out. They called her a witch. It is disheartening, though hardly surprising that her style of artistic production would elicit such reactions. I ventured into the Swamp anyway, and rather enjoyed my solitary escapade into the wilderness, until I found myself caught in circles and stumbled across the same lightning-blasted yew, again and again.

    Then I heard a silken rustle, and beheld, in frightening proximity, a serpent — it unfurled from a ragged hole in the moss, a faint rainbow iridescence clinging to its scales. I stepped backwards in careless haste and a rock gave way beneath my foot; I fell upon my rear, something tore, and there was the snake, a line of wriggling calligraphy some demonic hand had written into the earth. It came closer and closer, and I realized with horror that my trousers were quite firmly caught upon a bramble. I struggled and cried out —

    I could not die in such a manner (so many intelligent medical men had already foretold another end for me, and how impolite to contradict them!).

    And then — the artist herself.

    A slight creature with flyaway black-and-gray hair and a grimly set jaw. She wore a ragged shawl and a basket across one shoulder.

    She stared fixedly at the serpent, then drew closer, careful not to make a sound, to stir any rocks, all the while untying her shawl — which she then tossed so that it fell across the beast. It writhed, confused by the sudden surrounding weight. The Gorgon pounced upon her quarry, bundled her shawl into a knot, and tossed it into the basket lashed across her back.

    To think that so wild a creature should be my object! But there are mysteries and powers beyond our understanding that often choose strange receptacles for their dearest secrets.



    A snake brought me to the Gorgon, too.

     

    I first met her glass when I was a girl. I’d chase sand fleas through riverside muck, and there was a worming thing, half buried. See-through, like a newborn squid or shrimp, but hard and motionless. Just one fragment of a larger glass serpent.

    That happens, sometimes. Although the Gorgon’s workshop in the Swamp rotted long ago, her sculptures still crop up, carried by the river. Like they want to crawl back ashore.

    I found the glass snake by stepping on it, and it sliced into the sole of my foot and glittered and I bled and yet it went on drawing my eye through my tears, and my mother had to work to pry it out of me. She sent the piece of sculpture to the Estate.

    • 44 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
467 Ratings

467 Ratings

DavidCFar ,

Fantasy mixture

Great mix of high literary fantasy and some fun low brow stuff. Good audio quality.

Mommabird25 ,

Very difficult to hear

Terrible audio, and I can barely follow the host, he speaks so fast and mumbles. If I can’t hear, I’d say that makes a podcast not so good.
The narration is on par with LibriVox. That’s a volunteer site. For me, it takes more than just reading.
I’ll listen to more stories and redo this review because this must be that I just got a couple of so so days.

FinalSpace ,

Good story selection, poor audio

Podcast has a nice variety of fantasy stories from around the globe.

Audio quality is poor. Even at maximum volume on my phone, home or car speakers, I frequently have to strain to hear the narrator. Recommend addressing this issue.

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