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 Foundation

    • Fiction
    • 4.6 • 494 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 841: Pirates

    PodCastle 841: Pirates

    * Author : E. F. Benson

    * Narrator : Devin Martin

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Eric Valdes

    *

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    Originally published by Hutchinson’s Magazine, October 1928

     





    Content warning for references to grief





    Rated PG

    Pirates

    by E.F. Benson

     

     

    For many years this project of sometime buying back the house had simmered in Peter Graham’s mind, but whenever he actually went into the idea with practical intention, stubborn reasons had presented themselves to deter him. In the first place it was very far off from his work, down in the heart of Cornwall, and it would be impossible to think of going there just for weekends, and if he established himself there for longer periods what on Earth would he do with himself in that soft remote Lotus-land? He was a busy man who, when at work, liked the diversion of his club and of the theatres in the evening, but he allowed himself few holidays away from the City, and those were spent on salmon river or golf links with some small party of solid and like-minded friends. Looked at in these lights, the project bristled with objections.

    Yet through all these years, forty of them now, which had ticked away so imperceptibly, the desire to be at home again at Lescop had always persisted, and from time to time it gave him shrewd little unexpected tugs, when his conscious mind was in no way concerned with it. This desire, he was well aware, was of a sentimental quality, and often he wondered at himself that he, who was so well-armoured in the general jostle of the world against that type of emotion, should have just this one joint in his harness. Not since he was sixteen had he set eyes on the place, but the memory of it was more vivid than that of any other scene of subsequent experience. He had married since then, he had lost his wife, and though for many months after that he had felt horribly lonely, the ache of that loneliness had ceased, and now, if he had ever asked himself the direct question, he would have confessed that bachelor existence was more suited to him than married life had ever been. It had not been a conspicuous success, and he never felt the least temptation to repeat the experiment.

    But there was another loneliness which neither married life nor his keen interest in his business had ever extinguished, and this was directly connected with his desire for that house on the green slope of the hills above Truro. For only seven years had he lived there, the youngest but one of a family of five children, and now out of all that gay company he alone was left. One by one they had dropped off the stem of life, but as each in turn went into this silence, Peter had not missed them very much: his own life was too occupied to give him time really to miss anybody, and he was too vitally constituted to do otherwise than look forwards.

    None of that brood of children except himself, and he childless, had married, and now when he was left without intimate tie of blood to any living being, a loneliness had gathered thickly round him. It was not in any sense a tragic or desperate loneliness: he had no wish to follow them on the unverified and unlikely chance of finding them all again. Also, he had no use for any disembodied existence: life meant to him flesh and blood and material interests and activities, and he could form no conception of life apart from such. But sometimes he ached with this dull gnawing ache of...

    • 52 min
    PodCastle 840: The Sound of Children Screaming

    PodCastle 840: The Sound of Children Screaming

    * Author : Rachael K. Jones

    * Narrator : Heather Thomas

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Devin Martin

    *

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    Previously published by Nightmare Magazine

     





    Content warnings for gun violence, school shootings, child endangerment, references to child murder





    Rated PG-13

    The Sound of Children Screaming

    by Rachael K. Jones

     

     

    THE GUN

     

    You know the one about the Gun. The Gun goes where it wants to. On Thursday morning just after recess, the Gun will walk through the front doors of Thurman Elementary, and it won’t sign in at the front office or wear a visitor’s badge.

    The Gun does most of its damage in the first five minutes. The Gun doesn’t care about lockdown drills, and it will not wait for the SWAT team to arrive. The Gun can chew through a door, a desk, a cinderblock wall, and kids don’t wear those bulletproof backpacks during reading time.

    Everyone has a right to a gun. Nothing can take that away from you. What you lack is a right to the lives of your children.

    The Gun likes a game of hide-and-seek. The Gun will rove the grounds until someone stops it. The Gun has been here many times before.

    The Gun is not working alone.



    THE SHOOTER

     

    He is never anyone special. Just a man exercising his right to a gun.



    THE TEACHER

     

    Michelle Dalton has taught fourth grade for nine years, long enough to know how the job yawns wider each year, collecting all the loose threads that society needs done but no one wants to pay for. Michelle has six figures in student loans and makes less than $50,000 a year. She shares a rental house with two roommates and has a weekend job at Trek & Field selling athletic shoes to make ends meet. She does not get paid overtime, and the school district does not buy the art supplies. She is not entitled to bathroom breaks or a nonworking lunch, and she doesn’t get paid for summers.

    Michelle wears the armor of an elementary school teacher: an A-line dress in an ocean print, a blue cardigan to match. She bears no weapon but a sharp-edged teacher’s tongue that cuts through noise like scissors.

    Every teacher in Thurman Elementary will sense the Gun moments before it opens fire as a tense, drawn-out pause, an upset child drawing the breath to scream. They will not visibly panic, not with twenty-one pairs of eyes locked upon them for guidance. Michelle’s body will act before her mind comprehends the threat.

    It is Michelle’s job to keep her students safe, just as it is her job to take the blame for whatever harm the Gun inflicts in the process.



    THE PORTAL

     

    You know about the Portal too, although not by that name. The Portal seeks the places where children hide. It stalked the air raid shelters in London during the Blitz. It lurked in underground cellars during the Cold War, crouched between the canned corn and rancid Crisco. It has fed itself in Italian orphanages and Australian residential schools, and it has only gotten hungrier.

    The Portal has been exhibiting itself at gun shows recently, a gleaming bullet-proof vault in which to store kids when the shooter comes. The Portal has been installed in every classroom, funded by bake sales and cereal box tops, bought at the expense of pencils and math books and a music teacher.

    The Portal is not wheelchair-accessible.

    • 46 min
    PodCastle 839: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – The Book of May

    PodCastle 839: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – The Book of May

    * Authors : C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez

    * Narrators : C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Eric Valdes

    *

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    Previously published by Clockwork Phoenix and as PodCastle episode 669





    Content warnings for illness and death





    Rated PG-13

    The Book of May

    By C. S. E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez

    From: Morgan W. Jamwant

    To: Harry Najinsky

    Date: January 22, 2015 12:58:59 p.m. est

    Subject: Death Is the Tree

    Eliazar,

    Dude. I wanna be a tree when I die. Make them put me into one of those urn-y things. The biodegradable ones with the seed inside. Go look it up. I swear to God. Gawd. Gerd. Gods. All of em.

    I wanted to be oak, ’cause of what you wrote a hundred billion years ago in our high school yearbook. “To Morgan, an Oak amidst the Spruce.” But I didn’t see oak on the website. Maybe I should go sugar maple instead. I’d be so fabulous in October.

    Can you take this seriously? I mean, not too seriously but a little seriously? I’m kind of on a time crunch here, they tell me.

    M. W. J.



    From: Harry Najinsky

    To: Morgan W. Jamwant

    Date: January 22, 2015 6:07:21 p.m. est

    Subject: Re: Death Is the Tree

    Hey May,

    You know you’re the only one who still calls me Eliazar? And it’s not like I don’t hang out with all our old D&D buddies. It’s just that all we play these days are Eurogames, and you don’t give yourself cool, vaguely medieval names in Eurogames. Mostly you do math. I guess all that resource management makes them feel adult or productive or something. To me it feels like a job. I miss D&D.

    So I googled it. Eco-urn? It doesn’t sound like you. It sounds like earthy-crunchy ooey-gooey overpriced bourgeois b******t. I mean, it’s not like we have a choice. We’re all recycled eventually. Do you think Nature gives a shit about how we’re packaged when we die? She’ll eat us any way we come prepared.

    But okay, you said take you seriously. So you want to be an oak? I can see that. I see your hair, and I can imagine it defying gravity and tendrilling up toward the sky. I’m imagining each lock crusting over, becoming strike-a-match rough, radiating like a bark-brown crown around your head. Then come the leaves, not slowly like boring normal trees, but in one verdant, fireworks-ical explosion. You’d spontaneously generate a heavy load of acorns, and the squirrels would be so pleased that they’d learn to speak, just so they could sing choir songs of gratitude.

    How’s that? I was never as good at that shit as you. You were always the roleplayer. I was the rules lawyer. It’s why we made such a good team. Well, and you knew the Raise Dead spell, and could bring me back to life every time I miscalculated.

    I wish I hadn’t said Raise Dead. It’s just too painful to contemplate a world where a spell like that could exist. That’s the real reason we don’t play D&D anymore. Fantasy is hopeful. Fantasy hurts.

    You’re not a sugar maple. I forbid you from being a maple! Maple trees are all sweet and Canadian and self-sacrificing. “Yes,

    • 1 hr
    PodCastle 838: Potemora in the Triad

    PodCastle 838: Potemora in the Triad

    * Author : Sara S. Messenger

    * Narrator : Cherrae L. Stuart

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Devin Martin

    *

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    Previously published by Fantasy Magazine (Reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy, Vol. 2, 2023, Pyr Books)





    Rated PG-13

    Potemora in the Triad

    By Sara S. Messenger

     

    There are always three: the father, the unfather, and the child. That’s why Vriskiaab threw my unfather off his back after she bore my baby sister, or so Vriskiaab tells me when he stops in the shade of a dune, his massive scales warm under my calves and the tail of him stretching behind me for leagues. My baby sister is soft and crimson-tacky in the crook of my arm.

    I cup her warm, wobbly head. Her birth shook the earth, and the sand shakes under us still.

    We have no milk, I say.

    Hush, child, says Vriskiaab, his voice a thrumming coil under my heels. That infant is not ours. Your unfather left me a riddle, and now I must solve it.

    I don’t care much for the balance of our triad, but the earth will crack open unless he solves it, so I hug my sister to my chest. Her cries are so shrill, and they ring like struck ceramic.



    Things I will say to my baby sister, come the end of the world: If you need to kill me, I don’t mind if you watch me kneel; and, vultures flock in odd dozens, and cactus fruit come in fours or seven, and you have two tiny moles under your left eye; and, I don’t care that you have a different father because we tread in the desert the same.



    Vriskiaab names my sister Baaiksirv. This quiets the rumbling under our feet, but not entirely; some of the canyons we pass have already collapsed, and there are no altar-men where instead exists rubble. Vriskiaab goes without his slain offerings and drinks from a nearby river, muddier than befitting him, and he filters it as he trickles it down the length of his back to the ridged hood under which I live.

    The water is cool and silty, and my tears hot, my mind empty.

    Father. Unfather. Child.

    My unfather’s stories never depicted a triad with a hole inside.

    My father cradles my sister in his mouth, in a birthing pocket behind his fang. His eyes are hooded in consternation. The ground shudders still, but we are not bereft, yet.

    It will be two years before I see Baaiksirv again.



    Baaiksirv will smell like venom, a sharp, sour smell that rises from her soft cheeks and hair, but mostly her suckling mouth. Unlike me, she will have round pupils, and no scales anywhere, not even in a thin line down her spine. In that way, she is just like our unfather.



    When I turn twelve, I will sneak off my father’s back during that rare time he is deeply sleeping, after he fondly observes one of his festivals. It will be a relief to get away from the endless hazy sand and the distant chime of diamond sparring against bone. I wear a deep cloak because the cities are unfriendly to things that look almost-human, and I get moderately drunk for the first time, even though it tastes somewhat like my prodigious sister smells.

    It will be the first time I encounter a double history. Slumped in the shadows of the beer-merchant’s iron tent, the constant tremor of the earth a gentle ring up the walls, I listen to an elderly orator quarrel with a young woman about how the festival story goes.

    It is the same everywhere, with minor variations, the orator says.

    • 31 min
    PodCastle 837: Good Fortune For a Beloved Child

    PodCastle 837: Good Fortune For a Beloved Child

    * Author : Alexia Tolas

    * Narrator : Omega Francis

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Eric Valdes

    *

    Discuss on Forums







    PodCastle 837: Good Fortune For a Beloved Child is a PodCastle original.





    Content warnings for the death of a child, racism, and allusions to sexual assault





    Rated PG-13

    Good Fortune for a Beloved Child

    By Alexia Tolas

     

    There ain’t no body for Thomas funeral, so we bury an empty coffin.

    Not empty, Daddy did tell me as we followed the undertaker to the cherry-woods and mahoganies. The coffins they pretty up with ivory velvet and pillows and other shit the dead ain’t gonna care about ‘cause they dead. We don’t even know if Thomas really —

    Quintia . . .

    But I hear him at night. Singing.

    Please!

    When the tide goes out.

    Enough!

    The undertaker cleared his throat. Daddy nodded at the mahogany for $6,000.

    For his mother’s sake, enough.

    His mother.

    Ain’t she my mother too? That’s what she told me the day we picked up the adoption certificate.

    Since there ain’t no body to bury, we filled the coffin with the pieces of Thomas we find around the house. A softball glove. A crawfish spear. His favorite rashguard. There’s still pieces of him on the sleeves. His smell — sun-tan lotion and sugar apple. A strand of his yellow hair. I tried to keep it, but Daddy said Thomas needed to be laid to rest.

    Mummy don’t want Thomas to rest. She near dead when she see Daddy pack the rashguard away with the other pieces of her child. Her cries did shake the walls. Her tears flooded the tubs and sinks. She did sink her words into the box, and with every plea and threat, she take back another piece of Thomas.

    Was the coffin a dumpster?

    Was Daddy that eager to give up on his one child?

    Was Thomas so easy to replace?

    But you can’t blame her for being angry. Every day there’s more and more blank spaces in Thomas room. And the more Daddy take away Thomas, the more he fill up the house with me.

    I can feel her eyes burning through my skull as I walk up to the coffin to pay my last respects. Daddy and I avoid her hate by taking the side aisle back to our pew instead of the center aisle Mummy takes to the nave.

    Mummy. That don’t sound right in my head no more.

    Of all people, she should’ve believed me. She who follow Thomas singing to the bluff every night. She should’ve been happy to know that I too hear his voice riding the white caps to shore. But that ain’t all I tell her. I tell her something I ain’t tell the police. Something I ain’t tell Daddy. I tell her about the wet girl. The wet girl with barracuda teeth and backwards feet who pulled Thomas into the sea.

    I run my tongue along the gash inside my cheek. That’s how hard Mummy slapped me.

    Mummy rests her hands on the coffin, and a hush falls over the congregation. There’s a knowing in the people, a knowing I can touch but can’t feel. There ain’t no separate sorrows, just one mourning, like a song with many voices. Is not like the sorrow at my grandmother’s funeral where two of my aunts tried to jump into the grave. The wails at Grammy wake can’t compare to the stifling anguish in this room. What’s more, it’s a secret anguish, one that don’t show itself in tears (because there ain’t a wet eye in this church) – or in screams (because it’s so quiet I can hear my own blood rushing through my ears). It almost feels like . . . defeat.

    • 31 min
    PodCastle 836: Flight

    PodCastle 836: Flight

    * Author : Charlie Sorrenson

    * Narrator : Rebecca Wei Hsieh

    * Host : Matt Dovey

    * Audio Producer : Devin Martin

    *

    Discuss on Forums







    Previously published by Tor.com

     





    Content warnings for violence, assault, misogyny, and PTSD.





    Rated PG-13

    Flight

    by Charlie Sorrenson

     

    Now

    They are coming out of the woods when Mateo grabs one of Maggie’s wings and tugs, hard. This has long been his way of getting her attention and she has always let him do it, wanting to be a good mother, reminding herself that this is a phase, that he is only five years old, that little boys who do bad things are not destined to become bad men.

    But now she wheels on him, the force of her movement yanking her wing from his grasp. “No!” she says, and he blinks and reels back. Two women are walking ahead of them with their children. At the sound of her voice, their heads flick back to watch. “You’re a big boy now,” Maggie says, her voice rising. “You can’t touch them anymore.” Out of the corner of her eye, she sees the women murmur to each other. Turning their smooth, wingless backs to her, they seize their children’s hands and hurry away. Maggie doesn’t care. Tears pool in Mateo’s eyes but she ignores them, stalking up the big, sweeping lawn toward the place where everyone parked.

    Further up the slope, the man who is not Trace walks quickly, gripping his daughter’s hand. On her arm is a bruise the size and shape of Mateo’s fist. As Maggie watches, the girl tugs her hand out of her father’s and takes off, her empty Easter basket bobbing in her grip. Her father calls out but she keeps running and Maggie urges her on, her heart pounding on the girl’s behalf, as her head says: faster, and her heart says: it will never be fast enough, and all the places where the Brothers took her apart pulse with remembered pain.



    Ten minutes ago

    The man who is not Trace kneels in front of his sobbing daughter and hushes her. Neither he nor Maggie was there to see what happened, but the girl has just told them that Mateo hit her when she wouldn’t give him an Easter egg she had found. Now her father says, “I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt you.” He winks at Maggie; an invitation to a game she does not want to play. “You know boys.”

    Maggie looks from her son to the bruised girl to the man who is not Trace but who is so much like him, and something flares within her that has been dead a long time.

    “She has a right to her pain,” she says. “She has a right to it.”

    “We’re going,” the man says, to no one in particular, and pulls his daughter away, his fingers wrapping around her hand and enveloping it completely.



    Seventeen minutes ago

    The Easter-egg hunt takes place at the home of some friends of her husband’s, wealthy investor types who live in Marin County and own several acres of old-growth forest. Maggie hasn’t set foot in a forest like this in years, but her husband is out of town and the things that happened to her were such a long time ago and so she agrees to take Mateo.

    The moment she gets under the trees, she knows she has made a mistake. She sees the bobbing lights, hears the Brothers’ laughter, remembers running until she couldn’t. She grasps the trunk of a nearby redwood and inches her hands along its fibrous bark, noting its texture as her therapist has taught her. Gradually, her heart slows.

    • 32 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
494 Ratings

494 Ratings

eldrithcpossumcat ,

So amazing

Again EAPodcasts does it again. My Mom and I don’t exactly have the same tastes in stories but I found some here she would love and I shared them. I love this and I love sharing stories with people I love.

Dru1978 ,

New listener

I love this podcast! I recently learned about Pocastle and I am extremely grateful for all the content. I am an avid fantasy reader and a middle aged carpenter. None of my friends or coworkers read fantasy. I am frequently hazed at work for my obsession with Fantastic literature and this podcast feels like I have friends who understand my obsession. Thanks for providing a sense community and wonderful stories.

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My heart belongs to PodCastle

Thanks for all the stories! and I have to say that Matt Dovey is one of the best narrators. I’m learning so much from listening to him. Keep up the good work!

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