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  • Congratulations to the winners of the Podcastle flash fiction contest!


Congratulations to the winners of the Podcastle flash fiction contest!

Author Topic: PC330: DRINK ME (A Flash Fiction Extravaganza)  (Read 4246 times)


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on: September 27, 2014, 06:39:46 PM
PodCastle 330: DRINK ME (A Flash Fiction Extravaganza)

Presenting an Intoxicating and Delicious Flight of Fantasy Fiction for Listeners with Discerning Palettes! Please indulge in the following tastes:

“The Wine,” by M.C. Wagner
read by C.S.E. Cooney

A PodCastle Original!

It’s always the wine.  A glass at my elbow, or a servant tottering after, stoppered flask in hand.  Marvelous…  rich and dark or light and fruity by the season.  I could subsist on it alone, although I am always in place at the royal banquets, sneaking ladylike bites… and there’s the fruit of the orchard, clipped with slivered shears as I wander those primrose paths.

“I Wrung it in a Weary Land,” by Kenneth Schneyer
read by Dave Thompson

A PodCastle Original!

The tiny interior was cool, smelling of earth and the first hint of mildew.   Bottles lined the walls floor to ceiling; a few I recognized — a 55-year-old Macallan or a 2009 Chateau Margaux — but most were strange and whimsical, garnet or cobalt glass with labels that might have been Icelandic or Tibetan.  A single lamp on the far counter granted just enough light for me to read them if I got close.

“The Forgetting Shiraz,” by E. Lily Yu
read by John Chu

Originally published in the Boston Review. Read it here!

I had always found it strange that in a world as advanced as ours, in an age when we shot men to the moon and mapped the planets around alien suns, we still lacked a true anodyne. Alcohol’s soft fog burns off by morning, at best, and at worst holds a magnifying glass to what we try to forget: her name, her voice, her face, her smell. Nor do we have surgeries precise enough to slice off specific memories. Whatever form it took, chemical, neurological, or psychological, the inventor of the anodyne would be rich in a blink, and the journalist who broke the story would never want for assignments again.

“The Rag Man Mulls Down the Day,” by Amal El-Mohtar
Read by Marguerite Croft

A PodCastle Original!

At the edge of the world is a rag-man, a thin man, a man wisped in grey, with a great iron pot and an even greater stick. Morningtimes he leans on his stick and watches the light change, watches it flood your sky with fire and heat. But before it can get too hot, before it can burn your cheeks to a ruddy cinder, he raises his stick, tilts the sky-pan just so, and coaxes the great slow pour of it all into his iron pot.
While it gathers there, he mulls it.

“Behemoth Brewing and Distribution Company,” by Tim Pratt
read by Dave Thompson, Roberto Suarez, Mur Lafferty, Graeme Dunlop, M.K. Hobson, and Cheyenne Wright

Originally published in the Fortean Bureau

Brewery tours available by appointment only.

Rated PG. Contains alcohol. Lots of alcohol. But no hangovers.

Music for “Sasquatch’s Old Hairy Bastard Stout,” “Aztec Nectar Ale,” & “Giant Whale Ale” provided by DocWood, music available at CD Baby and Amazon.
Music for Angelic Effluvia Lager, Lo! Calorie Light Beer, and Deathly Pale Ale composed and recorded by Peter Wood, more music at

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!

Father Beast

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Reply #1 on: September 30, 2014, 11:23:09 PM
Most of the stories fall into the category of, "I don't get it." However, the Behemoth Brewing ads were pretty entertaining, even though I got that they were sort of a story of their own by the second one.

And the story by Kenneth Schneyer was awesome and hard hitting. This is the guy who also wrote that museum goers guide to a fantastic artist? The story that made me break my habit of never relistening to an episode? With these two as examples, I clearly need to check out more of this guy's stuff. Wow.


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Reply #2 on: October 01, 2014, 11:39:34 AM
A PodCastle episode about drinks? Well, this calls for a drinking game! :D I shall take a drink every time someone awesome happens. Here goes...

"Cryptobrewologist" - AHAHAHA! *Varda takes a drink* Nice opening gag, completely unexpected to have a "sponsor" on this episode. :)

Dave just tooootally referenced "The Sandman" there, didn't he? DIDN'T HE? *Varda takes a drink*

Wait... wait... the Behemoth Brewing ads are going to be a running gag?! AWESOME! *Varda takes a drink*

"The Wine": Hey, I remember this one from the flash contest--it was one of my favorites! Voted for it all the way through the last round. *Varda takes a drink*. I loved this piece as classic dark fantasy, with some really particularly messed up imagery. It's got the classic frame of a fae enchantment overlaid on complete squalor, but what I really love is the mystery revolving around the wine, and the big reveal of dead women in the casks at the very end. Also, it shone even more in audio! This was probably my most favorite reading of the whole episode (which is saying a lot, with the narrator lineup this time around).

("Loquil does the suffering for you!" *Varda takes a hearty drink*)

"I Wrung It In A Weary Land": two things! First, I liked how this story covered the full spectrum of alcohol's place in society, from something that's used socially, to become closer to people (one of the drinks mentioned early on allows the narrator to repair his relationship with his dad) to causing separation (the final drink, which changes him in profound ways). Secondly, the arc of this story brought to mind LeGuin's "Those Who Walk Away from Omelas" (hey, you just reminded me on "Omelas"! *Varda takes a drink*). Especially the questionable morality of using another person's suffering as an object-lesson just to make another people group's lives better. Even when framed in context of a giant plague in our world, this raised a lot of questions for me, and struck me as profoundly unsettling.

(Great leaping krakens, the PodCastle Barbarian is advertizing whale-gut-beer to me?! This is so awesome *Varda takes a drink*)

"The Forgetting Shiraz": I couldn't help but think about neuro-anatomy during this story, especially about how crude our understanding of memory and the brain still is. Brain function was originally mapped by literally cutting off the top of a living person's skull, poking at all the gray bits, and asking the sedated but conscious person to tell the doctor what they felt or experienced. (*Varda shudders and takes a drink*) Also, we've learned a lot about the brain from observing people with strokes--matching up what physical piece died with what function a person lost.

This story was framed in a similar way, revolving around the winemaker who doesn't even know what he's lost and a man who must weigh the risks of forgetting. There was something especially warm and gentle about this happening over a shared glass of wine. When I compare it to dementia and related things, there was something nice about the forgetting happening with another person who understood, and it happening voluntarily.

(HOBSON!?!?! Okay, maybe THIS was my favorite narration of the episode! *Varda drains her glass enthusiastically*)

"The Rag Man": I'm a fan of pretty much everything Amal's ever written (her story "The Lonely Sea in the Sky") in WDSF is currently one of my favorite things I've read this year, period). This piece was nice and moody, full of all those sensory details that make me really sink into a scene.

Also, this is going to sound funny, but it made me think of the song "The Candy Man Can" from the Gene Wilder version of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" - probably because Amal's author notes mentioned sunset, plus the Rag Man: "Who can take a sunset / and boil it down to wine / The Rag-Man Can!" *Varda toasts Amal and takes a drink*

So, yeah. I guess you could say I liked this episode. Just a little. :D

(Also, Holy Flying Production Values, Batman!! Sheesh, Peter outdid himself putting this thing together, and the original music and all!)

Medical Microfiction: Stories About Science


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Reply #3 on: October 02, 2014, 10:32:40 AM
Goodness! What WAS that you were drinking, Varda?

It would appear to have been a light and nutty ale with a very fizzy head.  ;)

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


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Reply #4 on: October 06, 2014, 01:46:08 PM
I'm surprised Varda wasn't slurring badly by the end of that post.  ;)

The Wine
I remember this from the flash contest, and I like it, the details of the glamour unraveling as the wine's effects wear off.  Then and now I thought the body in the cask didn't really fit into it in any way I could figure, but overall I still like it.

I Wrung It In a Weary Land
I...  hmmm... I listened to this less than 12 hours ago, but I don't remember what this one was about.

The Forgetting Shiraz
Ironically, I did not forget what this one was about.  I liked it.  dementia/alzheimer's scares the crap out of me, and is probably the scariest fate I can think of that's actually likely to happen to me.  Both my grandmothers progressed into that (one alive, one who passed away a decade ago) and the loss of self scares the bejeezus out of me.  I think that I could cope with just about anything else, but that I'm not sure I could.  I can't say that I would ever knowingly take that wine in any scenario I can imagine, but it was all the more convincing and scary for it.

The Rag Man Mulls Down the Day
I'm going to just classify this with most poetry and just say that my feeble mind is unable to understand it.  I liked some of the images, but as with poetry I want it to be a story, I want something to happen.

Behemoth Brewing and Distribution Company
This was cute, and I loved the production of this--wonderful job Peter.  Great multi-talent reading with some of my favorite Podcastle voices.  If the story had been presented as a story instead of a series of ads, I'm not sure I'd have dug it as much, but presented the way it was was just perfect.


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Reply #5 on: October 08, 2014, 03:58:34 PM
The Wine-Awesome. I can tell that this was carefully carefully crafted. It read almost like poetry. And never has an invisible spider given me the shudders quite so much. Great story and great reading.

I Wrung It-liked it a lot. I found it interesting that the narrator had to suffer so much in a way that made him a better doctor during the apocolypse. I wonder if it was worth it for him?  It seems more to have put him in a position to help others. Still, a very tough situation. If I learned that my entire life with my wife and kids was a simulation designed to prep me for a future family . . . I would not see it as a blessing.

The Forgetting Shiraz--very happy with the way it ended. And I love the stark nature of the choice. Sure, we all think he's crazy, but are you willing to stake your memory on that belief?  Perfect use of the flash format

Rag Man--is it just me, or was the end kind of creepy?  Why does he want to taste my world so badly?

Behemoth Brewing--I am a beer lover. I was disappointed when I realized that this wasn't a real brewrey I could support :)


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Reply #6 on: October 09, 2014, 06:22:39 PM
After keeping up with Varda in her drinking game, the only legible note I have is "Amal make word pretty."

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #7 on: October 09, 2014, 06:53:45 PM
This was a whole lot of fun!  I don't even drink alcohol, and I thought these stories and the whole themed episode was were excellent..  Fun stuff!  I am tempted to try the Giant Whale Ale. ;)

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


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Reply #8 on: October 09, 2014, 07:54:58 PM
after keipeng upp with vabrda rin hwer drinmking game, thle noly legiblge inote pi have lis "amal make word pretty."

There, fixed it for you. :D

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Reply #9 on: October 09, 2014, 08:34:41 PM
While all the stories were interesting and atmospheric, my vote for Best in Show is for Tim Pratt's ads for imaginary beverages. Hilarious.


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Reply #10 on: October 15, 2014, 05:12:00 PM
I first thought the first ad was for real (just really over the top) and got annoyed when the episode had another ad, but then I got it.  :-[


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Reply #11 on: October 21, 2014, 03:48:14 PM
Very cool set of stories (I voted for The Wine all the way through the contest), and the "ads" and their readers put it way over the top. :D