Escape Artists



ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details:

Author Topic: PC363: L'Etoile Flamboyante  (Read 1892 times)


  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2682
  • Muahahahaha
on: May 14, 2015, 02:18:33 PM
PodCastle 363: L’Etoile Flamboyante

by Samantha Henderson

read by C. S. E. Cooney

Originally featured in the Word Webber Press anthology of 2013, Allegories of the Tarot.

Last night I dreamed about the Painted Children: the Dragon Leviathan, the Boy made of Horses, and the girl, L’Etoile Flamboyante. In the dream, I was sitting at the edge of the cliff beside the ruins, not far from where I lie now, but I was straight and whole again, the tiger reclining beside me like an outsized housecat. The water at the foot of the cliff glistened in the starlight, and the Children were in a boat, little wider than a rowboat, looking up at me. The girl stretched out her arms, and I shifted as if to rise. The tiger gave me a lazy nudge. Not yet, it said, silently. We are still at the business of dying.

Rated R.

Samantha Henderson lives in Southern California by way of England, South Africa, Illinois and Oregon.  Her short fiction and  poetry have been published in Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit and Weird Tales, and reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Science Fiction, Steampunk Revolutions and the Mammoth Book of Steampunk, as well as being podcast in Podcastle, Escape Pod, and The Drabblecast.   She’s the author of the Forgotten Realms novels Heaven’s Bones and Dawnbringer, and is currently working on a novel based on her short story “Cinderella Suicide.

C.S.E. Cooney is a Rhode Island writer, actor, poet, and singer-songwriter. She is the author of the Dark Breakers series: The Breaker Queen and The Two Paupers. “Witch, Beast, Saint” the first erotic fairy tale in her Witch’s Garden Series, can be found at Strange Horizons, while the second, The Witch in the Almond Tree is available for purchase on Amazon.

Cooney’s first short fiction collection Bone Swans is forthcoming with Mythic Delirium in July of 2015.

She recently started working as an audiobook narrator for Tantor Media, with Carol J Perry’s “Caught Dead Handed,” a Witch City mystery— Cooney’s first book-length narration—now available for purchase.

Thanks to a successful Indiegogo campaign, Cooney’s alternate personality, the imaginary rockstar Brimstone Rhine, is just about to hit the studio to record her first EP, “Alecto! Alecto!” Eight songs of Myth and Legend—Witches, Queens, Nymphs, Fiends—as you’ve never heard them sung before.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 01:35:10 PM by Talia »


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
Reply #1 on: May 14, 2015, 09:09:14 PM
There is this show Top Chef I watch with my wife.  This story was like the chef who mixes the flavors of chocolate and wasabi, and somehow it works. This has so many components and unexplained events that merge together in a way that shouldn't work, and yet come together perfectly.  We get no explanation of the events, which usually irks me, but this time it allows me to accept the events and come to my own conclusion as to what happened.  It some ways I wonder if this is like the Life of Pi where things are not what they seems, yet what is the truth, and does it even matter.  There is even a tiger.

The world is strangely unpleasant, post apocalyptic, and yet this almost doesn't seem to matter to the story, other than for the protagonist's memories.  It's a world where Mad Max meets the Last Unicorn, unexplained lands which provide the backdrops necessary to make the unusual events acceptable.  Without it's haunting framework, I don't know if this story would have worked so well.

The melancholy whimsy, for me, comes from unusual absurdity and the unexplained fatalistic destiny of the protagonist.  There is no relation between her, the "children", and the mesmerizer other than the shared workplace and vague memories of her past children, and yet she is compelled to act in the end, to her detriment.  She faces her fate with a dignity few ever have the chance, nor ability to wield.  If it weren't so sad, it would make me applaud her strength and character.


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 189
Reply #2 on: May 28, 2015, 08:08:33 AM
I thought this was a cool story, but it's late, so I'll just second what Dwango said.


  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8727
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #3 on: May 28, 2015, 01:47:41 PM
I liked it.  I find carnie protagonists and settings to be often extra compelling because of the interesting niche point of view.  The post-apoc and supernatural elements added up together in this one for an interesting blend.  Good all around.


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1252
Reply #4 on: June 19, 2015, 02:53:55 AM
Wow, what a story! Surreal and poignant and painful all at once. The narrator was somehow simultaneously pitiful and powerful, as were the children. The title is apt, this story feels like a flaming star!