Author Topic: PC 404, Artemis Rising: Territory  (Read 6513 times)


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on: February 24, 2016, 12:09:36 AM
PodCastle 404, ARTEMIS RISING: Territory

by Julie Steinbacher

read by Maura McHugh and Kim Rogers

Hosted by Amal El-Mohtar

A PodCastle Original!

Where are you and I in those moments before the flawed magic works? Hovering somewhere, inside ourselves or above our bodies? Placidly dreaming, like we did so many times last summer as we listened to cassettes of The Clash and Eurythmics in the woods by your house? Or screaming silently, saying, “We didn’t know it would be like this when we gathered the raven’s feather and the fox’s clote. We were afraid to cut the words in our palms, didn’t know that pricking our fingers wasn’t enough blood to preserve our bodies.

“This is not what we wanted, not what we meant to do. Take us back to our letters and our mums and dads. Take us back, even if they beat us and tear us apart and send us away.

“Take us back, even though life will not cure us of this love for one another.”

But the flawed magic is working, and as the rain slows, the questing worms place their soft mouths against us. The beetles tick across our hands and legs, beneath our clothes. We feel little parts of ourselves lost in them, and remember the spell words we uttered.

Rated R for some disturbing imagery.

Julie Steinbacher lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she (or they) is an MFA candidate at North Carolina State University. She is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, and her fiction appears in Terraform and Escape Pod. Learn more about her on her website

Maura McHugh is a prose and comic book writer living in Ireland. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the USA and Europe, and she’s had two collections published in the USA:Twisted Fairy Tales and Twisted Myths. Her web site is and her Twitter handle is @splinister

Kim Rogers is an EMC actress living in Brooklyn, NY. She has recently appeared in such productions as Cthethal Weapon and the musical Slaw Slingers. She has also done voice work for The Kaleidocast and currently works for Music Theatre International.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: March 15, 2016, 08:34:16 PM by Talia »


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Reply #1 on: February 24, 2016, 04:59:12 AM
I had some mixed feelings halfway through this, until we got to the last half, where we dropped into "What could have been" land.  It left you wondering which was real and which was imagination.  I liked the parts that were more of a 'what could have happened' part of the story.

Failure is an event, not a person.


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Reply #2 on: March 01, 2016, 01:50:47 AM
My god this was a beautiful story. I actually had trouble following the plot the first time I listened—just not in the right frame of mind to give the story the concentration it needed, I guess—but even so I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it; even when I didn't understand what was going on, the language was so lyrical, so poetic, that I just loved listening to it. And Amal's comments about the story at the end of the episode were really helpful in understanding what was happening in the story that helped me follow it a bit better on my second listening.

And I am so glad I listened a second time! The plot of the story is so lovely, and powerful, and I loved all three sections of the story, the failed magic spell and then the two counterfactuals about Stevie and Lucy's lives without the spell. I loved the uncertainty about which story was what "really" happened, and the way the raven and the fox persisted throughout the counterfactual stories; even in the timelines where the spell was not actually cast, the recurrence of the raven and the fox lent a bit of a magical realist element.


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Reply #3 on: March 01, 2016, 10:12:04 AM
Well… that was hella good. Especially the lovely segues between the three variants of the story that left me questioning which was "reality" by the end. Each bittersweet in its own way.

I've also a soft spot for stories where the "magic" can be seen as real and not-real at the same time. Unless you're in the characters heads there is now objective way to see the actions of the spell. The feel of that reminded me a little of magic system in Jo Walton's "Among Others".

Good stuff.


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Reply #4 on: March 01, 2016, 08:26:40 PM
I was enjoying this one and the spell gone wrong until the first segment ended.  I guess for whatever reason the three parts didn't come together for me as a cohesive whole.


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Reply #5 on: March 04, 2016, 08:59:00 PM
This one hurt to listen to. The first third was just tragic and heartbreaking; I hate the idea of spells going wrong and people being stuck because they messed up somehow. The What-ifs were still tinged with sadness, but at least they allowed the girls to continue on with their lives. And I liked how the animal spirits were still just barely visible on the edges of the last two thirds of the story.


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Reply #6 on: March 05, 2016, 04:01:51 PM
I absolutely loved the first part. Such wonderful and creepy magic, delicious! And although it didn't go in the direction I hoped it would, it was a good story.
Podcastle Error 404: right spell not found ;)


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Reply #7 on: March 18, 2016, 11:36:46 PM
I really loved this one. I'm a real sucker for LGBT+ genre fiction and modular story design, so I'll be coming back to "Territory" for years to come.

I was surprised that the fantasy elements didn't make it into the latter segments, but I ultimately really loved that choice, and I think it adds a really interesting twist on escapism and desperation. The story to me is all about charging into the unknown in order to escape, whether by the magical means in the first section, or the more mundane option of running away from home. That said, I really appreciated that the final section using the image of the animal tattoo to show that some of our means of escape stay with us and keep protecting or validating us, even if they're working on a more symbolic level.

All in all, a beautiful story and a definite new favorite. This sort of thing is why I listen.