Author Topic: PC413: This is Not a Wardrobe Door  (Read 4559 times)


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on: April 27, 2016, 12:40:44 PM
PodCastle 413: This is Not a Wardrobe Door

by A. Merc Rustad

read by a full cast!

Dave Thompson as The Narrator
Jen R. Albert as Ellie/Ell
Rachael K. Jones as Zera
Alasdair Stuart as Misu
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali as The Falcon Queen
Graeme Dunlop as The Forgotten Book
Marguerite Kenner as Lorraine

Originally published in Fireside Fiction Magazine. Support their Patreon campaign for more excellent stories!

Zera packs lightly for her journey: rose-petal rope and dewdrop boots, a jacket spun from bee song and buttoned with industrial-strength cricket clicks. She secures her belt (spun from the cloud memories, of course) and picks up her satchel. It has food for her and oil for Misu.

Her best friend is missing and she must find out why.

Rated G.

Merc Rustad is a queer transmasculine non-binary writer and filmmaker who lives in the Midwest United States. Favorite things include: robots, dinosaurs, monsters, and tea. Their stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, Mothership Zeta, and InterGalactic Medicine Show, as well as the anthology The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015.

Merc has a new story about robots and gender in Cicada Magazine’s July/August, and reprints in Wilde Stories 2016 and Lightspeed.

Please stick around after the episode for an editorial announcement from Rachael K. Jones, or check out her blog post on her website!

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: April 27, 2016, 12:44:37 PM by Talia »

Khaalidah from Vega

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Reply #1 on: April 27, 2016, 01:24:54 PM
This was a fantastic story and I am so impressed by how well it came out.
And Rach's announcement got me all misty eyed.

K from Vega


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Reply #2 on: April 29, 2016, 08:42:19 PM
I love the title, the idea, and the plot. I thought the reading done by Rachael K. Jones was very good, even with the buzzing.

It was a neat idea to have many do the reading but the uneven sound was distracting.

I also found it be a little over written. The pairing of words seemed to be pulled from a hat. Some pairing were poetry, but I felt it was taken too far.

Something else bugged me… why did the book believe everyone had forgotten.

Overall the story had the feel of The Neverending Story.


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Reply #3 on: April 30, 2016, 01:44:20 PM
This is very close to a perfect fantasy story for me. I'd love to read/hear more of the characters and setting. To be honest I was a bit shocked that it ended so early!

All the best to Rachael - you did a terrific job at PodCastle!

Overall the story had the feel of The Neverending Story.

It reminded me a bit of the A Game of You storyline in Neil Gaiman's Sandman.


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Reply #4 on: April 30, 2016, 05:03:37 PM
What a great pairing of behind-the-scenes goings-on (Rachael leaving, Jen stepping up) and story.

Great run, Rachael. Best of luck, Jen. And of course, we'll all be here for both of you.


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Reply #5 on: May 02, 2016, 04:20:32 PM
I quite enjoyed this one, although at the ending I was very disappointed... but only because I wanted to read the stories of the character revisiting the world and rebuilding the doorways and etc. 

I have always been a big sucker for portal fantasies, so I'm probably a pushover for this one.  One of the great tragedies of the classical portal fantasy is that it all must end and then you have to live the rest of your life either forgetting the world of wonder, or worse remembering it and knowing you can never visit it again.  There is something to that about growing up and leaving behind childish things, but is it really so bad to embrace those things that are considered childish?  I mean, I can hold a job, pay a mortgage, raise a child, and I think I can do pretty well at those things if not perfectly.  But I also write make-believe stories for a hobby after all and would happily do it for a living if I could find a way to make it steady.

Despite being a grown-up who embraces the make-believe, I remember an end of portal door time when I was a kid.  Between 4th and 5th grade I moved from a city to a very very small town.  The small town was very small, graduating class of about 30 people.  And by the time I moved there all the social cliques were pretty much permanent unless one had a lot of social ability, which I didn't.  So I spent the next 8 years pretty much miserable, trying to fit in with whoever would accept me.  I had had a best friend in the city which was about an hour away, and we'd invented a pretend world on the playground, a portal sort of world.  I constantly looked forward to visiting the city to play with him again and revisit that world and would manage it every few months.  A couple years later, I distinctly remember a time when I went to his house and he wanted to play that world again, and the appeal had been completely lost on me, and I told him honestly that I had forgotten how.  I'm not sure I've ever made anyone as sad as I made him in that moment by telling him that honest truth.  I have since then found other portal doors to poke my head through, most recently in the form of inventing worlds by writing about them.  For me that old portal door disappeared and I couldn't go through THAT one again. But there have been other doors for me, some by reading other people's stories or video games or whatever, but like the protagonist of this story, the biggest part for me is being willing and able to learn how to manufacture my own portal doors.  Sometimes when the everyday grind of life makes me feel worn out, it still can bring back the wonder to remember that I can still sometimes make those doors.  I'm looking forward to being able to share some of my own stories when my son's a little bit older, and maybe even see if he wants to help me build some doors himself.  :) 


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Reply #6 on: May 03, 2016, 04:51:37 PM
Loved this.  There is something inherently magical about portals.  Behind every door is an infinite possibility.  Some good, some not, some mundane, some spectacular.  As an amateur photographer, portals are one of my favorite subjects.  That and old headstones... which can be viewed as a different kind of portal, I suppose.  A pin-hole view into someones long ago life.

Something else bugged me… why did the book believe everyone had forgotten.

I wondered about this, too.

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." A.Einstein


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Reply #7 on: May 09, 2016, 08:09:15 PM
I thought this story was too ..disjointed with it's language for my tastes, but I did get all the way through it.  It wasn't quite disjointed enough to lose me, I could hang to the story line because we kept slipping back to reality, and the struggle to get back to fantasy.

Atreyu would be proud.

Failure is an event, not a person.


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Reply #8 on: May 19, 2016, 01:49:41 AM
The jumping made it difficult for me to get a foothold, but once I did this one was really nice. It's sad that so many people were cut off from their portals, simply because the book became convinced that they were underappreciated. See? This is why you should ask others their opinion before making drastic decisions with far-reaching consequences! :P