5 Great Fantasy Stories as Podcast Episodes

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This is another post for the Fantastic Five short stories prompt (May 22: “Bite-sized delight”), a little late this time. I have listened to a lot of short story podcasts in the last few years, mostly the horror podcast Pseudopod and its sister podcast Podcastle, which covers fantasy short stories. My first pick for this top five, however, is from a podcast called Starship Sofa, just because I really love this one and Podcastle hasn’t recorded it. (So far!) If you listen to podcasts at all, I hope you find something you like from this selection.

Starship Sofa 232: The Truth is A Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

This is possibly my favorite short story by Neil Gaiman, and I’ve read most of his short fiction. (Well, my favorite outside of the Sandman comics, anyway.) It’s a story of greed, loss, revenge and fate. Oh, and a search for gold. This is probably the most adventure-ish story in my top 5, but there is also an element of mystery.

Podcastle 01: Come Lady Death by Peter Beagle

The very first episode of Podcastle: A bored woman who has nothing to do but give parties invites Death to a party. You know from the title that Death will be a woman, but the characters don’t, and that’s part of the fun of this episode. I had read this story before in The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and it was the highlight of the collection. 

Podcastle Miniature 56: The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe

Everyone has already read this, right? But you should listen to it anyway, for Podcastle’s amazing narration. I also recommend a great commentary on this story by Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth at Tor.com. (It was written for their project The Lovecraft Reread, which — despite its name — covered  stories by a bunch of other writers, including a few Edgar Allen Poe. And if you want to understand the headings, it may help to read the intro to the series, which you can find by clicking “The Lovecraft Reread” at the top of the post.)

Podcastle 660: Tales from the Vaults: The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Muchado [rated R]

Another one that I had previously read before I started listening to Podcastle. It was included in the author’s collection Her Body and Other Parties (2017), which I read several years ago. It’s a twist on the urban legend of the green ribbon. Very weird but compelling. It might be best not to say too much about this one. This story could easily have been an episode of Pseudopod, the sister podcast to Podcastle that covers short horror fiction.

516A: Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy by Saladin Ahmed [rated R]

I found this story through the “For New Listeners” page and then I clicked on “more by this author” and found that there was a second recording in 2018, when Podcastle listeners voted on their most popular episodes and then the top 5 were re-recorded. This is that version. Although this is rated R, I’d call it a softer R than the previous one. If you have paid attention to fantasy at all from the last few decades, you have probably noticed writing from the perspective of the villain of an existing story is a very popular trope these days. This story does that for the three Saracen brothers in The Faerie Queen, who in the original are known as Sans Foy (without faith), Sans Loy (without law), and Sans Joy (without joy). Of these five stories this is the one I’ve heard most recently, a few weeks ago, but I think it will stick with me for a long time.

Podcastle also records stories written originally for the podcast. I’ve listened to a few of those, but none of them made this top five. For the last year or so I’ve listened to one of their new stories about once a month, but it’s a weekly podcast so that means I’m not listening to all of them. I’d like to listen more regularly, but I also want to keep exploring the archives.

Published by Beth @ Beth's Bookish Thoughts

This blog is for my thoughts on reading. A couple of my friends on GoodReads have blogs, so eventually I decided to start one myself. I hope to get involved in the book blogging community and become a better reader and writer! I am not accepting copies of new books for review, but I would be interested in new editions or new translations of classic authors. Find me on Upwork (as an editor) in the profile link. From September 2018 to October 2020 I blogged at Blogger.

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