written by David Steffen
Podcastle is the weekly fantasy podcast published by Escape Artists. At the beginning of the year it was co-edited by Rachael K. Jones and Graeme Dunlop. Partway through the year Rachael retired and her co-editor seat was filled by Jen Albert. As well as weekly full-length feature episodes, they also publish occasional standalone flash stories as bonus episodes, as well as triple flash stories for the occasional feature episode collection.
Within 2016, Podcastle also increased their pay for flash fiction, which I believe should have started their 1-year counter for becoming a SFWA-qualifying market! Hoping that will happen anytime soon now.
In February Podcastle once again participated in the Artemis Rising event across the Escape Artists podcasts, publishing fantasy stories written by women and nonbinary authors.
I will note, too, that this has been the hardest of the Best Of lists to make this year because there were so many stories that I was simply in love with that it was hard to weed it down to a list of reasonable length. Everything on this list I loved, and there were some I had to make the hard decision to bump off the list that I also loved.
Every story that is eligible for Hugo and Nebula nominations this year which were first published by Podcastle are marked with an asterisk (*).
Every story that is eligible for Hugo and Nebula nominations which were first published by another publisher and then reprinted in Podcastle are marked with a double asterisk (**)–if you want to nominate them, follow the link to find out who the original publisher was to give them proper credit.
I pondered for quite a while whether I should feel free to include the #5 on the list, since I was the original editor and publisher of it here on Diabolical Plots. I exclude my own stories from any of my lists with the reasoning that I can’t properly judge my own work, and I wondered whether I should do the same for stories that I published. I came to the conclusion that I CAN judge stories that I published, because I already had to do so to publish them in the first place, picking those stories out of the much larger slushpile. These stories won’t automatically make a Best Of list, but I feel it’s reasonable to consider them. But, in case anyone would rather not see a story I didn’t published bumped off the list by a story that I did publish, I have included one more story on the list than I normally would have, so that I didn’t have to bump one off.
1. “Beat Softly, My Wings of Steel” by Beth Cato*
Science fantasy story in which the souls of dead horses can be reborn in mechanical pegasus bodies, and how this is used for the war effort. Our protagonist wants to use such a body to escape a war zone.
2. “Golden Chaos” by MK Hutchins
Different regions have different natural/magical laws, including the chaos which is constantly in flux.
3. “The Bee Tamer’s Final Performance” by Aidan Doyle*
The fleet of circus ships have been taken over by bees living in the hollowed-out corpses of clowns.
4. “Archibald Defeats the Churlish Shark-Gods” by Benjamin Blattberg*
Hilariously unreliable narrator, telling the story of a research trip with a companion in which he is always the hero, even when he obviously isn’t.
5. “Further Arguments in Support of Yudah Cohen’s Proposal to Bluma Zilberman” by Rebecca Fraimow**
Written a letter of proposal from a rabbinical student to the woman he wishes to marry.
6. “Thundergod in Therapy” by Effie Seiberg**
Zeus tries to find his place in the modern world, while undergoing therapy for some of his more problematic behaviors.
7. “Defy the Grey Kings” by Jason Fischer
Humanity lives under the oversized heel of our elephant overlords.
“Send in the Ninjas” by Michelle Ann King*
“Love Letters on the Nightmare Sea” by Rachael K. Jones**
“Squalor and Sympathy” by Matt Dovey**
“Tumbleweeds and Little Girls” by Jeff Bowles*