REVIEW: 10th Anniversary Special by multiple authors

Review of multiple authors, 10th Anniversary Special, Podcastle: 516 — Listen Online . Reviewed by Heather Rose Jones

To celebrate their 10th anniversary of publication, Podcastle ran a poll to choose people’s five favorite episodes and then re-broadcast them. I won’t be doing individual reviews of these stories, but you might want to check out why people chose these from the entire set of 500+ options:

516a: “Without Faith, WIthout Law, Without Joy” by Saladin Ahmed – A retelling of an Arthurian tale from the point of view of one of the many Saracen characters from the greater Arthurian mythos.

516b: “In the Stacks” by Scott Lynch – When graduate school involves a self-aware magical library, returning a book to the stacks is no trivial task. (full cast narration)

516c: “Saints, Sinners, Dragons, and Haints in the City beneath the Still Waters” by N.K. Jemisin – Dangerous things lurk in the flood waters left by Hurricane Katrina. This was re-aired fairly recently and I reviewed it here.

516d: “Makeisha in Time” by Rachael K. Jones – A woman who involuntarily slips back and forth through time turns her fate into a struggle and triumph for women throughout the ages. There’s a reason this story has been regularly celebrated and praised since it first came out.

516e: “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu – Everyday magic and the difficult journey of the son of a “mail-order bride” to properly appreciate his mother’s love and sacrifice.

REVIEW: “The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me” by Rachael K. Jones

Review of Rachael K. Jones, “The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me”, Podcastle: 493 — Listen Online. Reviewed by Heather Rose Jones

Never is the importance of audio fiction sources more stark than with works like this that require the rhythms of oral performance for their impact and meaning. “The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me” hovers in the space between prose and poetry, not only in the rhythms of the language, but in the demanding impressionist imagery. It’s the story of two peoples at opposite ends of gravity, each of whom mistakenly views the other place as heaven. Ananda comes from a line of holy women who, by long repentance and asceticism gain the tenuous ability to climb up to heaven, where they will petition for needful things like an end to drought. Sano is a winged thing from above, where only by intense self-control can one still the wings sufficiently to descend to the earth, which they call Paradise.

The poetic tale of how these two met and found their fate is only one aspect of this story. The second part is the imagery of how both cultures create an ideal of holiness and purification that demands (or at least to) self-harm. On Ananda’s side it is self-starvation and wounding herself with thorny bracelets (not too subtle Christ imagery). On Sano’s side, her desperation leads her to short-cut the meditative route to descent by mutilating herself. I think it isn’t accidental that both characters are represented as female. To say more would be to spoil the resolution, which is worth achieving on your own. Listen to this jewel some time when you can give it your full and unhurried attention.

(Originally published 2016 in Clockwork Phoenix 5.)