Archive for Staff Picks

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Cast of Wonders 289: Staff Picks 2017 – Blood and Water

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

Our final Staff Picks episode for 2017 is hosted by editor Marguerite Kenner.


Blood and Water

by Jason Kimble

The year we turned nineteen, the boy I loved disappeared under the waves of Lake Michigan, but he didn’t die. I never told anyone. That he was alive. That I loved him. That he

My fingertip goes white as I smash down on the delete key and the cursor devours my words.

The broken swimming trophy lies sideways on the kitchen table. I stare at it as I dial, ignore the cat mewling, exiled, on the other side of the door. I count the rings of the phone at my ear. Seven rings (for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone) before Mr. Gravere picks up.

“Why are you calling, Mike?” Gravere says.

“It’s about a book,” I say. “I … think that I loaned it to Andy, before–”

“That wasn’t his name.” I can’t decide if the ice sheathing Mr. Gravere’s voice is better or worse than his scalding anger at the funeral.

“It’s special. A first edition. Return of the King. My mother–”

“So special it took you five years to notice it missing?”

“It’s just … ” I turn the gilded swimmer in my hand.

“I told you when he died, Michael: you’re not welcome here. Live without the book. I’m living without a whole lot more.” Mr. Gravere hangs up. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 288: Staff Picks 2017 – Lost in Translation

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by assistant editor Katherine Inskip.


Lost in Translation

by Afalstein Kloosterman

“It turns out,” said the High Ecclesiarch of the Writ, “that when the prophecy says ‘the hero’s body shall stand resilient against the flame,’ a more accurate translation would be ‘resistant against the flame.’”  He gave a pained grimace.  “Ancient Nearnoxian can be… ambiguous, at times.”

Phillip Stalford, Hero of Nearnox, Chosen One of the Golden Age, Bastion of Chastity and Valor, Banisher of the Dark Torch, V’lthaern d’Sng’ssn, and Paladin of the Holy Writ blinked back from within the mass of bandages that healer Ziva was carefully tending to.  “Oh.”  He said.  “Well, I suppose that’s better than finding out I hadn’t been ‘pure of heart’ enough.   Or that the Great Scriptor had taken a dislike to me.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 287: Staff Picks 2017 – Wished

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by assistant editor Dani Daly.


Wished

by Amanda Helms

The wishing well discovered its meaning in existence only through a case of mistaken semantics. In point of fact, it started its existence not as a wishing well but as a decorative fountain. In point of another fact, it was sentient, all of which is most unusual for either a decorative fountain or a wishing well.

The way these three unusual things came to be is this:

On one summer solstice, a mother and her toddler stopped by the decorative fountain in the middle of Longview Mall, a middling shopping center located in a middling town in middling America.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 286: Staff Picks 2017 – A Wish and a Hope and a Dream

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by associate editor Susie Rodriguez.


A Wish and a Hope and a Dream

by M. Darusha Wehm

You have always been a princess.

When you are six years old, your hat is a cardboard cone covered in glitter glue with a cellophane veil. Your dress began life as a pillowcase in the free box at the Goodwill. Your best friend Ines has a store-bought costume, her gown soft and sky blue like Princess Karima’s. You aren’t envious, though. You love your pillowcase dress and hat that makes you almost as tall as your mother. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 285: Staff Picks 2017 – The Scent that Treason Brings

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by associate editor Amy Brennan.


The Scent That Treason Brings

by Holly Schofield

Wings tightly closed, Scarp bustled around the printing workshop. With smooth, sure strokes, zie inked the wooden blocks of type. The new formulation made from snail mucus and oak bark spread on smoothly. One of zir pincher-like tarsi gripped the printing press’ lever while both zir mid legs slid a sheet of paper over the inked blocks. The large screw creaked as zie lowered the platen and then raised it, releasing the paper. Scarp gave a brief twitch of satisfaction at the clarity of the text, then re-inked the blocks for the next blank sheet.

Slowly the racks of printed and drying pages grew higher. But not fast enough. Every minute counted if a bound copy of the Tract was to accompany each Second Molter on their journey. And Beld had been no help at all in preparation for this molting season. The Head Printer just puttered about in the backroom, working on some special project. What could be more important than the annual printing of the Tract?

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 284: Staff Picks 2017 – Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by associate editor Alexis Goble.


Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches

by Kate Baker

On the night my grandfather died, we all sat around his kitchen table and marveled at how he’d been able to raise six kids in such a tiny house. While creative with the cramped living space, one bathroom seemed to be enough despite the hustle to get to school and work in the mornings. Especially as children grew into teenagers and time preening before the mirror was at a premium.

There is chaos that comes with illness and death, yet despite piles of unopened mail and neglected dishes and floors, my eyes lingered on the subtle touches that made this house a home. Especially in this kitchen. A wooden hutch still held the “good” glass and dinnerware that my grandparents cherished and thought to protect. Pots and pans of every shape, size, and color hung from racks and peeked out from crowded cabinets. And despite a very thin layer of dust, the spice rack stood at the ready for whatever recipe came along.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 283: Staff Picks 2017 – Single Parent

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by audio producer Jeremy Carter.


Single Parent

By Sarah Gailey

The monster in my son’s closet is so fucking scary.

Here’s what happened: Jack screamed in the middle of the night and I came running because I’m his dad and that’s what dads are for. He’s been doing that for a month — screaming like someone’s in his room murdering him with a screwdriver. And even though there’s never, not even once been anyone murdering him, I couldn’t just let him scream his little head off all night. If I didn’t come running, his mom would have risen from the grave just to come and slap me upside the head.

I know what you’re thinking, but the monster in the closet is not his mom. It is not my dead wife, come back to watch over him and protect him. This isn’t that kind of a story. It’s a fucking monster, okay? (Continue Reading…)

Episode 231: Staff Pick 2016 – The Four Stewpots by D K Thompson


• Narrated by Tina Connolly
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• Forthcoming in And Welcome Back, D K Thompson’s first collection.
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter

Listen above or download here.

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.

We hope you enjoy associate editor Sally Gill’s favorite story from 2016, The Four Stewpots by D. K. Thompson, narrated by Tina Connolly. The story originally aired December 25, 2016 as part of Episode 225, Little Wonders 9: Comfort Food.


Dave Thompson is a good name to know if you spend any time around Escape Artists. (So is “California King,” or “Easter Werewolf”…) He’s a pretty awesome guy, even if he disparages pumpkin beer. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife and three terribly photogenic children. While he can tweet up to 175 characters, he refrains from using this power for chaos. Together with co-editor Anna Schwind, he ran PodCastle for five years before stepping down to focus on his own writing in 2015. This story is forthcoming in Dave’s first collection And Welcome Back, which he successfully Kickstarted last year. You can find two of his audio book narrations on Amazon: Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout and Briarpatch by Tim Pratt. Follow him online or on Twitter.

Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series, from Tor Teen. Ironskin, her first fantasy novel, was a Nebula finalist. Her stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many more. Her narrations have appeared in audiobooks and podcasts including Podcastle, Pseudopod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and her Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake.

 

 


The Little Wonders theme “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

Episode 230: Staff Pick 2016 – Planar Ghosts by Krystal Claxton


• Narrated by Paul Cram
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• Originally published in Writers of the Future (Volume 31)
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter

Listen above or download here.

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.

We hope you enjoy former assistant editor Jeff Hite’s favorite story from 2016, Planar Ghosts by Krystal Claxton, narrated by Paul Cram. The story originally aired across two episodes in April 2016, Episodes 205 and 206. The story is presented here in its entirety.


 

Krystal ClaxtonKrystal Claxton writes speculative fiction in the sliver of time between being a parent and a full-time computer technician. She lives in Georgia with her long-suffering spouse, a dog who thinks she’s a cat, and a number of children that is subject to change. She enjoys breaking Heinlein’s Rules, getting distracted by DragonCon, and feverishly researching whichever random topic has just piqued her interest. You can keep up with her online at and on Twitter.

 

 

 

Paul CramThe very first story Paul Cram ever narrated was here at Cast of Wonders, and he seems to have been bit by the bug. While Paul still considers his voice to be somewhat new to the world of audio, he now has a few full-length novels under his belt, including the Zombie-filled love story Flirting With Death, sci-fi action story The Face Stealer and the soon-to-be-released Kidnapped, A Jarek Grayson Private Detective Novel due out in the spring 2016. Find them online at Audible, Itunes, & Amazon.

Paul grew up performing on stage and in more recent years traveling the United States working on independent films. This summer keep an eye out for Paul alongside actor Woody Harrelson in the movie Wilson.

When not on a movie set or recording booth, Paul can be found deep-frying chicken wings & cream cheese wontons with his older sister, or arguing about pop culture with his little brother around one of the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota. You can find Paul online and on Twitter.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

Episode 229: Staff Pick 2016 – Questing for Princesses by Amanda C. Davis


• Narrated by Katherine Inskip
• Originally appeared in Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Collection (2013)
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter


Listen above or download here.

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.

We hope you enjoy our audio producer Jeremy Carter’s favorite story from 2016, Questing for Princesses by Amanda C. Davis, narrated by Katherine Inskip. The story originally aired May 1, 2016 as Episode 208.


Amanda C. DavisAmanda C. Davis writes dark fantasy, light horror, and the very softest science fiction. She has an engineering degree and an obsession with baking the perfect macaron. Her short fiction and poetry was collected in 2013 along with her sister Megan Engelhardt‘s work in Wolves and Witches: A Fairy Tale Collection, where this story first appeared. Check our her website and follow her on Twitter.

 

 

 

The story is narrated for you by assistant editor Katherine Inskip. Katherine teaches astrophysics for a living and spends her spare time populating the universe with worlds of her own, which you can read at her blog, Trisigmatic. She’s on Twitter as well.

 

 


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

Episode 228: Staff Pick 2016 – Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class by Dantzel Cherry


• Narrated by M K Hobson
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• Originally published in Galaxy’s Edge (July/August 2015)
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter


Listen above or download here.

https://archive.org/details/Wonders228_201701

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.

We hope you enjoy associate editor Alexis Goble’s favorite story from 2016, Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class by Dantzel Cherry, narrated by M K Hobson. The story originally aired March 13, 2016 as Episode 201.


Dantzel CherryBy day, Dantzel Cherry teaches pilates and raises her daughter, and by night/naptime she writes. Her baking hours follow no rhyme or reason. She is prone to dance as the need arises, and it often does. Her stories have appeared in Fireside, Galaxy’s Edge, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines and anthologies. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, daughter, and requisite cat. Follow her online or on Twitter.

 

 

 

M K Hobson

For your narrator we welcome back the fantastic M K Hobson, who has decided to follow a time-honored authorial tradition and become a bitter recluse. She swore off social media and left her website to go to seed. At the moment, she exists only as a voice on short fiction podcasts such as Podcastle and here at Cast of Wonders. She leavens the tedium of her vastly expanded free time with misanthropy, paranoia, and weight lifting. Detailing all of M K’s work in the Escape Artists arena might take longer than the story itself, so we’ve linked to her EA wikia page above, along with her social media links.

 

 


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.

Episode 227: Staff Pick 2016 – Problematic by Brian Hurrel


• Narrated by Tatiana Grey
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• A Cast of Wonders original!
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter

Listen above or download here.

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. Each week in January a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016.

We hope you enjoy assistant editor Dani Daly’s favorite story from 2016, Problematic by Brian Hurrel, narrated by Tatiana Grey. The story originally aired September 27, 2016 as Episode 215.


brian-hurrelBrian Lawrence Hurrel is a lifelong science fiction fan, and is especially fond of Golden Age stories from the forties and fifties. His fiction has appeared in the science journal Nature and magazines such as Daily Science Fiction and Bete Noir. A former high school English and History teacher, he now makes a living as a technical writer and communications consultant. His previous occupations over the years include machine assembler, carpet installer, cab driver, and US Marine. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son. You can follow him on Twitter.

 

 

tatiana-greyTatiana Grey is a critically acclaimed actress of stage, screen, and the audio booth. She has been nominated for dozens of fancy awards but hasn’t won a single damned thing. She went to NYU and lives in Brooklyn, New York. YOu can follow her online or on Twitter.

 

 


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.