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Cast of Wonders 374: Take Heart (Part 2 of 2)


Take Heart (continued)

by Claire Eliza Bartlett

The break had been clean and would heal up nicely. That was the good news. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 373: Take Heart (Part 1 of 2)


Take Heart

by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Magdalena perched on the edge of a flimsy folding chair, fingers knotted. The overseer’s office reverberated with the movement of the factory: a steady, pounding rhythm that made up the heartbeat of the city of Tammin. She focused on the way the inkwell trembled, rather than on the overseer behind the desk. The woman who held Magdalena’s past—and immediate future—in her hands.

The overseer wore a severe blonde bun, a high-collared dress, and a frown. She leaned over and lit a gas lamp on the desk with a flash of spark magic from her fingers, pushed aside the little sign that said Mrs. Vorona, and held Magdalena’s papers up to the light.

“I see why Mrs. Uchenka recommended you,” Mrs. Vorona said at last. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 372: Little Wonders 22 – #FantasyWorldProblems

Show Notes

“Whatever the Price” and “The Supervisor of Accountants and the Great Grey Wolf” are original to Cast of Wonders (2019)

“An Evil Opportunity Employer” was originally published in Unidentified Funny Objects 6, edited by Alex Shvartsman (2017)


Whatever the Price

by Matthew Bailey

The road to defeating an evil Corpse Lord is long, the oracle had told me, but it always starts with proper financing.

With a deep breath, I stepped into the Rootbridge Savings and Loan praying I wouldn’t have to sully my honor. Knowing I would, if it came to it. One way or another, I was getting what I came for–whatever the price.

At least the place wasn’t as imposing as the larger, marble-hewn banks I’d already tried back in the capital. Banks that would laugh at anyone without their own personal standard and at least one hornblower. Banks that existed solely to help those who already had money make more of it. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 371 – Knitting in English


Knitting in English

by Brit E. B. Hvide

Looping the thread over her needle, Kari caught the sun in her knit. It was an old spell: warmth trapped in rows of neatly patterned wool to stave off the winter wind. The first spell her pappa taught her. The only one she knew.

Ironically, the spell was supposed to be easier to cast here at the equator, but more useless for the same reason: the sun was strong enough. She let a long leg dip into the pool, imagining the chill of it as snow. At fourteen, she’d never seen winter outside of the movies. Above her, a gap in the tall tembusus and rain trees showed a clear blue sky with rain clouds off to the east. The cicadas chirped, their call vibrating against her skin, comforting as an old blanket. The rainforest was always full of noises. Silence didn’t suit her.

Kari bit her tongue and focused on the yarn in front of her: knit, perl, knit, perl. She wasn’t good enough yet to try anything more complicated than a seed pattern, still dropping stitches and backtracking to pick them up again. But it was a start. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 369 – Glass Gardens


Glass Gardens

by Y. M. Pang

I was the eldest daughter, so I knew I was doomed.

The youngest marries the prince. The youngest saves the kingdom. The youngest is immortalized in song. I told myself I didn’t mind missing those things. I didn’t want princes, or kingdoms, or songs. I was happy being the wicked one.

If only I knew a single story–just one–where the wicked sister won. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 368 – If Only a Word for All Things


If Only a Word for All Things

by Jameyanne Fuller

I hunched my shoulders and leaned closer to the automatic ticket machine. I punched in the date and time with tense fingers, chose the train I wanted, and stuffed some crumpled Euros into the slot. At any moment a carabiniere would take one look at me, know I was somewhere I shouldn’t be, and march me right onto the train back to Assisi. But I wasn’t running away, not really. I was going to Paris to find Maman and bring her home. We needed her home. Her and her magic words. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 367: The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections (Part 2 of 2)

Show Notes

Many thanks to associate editor Alexis Goble for the episode photograph!


The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections (continued)

by Tina Connolly

Rose-Pepper Shortbread of Sweetness Lost

She and Danny have been married for three years now. The bakery has picked up, now that they are offering a few unusual items right alongside the daily bread. There is still no baby, but they are happy with their bakery and their work, and they do not mind—too much. Danny bakes and she assists, Danny invents and she assists. But she does not mind that either, for she has found her own calling at the front of the shop, and it is matching people with the right pastry.

There is an art to knowing what people need. Oh, they would all take the flatbread if they could, but do they need it? (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 366: The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections (Part 1 of 2)

Show Notes

Many thanks to associate editor Alexis Goble for the episode photograph!

Benjamin C. Kinney’s Smell, Taste and Emotion #NeuroThursday


The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections

by Tina Connolly

Saffron takes her customary place at the little round table on the dais of the Traitor King. Duke Michal, Regent to the Throne is his official title, but the hand-drawn postered sheets, the words whispered in back alleys all nickname him the same. She smiles warmly at the assembled guests, standing poised and waiting by their chairs, ready for the confections and amuse-bouches that have been a mainstay of the high table for the last year.

Saffron has been Confection Taster all that time, her husband Danny Head Pastry Chef. Their warm smiles have been perfected as the Traitor King’s power grows, inch by inch, as those who object to his grasp fail and fall, as the printers are vanished, as the daughters disappear from their homes. The little prince still sleeps in his nursery—but for how long? That is the question on everyone’s mind in the last year. Not a question uttered, but a question that stays poised on the tongue, and does not fall. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 365: Blame it on the Bees


Blame it on the Bees

by Rachel Menard

I can’t find it. Digging through my drawer, shoving aside patchy band shirts and pilled hoodies, I feel for the soft fabric of one, very important Sex Pistols tank top. My fingers hit the base of the drawer. No shirt.

Maybe it’s in my bed.

For the first few weeks, I slept with it wrapped around my pillow, cheek pressed to the chipping paint on the logo. That was when it still smelled like Haley, like strawberries and her baby powder deodorant. When I closed my eyes, I could see her in it, the way the soft cotton hugged her body. She’d left it here because we’d gotten caught in the rain on the way home from the skate park. I’d slid it off her wet skin, around her draping curls of strawberry blonde hair, and kissed the lingering rain drops on her shoulders. She tasted like salt and cool rain.

A pain hits me in the gut. I need that shirt. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 363: SOUL CLEAVER Clarence

Show Notes

Matthew told us, “This story began life as a PodCastle flash fiction contest entry. While it only made it to the semi-finals, Katherine Inskip commented that she’d love to see a longer version submitted to Cast of Wonders. Armed with this encouragement, I worked to fill out the characters, their struggles, and a plot. It took a fair amount of feedback and editing, but I was delighted that the finished story was one that Cast of Wonders was interested in publishing!”


SOUL CLEAVER Clarence

by Matthew J. Jarvis

“My dear dragon,” the princess announced as she held aloft Clarence’s topaz windflower, its gemstone petals glinting beautifully in the sun. “These are, without doubt, the finest sculptures in all the land!” Around him the humans attending the faire clapped enthusiastically. “State your name, dragon, and ask any favor in my power to grant, for you have truly won first prize.”

Clarence glowed with pride. “My name is–“

“SOUL CLEAVER!”

The thunder of his father’s roar shattered the late-afternoon quiet of the forest, as well as Clarence’s reverie. He clutched the real topaz windflower in his claws and frantically cast about for somewhere to hide it. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 362: Hare’s Breath

Show Notes

This episode is part of our 2019 Summer Spotlight, showcasing the work of the year’s major award finalists.

Shimmer is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine.


Many thanks to Shimmer for the use of their issue cover art for this episode.


Sweden Admit to Racial Purification (from The Independent)

“The so-called sterilization laws were instituted by the Swedish parliament in 1934 and 1941. Both allowed sterilization without consent under certain conditions. The reasons (indications) to perform sterilizations were threefold: eugenics (race/genetic hygiene), social and medical. Of the total number of sterilized individuals, 93 percent were women.”

From the report “Steriliseringsfrågan i Sverige 1935 – 1975” / “The issue of sterilization in Sweden 1935–1975,” issued by Socialdepartementet / Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Sweden, March 2000.


Hare’s Breath

by Maria Haskins

1947, Västerbotten, Sweden

It’s Midsummer’s Eve and even this close to midnight there’s no darkness, only a long, translucent dusk that will eventually slip into dawn.

Britt and I are fifteen, and she has just come back from That Place, the one the adults won’t talk about even when they think I’m not listening. Something’s happened to her there, but I don’t understand what it is, and she can’t find the words to tell me. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 361: Heartless

Show Notes

This episode is part of our 2019 Summer Spotlight, showcasing the work of the year’s major award finalists.

Peadar’s YA novel The Invasion is a finalist for the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.


Heartless

by Peadar Ó Guilín

“No one asks for death.” This was the proud boast of the city of Kalegwyn. “No one ever asks for it.” Until Malern did. A bad move for her, as it turned out. She awoke on Castellan Garvinger’s operating table with his favourite surgeon elbow-deep in her chest.

“This is going to hurt,” said Garvinger from somewhere in the background. “Scream all you want.” (Continue Reading…)