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Cast of Wonders 339: Staff Picks 2018 – The Penelope Qingdom

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders highlights some of our favorite episodes from the previous year. It’s a great chance for us to take a bit of a breather, and let you, our listeners, catch up on any missed back episodes with new commentary from a different member of the crew.

Today’s episode is hosted by associate editor Amy Brennan.


The Penelope Qingdom

by Aidan Moher

It was during the particularly frozen-solid Prince George winter of ’91, a few days after the new neighbours had arrived, that I first stumbled into the Penelope Qingdom. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 338: Staff Picks 2018 – Earn Your Breath

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders highlights some of our favorite episodes from the previous year. It’s a great chance for us to take a bit of a breather, and let you, our listeners, catch up on any missed back episodes with new commentary from a different member of the crew.

Today’s episode is hosted by community manager Dani Daly.


Earn Your Breath

by Jaime O. Mayer

Liith had fought the Snake Island raiders every summer since her fifteenth year and had yet to taste defeat. She had dueled the boat-men of the north with their fish-belly white skin and won the pair of metal knives envied by many a man in her village. Yet, it was the sight of the latch on the cookshack door that filled her with dread. Gray Stone’s village elders said fate could not be changed, and she would rather die than prove them right. But each passing day brought her twentieth year closer, and her throat remained bare of a breath mark. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 336: Little Wonders 19 – Bittersweet Christmas


The Night Before Never

by Gerri Leen

Kris Kringle moved silently through the workshop, making sure nothing had been forgotten by the elves. Normally, they’d be starting their post-toy-making-frenzy party, but this year the group was more subdued, the carols on low, with no one making merry or wearing lampshades.

Kris sighed and lifted his hand in a wave as he passed the break room, but he didn’t go in.

Inventory.  Yes, inventory would take his mind in the direction it needed to go.

Toys?  Check.

Lumps of coal?  Check.

He peeked out the window.  Elves hooking up the reindeer?  Check.

Reindeer fat—but not too fat, they did have to fly—and happy?  Check.

Rudolph’s nose at full power?  Check.

As Kris moved from the workshop to the adjoining kitchen, he sniffed.  Apple pie baking, ready to eat when he got home?

No. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 332: Dinovember – The Good, the Bad, and the Utahraptor


The Good, the Bad, and the Utahraptor

by Jennifer Lee Rossman

No one could say for sure exactly when the dinosaurs started appearing outside the little mining town of Hell Creek, nor where they’d come from. Rumors of cattle found dead with long slashes across their hides went back to the 1850s, but the raptors had been showing up more often in the last few decades, even coming into town when food got scarce.

People said they came from under the ground, down from the depths of Hell itself, and that the miners’ dynamite woke ’em up. Rosita’s abuela said they were descended from some kind of feathered lizard god.

Rosita didn’t particularly care about any of that. She just wanted to ride one. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 331: Radio Free Heartland


Radio Free Heartland

by Corey Mallonee

When the car was just a distant cloud of dust above the corn fields I turned to Smoke and told him, “You ought to know I shot someone.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 329: Widow Bones Makes Her Rounds


Widow Bones Makes Her Rounds

by Gretchen Tessmer

“Brom Bones too, who shortly after his rival’s disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin, which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.”

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
by Washington Irving

 

With everything that happened, I don’t know that I would describe myself as blooming. Willing, I suppose, and certainly compliant. But a flower doesn’t need to bloom to be plucked. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 328: Ava Paints the Horses


Ava Paints the Horses

by Ville Meriläinen

It’s late into morning on a Friday, and Ava paints the horses. Her feet are bare despite the season, and she has buried them in a pile of leaves that rustles as she curls her toes in rhythm with her strokes. The scent of hot cocoa wafts up from the mug between her knees, mixing with the smell of summer grass that escapes her painting. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 327: Memories of Mirrored Worlds

Show Notes

Check out The Drabblecast Reborn!


Memories of Mirrored Worlds

by Barbara A. Barnett

At midnight on her ninth birthday, Alison Marie was crowned Queen of the Nightlands; she decreed that flowers should glow in the dark and that bats should dine with her at supper. At midnight on her tenth birthday, she was named Keeper of the Secret Word, which she whispered to her trusted steed, a giant frog who galloped through the moors. On her eleventh birthday, Alison Marie was worshipped as Goddess of the Sky. She spread her dragon wings each night and breathed the stars to life with fire. But at midnight on her twelfth birthday, Alison Marie became the daughter of a widowed man, and she made no more visits to her other lives. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 324: Banned Books Week – The Sound of Her Voice


The Sound of Her Voice

by Jennifer Hykes

I saw her van as I turned the corner by the convenience store.  It was exactly as I remembered it: the coat of green paint cracked and faded now, but the logo unmistakable.  It was burned into my memory like a brand.

I moved before I even realized my old instincts were kicking in, pressing myself against the brick wall and slowing my breathing so the sound would not give me away.

Every nerve in my body tingled.  I watched. I waited. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 323: Banned Books Week – “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”


“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”

by Alix E. Harrow

GEORGE, JC—THE RUNAWAY PRINCE—J FIC GEO 1994

You’d think it would make us happy when a kid checks out the same book a zillion times in a row, but actually it just keeps us up at night.

The Runaway Prince is one of those low-budget young adult fantasies from the mid-nineties, before J.K. Rowling arrived to tell everyone that magic was cool, printed on brittle yellow paper. It’s about a lonely boy who runs away and discovers a Magical Portal into another world where he has Medieval Adventures, but honestly there are so many typos most people give up before he even finds the portal.

Not this kid, though. He pulled it off the shelf and sat cross-legged in the juvenile fiction section with his grimy red backpack clutched to his chest. He didn’t move for hours. Other patrons were forced to double-back in the aisle, shooting suspicious, you-don’t-belong-here looks behind them as if wondering what a skinny black teenager was really up to while pretending to read a fantasy book. He ignored them.

The books above him rustled and quivered; that kind of attention flatters them. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 321: The Penelope Qingdom


The Penelope Qingdom

by Aidan Moher

It was during the particularly frozen-solid Prince George winter of ’91, a few days after the new neighbours had arrived, that I first stumbled into the Penelope Qingdom. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 313: Desert Dogs


Desert Dogs

by Drea Silvertooth and Lian Rose

The vast desert sprawled before Kei, burnt sienna beneath the rising sun. In the distance, derelict buildings of the Old Cities defined the horizon, their dark and splintered silhouettes pointing like daggers at the sky.

Behind her, the city gate clanged shut with a heavy sense of finality. The outer sentries ignored her as she shouldered her supplies—food, water, and the exact number of bullets allowed for intercity travel—and walked toward the stables. Her red cloak dragged in the sand, leaving a path in her wake like a winding snake.

A half-mile out stood a small, hunched figure waiting for her. The faded blue fabric of his robes was drawn up over his face to protect from the stinging wind.

“My driving student,” he said warmly, extending his hand as she approached. “Mister Zhang?”

“Miss,” Kei corrected, taking his hand. (Continue Reading…)