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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…)

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Cast of Wonders 305: All Systems Go


All Systems Go

by Gerri Leen

The spaceport at Norn Five is a shining ode to order, automation, and interstellar travel. State-of-the-art communication ports dot the walls, offering instant access to loved ones, bosses, or eccentrics offering revolution at bargain prices.

Travelers move across the floors, various forms of locomotion taking them from point A to point B. Walkers tends to be the most common, but there are also floaters, crawlers, slitherers, and the odd vaporous beings that just sort of waft.

And working around it all are the units of the robotic char force. One in particular moves slowly along the wall, sucking up the residue left by one of the slithering public. It gets stuck for a moment when it hits a point where one being’s slime has mixed with another’s, making a sort of glue of the noxious kind. The bot revs forward, then backward, sucking up goop up as it goes, spritzing solvent onto the floor and then wiping it up so no one slips.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 303: What You’re Missing


What You’re Missing

by Allison Mulder

“Something’s missing.”

The words slipped past Anya’s lips, not for the first time. Most days she could keep them buried under other, safer thoughts. But on quiet, peaceful days like this one, when she’d successfully coaxed Colton past the fences to the off-grid hills, the words had a nasty habit of wriggling out to warm themselves in the sun.

“Of course something’s missing,” Colton said, staring back toward the sprawling gray city. Sun sparkled off the high chain link fences between the hills and town. “No Wi-Fi, no cell signals. The power grid’s scrapped out here. If it bothers you, let’s head back.” He fiddled hopefully with his loose tie, obviously ready and waiting to tighten it.

Anya shook her head, enjoying the unfamiliar feeling of unbound hair swishing against her cheeks. “Not what I mean.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 301: Ana’s Asteroid


Ana’s Asteroid

by M.K. Hutchins

I raced Cornelius home after school, through the corridors of the Platinum Phoenix. He took the right hand side, I took the left. The dents in stainless steel walls made our reflections wobble.

“I’ll beat you this time!” Cornelius called from behind. He was eleven — two years younger than me.

I laughed. “I doubt — ”

But my feet slipped out from under me. I skidded across the floor. Like all the other kids on this asteroid mining colony, my clothes were sewn from surplus mylar blankets — slick stuff. I crashed into a sealed-off door. There were plenty of unused corridors like that, leftover from better days when the Platinum Phoenix actually had passengers. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 299: All Them Pretty Babies


All Them Pretty Babies

by Alexandra Renwick

Esmè step careful in the pretty grass. Grass on the hillside is green just how she like it; not all yellow, not all brownish purple like grass past the base of the mountain.

Them grasses, them yellow and purple grasses, make Esmè think on her old mama, who yell and slap and bite and kick at her. Only good thing Old Mama ever done for Esmè, she done let Esmè know just how ugly Esmè is. Ugly enough to stop her wind-up watch, say Old Mama. Ugly enough to stop a train, like train what done stopped on other side of the mountain when them bio-bombs fell so close, sent that train bucking like nasty old three-headed milk cow so it buck right off its track and into the gully.

Of course, that train done crashed long before Esmè was born. That train done crashed without Esmè ever having seen a train a-go full of people, with all them people’s pretty jewelries and pretty clothes, and them pretty little babies bouncing on they’s laps. No, Esmè never seen a train a-go, but she sometimes climb down into the gully, ignore bruised grass and glowing sludge, and she play in that wrecked train what now filled so full with all them clean, clean bones, and she think how pretty all them ladies and gentlemens must’ve been; so pretty that if ugly Esmè lived back then they would’ve chased her off with sticks like Old Mama done when she got so sick-and-tired of looking at Esmè all day long. That’s what Old Mama done told her: I’m so sick-and-tired of your ugly face. Now get gone, girl. Go try the other side of the mountain. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 296: Artemis Rising 4 – Canary’s Refuge

Show Notes

Cast of Wonders is proud to present the fourth annual Artemis Rising event through March 2018! We have four original stories for you this year, guest-edited by assistant editor Katherine Inskip and associate editor Alexis Goble. This year’s artwork by Geneva Barton.

Artemis Rising is an annual month-long event across all four Escape Artists podcasts, celebrating the voices of women, non-binary, trans, and marginalized gendered authors in genre fiction. The resulting lineup is an incredible collection that celebrates the strength, ingenuity, and brilliance of the artists, the characters they create, and the performers that bring these stories to life. It also features the hosting, editing and production talents of a rotating cast. Part of the project’s mission is to give opportunities and experience in these publication roles traditionally held by men.

Don’t miss the full month of Artemis Rising stories across the Escape Artists podcasts!


Canary’s Refuge

by Wendy Nikel

“Feels good to finally be off that blasted ship.” Ben breathes in so deeply that his shoulder rubs against my bare one, a touch so slight I wonder if I only imagined it.

The elevator rattles as it carries us down the mineshaft, into the depths of this planet whose name I can’t even remember. Maybe it doesn’t have one. Not that it matters. They’re all the same as far as we’re concerned: barren hunks of mineral deposits, surrounded by unbreathable atmosphere. They’re ugly, cold, and unwelcoming, without a thing to make us want to remain on their surfaces. Without a hope of survival if we did. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 295: Artemis Rising 4 – An American Refugee

Show Notes

Cast of Wonders is proud to present the fourth annual Artemis Rising event through March 2018! We have four original stories for you this year, guest-edited by assistant editor Katherine Inskip and associate editor Alexis Goble. This year’s artwork by Geneva Barton.

Artemis Rising is an annual month-long event across all four Escape Artists podcasts, celebrating the voices of women, non-binary, trans, and marginalized gendered authors in genre fiction. The resulting lineup is an incredible collection that celebrates the strength, ingenuity, and brilliance of the artists, the characters they create, and the performers that bring these stories to life. It also features the hosting, editing and production talents of a rotating cast. Part of the project’s mission is to give opportunities and experience in these publication roles traditionally held by men.

Don’t miss the full month of Artemis Rising stories across the Escape Artists podcasts!


An American Refugee

by Tiah Marie Beautement

I first spot the surfer as I run down the path that cuts below the lighthouse. I can’t believe it. The Point is full of holiday campers, so motors are banned on the water until eight a.m. and it is only six-thirty. I run down the steps; reaching the bottom of the peninsula, I find that the few souls that are awake are calm and content. Strange. But when I reach the part of the path that curves at the base of Inner Pool I realize why.

No sound. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 291: If Only Kissing Made it So

Show Notes

PodCastle wants you to nominate your favs! We’re asking fans and frequent listeners of the podcast to nominate up to five of your favorite-ever PodCastle episodes. These nominations will be used to create a “Best of PodCastle” ballot so everyone can vote for their favorites in the final round, starting on February 14th. The top five PodCastle episodes, as voted by fans, will be featured in a special later this year!

Nominations will close at 11:59 p.m. PST on February 13. What are you waiting for? Get nominating!


The Hugo Awards have these things they call nominations tallys but they are commonly referred to as The Long Lists. These include the top fifteen nominees, and show who just missed making the finals. For example, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Mothership Zeta all made the long list last year for Semiprozine.

One of the great values of these long lists is that it allows readers even more excellent works to add to their “to read” pile. David Steffen has worked to make mining those lists significantly more convenient for you. For the third year in a row, David has published a volume of The Long List Anthology. In this most recent version are included works from names familiar to fans of Escape Artists. Lavie Tidhar, Ursula Vernon, Caroline M. Yoachim, and Ken Liu, among a host of amazing others.

Want to know what sort of story makes it to this anthology? Go listen to episode 607 of Escape Pod and catch Red in Tooth and Cog by Cat Rambo. Been procrastinating picking up Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw or Run Time by Escape Pod’s S.B. Divya? This anthology will assuage your guilt. You can find The Long List Anthology Volume 3 at all the usual purveyors of books. If you’re already the proud owner of this book, become a subscribing supporter of Diabolical Plots which is also edited by David Steffen. Subscribing there puts you in line early for not only the ebooks of the original stories published in Diabolical Plots, but also gets you in line early for The Long List Anthology Volume 4. Go support this fantastically creative human being.


If Only Kissing Made It So

by Jason Kimble

This afternoon, the boy I’ve had a crush on for years told me two things: he loves me, and he’s a time traveler. I’m not sure if I feel crazier believing the first or the second.


If I’d known Lucas Medina had rung the doorbell, I would have thrown on a good shirt. At the very least, I would have dumped my snack in the garbage. Instead, I opened the door wearing a stained Atari T and sucking on a bright green ring pop, and instantly wanted a do over. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 281: Little Wonders 16 – Siblings in Space

Show Notes

The Little Wonders theme “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Houston, Houston, Do You Read James Tiptree?

by Rachael K. Jones

After two hours of work, Daria got the space station’s recycler back online without Hugh there to help her. If he had just waited ten minutes while she tried resetting power. If he had let her double-check his gear before his spacewalk, like he was supposed to by all protocols.

If. If. If. (Continue Reading…)

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Episode 256: Phalium Arium Ssp, Amans by Victoria Sandbrook

Show Notes

Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Phalium arium ssp. anams

By Victoria Sandbrook

 

Nora tugged her gloves down further over her freckled wrists. Every other couple in line had linked arms, but John Reidy had not so much as inched his elbow towards her. She wasn’t sure what pained her more: the ache in her hands screaming that this parish carnival sideshow hid more magic than most or her inept suitor. The line could not move fast enough.

But nothing about this show was fast. Patrons shuffled between intricate, though fraudulent, displays: palm-sized peacocks with visible clockwork, chicken-sized dragon eggs wiggling as a hidden steam boiler hissed, monkeys that might as well have still had their old organ-grinder parts attached. Nora struggled not to roll her eyes. Dull, boring, badly engineered. And not a true cryptid to be seen. Everyone else had sighed, pointed, marveled. Only John Reidy seemed as disappointed as Nora. He’d polished his glasses, refolded his handkerchief in his pale fingers, and said “hmm,” three times.

(Continue Reading…)

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Episode 243: The Tentacles Never Lie by J.W. Alden

Show Notes

Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


The Tentacles Never Lie

By J.W. Alden

 

In Connie’s line of work, you had to massage the truth from time to time. A stretch here, a bend there–even human clients expected a fib or two at the negotiation table. But when trading with the Hygoelus, you always lied. It just made things easier.

“My friends,” she said to the hygos across the table, who were not her friends, “you won’t regret this deal. One day, when you’re bouncing great-grandspawn on your knee-like appendages, still in perfect health in your august years, you and your people will look back on this meeting and thank me.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Episode 241: Artemis Rising 3 – Mr. Quacky in Space by Amanda Helms

Show Notes

Illustration by Mat Weller. Artemis Rising logo designed by Scott Pond.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Mr. Quacky in Space

by Amanda Helms

 

At least Mr. Quacky hadn’t maimed anyone. If Olivia went by her predecessor’s logs, it was only a matter of time.

She pulled her rabbit-ear hat over her head–It helps you blend with the scenery, Vivian, the ship’s entertainment director, had told her–and waited for the guests to evacuate Mr. Quacky’s Splash Zone, the collection of three kiddie pools located on the Space Farm Deck. A few hobby-horse-sized mini-steamducks–the Quacklings–bobbed in the farthest pool. The wall screens played loops of a marsh featuring cartoonish, wide-eyed birds, rabbits, and deer that gamboled and giggled and, worst of all, joined wing to paw to hoof to sing songs about the power of friendship.

(Continue Reading…)