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Cast of Wonders 376: Banned Books Week – The Ways of Walls and Words


The Ways of Walls and Words

by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Solitreo

“If it were not for Thee, what would become of me?”

She’s not speaking to me when she says this. Her poetry nests behind a prison’s walls. I am an unknown noise on the other side of her door—the only spot where sound enters or exits her world—a sweep of bristle against wood, some transitory trace of life that has nothing to do with her.

She and her people are in cells lined along a corridor in the deepest reaches of the convent. On occasion the mentally disturbed have been kept here, tended to and made safe by walls so thick they are more than an arm’s length. These people, however, are all one family: a mother; an adult son; four older daughters; and this one, who has spent nearly half her life in here.

That was all the information the Dominican Brothers shared with me the day I started. Except that I must not attempt to speak to the girl or her family through their doors. The Brothers made me swear this before I swept even one stone.

In the language I share with jailer and jailed, my name is Bienvenida, though my Nahuatl name is different. By the Brothers’ reckoning, it has been 1,562 years since the death of God. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 375: Banned Books Week – Reclaiming Our Narratives


Our Skin Will Now Bear the Testimonies

by Innocent Chizaram Ilo

“Nduka, you better hurry or you’ll be late for school! Your breakfast is getting cold and you know you don’t like when curds form in your pap!” Aniele calls from the kitchen.

“Yes Mama,” Nduka answers from his bedroom.

The boy tiptoes to the door and gently bolts it before unbuttoning his school shirt. He stands in front of the mirror and looks at the string of words that snails along his belly. (Continue Reading…)

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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 370 – Breaking


Breaking

by Maya Chhabra

Mom’s kind of bizarrely happy for someone with a daughter about to croak, but I don’t mind. She saved my life. When I collapsed, I was still only fourteen: too young to have an imprint taken. If she hadn’t found me in time, I would be dead already, and gone. Now I’m safe, and they’ve pretty much stopped everything but palliative care. I’d like to be corporeal longer, and grow human-wise, but there’s nothing more they can do. (Continue Reading…)

Announcing the new editorial team for Cast of Wonders!


This summer has brought a few changes to the editorial team at Cast of Wonders. Alexis Goble has stepped back to concentrate on episode artwork and her own projects, including her pin badge business. Katherine Inskip has joined Marguerite Kenner as co-editor. And, we have two new Assistant Editors joining the team. There were a number of very strong contenders for the role, and Marguerite and Katherine didn’t have an easy time with the final decision. So, we’re absolutely thrilled to announce that that the new Assistant Editors for Cast of Wonders are Andrew K. Hoe and Karissa Sluss!

Image of new assistant editor Andrew K Hoe Image of new assistant editor Karissa Sluss

Andrew teaches and practices Choy Li Fut Kung Fu and Tai Chi in Southern California, where he also writes speculative YA fiction. He has been a high school English teacher, an Assistant Language Teacher in Japan, and a college professor. His academic work in children’s literature can be found in The Looking Glass. Follow him on Twitter.

Karissa lives with in North Carolina with her family and a hairy husky named Bonnie. Her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, Star Wars, and Princess Bride. By day she wrangles cases and hearing schedules for a small administrative court. At night, after cooking dinner, checking homework, and walking the dog, she writes and reads as much as possible. You can find out more about her writing online at karissalaurel.com, and she loves making friends on Twitter @karissalaurel.

Our audience will already be familiar with Karissa from her work with the editorial team during Artemis Rising 5 earlier this year, and if you’ve not heard Andrew as a narrator or host yet, check out his previous episodes. What you won’t necessarily be aware of is how much amazing work they’ve done in the Cast of Wonders slushpile for the last few years – their comments and insights have always been tremendously useful, and Andrew has read just about every story submitted! As well as their breadth of expertise, their sheer enthusiasm and love of YA fiction is priceless, and we’re really proud they’ve agreed to join us backstage.

Here’s what they both have to say about their new roles:

[AKH] I first encountered CoW after an internet search for venues that published YA fiction. I couldn’t believe what I’d found. I’d been only looking for print venues, so the idea of a podcast and electronic magazine blew my mind. There was a Banned Books Submission call for 2017, and I decided to go for it. That began a journey with the coolest people around who also love YA fiction. I’m honored to become an assistant editor for my favorite podcast. I look forward to continuing to curate story submissions, but also stepping out from the curtains and hosting episodes, representing CoW in communicating with authors, and learning the other myriad tasks of running a SFWA-qualifying market.

[KS] One of my favorite things about being on staff at Cast of Wonders is our community. The sense of fraternity we have here at both Cast of Wonders and among the entire Escape Artists Community has been so empowering, encouraging, and welcoming. I think a strong community helps with communication and an overall sense of satisfaction and well-being among our staff and authors that winds up being reflected in the excellent quality of stories we produce. Stories are my passion, and going forward, I hope to participate in more forms of storytelling, not only as an author putting literal pen to paper, but as part of a team that finds great stories and helps build the path that brings those tales into the world for others to enjoy.

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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…)