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.
This week’s episode art is from Le livre et la vraye hystoire du bon roy Alixandre. It details Alexander the Great battling against two-headed, eight-legged, crowned dragons with multiple eyes along their torsos (Royal MS 20 B XX, f. 78v). It dates to between 1420 and 1425 CE.
Cold afternoon light stretched in thin patches on the stone floor of the great hall. Jaw and guts tight and trembling, I stood at attention with twenty other squires, armor clean and new as our hopeful futures. For four years, we had trained with sword and shield under the patronage of Duke Amlick. Four years tinged in blood and exhaustion. All for the hope that one of the knights roaming among our lines would pick us from the group like a hound pup plucked from its litter. Twenty squires and only twelve knights—Duke Amlick believed his knights ought to have options. Eight of us would go home with tails between our legs.
One by one the knights claimed their squires and I watched my companions go to their new lives, eyes bright with the glory they would win. I stood with eyes half-closed against the fear that I would be left. I, Cori Forsmire, from one of Duke Amlick’s oldest houses, would have to sell my sword as a common guard. What was I going to tell my father? (Continue Reading…)
We’re pleased to announce that Alexis Goble, long-time slush pile wrangler, has taken the editorial leap and will be joining Katherine Inskip as co-assistant editor of Cast of Wonders.
Alexis cut her teeth this year as assistant editor for 2018’s Artemis Rising showcase, working with Katherine and Dani Daly, who will remain Cast of Wonders’ community manager while focusing her energies on StoryTime Soap Company (check them out!)
I would like to say that being part of the editorial team of Cast of Wonders has been incredibly rewarding, and I am both honored and humbled to have been provided the opportunity. I have learned a lot and interacted with some fabulously talented people, some of which I am now thrilled to call friend.
And head over to our forum this autumn, when Dani will be running the Cast of Wonders flash fiction contest.
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.
Bells chimed in the empty storefront that waited for us at the top of the stairs. The boss closed her eyes and tilted her head to assess their tone.
“Iron, pitched low, minimal tuning. It’s probably high fantasy up there.”
I shrugged over the collection of banshee skulls I was cleaning for a future wind-chime. “Cool.” I was her subordinate, and the fantasy upstairs would need a young apprentice to cast aside before she could make a grand entrance as some wizened old shopkeeper.
Were it the eerie insectoid hum of space-opera, I’d answer as the rookie, but the roles are pretty much the same. (Continue Reading…)
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.
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.
I’m sorry to say Master lay charred and inert on the laboratory floor for a good quarter hour before I noticed he was dead. I regret pulling the wrong lever, resulting in an overflow of electricity from the storm, the brunt of which Master received, resulting in his death and a ruined experiment. I’m even sorrier to admit I then ate all his internal organs before I remembered to offer any to Harry the moaning subject chained to the metal chair in the middle of the room or to the rest of my brothers-in-stitches in the downstairs dungeon.
She felt it in her bones first: a sideways jolting of reality, as if she’d had her feet swept out from under her while in the middle of a headlong run. Caught wrong-footed, Enys staggered. She clutched at the open passenger door of Tay Slighter’s van, steadying herself as an aching groan built to a crescendo inside her spine, her reflection trembling in the wing mirror.
It was happening, then. It was actually happening! Eight long years of airdrops and broadcasts and public professings, of tactical insertions and skirmishes over thoroughfares, of daily liturgies and the night-time cleansings… and finally, finally, the Curacy were moving on the rebel’s Spire!
In her fourth-floor apartment on Wrightwood Avenue, Calliope Grey kept forty gardens of varying size and composition. She had gardens in drawers, in old hat-boxes and mixing bowls. In the drawer that pulled out from beneath her stove, she had a desert garden of cactuses and sagebrush; in the plastic freezer box that was meant to store ice cubes, she grew bearberries and arctic moss.
Real gardens, in miniature, not models or mere toys. Calliope didn’t go out looking for them, but they’d found their way to her one by one. It had been some years since she’d discovered a new one, but she still harbored hopes every time she opened a cupboard or peered beneath the furniture. Once, she’d opened a box of cereal only to have a jumble of dirt and tangled roots go spilling into her bowl. Another time, she’d left a coffee cup out on the end table overnight and found it overflowing with a tiny raspberry bramble the next morning. It didn’t matter where they come from, only that they found their way to her. She had room in her heart for all of them, and plenty more to spare.
I’ll tell it like it never happened, Patrick. Like we were childhood besties swapping knock-knock jokes from the tip-top branches of our favorite climbing tree. That we donned towel capes and played at superheroes, that we took turns being sidekicks so nobody had to play the villain. That it went on like that forever. That we never entered the science fair, and my experiment with exothermic reaction never beat out your atomic clock. That you didn’t resent losing to a girl, because I was your best friend, and it shouldn’t have mattered.
And when The Agency recruited me young on the strength of my scientific promise, and I really got the cape and powers and sidekick, you withdrew into a mechanical exile of your own choosing, all wires and servos and circuit boards.
February is Women in Horror Month, an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre. Check out the hashtag WiHM8 for plenty of suggestions. Or if you have the stomach for stronger fair, our sister show Pseudopod.
You can find all our own Women in Horror episodes here!
Hi, Professor Brandt?It’s me, Lauren, from your morning lecture? I know this call is really last minute, and I know you don’t normally grant extensions for “anything short of the apocalypse,” but would you be willing to make an exception? Friday’s storm knocked out my power. My computer went offline literally as I sat down to type! And then the zombies surrounded the house, and between them and the genie and little girls crash-landing on my roof and my housemate’s crazy cat making a general nuisance of himself, my weekend was pretty much shot.
A special thank you to Preston Stone for his generous permission in using this week’s episode artwork!
Rachael K. Jones grew up in various cities across Europe and North America, picked up (and mostly forgot) six languages, an addiction to running, and a couple of degrees. Now she writes speculative fiction in Athens, Georgia, where she lives with her husband. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in many venues including Shimmer, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, EscapePod, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and The Drabblecast. She is a SFWA member and a secret android. Follow her on online or on Twitter.
Your narrator is our own wonderful assistant editor, community manager, and flash fiction contest runner Dani Daly. You can follow her on Twitter or say hello over at the EA forum.
Issue 5 of Mothership Zeta is available now, featuring stories by Laura Pearlman, Sarah Gailey, Annalee Flower Horne, Darin Ramsey, Maurice Broaddus, James Hart, Aidan Moher, and Meghan Ball.
Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
• Authors: Adam Gaylord and J. J. Litke
• Narrators: Dani Daly and Katherine Inskip
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• The There-It-Is Store originally appeared in T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Fiction Blog.
• 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
Our first story is The There-It-Is Store by Adam Gaylord, originally published on T. Gene Davis’s Speculative Fiction Blog.
Adam lives with his wife and daughter in Loveland, Colorado where he’s rarely more than ten feet from either cake or craft beer. His recently released gladiatorial fantasy novel Sol of the Coliseum is all about hope (as in, he hopes you’ll read it). Follow him on Goodreads or his infrequently updated blog.
Your narrator for this story is Dani Daly, our newly minted assistant editor. Dani lives, works, dreams and plays on Long Island, New York with a husband and some cats. She is on Twitter often and updates her blog on very rare occassions when something extra special happens. All her links are available on our newly updated About Us page – check it out!
When the Planets Left by J. J. Litke is a Cast of Wonders original. J. J. lives in Austin, Texas, where she writes SFF and moonlights as a graphic design instructor. She can tell you more than you want to know about GREP styles and WordPress development. Her work has also appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and Farstrider Magazine. You can find her at online and on Twitter.
The story is narrated for you by our slush wrangler and also new assistant editor, Katherine Inskip. Katherine teaches astrophysics for a living and spends her (infrequent) spare time populating the universe with worlds of her own, which you can read at her blog, Trisigmatic. She’s on Twitter as well.
The Little Wonders theme “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.