• Narrated by Andrew Reid
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• Originally published in Potter’s Field 4
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Vonnie Winslow Crist is an author and illustrator living in a rural Maryland. She is editor of The Gunpowder Review and senior editor at Pole to Pole Publishing, a speculative fiction small press. Vonnie’s books include The Enchanted Skean (a Compton Crook Award Finalist), Owl Light, The Greener Forest, and Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales. Her short fiction has been published in Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Tales of the Talisman, Dia de los Muertos, Faerie Magazine, and elsewhere. Vonnie’s paintings have been featured on the covers of Bards and Sages, FrostFire Worlds, Outposts of Beyond, Illumen, and Scifikuest. A cloverhand who has found so many four-leafed clovers she keeps them in jars, Vonnie strives to celebrate the power of myth in her writing and art. You can find her work and portfolio online, or follow her on Twitter.
Born in Scotland, Andrew Reid is a teacher and author currently living in Sweden. He writes fantasy and alt-history, and harbours an unhealthy obsession with coffee. Not to mention being a damn fine Destiny team mate, if you’re looking for one. His first fantasy novel, Kingdom’s Fall, is currently available on Amazon. You can also follow him on Twitter and online.
Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
One of the presentations that caught my attention was the history of the term ‘Fairy Tale’ and its use as an umbrella term for wonder and the supernatural in fiction. Neither concept is unique to Western Europe and the speaker, Cristina Bacchilega, posits that a shift away from using the label generically might help linguistically decolonize non-European based narratives.
I support this idea wholeheartedly: a small linguistic shift in support of greater diversity. In an effort to put Cristina’s theory to the test I’ve revised our submission guidelines to explain our use of this distinction. The relevant section is set out below.
Special thanks to Julia Rios for her livetweeting of Bacchilega’s presentation, and Julia for answering my follow-up questions.
Fairy Tales? Wondertales? Huh?
We use the word “wondertales” as the generic description of speculative fiction stories based on classic and/or historical cultural narratives. Synomyms include fairy tales, folklore and mythology – all academic terms with their own meanings, origins, distinctions and historical connotations.
This is to help distinguish wondertales as a whole from the subset of stories based on Western European ancestry, which we assign the label “fairy tales”. Good examples include Hans Christian Andersen stories, or older Disney movies.
Fairy tales are popular as a genre of young adult fiction to the point where they cross the line into tropes. We receive a lot of them. Unless a story succinctly retells one of these narratives in a new and unique way, we generally decline. A good example of one we liked was “Piper” by Ian Rose – a flash piece retelling ‘The Pied Piper’ from one of the rat’s point of view.
Wondertales, on the the other hand, are under-representaed in short fiction and we’d love to receive more of them. For an example of one we liked check out “The Dun Horse” by Edward Ahern – the retelling of a Pawnee legend.
You’re listening to Little Wonders, our collection episodes featuring flash fiction and poetry centered around a theme. And since it’s Halloween, that means it’s time for scaaaaaary stories!
Our first story is Come To Me, by Beth Hull. Beth lives in Northern California with her artist/scientist husband, their two children, and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. Beth writes young adult novels and the occasional short story. To learn more about Beth, her work, and the things that annoy her (windy days, ticking clocks), and scare her (black widow spiders lurking in the mailbox), you can visit her website or find her on Twitter.
Come to Me is narrated for you by podcasting’s Dark Overlord, Alasdair Stuart. Alasdair is the host of Pseudopod, the weekly horror fiction podcast by Escape Artists. He also co-hosts Escape Pod, their weekly science fiction show. He blogs about lots of things for lots of people, including himself, his website. You can listen to him talk about cooking things, reading things, watching things or training in things like martial arts and baking on Twitter.
When most people thing of young adult fiction, they think of fantasy with a heavy sprinkling of science fiction. Horror doesn’t seem to be a popular genre, and I can understand why: thinking about younger people in frightening or dangerous situations isn’t very comforting. When you think of Harry Potter, you probably think of the fun times Harry, Ron and Herminoe have, and you glaze over the very real danger they were in.
But growing up can be scary, with or without the presence of the supernatural. And unlike a book, you can’t put your life down and come back to it later. Learning how to deal with an ugly reality is an important skill.
Which brings us to our second story, Piper by Ian Rose. Ian is a web developer and former field biologist living in Portland, Oregon. He loves oceans and mountains and rain, and is very pleased to have found a place that offers him all of these, though he does have to visit his native east coast every year to fill up on bagels, pizza, and other bread products that Oregon just can’t seem to get quite right. He blogs here and can be found on Twitter. Ian also has a story about to be published by New Myths.
Your narrator is our very own Barry J. Northern. Barry is a game developer based in Bournemouth, England making freemium games for clients such LEGO and the BBC. His latest game is breaking all records on iOS, not surprising with a title like “LEGO Star Wars Yoda Chronicles”. It’s for younger kids, but if you fancy blasting alien brains check out LEGO Hero Factory Brain Attack. All this game developing has meant Barry hasn’t been as active in the podcasting and fiction world as he used to be, but he still works behind the scenes at Cast of Wonders. He also guest narrates on occasion at The Drabblecast and StarShip Sofa.
Ian told us the inspiration for Piper was, that in of all the fables and fairy tales I was read as a child, the pied piper was the only one that ever really scared him. Not only the power that the Piper, over both the rats and the children, but the willingness to use it was terrifying. He was a sort of avatar for all the threats and dangers in the world that Ian didn’t yet understand but still knew to be afraid of.
And speaking of things you should be afraid of, how about cowled figures rowing tiny boats on dark rivers late at night? Should you ever find yourself in need of such, maybe you shouldn’t pick the one with the skeletal face…
For our final scary short, we bring you The Boatman by JA Ironside. Jules Anne Ironside started writing as a child. She grew up in Dorset in a house full of books, fed on a diet of myths, legends and spooky tales. She particularly likes to take well known myths and turn them on their heads. Jules is a keen martial artist having taught karate for fifteen years now. In her free time she likes to read and add to her collection of dead or little use languages. She has had several other short stories published in the anthologies Reading is Magic and Stories for Homes both available from Amazon. Her next published story will appear in the A Chimerical world; Unseelie anthology. You can follow her on Twitter.
To complete our trio of narrators, The Boatman is read for you by the very talented Ian Stuart. Ian Stuart is a writer, poet and performer living and working in York. In the past he has worked for BBC local radio in Manchester and the Isle of Man, where he taught English. As well as providing voice tracks for hotels, businesses and foreign language courses, he is a tourist guide for The Ghost Trail of York. (I’ve been on his tour, you don’t want to miss it!) And Ian has been a resident voice artist for Pseudopod for some years. You can read more about his poetry and his dog, Digby, on his blog, The Top Banana, or follow him on Twitter.
The Little Wonders theme, “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
This episode we bring you a trio of fantasy offerings – one flash story and two poems – about things that aren’t quite what they appear to be…
Our first story is Golly, by Laura DeHaan. Laura is a healthcare practitioner in her hometown of Toronto, Ontario. She pays her bills by helping people relax and feel better, but when she writes she likes making people feel just a little awful. She has a couple stories coming out in autumn, one in Postscripts to Darkness 4 about a new kind of danger posed by an invasive species, and one in Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine involving a zombie cowboy and a talking snake. Something for everyone! Find her on Twitter and follow the bizarre travelogues of the much put-upon tourist Topher Topher.
Golly is narrated for you by Melissa Bugaj. Melissa is a proud mom of an eight-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. She is a special educator in her fourteenth year of teaching. Melissa has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. This year, however, she is taking a leap in her teaching as she enters the high school level as a Conceptual Physics teacher . She co-writes and co-produces an original children’s story podcast with her husband, Chris, called Night Light Stories. She also writes a personal blog called According to Mags, about her children’s silly antics that keep her and her readers entertained. Melissa enjoys presenting with her husband at different state conferences on the subjects of audio stories and podcasting.
Speaking of elements, our next entry is the poem An Alchemist’s Limit, by Brian Griggs. You may remember Brian and his alchemist from Episode 22, Rust. This poem was written as a result of your positive feedback to the story. Brian says he loves how the character is trying to simultaneously make sense of electron shells and organized crime.
Brian has been an educator for twelve years and has been encouraged to write fiction and poetry by his students and co-workers. He hopes his stories inspire curiosity and wonder in students of all ages. You can learn more about the Alchemist’s Guild at his website. And he’s also avid on Twitter. He’d love to hear your thoughts on the poem.
Your narrator for this poem is our very own, very hard working and very talented Graeme Dunlop. Graeme’s been busy on the narration front lately, with his latest appearance reading Tim Maughan’s Limited Edition for Starship Sofa.
This episode marks the second time Cast of Wonders has aired poetry. Our first was the excellent Eggs Under Moon from Episode 29, where three different narrators brought you their interpretation of the one poem.
This time, we decided to try something a little different. I asked the narrators of the poems to read the poem for you three different times in different interpretive styles. I agree with Barry that understanding and appreciation of poetry improves with repetition, and I’m curious to hear what you think about our new approach. Let us know on our forum!
Finally this week, Cast of Wonders is pleased to present Empires of the Red Dawn by Jack Murphy. Jack just turned 18, and this piece is his first professional sale. Congratulations, Jack! We hope to see more submissions from him in the future.
Jack says he’s not very good at biographies, so instead he gave us three individual words: “Transient, Pantheon, Objuration”. Ooo, good choices – I love it when I have to look up a new word!
Your narrator for Empires is my good friend Adam Black. Adam is a recovering neuroscience student, although he’s working hard to relapse again. He enjoys reading, bicycling, and shouting into microphones, the last of which he sometimes records. He doesn’t have a public web presence yet, which makes him sad, so he will probably change that soon.
The Little Wonders theme, “Neversus”, is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
Today we present The Swineherd by Hans Christian Andersen. Born in 1805 — yes, that’s over two centuries ago — Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author noted for his children’s stories. You may know some of his most famous including The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid, and The Steadfast Tin Soldier. His poetry and stories have been translated into more than 150 languages and have inspired motion pictures, plays, ballets, and animated films.
Theme music is “Appeal To Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
Today we present The Cruel Sister by James Breyfogle. James writes fantasy and Science Fiction from his home in Pennsylvania.
Your narrator is the fabulous Tina Connolly! Tina lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the anthology Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF 2008. Her debut fantasy novel IRONSKIN is forthcoming from Tor in October 2012, with a sequel in 2013. She is a frequent reader for Podcastle, and is narrating a 2012 flash podcasting venture called Toasted Cake. In the summer she works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Her website is here. Check the shownotes for details.
Theme music is “Appeal To Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.