drowning island

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Cast of Wonders 507: The Last Auction

Show Notes

Additional Editor’s note: At the time of this episode’s release, the people of Pakistan are struggling with the aftermath of devastating floods. The climate crisis affects all of us, but the brunt of the suffering is often borne by those with limited resources, and those who have contributed least to human-induced climate change.  There are many charities running appeals to provide aid for Pakistan: these are just a few: https://www.dec.org.uk/appeal/pakistan-floods-appeal, https://donate.unhcr.org/int/en/pakistan-floods-emergencyhttps://give2asia.org/pakistan-flood-relief-2022/


The Last Auction

by Abhilash Jayachandra

When the last piece of land that was destined for the ocean was about ready to be swallowed by the waters, the last great auction was held.

The auction was handled by the Land Ho! Auction House (since defunct) and, as such, they were obligated to inform any and all interested parties who might want to participate. It was rumored that they had even dispatched an invite to the underwater town of New Atlantis, where the oldest of the old, those who still remembered the planet before the “Melt” and the “Submerge” still lived with their descendants. But whether the Grand Old Matriarch or any of her sisters would make an appearance or send a representative was not known. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 495: And I Will Make Thy Name Great


And I Will Make Thy Name Great

by Louis Evans

Abraham, the potter’s son, was sweeping out the workshop late one night, the air hot, the sweat beading on his brow, the kiln still radiating the baking heat it had absorbed over the course of the day.

This was when he heard the voice.

“Boy!”

Abraham looked around.

No source of the voice was apparent. No person had stepped into the shed, nor were the flames of a djinn visible. Four copies of the idol of Suen, god of the moon and chief among gods, were cooling on the shelf opposite the kiln, and sometimes Suen spoke to believers, but the idols were not yet consecrated and certainly could not host the presence of the god. No raven perched in the workshop’s eaves, croaking out an imitation of speech. Abraham was baffled. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 486: Eight Arms to Hold You


Eight Arms to Hold You

by Angela Teagardner

Oscar woke with the sun. He turned one glassy eye toward the tiny window near the ceiling where rose-gold light crept in. It was barred with a lattice of steel–steel currently scalloped with red paper hearts–but at least it faced toward the rising sun. He’d learned to wake as soon as that light, or maybe just the warmth from it, crept across his sensitive skin.

He stretched his limbs, reaching almost to the edges of his tiny cell. Today was the day. Operation Puddle Jump was a go. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 472: AP Practical Literary Theory Suggests This Is A Quest (Or: What Danny Did Over Spring Break)

Show Notes

The Annual Migration of Clouds is a “cli-fi” post-apocalyptic novella by author Premee Mohamed. It takes place in the distant future, after the climate crisis has entirely disrupted life as we know it, and a mysterious mind-controlling fungus has wormed its way through the scattered population. The story focuses on a choice: Reid, a young woman who carries this parasite, has been given a chance to move far away, to study in one of the few communities sustained by pre-disaster technology, but her mother is ill, and in a world where the planting season is planned down to the minute, every body counts. It’s not easy for her to leave her loved ones behind. To set her family up for life, Reid decides to take part in a foolhardy and dangerous mission. To accomplish this task, she must ask others to put great trust in her, but she can’t easily separate her own thoughts from the parasite’s will, making it difficult for her to even trust herself.

If you’re not yet familiar with Premee Mohamed, you’re sure to hear of her soon. She’s an Indo-Caribbean scientist and author based in Edmonton, Alberta, where this book is set, and a rising star in speculative fiction. Premee is a biologist and works in the field of climate science, so the depiction of Reid’s parasitic passengers is eerily plausible, and the climate disaster scenarios in the book are grounded in modern-day research predicting an all-too-likely future.

Yet there’s still hope to be found here: rather than doubling down on the hardships of life-after-technology as so many gritty apocalyptic novels do, this book’s focus is on connection and friendship, the things that bind us together. It shows the world moving forward after terrible hardships — including natural disaster and plague — and reflects upon the importance of community, our duty to take care of one another, and our collective ability to get through difficult times. In other words, it is exactly the sort of book we need right now.

 

 


AP Practical Literary Theory Suggests This Is A Quest
(Or: What Danny Did Over Spring Break)

by Isabel J. Kim

Danny died on a Tuesday which was a real bummer because he was supposed to go on a road trip on Wednesday with the gang, and if he was dead then there was no way his mom was going to be cool with him going. Instead, Danny would have to spend the next three weeks on a mythic journey to regain his life from the demons that dwell below, play dice against a three-headed chthonic judge sitting on an opalescent throne, or ask his mom for one of the GET OUT OF DEATH FREE cards she got comped from work.

And then he’d be grounded for, like, six months.

Danny spent ten minutes lying on the asphalt feeling sorry for himself. Then he sighed and picked his broken body up off of the street. He took out his phone and called the gang.

The dead don’t text. They lack the fine motor skills. Fumbling, he poked his way to a group call.

“Bad news, gang,” Danny said when his friends answered. “I’m dead.” (Continue Reading…)

alien and human

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Cast of Wonders 455: Little Wonders 30 – Not So Alien After All


Toward the Sploff Zone

by Brenna Harvey

“Kids, you’re switching bodies today!” said Coach Sningarax.

Our whole gym class groaned.

“Why?” I asked.

“To build character! Now, what’s the number one rule of neuroswapping?”

Respect,” we droned in unison. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 417: Please, Stop Printing Unicorns


Please, Stop Printing Unicorns

by Fran Wilde

It shouldn’t need to be said that home bioprinters are not toys. And yet, as The New York Times reported last week, Fisher Price Waterhouse will soon offer a line of kid-friendly bioprinters in bright colors.

As a parent, I understand the temptation. There’s so much possibility here for creativity, for immersive learning through technology. But caution is necessary. The moral and environmental consequences of bioprinting extend far beyond the grasp of young minds. This is a moment for modeling moral behavior for tomorrow’s leaders, not a jumping-off point for imaginative hedonism.

Making bioprinting more accessible to the public — especially to children — will be likely to lead to even worse disasters than last Friday’s blockade of the Chicago I-899 skyways off-ramp by a herd of miniature unicorns. Sure, the unicorns (whose origins are unknown) were the size of ducklings, but their appearance caused several accidents and a moral quandary. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 411: Studies on the Impact of Homeschooling, or When Not to Wear a Tuxedo


Studies on the Impact of Homeschooling, or When Not to Wear a Tuxedo

by R. Rozakis

“Daddy, can I use the atom scramblizer?” Hilde kicked her heels against the metal cabinet she was perched on.

“No, pumpkin.” All she could see of him were his feet sticking out from underneath the giant chassis.

“How about the temporal destabilizer?”

“No, pumpkin.”

“Can I at least graft some new wings onto Spuffy?”

Her father slid out from under the chassis, pushing his goggles up onto his forehead. Dr. Acheron von Phlogiston never went anywhere without his goggles. He’d even convinced them to let him keep them during his jail stints. Not that those ever lasted long before he’d craft an ingenious device from common cutlery and break his way free once more. “Sweet pea, we’re at a critical juncture in this plan and I need to concentrate. Can’t you find something to do in your room?” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 243: The Tentacles Never Lie

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.”

Their forehead tentacles shifted to the left and became a deep shade of purple, standing out against the pink translucence of their skin. Appreciation. “We shall not wait so long, Connie of GalactiCorp,” their leader said through the tinny voice of a translator. “We thank you now. We are always honored to do business with your mighty race. We hope your government will keep our continued partnership in mind as development continues on their Baryonic Synchrotron superweapon.”

“Now, now, Dthlrap.” Connie held her hands up, palms outward. “I’ll try to put in a good word, but I can’t speak for the government. You’ll have to take it up with them. I’m merely a humble salesperson.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 228: Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class (Staff Pick 2016)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.

We hope you enjoy associate editor Alexis Goble’s favorite story from 2016, Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class by Dantzel Cherry, narrated by M K Hobson. The story originally aired March 13, 2016 as Cast of Wonders 201.


Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class

by Dantzel Cherry

Darcy walked up to the gilded starship door and it dissolved, revealing what had to be the gaudiest room in the galaxy. Gold, silver, bronze, and minerals that probably didn’t even exist on Earth covered the high ceiling and walls in panels, interlaced throughout with precious stones – and was that tinsel? – depicting who-knows-what. The effect was much like a wild animal had eaten all the jewelry at Tiffany’s and then vomited all over the walls.

Clearly the ability to travel through all the worlds in the galaxy and kidnap a fifty-two year old ballet teacher didn’t grant good taste in interior design.

The blue blob Overlord guard accompanying her spoke, its voice wobbling with each syllable, and Darcy jumped as a split second later her newly installed gray earslugs wriggled and translated:

“Behold, your students.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 201: Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class


Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class

by Dantzel Cherry

Darcy walked up to the gilded starship door and it dissolved, revealing what had to be the gaudiest room in the galaxy. Gold, silver, bronze, and minerals that probably didn’t even exist on Earth covered the high ceiling and walls in panels, interlaced throughout with precious stones – and was that tinsel? – depicting who-knows-what. The effect was much like a wild animal had eaten all the jewelry at Tiffany’s and then vomited all over the walls.

Clearly the ability to travel through all the worlds in the galaxy and kidnap a fifty-two year old ballet teacher didn’t grant good taste in interior design.

The blue blob Overlord guard accompanying her spoke, its voice wobbling with each syllable, and Darcy jumped as a split second later her newly installed gray earslugs wriggled and translated:

“Behold, your students.”

(Continue Reading…)