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 502: Little Wonders 34 – Separation & Connection

Show Notes

Of Bugs, Debts and Distant Planets was originally published in Fifth Di… Magazine in June 2021


Of Bugs, Debts, and Distant Planets

by Vera Brook

The blue-green farming fields of Kenor surround me like a waist-deep sea as I sweep another fern, the bugs rattling like pebbles down the clear tube of my vacuum. One cold, alien sun hangs to my right, another to my left.

There’s nothing I’ll miss about this world when I leave tonight.

Except Jace. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 481: Factory Mother (Staff Picks 2021)


Factory Mother

by Sid Jain

The mushroom mycelia sundering in the pale, hot fermentation medium reminded Hanifa of her apartment building melting in Old Delhi: when concrete flowed like lava and spilled her life onto the streets.

“Hani, you with me?”

Hani blinked twice. “Yes, Gary.”

She stepped away from the sightglass, away from her memories. She was here, now, contained by the blistered grey walls of Mycagen Foods, in Durham, North Carolina. Here, the air didn’t slough the skin off newborns in their crib.

Gary, her night shift supervisor, rapped on his handheld tablet with his four fingers impatiently. “We don’t have all night, Hanifa.”

Well, Gary, she thought, learn to wait as I have. I’ve been waiting to be American for years. We all have our vigils to keep. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 461: Factory Mother


Factory Mother

by Sid Jain

The mushroom mycelia sundering in the pale, hot fermentation medium reminded Hanifa of her apartment building melting in Old Delhi: when concrete flowed like lava and spilled her life onto the streets.

“Hani, you with me?”

Hani blinked twice. “Yes, Gary.”

She stepped away from the sightglass, away from her memories. She was here, now, contained by the blistered grey walls of Mycagen Foods, in Durham, North Carolina. Here, the air didn’t slough the skin off newborns in their crib.

Gary, her night shift supervisor, rapped on his handheld tablet with his four fingers impatiently. “We don’t have all night, Hanifa.”

Well, Gary, she thought, learn to wait as I have. I’ve been waiting to be American for years. We all have our vigils to keep. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 442: Mothers, Watch Over Me (Staff Picks 2020)


Mothers, Watch Over Me

by Maria Haskins

Even in the dream, Maya knows her pup is dying.

She dreams of a lone mother-dog in the time before the packs, before the dens, before the sky cleared, before the flames on the horizon went out. Mother-dog walks through dust of the Forbidding, beneath the same skyfire that glows ever-brighter in Maya’s waking world, walking towards the towers, carrying a pup in her jaws.

In Maya’s dream, mother-dog is starlight and shadow, and the dirt glimmers where her paws touch the ground. Mother-dog does not speak, but Maya’s own voice ripples through the stillness of the Forbidding, stirring dust and silence:

Watch over me, mother. Watch over them.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 435: Volumes


Volumes

by Laura Duerr

It was a grim and drizzly morning in the Cascade foothills. The windows of the abandoned convenience store Priya called home were boarded up, but she could see the low gray clouds on her security feed screens. Rad counts were low, but even with radiation at relatively safe levels, no one would want to travel in these conditions. In better times, Before, this would be the perfect day for a good book and a cup of tea.

All things considered, Priya thought herself fortunate, because she could have just that. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 401: Mothers, Watch Over Me

Show Notes

The document mentioned in Katherine’s comments, “Expert judgment on markers to deter inadvertent human intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant”, can be found here.


Mothers, Watch Over Me

by Maria Haskins

Even in the dream, Maya knows her pup is dying.

She dreams of a lone mother-dog in the time before the packs, before the dens, before the sky cleared, before the flames on the horizon went out. Mother-dog walks through dust of the Forbidding, beneath the same skyfire that glows ever-brighter in Maya’s waking world, walking towards the towers, carrying a pup in her jaws.

In Maya’s dream, mother-dog is starlight and shadow, and the dirt glimmers where her paws touch the ground. Mother-dog does not speak, but Maya’s own voice ripples through the stillness of the Forbidding, stirring dust and silence:

Watch over me, mother. Watch over them.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 395: Barter Queen (Staff Picks 2019)


Barter Queen

by Sarah Pauling

Soledad lets Gabe do the introductions because most strangers see him as the more respectable sibling. His attentive green eyes stare from under thick lashes, and his hair lies flat even when it’s desperately in need of a cut.

“We want Queen Mary’s protection,” he says, brazen as anything. Soledad tries not to stare at the ground. Gabe squeezes her hand.

“What can you give her?” the man at the door asks. Huge firearms dangle from his sides.

“We got guns, for one thing. And we’re mechanics. We can fix things. Bikes.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 364: Remember to Breathe


Remember to Breathe

by Matt Dovey

Vikram watches with growing uncertainty as Isaac turns round and around, searching for a landmark in the heavy fog. Neon signs glow through it like stars, tinted green by the algae: it’s like a rainbow galaxy surrounds them, dotted with light. They may as well be floating in a nebula cloud for all they can see of San Francisco anyway.

Vik signs a question. Their face-masks muffle whispers, and they dare not raise their voices and alert any drones. They’re not stupid. Every SF kid knows sign language for fog running, and Vik has picked it up fast since moving here from Sacramento.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 343: Ten Things Sunil and I Forgot to Prepare for, When Preparing for the Apocalypse (Staff Picks 2018)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders highlights some of our favorite episodes from the previous year. It’s a great chance for us to take a bit of a breather, and let you, our listeners, catch up on any missed back episodes with new commentary from a different member of the crew.

Today’s episode is hosted by associate editor Shawn Proctor.


Ten Things Sunil and I Forgot to Prepare for, When Preparing for the Apocalypse

by Shane Halbach

1. We didn’t prepare multiple contingencies

When Sunil and I made our plan, we always thought it would be zombies. I mean, we literally imagined nothing else. It just made sense.

Now that I think about it, there are tons of other ways the world could end: aliens from space, nuclear war, some kind of non-zombie disease, maybe nanobots or something. But even then, I wouldn’t have thought of portals to other worlds. I mean, I literally could not have imagined it. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 335: Skinned


Skinned

by Amanda Helms

So Jian thinks he needs a new skin.

He says it like it’s no big deal, just a little epidermal clean-up, Oh ha ha how’d that peeling happen? But what he means is that he has to replace his rusting face. It’s harder to accept than a pinkie finger would be, or even a whole arm. His face is him, and Jian acts like tearing it off means nothing.

He heard from someone who heard from someone that the old Smythson Cerebral place has a working rejuvpod, so that’s why we’re sneaking into an abandoned biodroid repository at two in the morning. He’s hoping he’ll get double-lucky and find a compatible stem-skin.

Jian scans the darkened landscape, probably seeking a sturdy-enough tree I could hide in, except there’s nothing but wizened trunks and naked branches.

He’s also checking for bandits. One little apocalypse and they breed like rabbits.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 230: Planar Ghosts (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 former assistant editor Jeff Hite’s favorite story from 2016, Planar Ghosts by Krystal Claxton, narrated by Paul Cram. The story originally aired across two episodes in April 2016, Episode 205 and Episode 206. The story is presented here in its entirety.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.


Planar Ghosts

by Krystal Claxton

The walls around the town of Bootstrap are mostly old cars stacked one on top of the other and welded together. Outside Bootstrap, market stalls made from patchwork tarps and rusty pipes lean on either side of the wide gate. They are temporary places for the people who live inside to trade goods with the people stuck outside who need in.

People like Pup.

He looks up at the guard by the gate, who is thicker, but not much older. Probably grew up inside the walls. He looks as if he’s been well-fed, even during bad years. His skin is sun-reddened and spotted along his cheeks and the high bridge of his nose.

Pup offers his frayed duffle bag to the guard. The man kneels to comb through it with one meaty hand. Inside is Pup’s winter scavenge–a length of rope, a glass vial with lighter fluid, and three almost-full rolls of duct tape.

If this is enough to buy Pup in, he can work for water until summer is over. As the guard measures Pup’s worth, the one good pocket of his cargo pants seems heavier. Inside is something he’s not supposed to trade. He’s not sure what it is. Some Before thing. Probably the guard wouldn’t know what it is either.

(Continue Reading…)