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Cast of Wonders 525: And I Will Make Thy Name Great (Staff Picks 2022)


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 524: Forbidden Voices (Staff Picks 2022)


Forbidden Voices

by E.J. Delaney

The package isn’t for me.

Perfectly wrapped, it sits there in its velvet carry box–like a war medal or engagement ring–even its protective layers cushioned against damage. Inside, there lies the holy grail: gold leaf copyright.

And it’s for someone else.

Klent and I are parked in the Primăverii quarter, humble servants to the Haves of this world. Have-Not Couriers, they should call us. Minions to the Upper Crust. None of this Prompt and Personal business.

The rest of Bucharest seems a world away. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 521: Wind Settles in the Bones (Staff Picks 2022)


Wind Settles in the Bones

by Stephen Granade

Syn hated pre-race press conferences. Instead of mentally preparing for competition, she had to smile and answer every media outlet’s repetitive questions. Timm Yancy with One AU especially frustrated her. He unfailingly asked inane human-interest questions like “what did you have for breakfast this morning?” (a magnetocarbonate shake so she could sense magnetic fields, followed by protein-rich cricket bars for the nausea, same as every race day) and “is that a new haircut?” (as if it would be seen under her spacesuit helmet). But Syn hadn’t become the third-ranked solar wind racer by putting off unpleasant tasks, so she called on him first. And that was how Syn learned that her dad had died.

Syn’s teeth ached and her ears hummed from the cameras floating in front of her. Their magnetic fields were a hundred times stronger than the solar wind’s, and the magnetocarbonate made her bones thrum like bass strings plucked too hard. Then Syn realized how long she’d been silent, gaping at Timm. Her media training took over. She offered a sad smile calibrated just so. “It’s hard, but I know he’d want me to focus on the race.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 519: Far From the Home I Love (Staff Picks 2022)


Far From The Home I Love

by Y.M. Resnik

“Let me get this straight. You were born on Earth, but your passport is Venusian?”

The condescension seeps through the plexiglass barrier separating me from the visa agent. It blankets me in icy disdain. Chides me for having the chutzpah to think that returning home could be easy.

I nod in the affirmative, trying to still my shaking hands as I retrieve the required documents out of my bag. I’ve followed the instructions meticulously, right down to bringing everything in triplicate. Ari helped me prepare the application. They’ve always been more detail oriented than I am.

The electronic Siddur in my bag grazes my fingers, reminding me why I am here. I pull it out and clutch the worn synthetic leather carrying-case to my chest as the agent shuffles through the paperwork. I am half tempted to recite one of the prayers found inside, but decide against it. What if the visa agent flags it as suspicious behavior? There aren’t many religious Jews on Venus. Ari and I probably make up a quarter of that population.

“Do you at least have your expired passport?” The agent is fumbling now, casting her eyes about frantically as if searching for the lost passport. Well, she can search until the Messiah comes. She won’t find anything. I didn’t have a passport when I fled. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 518: Simons, Far and Near (Staff Picks 2022)


Simons, Far and Near

by Ana Gardner

Days after a solar hurricane fried Western Europe, nations across the world gathered their brightest grade-schoolers, and they launched us into space with promises of glory and cake.

Solar storms were worsening ahead of schedule, said government men in wrinkled suits, as they pulled us from our underground shelters and stuffed us into armored tanks. The exodus ships, forced to launch early, weren’t ready to sustain endless space travel. They’d need places to land, shelters for their thousands of passengers, far from our ever-deadlier sun.

And someone had to travel on ahead and build those shelters.

Fortunately, we learned as we marched up the launch ramp, Earth had a few shuttles ready for immediate departure. Sure, they had poor radiation shields and leaky engines, but wouldn’t you know it? Shuttle travel damaged the body worst after puberty. Kids had great odds of surviving a trip across the solar system.

‘Great odds’—those were the words they used, and they loaded us into hastily-cobbled ships and chucked us from burning Earth like spores from a coughing fungus. (Continue Reading…)

suffering cyborg

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Cast of Wonders 514: The Whipping Bot


The Whipping Bot

by Jasinta Jim Langer

The bot lay on the floor, quivering. Occasionally it made an attempt to lift its upper body, a first step to getting up, but before it could get very far, someone would kick it again. A shoe would connect with its shell with a thud and its head would hit the floor with a clunk. The kids didn’t hurt their feet, kicking it. All the metal and hard plastic was covered in rubbery resin so no toes were stubbed and no knuckles bruised. Even the skull was only a little bit harder.

Eventually, most of the children got bored and the group began to disperse down the corridor in twos and threes, some still laughing and joking about the robot’s reactions, some forgetting about it entirely as soon as their backs were turned, chatting about sports and grades and their unbearable homework loads instead. Beren and Cindy stayed back and hurled insults at it some more while it curled up into a fetal position. “Useless chunk of metal”, “weirdo”, “reject”, “victim”, the usual. Finally, the bell rang, Cindy spat at the robot’s back one last time, and they, too, hurried to get to class. The robot whimpered and banged its head against the floor in what looked like frustration. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Then it went about getting up in its gangly and inelegant way.

It would have been very, very easy to push it over again. Instead, Alej, who had been leaning against the wall, wordlessly watching the whole sorry spectacle, walked next to it as it made its way towards the room where it would sit among the people for whose mistreatment it was made for another two hours. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 513: Gone Red


Gone Red

by Beverly Aarons

South Seattle — Sunday, August 4, 2080 — 3:00pm
Glimmer Robinson

We done gone Red and I don’t give a fuck. I mean, I give a fuck that me and Moms and Papa, and Lil’Bo is out here on the road to the “you’re for sure fucked zone” but I don’t give a fuck about going Red. Going Red means you still got a beating heart and you ain’t scared to let Zuk know that you’re pissed off, that you’re angry and sad and disappointed and feeling whatever feels they say you ain’t supposed to have under Zuk’s grey-ass skies. And so here we are—Red. Melting our soles on this hot ass concrete for a whole day already. Me and Moms and Papa and Lil’Bo and my neighbors, TJ, Kalli, Ms. Zena, Ray, and all of them I never did get a chance to know too much about, they on this road too. The whole district out here, about two hundred folks, gone Red and walking south on old Highway 5. (Continue Reading…)

space athlete

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Cast of Wonders 511: Wind Settles in the Bones


Wind Settles in the Bones

by Stephen Granade

Syn hated pre-race press conferences. Instead of mentally preparing for competition, she had to smile and answer every media outlet’s repetitive questions. Timm Yancy with One AU especially frustrated her. He unfailingly asked inane human-interest questions like “what did you have for breakfast this morning?” (a magnetocarbonate shake so she could sense magnetic fields, followed by protein-rich cricket bars for the nausea, same as every race day) and “is that a new haircut?” (as if it would be seen under her spacesuit helmet). But Syn hadn’t become the third-ranked solar wind racer by putting off unpleasant tasks, so she called on him first. And that was how Syn learned that her dad had died.

Syn’s teeth ached and her ears hummed from the cameras floating in front of her. Their magnetic fields were a hundred times stronger than the solar wind’s, and the magnetocarbonate made her bones thrum like bass strings plucked too hard. Then Syn realized how long she’d been silent, gaping at Timm. Her media training took over. She offered a sad smile calibrated just so. “It’s hard, but I know he’d want me to focus on the race.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 510: Forbidden Voices


Forbidden Voices

by E.J. Delaney

The package isn’t for me.

Perfectly wrapped, it sits there in its velvet carry box–like a war medal or engagement ring–even its protective layers cushioned against damage. Inside, there lies the holy grail: gold leaf copyright.

And it’s for someone else.

Klent and I are parked in the Primăverii quarter, humble servants to the Haves of this world. Have-Not Couriers, they should call us. Minions to the Upper Crust. None of this Prompt and Personal business.

The rest of Bucharest seems a world away. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 509: Far From the Home I Love


Far From The Home I Love

by Y.M. Resnik

“Let me get this straight. You were born on Earth, but your passport is Venusian?”

The condescension seeps through the plexiglass barrier separating me from the visa agent. It blankets me in icy disdain. Chides me for having the chutzpah to think that returning home could be easy.

I nod in the affirmative, trying to still my shaking hands as I retrieve the required documents out of my bag. I’ve followed the instructions meticulously, right down to bringing everything in triplicate. Ari helped me prepare the application. They’ve always been more detail oriented than I am.

The electronic Siddur in my bag grazes my fingers, reminding me why I am here. I pull it out and clutch the worn synthetic leather carrying-case to my chest as the agent shuffles through the paperwork. I am half tempted to recite one of the prayers found inside, but decide against it. What if the visa agent flags it as suspicious behavior? There aren’t many religious Jews on Venus. Ari and I probably make up a quarter of that population.

“Do you at least have your expired passport?” The agent is fumbling now, casting her eyes about frantically as if searching for the lost passport. Well, she can search until the Messiah comes. She won’t find anything. I didn’t have a passport when I fled. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 508: The Book That Wasn’t


The Book That Wasn’t

by Sally Sultzman

The school library is as close to a refuge as you get, but the librarian still looks at you like she knows there’s something off about you, and you hate that she might be right.

Then one day, the day, that day, that librarian is gone, replaced by a sub that looks…familiar. But not really, she’s definitely not the kind of person you’ve ever seen in your small town before. And she puts specific books into your hands. Very specific books. The kinds of books you could never ask about out loud, certainly not of the regular librarian because then she’d know she was right about you and tell your parents, and that–you don’t think you’d survive that.

But this librarian sub–old, tall, and imposing with wild white hair and a generous smile–just knows what books other kids also want, but those books are never as…personal as yours are. She gives you kind smiles and says things like, “You’re doing so well, just hold on a little bit longer,” as she gives you another book that you’re not allowed to read, not even allowed to know exists, and it… it helps. (Continue Reading…)

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…)