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Cast of Wonders 413: Little Wonders 25 – Hearts in Boxes


The Half-Life of a Broken Heart
by N. R. Lambert

We hear the nursery long before we see it. Feel it too, despite the heavily insulated walls. Deep metronomic concussions roll down the corridor and crash through us. When we reach the entry, marked simply, “Hearts,” the door slides open and a technician ushers us through. The nursery is aggressively antiseptic–shrill LED lighting, a gleaming steel tile floor, and between them, bed after bed of hearts. A chamber of chambers, bumping and pulsing in sync.

“They do that on their own.” The tech says, smiling, glasses glaring back at us.

“We’ve even tried to offset them intentionally, quite drastically, but still…they always sync up somehow. It’s rather uncanny, don’t you think?” (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 410: Cast Member Rules at Old Tech Town


Cast Member Rules at Old Tech Town

by Shaenon Garrity

Thank you for uploading the autonomous guide stream Cast Member Rules at Old Tech Town. Through this node we will provide scheduled reminders of your duty roster and update your personal ruleset as required. Cast Member Rules at Old Tech Town may be deleted at the end of the summer when you depart.

1. Old Tech Town, known to indigenous humans as San Francisco, is a protected heritage site. Treat the area with the respect you would show your own root compiler, which in a sense (symbolic/holistic, not literal) it is. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 408: Growing Resistance


Growing Resistance

by Juliet Kemp

The late-afternoon sun hovers above the wall as I kneel on the earth, weeding tomatoes. Beyond the wall, yellow-orange light reflects off the clean sharp lines of the apartment blocks. Boxes for safe people, people who are provided for. People who matter. People who I knew, once upon a time. People who could afford the vaccine before the gates closed. The plague’s gone now, but the wall’s still here. (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 399: Staff Picks 2019 – Breaking


Breaking

by Maya Chhabra

Mom’s kind of bizarrely happy for someone with a daughter about to croak, but I don’t mind. She saved my life. When I collapsed, I was still only fourteen: too young to have an imprint taken. If she hadn’t found me in time, I would be dead already, and gone. Now I’m safe, and they’ve pretty much stopped everything but palliative care. I’d like to be corporeal longer, and grow human-wise, but there’s nothing more they can do.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 395: Staff Picks 2019 – Barter Queen


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 394: Staff Picks 2019 – Five Functions of Your Bionosaur


Five Functions of Your Bionosaur

by Rachael K. Jones

1.

Your parents first activate your bionosaur when they bring you home from the hospital. The bionosaur was a baby shower gift from your mom’s favorite aunt. They were nervous about its size, the stainless steel maw, the retractable razorclaws inside its stubby little arms, but the aunt had insisted. She’d programmed it herself, covered its titanium-alloy skeleton in top-grade synthskin featherscales, and pre-loaded it with educational apps.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 392: Staff Picks 2019 – The Angel


The Angel

by Kate Cobey

I: Sterile

“Just don’t treat her like anything less than a person,” Mama fretted from the front row of the cab. Never mind that this was the fourth time we’d come to see her, and we’d heard the same plea every single time. Cautiously, Mama asked the white hospital archway next to her, “May we enter?”

“Card?” responded the building.

“You don’t need to be so formal. It’s just a robot,” Nina complained from the back. “It’s aaaall robots, here.”

(Continue Reading…)

Image of a robotic dinosaur

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Cast of Wonders 385: Be a Thunder, Release a Roar


Be a Thunder, Release a Roar

by Osahon Ize-Iyamu

It’s January 2028 and young Uwaila watches the TV, fixated at what’s right in front of her. The dinosaurs appear with a mighty boom, with feet that hit the earth like a rumble. They make everything look so small, all humans look so little, make everybody afraid. They hold a certain kind of power Uwaila needs, a roar and gentleness that makes them perfect to watch. (Continue Reading…)

Image of a robotic dinosaur

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Cast of Wonders 384: Sphexa, Start Dinosaur


Sphexa, Start Dinosaur

by Nibedita Sen

Asha—Ash to friends—wedges the maintenance door open wide enough to slip into the darkened interior of the abandoned ride. Inside smells like rust and stale water and plastic fused with metal.

“Sphexa,” he says. “Light.” (Continue Reading…)

Image of a robotic dinosaur

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Cast of Wonders 383: Five Functions of Your Bionosaur


Five Functions of Your Bionosaur

by Rachael K. Jones

1.

Your parents first activate your bionosaur when they bring you home from the hospital. The bionosaur was a baby shower gift from your mom’s favorite aunt. They were nervous about its size, the stainless steel maw, the retractable razorclaws inside its stubby little arms, but the aunt had insisted. She’d programmed it herself, covered its titanium-alloy skeleton in top-grade synthskin featherscales, and pre-loaded it with educational apps. (Continue Reading…)