Cast of Wonders 177: Foggy Planet Breakdown

Show Notes

Hello everyone, sorry we’ve been away for a while. Make sure you listen to the story for that important announcement we mentioned.

Foggy Planet Breakdown

by Peter Wood

Bill Holt rushed into the star ship’s meeting room thirty minutes late and set his banjo down on the metal conference table. “Sorry to keep y’all waiting, “ he panted to the half dozen people. “Earl didn’t show up today.”

Skaggs, the top official from Galactic Mining, took a long slow sip of coffee. “Who’s Earl?”

Bill adjusted a couple of strings. Banjos were temperamental and had to be tuned constantly especially in the constant heat and humidity of this alien world. “Earl Scruggs. Greatest banjo player of all time. Bluegrass legend. Flatt and Scruggs.”

Skaggs responded with a blank stare.

(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 174: Take A Good Look

Take a Good Look

by Holly Schofield

Megan watched with dull eyes as Alan’s tendrils undulated above his head, making odd silhouettes on the garage wall. He grew more excited, his beige skin turned mauve as he finished his breakfast beer.

She rocked her lawn chair slowly back and forth in the early morning sun. She barely heard Alan as he went on and on about his most recent trip, to see the giant Easter egg statue in eastern Alberta, and the other attractions he’d visited since she’d left town last year.

“I took an, erh, hologram of the egg,” he told her gleefully, his voice thick with phlegm. “For my, erh, scrapbook.” His English was good but some things apparently didn’t translate well.

“It’s Dad,” she blurted out. “He’s dying.”

(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 173: Timelines

Show Notes

This story marks our fifth appearance of Cy De Gerch. You can find all her previous adventures here.


by Rick Kennett

As Utopia Plain accelerated away, Captain Brown switched from aft view to forward where the star field was beginning to blue-shift. On the weapons repeater beside him the Terran ship was sliding into the sights. The repeater’s identification lights were on, blinking insistently.

At fire control Lieutenant Cy De Gerch stared at her weapons screen and said, “Range to targets now four point five million and closing.”

Across from her, Lieutenant Peters flipped back the plastic cover on the I.F.F. override and jabbed his finger down on the sensor panel. It lit with the words Genetic Code confirmed.

“Identification Friend or Foe override operating, sir,” he said.

“Range four million and closing,” said Cy.

(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 171: Pluto


by C. E. Hyun

On Pluto, there were pterodactyls that flew in V-flock formations. Sarah had never seen pterodactyls that flew in V-flock formations.

This was not demoted-to-dwarf-planet Pluto. This was a lush and fantastic Pluto, which Sarah and her companions discovered while returning from their discouraging voyage to the system of Poseidon. (Perks and promotions had been promised on their finding the fabled god’s trident. Alas, all they’d found were dusty moon rocks, and there were plenty of those next door to home.)

On Pluto, fresh fruit dangled from the trees. They camped by the beach, where the sand was pink and pale. It was a welcome respite, and no one was eager to hurry back home. Here, the weather was lovely. Curious creatures populated the land. Silver otters and sapphire hummingbirds. Tiny compsognathus that scampered in the beach grass.

It was Tony, their systems engineer, who discovered them. “I’m good with animals. Look, I’ve got this guy eating out of the palm of my hand!” he said.

“Maybe it’s him that’s good with you,” Sarah said. The compsognathus crushed Tony’s walnut like a marshmallow.
(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 168: The Tale of the White Tiger

The Tale of the White Tiger

by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt

Blind Li Xiao surveyed the marketplace. The sensor net embedded in his storyteller’s robes fed signals directly to his brain. The citizenship transponders exactly matched the number of heat signatures. A world firmly loyal to the Empire, then. Or one too afraid to act otherwise.

A passive scan showed at least two peacekeepers in the market. Probably more secret police. He would have to be careful in his story selection. Something from one of the official chronicles. Something he could use for his own purposes.

He beat his staff on the ground three times. The bells at the head chimed out their message. Be still and hearken. Blind Li Xiao is about to begin his tale. He chanted the introductory poem in his clear, high voice:

“When wicked ministers subvert the good,

“The Systems lose the beautiful and true.

“On Heaven’s River vast, White Tiger sails,

“Her course set by the pirate Madam Hu.”

An audience gathered in front of Blind Li Xiao. Children pressed close, their grandparents behind them. The young women and men stood at the edge, feigning disinterest or fearing entrapment. Blind Li Xiao swept the head of his staff in a broad arc as he spoke.

(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 166: Hard Passage

Show Notes

Juliet Mushens’ book Get Started in Writing Young Adult Fiction is available now in the UK, and forthcoming in the US. You can find her on Twitter.

Hard Passage

by Holly Schofield

Daylan hurried along the edge of the crowd. He would violate the Heartcreed if he was late again.

As he approached the main wormhole gate, a new wave of arrivals washed over him. There should have been a few minutes grace. I’ve got the schedules wrong again, he thought, flicking his grimy pad into begging mode with an aching thumb.

“Help a poor orphan boy save for a ticket home,” Daylan called out to the kindliest-looking ones as he forged upstream, against the hectic flow of passengers, hunching to make himself shorter. He waved his pad, the large zero indicating his lack of credits. Most arrivees let their eyes pass over his ragged clothes and unblemished forehead, the lack of a visible brain implant labeling him idios.

Endless multitudes streamed by, a cacophony of colour and shapes: tall, elegant Naiphs; stocky Rassakits; right-sized Terrans. Humankind and the two known extraterrestrial species surged in a constant flux; arriving and departing ships determining the tidal ebb and flow of the spaceport.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 165: Into The Forever Place

Show Notes

Our story this week is a special re-broadcast of Into the Forever Place by Luke Thomas. This story originally ran in July of last year, but the recording suffered from a technical failure that meant we took it down almost as soon as it went up, so we’ve decided to re-release it for your listening pleasure.

Into the Forever Place

by Luke Thomas

I fasten the last braid about Jad’s shoulder and step back. My belly flutters as I look him over, which isn’t normal. Jad’s my best friend. I’m never more comfortable with anyone than with him. Today, though, he is to be venerated, and he looks the part. I knew the dyes used for this sash were precious, but only now do I understand what that means.

We both examine his reflection in the slab of mirrored glass leaning against the wall. The mirror’s old tain yellows everything—the wood and mortar walls, my pale skin and Jad’s dark—it’s all yellowed except the braids of the sash. They wind around Jad’s lanky torso in blues and greens more vivid than life. I know a veneration ceremony is about the clan, not about Jad, but we can both see he looks splendid. His chest swells. I can’t help but laugh. “Jad… you’re preening.”

He blinks, realizes how puffed up he is, and laughs. This doesn’t last long though; Jad recovers himself more quickly than I can manage. He’s a trained storykeeper, after all, and can isolate the rhythm of his breathing and trim the laughter right out of it. I’ve no such control.

(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 164: Amicae Aeternum

Show Notes

Available from Solaris in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 9 (May 2015), and from

Once you’ve listened to the story, here’s the lullaby Rikki wrote!

Amicae Aeternum

by Ellen Klages

It was still dark when Corry woke, no lights on in the neighbors’ houses, just a yellow glow from the streetlight on the other side of the elm. Through her open window, the early summer breeze brushed across her coverlet like silk.

Corry dressed silently, trying not to see the empty walls, the boxes piled in a corner. She pulled on a shirt and shorts, looping the laces of her shoes around her neck and climbed from bed to sill and out the window with only a whisper of fabric against the worn wood. Then she was outside.

The grass was chill and damp beneath her bare feet. She let them rest on it for a minute, the freshly-mowed blades tickling her toes, her heels sinking into the springy-sponginess of the dirt. She breathed deep, to catch it all—the cool and the green and the stillness—holding it in for as long as she could before slipping on her shoes.

A morning to remember. Every little detail.

(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 153: Shimmer (Staff Pick 2014)

Show Notes

Every year in January Cast of Wonders takes a break to catch our breath, plan out the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes from the year just passed.

We hope you enjoy Jeff’s favorite story from 2014, Shimmer by Amanda C. Davis, which originally aired November 30, 2014 as Cast of Wonders 148.


by Amanda C. Davis

Bethany Chow is shimmering in the cafeteria like the disco ball they borrow from the seventies for every stupid school dance. Her hair is shifting through a dozen shades of black and brown, a dozen patterns of highlights and lowlights, and her eyes are changing shape so fast she seems to be constantly winking. She’s only changing height slightly these days, so people must have figured out how tall she is. She’s really settling into her shimmer. If I guess right, she’ll be shimmering the rest of her life. She’ll never be without admirers, and lots of them, to think about her and remember her and shape her.

One of her adoring lunch buddies glances over her shoulder at me, and I feel my thighs expand. The seams of my jeans dig into my skin. I have to get out of here. I leave my lunch tray where it is, grab my backpack by the straps, and bolt.

Unfortunately I pass a table full of the track team on my way out of the cafeteria. That slows me down.

In the hallway my legs snap back to normal, but I feel a few pimples come and go as I pass a boy with one amazing case of acne. He must not have any friends at all. You can usually count on people not to remember the particulars of your zit pattern–unless it’s all they know about you, and then look out. Their memories will turn you into a gargoyle.
(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 152: Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs. The Goblins of Vishnu 6 (Staff Pick 2014)

Show Notes

Every year in January Cast of Wonders takes a break to catch our breath, plan out the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes from the year just passed.

We hope you enjoy Barry’s favorite story from 2014, Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs. The Goblins of Vishnu 6 by Jamieson Ridenhour, which originally aired November 17, 2013 as Cast of Wonders 104.

Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs.The Goblins of Vishnu 6

By Jamieson Ridenhour

Load-in is always a bitch on a gas giant gig, but the moisture off the methane sea on Vamana really played havoc with my drum heads. The city, Upendra, was a big, domed thing with old-school terra-forming and flora-powered atmos that amounted to a human-made jungle in the midst of the rocky moon. We were playing the Municipal Amphitheatre, a screamingly Corporate name that was typically boring and grandiose all at once. That we got booked at all is probably due more to the backwater status of Vishnu 6’s fifth moon than any real thought about whether we’d be a good fit—we were a hell of a lot cheaper than the big CorpMuses who played closer to Earth.

Not that any of this mattered, mind you. A gig’s a gig, and this one was if anything a little bigger than we usually pulled. I’m just saying that for the all the “professionalism” of the local staff and the “modern ease” with which the intra-dome transfer was supposed to run, we might as well have been playing a dive bar in the Pleiades. But we did get the equipment set up, ‘cause you always do, and we did get what could technically be called a sound-check before we were hustled off the stage so the other two bands on the roster could do the same.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: , ,

Cast of Wonders 151: Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man (Staff Pick 2014)

Show Notes

Every year in January Cast of Wonders takes a break to catch our breath, plan out the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes from the year just passed.

We hope you enjoy Marguerite’s favorite story from 2014, Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man by Scott C. Mikula, which originally aired March 23, 2014 as Cast of Wonders 120.

Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man

by Scott C. Mikula

I tried to shut out the crowd’s roar, but the thunder of a thousand feet pounding above us in the arena stands rose until I could feel the breastplate of the mechanical swordsman vibrate beneath my touch.  Master Madrigal gestured with his palsied hand for me to replace the automaton’s helmet, but I hesitated to examine the delicate inner workings. Just one small adjustment

A cuff to the back of my head arrested my motion.  “We have spoken of this, Cetta,” said Madrigal. “There is no problem with the balance.”  He crossed his arms, tucking his useless right hand out of sight beneath his sleeve.

I persuaded my mother to send me to her uncle Madrigal after his illness, when I was just twelve years old.  The word apprentice was never used. Girls did not apprentice to craftsmen like Madrigal, and I don’t think he would have taken an apprentice in any case.  He referred to me as his hands. My deft fingers did the work his no longer could.
(Continue Reading…)