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Cast of Wonders 164: Amicae Aeternum by Ellen Klages

Show Notes

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

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.

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Episode 153: Staff Pick 2014 – Shimmer by Amanda C. Davis

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 Episode 148.


Shimmer

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.

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Cast of Wonders 152: Staff Pick 2014 – Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs. The Goblins of Vishnu 6 by Jamieson Ridenhour

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 Episode 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.

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Cast of Wonders 151: Staff Pick 2014 – Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man by Scott C. Mikula

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 Episode 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.

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Cast of Wonders 148: Shimmer by Amanda C. Davis


Shimmer

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.

(Continue Reading…)

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Episode 147: Thirty Minutes for New Hell (Part 2)


30 Minutes for New Hell

by Rick Kennett

Part 2

He checked the clock again.

Twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven …

From his vantage point at the weapons console at Com, Lieutenant Frank Peters looked first at the forward access hatch, then at the aft access hatch, speculating. Yes, he thought. Forward hatch. Definitely. It was slightly further from Scans, but more direct. And the Professor was nothing if not direct.

He leaned back and listened to the building power-song of the drive firing gravity rings down the hull, faster and faster, acting on every atom simultaneously, causing no g forces within.

Twenty-four, twenty-three, twenty-two …

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Cast of Wonders 146: Thirty Minutes for New Hell (Part 1)


30 Minutes for New Hell

by Rick Kennett

Part 1

What are they doing?

Cy De Gerch leaned forward and peered at the scene on one of her repeater screens. A few minutes ago, there in the middle of a New Hell desert viewed from a high-orbit drone, the Dhooj’s vehicle had suddenly stopped – skidding on its six balloon tyres, spraying red dust. Yet none of its crew, clad in their vacuum suits and transparent helmets, had so far emerged.

Which was odd, and Cy knew it. Ever since their landing on New Hell two days ago the Dhooj had been trundling along, setting up experiments, making observations, reporting excitedly back to their home world thirty million kilometres sunward like the pioneers and explorers they were. Energetic creatures, the Dhooj, not ones to just sit. Didn’t they have geological samples to take? Water probes to drill? Low g sports to play?

On impulse Cy shivered and pulled her grey tunic closer about. There was a desert wind blowing down there. She could feel it even from so distant an orbit. The scene was too much like home, too much like Mars. And well she knew that Martian winds blew forever cold.

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Cast of Wonders 145: Tell Them Of The Sky by A. T. Greenblatt


Tell Them of the Sky

by A. T. Greenblatt

She is too small, Kitkun thinks, the first time she enters his tiny workshop tucked between the market’s stalls. Too young to have left the nest alone. Yet, despite the years of waiting, he still feels a prick of hope as she steps out of the city’s unrelenting smog and over the threshold, thinking, perhaps she will be the one. Perhaps she will ask.

“Are you lost, child?” says Kitkun, setting down his tools. She is dressed in cream colored silk – a foolish color to wear in this city – but her shoes are covered in grime.

She nods. “I thought I saw a raven,” she says.

“And did you?”

Her face crumples with disappointment. “Nanny couldn’t keep up. She doesn’t believe birds exists.”

Kitkun smiles. Customers do not randomly wander into his shop. “Well, I do,” he says, pointing at the display next to her, “See?”

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Cast of Wonders 144: The Middle Rages by Joseph L. Kellogg


The Middle Rages

by Joseph L. Kellogg

Cale twirled his drumstick morosely as the last of the reverb from the guitars died out.

“We vent,” he finally declared, tossing the sticks down onto the snare with a clatter. He leaned against the back of the couch and crossed his arms over his ample stomach.

“No, come on,” Bendrick replied, turning toward the drums as he brushed the hair from his eyes. “That was good, we’re definitely getting better. We’ve just gotta-” He stumbled as he stepped on the cord and pulled the plug sharply from his guitar. “We’ve gotta keep practicing.”

“What for, Benny?” asked Jillan, plopping down on an amp and resting her head in her hands. “It’s not like we can ever sign a big record contract, or go on a world tour. There aren’t any opportunities on the ship, no matter how good we are.”

“Don’t you see?” Bendrick said, pulling the guitar strap over his head and setting it down. He pointed at the crude letters formed from strips of electrical tape on the base drum. “We’re The Middle Rages! It’s not about the money or the fame, it’s about the rage, the emotion. It’s about the art.”

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Cast of Wonders 137: The Filigreed Cage by Krystal Claxton


The Filigreed Cage

by Krystal Claxton

“I don’t understand why you’re doing this.” Valeria spoke in hushed tones, though no one other than Nolan was within earshot.

“Because I can.” Nolan’s fingers worked against the cuff on his wrist with a slim metal splinter.

“Nolan, please can we talk about this? Just wait a moment.” She glanced around the park. Beyond the walkway, short trees basked in the artificial light of the dome.

The cuff was a gift from the Overseers, one of many they had bestowed upon humanity since the Fail. It provided everyone with instructions and guidance. Her fingers nervously traced the intricate filigree of her own cuff. She remembered her tenth birthday, when she’d been blessed with the title of Wife and Nolan’s name had appeared in delicate scroll.

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Cast of Wonders 136: Flotsam by Rebecca Schwarz


Flotsam

by Rebecca Schwarz

I’m about to blast a Grunt when the game freezes. Mom’s commandeered the link, and now she appears, in her old chinos and a tee-shirt, among the rubble of the Axis bunker.

“Mom! Get off!” As long as she’s on, my avatar is frozen like an idiot and open to attack. I text Katya my situation although it should be obvious.

“Don’t speak to me in that tone, Ian!” Mom says. “Log off and come to the kitchen.”

There’s no point in arguing. I shut down my avatar and sign off. I hope Katya makes it to the next level. If not, no way is she partnering with me again, or sitting next to me at lunch.

The 3D shuts down, sucking the setting sun up to the foreground rubble. The wall fades to beige. I flop back on the floor. It’s always startling how small my room is when the screen is off. My toes touch the wall where the screen was, and when I stretch my hands up over my head, I can feel the curved join where the opposite wall becomes the floor.

I get up, slide the door open and yell, “What do you want?”

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Episode 131: Survivor by Josh Roseman


Survivor

by Josh Roseman

Wen slumped against a crystal formation and stared up at the dark sky, lit only by greenish-gold auroras. Sweat ran down into her eyes and made her clothes cling in uncomfortable places. She wanted to sit down, wanted to take off the pack for a few minutes, but the last time she’d done that, her feet had ached even worse for the respite.

No. Better to stay standing.

She caught her breath before taking a measured swallow from the canteen that hung at her side. Gulping the water would be a mistake; in this state, she’d just throw up. Staying calm, that was the key.

One more swallow, though she ached to drain the whole thing, and then back onto its clip.

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