Cast of Wonders is thrilled to announce the theme for Dinovember 2020: Intelligent Dinosaurs! This event is guest edited by our very own Andrew K. Hoe! (Continue Reading…)
Genres: Science Fiction
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.
by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Magdalena perched on the edge of a flimsy folding chair, fingers knotted. The overseer’s office reverberated with the movement of the factory: a steady, pounding rhythm that made up the heartbeat of the city of Tammin. She focused on the way the inkwell trembled, rather than on the overseer behind the desk. The woman who held Magdalena’s past—and immediate future—in her hands.
by Amanda Helms
The wordslinger first came into Lasthope on the back of a scarab the size of a large pony, during the worst flaying-wind storm in a generation.
Mind, we didn’t know then that she was a wordslinger, or even that she was a she. I didn’t witness it direct, but later one of our regulars told me of her, all bundled up in hat and gloves and too-big cloak, on account of them winds, you see. She climbed off her scarab with the stiffness of someone too long in the saddle. But like any rider worth her salt, she saw to her mount afore she came into the saloon, which is where I first saw her myself.
by Amy Brennan
You are crying.
Salty tears dripping into my fur and steaming off in the dry heat.
You hug me tightly, I feel your ragged breathing, your shivers as you hold in the sobs that want to be free.
I want to offer more comfort, but what am I? – Just bits of fabric with plush stuffing, a pink button nose and a pair of beaded eyes. I can do no more than be hugged, do no more than silently offer sympathy, wish to the legendary stuffed toys of the past – and to Veleveteen most of all – that I can do more.
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.”
It’s that time of year again, so here are all the award eligible original stories that Cast of Wonders published in 2019. All 34 of them! You can hear more about which ones meant the most to the team as part of our Staff Picks episodes throughout January (and there were some rather rambunctious back-stage fights over who would get to pick some of them… oh, the drama!)
Five Functions of Your Bionosaur
by Rachael K. Jones
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.
Matthew told us, “This story began life as a PodCastle flash fiction contest entry. While it only made it to the semi-finals, Katherine Inskip commented that she’d love to see a longer version submitted to Cast of Wonders. Armed with this encouragement, I worked to fill out the characters, their struggles, and a plot. It took a fair amount of feedback and editing, but I was delighted that the finished story was one that Cast of Wonders was interested in publishing!”
SOUL CLEAVER Clarence
by Matthew J. Jarvis
“My dear dragon,” the princess announced as she held aloft Clarence’s topaz windflower, its gemstone petals glinting beautifully in the sun. “These are, without doubt, the finest sculptures in all the land!” Around him the humans attending the faire clapped enthusiastically. “State your name, dragon, and ask any favor in my power to grant, for you have truly won first prize.”
Clarence glowed with pride. “My name is–“
by Kate Cobey
“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.”
Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army
by Setsu Uzume
I am loathe to admit that the ambush was masterful. Not only had the bounty hunters slain my contacts, but they had done so in the right order — dispatching the Ritualist before she had any corpses to animate. Had I come on horseback, they would have had me, too.
In addition to my dead allies and their hobbled wagon, I counted four hunters lumbering through the dark. Big lads, experienced and well-equipped, but given the style of their breastplates they had come from the west — tracking the cultists and not me. It made them slow and ill-prepared to face me in my glory. I whirled, my shadow splitting off to pierce kidneys and slice the backs of their knees while I led them a merry dance through dead leaves and bracken. One of them even turned, his blade slashing a wide arc, but shadows have no heads to remove. Him, I killed the quickest.
Hello everyone, Marguerite here.
The new year and a new decade are around the corner, and with them comes change. Our last episode of 2019 — Effie Seiberg’s glorious The Tale of Descruptikn and the Product Launch Requirements Documentation — marks my last as Cast of Wonders’ editor. (Continue Reading…)