Posts Tagged ‘Alicia Caporaso’

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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…)

Introducing our new assistant editors!


Stagehands Assemble!

There’ve been some changes backstage in the last month, and two of our very talented and hard-working staff members have stepped up to join the editorial team at Cast of Wonders. Cup Jacob and Alicia Caporaso have both shown their skills as associate editors in the slushpile; their careful and supportive critiques and advice have helped shape many of our published pieces, and helped the team provide what we hope are useful and fair rejection letters. They’ve got to grips with all the nuts and bolts of the production process, and have taken the lead on several smaller submission windows. Now, it’s time to give them a moment in the spotlight to introduce themselves in their own words.


First up is Alicia Caporaso, who has been with the team for the last five years.

Hello! My name is Alicia Caporaso, and I am so happy to take on the role of Assistant Editor at Cast of Wonders. I first learned about Escape Artists around 2008 through listening to the French-language Science Fiction and Fantasy Podcast Utopod, which, on Science Fiction blogs, was repeatedly and favorably compared to EscapePod. I had to check it out, and have been listening to EscapePod, Podcastle, PseudoPod, and Cast of Wonders ever since (that’s a lot of stories!). I was one of the winners of the first Podcastle Flash Fiction Contest in 2010 with my story The Water Sprite, and I still have my original Podcastle t-shirt that I won! In 2017 I applied to be an Associate Editor with Cast of Wonders and have loved every minute of reading stories submitted to us. I was honored to guest edit Banned Books Week 2022, which gave me an excellent introduction to the behind-the-scenes process of editing our podcast. I am blown away by the diversity and creativity of our authors. We have a true community of storytellers here.

I am a marine archaeologist with undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and Engineering, a Master’s degree in Anthropology, and a Ph.D. in Oceanography (I love it when authors incorporate science into stories!). I work as a marine scientist for the U.S. federal government in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. My office is in New Orleans, but I work from Minnesota (yay remote work!). My two little Louisiana Swamp Monsters – they look like dogs, but you know – just experienced their first snow, and I can’t say that they like it yet. We are looking forward to getting to know the speculative fiction community here and I can’t wait to go to my first CONvergence!


And here’s Cup Jacob, with his thoughts about YA fiction and working with Cast of Wonders.

Young Adult Fiction is some of the most impactful literature because we read them at the age we started reading for ourselves. By this I mean we chose to read these stories instead of having an adult decide what we might like.

I wasn’t the nicest of kids and I would get into a lot of trouble in grade school. Detention where I went to school meant having our play hours replaced with library time. And I loved it! I started with the encyclopedias, then I discovered our school’s huge collection of Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Three Investigators Mysteries. I eventually started going to the library outside of detention hours.

Soon after, I discovered the used book stores and with my student allowance savings I discovered Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, Ursula LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, while high school literature classes introduced Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind and Ceres Alabado’s Kangkong 1896.

For some condescending reason, many adults consider young adult literature as easy reading. I don’t see anything wrong with that. This ease in reading is often achieved by a musicality of language and a tightness of structure that many so-called adult stories aspire for. It harkens back to our early civilizations where stories are oral, they are recited to an audience, and they provoke conversation after, building community.

Nowadays, I am often stuck doing things I would rather not be doing and podcasts have helped make those times worth living. It seems that long commute hours and chores have replaced detention of my childhood, while podcasts like Cast of Wonders make these hours not just liveable but wonderful.

I look forward to more stories with you.

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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…)

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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…)

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Cast of Wonders 496: Excuse Me, this is the Quiet Car


Excuse me, this is the Quiet Car

by Cara Mast

The magic of the quiet car is best when everyone follows the rules.

I’m halfway through the math problem I’ve been mulling over when a sudden bleep-bleep-bring-a-ling in the quiet makes me jump, slamming my knees into the fold-down tray table. Ouch.

And then, as if the phone ringing wasn’t enough, the man across the aisle from me picks up. “This is Paul Whitford. Yeah, hey Jerry, what do you need?”

White- and grey-haired heads pop up from the seats ahead of our row, the usual crowd of over-65’s turning to look for the disturbance. I really just want to go back to my problem set. The train shakes audibly around us, more like a throat clearing than regular train rumbles, and I’m pretty sure that’s a warning at this point. I’d rather not find out. Much as I’d like to ignore this guy, he’s now made his business everyone’s business. (Continue Reading…)

Banned Books Week 2022 – call for submissions


To See Yourself in Pages, Paragraphs, Sentences, and Words: Books, Stories, and Representation

Each year, the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the top 10 most challenged books that are requested for removal from schools and libraries. In 2021, the OIF documented 729 challenges of 1597 books and materials; however, it estimates that 82-97% of challenges go unreported. That means approximately 50,000 challenges to books were made in 2021! While trends in the subject of challenged books may reflect reactionary response to social movements that challenge prevailing authorities – reasons given for many top-10 challenges in 2020 during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement include “promoting anti-police views” – most books are challenged for centering the lived experiences of marginalized peoples along racial, gender, and social lines. 

In the United States, more than 12 states have recently passed laws that restrict how public-school teachers can talk about race, gender, and sexuality in the classroom, including banning associated materials from school libraries. Some states have even begun debating whether to expand these restrictions to public libraries that serve adult readers. (For a discussion of these trends, see this article.) 

At Cast of Wonders, we welcome stories that portray the full spectrum of human (and non-human) experience. We don’t challenge books; we want books and stories to challenge us! 

For Banned Books Week 2022, send us your stories that show how books and stories serve as a beacon for identity, serving to draw peoples and communities together; books that make the statement: “This is who I am, this is who we are, and we will be heard!” (This phrase need not appear in the story but should be a resonant theme). The book should feature prominently in the story and not serve as a prop or McGuffin; however, we encourage creativity in interpreting what a book is and how it is woven into the story. We like to be surprised! We are especially interested in stories that feature joy and hope, even if the setting is intergalactic war or a zombie apocalypse. 

Cast of Wonders looks for stories that evoke a sense of wonder, have deep emotional resonance, and have something unreal about them. We aim for a 12-17 age range: that means sophisticated, non-condescending stories with wide appeal, and without gratuitous or explicit sex, violence or pervasive obscene language.

Preference for this submission window is under 5,000 words with an absolute limit of 6,000 words. Submissions must adhere to Cast of Wonders guidelines. 

Submissions will be accepted from May 1 to May 14 through our Moksha Portal – we can’t wait to read what you send in!

Joining the editorial team for this call is one of our long-standing Associate Editors, Alicia Caporaso. We’re thrilled to have her and all of her expertise on the team for this event.

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Cast of Wonders 481: Factory Mother (Staff Picks 2021)


Factory Mother

by Sid Jain

The mushroom mycelia sundering in the pale, hot fermentation medium reminded Hanifa of her apartment building melting in Old Delhi: when concrete flowed like lava and spilled her life onto the streets.

“Hani, you with me?”

Hani blinked twice. “Yes, Gary.”

She stepped away from the sightglass, away from her memories. She was here, now, contained by the blistered grey walls of Mycagen Foods, in Durham, North Carolina. Here, the air didn’t slough the skin off newborns in their crib.

Gary, her night shift supervisor, rapped on his handheld tablet with his four fingers impatiently. “We don’t have all night, Hanifa.”

Well, Gary, she thought, learn to wait as I have. I’ve been waiting to be American for years. We all have our vigils to keep. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 445: The Pop-up Artisan of Drink Me Café (Staff Picks 2020)


The Pop-up Artisan of Drink Me Café

by Marie Croke

I came to her coffee shop, but never bought anything–things like that the owner’s bound to notice. Figured my days were numbered as soon as she took note, but my mom ran me off and the cold drove me in and there’s only so many stores one can pretend to be shopping at before people start looking at you all suspicious-like.

Took a coffee cup out of the trash and did the mime thing actors did, pretending to sip while I turned pages in my library book. Whenever the owner came near–wiping down a table, picking up dirty napkins, delivering a latte–I got all stiff, shoulders tense, waiting for her tap on them.

“Excuse me.”

Like I said…

“What are you reading?”

“A book,” I muttered, hugging the book awkwardly with my arm. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 395: Barter Queen (Staff Picks 2019)


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 344: The Temple of the Whale (Staff Picks 2018)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders highlights some of our favorite episodes from the previous year. It’s a great chance for us to take a bit of a breather, and let you, our listeners, catch up on any missed back episodes with new commentary from a different member of the crew.

Today’s episode is hosted by associate editor Alicia Caporaso.


The Temple of the Whale

by K.B. Sluss

Late in the morning I find Terren in our palm tree shelter, packing his few possessions: his bone knife; a collection of coral carved into various whale poses; a square of cloth he uses as a blanket on rare, cool evenings; a flask of water; a day’s supply of food, enough to carry him until he reaches the village. His intent to leave me is clear. (Continue Reading…)