Posts Tagged ‘Amy Brennan’

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Cast of Wonders 494: The Day I Didn’t Get a Pet Nebula


The Day I Didn’t Get a Pet Nebula

by Effie Seiberg

On the day I turned nine, I didn’t get a pet nebula.

I’d really really wanted one, just like the one Shelly had. And I’d been talking about it FOR-EVER, so Dad could have the time to save up for the one in the pawn shop, and I’m not usually patient enough to talk about anything that long. I told him how responsible I was and how I could take it for walks and trim its dust wisps and everything. I made him breakfast when he got home from his shift a bunch of times, and even did the dishes after to prove how responsible I was.

“C’mon kiddo, you know that’s not possible,” he’d said, ten rotation cycles before my birthday. We were at the wobbly kitchen table and he was helping me with my physics homework after dinner, so everything still smelled like tacos with neutron star shavings and spray cheese. The chapter was all about distortions of spacetime, cosmic strings and black holes and whatnot. He leaned his head on one tentacle, like he was too tired to hold it up on its own. Even his work shirt looked tired, like the frayed thin patches were struggling to hold his tentacles in. “A pet nebula isn’t happening.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 485: Simons, Far and Near


Simons, Far and Near

by Ana Gardner

Days after a solar hurricane fried Western Europe, nations across the world gathered their brightest grade-schoolers, and they launched us into space with promises of glory and cake.

Solar storms were worsening ahead of schedule, said government men in wrinkled suits, as they pulled us from our underground shelters and stuffed us into armored tanks. The exodus ships, forced to launch early, weren’t ready to sustain endless space travel. They’d need places to land, shelters for their thousands of passengers, far from our ever-deadlier sun.

And someone had to travel on ahead and build those shelters.

Fortunately, we learned as we marched up the launch ramp, Earth had a few shuttles ready for immediate departure. Sure, they had poor radiation shields and leaky engines, but wouldn’t you know it? Shuttle travel damaged the body worst after puberty. Kids had great odds of surviving a trip across the solar system.

‘Great odds’—those were the words they used, and they loaded us into hastily-cobbled ships and chucked us from burning Earth like spores from a coughing fungus. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 475: Miss Tansybaum’s Circus of the Moderately Peculiar


Miss Tansybaum’s Circus of the Moderately Peculiar

by T Kingfisher

By all accounts, Miss Tansybaum’s Circus of the Moderately Peculiar should not have continued to operate. They were a very small operation as circuses went, they had no rides and their menagerie consisted of a single geriatric lion and a handful of obscure species, such as the Sudanese Crooning Lizards, who were obscure for a reason. Sure, Brendan the Mono-juggler could keep a single ball in the air for hours, but you got tired of watching after the first few minutes.

Lord Maggothaunch’s Carnival of the Un-Ordinary should have crushed them out of existence in the first year–indeed, that was among the lord’s stated goals–and its failure to do so was a source of intense frustration for him. Did he not have scantily clad women and a genuine, if sullen tiger? Did he not have a genuine freakshow, with real live freaks, including a pair of dubious Siamese twins and a two-headed calf in a jar?

Miss Tansybaum did not have a freakshow (at least not in the conventional sense, although the less charitable would argue that the entire operation qualified.) Instead she had Sister Rosemary’s Curious Convent. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 442: Mothers, Watch Over Me (Staff Picks 2020)


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 397: Wordslinger, Wordwreaker (Staff Picks 2019)


Wordslinger, Wordwreaker

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.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 396: Bunny (Staff Picks 2019)


Bunny

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.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 392: The Angel (Staff Picks 2019)


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…)

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Cast of Wonders 356: Little Wonders 20: 2018 Flash Fiction Contest Winners

Show Notes

Dream Foundry is a new organization helping all professionals, especially beginners, working in the speculative arts. Back their Kickstarter to make sure they last and grow, and to get yourself some nifty rewards.

 

Website: www.dreamfoundry.org
Twitter: @dream_foundry
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dreamfoundryorg/
Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dreamfoundry/dream-foundry-2019-hatching


An Economy of Words

by Wendy Nikel

Growing up so far from the wordfields, I’ve learned to appreciate the few words I have, so as the fitting for Baron Kensington’s festival garments drag on, I cringe at each wasted remark.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 355: Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army (Artemis Rising 5)


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.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 354: Wordslinger, Wordwreaker (Artemis Rising 5)


Wordslinger, Wordwreaker

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.

Me and Ruby were on a break, letting my babe Arlie grab at and occasionally suck on the tassels of our gowns. Spurs jangling, the wordslinger ambled to the bar as she pulled back her cloak–she had two canteens slung on her belt, one on each side–then, slowly removed her hat and, slower yet, peeled off her gloves. Waiting to see if anyone’d comment on her color, I reckon, for the raggedy leather of her attire was just a few shades lighter than her own skin.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 353: With Cardamom I’ll Bind Their Lips (Artemis Rising 5)


With Cardamom I’ll Bind Their Lips

by Beth Cato

In the spring after the war’s end, the soldiers’ spirits began to wander home, and Lady Magdalena bound their lips with cardamom so that they could not speak.

“These souls walked for months, their only thought to return home. You must remember, little of their personality remains at this point. They are solid enough to nudge furniture and not sink through the floor, but they’re not fully here.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 352: Barter Queen (Artemis Rising 5)


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.”

The bouncer taps a finger against his forearm. “What kind of bikes you mean? Motorcycles or the other ones?”

“No engines,” Gabe says, firm and deliberate. “The kind that’ll last when there’s no gas left.”

(Continue Reading…)