Posts Tagged ‘science’

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Cast of Wonders 461: Factory Mother


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 444: From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review (Staff Picks 2020)


From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review

by Marie Brennan

Dear Sirs–

I was fascinated by Mr. Benjamin Talbot’s brief notice, published in the 28 Seminis issue of your magazine, detailing his acquisition of a preserved specimen from a heretofore undocumented draconic species. As we all know, legends of the cockatrice date back many centuries, but I am unaware of any reputable examples collected before now, either dead or alive. This is a thrilling event for the field of dragon naturalism, and I heartily encourage Mr. Talbot to publish his discovery at greater length, including details such as the manner of its acquisition, the island or archipelago in the Broken Sea where such beasts may be found, and a thorough description of its anatomy. An engraving to accompany this article would not go amiss–though naturally a public presentation of his find would be even more desirable. I may dare hope that Mr. Talbot is even now preparing such an article for publication, whether in your magazine or elsewhere, for I have awaited further information with bated breath, and fear I will soon turn blue for lack of oxygen.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 439: From Asteroids to Dust


From Asteroids to Dust

by Priya Chand

Geianti Carropus—Gen, for short—piloted her shuttle through the asteroid belt with deft claws. Gen was a deinonychus, a strong-legged predator whose ancestors subjugated prey across Earth. And now here she was, tail lifting as she whizzed past space rocks.

Leftover dust puffed across her viewport, but Gen knew her training facility’s asteroid field like all 300 steps of her family’s longest dance routine. She kept her sickle-claws from scratching the shuttle floor. Some things evolution couldn’t turn off, like the hunt—or the dance. Her shuttle had been recently re-sheathed in protective synthrubber—better not damage it. (Continue Reading…)

falchester

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Cast of Wonders 405: From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review


From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review

by Marie Brennan

Dear Sirs–

I was fascinated by Mr. Benjamin Talbot’s brief notice, published in the 28 Seminis issue of your magazine, detailing his acquisition of a preserved specimen from a heretofore undocumented draconic species. As we all know, legends of the cockatrice date back many centuries, but I am unaware of any reputable examples collected before now, either dead or alive. This is a thrilling event for the field of dragon naturalism, and I heartily encourage Mr. Talbot to publish his discovery at greater length, including details such as the manner of its acquisition, the island or archipelago in the Broken Sea where such beasts may be found, and a thorough description of its anatomy. An engraving to accompany this article would not go amiss–though naturally a public presentation of his find would be even more desirable. I may dare hope that Mr. Talbot is even now preparing such an article for publication, whether in your magazine or elsewhere, for I have awaited further information with bated breath, and fear I will soon turn blue for lack of oxygen.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 254: A Complex Filament of Light

Show Notes

Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.


A Complex Filament of Light

by S. Qiouyi Lu

After winter, spring in Antarctica is almost pleasant, most days just barely below freezing. As you make your way back to the station, you stop and glance at the horizon—you prefer these days of twilight, the soft orange glow of sun on the horizon contrasting beautifully with the deep indigo of the sky. It’s more interesting than never ending daylight, more comforting than the long nights of winter. And it’s still enough of a distinction to create the illusion of darkness, to trick your body into maintaining a circadian rhythm.

Your snowmobile cuts through the snow and ice, kicking up flurries in your wake. As you crest another hill, the Delaney–Chen station comes into view. Your stomach grumbles—you got here just in time. You park your snowmobile out front and make your way inside, taking off your scarf and gloves in pace with your steps. You load up on cafeteria food and find a spot by the window.

Before you eat, you have to take your multivitamin. It has a chalky feeling to it and a taste that isn’t exactly pleasant. But as you swallow the pill, you remind yourself that it’s for your own good—fruit and vegetables are hard to come by in the Antarctic, and vitamin deficiency is not something you want to deal with. It’s hard enough being out here without adding health problems on top of everything.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 251: Little Wonders 12: The Unexpected

Show Notes

The Little Wonders theme “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Why They’re Never About The Good Ones

By Evan Dicken

Once upon a time, in a valley in Lower Saxony just south of Meppen town, there lived an old woman and her two grandchildren.

Helene had been a weaver in her younger days, but over the years the damp of the fens had stolen into her joints, twisting her fingers until they grew as gnarled and useless as the roots of the scrubby trees that crowded the river bank.

Katarin and Klaus had come north with the Spring floods, refugees from the labor pains that accompanied the birth of French democracy. Their father had gone off to fight Napoleon, and their mother, always sickly and lovelorn, wasted away for want of him.

Helene had no money, and the children were too young for real work. By all rights, they should have starved.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 242: Little Wonders 11: Flash Fiction Contest Finalists

Show Notes

All three stories are Cast of Wonders originals!


The Little Wonders theme, “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Multiple Choice

By Anica Lewis

“Welcome to the Starlight Watch,” says Flashback.

Red Diamond pops a thumbs-up. The Ocelot gives me what is probably a friendly growl. Statica pumps her fist in the air and grins, her edges blurring slightly.

I grin back. “Thanks, guys!” I’m burning up with excitement. I’m joining the Watch! My absolute favorite super-squad! I couldn’t believe it when the Superhero Registration Office assigned me to replace Quantum, may he rest in peace.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 233: Saurs (Staff Pick 2016)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.

We hope you enjoy editor and host Marguerite Kenner’s favorite story from 2016, Saurs by Craig Delancey. The story originally aired March 13, 2016 as part of our Dinovember special, Cast of Wonders 218.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.


Saurs

by Craig DeLancey

The fossil mages gathered in the shadow of the gully. Four of them: three old men and a young woman. Old Jim lifted and replaced his wreck of a straw hat and then spat at a scorpion. John Bloodeye and Harry watched the dark spot in the sand evaporate in the heat, until finally, as they’d all been hoping, the young one spoke.

“I found it near here,” Karyn Thomson said. She put her hand into her pocket, fingering the bone there, but not drawing it out yet.

The three old men waited. This was hard for them. They’d all been famous, in their day. They had their pride still.

Finally Karyn tugged the bone out. A hooked talon, as long as her own hand. The old men leaned forward, careful not to show excitement but unable to keep their eyes from popping.

“T rex,” Bloodeye said. “Manus claw. Left interior.”

Karyn nodded agreement.

“It looks big,” Old Jim said. “It looks as big as the claw on that old girl your Pa found out here.”

“Bigger,” Karyn said. “Two centimeters longer.” She pushed her hat back with the point of the claw. Blond hair spilled out over her eyes.

Harry reached toward the claw. Karyn flinched, but did not draw back. He touched the fossil with two dry fingers. “Lot of hum to it,” he whispered. The other men did not comment. They knew there’d be magic in the bone. No need to taunt yourself, like hungry men poking another man’s fat goose.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 221: The Jungle Between (Dinovember!)

Show Notes

A special thank you to our audio producer Jeremy Carter for the excellent photo in this week’s episode artwork. Check out his Etsy shop, On The Edge Photos.


The Jungle Between

by Holly Schofield

Tanya:

I look over at my wife Anahita, where she squints at yesterday’s video of the theropod. She pushes her hair back from her sweaty forehead, the very picture of a field biologist. We have extended a canopy over our work area in front of the shuttle yet the temperature is still 34C and heat radiates up from the ground under my boots. I close my eyes for a second and roll my shoulders. In our ten days on Munroe Two, we have only collected minimal data on the tool-using parthenogenic dinosaurs, not enough to publish. Any conclusions will be iffy at best. Our allotted time ends tomorrow.

Unlike similar species back on Terra or on the fifteen other colonized planets, Munroe’s theropods balance on that evolutionary cutting edge. Anahita mutters in her sleep each night about reduced micro-aggressions and low degrees of intragroup conflict.

Our six-year-old daughter, Kelty, is equally enamored with the planet and with the theros–one dino in particular.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 219: Dinosaur Dreams in Infinite Measure (Dinovember!)

Show Notes

A special thank you to Preston Stone for his generous permission in using this week’s episode artwork!


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.

Read along with the text of the story.


Dinosaur Dreams in Infinite Measure

by Rachael K. Jones

Mom had hands like dinosaur bones: fragile at a glance, but old and strong, hardened by time and pressure. Fossils endure. My mother had endured 80 years already, through disease and bereavement, through a long career ended in humiliation and disgrace, and now this final insult: her own daughter demanding she leave it all behind, the house and farm and everything in it.

“I’ve worked hard for this house. I worked for everything I ever had.” Her voice was a tight, tense warble. Fossil-hard fingers bent around a mug painted with a cowgirl on a lavender T-rex, lasso roping round the handle.

It wasn’t just the house, not really. Primrose Farms Poultry had forced her from her life’s work as an industrial engineer, and thanks to an intellectual property clause, Mom hadn’t even kept the rights to her own inventions.

“No one’s trying to take away your stuff,” I told her gently. “We’re just worried about you, alone out here and with the animals, and the house like this.” The farm was expensive, too. The upkeep outstripped its worth.

“I can take care of it myself. I’ll clean it up. I just need time.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 218: Saurs (Dinovember!)

Show Notes

Special thanks to Emma Thompson for the use of her photograph in this week’s episode art, featuring her three adorable dinosaur lovers.

And if you’ve a hankerin’ for a weird western that lets you fight an undead T-Rex, check out Deadlands! And tell Shane, Clint and Jodi I sent you.


Saurs

by Craig DeLancey

The fossil mages gathered in the shadow of the gully.  Four of them: three old men and a young woman. Old Jim lifted and replaced his wreck of a straw hat and then spat at a scorpion.  John Bloodeye and Harry watched the dark spot in the sand evaporate in the heat, until finally, as they’d all been hoping, the young one spoke.

“I found it near here,” Karyn Thomson said.   She put her hand into her pocket, fingering the bone there, but not drawing it out yet.

The three old men waited. This was hard for them. They’d all been famous, in their day.  They had their pride still.

Finally Karyn tugged the bone out.  A hooked talon, as long as her own hand.  The old men leaned forward, careful not to show excitement but unable to keep their eyes from popping.

“T rex,” Bloodeye said.  “Manus claw. Left interior.”

Karyn nodded agreement.

“It looks big,” Old Jim said.  “It looks as big as the claw on that old girl your Pa found out here.”

“Bigger,” Karyn said.  “Two centimeters longer.”  She pushed her hat back with the point of the claw.  Blond hair spilled out over her eyes.

Harry reached toward the claw.  Karyn flinched, but did not draw back.  He touched the fossil with two dry fingers.  “Lot of hum to it,” he whispered. The other men did not comment.  They knew there’d be magic in the bone. No need to taunt yourself, like hungry men poking another man’s fat goose.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 181: Fairy Bones


Fairy Bones

by Guy Stewart

Owl hadn’t been real to her since she stopped reading WINNIE-THE-POOH on her thirteenth birthday. That day, she realized she had become Eeyore, losing her metaphorical tail in real life.

Later, her husband hadn’t been real to her since the divorce.

Even later, the rest of Clementine Dresden’s family had faded from her life one by one.

(Continue Reading…)