Posts Tagged ‘Staff Pick’

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Cast of Wonders 398: Staff Picks 2019 – Take Heart


Take Heart

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.

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Cast of Wonders 227: Problematic (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. Each week in January a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016.

We hope you enjoy assistant editor Dani Daly’s favorite story from 2016, Problematic by Brian Hurrel, narrated by Tatiana Grey. The story originally aired September 27, 2016 as Episode 215.


Problematic

by Brian Hurrel

The Main Office is as spartan as the the rest of the campus. Three plain gray metal folding chairs arranged in front of Headmistress Dinali’s equally plain and unadorned wooden desk. In one of the chairs the slim ten-year- old frame of Luna Vega-MacPherson squirms restlessly, twisting strands of dark curly hair around a forefinger, and not at all trying to disguise her boredom. In the other two chairs sit her parents, looking equally uncomfortable but for different reasons.

I confess to taking some degree of pleasure in the final phase of the application process. Call it a guilty pleasure, but I do so enjoy seeing overbearing parents humbled. Since the Banks Institute is self-financing, and offers only full scholarships or flat out rejection, those of means have no more influence than those without.
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Cast of Wonders 195: The Tale of the White Tiger (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy editor and host Marguerite Kenner’s favorite story from 2015, The Tale of the White Tiger by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt and narrated by Tracey Yuen. The story originally aired July 5, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 168.


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


The Tale of the White Tiger

by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt

Blind Li Xiao surveyed the marketplace. The sensor net embedded in his storyteller’s robes fed signals directly to his brain. The citizenship transponders exactly matched the number of heat signatures. A world firmly loyal to the Empire, then. Or one too afraid to act otherwise.

A passive scan showed at least two peacekeepers in the market. Probably more secret police. He would have to be careful in his story selection. Something from one of the official chronicles. Something he could use for his own purposes.

He beat his staff on the ground three times. The bells at the head chimed out their message. Be still and hearken. Blind Li Xiao is about to begin his tale. He chanted the introductory poem in his clear, high voice:

“When wicked ministers subvert the good,

“The Systems lose the beautiful and true.

“On Heaven’s River vast, White Tiger sails,

“Her course set by the pirate Madam Hu.”

An audience gathered in front of Blind Li Xiao. Children pressed close, their grandparents behind them. The young women and men stood at the edge, feigning disinterest or fearing entrapment. Blind Li Xiao swept the head of his staff in a broad arc as he spoke.

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Cast of Wonders 194: Take A Good Look (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy slush reader Sally Gill’s favorite story from 2015, Take A Good Look by Holly Schofield and narrated by Stephanie Morris. The story originally aired August 16, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 174.


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


Take a Good Look

by Holly Schofield

Megan watched with dull eyes as Alan’s tendrils undulated above his head, making odd silhouettes on the garage wall. He grew more excited, his beige skin turned mauve as he finished his breakfast beer.

She rocked her lawn chair slowly back and forth in the early morning sun. She barely heard Alan as he went on and on about his most recent trip, to see the giant Easter egg statue in eastern Alberta, and the other attractions he’d visited since she’d left town last year.

“I took an, erh, hologram of the egg,” he told her gleefully, his voice thick with phlegm. “For my, erh, scrapbook.” His English was good but some things apparently didn’t translate well.

“It’s Dad,” she blurted out. “He’s dying.”

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Cast of Wonders 193: Princesses Do Not Breathe Fire (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy assistant editor Jeff Hite’s favorite story from 2015, Princesses Do Not Breathe Fire by Sarina Dorie and narrated by Jeff Hite and family. The story originally aired July 19, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 170.


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

Read along with the text of the story.


Princesses Do Not Breathe Fire

by Sarina Dorie

When Princess Draciona was born, it was obvious something wasn’t quite right. She had emerald eyes and viridian hair. Most unusual of all was her scaly, moss-tinted skin.

“This baby looks a little like a . . . ahem . . . dragon,” said Prince Rupunzelson (named after his great-grandmother).

“No, no,” insisted his wife, Princess Penelope. “That’s just green eczema. She’ll outgrow it.”

Prince Rupunzelson nodded and decided to let his wife worry about it. He would rather think about battle.

But Princess Draciona did not outgrow her eczema. To make matters worse, when she started to teethe, she grew sharp, dagger-like fangs. When she didn’t get her way, she sometimes breathed fire.

“Princesses do not breathe fire just because they don’t get their way,” said Rupunzelson, who was king by now.

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Cast of Wonders 192: There Are No Marshmallows in Camelot (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy slush reader Alexis’ Goble’s favorite story from 2015, There Are No Marshmallows in Camelot by Christian McKay Heidicker and narrated by Marguerite Kenner. The story originally aired March 15, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 159.


There Are No Marshmallows in Camelot

by Christian McKay Heidicker

Leticia Andrews saw the wizard hat on a Monday morning at 7:06 a.m. She was eating Lucky Charms in the kitchen nook. The hat was gray and tattered and sat in the window of her plastic princess house, which was in the backyard.

MOM!” she screamed down the hallway. “DO I HAVE A WIZARD HAT?”

“Don’t think so! Unless Uncle Lewis . . .”

“DOES JAKEY?”

“Honey, I don’t know! I’m working?”

Jake, Teece’s baby brother, did not have a wizard hat. She was 96.2% sure. At least not one so pointy and floppy and not covered in glitter like the ones from Toys ‘R’ Us. Even though Teece had never seen one before, she knew the hat that currently sat in her princess house was a real wizard hat. And that meant things.

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Cast of Wonders 191: Makeisha in Time (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy audio producer Jeremy Carter’s favorite story from 2015, Makeisha In Time by Rachael K. Jones and narrated by Laurice White. The story originally aired August 30, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 176.


Makeisha In Time

by Rachael K. Jones

Makeisha has always been able to bend the fourth dimension, though no one believes her. She has been a soldier, a sheriff, a pilot, a prophet, a poet, a ninja, a nun, a conductor (of trains and symphonies), a cordwainer, a comedian, a carpetbagger, a troubadour, a queen, and a receptionist. She has shot arrows, guns, and cannons. She speaks an extinct Ethiopian dialect with a perfect accent. She knows a recipe for mead that is measured in aurochs horns, and with a katana, she is deadly.

Her jumps happen intermittently. She will be yanked from the present without warning, and live a whole lifetime in the past. When she dies, she returns right back to where she left, restored to a younger age. It usually happens when she is deep in conversation with her boss, or arguing with her mother-in-law, or during a book club meeting just when it is her turn to speak. One moment, Makeisha is firmly grounded in the timeline of her birth, and the next, she is elsewhere. Elsewhen.

Makeisha has seen the sun rise over prehistoric shores, where the ocean writhed with soft, slimy things that bore the promise of dung beetles, Archeopteryx, and Edgar Allan Poe. She has seen the sun set upon long-forgotten empires. When Makeisha skims a map of the continents, she sees a fractured Pangaea. She never knows where she will jump next, or how long she will stay, but she is never afraid. Makeisha has been doing this all her life.
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Cast of Wonders 190: Home Isn’t (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy slush reader Katherine Inskip’s favorite story from 2015, Home Isn’t by Kelly Sandoval and narrated by Katherine Inskip. The story originally aired October 25, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 178.


Home Isn’t

by Kelly Sandoval

They tell him he’ll be happy when he gets there. It was wrong, what was done to you, they say. We’re making it right. You’re going home.

The kind ones, who call him Mark, are pleased. They have a party, with foods from his planet. He chews the edge of a gray leaf so bitter it closes his throat. He’s used to coke and animal crackers. You’re going home, they say. No more soda, no more sweets. No more rooms with white walls and bright toys. No more needles, treadmills, tests. Home.

They won’t tell him what home is, only what it isn’t. He pictures a toyless, colorless, cokeless expanse. He pictures fields of bitter gray leaves growing beside silver pools. He tries to picture others like himself, but he is the only one he knows. He populates his imaginings with mirror-reversed copies of his own face. Pale blue fur and liquid black eyes.

At night, he wraps his arms around his chest and makes low choking noises as he tries to cry. He’s never quite gotten the trick of it.
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Cast of Wonders 189: Amicae Aeternum (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy audio producer Rikki LaCoste’s favorite story from 2015, Amicae Aeternum by Ellen Klages and narrated by Rikki LaCoste, Isis LaCoste, and Fiona “Princess Scientists” Van Verth. The story originally aired April 19, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 164.


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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Cast of Wonders 188: Above Decks (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy slush reader and community manager Dani Daly’s favorite story from 2015, Above Decks by Terry Ibele and narrated by Phil Lunt. The story originally aired August 23, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 175.


Above Decks

by Tery Ibele

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

It felt like I had been here forever. A punishment for a crime I didn’t commit. Still, it was necessary just to save a few coins to buy a measly meal. Every day was grueling and today was worse. The muscles in my arms felt like they were going to snap. My shovel dropped to the floor with a clang. Sweat dripped into my eyes as I dared a quick break. The other boys kept shovelling. The huge furnace bulged as it was fed. Hot red steam billowed out of its pipes and clouded the air. Pulling off my shoes, I sat in a lump of coal and rubbed my aching feet.

“What are you doing?” whispered the boy next to me. “You’ll get us-“ The door burst open with a violent bang that sent a shiver up my spine. A large figure filled the doorway, blurred by the steamy air. It was the Coal Master. He was a black silhouette against the light pouring in from the deck. The dirty wooden floorboards shook as he stomped in. My heart beat so fast it nearly flew out of my chest.

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Cast of Wonders 187: The Haunted Jalopy Races (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy alumnus host and editor Graeme Dunlop’s favorite story from 2015, The Haunted jalopy Races by M. Bennardo, and narrated by Alasdair Stuart. The story originally aired March 22, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 160.


The Haunted Jalopy Races

by M. Bennardo

It all started when gallant Joe Jones and shiftless Sylvester Sneep agreed to race each other for the hand of pretty Sadie Merriweather. Except that’s not really how it started at all, not the first year anyway, not back in 1938.

Back then, that first year, Joe Jones wasn’t thought especially gallant and Sylvester Sneep wasn’t thought especially shiftless. Sadie Merriweather was indeed thought especially pretty–at least by most of the boys in Rock Falls–but Joe and Sylvester weren’t racing for her hand.

Not even in Rock Falls, not even in 1938, did anybody think that the outcome of a jalopy race could decide the affections of a teenaged girl. Instead, it was purely a matter of honor. Sylvester had felt his pride pricked when Sadie chose Joe over him, and so the challenge for the race had been given. The challenge was well-known among the upper classes at Rock Falls High School, but the rest of the town only got their first inkling of what was happening when the boys revved up their modified flatties at the top of the square pointing out to Falls Bridge down on Five Falls Road, and by then it was too late.

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Cast of Wonders 186: A School Story (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy artist and founder Barry J. Northern’s favorite story from 2015, A School Story by M. R. James, and narrated by Alasdair Stuart. The story originally aired August 2, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 172.


A School Story

by M.R. James

Two men in a smoking-room were talking of their private-school days. “At our school,” said A., “we had a ghost’s footmark on the staircase. What was it like? Oh, very unconvincing. Just the shape of a shoe, with a square toe, if I remember right. The staircase was a stone one. I never heard any story about the thing. That seems odd, when you come to think of it. Why didn’t somebody invent one, I wonder?”

“You never can tell with little boys. They have a mythology of their own. There’s a subject for you, by the way–‘The Folklore of Private Schools.'”

“Yes; the crop is rather scanty, though. I imagine, if you were to investigate the cycle of ghost stories, for instance, which the boys at private schools tell each other, they would all turn out to be highly-compressed versions of stories out of books.”

“Nowadays the Strand and Pearson’s, and so on, would be extensively drawn upon.”

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