Posts Tagged ‘Staff Picks’

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Cast of Wonders 338: Staff Picks 2018 – Earn Your Breath

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 community manager Dani Daly.


Earn Your Breath

by Jaime O. Mayer

Liith had fought the Snake Island raiders every summer since her fifteenth year and had yet to taste defeat. She had dueled the boat-men of the north with their fish-belly white skin and won the pair of metal knives envied by many a man in her village. Yet, it was the sight of the latch on the cookshack door that filled her with dread. Gray Stone’s village elders said fate could not be changed, and she would rather die than prove them right. But each passing day brought her twentieth year closer, and her throat remained bare of a breath mark. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 289: Blood and Water (Staff Picks 2017)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

Our final Staff Picks episode for 2017 is hosted by editor Marguerite Kenner.


Blood and Water

by Jason Kimble

The year we turned nineteen, the boy I loved disappeared under the waves of Lake Michigan, but he didn’t die. I never told anyone. That he was alive. That I loved him. That he

My fingertip goes white as I smash down on the delete key and the cursor devours my words.

The broken swimming trophy lies sideways on the kitchen table. I stare at it as I dial, ignore the cat mewling, exiled, on the other side of the door. I count the rings of the phone at my ear. Seven rings (for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone) before Mr. Gravere picks up.

“Why are you calling, Mike?” Gravere says.

“It’s about a book,” I say. “I … think that I loaned it to Andy, before–”

“That wasn’t his name.” I can’t decide if the ice sheathing Mr. Gravere’s voice is better or worse than his scalding anger at the funeral.

“It’s special. A first edition. Return of the King. My mother–”

“So special it took you five years to notice it missing?”

“It’s just … ” I turn the gilded swimmer in my hand.

“I told you when he died, Michael: you’re not welcome here. Live without the book. I’m living without a whole lot more.” Mr. Gravere hangs up. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 288: Lost in Translation (Staff Picks 2017)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by assistant editor Katherine Inskip.


Lost in Translation

by Afalstein Kloosterman

“It turns out,” said the High Ecclesiarch of the Writ, “that when the prophecy says ‘the hero’s body shall stand resilient against the flame,’ a more accurate translation would be ‘resistant against the flame.’” He gave a pained grimace. “Ancient Nearnoxian can be… ambiguous, at times.”

Phillip Stalford, Hero of Nearnox, Chosen One of the Golden Age, Bastion of Chastity and Valor, Banisher of the Dark Torch, V’lthaern d’Sng’ssn, and Paladin of the Holy Writ blinked back from within the mass of bandages that healer Ziva was carefully tending to. “Oh.” He said. “Well, I suppose that’s better than finding out I hadn’t been ‘pure of heart’ enough. Or that the Great Scriptor had taken a dislike to me.”

“The Great Scriptor does not ‘take a dislike.’” Ziva murmured, mixing up a salve. “His Word is Writ. It is eternal. He favors who he favors and disfavors who he disfavors. There is no changing with him.”

Aethlinn, standing just to the left of the Ecclesiarch, snorted and rolled his milky-white eyes. The others pointedly ignored the elf mage.

“Okay.” Phillip looked chastised. “But it… doesn’t quite make sense. I thought the Flames of Az-ranath were meant to keep all but the Chosen One out of the Shrine of Light. How’re they supposed to do that if the Chosen One’s not fireproof?”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 287: Wished (Staff Picks 2017)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by assistant editor Dani Daly.


Wished

by Amanda Helms

The wishing well discovered its meaning in existence only through a case of mistaken semantics. In point of fact, it started its existence not as a wishing well but as a decorative fountain. In point of another fact, it was sentient, all of which is most unusual for either a decorative fountain or a wishing well.

The way these three unusual things came to be is this:

On one summer solstice, a mother and her toddler stopped by the decorative fountain in the middle of Longview Mall, a middling shopping center located in a middling town in middling America.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 286: A Wish and a Hope and a Dream (Staff Picks 2017)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by associate editor Susie Rodriguez.


A Wish and a Hope and a Dream

by M. Darusha Wehm

You have always been a princess.

When you are six years old, your hat is a cardboard cone covered in glitter glue with a cellophane veil. Your dress began life as a pillowcase in the free box at the Goodwill. Your best friend Ines has a store-bought costume, her gown soft and sky blue like Princess Karima’s. You aren’t envious, though. You love your pillowcase dress and hat that makes you almost as tall as your mother.

Ines twirls around and around until she nearly falls over, clutching you to stay upright. “Ooh, I’ll never get used to riding a magic carpet.”

You giggle and say, “That’s why I ride in a carriage pulled by eight golden ponies.”

“Can I come to the ball with you, then?” Ines sinks to the ground, her skirt billowing around her like a cloud.

“Aren’t they adorable?” Ines’s father says, his eyes crinkling.

“Yeah,” your mother says, “off in their own little world.”

“Come on,” Mr. Solano says, “that’s one of the great things about being a kid. All that imagination, all those dreams.” He looks at you then his eyes dart back to your mother. “They can be anything they want at this age. Might as well let them enjoy it.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 285: The Scent that Treason Brings (Staff Picks 2017)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by associate editor Amy Brennan.


The Scent That Treason Brings

by Holly Schofield

Wings tightly closed, Scarp bustled around the printing workshop. With smooth, sure strokes, zie inked the wooden blocks of type. The new formulation made from snail mucus and oak bark spread on smoothly. One of zir pincher-like tarsi gripped the printing press’ lever while both zir mid legs slid a sheet of paper over the inked blocks. The large screw creaked as zie lowered the platen and then raised it, releasing the paper. Scarp gave a brief twitch of satisfaction at the clarity of the text, then re-inked the blocks for the next blank sheet.

Slowly the racks of printed and drying pages grew higher. But not fast enough. Every minute counted if a bound copy of the Tract was to accompany each Second Molter on their journey. And Beld had been no help at all in preparation for this molting season. The Head Printer just puttered about in the backroom, working on some special project. What could be more important than the annual printing of the Tract?

Finally, Scarp couldn’t stand it any longer and strode over the cold slate floor to the backroom. Beld’s triangular head was bent over a workbench as she fiddled with some hardwood type. “Head Printer Beld? Can you possibly find time to help? We have dozens more pages to–” Scarp broke off when zie scented Beld’s pheromones. The tang of excitement overlaid by a stink of confusion. What could it mean?

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 284: Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches (Staff Picks 2017)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by associate editor Alexis Goble.


Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches

by Kate Baker

On the night my grandfather died, we all sat around his kitchen table and marveled at how he’d been able to raise six kids in such a tiny house. While creative with the cramped living space, one bathroom seemed to be enough despite the hustle to get to school and work in the mornings. Especially as children grew into teenagers and time preening before the mirror was at a premium.

There is chaos that comes with illness and death, yet despite piles of unopened mail and neglected dishes and floors, my eyes lingered on the subtle touches that made this house a home. Especially in this kitchen. A wooden hutch still held the “good” glass and dinnerware that my grandparents cherished and thought to protect. Pots and pans of every shape, size, and color hung from racks and peeked out from crowded cabinets. And despite a very thin layer of dust, the spice rack stood at the ready for whatever recipe came along.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 283: Single Parent (Staff Picks 2017)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by audio producer Jeremy Carter.


Single Parent

By Sarah Gailey

The monster in my son’s closet is so fucking scary.

Here’s what happened: Jack screamed in the middle of the night and I came running because I’m his dad and that’s what dads are for. He’s been doing that for a month — screaming like someone’s in his room murdering him with a screwdriver. And even though there’s never, not even once been anyone murdering him, I couldn’t just let him scream his little head off all night. If I didn’t come running, his mom would have risen from the grave just to come and slap me upside the head.

I know what you’re thinking, but the monster in the closet is not his mom. It is not my dead wife, come back to watch over him and protect him. This isn’t that kind of a story. It’s a fucking monster, okay? (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 232: Twenty-One (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 assistant editor Katherine Inskip’s favorite story from 2016, Twenty-One by Michael Merriam, narrated by John Meagher. The story originally aired April 2, 2016 as Cast of Wonders 204.


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


Twenty-One

by Michael Merriam

Wednesday, January 6th, 2009, dawned bright and clear for the twenty-first time.

“Are we ready?” Aaron Burnett asked the group surrounding him, all of them cold and shivering in the pre-dawn light.

“Yeah, yeah. We can do this,” Thomas Pinchly said. The short, thin teenager chewed nervously on a plastic straw.

Aaron’s older sister, Sharon, gave him a reassuring smile. “We don’t really have a choice, do we?” The smile on her plump face widened. “And if we screw it up—”

“We start over at December 23rd and take another crack at it,” Sharon’s friend Teri finished.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 231: The Four Stewpots (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 associate editor Sally Gill’s favorite story from 2016, “The Four Stewpots” by D. K. Thompson, narrated by Tina Connolly. The story originally aired December 25, 2016 as part of Cast of Wonders 225: Little Wonders 9: Comfort Food.


The Little Wonders theme “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.


The Four Stewpots

by D. K. Thompson

Review: The Four Stewpots
by Darcy E. (14 friends, 27 reviews) 1 star out of 5

I’ve been coming to uptown for the past year since getting a new job and moving to Whittier, and somehow had never seen The Four Stewpots before. I’m actually not a stew fan. I like my food fresh. Soup is okay, some days. Stew? Bleh. It’s been sitting for ages – this place actually suggests one pot they have is a thousand years old. Bon Apetit? But my daughter’s first report card had come home from junior high – she’d done exceptionally well – she wants to be an astronaut, a monster make-up artist, a superhero, a cryptozoologist, or a cartographer of parallel universes – whatever she decides to do she’ll be brilliant, and so as a reward, I let her pick. She saw The Four Stewpots as we were driving down the street, right next to Undercity Comics, and demanded we go there. Again, I do not like stew, but I am a supportive and proud mother who wants to encourage my daughter’s academic achievements, and realize that it isn’t always about me. At least, until it’s time to write the Yelp review.

It is time to write the Yelp review.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 230: Planar Ghosts (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 former assistant editor Jeff Hite’s favorite story from 2016, Planar Ghosts by Krystal Claxton, narrated by Paul Cram. The story originally aired across two episodes in April 2016, Episode 205 and Episode 206. The story is presented here in its entirety.


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


Planar Ghosts

by Krystal Claxton

The walls around the town of Bootstrap are mostly old cars stacked one on top of the other and welded together. Outside Bootstrap, market stalls made from patchwork tarps and rusty pipes lean on either side of the wide gate. They are temporary places for the people who live inside to trade goods with the people stuck outside who need in.

People like Pup.

He looks up at the guard by the gate, who is thicker, but not much older. Probably grew up inside the walls. He looks as if he’s been well-fed, even during bad years. His skin is sun-reddened and spotted along his cheeks and the high bridge of his nose.

Pup offers his frayed duffle bag to the guard. The man kneels to comb through it with one meaty hand. Inside is Pup’s winter scavenge–a length of rope, a glass vial with lighter fluid, and three almost-full rolls of duct tape.

If this is enough to buy Pup in, he can work for water until summer is over. As the guard measures Pup’s worth, the one good pocket of his cargo pants seems heavier. Inside is something he’s not supposed to trade. He’s not sure what it is. Some Before thing. Probably the guard wouldn’t know what it is either.

(Continue Reading…)