Posts Tagged ‘Steampunk’

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Cast of Wonders 184: Wine for Witches, Milk for Saints


Wine for Witches, Milk for Saints

by Rachael K. Jones

My grandmother would have disapproved of a Tinker in a Father Christmas suit, my customary dress in the children’s hospital each December. She believed no good could come of frivolity in our profession, when a routine procedure could end in tragedy. I saw her point when I found myself delivering bad news in costume to a 7-year-old and her sick friend on Christmas Eve.

Maria wasn’t supposed to be in Lia’s hospital room to begin with. She should have been in the Puppet Ward with her little brother Enzo, who was infected with puppetism. Instead, the two young girls curled up cross-legged on the hospital bed, divvying up sweets I knew Lia shouldn’t eat in her condition. Congenital heart failure didn’t require abstention from sugar, but with her transfer imminent, the Coromancers advised against heavy food, as it could interfere with medical magic.

I didn’t know how she’d smuggled in the contraband, but that was Maria. It wasn’t easy for siblings of sick children, stuck in a hospital for days on end. Maria coped by slipping into all sorts of places she shouldn’t go. But on Christmas Eve, we all tended to look the other way.

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Cast of Wonders 175: Above Decks


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 151: Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man (Staff Pick 2014)

Show Notes

Every year in January Cast of Wonders takes a break to catch our breath, plan out the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes from the year just passed.

We hope you enjoy Marguerite’s favorite story from 2014, Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man by Scott C. Mikula, which originally aired March 23, 2014 as Cast of Wonders 120.


Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man

by Scott C. Mikula

I tried to shut out the crowd’s roar, but the thunder of a thousand feet pounding above us in the arena stands rose until I could feel the breastplate of the mechanical swordsman vibrate beneath my touch.  Master Madrigal gestured with his palsied hand for me to replace the automaton’s helmet, but I hesitated to examine the delicate inner workings. Just one small adjustment

A cuff to the back of my head arrested my motion.  “We have spoken of this, Cetta,” said Madrigal. “There is no problem with the balance.”  He crossed his arms, tucking his useless right hand out of sight beneath his sleeve.

I persuaded my mother to send me to her uncle Madrigal after his illness, when I was just twelve years old.  The word apprentice was never used. Girls did not apprentice to craftsmen like Madrigal, and I don’t think he would have taken an apprentice in any case.  He referred to me as his hands. My deft fingers did the work his no longer could.
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Cast of Wonders 145: Tell Them Of The Sky


Tell Them of the Sky

by A. T. Greenblatt

She is too small, Kitkun thinks, the first time she enters his tiny workshop tucked between the market’s stalls. Too young to have left the nest alone. Yet, despite the years of waiting, he still feels a prick of hope as she steps out of the city’s unrelenting smog and over the threshold, thinking, perhaps she will be the one. Perhaps she will ask.

“Are you lost, child?” says Kitkun, setting down his tools. She is dressed in cream colored silk – a foolish color to wear in this city – but her shoes are covered in grime.

She nods. “I thought I saw a raven,” she says.

“And did you?”

Her face crumples with disappointment. “Nanny couldn’t keep up. She doesn’t believe birds exists.”

Kitkun smiles. Customers do not randomly wander into his shop. “Well, I do,” he says, pointing at the display next to her, “See?”
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Cast of Wonders 120: Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man


Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man

by Scott C. Mikula

I tried to shut out the crowd’s roar, but the thunder of a thousand feet pounding above us in the arena stands rose until I could feel the breastplate of the mechanical swordsman vibrate beneath my touch.  Master Madrigal gestured with his palsied hand for me to replace the automaton’s helmet, but I hesitated to examine the delicate inner workings. Just one small adjustment

A cuff to the back of my head arrested my motion.  “We have spoken of this, Cetta,” said Madrigal. “There is no problem with the balance.”  He crossed his arms, tucking his useless right hand out of sight beneath his sleeve.

I persuaded my mother to send me to her uncle Madrigal after his illness, when I was just twelve years old.  The word apprentice was never used. Girls did not apprentice to craftsmen like Madrigal, and I don’t think he would have taken an apprentice in any case.  He referred to me as his hands. My deft fingers did the work his no longer could.
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Cast of Wonders 73: Mr. Nine and the Gentleman Ghost

Show Notes

Today we present Aidan Doyle’s story, Mr. Nine and the Gentleman Ghost, which was originally published on the Weird Tales web site. Aidan’s been with us before; he wrote Episode 31, Inksucker. Aidan is an Australian writer and computer programmer who loves travelling and has visited more than 80 countries. His experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia and going ten-pin bowling in North Korea. His stories have been published in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons and Fantasy.

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


Mr. Nine and the Gentleman Ghost

by Aidan Doyle

Elisabeth gave her invitation to the valet and received a gilt-edged program in return. It welcomed her to the Bearbrass Gentle Ladies Society Monthly Ball. The valet glanced at Elisabeth’s satchel and then escorted her into the ballroom.

Bearbrass had been a sleepy colonial outpost until gold was discovered in the nearby hills. Within three years, it had been transformed into the largest city in all of the colonies. Elisabeth did not think of it as necessarily an improvement.

A dozen chandeliers clung to the ceiling and paintings imported from the empire competed for space on the walls. An orchestra of more than twenty musicians waited on the stage at the far end of the room.

Mrs. Rittiker, the president of the Bearbrass Gentle Ladies Society, greeted Elisabeth at the entrance. She was a short, stout woman in her early fifties and wore a purple chiffon gown with a plunging neckline. “You’ve come without a chaperone again,” she said. “If I were half the gentle lady I pretend to be, I would be thoroughly scandalized.”
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Cast of Wonders 24: Kulturkampf

Show Notes

Anatoly Belilovsky is a Russian-American author and translator of speculative fiction. He was born in a city that went through six or seven owners in the last century, all of whom used it to do a lot more than drive to church on Sundays; he is old enough to remember tanks rolling through it on their way to Czechoslovakia in 1968. After being traded to the US for a shipload of grain and a defector to be named later (see Wikipedia, Jackson-Vanik amendment), he learned English from Star Trek reruns and went on to become a paediatrician in an area of New York where English is only the fourth most commonly used language.

His original work appeared or will appear in the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology, IdeomancerNature FuturesStupefying StoriesImmersion Book of SteampunkDaily SFMammoth Book of Dieselpunk, and Genius Loci anthology, and has been podcast by Cast of Wonders, Tales of Old, and Toasted Cake; his translations from Russian have sold to F&SFYear’s Best SF #32 (edited by Gardner Dozois,) Grimdark, and Kasma. He blogs about writing at loldoc.net.

 

Hans Fenstermacher was born in front of the Iron Curtain in Munich, Germany. He grew up in the crosshairs of the Cold War in Berlin. With that kind of provenance, what else could he do but study Russian? Despite the tutelage (read: learning swearwords) from his T.A., Anatoly, and after a stint really deep behind the Iron Curtain in Leningrad, Hans managed to graduate with a degree in Russian. He went on to a lengthy career in localization (if you have to ask what it is, you don’t need it) and language-related exploits.


Kulturkampf

by Anatoly Belilovsky

September 1, 1870

Most respected Feldmarschall von Moltke,

I wish to thank you for giving me the opportunity to put my theories to the test in the taking of Sedan. They were, of course, entirely correct, and our clear tactical victory I am happy to be reporting.

Die Grosse Bertha worked to perfection; we were able to play Bruckner’s Zero Symphony at half steam while the technicians adjusted all their valves and levers. Steamwinds worked perfectly on the first try, and though of course strings needed to be tuned, of the steam tympani there was never any doubt. I have perhaps been harsh on occasion in my estimation of Herr Bruckner’s work, but for making the listeners run away screaming I should say his symphonies are without rival.

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