Sweetbaby

FICTION by Thomas Ha in Issue 193 – October 2022

Won’t Hurt, I Know You don’t look Sweetbaby in the eye when he pushes out from under the tree throw. We know that now. Instead, the ears, or what’s left of them, are a better place to settle your gaze. They’re close enough to the face that you can tell which way he’s looking and […]

Lost and Found

FICTION by M. L. Clark in Issue 193 – October 2022

The uniform’s design was out of date by the time Essen made orbit over Drasti Prime—but then, so was Essen, so she kept it as is, fiddling in sequence with the pocket flaps and interface protector while the autofeed caught her up on twenty-three years of Partnership intel: personal, professional, interplanetary, and puerile. The inner […]

Fly Free

FICTION by Alan Kubatiev, translated by Alex Shvartsman in Issue 193 – October 2022

“I needed a true monster, so I went with a bird.” “Why?” “It’s impossible to reach an accord with a bird.” —From a conversation with film director Juraj Herz Bird-speak was the only reason Crowley got this job. Without it, he couldn’t have dreamed of landing such a cushy, well-paying gig. He had cautiously constructed […]

Giant Fish

FICTION by Chu Shifan, translated by Stella Jiayue Zhu in Issue 193 – October 2022

1. K’un died. It breathed for tens of thousands of years and, at long last, life came to an end. Its body was washed ashore. Pale red scales plowed through vegetation as the bulging exoskeleton grazed against dunes. Its enormous carcass formed an imposing mountain range along Pearl Island’s shoreline. Countless miners abandoned their digs […]

The Secret Strength of Things

FICTION by Gregory Feeley in Issue 193 – October 2022

The Snow Woman was away, far away. The winds that blew round the frozen world would take “days” to bear her to where Kitsune sheltered, even though both lay beneath the blue light of Ryujin, which the Chinese call Hǎiwángxīng and the white folks call Neptune. The atmosphere was too thin to loft anything denser […]

Rondo for Strings and Lasergun

FICTION by Jared Oliver Adams in Issue 193 – October 2022

Theme While the main theme of Quispe’s Rondo for Cello and Orchestra hugs the shoreline of Romanticism, the episodes between refrains climb the Andes to harvest the folk music of the composer’s youth, returning richer for each excursion. Chasca Huapaya loses herself in the performance. Her bow glides, skitters, bounces, grinds. She uses the body […]

The Slow Deaths of Automobiles

FICTION by Fiona Moore in Issue 192 – September 2022

In the woods, on the edge of the ravine, we found the corpse of a car. It was so close to the cliff edge, a determined push would have sent it tumbling down to the river. We climbed in and sat inside the rusting shell, on the sun-bleached fabric and perishing foam of the seats. […]

Border Run

FICTION by Octavia Cade in Issue 192 – September 2022

A lifetime of sailing and Sefa had never got used to the thrill of it, to the wide blue spill of horizon, and how it held in the world. He’d stood in storms and calm weather and every stage in between, stood against salt railings and on decks so heaving he could barely keep his […]

Sub-son

FICTION by Amal Singh in Issue 192 – September 2022

Everyone was on time, but the sub-son was late. No one had expected this from the sub-son because he had always been the most responsible, the most thoughtful, and the most present. The sub-son walked with the weight of the family on his shoulders, never hunching, never crumbling. The sub-son had always been there, despite […]

Shining Bursa and the Listening Post

FICTION by Sarah Pauling in Issue 192 – September 2022

“Bursa,” Seafaring says, their hindwing brushing the bedding, their long abdomen sinking the mattress near Bursa’s feet. “Wake up, please.” Bursa peers through one cracked eyelid and the remains of a dream about hollow spaces. His nictitating membrane diffuses the long-suffered intruder into stars. Above them both, his royal chamber vaults into a ceiling so […]

Live Update

FICTION by Lettie Prell in Issue 192 – September 2022

1 This is real, or real enough. It’s not memory, not dream. I’ve achieved the lucid clarity of the present moment, which I used to take for granted. Now it’s a gift. Around me, what passes for reality is a flimsy scaffold. I can see through everything. That’s good, because I must find the others, […]

Timekeepers' Symphony

FICTION by Ken Liu in Issue 192 – September 2022

To keep time, you must first invent it. 1. Flicker—A piacere Time travels in divers paces with divers persons. I’ll tell you who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal and who he stands still withal. —William Shakespeare, As You Like It, III.ii. In the cloud forests of Paek Sigma II, […]

Rivers Bend

FICTION by James Sallis in Issue 192 – September 2022

You don’t know me, but my name’s Al. I’ve been reading your books, especially those that feature Cal Harrison. They, in turn, have had me thinking seriously about writing one of my own, though I am not at all certain at this point what I might write about. I can’t quite say what it was, […]

Tender, Tether, Shell

FICTION by M. J. Pettit in Issue 191 – August 2022

The intact remnants of Tess’ pressure suit sat alone at the bar, slumped before an untouched pint of beer. No one around the Waystation blamed Hae’cera for what they did after the reactor blew. According to the logs recovered after the accident, the blast killed Tess instantly while only damaging the alien’s shell. In their […]

The Pirate's Consigliere

FICTION by Bo Balder in Issue 191 – August 2022

Sometimes piracy is easy. The generation ship invited us aboard in the first sentence of their message. No threats needed. The ship was gigantic, at least two centuries old. That and the utter naivete told me a lot. “What does that mean, consigliere Katla?” Einar, the captain, growled. “Trap?” He was standing dead center on […]

Pollatomish

FICTION by Finbarr O’Reilly in Issue 191 РAugust 2022

It was on the day of the last wake that the Murchú exploded. Mickey clasped her hands to her chest as she felt the dull concussion of detonating hydrogen and oxygen tanks rattle through her kidneys and bowels before exiting through her sternum. She looked down at the front of her blouse, past the two […]

Polly and (Not) Charles Conquer the Solar System

FICTION by Carrie Vaughn in Issue 191 – August 2022

This is Chapter Thirty or so in a whole ongoing saga that I don’t have time to get into right now. I’m jumping in at the point when my Machiavellian twin brother Charles decided to take over Mars, and I decided to help. My big failing is I never figure these things out until I’m […]

Slight Forms

FICTION by R.T. Ester in Issue 191 – August 2022

You’re five and your teacher tells you fear weighs exactly ten pounds. You come home and you ask Mum and Dad if it’s true, and you don’t stop asking why after they confirm it is. You don’t stop ’til they tell you about the Slight. By age nine it becomes embarrassing to still believe the […]

The Scene of the Crime

FICTION by Leonard Richardson in Issue 191 – August 2022

Ioris had learned one rule early in his pupal stage: never call the cops. The Akate take care of their own. However bad the trouble is, bringing in the greengloves will only make things worse. Apparently that rule didn’t apply here on the frontier. Ioris had brought a problem to Dr. Miew’s attention, and instead […]

Migratory Patterns of the Modern American Skyscraper

FICTION by Derrick Boden in Issue 191 – August 2022

They call it the pinnacle of architectural innovation. An affordable housing revolution. They call it Plexus, and it built this neighborhood in seven days. It starts as a colloid, a nanoparticle superfluid, a pale blue sludge that erupts from the nozzles of a hundred carbon fiber tubes on a cold Wednesday morning in late February. […]

The Forgotten

FICTION by Eliane Boey in Issue 190 – July 2022

It was the cockroach from the crack in the bathroom wall, tapping a defiant dance on my haptic suit, that made me pull up Sociable, to post a comment to my Constituency Administrator. I’d killed the damned thing yesterday, watched it kick its hairy legs in the air. Yet somehow, life asserts itself, and accepts […]

To Be

FICTION by Ahmed Asi in Issue 190 – July 2022

Raza stepped downstage, using the warmth of the lights on his synthetic skin to find his spot. Waiting in the wings, he had tuned his embod unit’s still unfamiliar receptors for this moment. Turned up touch until light and shadow were tactile pools of warmth and cool. Turned down sound as Eric exited, stage left, […]

Carapace

FICTION by David Goodman in Issue 190 – July 2022

The first thing I am aware of is the lack of a heartbeat. Then, the volume of human blood that coats my interior surfaces. Precisely 0.019 milliseconds after activation of conscious response and autonomous threat analysis, I become an I. Three milliseconds later I began this automated logging process, in order to provide a coherent […]

The Sadness Box

FICTION by Suzanne Palmer in Issue 190 – July 2022

“Okay, so you know those things they sell called ‘useless machines’?” the inventor says. He is smiling. Of course, the boy knows them; he’d briefly had one that had been plucked from his bedroom floor and relocated into the inventor’s basement workroom almost immediately, as if his father had been lurking and waiting for the […]

The Strange Girl

FICTION by Xiu Xinyu, translated by Emily Jin in Issue 190 – July 2022

She closed her eyes and imagined holding the boy in her arms: smooth pink skin, lush and fuzzy lanugo, monolid eyes that took after Shengyuan. She lowered her head, planted a kiss on his cheek, and lightly patted him on the back. The boy, as stubborn as babies could be, wriggled and kicked. A vibration; […]

Termination Stories for the Cyberpunk Dystopia Protagonist

FICTION by Isabel J. Kim in Issue 190 – July 2022

Cool and Sexy Asian Girl stands outside the convenience store under the striped awning and waits for the rain to stop. The rain is never going to stop. Cool and Sexy Asian Girl would need to go to a different city for the rain to stop, a city not built on phosphorescent fluorescence and slick […]

Company Town

FICTION by Aimee Ogden in Issue 189 – June 2022

The company alarm sends Cass flailing out of bed with its first chime. If she lingers under the blankets, she’ll disturb Maya: if she doesn’t get up before the second alarm, the volume ratchets up to eighty decibels, and the smart thermostat will crank up the furnace to make the bedroom unpleasantly hot. She’s not […]

The Art of Navigating an Affair in a Time Rift

FICTION by Nika Murphy in Issue 189 – June 2022

In this timeline, crayons litter the kitchen table. Red for Mars. Pink and orange for clouds. Cerulean for the dot in the sky I call home, in this timeline. Jeannie sticks out her tongue when she colors. Her knuckles turn white as she rubs the crayons to nubs. She hands the picture to me as […]

Manjar dos Deuses

FICTION by Anna Martino in Issue 189 – June 2022

I. “Some would say it’s mercenary to charge people for their memories. What do you have to say about that?” Trust a reporter to sour the beauty of my work, Daniel thought. “I’m not charging for their memories. I’m charging for the reconstruction. Every one of my clients is special—every food memory is unique, and […]

The Odyssey Problem

FICTION by Chris Willrich in Issue 189 – June 2022

When the sparkling golden glow fades and my skin stops feeling like mites are crawling all over it, the Room is gone, and I am shivering in a vast bright chamber and strange people clad in orange, red, and blue pajamas are asking me how I am. I don’t know what to say. I feel […]
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