The Portrait of a Survivor, Observed from the Water

FICTION by Yukimi Ogawa in Issue 197 – February 2023

Something, somewhere in her body, quietly crumbles. The dust slowly spreads over the water, the momentum of the collapse pushing it away, the trapped words of commands and programs breaking free—those which used to give her existence a meaning. She is smaller and lighter than she was when she landed on this planet. The lost […]

Somewhere, It's About to Be Spring

FICTION by Samantha Murray in Issue 197 – February 2023

The Winter of Your Own Heart Lacuna knew winter. Winter was the vast distances between the stars. Winter was the cold of space. You couldn’t measure cold; it was not a thing in itself. It was only the absence of heat. As darkness was only an absence of light. Yet both of these—the dark and […]

Larva Pupa Imago

FICTION by Eric Schwitzgebel in Issue 197 – February 2023

Tight, tight. A sharp flex, a crack, a sudden a wash of air, then—the scent of a guru upwind! Guru guru guru! Larva831’s eggy thoughts gushed away, its ejected cognitive fluids mixing confusedly with the ejected fluids of its 100012 hatching sibs. Obsolete embryonic ideas flowed under a dozen dozen dozen cracking shells, swirled through […]

An Ode to Stardust

FICTION by R. P. Sand in Issue 197 – February 2023

My cat hops up to his favorite spot by the window to observe the nebula, the pitter-patter of his paws and the low hum-rumble of the engine the only sounds in the room. Misty tendrils amble past, glimmering and cloudlike, carrying an entire medley of warm hues, and his black coat is gilded with a […]

Introduction to 2181 Overture, Second Edition

FICTION by Gu Shi, translated by Emily Jin in Issue 197 – February 2023

In July 2088, shortly after I woke up from cryosleep, I received a copy of 2181 Overture. Assuming the book was science fiction, I didn’t even bother touching it. My only concern was how I could adjust to the new world I found myself thrown into. After the cataclysmic eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano, only […]

Silo, Sweet Silo

FICTION by James Castles in Issue 197 – February 2023

A silo is a good home. It is snug, secure, and shielded. It maintains optimal temperature and humidity. The walls are all perfectly equidistant from my fuselage. This pleases me. A silo is a good home. But it is wrong that it is still my home. I failed. My siblings soared, while all I did […]

Going Time

FICTION by Amal Singh in Issue 197 – February 2023

It’s six weeks ’til Going Time. I never really got used to that naming convention. The phrase has “Going” and “Time” in it, the latter carrying the entire weight of the definition. The former is vague. Going where? Beneath the crusty morass of our dead-lead roads. Beyond the white veil of the digital everforest. Inside […]

Symbiosis

FICTION by D.A. Xiaolin Spires in Issue 196 – January 2023

When I had been chosen to have a child, I was apprehensive more than ecstatic. All the other “lottery winners” seemed to be joyous. On the holoscreens, I saw them cry happy tears. I tried to mimic that but could not. I tried to smile like I had won a bag of chocolates. I wish […]

The Fortunate Isles

FICTION by Gregory Feeley in Issue 196 – January 2023

Those who came before us believed they lived in the early days of a new nation, and they left documentation for posterity the way their forbears left garbage fouling their environment—simply as a product of how they lived. The records are vast and interesting to some, especially those who can trawl through the data with […]

Anais Gets a Turn

FICTION by R.T. Ester in Issue 196 – January 2023

The world-organism is awake and has spent the last decade playing round after round of tic-tac-toe with itself. Hearing this the first time, Anais reacts like anyone would to a stranger sitting next to them on a plane, insisting on conversation for the flight’s three-hour duration. She nods and smiles. She takes the man’s card. […]

Zhuangzi's Dream

FICTION by Cao Baiyu, translated by Stella Jiayue Zhu in Issue 196 – January 2023

Latent summer stirred while spring lay dormant. April had come to the Kingdom of S’ong and brought with it spells of rain. Tadpoles in the pond recently developed hind legs; above, a stray shower had been drumming at the water pit-a-pat. The rain-rinsed sky was tinged a darkening hue from horizon to zenith all the […]

Sharp Undoing

FICTION by Natasha King in Issue 196 – January 2023

Sure enough we could not outrun the hoverbikes. Understandable—yes? Yes. We were a new thing, a sharp thing; not a fast thing. So we stood and panted, and the bikes idled a few handsbreadths above the rain-slick tarmac. The Nero’s men fanned out before us. We said, “Boys!” and also, “Let’s not do anything hasty,” […]

Pearl

FICTION by Felix Rose Kawitzky in Issue 196 – January 2023

For Vera Florence Cooper RubinAstronomer, pioneer in the discovery of Dark Matter and the “Galaxy Rotation Problem” [Transcript of the inaugural LOUOU mission launch press briefing, delivered by Dr. Florence Maxwell-Rubin, Codirector, VRMT] Published in The Solar Citizen, 2180:34 (3). The Vera Rubin Memorial Trust is thrilled to host the launch of the Large Observatory […]

Law of Tongue

FICTION by Naim Kabir in Issue 195 – December 2022

The fact that they insisted we keep calling them “killer whales” should really tell you something. The orcas of Puget Sound are vicious in negotiations. “Listen,” I say. “The talks are in two weeks. We can’t just throw away months of work when we’re so close to the finish line.” The old matriarch spyhops once […]

Keiki's Pitcher Plant

FICTION by Bri Castagnozzi in Issue 195 – December 2022

A maintenance request called Ina down to the old dispensary on the sixtieth Reclamation. Her wife, Maya, was pulling lemon grass from the belly of a roasted suckling pig, wood-choked and salty fine for the guests of the Reclamation Feast. Twelve other young pigs were placed by their chefs throughout this western part of Palawan, […]

The Resting Place of Trees

FICTION by Ben Berman Ghan in Issue 195 – December 2022

“I knew it all along. The heart of the world is blue.” —Maggie Nelson: “Bluets” On the edge of the desolate wreckage of a crashed ship, the honeybee trembled, climbing downwards from the motionless stalks of the machine’s antenna. In its bee mind, it feels only order and structure, and something that might have been […]

Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness

FICTION by S.L. Huang in Issue 195 – December 2022

From the first time I visited Mariah Lee-Cassidy in prison, she radiated defiance. The poisonous orange of her prison jumpsuit might have been the decision of the state, but everything else about the twenty-nine-year-old, from her aggressively spiked hair to the rakish tilt of her chin, seemed calculated to scorn others. I was the first, […]

Upstart

FICTION by Lu Ban, translated by Blake Stone-Banks in Issue 195 – December 2022

: Your name, sir. : Just call me K. : Apologies, sir. This process is meticulously controlled. You are required to state your full name and surname. : It’s K Li. : Alright, Mr. Li. Shall we begin? My colleagues have completed your health and background checks. Now, I’m here to assist with the final […]

Left to Die

FICTION by Vandana Singh in Issue 195 – December 2022

They had left her to die. Binu had realized that too late. At the time she thought she was only being pragmatic, and perhaps a bit noble. “Leave me, I’ll be all right,” she had rasped, gritting her teeth against the pain, looking into Niko’s eyes as he bent over her. Her mouth had tasted […]

To Exorcise Mechanical Ghosts

FICTION by Laney Gaughan in Issue 195 – December 2022

Andy’s arm had belonged to a dead man before it had been screwed into his socket, wires spliced onto his nerve endings, and the thrumming metal drum plunged into the cavity of his ear. The doctor had done his best, of course, as well as could be done with a part hastily severed years ago. […]

The Lightness

FICTION by Alex Sobel in Issue 195 – December 2022

Trish is only a month along when the Goolan parents die. She doesn’t speak Goola well enough to understand the details, but the point gets across. A freak accident. Stupid. Meaningless. The kind of thing that makes you pay attention to randomness, to fragility. When she finds out, Trish goes to Annie because she has […]

The Rhythm of the Soul

FICTION by Michelle Julia John in Issue 194 – November 2022

I was ten years old when my father broke the world with the sweet notes of a steel pan. He created a new version, called it the S-pan, short for soul pan. Like any other, he made it from a repurposed steel drum. Streaks of gold ran up the sides of its five-inch skirt tucked […]

Accountability, and Other Myths of Old Earth

FICTION by Aimee Ogden in Issue 194 – November 2022

The Architects judged Earth, and found its people guilty, before anyone ever knew they were watching. When they made themselves known, they did so entirely. Around the world, at 13:17 Greenwich Mean Time, phones and laptops flickered to life, and TVs changed channels. Where there were no screens to be had, other things served as […]

Calf Cleaving in the Benthic Black

FICTION by Isabel J. Kim in Issue 194 – November 2022

The technical term is “generation ship cascade failure.” Cryogenic collapse. Millennium drive breakdown. Failed ship-in-a-bottle revolution against the corpostate hegemony. I call all the outcomes whalefalls, though. Because that’s what they are: the carcasses of something that used to be alive, floating slowly down through the black. I guess that makes me one of those […]

The Lonely Time Traveler of Kentish Town

FICTION by Nadia Afifi in Issue 194 – November 2022

I clutch a flaky sausage roll and a miniature bottle of prosecco as I sit on the Northern Line train, waiting for my appetite to return. It’s hard to eat, though less hard to drink, after witnessing a public burning. The smell of smoke clings to my nostrils, tinged with something fouler. The unique, searing […]

Hummingbird, Resting on Honeysuckles

FICTION by Yang Wanqing, translated by Jay Zhang in Issue 194 – November 2022

Red for temperature. Blue for ignition. Green for airflow. It takes four hours and forty-two minutes for you to finish your transformation into a pile of white ashes. I keep a patient vigil over those three primary colors on the cremator’s monitor, making sure that nothing is left behind. Nothing that can be linked to […]

The Transfiguration of the Gardener Irene by the Dead Planet Hipea

FICTION by Ann LeBlanc in Issue 194 – November 2022

The first of Irene’s memories I eat is the night she learned I had been murdered. It was karaoke night—not the official one for the cruise ship passengers, but an illicit one Irene organized for a few of the other crew. They weren’t supposed to be in the botanical garden, but it was still two […]

The Whelk

FICTION by Samara Auman in Issue 194 – November 2022

Nostalgia died a quiet death, wrapped in cellophane and power cords. The future had killed it. The ghosts of yesteryear’s fragrances no longer haunted, no longer hung and clung to the passersby. Instead, those ghosts lay shriveled like salted slugs in the perfectly modulated light of streetlamps and roadside LEDs. And I, a robot programmed […]

Junk Hounds

FICTION by Lavie Tidhar in Issue 193 – October 2022

The walls were beige and you could see where the rust took hold. A tiny dead robot floated past Amir, feelers drooping. It was the same color as the walls and shaped like a grasshopper. Amir made a grab for it but a hidden maintenance duct sucked it up and it vanished with a soft, […]

Coding Van Gogh

FICTION by Elaine Gao in Issue 193 – October 2022

A paintbrush, still dipped in Prussian blue, dissolved into a stream of code. Tara peeked at the 0s and 1s snaking up her wired arms, dimly illuminating the very human veins underneath. Her eyes shut. Starry Night. Violently controlled waves, tamed only by the canvas, cupped in its palms—gold, amber, and rusted orange wheels, stuck […]
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