Paper of Elephants

FICTION by Brenda Cooper in Issue 181 – October 2021

Eleanor watched the tourists’ faces as Siaal finished the last flourish on the painting in front of him, a bright blue streak simulating a sky. Three visitors watched the elephant hold his trunk straight up for a moment, the paintbrush clutched in his curled trunk. The small family spoke Italian but lived in America. The […]

The Answer Was Snails

FICTION by Bo Balder in Issue 181 – October 2021

The alien must have been reading up on humidity conditions for its terrarium, because we’d already gotten three mistings today. I lifted my head above the mud, where I’d lain hidden since dawn. I breathed through my snorkel reed, which was nearing the end of its usefulness. Another obstacle in my already busy day. It […]

Legend of the Giant

FICTION by Fei Dao, translated by Ken Liu in Issue 181 – October 2021

1. “Chi-a! Chi-a!” Just as dawn is about to chase away the night, the silence is broken by a distant, earth-rumbling chant. A roiling, dark column of smoke snakes toward the rosy clouds. The giant, towing a rusty furnace behind him, each stride infused with pride, marches into sight from over the horizon. Lit by […]

Love Unflinching, at Low- to Zero-G

FICTION by M. L. Clark in Issue 181 – October 2021

1 Doc tried to keep a straight face until the other human had left the examination room to complete annual license renewals. Zeddi Bobeddi, her wagging tail threatening to helicopter her off the low-G table from familiarity with these routine checkups—the treat! the impending treat!—was not making this easy. “Okay,” said Doc, once the coast […]

Rain Falling in the Pines

FICTION by Lavie Tidhar in Issue 181 – October 2021

1. Two men in dark sunglasses stepped through the doors of the Monte Carmelo. They stopped and scanned the gloomy inside. Geshem-Nofel-Ba’oranim clocked them and kept to his booth. He knew trouble when it walked through the door looking for him. The two men were armed. Security, probably federal. That’s if Geshem was lucky, if […]

Through

FICTION by Eric Fomley and Rich Larson in Issue 181 – October 2021

Pilo’s long quiet is interrupted by a bell, the two-tone electronic chime that signals an inspection. He feels his cube start to move in the dark. He grips both sides of his bed, the square slab that is the cell’s only furnishing. He observes his emaciated reflection in the dark glass wall across from him, […]

A Well-Worn Path

FICTION by AnaMaria Curtis in Issue 181 – October 2021

Norami still has a few veeberries in the fridge, but her sister wants fresh. “It’s been fifteen years since I’ve had them off the vine,” Leona says from across the kitchen counter, taller and far more persuasive than Norami remembers. Norami takes the ones she has out of the fridge, pops one in her mouth. […]

Yesterday's Wolf

FICTION by Ray Nayler in Issue 180 – September 2021

They found the torn lamb in the gold spring grass, beside the gravel road. The flies had found it first. But the flies were still lazy and slow. Later in the season, when they found a feast like this, you would be able to hear them buzzing from a distance. Elmira watched her brother Taalay […]

It is a Pleasure to Receive You

FICTION by Ziggy Schutz in Issue 180 – September 2021

If one wants to feel small, all one has to do is look up at the sky on a clear night. There is something about the stretch of the horizon, about the distance between you and each bright spark, numbers that feel so large as to be nearly impossible summed up in a simple gesture. […]

Xiaolongbao: Soup Dumplings

FICTION by D.A. Xiaolin Spires in Issue 180 – September 2021

The sky swelled with vermilion. Each step that I took toward the rosy jade grove, the redder and denser it got. It looked like the sky soaked itself into my mom’s old lipstick. I stood paralyzed for a moment by the thought of her lips, moving in her signature hushed way, reading to me, about […]

Dog and Pony Show

FICTION by Robert Jeschonek in Issue 180 – September 2021

People say the needles of a dog are a boy’s best friend, and I believe them. I mean, the nozzles are okay too, and I shiver with delight when they unfold from my dog Wazoo’s gleaming carapace. I love when they spray the green gas that makes me work harder, or the purple gas that […]

The Winter Garden

FICTION by Regina Kanyu Wang, translated by Emily Jin in Issue 180 – September 2021

The transition was much easier than I had imagined. Standing by the console, I set the parameters following my usual observation procedure. I had memorized the numbers when Jin first mentioned them, and I double-checked his experiment records, just to make sure. I rotated the security knob counterclockwise, punched in the password number by number, […]

In a Net I Seek to Hold the Wind

FICTION by Gregory Feeley in Issue 180 – September 2021

For this was Galatea made: the rock from which we cast our line into the depths. Presenting its same face—a lover’s unwavering gaze—to swirling Neptune, it circles that world at a pace just slower than Neptune’s own spin, diffident yet faithful. A mass of planetary debris compressed by gravity, the tiny moon almost asked to […]

Candide; Life-

FICTION by Beth Goder in Issue 179 – August 2021

Seva is waiting for Jal in the eggnog eatery where they had their first date. A moving rainbow of eggnog mini-cups streams past on a conveyor belt. She grabs a birthday cake nog, removing the cup from underneath the safety dome. The aroma triggers an access request in her microenvironment, which she grants. The smell […]

A Thousand Tiny Gods

FICTION by Nadia Afifi in Issue 179 – August 2021

The minister’s wife arrives at the Bahrain Ministry of Nanotechnology in a black limousine with dark, tinted windows. She normally eschews the hijab, but today, she’s wrapped in a black abaya with a full face covering, a useful method of concealing her identity without drawing attention from those who would question her presence here, of […]

The Clock, Having Seen Its Face in the Mirror, Still Knows Not the Hour

FICTION by Adam Stemple in Issue 179 – August 2021

The market was crowded, and judging by the way the child waited for their parents’ attention to be engaged by a hawker before rushing over to me, they’d been given explicit instructions to stay at their mother’s side. But they were at that age where curiosity was a wild horse that no fence—whether built of […]

The Serpentine Band

FICTION by Congyun 'Mu Ming' Gu, translated by Tian Huang in Issue 179 – August 2021

“My little girl once had a serpentine band that had scenes of red cliffs and white water carved onto it. Whenever she held it as she slept, she would dream of entering that world.” —Excerpt from “Notes about Yushan,” written in the early seventeenth century Prelude The water is not all that cold. It has […]

A Heist in Fifteen Products from the Orion Spur's Longest-Running Catalog

FICTION by Andrea M. Pawley in Issue 179 – August 2021

The Aficionado’s Personal-Use Fabricator This is the customized fabricator that uses Safe-Nuke technology to deconstruct molecules before rebuilding them according to plans available through the Tollnacher Stimmacher catalog. With The Aficionado’s Personal-Use Fabricator and uncontrolled access to all the plans in the catalog, I can make everything I require to free Mom from prison. Tollnacher […]

An Instance

FICTION by Mlok 5, translated by Julie Nováková in Issue 179 – August 2021

Query: erotic chat @lelek7, m, 31, hip-hop Good evening, I am an instance gtrg.5i6.uihg.vbnrt, and I will be taking care of your satisfactory browsing experience. Gladly. What else can I do? Redirect: adult_content Query: porn @merk.ur, m, 24, student, snowboard Night shift again, I see. Being woken up like this doesn’t do me good. How […]

Resistance in a Drop of DNA

FICTION by Andrea Kriz in Issue 179 – August 2021

You thought he’d be standing by the window, hands behind his back, looking out at the tortuous streets of Lyon like some kind of general. Instead, he’s sitting at a desk, half-buried in books. Your contact introduces him as the Professor. You tear open your jacket lining to extract the envelope, containing millions of francs […]

Promises We Made Under A Brick-Dark Sky

FICTION by Karen Osborne in Issue 178 – July 2021

I was standing on the dock when the angels fell. Their blades stilled. Their lights dimmed. Their corpses shattered on streets and shingles and skulls, all the way from the cathedral at the crest of the world down to the blackwater at the end of it, where I waited on the dock with my baby. […]

He Leaps for the Stars, He Leaps for the Stars

FICTION by Grace Chan in Issue 178 – July 2021

Yennie’s new therapist started by checking his biorhythm recordings—sleep patterns, heart rate, blood pressure. Then, the therapist’s soma projection leaned into the space between them and asked what Yennie would like to talk about. Yennie glanced out the window. An ice storm, a froth of glassy dust, was blowing in over the bone-colored hills. He […]

When the Sheaves Are Gathered

FICTION by Nick Wolven in Issue 178 – July 2021

1 It’s 3 a.m., and Kip’s been at it all night, to the point where Johnny has had enough. Coming into the kitchen, he can’t believe what he’s seeing. Bottles all over, spills of sugar, a fifth of tequila lying tipped in the sink. And shards, too, literal pieces of glass, because the stupid kid, […]

Preserved in Amber

FICTION by Samantha Murray in Issue 178 – July 2021

You can leave a place for a long, long time. You can leave a place for a long time and never really leave. And yet never know it, until you come back to find that a part of you is waiting there, has been waiting there, all along. Niu Yi The taxi from Guiyang Airport […]

I'm Feeling Lucky

FICTION by Leonid Kaganov, translated by Alex Shvartsman in Issue 178 – July 2021

My sandwiches will soon appear on the kitchen shelf. Grandpa An doesn’t eat sandwiches because he has cancer. He has only a couple of months left to live. That’s what the doctor said in the corridor, and when I overheard it, I cried all evening long. This had been two winters ago, when I was […]

The Falling

FICTION by M V Melcer in Issue 178 – July 2021

We are falling. Two facts are contained in this statement: The first: falling is a permanent condition, the truth of our past and present, and, for some time still, the future. The second I will let you deduce for yourself. “What’s the cube root of 12,326,391?” My mother blinks, her eyes losing focus the way […]

Last Nice Day

FICTION by Rich Larson in Issue 178 – July 2021

It sun-showers while we’re scrubbing the carrots. The sky overhead is robin’s egg blue—all the gray stormy shit is off to the east—but the rain comes down anyways. We’re sitting on the edge of the old wooden porch, facing the garden, and the drops lick our bare feet. That is the setting. “Again,” says Mom, […]

Little Animals

FICTION by Nancy Kress in Issue 177 – June 2021

1. “I’ve got a signal,” Cora said. “Elena, come look!” I rushed to Cora’s bank of computers. For six long, working-into-the-evening days, we’d gotten only the faintest of quantum signals, nothing usable. Our grant only gave us three weeks on the TU Delft equipment. Cora complained that Americans somehow seem to never get as much […]

Poubelle

FICTION by Robert Reed in Issue 177 – June 2021

1 Security AIs heard whimpering, diagnosed the source, then alerted the rest of the household. A baby moggie had fallen inside one of the nearby recycling hubs. Of course the children hurried outside to see, and being noble souls, they dragged the half-suffocated creature out of the garbage. But the rescue had barely begun. Social […]
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