You Are Born Exploding

FICTION by Rich Larson in Issue 183 – December 2021

When Elisabeth takes the baby to the beach on Thursday afternoon, another shambler has got through the fence. “Stay ten meters back,” the guard says, his translucent face mask fogged with the heat. “Yes, yes,” Elisabeth says. “And the child. Ten meters.” “We’re fully inoculated,” Elisabeth says, annoyed. “Of course, ma’am.” He seems to be […]

The Cold Calculations

FICTION by Aimee Ogden in Issue 183 – December 2021

Once upon a time, a little girl had to die. It’s just math. Wrong place, wrong time. Bad luck; too bad, so sad. We’ve all heard such stories, told them, shared them, collected them. Not in the way that we collect trinkets; more like how a sock collects holes. We’re submerged in such stories, we […]

Beneath the Earth Where the Nymphs Sleep

FICTION by Meghan Feldman in Issue 183 – December 2021

Rana supposed she should feel flattered that the Council of Ages chose her to outlive all the gene techs who called the Enclave home. Some brainless techs would feel grateful. Especially if they had half-hacked implants and a price on their head like she did. But Rana had no intention of being trapped again, so […]

Vegvísir

FICTION by David Goodman in Issue 183 – December 2021

That’s the thing you have to remember about Kobayashi drivetrains. They work until they don’t. Not like a Selenex or a Rostov unit. Those things tell you all the time how they’re feeling. Grumble grumble. You’re out there in your suit, putting on the spray lube, picking bits of regolith out of the intakes, every […]

Other Stories

FICTION by Wang Yuan, translated by Andy Dudak in Issue 183 – December 2021

This story is sincerely dedicated to my Mother. 1 Tom called Adriana Honey-Bunny, and she called him Pumpkin. A moment by a window. An orange California morning. Tom snapped his fingers, the waiter understood and came and refilled his cup with fragrant coffee. The sun shone on their table and the street outside was crowded. […]

Just One Step, and Then the Next

FICTION by E. N. Díaz in Issue 183 – December 2021

Doña Chuy was sitting in her living room, the heavy smell of the summer rains wafting in through the open door. She hated that smell, but the house was too warm, and her air conditioner no longer worked, so she had to leave windows and doors open to keep it cool. She didn’t worry about […]

A Series of Endings

FICTION by Amal Singh in Issue 183 – December 2021

This is the story of Roopchand Rathore, time traveler, fighter, poet, cancer-survivor, inventor. While his story has many endings, there’s only one true beginning, and it takes place in the humid but pristine backwaters of sun-drenched Kerala. A scene from a movie, but a true-to-roots, hand on heart, scene of value, scene of promise, scene […]

Mom Heart

FICTION by Will McIntosh in Issue 182 – November 2021

The front door banged open. “Daddy! Dadd-deee!” Bluet wailed. I rushed to Bluet. Bluet’s eyes were wet. Karina hung back, blank-eyed, as Bluet bolted forward. “Regan called Mommy dead.” I wrapped Bluet in a hug. “I’m sorry.” My voice was muffled, my face pressed into Bluet’s hair. “That was not a nice thing to say.” […]

Dark Waters Still Flow

FICTION by Alice Towey in Issue 182 – November 2021

The nitrogen was rising in my aeration basins as an autumn wind scattered crimson leaves on the water. It was a chill wind for this time of year, when the late rays of the farsun normally add a final burst of summer; it was going to be a long, cold winter. As I surged my […]

This Stitch, This Time

FICTION by Anna Martino in Issue 182 – November 2021

What do you mean, Why didn’t I warn them before? Are you serious? I did! Answer me this if you are so smart. If you had seen it, what would you have done? It all began with a scrap of fabric I used to test the machine’s tension. Over and over and over, white cotton […]

City of Eternity

FICTION by Pan Haitian, translated by Carmen Yiling Yan in Issue 182 – November 2021

Strange boulders littered the Mountain of the Empty. They were ovoid in appearance and similar in size, their corners and edges smoothed away by the wind, so that even the moonlight shining upon them found no purchase. Like ghastly white skeletons, they lay half-buried in the earth, large and small. They all seemed to be […]

The Language Birds Speak

FICTION by Rebecca Campbell in Issue 182 – November 2021

Alex cantilevered from her hip, his neck arched, knees and elbows braced against her gut. Gracie widened her stance so they wouldn’t pitch forward onto the kitchen floor while he screeched, an emphatic, full-bodied “NO” that felt like the crunch of a car accident one block over. Except he didn’t really say “NO,” it was […]

Between Zero and One There is Infinity

FICTION by Shari Paul in Issue 182 – November 2021

0.1 Nil knows at once that she is no longer on the cargo vessel. Immanuel is kneeling on the floor across from her, eyes wide, face flushed, glancing frantically at someone nearby she cannot see. That stops her for a moment, she used to have access to everywhere at once, from all angles. She turns […]

The Death Haiku of the Azure Five

FICTION by L Chan in Issue 182 – November 2021

The Orbital Defense System A thousand sharp eyes Staring into the darkness Closed only in death The fleet lurked beyond the heliopause of our system, out of the range of our largest weapons. Sensor sweeps didn’t reach them, but we knew they were there. The darkening of the signal buoys on the rim announced their […]

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 […]
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