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 […]

Inhuman Lovers

FICTION by Chen Qian, translated by Carmen Yiling Yan in Issue 189 – June 2022

It was never a good sign when Song Mike came looking for me at the end of the workday. “You, come out here for a sec.” He leaned against the doorway, nodding in my direction. I stuck my head out from behind my computer monitor and looked him up and down. The guy was red […]

We Built This City

FICTION by Marie Vibbert in Issue 189 – June 2022

Every sunset, Julia climbs the city her mother built. It feels enormous, on the outside. Inside, it’s cramped, a human anthill. It didn’t used to be, but Julia doesn’t remember what it felt like when there was room enough for everyone. In the locker room, Rafael’s elbow scissors into her personal space as Julia zips […]

Marsbodies

FICTION by Adele Gardner in Issue 189 – June 2022

The Seven Minutes of Terror had never been so terrifying. Or exhilarating. We hurtled down, our heat shields roaring. In my capsule, despite being harnessed in, my Marsbody trembled in the relentless vibration that accompanied the sound of the inferno. I raced down at a thousand miles an hour. The supersonic parachute deployed with a […]

Wants Pawn Term

FICTION by Rich Larson in Issue 188 – May 2022

Red’s body is asleep in the protoplasmic muck, dreamless, when Mother’s cable wriggles down under the surface to find her. It pushes through the membrane of her neural stoma and pipes a cold tingling slurry inside. A sliver of Mother becomes Red, and Red       wakes             up! Synapses crackle; electric fireworks of thought and intention pinwheel […]

Tea Parties around Nebula-55

FICTION by Adriana C. Grigore in Issue 188 – May 2022

“Ava made mud pie!” “Yes, you did. Careful, don’t spill it.” People would never have guessed what a feat of engineering making mud on a spaceship was. Filter the air, make the water, grind dirt, add silt, scatter sand, and not the kind with glass in it. Make sure to divide it all up again […]

Hatching

FICTION by Bo Balder in Issue 188 – May 2022

The Official Summons buzzer jolted Alzey out of her hungover daze. This had to be the results of her hearing. Now that she’d signed herself out of therapy, normal adult duties would resume. Might as well hear the verdict right away. The computer voice reeled off her SSN, age, et cetera, all her identifiers, the […]

Kora Is Life

FICTION by David D. Levine in Issue 188 – May 2022

I banked into a climbing clockwise turn, my wing’s fabric snapping, my jet’s exhaust hot on my backside. A beautiful panorama of Shuwash Island spread out below me, black beaches and orange jungles rising from a white fringe of surf to the gray and treeless volcanic peaks. Beyond those peaks, across the sea, lay the […]

The Possibly Brief Life of Guang Hansheng

FICTION by Liang Qingsan, translated by Andy Dudak in Issue 188 – May 2022

My discovery of Guang Hansheng was probably down to random chance, in the end. It was a rainy afternoon, and I was headed for the library, striding across wet asphalt and feeling dizzy. Inside they were hosting a quiet, desolate little exhibition—just a few exhibits and a drowsy admin under bright stage lighting. Of course, […]

A Manual on Different Options of How to Bring A Loved One to Life

FICTION by Oyedotun Damilola Muees in Issue 188 – May 2022

11. Join A Telegram Cyberware Group. Tutu arranged the meeting between Harafat and the haberdasher at the end of the clustering shops in Balogun Market. Harafat squeezed through the crowds as traders called out their wares. Several times, sweaty teenage boys asked if she was interested in a new phone. Harafat ignored them, walking into […]

Gamma

FICTION by Oskar Källner, translated by Gordon James Jones in Issue 188 – May 2022

Gamma stretched out through the quantum foam. Virtual photons and electrons tickled her subtime body. If she were to reduce her mass to pure quanta then, hypothetically speaking, she would be able to touch the entire universe at once. Practically speaking, she possessed barely enough energy for her subtime body to reach a diameter of […]

Doc Luckless and the Stationmistress

FICTION by Thoraiya Dyer in Issue 187 – April 2022

A plague flag flutters from the houseboat’s prow as it half-motors, half-drifts toward the dark side of the lake. Harald hastily pokes the last of his jellyfish breakfast into his mouth, chopsticks trembling. Always trepidation, first, followed by a deep sense of failure if things don’t go to plan. If he can actually help the […]

Two Spacesuits

FICTION by Leonard Richardson in Issue 187 – April 2022

A four-hour drive between me and my parents is a distance that works well for everybody. I can come back for a weekend, but they don’t call me back for every little thing. So when Mom did call me at work in the middle of the day and said, “Your father is acting weird,” I […]

Dream Factory

FICTION by Greg Egan in Issue 187 – April 2022

1 “Any pets?” Justine asked, glancing up from the checklist on her phone. “No,” James replied, hopeful that this might count in his favor, though it was hard to read his interrogator’s demeanor. She’d said she was a law student, and he could already imagine her in a courtroom, calmly trapping duplicitous witnesses in the […]
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