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 […]


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 […]

Bots of the Lost Ark

FICTION by Suzanne Palmer in Issue 177 – June 2021

I have been activated, therefore I have a purpose, Bot 9 thought. I have a purpose, therefore I serve. It recited the Mantra Upon Waking, to check that it was running at optimum physical efficiency, then the Mantra of Obedience, the Mantra of Not Improvising Without Clear Oversight and Direction, and the Mantra of Not […]

Face Changing

FICTION by Jiang Bo, translated by Andy Dudak in Issue 177 – June 2021

Xu Haifeng sat down at the desk and tapped a button. Large screens slowly rose to surround him, like a three hundred and sixty-degree theater. All kinds of data scrolled on the screens in a never-ending torrent. Xu waved his hand and the screens responded, scrolls coming and going. When the capital flowchart revolved before […]

The Shroud for the Mourners

FICTION by Yukimi Ogawa in Issue 177 – June 2021

Kiriko frowned as she peered into her magnifying glass. “This wasn’t here last time, Hama-san.” “Oh, please don’t tell me I have a new symptom again,” Mr. Hama said, wincing. Mr. Hama was a man in his fifties, with a vine-like pattern at the edges of his membranes, and carnelian-colored eyes. He had a long […]

Our Fate, Told in Photons

FICTION by K.W. Colyard in Issue 177 – June 2021

We were seventy-seven when the Pleiades burned out. As the seventh daughters of a seventh daughter, it seemed almost poetic that this was what Fate had in store for us. Yes, I said daughters. Plural. Casto came first, but she wasn’t breathing. I came second, and I was shrieking—gulping air like a parched man fresh […]

Embracing the Movement

FICTION by Cristina Jurado in Issue 177 – June 2021

We are not so different, sister sojourner. Correct us if we are mistaken, but we are both creatures trying to survive under the most adverse circumstances, evading hazards, defying misfortune, and eluding death. We share more in common than you think. Yet we have never seen anything like you, a strange being from an equally […]

Best-Laid Plans

FICTION by David D. Levine in Issue 176 – May 2021

The mouse floated in the air in the middle of its cage. It was an ordinary lab mouse, with white fur, beady red eyes, and an adorable little pink nose. The left ear was tattooed with a constellation of dots that identified it uniquely from all its siblings and cousins. A small nick in its […]

A Home for Mrs. Biswas

FICTION by Amal Singh in Issue 176 – May 2021

Once she saw the red sands stretch across miles, craters as big as the stadium her father played hockey in, and golden spires shimmering brighter than Amritsar’s Golden Temple, Aparna Biswas didn’t want to live on Earth. Of course they were a far cry from her own backyard where, in summers, she would sit on […]

The Force Exerted on the Mass of a Body

FICTION by Bo Balder in Issue 176 – May 2021

Sifan put her exoskeleton on after breakfast. Her private space in the IG-pod was cramped, and even an act as simple as eating drained her in Wenshi’s heavy gravity. That gravity demanded so much of her body she had to eat twice as much as she wanted to. She opened the door and stepped outside. […]

Vanishing Point

FICTION by Robert V.S. Redick in Issue 176 – May 2021

1. Eyepiece Disaster, betrayal, and the ship already blasting its horn. The family clusters around the packing crates, destitute, stunned. We must go regardless, says their father, this is the last ship, what else can we do? Their mother nods, frowning so as not to cry. The girl and the boy stand expressionless, shoulder to […]
Clarkesworld Year Twelve
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