Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

Toxic Destinations

Since the discovery of the Eighth continent, your Tour Guide writers have received many letters from travelers and concerned individuals. We have heard, for instance, from the embattled New Zealand geologists who have long attempted to gain traction for their theory of the unrecognized continent of Zealandia. These hardworking scientists argue that the collection of partly submerged fragments off the coast of New Zealand comprise a much larger landmass, claiming this fits within standard definitions of continental attributes.

Science Fiction

Dying Light

She was using an ice-cream scoop this time. I came home to find her slumped in the deck chair out back, scoop in one hand, other hand holding open the skin of her abdomen. “That is disgusting,” I told her. She scooped out a lump of guts and dropped it onto the tiles beside her chair. Already there was a significant mound of the stuff, coiled like pale snakes. Blood seeped out and trickled along the grooves between the tiles.

Fantasy

A Statement in the Case

Sure, I know István Horvath. We met about a year before Eva died. That’s my wife, Eva. You knew that? Yeah, I figured you were pretty thorough. It was the year of the blizzard, when snow covered the cars parked on the streets and even the Post Office shut down. I didn’t have to go to work for a week. So one night, I think it was Thursday, Eva says, “Mike, I only have one of the blue pills left.” This was when we still thought the chemo was doing something.

Science Fiction

How We Burn

Look at how bright we burn. I’m driving my spaceship with a hacked joystick and my friends in the side-seats: Tiger, Grizzly Bear, and Joshua Tree, my boyfriend. And me, Sequoia—all named after extinct species, as if our light could bring them back. The spaceship is an older model we stole from a junkyard, souped up and kept at an abandoned building in the Park Zone so our parents wouldn’t confiscate it when they saw all the mods. I’m sitting backwards, straddling the inward-facing seat.

Fantasy

Noah’s Raven

Ten months after the ark first floated, and forty days after its keel snagged on a drowned mountain peak, Noah released a raven to look for land. Her name was ungraspable by humans, but might be translated as Bessary, plus a term ravens used for the taste of three-day-dead goat when the temperatures have stayed just above freezing, plus a color at the 327-nanometer wavelength, plus a sensation along the rictal bristles in a particular sort of cool air. Her feathers rustled like silk.

Science Fiction

Ark of Light

“Bones?” “What about them?” “Our data suggests you’ll feel a great deal of pain in them after you transmit.” “Oh? Like how much, a lot?” She shifted where she stood and I sensed she was annoyed with me. It’s funny how much you can understand from body language. I couldn’t really tell from looking at her face, since the room was almost entirely dark. “All of this is covered in the manual. Didn’t you read it?” I didn’t answer her because the answer was obvious. Instead I started taking off my clothes.

Fantasy

Fortune’s Final Hand

If the shuffle’s been thorough, the next hand is random. The cards emerge as bequeathed by chance, either with some splendid combination that guarantees a win, or more often with no synchronicity whatsoever, a collection of images that means nothing and therefore functions as a loss. All wins are temporary, and all losses more than you can afford. But if you’re at the tables, you play. Shuffle, and winning or losing depends entirely on the order in which they land.

Science Fiction

The Ones Who Stay and Fight

It’s the Day of Good Birds in the city of Um-Helat! The Day is a local custom, silly and random as so many local customs can be, and yet beautiful by the same token. It has little to do with birds—a fact about which locals cheerfully laugh, because that, too, is how local customs work. It is a day of fluttering and flight regardless, where pennants of brightly dyed silk plume forth from every window, and delicate drones of copperwire and featherglass—made for this day, and flown on no other!—waft and buzz on the wind.

Fantasy

Holiday

She says her name is Holiday, but I know she’s lying. I remember her face. It was all over the news for weeks, years even, but of course she doesn’t know that. I briefly consider telling her, saying something like, “Hey, did you know you’re a star?” But that would necessitate bringing up the subject of her death, and I’m not clear if she knows that she’s a ghost, or that almost everyone thinks her parents killed her. That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing any kid should have to hear.

Science Fiction

She’d Never Had a Name Before

I never had a sister. Okay, so I did have a sister. She just died before she was born. No one talked about her, because sometimes a family looks ahead and sees through a veil into another universe where tomorrow is a given. But then we end up not living in that reality, and it creates a terrible break in our brains. Her name was Sarah. My dad finally told me her name on the deep black road between Omaha and Chicago, on my return to college for junior year.