Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Jun. 2020 (Issue 121)

We have original science fiction by Marie Vibbert (“Single Malt Spacecraft”) and Em North (“Real Animals”), along with SF reprints by Tochi Onyebuchi (“Still Life with Hammers, a Broom, and a Brick Stacker”) and Matthew Kressel (“The Marsh of Camarina”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Julianna Baggott (“The Postictal State of Divine Love”) and Ben Peek (“Refuge”), and fantasy reprints by Megan Arkenberg (“Danae”) and Ken Liu (“What I Assume You Shall Assume”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with our book and media review columns. Our feature interview is with Jessica Cluess. Our ebook readers will also enjoy a book excerpt from Alaya Dawn Johnson’s Trouble the Saints.

In This Issue: Jun. 2020 (Issue 121)

Editorial

Editorial: June 2020

Be sure to check out the editorial for a discussion of this month’s content, plus catch all our news and updates!

Science Fiction

Still Life with Hammers, a Broom, and a Brick Stacker

Linc tucked down the bill of his worn Red Sox cap and closed his eyes against the sweat stinging them. The truck, lifting carpets of ash and dust into the air like someone spreading a bedsheet, provided the morning’s only sound. But Linc thought he could maybe hear the wreckers up ahead, monstrous, steel-tooth jaws spreading open to dump another load of bricks on the growing pile. In the shadows cast by the leaning, crumbling apartment towers stood black girls and a few jaundiced snow bunnies.

Fantasy

The Postictal State of Divine Love

My mother used to tell me we came from the matriarchal vampiric line that had been traced farther back than Queen Elizabeth. She only told me these things after a seizure. Many people with epilepsy talk about how, after a seizure, strange memories pop up—small but suddenly vibrant details; my mother would recall the small vibrant details of our collective vampiric past. What kind of mother would do this? Mine. And, when I was little, I loved her for it.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

Single Malt Spacecraft

The first time Fresia tasted scotch, it was true love. She was twenty-two. Her boyfriend had just turned twenty-one and had gotten a bottle of Glen Livet from his dad. He poured a shot for himself and for his friend, but none for Fresia. “Come on,” she said, “I want to taste it.” “Girls don’t like whisky,” he said. “Trust me, you’ll hate it.” “Let me find out for myself.” “Not for what this costs, sorry.” The friend gasped over his empty shot glass. “Oh, that’s good.” Her boyfriend put the whisky on the top of the fridge where he knew Fresia was too short to reach.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Reviews, June 2020

This month reviewer Arley Sorg reviews new work from Meg Elison (Big Girl), Ellen Datlow (Final Cuts), P. Djèlí Clark (Ring Shout).

Fantasy

Danaë

She notices him primarily as a new scent in the antiseptic air of the Tower: a rich man’s perfume of milk and fig, myrrh and pistachio. You might expect that the Tower itself would stink of brass, so much of it heaped together beneath the Argive sun, but the metal has no scent of its own. What you smell is only the oil and sweat on your skin, broken down by the copper, wafted to your nostrils and triggering some mammalian predilection for the stink of blood. And she never touches the Tower.

Science Fiction

The Marsh of Camarina

“Your grades really are quite spectacular, Sita,” my career advisor Mrs. Dana Rice says to me in her deep southern drawl, an accent I’ve come to associate with my studies here. “A 3.8 cumulative GPA at Georgia Tech is nothing to sneeze at. You should be proud of yourself!” I force a smile and say, “Thank you.” But all I can focus on is the football stadium gleaming outside Mrs. Rice’s office window. Sweeping. Enormous. Empty. Baking in the morning sun.

Fantasy

Refuge

Dear Mr. Quilas: This morning, I began to read your new collection of essays, Forgotten Lives. I’ve enjoyed a number of your books previously, but this collection held a particular interest for me. Aned Heast, the subject of your third essay, “A Refuge in Juar,” held a personal interest and I looked forward to reading your piece about him. Sadly, I was disappointed. Your essay was riddled with misinformation and errors. I’m sure you do not wish to be told that. Few writers want to be told they are wrong.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Media Review: June 2020

Sure, you’ve heard about Tom Nook and all the cute animals in the neighborhood. But what is it really like playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, especially when you’re stuck home alone in lockdown? JY Yang spills the beans.

Science Fiction

Real Animals

The bear has been stalking the taxidermy garden for ten weeks now, ever since Raffi showed up. Sometimes it disappears for a few days or a week, but it always comes back. Prowls the perimeter, looking for weak spots. From inside the taxidermy garden, Raffi feels the bear’s presence tugging on her, as though it has become the pole of her personal compass. The taxidermy garden isn’t a real garden. It’s a ski chalet, or what used to be a ski chalet, all hand-hewn logs and wood stoves.

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

What I Assume You Shall Assume

The ray of light came over the eastern horizon like a sunrise, like the door to a dank jail cell cracking open, like the sweeping fiery sword before an angel of judgment. It elongated into a thin, bright, yellow wedge that washed out the stars and revealed the shining parallel tracks before it, dividing the vast, dark continent into halves, leaving behind the endless vegetal sea of the Great Plains and plunging heedlessly toward the craggy, ancient, impassive peaks of the Rockies.

Nonfiction

Interview: Jessica Cluess

Jessica Cluess is a graduate of both Northwestern University and the Clarion Writers Workshop. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel in the Kingdom on Fire series, A Shadow Bright and Burning. These days, she sits around thinking about dragons far too much, and enjoys it.