Science Fiction & Fantasy

Transcendent Annual Series

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Nov. 2019 (Issue 114)

We have original science fiction by Dominica Phetteplace (“Her Appetite, His Heart”) and Adam-Troy Castro (“Eros Pratfalled, or, Adrift in the Cosmos With Lasagna and Mary Steenburgen”), along with SF reprints by Matthew Bright (“The Concubine’s Heart”) and Genevieve Valentine (“Overburden”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Yoon Ha Lee (“The Second-Last Client”) and Melissa Marr (“Knee Deep in the Sea”), and fantasy reprints by Theodora Goss (“A Country Called Winter”) and Ken Liu (“The Hidden Girl”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with our book and media review columns. Our interview this month is with Rivers Solomon. For our ebook readers, we also have a book excerpt.

In This Issue: Nov. 2019 (Issue 114)

Editorial

Editorial: November 2019

Be sure to check out the editorial for a rundown of this month’s content. Plus, don’t miss all our news and updates!

Science Fiction

The Concubine’s Heart

The tomb of the Empress has breath, and bone, and muscle. I can feel her shiver and moan beneath my hands, and though my fingers tremble I know the vibrations are more than my own weakness; they are a pulse that runs deep to the caverns of her far-off ventricles and atria. The tomb of the Empress lives, and we live inside her. There is one window before which the Empress’s coffin lies at rest. The coffin is gold, the only bright embellishment amid the hall of grays and silvers and coppers.

Fantasy

The Second-Last Client

Forty-six minutes and a trickle of seconds remained before the end of the world—this world, anyway—and I was trying to evacuate the second-last client on my list. Some apocalypses come in with horns blaring and guns blazing and cascades of fire. Some apocalypses like to be obvious. This wasn’t one of them. The humans had various names for their world. My partner Rawk and I called it Seedworld 722.11.15, which was our superiors’ label. We’d seen a lot of Seedworlds perish, she and I.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

Her Appetite, His Heart

It came to Javi in a vision while he was at Burning Man. There was something calling out to him, and he’d hoped an ayahuasca ceremony would help him figure out what it was. It was during the ceremony that she appeared to him. Isla. In his vision, she was a temple priestess and he was laid out on a sacrificial stone table. She was literally eating his engorged heart out of his chest cavity. It wasn’t as frightening as it sounded. It was only when the vision disappeared that he felt an aching in his chest. Isla, come back.

Fantasy

A Country Called Winter

In winter, the snow comes down as softly as feathers. I have always loved to watch it. It’s different, of course, once it’s fallen: thick, heavy, difficult to walk through. In Boston, the snow plows come out almost as soon as the first flakes land on the sidewalk. They make narrow paths, and the snow piles up on either side, so when you walk to class, it’s between two mountain ridges, like a miniature Switzerland. That’s how Kay described it to me one morning, while we were sitting in my dorm room.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Reviews: November 2019

This month, LaShawn M. Wanak reviews the final installment of Tade Thompson’s Wormwood Trilogy: The Rosewater Redemption. She also dives into Naomi Kritzer’s new novel Catfishing on CatNet, and Daniel José Older’s newest novel for adults: The Book of Lost Saints.

Science Fiction

Overburden

The runoff had broken the sandbags overnight; by the time Davis got to the office, somebody was skimming dead carp from the top of the pond. The rain was pissing down and the big nets must have been borrowed to shore up the sandbags, because the soldier was using a hand skimmer. Davis watched her sluicing the net hypnotically back and forth, piling up hundreds of bodies, scraping the oil off whenever it got too heavy to lift or too slippery to hang on to anything.

Fantasy

Knee Deep in the Sea

I woke early—or perhaps didn’t sleep. My body is still adjusting to the time zone hop from Southern California to the islands north of the Scottish mainland. Orkney. A series of islands, many of them uninhabited, in the cold North Atlantic Sea. To the east is Norway. To the West are Iceland and Greenland. In other words, it’s chilly even in the summer when there is endless light. It’s stunning, aside from the dead guy currently at my feet.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Media Review: November 2019

Carrie Vaughn went to see Ad Astra in the theaters. Should you check it out on streaming? Read and find out!

Science Fiction

Eros Pratfalled, Or, Adrift in the Cosmos With Lasagna and Mary Steenburgen

Ellis Neider met his soulmate. The End.

That’s his story. The rest is annotation. We would almost skip that part, were it not for the stone knowledge that any love story not about masturbation does require at least two characters. The object of his affection does deserve something approaching equal time. Ellis was a guy. Some men are guys, other men are dudes. Ellis was a guy. As a child, he was a little guy. As an adult, he was a bigger guy. Like most guys, he gave off the vibe that he knew the universe operated by a certain set of rules.

Author Spotlight

Adam-Troy Castro

Fantasy

The Hidden Girl

On the morning after my tenth birthday, spring sunlight dapples the stone slabs of the road in front of our house through the blooming branches of the pagoda tree. I climb out onto the thick bough pointing west like an immortal’s arm and reach for a strand of yellow flowers, anticipating the sweet taste tinged with a touch of bitterness. “Alms, young mistress?” I look down and see a bhikkhuni. I can’t tell how old she is—her face is unlined but there is a fortitude in her dark eyes that reminds me of my grandmother.

Nonfiction

Interview: Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon is the author of An Unkindness of Ghosts, and is a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. They graduated from Stanford University with a degree in comparative studies in race and ethnicity and hold an MFA in fiction writing from the Michener Center for Writers. Though originally from the United States, they currently live in Cambridge, England, with their family. The Deep is their second book.