Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fantasy

The Invention of Separate People

Once, not so long ago but before our time, all people were the same person. That’s not to say that they weren’t immersed in their own lives; they were, of course, as people always have been—millions of fish in their millions of bowls. It’s just that they were equally immersed in everyone else’s.

Science Fiction

Solder and Seam

There was a man who built a whale out of wood. He built it in the middle of a field out in the dry country, where nobody bothered him but birds and a couple of farm cats. The whale was white, and it took two years to build. He made it out of planks from old barns, which he stole in the night. He didn’t steal them from anyone who’d miss them. Most people were gone. There were a lot of things falling down.

Fantasy

Werewolf Loves Mermaid

How They Met: They met at a wedding. He was in the wedding party. She was serving canapés at the reception. On some level, reclining in a fountain while holding a tray of canapés is more efficient than circulating through a crowd with them. On most levels, it isn’t. “Canapé?” the mermaid asked the werewolf when he wandered near the fountain. “Isn’t this just garnish?” said the werewolf, picking up a wilted stem of parsley.

Science Fiction

All in a Hot and Copper Sky

I have written a thousand letters to her in my head. Part of me is always writing to her, while I sit in front of the dusty yellow windows in the coffee shops on Market Street, or roll sticky cinnamon dough on my cold granite counter, or stand in the smooth gray sand at the very edge of the sea. I never wrote to her while she was alive, not even at the end, when letters might have comforted us both.

Fantasy

The Ninth Seduction

The sun had descended behind Lakefell as seven times seven goblin artisans gathered before the throne of Castellerine Lynder in the Serpentine Garden, their choicest and most enchanting creations for the year past held high. Chancellor Arrender walked slowly along the lines of scarlet cushions that glowed softly around the delights placed upon them, inspecting what the castellerine would soon consider.

Science Fiction

Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World

Mei dreamed of a new Earth. She took her telescope onto the balcony of her North Philadelphia apartment and pointed it east, at the sky above the Trenton Strait, hoping for a clear view of Mars. Tonight the light pollution from Jersey Island wasn’t as bad as usual, and she was able to make out the ice caps and dark shadow of Syrtis Major.

Fantasy

Ghosts of Home

The bank didn’t pay for the oranges. They should have — offerings were clearly listed as a reimbursable expense — but the turnaround time and degree of nudging needed when Agnes submitted receipts made the whole process prohibitive. If she bugged Trask too much around the wrong things she might lose the job, and with it the gas card, which was worth a lot more money than the oranges.

Science Fiction

And We Were Left Darkling

I don’t remember her birth. My dream baby, the baby I have in my dreams, the one who crashed into my head one night and took roost. She is a day old, a week old, a year old, eight years old, three weeks old, a day old. She has fine blond hair, except when she has tight black curls. Once she had cornrows that lengthened every time I looked away. “Her hair grows faster than I can cut it,” I said to my dream family.

Fantasy

Given the Advantage of the Blade

Put them all in a room together, and give them each a knife. They’ll hardly notice the change of circumstances. Their tales are nothing but this struggle, and they’re well enough used to being run through. You begin. At first it would be chaos. Fragile beauty and a kind heart does you no good here. (Never does; that’s what made it fairy stories, that so many people would help them just for kindness.)

Science Fiction

The Smog Society

Lao Sun lived on the seventeenth floor facing the open street, nothing between him and the sky. If he woke in the morning to darkness, it was the smog’s doing for sure. Through the murky air outside the window, he had to squint to see the tall buildings silhouetted against the yellow-gray background like a sandy-colored relief print. The cars on the road all had their highbeams on and their horns blaring, crammed one against the other at the intersection into one big mess.