Science Fiction & Fantasy



Science Fiction

Zen Solaris and the God-Child

Zen shared his shoebox apartment with a girl named Ratter, who ate vision-pills for breakfast and tattooed her dreams on her skin. She had grown up in the Wastes and was missing her dominant arm from the elbow down. Versatile as flesh and blood, her tattoo gun was a whirring prosthetic she had built herself, configured to strap on at the shoulder. The needlepoint twitched like a fingertip, and she drew her designs with bold, exact marks.

One Basket

::if ur thirsty go get a drink:: Alaya glanced up from her chatscreen and across the small apartment to the blinking red light on the family water tap; they’d already used up their daily ration. She licked dry lips. Simone didn’t understand—she lived down in Grand Tunnel, where everyone got an extra liter of drinking water per day just because they were old families sitting on the biggest ice vein left in the asteroid. ::maybe ill just go swimming:: Alaya answered.

The Crowning of the Lord Tazenket, Vulture God of the Eye, Part I

She dreams of blood. She always has done. Her gold gown drenched in it, the gold paint on her fingertips muddied by it. Her arms glow in the dream, a hundred paths of light trailing over her collarbones. In this dream, this vision, she is free. Her kind don’t really dream. They—she, she doesn’t think there are others—pull on the strings of fate. They look forward into the future and imagine possibility. She tells herself every time she dreams of blood and freedom: this is a dream.

Test 4 Echo

Six days before the money ran out, Enceladus kicked Medusa right in the ass. Onboard thermistors registered a sudden spike—80°, 90°, 120°—before the seabed jumped and something slammed the probe from the side. A momentary flash. An ocean impossibly boiling. A rocky seabed, tilting as if some angry giant had kicked over a table. Channel down. Telemetry rippled through a black alkaline ocean.

It Came Gently

When it came, I remember I washed my hair in a cracked tub on the side of the road. You could walk miles out into the wastes, dig a hole, and wait. The water would rise soon enough. It felt like a miracle. A real-life miracle, not one of those TV miracles or Kentucky prairie miracles. Or miracles with a capital M for money. The aquifer we found waiting for us was a saving grace.

The Plastic People

Rhea found the feral child on the edge of the garbage park on the last day of the group’s vacation. Garrison, passed out from drinking the better part of a bottle of hundred-year-old Islay Scotch, had dropped a cigar onto the edge of the canvas tent and set it all on fire. “Damn it, Garrison!” Agunye shouted as personal air quality alarms blared. “You and your fucking retro addictions.”

Nobody Ever Goes Home to Zhenzhu

I’d always known Calam would run. He had all the signs. A taut restlessness, body brittle as an overstretched lute string, when we stayed too long in one place. A gloom in his eyes, as we drifted through stretches of dead space. A sullen crease between the brows, whenever I tried to ask how he’d landed in that dead-end Martian workshop at seventeen. But after ten years, why now?

A Sword Has One Purpose

I had enough time to light a fresh cigarette before my office door told the client to come in. Smoke in the air didn’t make it any easier to oil a cutlass, but it made me look badass. Same with my leather jacket, tailored to fit comfortably over my smartsuit. I projected confidence so brightly that every once in a while I forgot what I hid beneath it. My client entered wearing fine high heels and the calm stability that came from long years in habitat gravity. My most interesting cases were from habbers, because habbers didn’t come my way until they figured out their problem was beyond them.

Everything the Sea Takes, It Returns

Everything the sea takes, it gives back in its own way and its own time. That was what Jess’s grandmother believed, what she’d told Jess as they stood in the shadow of the giant red cedar that had washed ashore, its severed roots thicker than Jess’s body. It must have drifted for a thousand years or more to return to them in that moment. So, when the virus takes Jess’s grandmother, Jess steers her little solar-powered boat out past the Channel Islands and gives the body to the sea.

The Day It All Ended

Bruce Grinnord parked aslant in his usual spot and ran inside the DiZi Corp. headquarters. Bruce didn’t check in with his team or even pause to glare at the beautiful young people having their toes stretched by robots while they sipped macrobiotic goji-berry shakes and tried to imagine ways to make the next generation of gadgets cooler looking and less useful. Instead, he sprinted for the executive suite. He took the stairs two or three at a time, until he was so breathless he feared he’d have a heart attack before he even finished throwing his career away.