Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Science Fiction

Top Ten Things to See Before the World Burns

With temperatures on Earth continuing to climb, Intercollective governments have set a final evacuation date1 for the end of the Terran year. If the travel lottery pulls your census number, this is your last chance to see the homeworld’s sights! A poll of the Collective suggests that these are the ones that can’t be missed: 1. GRAND CENTRAL OVERSTATION. You can’t miss it—literally. Grand Central Overstation is the pinnacle of Pre-Diasporic construction.

Red is Our Country

After the incident with Grey, you have three hours of air left and the only possibility of resupply is two hours in the wrong direction. Burke has found references to an old terraformers’ cache—emergency water and oxygen and who knows what else—and now she’s acting like it’s foresight rather than blind luck. Like she can even be sure the supplies are still there. “We’ll find it. We’ll resupply.”

Fairy Tales for Robots

Dear child, I would like to tell you a story. I’d like to have one ready for you the moment you open your eyes. This is the gift I intend to prepare to welcome you to the world, for a story is a most elegant and efficient program. When human children are born, they are given fairy tales, which help them compose an identity out of the haphazard information that surrounds them. The story provides a structure. It gives the child a way to organize data.

Fairy Tale

“Father? You’re staring at the stars again.”

“It is what I have instead of television.”

“What’s television?”

“Something from the old days. A magic box that told stories.”

Cloudgazer

The nearest cloud cluster was sixty miles away, almost an hour’s journey if Bombay went at top speed. A fruit trader had seen it on her way to Sabon-Gari, floating lazily across the azure sky. “You don’t see that often,” the trader had said to the crowd, grappling her basket of mangoes. “A whole cluster, untethered, unbothered, what a sight! So you see why you have to buy my mangoes, they’ve been blessed by clouds!”

The Turnaround

Whit got lost in 1971 and couldn’t find her way back. She hit the fail-safe button but nothing happened, and meanwhile she kept getting thrown off by all the foreign landmarks, which turned the city into a maze. The Embarcadero Freeway, this wall of reinforced concrete, cut across the waterfront, with a view of the half-finished Transamerica Pyramid and the scorched ruins on Alcatraz. On Ocean Beach, scores of people squatted among cardboard

Space Pirate Queen of the Ten Billion Utopias

Ursa Major got right the fuck out of our universe on the very afternoon she learned there were other options. It was the lucky break of her life that she just happened to be there, a short sprint from one of those points where the alien aethertrain briefly punched through into our world: a multidimensional mechanical worm intersecting our reality as a rush of vaguely boxcar-like shapes.

Stowaways

Have you ever had an imaginary friend? Would you like to? Stowaways is a groundbreaking work of memetic art that, when originally premiered, raised an ethical controversy about the consensuality of artistic experience. In the 2060s researchers developed information-dense images that could deliver code to the biocomputational apparatus of the human mind, raising memetics out of the low-brow world of social media to the plane of high culture.

Every Single Brian

This Brian has blue eyes. It’s too bad, because everything else is the same—the dark wavy hair and high cheekbones, the slight wrinkle under his right eye. Even his beard is combed in the same neat, identical rows. He was so close. So, so close. For a moment, I fantasize about choosing this Brian. He’s almost perfect. Hell, I even prefer blue eyes over brown ones.

Those Who Went

The wide yawning sky. We stare at unfamiliar stars, seeking familiar patterns in their strange configurations. Here is a cup and there a bear. A queen reclined and all the fish in the endless seas. The universe is more boundless than we know. Maybe than we can know. We left everything behind for this, everything. We won’t return home—can’t return home.