Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

A Dirge for Prester John

We carried him down to the river. It churned: basalt, granite, marble, quartz—sandstone, limestone, soapstone. Alabaster against obsidian, flint against agate. Eddies of jasper slipped by, swirls of schist, carbuncle and chrysolite, slate, beryl, and a sound like shoulders breaking. Fortunatus the Gryphon carried the body on his broad and fur-fringed back.

Science Fiction

Natural Skin

As I shrug on my jacket, moving across the carpet as quietly as I can, my sister Xuemei pushes her blankets aside and rolls over onto her belly with a soft murmur. “Liin jie. Where are you going?” Fuck. I glance at her across our shared bedroom, her pale skin glimmering in the near darkness. My shoes are already on; no use lying about it now. “Go back to sleep, kiddo.”

Fantasy

Shooting Gallery

It took a while, but in the end we bargained it down to a shot right on my chest, with his mom’s gun. I didn’t know anything about guns, but the thing he showed me looked safe enough, a little pistol that was smaller than the palm it rested on. Then we ran into another problem: Nick wanted to bring his buddies, or at least the ones he trusted.

Science Fiction

Under the Eaves

“Meet me tomorrow?” she said. “Under the eaves.” He looked from side to side, too quickly. She took a step back. “Tomorrow night.” They were whispering. She gathered courage like cloth. Stepped up to him. Put her hand on his chest. His heart was beating fast, she could feel it through the metal. His smell was of machine oil and sweat.

Fantasy

Two Dead Men

Everybody knows everybody else in Fejz, they used to say. They meant the high town, crowded shoulder to shoulder on its twin narrow peaks, not the sprawl of the low town in the bottomlands under the escarpment and the falls. That was before the little war. It was never true but during the siege you learned how few you had known, how superficially you were acquainted with your nearest neighbors.

Science Fiction

Dinosaur Killers

Another rock fell today. Jaurez, on 54b. Pretty sure that’s who it was. Maybe. Didn’t talk much during the daily vidcalls, brown eyes peering out from beneath his shaggy black hair, floating every which way in zee-g. Supposed to keep it short, but company regs don’t apply. Not anymore. His kids were on Croia Hab. Partner too. Three of thousands, now just clouds of matter joining all the other debris.

Fantasy

October’s Son

When my wife began to swell, I wondered what seed infected her womb, my own having long proved fruitless. As she grew, her cravings turned to dirt and water and long spells naked in the yard under the bare trees and what sun pierced the clouds, and I asked her, Who have you loved? Who have you fucked? Why is your belly growing round?

Science Fiction

Plea

Three families ahead of them in line. Many more behind, stretching along the beach; it had taken most of the day to get this far, and Eris’s sun was now setting, casting red-gold rays across the sand. Gwen resisted the urge to remind Jon to stand up straight. Their hosts—potential hosts—couldn’t stand up at all, and there was no reason cetaceans would even notice a human’s posture, much less care.

Fantasy

The Key to St. Medusa’s

My parents knew I was a witch before I was born. The signs were there, they told me. They were unmistakable. Well. Not all of the signs, or they never would have kept me as long as they did. But enough: My mother’s hair, previously sedate and well-mannered, turned curly and wild during her pregnancy, sometimes even grabbing forks from other people’s hands at meals.

Science Fiction

A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed

Djonn’s father owned the last ticker in the city and made sure everyone knew it. Brass-bodied, the ticker looked fragile and cold, its clouded glass face obscuring the dark symbols beneath. Despite its age, it ticked loud and regular, breaking the arc of a day into increments. “You have thirty ticks to decide,” Djonn’s father said when he made a deal.