Science Fiction & Fantasy

IntheNightWood-Banner_Final_Lightspeed Oct 2018

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Fiction

Fantasy

The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory

Vocations don’t grant vacations. I’m supposedly on holiday in London when I get an offer no reporter could refuse: to see a unicorn in the wild. I’m with my friend Samantha, hanging out at her Dad’s pub after a long night’s clubbing, still wearing our dance-rumpled dresses, dying to get out of our heels. Sam’s father, Will, is tending bar tonight, so it’s the perfect spot for late-night chips and hair-of-the-dog nightcaps. Plus, most of the clientele is over fifty. We wouldn’t have to spend all evening judo-throwing chirpsers.

Science Fiction

Marcel Proust, Incorporated

It’s 12:15, and Monica West is late for our lunch. We’re meeting at a trendy Greenwich Village bistro, one of the few to survive the depression that bankrupted the City, and so many of its residents, nearly two decades ago. There are few reminders of those trying times here now. The place is packed with the young power elite, the air thick with talk of mergers and screenplays and spring designer collections. I order a glass of Cabernet and wait.

Fantasy

World of the Three

Then the Bird of A Hundred and Eight Names gathered together her three new children, and she said, “You have passed our people’s tests and joined our ranks, and may leave if you wish. But leaving will take you among the Alabar, who collect salt in their bare hands and have no fear of rust, and call themselves merely people. Some among us speak slightingly of them, for their lives are short and easily ended, and they don’t protect one another as we do. You should be more wary.”

Science Fiction

Yakshantariksh

The Yakshantariksh is beyond one’s imagination, yet that is where its existence is made manifest. It is a being so real that it can only be sensed by that most intangible of organs: the mind! What a delightful paradox! And yet it is so. It was discovered in a dream—supporting evidence came later. Thus a tick living on the body of an elephant may never realize the elephant exists, unless, perhaps, the elephant speaks to it mind to mind. So it is with the Yakshantariksh, which is as vast, perhaps vaster than galaxies.

Fantasy

Weialalaleia

The Weialalaleia (Hirudo Threnophaga) is difficult to observe, and is more recognisable by the sound that accompanies its presence than by its shape. It floats on the air like a jellyfish in water, and, like a jellyfish, is translucent, although there is some debate within cryptohirudological circles about whether the Weialalaleia lacks pigment.

Science Fiction

The Heart’s Cartography

Jade was the sort of backwoods girl who had a map of the countryside tattooed on her heart, and she could feel it in her bones when the pieces of her world shifted. So when the new family moved into the house across the road that late summer, she felt ripples of wrongness radiating out from them and their too-bright clothes, their bizarrely old-fashioned wood-paneled station wagon, and their rolling words.

Fantasy

Octopus vs. Bear

You woke up female this morning, so now you have a choice: do what other people want, or be a bitch. It is a thing you know without precisely knowing it. The knowledge is built into the muscle memory of this miraculous new body; it is draped across the bones like a weight. You shudder, stretching your delicate female limbs beneath the unfamiliar, sun-drenched sheets. Female for a day, you think.

Science Fiction

Dragonflies

The dragonfly hung in the thick, humid air like a jeweled miracle, wings beating so fast that they became a blur. Its body was an oil slick of shifting colors, greens and blues and purples, blending together in patterns that would have seemed garish if they hadn’t been natural. It had a cocker spaniel clutched in four of its six legs.

Fantasy

Paternity

You have been trying to start a family. And failing. The problem, it will turn out, is with you. This is what they tell you at the fertility clinic at the medical center. The first thing, discovered during a physical exam, is that your testicles are smaller and softer than average. At the time of this revelation, your wife actually says to the urologist, in a tone of maternal defensiveness: “That’s strange, because I would say his penis is a little too big.”

Science Fiction

This Is for You

There was one girl I really liked in school when I returned to Earth, but it took me three months to say hello. I wasn’t good with human beings. We’d just gotten back from Pitipek (a red-dwarf star system “just left” of Tau Ceti, as the joke goes). My father had been stationed there for two years with the TU’s Planetary Safety Agency, and living with the slow, enigmatic, bipedal Pitipeki—especially in one of their villages, and under those endless clouds—tends to make you lose your people skills.