Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

Wolf Tones

. . . and then the second tone enters, high and fierce, the waves rising, a sudden spasm of hail scattering across the deck like a shower of pearls . . . a tone like a moan that vibrates through the ship, down through the cabins lined in red like satin jewelry boxes, those elegant little coffins, and down again through the vessel’s bowels and down through the vast imponderable weight of water its icy knifelike blackness just on the edge of freezing . . . 

Science Fiction

Different People

You never expect to meet one of the refugees. You aren’t a scientist or a politician, you’re a middle school history teacher. The story of the refugees from a destroyed parallel Earth—security camera footage of dozens of bedraggled people appearing through a shimmering section of air not far from Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado—should fade into the background of your life like every other major news story and tragedy, present but mostly forgotten.

Fantasy

A Tableau of Things That Are

When they ordered me down off my pedestal, I had nowhere else to go. Life as a statue is easy. They make you ascend the pedestal, turn you to stone, remove your ability to move, and leave you to watch the turn of the seasons in a world you cannot touch or care about, anymore. You can only stand in the public garden where all the convicted are placed, and you watch with dull and distant interest at the visitors who stroll past.

Science Fiction

The Nation of the Sick

Try to picture the scene, Cybil, the same way I did when I got the call. Christmas Eve; two cops standing in a stinking motel room. Blood on bare white sheets, and a broken syringe, and a man. My brother. Whatever sounds he made, that got the neighbors to call the cops, they’re done now. The overdose is over. He hasn’t died. He won’t, tonight. He’s sick, crying, begging—probably wishing he had died, now that two cops are standing over him.

Fantasy

Bones in It

Besides the vedma who lived behind the stove in steam room three, the banya in Grand Lake Plaza was the same as any other budget day spa on Chicago’s West Side. It had deep-tissue massages and signature facials, plus day passes for the communal baths and steam rooms. There was a cucumber water dispenser in the lobby, and a little sign on the front desk that invited guests to “nama-stay a while.” The robes and slippers were cheap, scratchy polyester.

Science Fiction

Saudade

The cardboard sign read, “HOPELESS, ME AND MY SISTER NEED MONEY FOR SHUTTLE BACK TO VENUS.” The word “hopeless” should have been “homeless” but because Vida couldn’t write in Hangul, she dictated the words to Menino instead. She blamed the mix-up on her outdated translator, which began acting up ever since she arrived in Seoul. “People will get it,” Menino argued as the escalator descended to the first level of Chungmuro Metro Station.

Fantasy

Dead Men in Central City

Horses were the most unreliable, most unfortunate creatures ever to walk the Earth. And yet, Ricardo was immensely sad that his was gone. He and his pretty tamed Mustang mare, Bandita, had been back and forth across the west for six years, and now she’d taken a bad step—a hole, a sharp rock, he hadn’t been able to figure out which—fallen down a hillside, and broken not one but two legs. Traveling on horseback through the Rockies at night, accidents happened.

Science Fiction

There Are No Hot Topics on Whukai

The day the dMods shut down Skeleton Caves, Esko put on her VR goggles and slipped into the Whukai space colony’s main chatroom to figure out what was going on. All the Whukains who made their living off the popular Terran MMORPG, d’Artagnan, had the same idea. Beside her, on top of her, avatars logged in—an absolute pandemonium of photorealistic, 8-bit, anime animals and humanoids and everything in between.

Science Fiction

Carnivores

Finch pried himself out of the autocab midway down Jasper Avenue, where Carnivor gastro-bistro, the city’s most exclusive new eatery, skulked between concrete high-rises. He’d read up on the restaurant’s architecture when he and Blake first started planning the heist, so he knew it was a collaboration between a Bolivian artist and a decaying engineering AI, and that the swooping ridges of the façade, together with its calcium-spike stalactites, were meant to evoke the maw of an animal.

Fantasy

The Palace in the Moonlight

Dabir and I shrouded the Syrian in his saddle blanket and spent a few hours digging a hole for him in that lonely land. He had been the last of our companions. Bandits and desertion and, finally, illness, had whittled our numbers down from the score of warriors and porters with whom we had begun our journey so that only we two were left. We finished the burial and our prayers and stood to contemplate the high scrubby brown hills that stretched before and behind us.