Science Fiction & Fantasy

CHOSEN ONES

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Fiction

Fantasy

Bow Down Before the Snail King!

There were only a dozen storks. But on that murky midnight, with the fire burning low and blue from the stink of vanished cities that bubbled up from beneath the plains, there might as well have been a hundred. Charops’ drab leather outfit was somewhat beak-resistant. Not enough to make her comfortable; the horror birds were known carriers of pestilence, so filthy that their diseases bore diseases. She jumped over the furrows of fallow civilizations, stabbing wildly with her long Strategist’s knife.

Science Fiction

The Least of These

Two women, Best and Least, woke in a bright room. Best did so as if surfacing in a pool of water, her eyes wide and observant. Least woke with a start, and immediately slammed her back against the wall behind her, her arms splayed. Where are we? asked Best. Who the fuck are you? demanded Least. Now, now, came a voice from the doorway. There’s no need to be coarse. A tall, graceful Being entered the room, diaphanous fabric afloat around its slender body.

Fantasy

Love and Marriage in the Hexasun Lands

Every child knows the story of how King Adhamrya, Son of Suns, slew a demon to win the heart and hand of Schyan, the goddess of love and desire. But the story of what happened afterwards is not as commonly known. In this entry I will present to you the full account of that sad tale, for I believe it is one worth remembering.  —Excerpt from A History of the Hexasun Lands by Imperial Historian Nananaore

Science Fiction

Reliable People

We have no quota, no set hours. We keep going for as long as burnt coffee recharges us, slouching in lumpy plastic chairs that scritch on the parquet floor of a ground-floor office whose single plate window is blotted by standees of the Candidate, wearing a reassuring smile and a dark pantsuit. We repeat phrases like “bringing back forward thinking” and “the bronze path to the light,” as if we know what they mean. We never look at each other, but we imagine that all our faces wear the same look: professional, focused, ecstatic.

Fantasy

Three Urban Folk Tales

There was a postman whose father was a postman and his father a postman before him. Like them, the postman wore a blue-gray uniform with a stripe down the pants leg and, like them, he delivered mail on six days out of the week, resting on Sunday as was the tradition. Times change and traditions change, and many of the postman’s brethren took to wearing running shoes. Some even wore spikes so as not to slip on the icy winter sidewalks.

Science Fiction

Many Happy Returns

Gorman was on foot, crossing a frozen continent. It was not Antarctica. That was light years away, and so over. Nobody went there anymore. This continent he had chosen for his latest adventure was bigger, broader, colder, deadlier, nastier. It was not fun. Every step was an occasion for regret. He was probably going to die. He was glad he came.

Fantasy

Tend to Me

Nora is a serial becomer. She has become many things in her life, though rarely on purpose. The first time, it just sort of happened. The second time, it was a coincidence. Now, it is a habit she cannot seem to break. In the past, she has become a rock climber and a scuba diver, a beekeeper and a gardener and a mechanic specializing in European cars. For two months last summer, she was a stand-up comedian. Her senior year of college, she amassed New England’s largest collection of antique coins.

Science Fiction

Living the Quiet Life

“In old times, popping ’sphere was much more serious.” Reinventing her bedside manner, Nerethe had found, was the hardest thing about pretending that she no longer had any mental abilities. Harder even than wielding hand-held med instruments instead of reworking the flesh with her mind. “When we were planetbound, we didn’t hibernate under any circumstances. We were spacers for over a thousand generations before we developed a survival mechanism.”

Fantasy

Viewer, Violator

Welcome to this last stage of the exhibit. You’ve been a very attentive group and I’ve enjoyed our time together. If you wish to use the restroom, it’s down this hall on the left; if you’re using the ladies’ room, they’ve asked us to remind you to knock before you open the stall door as some of the locks in there are faulty. Are we all back now? Good. This is the final piece we will discuss today. Take a long look.

Science Fiction

Giant Steps

The Blue Marble is shrinking; as Orion II lifts off, ripping from the grasping tentacles of Earth’s gravity, the world gets smaller, smaller, a blot on the cosmic sheet of infinite blackness, which closes in like a camera iris in a classic film’s final shot. Picture the planet’s surface, where the wonders of the old world buckle at the top of the hour under the weight of new wars; where down below, all those little people fall to their knees, desperate voices crying, crying out to their deity-du-jour for deliverance.