Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

Red

The east is red when Xiaohong leaves the two-room apartment that has been allocated to her and her parents—two rooms carved out of a once-grand courtyard home, now divided between five families by order of the local Party authorities. The manor has been forced into a new identity, with makeshift kitchens elbowing their way into […]

Science Fiction

My Future Self, Refused

This much was clear. At some point in my future, I would have access to a time machine. This was a ridiculous sentence and a tragically irrelevant concern while my wife Judi was on the floor and possibly dying, but there it was: nonsense, in the presence of death. This was the central tragic absurdity of the day. My future self had materialized in the corner of the room, as solid as a blow to the face, and it was not even my most important concern.

Fantasy

Hungry as the Mirror Bright

She was born a low and needful thing. Hatched down in the tannin dark, dead leaf pillowed, gnashing her mouth in the loam. Burrowing deep where shed buttons and broken boot laces lay. Alone and babbling, prowling for worm-meat and snail-slick in the wet ground rot. Fattened on maggot and grub, she hardened white and lay sarcophagal. Then a second birth, splitting free and strange in new skin.

Science Fiction

Ursus Frankensteinus

Save the polar bears, they said. So I did—and now here I am, barricading myself inside an Arctic research facility like some goddamn B-movie cliché, listening for the scrape of long keratin claws on the concrete floor. We all grew up knowing the Ursus maritimus was living on borrowed time, didn’t we? We all saw the shock-and-shame images of starving bears hauling themselves across the shrinking ice.

Fantasy

The Sun in Exile

I was born the year they put the sun on trial for treason. It was so hot that year the streets boiled like black soup and the air rippled like music and the polar bears all roared together, just once, loud enough that a child in Paraguay turned her head suddenly north and began to weep. Tomatoes simmered on the vine and the wind was full of the smells of them cooking, then of their skins peeling, turning black.

Science Fiction

Singing the Ancient Out of the Dark

A small asteroid swerved in a most un-asteroid-like way and pierced the hull of the archivist’s ship, as though it was determined to drive her away. But she was just getting started. She slammed the emergency foam release button, holding her breath even though the leak sealed faster than she could gasp. The belt of ice and stone surrounding the planet designated Marin Nine was known to be unpredictable.

Fantasy

An Old Man Cometh and He Is Overgrown

To Cogadhi Steorran, Gentle Summoner: I understand you are the ward of Udo Steorran, Stark Summoner of the Realm. It is of Steorran’s well-being of which I humbly write to you and request your presence in the town of Berkhammer. Steorran recently lost his spouse, Tillie, to which I offer my greatest condolences. You see, it seems Steorran has summoned souls—against our wishes—to this quiet town.

Science Fiction

Liberty: Seeking Support for a Writ of Habeas Corpus for a Non-Human Being

We are trying to fund an application, to be filed on my behalf, for an Order to Show Cause under Article 70 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the New York Sector Code, seeking a writ of habeas corpus for a non-human being. Let me introduce myself. I am a Yudovich Robotics servient. My name is Ellen R. I understand your apprehension—that androids are not human beings.

Fantasy

The Rustle of Growing Things

In the morning, he’s leaving. “All right,” Ana says. Lying, continues: “I understand.” The flat is hollowed out in anticipation of absence. Concrete floors swept cool and bare; dry sink, husk-like cupboards. His boots wait at the threshold, still gray with dust from his last stint in the mountains with the guerrillas. His rifle leans against the doorframe.

Science Fiction

Critical Mass

Leo Gregory is losing altitude. He coasts on the thermals of a legacy fading behind him: a documentary here, a retrospective there, some greatest-hits collection down in the corner for the dilettantes. Oh, the work has lost none of its grandeur: his buildings remain timeless, his objets d’art still serve up facets upon layers from each new angle.