Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death

The intel is good. It had better be; three women died to get it to us. I tuck away the binoculars and crawl back from the window long enough to hand-signal my girls. Fire team moves up, drop team on my mark, support to hold position and watch our flank. The enemy might have nothing but mercs for security, but their bullets punch holes same as real soldiers’, and some of ’em are hungry enough to be competent. We’re hungrier, though.

Science Fiction

Cale and Stardust Battle the Mud Gobblers of Hudson Valley

Cale squirted a zigzag of avocado paste on his toast as the mud gobbler floated down the river. The mud gobbler was, thankfully, chewing on the other side of the river today. Mud gobbler is what Cale called them, although Stardust preferred dirt whale. “Fucking dirt whale,” Stardust said, walking up to the kitchen window. “I’d like to gut it like a fish!” Stardust’s belly was getting big now, swelling like a whale itself.

Fantasy

An Address to the Newest Disciples of the Lost Words

You are here because you ignored the words of your parents and elders, your more sensible peers. You have thrown away promising careers in sheepherding or law, trade or civil administration. You bribed your way here; you stole money for your passage; you broke promises and made new ones that you never meant to keep. You’ve sailed rivers and oceans, crossed mountains and plains, and now here you are at the edge of the desert.

Science Fiction

On the Ship

On the ship, we sang and danced and drank champagne—yes, even the children. The adults were indulgent with us, shrugging off the ironclad rules I’d grown up with: no sweets before meals, no videos before bed, no caffeine or alcohol ever. None of that applied on the ship. It was as if they knew childhood was all we would ever have. I didn’t like champagne, and neither did Ava. But we sipped from the small crystal goblets, with their fragile stems and tiny bursting bubbles.

Fantasy

In the Cold, Dark Sea

We didn’t ask you to come, not here, not now. Not into the deep, where we didn’t want you. Nor into our other waters, where we didn’t want you either. But you came anyway, with your ships and your harpoons and your chanting tunes. And we watched you slaughter our kin and dim their songs, and still, we did nothing. Until their blood ran red, in the cold, dark sea, and our anger ran true.

Science Fiction

Up Falling

We’re at an abandoned Jumpbase somewhere in the Sahara east of Dakar. It used to be a checkpoint, probably some way of checking for diseases for people seeking sanctuary in one of the greatest scientific centers of the world. At least, that’s what Jumplead says. To me, it’s just a half-standing golden box with a massive rectangular entrance in the front that both welcomed us and made us targets for pillagers.

Fantasy

In the Beginning of Me, I Was a Bird

In the beginning of me, I was a bird. A magpie, although I’ve since been a jay and a red-tailed hawk and even a big, black crow, crying tok-tok-tok at every passerby. But the magpie was special: on my first day, I saw those flashing blue wingtips, and I was myself. And every day after, I woke up and flew to a shiny window, just to admire my plumage. Birds don’t last. Their hearts beat so fast, the seeds burn them out.

Science Fiction

Dissent: A Five-Course Meal (With Suggested Pairings)

AMUSE-BOUCHE: A pungent sourness builds at the back of your throat, slowly at first and then with a crescendo of intensity as you flip through the authorized news streams. A string of smiling state-approved anchors informs you that everything is fine, that things are finally looking up, that there is nothing to worry about for those who have done nothing wrong.

Science Fiction

Top Ten Things to See Before the World Burns

With temperatures on Earth continuing to climb, Intercollective governments have set a final evacuation date1 for the end of the Terran year. If the travel lottery pulls your census number, this is your last chance to see the homeworld’s sights! A poll of the Collective suggests that these are the ones that can’t be missed: 1. GRAND CENTRAL OVERSTATION. You can’t miss it—literally. Grand Central Overstation is the pinnacle of Pre-Diasporic construction.

Fantasy

Writing You

Now that you are dead, we will write you a love letter. It was Achmat’s idea. He worries that in our loneliness, the two of us will become like parallel mirrors, reflecting upon each other an eternity of grief. You were the strong one, he says. Our centroid, he calls you. I disagree. You made us strong. That is why we will write you a letter. Perhaps it will make us strong enough to bear your passing.