Science Fiction & Fantasy

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July 2021 (Issue 134)

We have original science fiction short stories by Everdeen Mason (“Miss the Zen but Miss You More”) and Andrew Dana Hudson (“A Smell of Jet Fuel”). Our SF flash story is “No Lies Detected” by Russell Nichols. Our SF reprint is from Stephen Graham Jones: “To Jump Is to Fall.” Our original fantasy shorts are by Rachel Swirsky (“Innocent Bird”) and Lulu Kadhim (“Amber Dark Sickly Sweet”). We have a flash fantasy piece called “How to Become an Ancestor” by Nicole D. Sconiers, and our fantasy reprint is by Cadwell Turnbull (“Shock of Birth”). Of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with book reviews from our terrific review team. Our ebook readers will also enjoy an excerpt from She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan.

In This Issue: July 2021 (Issue 134)

Editorial

Editorial: July 2021

Be sure to check out the editorial to learn about a big, exciting change to our publishing schedule! We think you’re going to love it.

Science Fiction

Miss the Zen, but Miss You More

“Welcome to Float Isolation Therapy, an intensive twelve-day experience. You will become one with the stars. During your time in your personalized FIT pod, we encourage you to explore the deepest recesses of your mind.” Bei Bei floated in mid-air and felt the strain in her lower back, but she didn’t care. The picture had to be perfect. The lighting in the egg-shaped pod was excellent.

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

How to Become an Ancestor

First, die. The girl had fulfilled that initial requirement, though not willingly. And yet she found herself on the side of a block of rowhouses surrounded by five or six faces, both familiar and unfamiliar. A graffitied kingdom of the slain. The girl had achieved a royalty she never aspired to in life. And it was boring. Boring to preside over a North Philadelphia courtyard.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

To Jump Is to Fall

The ceiling for a jump without oxygen is fourteen thousand feet, give or take a football field or two. I step out of the plane at closer to eighteen, with the idea I can hold my breath for four thousand feet of terminal velocity. At ten seconds for the first thousand feet and about five seconds for each thousand feet after that, that should mean no more than half a minute of anoxia.

Fantasy

Innocent Bird

It began with Shoko finding feathers in her bed. It was her third year of high school. She’d just turned seventeen. She was falling in love, and her wings were coming in. At first, there were not so many feathers, but soon there were more and more. She’d assumed they’d be white; in drawings, most people with wings had feathers like swans or doves. Hers were like a sparrow’s.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: For the Wolf, by Hannah Whitten

This month, LaShawn M. Wanak goes out into the woods to bring you a review of For the Wolf, a new novel from Hannah Whitten.

Science Fiction

A Smell of Jet Fuel

We met on the 107th floor of the South Tower. She was standing in quiet contemplation, watching fire spread through the building across the plaza, smoke and paper billowing out into that baby blue sky. I was nursing a thunderous hangover, neglecting my tour group, which had all gone to the southern side of the observation deck to watch the second plane’s approach. She wasn’t supposed to be here.

Fantasy

Shock of Birth

“They didn’t believe me,” I said. “They didn’t believe that I wasn’t supposed to be here—that I woke up wrong.” I lost track of time again. My attention shifted toward the floor, drawn to a crack in the tile. It was causing quite a ruckus in my mind. The cup of tea I was holding had long gone cold, the light in the room growing dim. Sometime, a long time ago, someone dropped something heavy on the tile, and it was never the same.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: Capture the Crown, by Jennifer Estep

This month, Chris Kluwe’s reading goes royal. Find out just why you should read Jennifer Estep’s new novel Capture the Crown.

Science Fiction

No Lies Detected

Boy was lying on the table when I put the power drill to his head and pulled the trigger. It was just about sundown. Crickets already talking. Motor whirred, but the screw didn’t rotate. In the candlelight, Boy looked up at me, not blinking at all. “Are you finished?” “Be still,” I told him. The chuck was stuck, so I turned it till I heard a click. Then, holding my breath, I kept my hands real steady as I drove the screw in all the way.

Fantasy

Amber Dark and Sickly Sweet

Talia sat at the edge of Eliza’s bed, her hands clasped. She was new—so was I, but she was newer. I went to her, and stroked her head, careful to avoid the honeycomb on her brow. “Daughters.” Mother Anam’s face was twisted when she came back from searching the rest of our rooms, her shoes clicking on the hard, pocked floor. It always seemed to us that she was disappointed that we hadn’t broken a rule, that she couldn’t punish us.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: Far Out, edited by Paula Guran

Arley Sorg knows a lot about short fiction. Find out why he’s recommending the reprint anthology Far Out, edited by Paula Guran.

Book Reviews