Science Fiction & Fantasy

Seasonal Fears

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May 2022 (Issue 144)

We have original science fiction by Grace Chan (“Nobody Ever Goes Home to Zhenzhu”) and Tobias S. Buckell (“The Plastic People”). We also have a flash piece (“It Came Gently”) from Aigner Loren Wilson, along with an SF reprint by Peter Watts (“Test 4 Echo”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Andi C. Buchanan (“If We Do Not Fly at Sunset”) and Lina Rather (“The Cheesemaker and the Undying King”). We also have a flash piece (“Magical Girl Burnout Bingo”) from Lauren Ring. Our fantasy reprint is by Jonathan Maberry (“The Hammer of God”). All that, and 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 a book excerpt.

In This Issue: May 2022 (Issue 144)

Editorial

Editorial: May 2022

Be sure to check out the editorial, where we have a rundown of this month’s content.

Science Fiction

Nobody Ever Goes Home to Zhenzhu

I’d always known Calam would run. He had all the signs. A taut restlessness, body brittle as an overstretched lute string, when we stayed too long in one place. A gloom in his eyes, as we drifted through stretches of dead space. A sullen crease between the brows, whenever I tried to ask how he’d landed in that dead-end Martian workshop at seventeen. But after ten years, why now?

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

The Hammer of God

“Look closely and tell me what you see,” said the nun. I licked my dry lips. “Blood.” “And what else, child?” “Bone,” I said, though at twenty-six I was far from a child, even if I was still a novice. However, my mistress, Mother Frey, was approaching eighty winters, and so was permitted to treat most people she met as children. “At least, I think it’s bone. Pieces, anyway.” Mother Frey sighed and straightened.

Science Fiction

The Plastic People

Rhea found the feral child on the edge of the garbage park on the last day of the group’s vacation. Garrison, passed out from drinking the better part of a bottle of hundred-year-old Islay Scotch, had dropped a cigar onto the edge of the canvas tent and set it all on fire. “Damn it, Garrison!” Agunye shouted as personal air quality alarms blared. “You and your fucking retro addictions.”

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

Magical Girl Burnout Bingo

Ten years ago, I stood on a rooftop alone. In front of me, a many-winged beast clung to the wires between traffic lights, drooling sparks onto the asphalt. I summoned a bright arrow from my wishing star and readied my bow. I had to defeat this false angel, rescue civilians, and heal the injured, and I had to do it all by myself, because nobody else would. When I leapt, my leading ankle struck the roof’s edge and twisted.

Nonfiction

Book Review: The Ballad of Perilous Graves, by Alex Jennings

Reviewer Aigner Loren Wilson recommends taking a trip to New Orleans—or at least reading The Ballad of Perilous Graves, a new novel by Alex Jennings set in the Big Easy.

Science Fiction

It Came Gently

When it came, I remember I washed my hair in a cracked tub on the side of the road. You could walk miles out into the wastes, dig a hole, and wait. The water would rise soon enough. It felt like a miracle. A real-life miracle, not one of those TV miracles or Kentucky prairie miracles. Or miracles with a capital M for money. The aquifer we found waiting for us was a saving grace.

Fantasy

If We Do Not Fly at Sunset

It’s a Sunday morning and the woman in your bed is exactly your type. Turquoise hair, cut perfectly. Full sleeve tattoo in progress; she says she’s adding to it as she gets the money. A smile that makes you want more—and she knows how to use it. When she leaves—hair messy, socks stuffed into her pocket, still smiling, and saying you should text her—you shower, then bind both your chest and your wings.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: Disruption, edited by Zadok, Szczurek, Snyman

You know Arley Sorg is always looking for the next terrific anthology. This time, he says: “Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, published by Catalyst Press, is a must-read.” Come find out why it will knock your socks off!

Science Fiction

Test 4 Echo

Six days before the money ran out, Enceladus kicked Medusa right in the ass. Onboard thermistors registered a sudden spike—80°, 90°, 120°—before the seabed jumped and something slammed the probe from the side. A momentary flash. An ocean impossibly boiling. A rocky seabed, tilting as if some angry giant had kicked over a table. Channel down. Telemetry rippled through a black alkaline ocean.

Fantasy

The Cheesemaker and the Undying King

Tana was in a humid cave checking the rind on a round of Tomme when the messenger arrived to tell her that the war was lost and her wife was to be hanged. She took her time rewrapping the cheese before she responded. Still too soft. Another week, she estimated. The rind was a beautiful blue-black shade that would catch a maid’s eye in the market. Ruining a fine wheel wouldn’t save Renae. And she knew what the boy was going to say as soon as she heard his nervous footsteps.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: Tear Down the Throne by Jennifer Estep

Do you need to read Jennifer Estep’s novel Capture the Crown to enjoy the sequel, Tear Down the Throne? Reviewer Chris Kluwe says “no”! But he also says that if you like scheming, spellcasting, and swordfighting, you will love these books.