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Oct. 2019 (Issue 113)

We have original science fiction by Eli Brown (“Nesting Habits of Enceladan Jade Beetles”) and Ray Nayler (“The Death of Fire Station 10”), along with SF reprints by Sam J. Miller (“The Beasts We Want to Be”) and Wendi Dunlap (“Revival”). Plus, we have original fantasy by E. Lily Yu (“The Valley of Wounded Deer”) and Isabel Yap (“Windrose in Scarlet”), and fantasy reprints by Kai Ashante Wilson (“«Légendaire.»”) and Ken Liu (“The Hidden Girl”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with our book and media review columns. Our ebook readers will also an excerpt of Cixin Liu’s new novel, Supernova Era.

In This Issue: Oct. 2019 (Issue 113)

Editorial

Editorial: October 2019

Be sure to read the editorial for a run-down of this month’s content and to keep up with all our news.

Science Fiction

The Beasts We Want To Be

Two things were wrong with the Spasskaya assessment. The first was the painting: a tiny square in a simple frame, something I barely noticed at the time, but which would go on to cause us so much suffering. The second was the woman. Wailing greeted us when we arrived, almost at midnight. Assessment teams had to come without warning. Snow fell in great marching waves, helpless in the hands of the wind off the Moscow River.

Fantasy

The Valley of Wounded Deer

Once there was a prince of Ruyastan who was born in secret and hidden behind a false wall with a nurse to hush her and soothe and give suck. The prince and her nurse lived in narrowness for ten years, reading and watching the world through a crack no bigger than a needle. During those years, the dowager queen hunted down and killed, for jealousy, every one of the prince’s half-brothers and cousins, carelessly begotten in cities and villages and forgotten apart from notes in the royal genealogies.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

Nesting Habits of Enceladan Jade Beetles

The pink frost coating my face shield is, evidently, my own blood. The gas jetting from the pea-sized hole in my wrist spins me around, and for a panicked moment, I wonder if I have somehow been shot. I think I am screaming, but that would alert Station, and Ocampo is silent. Evidently, I am holding my breath, only wanting to scream, like the nightmare of being on the wrong side of the airlock. Now the hissing has stopped and pain nails me to the ice.

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

«Légendaire.»

The cavalcade forms up. In beats, without words, the drummers argue a bass line. While higher registers wait in silence, contraltos and bassos scat and moan, improvising the tune (the lyrics never change). The soulful melodies these deeper voices come up with are much too cool, and none capture the hot quiddity of their subject. “Make dat shit bump, y’all,” a counter-tenor exhorts. “Put some stank on it!” So the music picks up funk and swing. A girl bounces and stretches with the other dancers. They have black skin, or brown, or golden; hers is gray, waxen, and flyblown. What ails this girl, her bones slipping so weirdly in raddled tissues?

Nonfiction

Book Reviews: October 2019

Chris Kluwe has been a reading machine! This month he reviews a rich mix: R.F. Kuang’s The Dragon Republic, Michael Mammay’s Spaceside, John Hornor Jacobs’ A Lush and Seething Hell, and Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction

Revival

It’s midnight and I can smell the new moon through the cracks in the concrete. This organism in my womb has heightened my senses in unnatural ways. I can hear the Council’s hushed arguments through the walls of my cell as they contemplate my death, their words carried by the night wind through the cracks in the concrete that constitutes the community prison. Old habits die hard. We’ve been on this planet for less than ten years and a prison was the first building we constructed.

Fantasy

Windrose in Scarlet

Red slays the wolf, and another bursts through the kitchen window and bites her in the stomach. Glass gets in her hair. She smashes the chopping knife into its head, then runs out the back door, gulping for air. She doesn’t stumble. The wood must be at war with itself: Some trees let her pass, others scratch her. The howling recedes; the howling’s at her ear. Eventually her boots skid on marble and she falls, her heart a hammer against her ribs. She curls up to make herself small. At least I’m all bones. They won’t enjoy me.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Media Review: October 2019

What’s it like to experience a new video game, not by playing it, but watching it on Twitch? Our reviewer, LaShawn M. Wanak, gives Kingdom Hearts III a try.

Science Fiction

The Death of Fire Station 10

“The death of Fire Station 10 affected me deeply. She had not been the smartest building, but she had been a friend for as long as I can remember. She was one story tall, the sole holdover from a much earlier time in the neighborhood—a piece of cinderblock nostalgia, of high-maintenance wood and plaster from an earlier age. Her brain and smart utilities were a retrofit, cobbled onto the cinderblock building later, in a clumsy addition on the back. When she was built, buildings had no minds.”

Fantasy

The Words of Our Enemies, the Words of Our Hearts

Prince Aretas, son of the Ever-Hungry Queen, had gone into the forest. Yarchuse knew the truth even before ae coaxed the story from the prince’s bootprints bruising dry earth. Ae shivered, hand splayed above the trail. Dammit. Ae heard the prince’s naïve belief etched into his tracks: I can end this war without more death. I will speak to the Heart of the Forest and find peaceYou foolish child, Yarchuse thought, clenching aer jaw against a spurt of panic. The forest would never relent.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Interview: Valerie Valdes

Valerie Valdes lives in an elaborate meme palace with her husband and kids, where she writes, copyedits, and moonlights as a muse. She enjoys crafting handmade bespoke artisanal curses and telling her friends how amazing they are. She is a graduate of Viable Paradise and her debut novel Chilling Effect is forthcoming from Harper Voyager in September 2019. Join her in opining about books, video games, and parenting on Twitter @valerievaldes.