Science Fiction & Fantasy

THECONDUCTORS

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Podcasts

Science Fiction

Sing in Me, Muse

O Mother, dear Mnemosyne! It is I, Anisah, fifteenth of my line! Here is my song. Long have I waited for this, the end of my first shift; at last I am a daughter grown old enough to sing. I have sat at my post—I have looked out my mirrored window—I have logged my report with the cousins who keep the histories. But for you, my mother, on my first night’s watch, I will confirm that, port and starboard, there is nothing out my window but the black and endless sea.

Fantasy

The Bone-Stag Walks

The Bone-Stag walks at midwinter, sharp-antlered, hard-hoofed. Deep white snow spreads under deep black sky. Cold air slices lungs; rivers stand as stone. Over cresting drifts comes the Bone-Stag, leaving no mark of his passing. Down in the village, they draw their curtains fast against him. They bolt tight their doors. Garlic at the lintels and holly upon the sills.

Fantasy

Miss Beulah’s Braiding and Life Change Salon

The chime above my shop door rings. It heralds a young woman wearing a head wrap boasting a network of silvery constellations on indigo, interspersed with the occasional yellow-gold moon. The wrap itself is made of silk—not the finest grade, mind you, but sufficient to conceal what she must see as a fault. None of her hair is visible, but the contorted celestial bodies show the fabric is at the end of its tether.

Science Fiction

The Shadow Prison Experiment

The shopping district was crowded on a Sunday afternoon, and Vivian Watanabe was out running errands with her sixteen-year-old, Cass. Together they wove through throngs of shoppers wearing customized skins or the generic default. Vivian wasn’t fond of Generics—they fell into that uncanny valley between a nondescript human and a silver android. Cold and impersonal, plus it was hard to keep track of who you’ve interacted with. 

Science Fiction

The Swallows of the Storm

One of the Senators cleared her throat, turned on the microphone in front of her, and began. “Would you like to tell us when you first became aware of the phenomenon, Doctor? Perhaps that would be the best place to start. We can formulate our questions from there.” The hearing was not in the main Congressional building. It was in a building on another part of Capitol Hill, in a room overdue for remodeling, with drop-ceiling panels stained by leaking pipes. But the room, however humble, was crowded.

Harlan sat near the front of the room.

Fantasy

Great Gerta and the Mermaid

That notorious ship that sailed to the wretched isle known as Neverland under the leadership of one James, self-styled Jas., Cook, called the Jolly Roger, has most naturally been a subject of intense study among historians. Yet even the most meticulous of these scholars have often failed to note that among that dreadful crew sailed at least one woman, Gerta, or, as she named herself, the Great Gerta, or, as she was named by others, Gerta the Girthy.

Science Fiction

The End of the World Measured in Values of N

Listen. The world ended thirty seconds ago. You greet this whisper with incredulity. After all, here you are, living and breathing. The people around you are living and breathing. You might be drinking coffee in lying in bed trying to decide whether to get up. You are reminding yourself of all the little life tasks awaiting you, things that need to be taken care of in order for you to continue going about your day. Thoughts of the apocalypse are a thousand miles away. Lunacy, they seem.

Fantasy

Baba Yaga and the Seven Hills

It doesn’t take long. She has few earthly possessions and her travel options are limited. There is a train that runs west through the Swamp Forest to the coast, but everyone knows and fears the old witch here, and on moving trains, she can cause quite a commotion. “Do not eat my children, Baba Yaga!” people cry when she steps onto the dining car. “Oh, please, have mercy! Do not use your pestle to grind up my bones!” She sits quietly in a booth, minding her own business.

Science Fiction

Real Animals

The bear has been stalking the taxidermy garden for ten weeks now, ever since Raffi showed up. Sometimes it disappears for a few days or a week, but it always comes back. Prowls the perimeter, looking for weak spots. From inside the taxidermy garden, Raffi feels the bear’s presence tugging on her, as though it has become the pole of her personal compass. The taxidermy garden isn’t a real garden. It’s a ski chalet, or what used to be a ski chalet, all hand-hewn logs and wood stoves.

Fantasy

Refuge

Dear Mr. Quilas: This morning, I began to read your new collection of essays, Forgotten Lives. I’ve enjoyed a number of your books previously, but this collection held a particular interest for me. Aned Heast, the subject of your third essay, “A Refuge in Juar,” held a personal interest and I looked forward to reading your piece about him. Sadly, I was disappointed. Your essay was riddled with misinformation and errors. I’m sure you do not wish to be told that. Few writers want to be told they are wrong.