Science Fiction & Fantasy

CHOSEN ONES

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Science Fiction

Giant Steps

The Blue Marble is shrinking; as Orion II lifts off, ripping from the grasping tentacles of Earth’s gravity, the world gets smaller, smaller, a blot on the cosmic sheet of infinite blackness, which closes in like a camera iris in a classic film’s final shot. Picture the planet’s surface, where the wonders of the old world buckle at the top of the hour under the weight of new wars; where down below, all those little people fall to their knees, desperate voices crying, crying out to their deity-du-jour for deliverance.

Science Fiction

The Gamecocks

Leslie Anne Moore had known Hardy Devine since second grade, when he had bloodied her nose in a game of dodgeball and then the other boys caught him crying about it and beat him pissy. By the end of the school year, Hardy had picked a fight with each one of those boys individually and found more satisfactory results. He didn’t look Leslie-Anne square in the eye again until seventh grade when he asked her to the Boone County Middle School Homecoming Dance and she said no.

Fantasy

Toxic Destinations

Since the discovery of the Eighth continent, your Tour Guide writers have received many letters from travelers and concerned individuals. We have heard, for instance, from the embattled New Zealand geologists who have long attempted to gain traction for their theory of the unrecognized continent of Zealandia. These hardworking scientists argue that the collection of partly submerged fragments off the coast of New Zealand comprise a much larger landmass, claiming this fits within standard definitions of continental attributes.

Fantasy

A Statement in the Case

Sure, I know István Horvath. We met about a year before Eva died. That’s my wife, Eva. You knew that? Yeah, I figured you were pretty thorough. It was the year of the blizzard, when snow covered the cars parked on the streets and even the Post Office shut down. I didn’t have to go to work for a week. So one night, I think it was Thursday, Eva says, “Mike, I only have one of the blue pills left.” This was when we still thought the chemo was doing something.

Fantasy

Noah’s Raven

Ten months after the ark first floated, and forty days after its keel snagged on a drowned mountain peak, Noah released a raven to look for land. Her name was ungraspable by humans, but might be translated as Bessary, plus a term ravens used for the taste of three-day-dead goat when the temperatures have stayed just above freezing, plus a color at the 327-nanometer wavelength, plus a sensation along the rictal bristles in a particular sort of cool air. Her feathers rustled like silk.

Science Fiction

The Ones Who Stay and Fight

It’s the Day of Good Birds in the city of Um-Helat! The Day is a local custom, silly and random as so many local customs can be, and yet beautiful by the same token. It has little to do with birds—a fact about which locals cheerfully laugh, because that, too, is how local customs work. It is a day of fluttering and flight regardless, where pennants of brightly dyed silk plume forth from every window, and delicate drones of copperwire and featherglass—made for this day, and flown on no other!—waft and buzz on the wind.

Science Fiction

She’d Never Had a Name Before

I never had a sister. Okay, so I did have a sister. She just died before she was born. No one talked about her, because sometimes a family looks ahead and sees through a veil into another universe where tomorrow is a given. But then we end up not living in that reality, and it creates a terrible break in our brains. Her name was Sarah. My dad finally told me her name on the deep black road between Omaha and Chicago, on my return to college for junior year.

Fantasy

Destinations of Joy

Ever since the discovery of the eighth continent, we’ve all had to come to terms with the presence of a landmass we never knew existed. In this age, wherein it often feels like every inch of mountain and valley has been charted, crossed, and geocached, how could we have been blind to a continent floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? We suppose, like the mapmakers of a millennium ago, we were blinded by our self-assured scientists and their navigational tools.

Fantasy

Story Kit

The pain of losing something so precious that you did not think you could live without it. Oxygen. The ice breaks beneath your feet: Your coat and boots fill with water and pull you down. An airlock blows: Vacuum pulls you apart by the eyes, the pores, the lungs. You awaken in a fire: The door and window are outlined in flames. You fall against a railing: The rusted iron slices through your femoral artery. You are dead already.

Science Fiction

A Bad Day in Utopia

She’d had a hard day. Earlier that morning she’d discovered that the game her company was developing, which was already months behind schedule for release, had a glitch somewhere in the code that caused the game to crash if the player character was equipped with diamond armor on the level with the meteors, and nobody could figure out why. It didn’t make any sense. It was a total nightmare. Anna, her boss, was mad at her for leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen again.