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- Why Don't You Ask the Doomsday Machine?, by Elliott Essex
- Every time a warlord found me, intent on my becoming their blunt instrument, a mismatched armada followed shortly after—some squabbling coalition of assorted ally species, determined to save the universe from my grasp.
- Podcast: Why Don't You Ask the Doomsday Machine?, by Elliott Essex, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Elliott Essex's "Why Don't You Ask the Doomsday Machine?."
- A Secret Map of Shanghai, by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
- "Shanghai is a man, a perfect, Vitruvian man," she had told him, as she spread him, unblemished, on her endlessly expanding bed, "but you my sullen boy are still half-devil, half-child."
- Podcast: A Secret Map of Shanghai, by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Victor Fernando R. Ocampo's "A Secret Map of Shanghai."
- The Mythology of Salt, by O.J. Cade
- Makareta could not look away from the chisel and the mallet. Even the dye making, the kapara charcoal ground into dust, mixed with water and decanted into a mussel shell, could not hold her attention. The chisel – sharp and straight, the blade wide and shining – was all that she could see.
- Podcast: The Mythology of Salt, by O.J. Cade, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents O.J. Cade's "The Mythology of Salt."
- Yuca and Dominoes, by José Iriarte
- "We're stuck at Casa Varadero. Nobody . . ." she trails off. Ana Teresa puts a hand on her friend's arm to steady her. "Nobody ever leaves," she finishes at last.
- Podcast: Yuca and Dominoes, by José Iriarte, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents José Iriarte's “Yuca and Dominoes.“
- Event Horizon, by Sunny Moraine
- Can you starve a house? I asked Zhan once, and he just spat tobacco at me and smirked. It was a stupid question and I know that now. Of course you can starve a house. You can starve anything that’s alive.
- Podcast: Event Horizon, by Sunny Moraine, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Sunny Moraine's “Event Horizon.“
- Three on a Match, by Steve Berman
- "I know a trick," the Antony whispered. Ewan leaned in closer. "A magic trick?" "There's no other worth knowing." He handed the cigarette over. "Do you want to see it?"
- Podcast: Three on a Match, by Steve Berman, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Steve Berman's “Three on a Match.“
- The Witches of Athens, by Lara Elena Donnelly
- There are two diners in Athens, Ohio.
- Podcast: The Witches of Athens, by Lara Elena Donnelly, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Lara Elena Donnelly's "The Witches of Athens."
- Introduction to "Runaway Cyclone" and "Sheesha Ghat", by Anil Menon and Vandana Singh
- We have chosen two stories not as representatives of Indian speculative fiction but as interesting instances of the genre.
- Runaway Cyclone, by Jagadish Chandra Bose
- A few years ago a supernatural event was observed which rocked the scientific communities of America and Europe.
- Podcast: Runaway Cyclone, by Jagadish Chandra Bose, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Jagadish Chandra Bose's "Runaway Cyclone."
- Sheesha Ghat, by Naiyer Masud
- Father must not have known that I had already heard mention of Sheesha Ghat from visitors in his house. I knew that it was the most widely known and least inhabited ghat on the Big Lake, and that a scary woman by the name of Bibi was its sole owner.
- Podcast: Sheesha Ghat, by Naiyer Masud, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Naiyer Masud's "Sheesha Ghat."
- Red Matty (Part 2 of 2), by Nisi Shawl
- Now Baby Boo's plan seemed stupider than ever. Betty made up her mind. She pawed Gray Hawk's leg for attention. "Listen, I need to break a promise I shoulda never made."
- Podcast: Red Matty (Part 2 of 2), by Nisi Shawl, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Nisi Shawl's "Red Matty (Part 2 of 2)"
- Red Matty (Part 1 of 2), by Nisi Shawl
- She found the cat there, lying on the warm, shiny bottom of an upturned wheelbarrow. Baby Boo was the first modded animal Betty had made friends with. "I got a feelin," Betty announced. "That Matty one of us."
- Podcast: Red Matty (Part 1 of 2), by Nisi Shawl, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Nisi Shawl's "Red Matty (Part 1 of 2)"
- Teffeu: a Book from the Library at Taarona, by Rose Lemberg
- When my books empty out at night, they go to the library at Taarona.
- Podcast: Teffeu: a Book from the Library at Taarona, by Rose Lemberg, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Lemberg's "Teffeu: a Book from the Library at Taarona"
- ARIECC 1.0, by Lillian Wheeler
- You are speaking to the Automated Road Information and Emergency Contact Computer, version one point zero. How may I help you?
- Podcast: ARIECC 1.0, by Lillian Wheeler, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Lillian Wheeler's "ARIECC 1.0."
- Difference of Opinion, by Meda Kahn
- Problem is Keiya's brain never told her to paste her lips upright if she wants people to be nice. It's the IQ machine. She's been told she'd make a very good robot, all things considered.
- Podcast: Difference of Opinion, by Meda Kahn, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Meda Kahn's "Difference of Opinion."
- You Have to Follow the Rules, by Ada Hoffmann
- So the things Mommy could not see made as much sense as anything else.
- Podcast: You Have to Follow the Rules, by Ada Hoffmann, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Ada Hoffmann's "You Have to Follow the Rules."
- A Plant (Whose Name is Destroyed), by Seth Dickinson
- Naveen's boyfriend is now certainly a god.
- Podcast: A Plant (Whose Name is Destroyed), by Seth Dickinson, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Seth Dickinson's "A Plant (Whose Name is Destroyed)."
- Din Ba Din, by Kate MacLeod
- I look down at my hands, past the dirt. Sun-darkened, wrinkled, but not loose skin on bone. I'm forty, maybe nearly fifty. This isn't the rocket launch I dread, not yet.
- Podcast: Din Ba Din, by Kate McLeod, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Kate MacLeod's "Din Ba Din."
- Complicated and Stupid, by Charlie Jane Anders
- The doctor was a gray-haired woman with a tongue piercing and a faded bluebird tattoo on one exposed forearm. She wore a white coat over a lacy halter top and hotpants. She kept looking down Benjamin's throat with a penknife as if his malaise could be pharyngeal.
- Podcast: Complicated and Stupid, by Charlie Jane Anders, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Charlie Jane Anders's "Complicated and Stupid."
- Elizabeth Ziemska and "Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken", by Charles Tan
- The first time I encountered Elizabeth Ziemska's fiction was when her short story, "A Murder of Crows," was nominated for the 2007 Shirley Jackson Awards.
- Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken, by Elizabeth Ziemska
- Before I tell you the story he told me about his encounter with Count Stanislas August Poniatowski, the last King of Poland, I need to explain a thing or two about my father.
- Podcast: Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken, by Elizabeth Ziemska, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Elizabeth Ziemska's "Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken."
- Ten Cigars, by C.S.E. Cooney with illustrations by Rebecca Huston
- They solemnly passed the cigar around, sucking the non-lit end and exhaling deeply. Only Rosa got it right. She coughed up ten butterflies right away.
- Podcast: Ten Cigars, by C.S.E. Cooney with illustrations by Rebecca Huston, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents C. S. E. Cooney's "Ten Cigars."
- In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind (Part 2), by Sarah Pinsker
- George had only ever taken one trip without Millie, in the fall of 1951. A letter had arrived from the army asking him to fly to New Mexico.
- Podcast: In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind (Part 2), by Sarah Pinsker read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Sarah Pinsker's "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind."
- In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind (Part 1 of 2), by Sarah Pinsker
- "What are you talking about, old man?" she asked, but he was already someplace else. He opened his mouth as if to say more, but no words came out.
- Podcast: In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind (Part 1 of 2), by Sarah Pinsker, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Sarah Pinsker's "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind."
- Longfin's Daughters, by O. J. Cade
- When her sisters came home, their slippers once more danced through, they found the youngest in her bed, but though her head was hidden under the pillow as usual, her hair was wet and there were bites on her thighs and a new eel for smoking.
- Podcast: Longfin's Daughters, by O. J. Cade, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents O. J. Cade's "Longfin's Daughters." You can read the full text of the story, and more about O. J., here.
- Collateral Memory, by Sabrina Vourvoulias
- Friends or not, there is one guiding rule in the game: it's got to be genuine. Like life. Real. Anything else would be a cheat. And despite all of our other differences, no one in the shed is that. Except me.
- Podcast: Collateral Memory, by Sabrina Vourvoulias, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Sabrina Vourvoulias's "Collateral Memory."
- Jinki and the Paradox, by Sathya Stone
- "Years of erosion, that means the wind and water broke bits off the mountain along that way," he pointed east. "And brought them down here, to be dust." / "What mountains?" / "They're gone now," said Mr. Quest. "Eroded. You can see them if you look through Time."
- Podcast: Jinki and the Paradox, by Sathya Stone read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Sathya Stone's "Jinki and the Paradox."
- Hiding on the Red Sands of Mars (Part 2 of 2), by Anaea Lay
- Tyson was suddenly very absorbed in the deer carcass he was dressing. "You were fathered by the revolution. I'd have stepped in anyway, but Harry... your mother knew better."
- Podcast: Hiding on the Red Sands of Mars (Part 2 of 2), by Anaea Lay read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Julia Rios presents part two of Anaea Lay's "Hiding on the Red Sands of Mars."
- Hiding on the Red Sands of Mars (Part 1 of 2), by Anaea Lay
- "While we were on our way, when Mars was still a tiny ball in the distance, I plucked it out of the sky and rolled it between my hands to warm it up for us. Just like I do for you when you get cold."
- Podcast: Hiding on the Red Sands of Mars, by Anaea Lay read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Julia Rios presents Anaea Lay's "Hiding on the Red Sands of Mars."
- Hear the Enemy, My Daughter, by Kenneth Schneyer
- Now Kesi is four and does not mention him at all. She remembers him; when I point to his picture, she tells me who Jabari is. But she does not begin conversation about him. She does not ask when he will return. She does not ask what it means to die.
- Podcast: Hear the Enemy, My Daughter, by Kenneth Schneyer read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Kenneth Schneyer's "Hear the Enemy, My Daughter."
- Lucy Sussex and "My Lady Tongue", by Tansy Rayner Roberts
- First, I discovered the genres of science fiction and fantasy. Then, maybe a year or two later, I discovered that Australians wrote it too.
- My Lady Tongue, by Lucy Sussex
- I was minding my own business, thinking of Honey, but cat curious I followed the groups of womyn drifting towards the clamour. It was only when I was in the main square that I realised the offence was mine. Ah well, I’d brazen it out—I’m nothing if not brazen.
- Podcast: My Lady Tongue, by Lucy Sussex, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Lucy Sussex's "My Lady Tongue."
- The Siren, by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
- She thought of the ocean, and suddenly she felt a longing for it. She saw herself wading into patches of light, into the crisp foam like her father's shaving cream.
- Podcast: The Siren, by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam's "The Siren."
- Road Test, by Lane Robins
- This was her city, damn it, and no johnny come lately warlock was going to take it from her. No matter how cute.
- Podcast: Road Test, by Lane Robins, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Lane Robins's "Road Test."
- The Lucia Bird, by Ryan Simko
- It is the highest sin to kill a Lucia bird.
- Podcast: The Lucia Bird, by Ryan Simko read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Ryan Simko's "The Lucia Bird."
- A to Z Theory, by Toh EnJoe
- Nowadays, this amazing theorem is held to be incorrect, in terms of even elementary mathematics. Hardly anybody ever even thinks about it anymore, because it’s just plain wrong.
- A to Z Theory, by Toh EnJoe read by Anaea Lay
- Nowadays, this amazing theorem is held to be incorrect, in terms of even elementary mathematics. Hardly anybody ever even thinks about it anymore, because it’s just plain wrong.
- Town's End, by Yukimi Ogawa
- For five years in the city I worked as a receptionist at an English language school, where I had to deal with countless, groundless complaints and had developed a Noh-mask on my face devoid of any real expression. But even that was nothing to fight against this.
- Podcast: Town's End, by Yukimi Ogawa read by Anaea Lay
- For five years in the city I worked as a receptionist at an English language school, where I had to deal with countless, groundless complaints and had developed a Noh-mask on my face devoid of any real expression. But even that was nothing to fight against this.
- I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You, by Karin Tidbeck
- "This is your new treatment," said Dr. Andersson. "It's the latest in experimental therapy."
- I Have Placed My Sickness Upon You, by Karin Tidbeck read by Anaea Lay
- "This is your new treatment," said Dr. Andersson. "It's the latest in experimental therapy."
- The Clover Still Grows Wild in Wawanosh, by Kelly Rose Pflug-Back
- Some of those ashes are the burnt-up bones of the men and women and little kids trapped inside after the bombs, and back when the compound was still at the ruins, sometimes I'd find pieces of bone in the ash I brought out for the gardens.
- Podcast: The Clover Still Grows Wild in Wawanosh, by Kelly Rose Pflug-Back read by Anaea Lay
- Some of those ashes are the burnt-up bones of the men and women and little kids trapped inside after the bombs, and back when the compound was still at the ruins, sometimes I'd find pieces of bone in the ash I brought out for the gardens.
- The Long Road to the Deep North, by Lavie Tidhar
- Like the first Bashō, this one, too, had worn and discarded names with each stage of his journey through life, at last taking on the name of a living tree and a dead poet.
- Podcast: The Long Road to the Deep North, by Lavie Tidhar read by Anaea Lay
- Like the first Bashō, this one, too, had worn and discarded names with each stage of his journey through life, at last taking on the name of a living tree and a dead poet.
- Live Arcade, by Erik Amundsen
- i don't have to, do i? No game had ever asked the kid not to play before. The kid couldn't tell Murr that, though. Play or don't play.
- Podcast: Live Arcade, by Erik Amundsen, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Erik Amundsen's "Live Arcade."
- Dysphonia in D Minor, by Damien Walters Grintalis
- There were buildings in the capitol city said to be her creations, towering things of arches and alcoves, rooms that swallowed up every sound, every heartbeat.
- Podcast: Dysphonia in D Minor, by Damien Walters Grintalis read by Anaea Lay
- There were buildings in the capitol city said to be her creations, towering things of arches and alcoves, rooms that swallowed up every sound, every heartbeat.
- Inventory, by Carmen Maria Machado
- "I'm the dad, and you're the mom," she said. I pulled up my shirt, she pulled up hers, and we just stared at each other. My heart fluttered between my legs, but I worried about daddy longlegs and her parents finding us. I still have never seen Jurassic Park. I suppose I never will.
- Podcast: Inventory, by Carmen Maria Machado, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Carmen Maria Machado's "Inventory".
- Selkie Stories Are for Losers, by Sofia Samatar
- I hate selkie stories. They’re always about how you went up to the attic to look for a book, and you found a disgusting old coat and brought it downstairs between finger and thumb and said “What’s this?”, and you never saw your mom again.
- Podcast: Selkie Stories Are for Losers, by Sofia Samatar, read by Anaea Lay
- In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Sofia Samatar's "Selkie Stories Are for Losers".
- Wing, by Amal El-Mohtar
- She reads—not the book around her neck, which is small, only as long and as wide as her thumb, black cord threaded through a sewn leather spine, knotted shut.
- America Thief (Part 2 of 2), by Alter S. Reiss
- "The kid can turn lead into gold," I said. "But it's not balanced."
- America Thief (Part 1 of 2), by Alter S. Reiss
- Bugsy wasn't going to kill me that night, because while they thought I was crazy for thinking I could do magic, sometimes people needed me to do magic for them.
- The Hateful Brilliance of His Eyes, by Alec Austin
- This fragment, recovered from the archives at Tian Jing, is the only surviving account of the deeds of Captain Liao Jun and the Celestial Ascension during their exile in barbarian lands.
- He Reminds Us, by Jennifer Linnaea
- The premier landscape artist of the century tells me that the light is wrong. He tells me we'll have to come back tomorrow.
- Four Kinds of Cargo, by Leonard Richardson
- The Captain had spent her childhood watching bad native-language dubs of those same epics, except the implication that all this stuff was fiction had been lost in translation. When she came of age, the Captain (probably not her birth name) had bought Sour Candy with Mommy's money, hired a crew, and declared herself a smuggler.
- Household Management, by Ellen Klages
- He is, perhaps, the worst tenant in all of London.
- Introduction to M. R. James's "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad", by Brit Mandelo
- Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad, by M. R. James
- "Well," Parkins said, "as you have mentioned the matter, I freely own that I do not like careless talk about what you call ghosts."
- Good Hunting (part 2 of 2), by Ken Liu
- "I dream of hunting in this jungle of metal and asphalt," she said. "I dream of my true form leaping from beam to ledge to terrace to roof, until I am at the top of this island, until I can growl in the faces of all the men who believe they can own me."
- The Lord of Discarded Things, by Lavie Tidhar
- There were still alte-zachen men in Jaffa and Central Station in those days, as there always were and always will be, and chief amongst them was Ibrahim, he who was sometimes called The Lord of Discarded Things.
- Good Hunting (part 1 of 2), by Ken Liu
- A hulijing cannot resist the cries of the man she has bewitched.
- In the Library of Souls (part 2 of 2), by Jennifer Mason-Black
- "You didn't cry," she said. "Ten years old and your mother had died, and you cared more for the books."
- In the Library of Souls (part 1 of 2), by Jennifer Mason-Black
- I was first called by a book long ago, before the thousand days of rain began.
- The Fourth Exam, by Dorothy Yarros
- Even those who failed the fourth exam knew too much; bits and pieces that were just enough to get an occasional response to an authentication question past the processing offices.
- The Grinnell Method (part 2 of 2), by Molly Gloss
- There were dozens of black oystercatchers dead and dying on the wet mud. The birds not yet dead beat their long wings weakly against the ground and made faint yelping sounds, ghostlike and plaintive.
- The Grinnell Method (part 1 of 2), by Molly Gloss
- It was her brother Tom, ten years older, who had started her in the business of collecting birds' nests, Tom who had taken her into the woods and fields, a small child, and told her the names of flowers, birds, trees, how to catch and mount butterflies and insects.
- The Bear with the Quantum Heart, by Renee Carter Hall
- And when I said hello and asked what my name was, she didn't hesitate. "Bear-Bear!" she proclaimed, and so I was.
- Over the Waves, by Louise Hughes
- Rain had fallen overnight and Campbell's boat wouldn't start.
- Zero Bar, by Tom Greene
- The doctor thinks she knows what's going on--with the father's race, I mean. She must see a lot of women with something to hide.
- Introduction to "The Death of the Duke", by Jed Hartman
- I fell for Richard and Alec before I knew I was bi.
- The Death of the Duke, by Ellen Kushner
- A little later, he sighed in his sleep, and spoke the name of his first wife, while he held her. She felt her heart twist and turn over, close to the child she carried, so that there was room for little inside her but pain and love.
- Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints (part 2 of 2), by Alex Dally MacFarlane
- It is beautiful. It catches Jiresh, so bright a green and covered in the tales of Nishir and Aree, carved in the shapes of stone-stories and tail-stories.
- Feed Me the Bones of Our Saints (part 1 of 2), by Alex Dally MacFarlane
- Once, we knew more stories than there were stars to follow and admire at night. We wrote them in the desert for fun. What we have lost since that time is immeasurable.
- Comes the Huntsman, by Rachael Acks
- I was never brave or mad enough to fly from a bridge. I should never have been mad enough to eat that apple.
- Elsewhere, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Much of what was timelike for Unlike Themselves was spacelike for Not Very; in addition, their ontologies were skew, so it was difficult to converse. We all know how difficult it is, to live together across incommensurability.
- The Keats Variation (part 2 of 2), by K. M. Ferebee
- With his eyes closed he could draw the human body, stripped down to skeleton or muscle, reduced to what anatomy he knew. This much he understood about that body: what made it up, what composed it. He looked at his own fist clenched about the pen as he drew.
- The Keats Variation (part 1 of 2), by K. M. Ferebee
- You would not believe, Barrie said, you would not believe how much blood is in a man. Keats was quite ready to believe it. He believed most things at this time. He had come, at the credulous age of thirteen, from the country, where men did not tell so many lies, or they were a different sort of lies, not fat distended fancies like soap bubbles that rise from a washer-man's wand and swell and swell the expanse of their shining hollow bodies till they burst and you are left with just a thin wet sour residue.
- Tiger Stripes, by Nghi Vo
- "Everything that I should be afraid of has already happened," she said to the tiger, "and what I have to fear does not come from tigers any more."
- Beside Calais, by Samantha Henderson
- One of the éoles reared on its back wheel at their approach, spreading its ungraceful wings and spinning its propeller: a dominant male, getting their scent. The flock stopped grazing for a second, and the low hum of their engines quickened as they readied for the signal to take off.
- Bright Lights, by Robert Reed
- It is immediately apparent who is useful here and who must be sacrificed.
- Introduction to "The Gods of Reorth", by Debbie Notkin
- My fondness for "The Gods of Reorth" is born both of the story and of the cultural context in which it appeared.
- The Gods of Reorth, by Elizabeth A. Lynn
- Jael remembered years of famine, of drought, of blight. Once she had sent a plague. It had hurt, watching the inexorable processes of disease and death sweep over her people. She had not asked reasons for that.
- Beneath Impossible Circumstances, by Andrea Kneeland
- Analise wants to have a baby. A real baby. I tell her that if we had a baby together, it would be a real baby. It would be a real baby and it would have parts from both of us, and it would be a real person made from both of our genes.
- Area 54 (Part 2 of 2), by Hunter Liguore
- The look in Daddykins's eyes that had been gone for so long returned, and with it came regular surveillance of the night sky.
- Area 54 (Part 1 of 2), by Hunter Liguore
- Daddykins and I both had cigarettes, but his were the brown-paper kind and mine were candy stick, or sometimes the gum kind, though Daddykins said the gum kind were bad because the Skylings might hear me chew. He said they had super-duper equipment that could hear human hairs falling from the hairbrush. I was chewing gum-stick cigarettes the day Mommykins was taken. I never did again.
- Things Greater than Love, by Kate Bachus
- There's a pre-quake, very often, a smaller tremor like the skin of the rock bunches up, muscles tensing before the ground opens and cuts loose and really shakes hard. There'd been a few of those in a row, now.
- My Dignity in Scars, by Cory Skerry
- The demon is not solid enough yet to break out through my skin, but as it explores the cage of my flesh, it now leaves bruises in its wake. Sometimes it stretches out, and its whip-like tail reaches all the way across my belly. When it thrashes, I press my palms against it to smother it into submission.
- Nightfall in the Scent Garden, by Claire Humphrey
- You'll start to understand none of these things happened the way you remember. If you read this, you'll learn how I betrayed you.
- Tornado's Siren, by Brooke Bolander
- For a moment everything stops. The tornado's voice grows still. All the little chunks of trash hang frozen in the air, like someone's just hit the pause button. Rhea can see flowering shrubs and someone's shoe, a lawn gnome and two china cups. Then, just as suddenly, it all comes tumbling down.
- Aftermath (Part 2 of 2), by Joy Kennedy-O'Neill
- They came at all hours of the day and night. They scraped along the side of the house, moaned at the doors, ran their fingernails over the boards.
- Aftermath (Part 1 of 2), by Joy Kennedy-O'Neill
- Things seem almost back to normal--there is no smoke on the horizon, the barricades have been removed, and grass and bluebonnets grow on the side of the road. There are birds singing, red-tailed hawks catching the thermals, and the buzzards are only devouring roadkill. It's just a possum. Everything is fine.
- The Chastisement of Your Peace, by Tracy Canfield
- "Midnight Cruiser abducted the president of the American Psychological Association and fed him to her pet hyena," said Jenny. "Oh my God, she is awesome."
- Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas, by Alberto Yáñez
- When I was twelve, my hada madrina came to visit. My fairy godmother hadn't come to see us since my baptism, so I didn't even know her except from the stories, like the one about cousin Tomasita and the goat who could play fútbol.
- In the Cold, by Kelly Jennings
- Without anyone ever exactly saying so, I know I'm top of the stack for Chair of Executive when the time comes for Second to take charge: the obvious choice, the only one of us with the math and the mouth and the will to step up. Which does not mean I like the idea.
- MonitorBot and the King of Pop, by Jessica Barber
- She screams and backs up into the edge of her desk before she can get a hold on herself. MonitorBots are scary sons of bitches no matter what form they're choosing to take, and right now this one is in full-on enforcer mode, having arranged itself into a humanoid shape, except eight feet tall and with solid blocky limbs that could piledrive through her skull like it was nothing.
- Ash and Dust (Part 2 of 2), by Jennifer Mason-Black
- In the surprised cries and furious nuzzles of those just born, in the tears of fathers too tired to hide their delight, in the amazement of mothers holding their noses to perfect smooth skin as they counted fingers and toes, I saw joy. I could not feel it though, any more than I could register anger or fear or excitement.
- Ash and Dust (Part 1 of 2), by Jennifer Mason-Black
- We were not meant to be here long. A month, maybe two, they said at first, when the fires burned and the colonies opened their doors wide for the final exodus from Earth. Then, three months, six. Then they stopped talking time at all, just directions and rules and reminders not to forget the laws of a civilized society.
- Penelope Napolitano and the Butterflies, by Aliya Whiteley
- You can travel the world, you can see Kuala Lumpur and the Côte D'Azur, go everywhere, try anything; but it all comes down to one moment where you realise you're about to get engaged to a deeply lovely man who is undoubtedly going to turn you into your mother.
- Tomorrow Is Waiting, by Holli Mintzer
- She also found herself liking Kermit a lot more than she'd expected to. Anji had never really watched the Muppets before; her parents, like most parents she knew, had treated TV as only slightly less corrupting an influence than refined sugar and gendered toys. But the Muppet Show was really funny—strange, and kind of hokey, but charming all the same. She ended up watching way more of it than she needed just for the project.
- Eight, by Corinne Duyvis
- If everything went well, I'm back in safe, familiar 2020, and across from me in this slowly forming room, in the center of all these people awaiting my arrival, is twenty-one-years-young me.
- Counting Cracks, by George R. Galuschak
- Four of us, jammed into my sister's Ford Festiva, going to kill the monster.
- Introduction to "Particle Theory", by Ted Chiang
- Introduction to this week's reprinted story.
- Particle Theory, by Edward Bryant
- "If you're right," she said, "it could be the most fantastic event a scientist could observe and record." Her eyes refocused and met mine. "Or it might be the most frightening; a final horror."
- Librarians in the Branch Library of Babel, by Shaenon K. Garrity
- Carol and I were librarians at an infinite library where roughly 72% of books are Moby-Dick. Our library contains, within in its stacks, every edition of Moby-Dick that ever has been or will be or could be published. So does the main Library, of course, but at our branch the probability of coming across one of them is much higher.
- The Fourth Board, by D J Muir
- Today, the Tyrant will ask Jinli's father to bring out the hao ryl set, sit down with him, and play a game. When the game is decided, the Tyrant will ask Father to bring Jinli before him, and to have her read his future. And Jinli knows that things will not happen this afternoon quite as anyone has planned.
- Destiny, With a Blackberry Sauce, by David J. Schwartz
- Another thing that happened was that I caught this fish, this gorgeous fat salmon, and it said that it would grant me a boon if I let it go. I said I was pretty hungry so I'd pass.
- A Box of Thunder, by Lewis Shiner
- «Everyone here,» Alex said, «is supposed to have signed the compact that pledged us to nonviolence.» He felt like an imposter, piling lies on top of the blatant violation of his own code that was already in progress. «We knew there would be a test sooner or later. This is it.»
- Messengers from the Stars Will Come To Help Us Overcome the Obstacles That Hold Us Back From Achieving Our True Potential., by Grady Hendrix
- The Staging Area was full of purpose that morning. Everyone was excited about the Upload and we were all on task for Mission Success. I woke up full of glory and went down to Room A to calorie load, which was what we called breakfast.
- The Fountain and the Shoe Store, by Paul Steven Marino
- "Look," I said, "this might be the last thing I ever build. And it'd be nice to have one last meeting where the review board doesn't ask if the Four Horsemen are going to show up, or if we've planned enough drainage for all the rivers of blood."
- Introduction to "Home by the Sea", by Tricia Sullivan
- Cadigan's work spikes the envelope of Ballard's alienation and penetrates, bloodied, into that sense of bewilderment and near-panic that underlies nightmare.
- Home by the Sea, by Pat Cadigan
- "At the hospital, people are offering themselves for exploratory surgery and vivisection. And the doctors who have a stomach for such things cut them open and explore their insides. Sometimes they remove internal organs and sew the people up again to see how they manage without them. They manage fine. And there is no blood, no blood anywhere."
- Souvenir, by Genevieve Valentine
- The body's a week old, and Claudia hopes there's still a nice sharp souvenir left. Cops don't like vague answers from touches.
- The Rugged Track (part 2 of 2), by Liz Argall
- Princess Bite did not want to die; she wanted to do and try everything and then do it all again. But she had sworn by the sky above, the speed in her skates, and the rugged track before her that she would save her mother, and so she would.
- The Rugged Track (part 1 of 2), by Liz Argall
- Princess Bite learned to skate as she learned how to walk. Lady Push Comes to Shove and Princess Bite would hurtle around the track so fast it felt like flying. They skated together every day until Lady Shove's illness made it too difficult and painful.
- Bleaker Collegiate Presents an All-Female Production of Waiting for Godot, by Claire Humphrey
- It's only in hindsight that I realize why I started spending time in the smoke-hole in the first place. So many of the things we do, we keep from ourselves.
- The Peacock, by Ted Infinity and Nabil Hijazi
- "No HA HA not at all I am just making a joke. Please ignore my last two extremely suspicious metaphors. No need to contact authorities. No need to send your bank account information."
- One-Eyed Jack's, by Tracy Canfield
- She oughter do something about the Sing. She oughter do something about One-Eyed Jack's. But if she took one of them on, the other would have the valley to itself; and she wasn't certain she had the strength to fight them both, what with keeping one eye on I-79 every minute of the day.
- The All-Night Truck Stop Polka Band (part 2 of 2), by Shaenon K. Garrity
- A muscular, white-toothed UPS man stood in the hall. Except that he wasn't a UPS man. Someone had clearly put a lot of work into the uniform, but it was the wrong shade of brown and some of the insignias read PSU. He had two lobes on each ear, which was probably another mistake.
- The All-Night Truck Stop Polka Band (part 1 of 2), by Shaenon K. Garrity
- Meanwhile, the band members were busy. They were saving the world. They mentioned this pretty often, although all they seemed to do was drink beer, smoke Marlboros, watch TV, and raid the kitchen. They all loved TV. They'd missed thirteen years of it, and everything fascinated them.
- Peerless, by Karen Munro
- This lady's shoes were tremendous. I've shined the shoes of men six and a half feet tall, and they weren't as big as hers. And not just long, either—wide, broad, almost circular.
- Introduction to After All, by Gavin J. Grant
- Introduction to this week's reprinted story.
- After All, by Carol Emshwiller
- I was thinking to write a story about somebody who needs to change (the best sort of character to write about), and all of a sudden I knew it was me who had to change. Always had been, and I didn't realize it until that very minute. So I have to be the one to go on a journey, either of discovery or in order to avoid myself.
- The Holder's Black-Haired Daughter, by Kelly Jennings
- This is a story you can hear told through all the stations over there by the Drift and just beyond, and if you put a gun to my head I would not swear to you one way or another whether it is a true story, but it is true enough. It will do.
- Young Love on the Run from the Federal Alien Administration New Mexico Division (1984), by Grant Stone
- When she gets it right, it will signal the mothership. If there's a mothership. She thinks there's a mothership, but the smile she gives him, trembling slightly at the corners, shows she's not completely sure.
- The Thick Night, by Sunny Moraine
- She doesn't look at it the whole way home. She doesn't know how to look at it: you look at a person one way, and a thing another way, and the two are not the same.
- Items Found in a Box Belonging to Jonas Connolly, by Laura E. Price
- A woman swung toward us out of the sky on a knotted rope, a pistol in her free hand. The ocean roared around us; the hull sunk away from underneath us; my mother's grip on me shifted and tightened around my waist. "Hold tight," our rescuer said to us.
- Pataki (Part 2 of 2), by Nisi Shawl
- It was almost midnight in Michigan, but Madrina had answered on the first ring: "Aboye abochiche." I lift your burdens to heaven. "Alaafia," she added; a wish for peace. "Rianne, what's troublin you?"
- Pataki (Part 1 of 2), by Nisi Shawl
- Now, though, a new leaf. A new life. A new career as a diviner. Rianne's ancestors had told her to take on any clients that came her way.
- 起狮，行礼 (Rising Lion — The Lion Bows), by Zen Cho
- When Coco told her the truth, she found it easy to believe. She demanded no proof. Jia Qi had already known that there was something magical about lion dance.
- Trouble, by David M. deLeon
- Now our eyes were used to the dark, about as open as they get, and she was right, the view was better than Cafe C. There were so many stars if I started counting em I'd lose my place and count em all over again.
- The Last Sophia, by C.S.E. Cooney
- I came under enemy enchantment at the soft age of fourteen. For some reason it pleased the Gentry that I should breed their changeling babes, will me nil me, and breed them I have, though I had little else to do with them.
- The Yew's Embrace, by Francesca Forrest
- We could still see the old king's blood in the cracks in the flagstones beneath the new king's feet when he announced to us all that this was a unification, not a conquest.
- Widows in the World (part 2 of 2), by Gavin J. Grant
- She'd never liked her mother's houses. Even when she'd cracked the codes in order to program her own spaces, she had always known the deep programming wasn't hers. She'd been forced old so fast that by the time she was twelve she wanted her own place.
- Widows in the World (part 1 of 2), by Gavin J. Grant
- The Granny put the gun down. She picked up her embroidery, told the house, "Let's move." She kickstarted her rocking chair as she felt the baby kicking inside. The carpet was soaking up the mess her mother's body was making. The rest of the family wives muttered as the house trembled, withdrew its roots from England's northernmost tip, checked for clearance, and slowly took off.
- Introduction to The Third Wish, by Jed Hartman
- Introduction to this week's reprinted story.
- The Third Wish, by Joan Aiken
- "I have yet to hear of the human being who made any good use of his three wishes—they mostly end up worse off than they started."
- Pinion, by Stellan Thorne
- "I was robbed by an angel last night."
- The Space Between Stars, by Cassandra Clarke
- I was a young man then, and I lived underground and served my country in ways I can't confess to, under the threat of fines and imprisonment, and you talked to me one night in a bar in a city built entirely out of neon and luck. A city of no substance. The best thing about Las Vegas was always you.
- Source Decay, by Charlie Jane Anders
- "How could you?" Tara screamed when she reached their table. "How could you run around with her? In public? And she's my best friend!" Roberta was not Tara's best friend, although they had taken a pottery class together, years ago.
- Salsa Nocturna, by Daniel José Older
- A little after midnight, the muertos show up. They're always in their Sunday best, dressed to the nines, as they say, in pinstriped suits and fancy dresses.
- Zookrollers Winkelden Ook, by Tracy Canfield
- Jason Fischer-Varon hated to block email from his dead husband, but he was getting over a hundred of them a day, and they were breaking his heart.
- Lily, by Emily Gilman
- Lily was, to all appearances, a twenty-something-year-old girl staring dreamily out the window: the fact that she was even sitting here on a train was proof that she could pass for human.
- No Return Address, by Sigrid Ellis
- Two months you've been missing, and now I get this. Just this. This postcard, with no return address, no note, just a postmark from Madrid, Spain, and your initials.
- Blood, Blood (part 2 of 2), by Abbey Mei Otis
- I lean into his blows. Each punch he lands unmoors me a little more. If I can turn every inch of my body to bruise. Convert the entirety of my flesh to pain. Then by default, the mysterious points of anchor will sever. I will rise into the air.
- Blood, Blood (part 1 of 2), by Abbey Mei Otis
- I'm sixteen when George and I figure out the aliens will pay to watch us fight.
- Household Spirits, by C.S.E. Cooney
- This here's ghost country, just like you said. Can't imagine a more haunted place on all Athanor, no, nor at the bottom of the nine seas where the nine old cities fell. Frontier, we call it. Makes it sound like it'd never been lived on, never been worked. But you look hard enough, you see signs everywhere.
- Hokkaido Green, by Aidan Doyle
- After his brother died, Hitoshi Watanabe quit his job and decided to walk to the hot spring waterfall at the end of the world.
- What We Left Behind in Jacksonville, by Colleen Mondor
- It was a good place for us; there was no reason to think it wasn't a good move. That's important--we had no idea, no sign, that there could be anything wrong with our house. And then, one night the radio came on by itself.
- Styx Water and a Sippy Cup, by Hal Duncan
- The formula feed is basically cold water, but the babe still locks his cherub lips around the rubber teat like it's the mother's breast he'll never now taste. They always do, right enough. Who doesn't love the sweet salt tang of the Cocytus, river of lamentations? Who in Hell doesn't love the liquor we all live on, the quenching, quieting tears of the bereaved?
- Last of the Monsters, by Emily C. Skaftun
- I laughed when the gods died out. One by one, they crawled off like dogs to die alone, and I danced on their unmarked graves.
- Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots, by Sandra McDonald
- When I was a much younger woman, as part of the divorce settlement from my then-millionaire inventor husband, I asked for our house in Connecticut, a modest amount of alimony, and six sexy cowboy robots. Sentient sex toys, if you will.
- Over My Shoulder (part 2 of 2), by David Sklar
- If I was going to give it up, I needed to give it all up, to leave myself no way back.
- Over My Shoulder (part 1 of 2), by David Sklar
- "It's going to be a hit," he said. "You want the royalties?" I asked. Vespers smiled like a serpent staring at more than most mouths could swallow. "No," he said. "I want the destiny."
- Iteration, by John Kessel
- At home that night Enzo received an anonymous email headlined "Re-invent the world." No text—just a link.
- And She Shall Be Crowned According to Her Station, by Genevieve Valentine
- The first roach appears in the sink, mahogany-dark and glossy against the stainless steel. Jessie grabs a sponge and slams it down, listens for the crunch of wings.
- Aphrodisia, by Lavie Tidhar
- We'd shared a hub in Tong Yun City years before, the asteroid-worm and the orbital hafmek and me—shared food and drugs and sex and minds—but we were younger then, on Mars.
- Five Rules for Commuting to the Underworld, by Merrie Haskell
- If you undertake your travels to the Underworld while you are yet a living being, you may wish to sew your mouth closed--black thread is best. It is the surest way to avoid the temptations and escape with your soul intact.
- The Big Splash, by George R. Galuschak
- "I thought you might be able to help him." I tried to keep the tremble out of my voice. "Maybe reverse the aging process. You're an alien and all."
- Ghost of a Horse Under a Chandelier, by Georgina Bruce
- It's easy to lose the Book because it's always changing. There isn't an author's name on the cover. And every time Zillah opens the Book it's different. Everything is different, even the title. Today, it starts like this.
- Where It Ends, by Swapna Kishore
- God, he looked so old. What had gone wrong?
- Father's Day, by Jen Larsen
- My father spent years building his Doomsday Machine.
- The Bright and Shining Parasites of Guiyu (part 2 of 2), by Grady Hendrix
- One of Mayor Yuen's tough guys took me and Little Bun to the elevators. There was classical Western music playing inside it. What good is classical music? You can't break to it.
- The Bright and Shining Parasites of Guiyu (part 1 of 2), by Grady Hendrix
- I say Little Bun swerved all over the street but there are no streets in Guiyu. The electronic mountains have buried the town in a sea of broken hardware and we drove down canyons cut through towering walls of high-tech trash.
- The Red Bride, by Samantha Henderson
- The story of the Red Bride is a slave's tale in slave speech, which I do not generally hold in my head around humans lest my face betray me, so I must shift words around from one meaning to another like stones on a reckoning-board, each stone taking meaning from a square where another stone was a moment before.
- Out of Sombra Canyon, by Kyri Freeman
- In four days, we haven't recaptured any of the hummingbirds we've banded, or even seen one a second time. Without that, we have no way of tracking their movements, learning their behavior, what territory they need.
- How to Make Friends in Seventh Grade, by Nick Poniatowski
- We knew that our stupid model rockets wouldn't be able to reach the Watchers, and she knew that we knew. But Mrs. Hildegaard had taught kindergarten for fifteen years before teaching science at East Junior High, and old habits die hard. So she gave us our assignment with the conceit that our spray-painted tubes of cardboard would somehow have enough force to break through Earth's atmosphere and grab the Watchers' attention.
- The Night Train, by Lavie Tidhar
- Her name wasn't Molly and she didn't wear shades, reflective or otherwise.
- Kifli, by Rose Lemberg
- My fingers knead the kifli dough, caress the living firmness of it. The plum jam is bubbling on the gas stove, smelling of that village, that little plump woman I would have become, had I not moved across the ocean.
- Waiting, by Eilis O'Neal
- "She was a swordsman. The best of her time. She served the Emperor Janken, led his warriors into battle. Won the battles, all of them. They say she was like a blade herself, as sharp and keen-edged and quick, as if she were made of steel and lightning. She disappeared. They looked, but they never found her."
- On Not Going Extinct, by Carol Emshwiller
- Our language is gone, though here and there a word survives. Some of our music and dance also. Sometimes we see bits of our ways in what the others do, a gesture here and there, a fragment of a design at the edge of a collar or on a belt buckle.
- Worlds Apart, by Marlaina Gray
- My parents discovered the gateway first, when they were young.
- WE HEART VAMPIRES!!!!!! (part 2 of 2), by Meghan McCarron
- It was, in a confusing way, even more intimate than a kiss.
- WE HEART VAMPIRES!!!!!! (part 1 of 2), by Meghan McCarron
- Sven was Bob's vampire boyfriend. It had been his idea to meet up at the mall. George had no idea why a vampire wanted to hang out at the mall, but maybe malls were really interesting to someone born in the nineteenth century.
- The Freedom, by K M Lawrence
- I jerked the head back a bit. As often happens, the reflex brought with it the feeling that the body was truly mine.
- Birds, by Benjamin Parzybok
- I live in a world that I create. In my world--you've noticed, don't say you haven't--a passing crow might stop and have a conversation about a change in schedule at the city trash pickup, or, for example, the pigeons. It's a world I want to live in, all the rules are mine. Don't argue yet.
- Middle Aged Weirdo in a Cadillac, by George R. Galuschak
- She's seen it all, and more, on TV; all those middle-aged weirdos, doing terrible things to those poor lost girls.
- The Duke of Vertumn's Fingerling, by Elizabeth Carroll
- After I opened my eyes they dressed me in silk. A bone-white gown slipped over my head and I raised my arms for it like a child. With my hair undone, I must have looked like a bride. I was nothing of the kind.
- Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra, by Vandana Singh
- These old stories have as many meanings as there are stars in the sky. To assign one single interpretation to them is to miss the point.
- Merrythoughts, by Bill Kte'pi
- They cut Jaima's wings off when she was a baby. She doesn't remember, but she says she does if they ask, says she remembers what the choir sounded like before she was cut off from it, and what the sky looked like when she could still see the eleven secret colors.
- The Kiss, by Elizabeth Herald
- The goblin watching me from the bleachers has been watching me all my life. He's short, about five feet two inches, and he dresses impeccably, wearing a full tuxedo most days. His eyes are yellow with no whites, and hungry.
- Who in Mortal Chains, by Claire Humphrey
- They offered violence. It's an offer I can't help but accept.
- Small Burdens, by Paul M. Berger
- Moth had a new possum. She had fashioned a little broom for the creature and now she was teaching it to sweep the floor. This was proving an uphill battle. The possum had no natural grasp of the concept of tidiness, and it was developing a rapidly escalating personal hatred of Moth.
- Sundowning, by Joanne Merriam
- "It's time for the bloodletting," I told him. I had the needle ready in my hand.
- Doctor Diablo Goes Through the Motions, by Saladin Ahmed
- "I can guess his goddamn origin: Disaffected rich kid. Fled America and trained with mystical Eastern warriors. Soon became the best—one year at ninja camp is always enough time for a gringo to get better than any native."
- After We Got Back the Lights, by Eric Del Carlo
- It was always a small town. Not insular, and not poor—not by a long shot—back when money was a measurement. Those who stayed and those who survived turned out to be decent people. Maybe I was surprised at just how decent, or how capable, or how willing to dig in and do what work needed doing.
- Cory's Father, by Francesca Forrest
- Cory was the other one who never got a dad story. "Your dad was just a twinkle in my eye," was all Mom would say. Cory would smile and go running off with Vessy, and Mom's eyes would follow Vessy, but Cory she had to follow with her ears only, because of the deal she made with Cory's dad.
- The Mad Scientist's Daughter (Part 2 of 2), by Theodora Goss
- "There, you see? I'm not saying we should spend all of our time planning to take over the world. I have other commitments myself. But I do think we should start giving it some serious consideration."
- The Mad Scientist's Daughter (Part 1 of 2), by Theodora Goss
- We don't judge. Who, indeed, are we to do so? We have all done things of which we are not proud. The club is a haven for us, a port in a particularly stormy world.
- The Blue Wonder, by Chris Kammerud
- Let's begin at the end, on the night when, flying high above New York, the Blue Wonder's heart failed him for the third and final time.
- Four Lies from the Mouth of God, by Megan Arkenberg
- The day the soldiers came, I drank cold coffee out of a cold mug and tried not to think about Jul.
- A Rose Is Rose, by Georgina Bruce
- Sashi is painting the soles of the King's feet when the two Indian elephants are led up Cape Hill. She hears the soft calls of the mahouts, speaking the old language that only they and the beasts understand, and she runs to the window of the King's attic flat.
- Beautiful White Bodies (Part 2 of 2), by Alice Sola Kim
- They glided closer, moving to surround Justine. She was nervous. They were so damn tall, and their faces blocked out the world around her in a circle of horrible loveliness, creating an alien ecosystem in which Justine—imperfect, spotted, human—could not breathe.
- Beautiful White Bodies (Part 1 of 2), by Alice Sola Kim
- The fall after Justine moved back home, the high school girls became beautiful. She saw it herself, from behind the counter of the coffee shop by her old high school. The beauty spread viciously: first to one girl, then two, then four, and now almost twenty.
- Tyrannia, by Alan DeNiro
- If the man knew that an egret was measuring the laceration on his broken leg, he would have been amused, but not forlorn. He always had a fondness for unruly birds when he agitated.
- All the Anne Franks, by Erik Hoel
- When the aliens came and cut the sky up into golden ribbons Dan Milestone ran inside to get his daughter Margaret and put her up on his shoulders in the front yard and told her that this was history and she told him to put her down because he was embarrassing her.
- A Brief Investigation of the Process of Decay, by Genevieve Valentine
- There was a pause before "interested" that meant "acclimated," as if Mars was going to be just like the rez, except without oxygen.
- True Names, by Stephanie Burgis
- When I let Sam sweet talk me into moving out here to the back of beyond to be his wife, it was all about the romance of the wild, the two of us standing at each other's sides against mountain lions and poisonous snakes, and me learning to be just as fierce against them as any man. Days like today somehow never got mentioned in any of his stories, back then.
- Nomadology, by Chris Nakashima-Brown
- On-screen, stop-motion set pieces illustrated a science fiction fantasy of the destruction of the state apparatus and the abolition of private property mediated by alien invasion and natural disaster. The only sound in the room was the soft clicking of aluminum knitting needles, like a DIY Geiger counter monitoring our entropic half-lives.
- Ms. Liberty Gets a Haircut, by Cat Rambo
- "If you're going to be our leader, you need to look like you haven't time-travelled here from the 20th century," Dr. Arcane grumbles to Ms. Liberty. "You may have been built with the blueprints from the Stepford wives, but you don't have to keep looking like one."
- The Regime of Austerity, by Veronica Schanoes
- Under the Regime of Austerity, Stella can no longer afford much color. What she gets she uses on her hair and her eyes, even though all the magazines say that's a waste. Hair falls out and eyes tear up, and eventually the color wears away and she's left with nothing until her next ration coupon.
- The Second Conquest of Earth, by L. J. Daly
- The Kus left us our religions, to keep us docile. My mother's brand of snake-oil soothsaying passed the test, thanks to years on the best-seller lists. That this Kus hasn't killed me tells me he thinks I can read his future.
- And Their Lips Rang with the Sun, by Amal El-Mohtar
- Look at them! Are they not beautiful? Had cinnamon been ground and rubbed into their skin, they could not have been more brown, more fragrant, more beloved of the wine-bright sky.
- A Safe Place To Be, by Carol Emshwiller
- It started with a funny feeling in the bottoms of my feet. Something is going to happen. Perhaps an earthquake. That's what it feels like. But perhaps terrorists on the way. Whatever it is, something's coming.
- And This Also Has Been One of the Dark Places of the Earth, by Anna Feruglio Dal Dan
- It is probably the sodium glow of the streetlamps I remember—who would have thought I would ever miss it.
- The Yeast of Eire (Part 2 of 2), by Alaya Dawn Johnson
- Each time he returned, he would bring me news of Amery's safety and some food. He seemed to know precisely what we most needed—cinnamon bark, preserved lemons, bulbs of dried garlic. I tried not to miss him. I tried not to think about Amery.
- The Yeast of Eire (Part 1 of 2), by Alaya Dawn Johnson
- I recalled the taste of quinoa plucked fresh from the Eiran fields, its hidden coils unfurled, boiled and dressed with just a bit of lemon and cut radishes. Tart and sharp and rich like the smell of sun on a field after a rain. And I recalled, too, the face of the gilt-haired man with whom I'd shared that dish, the smell of him, and all I'd left behind in the Eiran earth.
- Everything Dies, Baby, by Nadia Bulkin
- When Beth handed him the phone he nearly dropped it, and after he dragged himself to the kitchen for privacy he could not seem to make his fingers work with the buttons. He kept muttering. He kept starting over.
- Charms, by Shweta Narayan
- It's too easy, the tide of war washing these feckless, smiling girls up, drowning Edith in the bile and brine of the past. And she's hardly old, not yet. Not yet. She shakes her head tiredly. Women's magic, she says, is like everything else. Not good enough for girls these days.
- Origin, by Ari Goelman
- "I should never date other supers," I say, not for the first time. I put my hand on my stomach. Crap. I can barely keep a spider plant alive. There's no way I'm ready to be a mother.
- Finisterre, by Maria Deira
- Prima, she said to me, if you see a man with dilated pupils, a man who smells like mildew, a man with fingernails that are stained yellow and teeth that are uneven and broken, prima, if you see that man—run. Run! Because that man is a pinche werewolf.
- Salt's Father, by Eric Gregory
- For a moment there was only silence. The old man wondered if the servitor had died of hunger. Then it crawled out of shadow, its head swiveling left and right with a high, hurtful screech of metal on metal. Sensors and little pincers dangled out of its too-wide-open mouth.
- Bespoke, by Genevieve Valentine
- The floors were real dateverified oak, the velvet curtains shipped from Paris in a Chinese junk during the six weeks in '58 when one of the Vagabonder boys slept with a Wright brother and planes hadn't been invented.
- The Ghost of Onions, by Marcie Lynn Tentchoff
- It's cold outside, but her kitchen is warm and bright, and in its comfortable familiarity she can almost banish away the chill of melancholy, the knowledge deep inside her that there should be, there must be, something more to life.
- Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs, by Leonard Richardson
- "Humans won't pay to watch dinosaurs ride motocross bikes forever," said Tark. "I'm gonna branch out. Target shooting. I'll be like those tough guys in the action movies."
- On the Destruction of Copenhagen by the War-Machines of the Merfolk, by Peter M. Ball
- The television stutters as we flick through the channels, colours bleeding together and rendering the devastation a fuzzy blue or green.
- River of Heaven, by Rachel Manija Brown
- Fulfilling our mission would undoubtedly be the most important thing to happen on Earth that day, but Seiji seemed more interested in window-shopping.
- Another End of the Empire, by Tim Pratt
- He sighed. "So I'm expected to send my Fell Rangers to the mountains, raze the village, leave no stone upon a stone, enslave the women, and kill all the younglings to stop this dire prophecy from coming to pass."
- Second-Hand Information, by Jennifer Linnaea
- The next day I go to Pisha's house as usual, but his parent meets me at the door and looks at me extra long with her small, pink eyes. "I tell you first-hand that Pisha can't play today," she says. "He's gone in."
- A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc; or, A Lullaby (Part 2 of 2), by Helen Keeble
- Listen. Listen. These are the stories of your lives I am telling you, the real stories, the way that things should be. This is not real, this stinking prison where you cannot live, this cannot be real, I am not watching you be born here, no—
- A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, D.Phil, MSc.; or, A Lullaby (Part 1 of 2), by Helen Keeble
- By Divine providence, we captured the mermaid with neither loss of life nor injury to any seaman, nor any harm done to the specimen.
- If Wishes Were Horses, by Tiffani Angus-Bodie
- Mam always warned me against trying to hide if the dark riders came.
- Baby in the Basket, by Cecil Castellucci
- When she knew he had arrived again, she could feel her heart beat faster. She couldn't help it. She loved that little boy. She had become attached. Danielle grabbed the mail and ran up the stairs. Five flights. Breathless. She didn't stop running until she was sure he was really back.
- The Rising Waters (Part 2 of 2), by Benjamin Crowell
- "Was that the police?" asked Debbie about the invisible ghosts I'd been shouting at. "I don't like police. They hurt Alan Turing, and I can tell you're scared of them. I wish I could see them."
- The Rising Waters (Part 1 of 2), by Benjamin Crowell
- The official working hypothesis was that he was nonresponsive (don't say autistic) due to a mismatch (don't call it boredom) between processing power and input bandwidth.
- Lily Glass, by Veronica Schanoes
- The girl is gone from the castle and her stepmother wanders the corridors. Here is another way of saying the same thing: the girl wanders the corridors, but her stepdaughter is nowhere to be found.
- As He Was, by Kit St. Germain
- My Malcolm dollie, I kept in the best condition. I would kiss it and hug it. Sometimes I would put it in a bean can and I would tell it, "You are in invisible armor, my only love. Nothing gonna touch you." I know how crazy that sounds—but where are 'Phonse and Woody Pike and Jerry Rasmussen that signed up with Malcolm? Malcolm came home because of me.
- The Man Who Lost the Sea, by Theodore Sturgeon
- The sick man is buried in the cold sand with only his head and his left arm showing. He is dressed in a pressure suit and looks like a man from Mars. He can hear the pounding of surf and the soft swift pulse of his pumps.
- Husbandry, by Eugene Fischer
- Next is a family with a nine-year-old boy and a dead parakeet. They aren't just dropping off the carcass for deactivation and disposal, they've come to have Gerry, a professional, explain death to their son. Gerry talks to their son about what happens to the bodies of animals when they die, and points out to him the things that make it clear that his bird is dead: the uncoordinated motion, the abandonment of normal behaviors, the lack of interest in water.
- Turning the Apples, by Tina Connolly
- "This ain't a negotiation, boyo," says Jonny. "They're fresh and Hawk's in a lather, he needs what you do." Then Jonny is gone and Szo is sick to his knees because he's just remembered that fresh means awake and screaming.
- The Spider in You, by Sean E. Markey
- We kept our god under the sink, in an old aquarium, so it wouldn't spill its web all over the house.
- Nira and I, by Shweta Narayan
- Nira and I are six when her eldest brother loses his way in the mist. Three days later his bones get home. An extra finger sprouts from the left hand, and the skull has no eye sockets. But his clothes dangle from the shoulder blades, and dry knuckles scratch at the door for two days before the King's men come.
- Diana Comet (Part 2 of 2), by Sandra McDonald
- Diana had held jewels and diamond crowns; she wasn't impressed by an oval of copper and scrap inscribed with a seal and three-digit number. Things men held dear never ceased to amaze her. Dutifully she said, "It's quite lovely."
- Diana Comet (Part 1 of 2), by Sandra McDonald
- Miss Harvegstraem tilted her head. "Let me guess. A handsome visitor, both well spoken and highly educated. Scion of some wealthy family. He came to you in the cover of darkness, promising sweetness and fidelity, stealing your hard-protected virtue."
- Sometimes We Arrive Home, by K. Bird Lincoln
- This alien air feels familiar, like something from her own pores.
- The First Time We Met, by Maria Deira
- I glanced down at my arm. The gash, which had been raw and red just a few seconds earlier, was gone. The only trace of the wound was a thin white scar that curved along the muscle. "You're welcome," she said.
- Obedience, by Brenna Yovanoff
- She checked the cuffs of her jacket, tucked them deep into the tops of her gloves. Outside, pale hands seemed to float, palms flat against the windows. They were laughing, a storm of high-pitched giggles.
- This Must Be the Place, by Elliott Bangs
- It's probably simplest to say that I first met Loren Wells in a club in San Francisco. We'll set aside for the moment that it wasn't the first time he'd met me.
- The Shangri-La Affair (Part 2 of 2), by Lavie Tidhar
- "Many wish to purchase peace," the Clockwork Boss said. "And too many would like to keep it."
- The Shangri-La Affair (Part 1 of 2), by Lavie Tidhar
- It came spilling over Asia like grains of rice measured into a pan. Digital systems were corrupted. Tailor-made viruses swept through urban populations, spread out to villages, sometimes merely killing, sometimes transforming people into ... into other things.
- Greetings from Kampala, by Angela Ambroz
- It was dangerous on such an epic level of dangerous that Ghada was awestruck by the captain's lethal levels of stupidity. If you went down the wrong Drop, the space-time anomalies could rip you apart.
- Sisters of the Blessed Diving Order of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew, by A.C. Wise
- Lucy came to the Blessed Diving Order of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew in the usual way: her parents abandoned her as a babe in a little woven basket on the shore. Her first lullaby was the hush of waves rolling smoothed stone over stone and stringing tangled seaweed around her cradle.
- Engines of Survival, by Larissa Kelly
- It's always the little things in the future that are the hardest to adjust to.
- How to Hold Your Breath, by Meredith Schwartz
- In eighth grade, two of the guys started whispering "smells like fish" to each other whenever I came near them.
- The Same Old Story (Part 2 of 2), by Naomi Bloch
- Sarah was trying to come up with something friendly, but not empty, to say to her husband. Since the conversation in the lab they had kept their dialogue to a few safe, neutral subjects.
- The Same Old Story (Part 1 of 2), by Naomi Bloch
- Sarah smiled at her. "Well, she certainly shares her mother's intelligence and charm. And those incredible violet eyes—it's hard not to fall in love with those." Nicole nodded, a bit bored. "That's how Jake ordered her, obviously."
- Up In the Air, by Richard Larson
- "This doesn't have to be awkward," he said as we stood in line, boarding passes in hand. I almost laughed, but instead I regarded him soberly, or as soberly as I could considering the martini, the tequila shots, and our spontaneous rendezvous in the airport's public restroom.
- Until Forgiveness Comes, by K. Tempest Bradford
- Sadana Manu, under-cleric of Iset, gave the sign for mourners to station themselves near the main blast sites for their glimpses of loved ones long gone.
- Return (Part 2 of 2), by Eric Vogt
- Before Tima had left, he and Svena used a 0.7-Turing AI to build a reactive construct of him. That construct was all that Vishi had known of her father.
- Return (Part 1 of 2), by Eric Vogt
- He wasn't Rapid Combat, but a standard and very lethal fight package was part of his Mass Dynamics Overtraining. He was very, very aware that the hand holding her to the wall was in a position to crush her trachea with just a small twitch.
- Nine Sundays in a Row, by Kris Dikeman
- I'm hunkered down in the tall grass, tail down, ears back. She leans back against the oak tree, wiggling her toes in the grass, big ugly boots beside her, moonlight throwing up shadows all around.
- Just After Midnight, by Christie Skipper Ritchotte
- He thinks there's a reset button: that people can die and start back at level one. He thinks Laura will walk through the door any minute now.
- The Lion and the Mouse, by Kaolin Imago Fire
- It was a simple matter for Mouse to rip apart the thorny mess; and with that hindrance gone, even Lion's outdated meta-processes began to salve stressed joints and re-connect wounded couplings. Thanking Mouse profusely, Lion recalculated his entrance and A*'d his egress.
- Swan Song, by Joanne Merriam
- "High fever. Dehydration. Recurring dreams of swans," the doctor has noted in the description area.
- Kimberley Ann Duray Is Not Afraid, by Leah Bobet
- They bombed the clinic again at seven a.m. that Friday, between my shower and the hunt for a clean pair of socks.
- Cowboy Angel (Part 2 of 2), by Samantha Cope
- She stood, looked out the window, and she wanted to say, It'll be okay and, Trust me. And I love you. She couldn't, so there was silence.
- Cowboy Angel (Part 1 of 2), by Samantha Cope
- Roxanne shuffled the corners of her cards together on her thigh, focused herself through the pain in her head, and called him. Come over here, to me. Now.
- The Future Hunters, by Christopher J. Clarke
- The ancient grey-walled fortress, built from the bones of the city, now housed the Library and the Academy. Kale entered under the bell tower and made her way across the hard red-earth enclosure, basket at her side, greeting several of her acolytes as they went to study.
- There Once Was a Fish, by Brandon Myers
- "Do not touch them," her mother warned her, "they're very fragile."
- The Secret Identity, by Richard Butner
- We were studying for midterms when I found out about the ghost.
- Sex with Ghosts, by Sarah Kanning
- Sex. All those complications, all that messiness. It's like watching a group of enthusiasts really get into a hobby that you don't share.
- The Emerald King, by J. Kenneth Sargeant
- Everything is green today and I'm brave again.
- Down the Well, by Alaya Dawn Johnson
- I saw her clearly, then: beautiful and terrible, ancient and radical, a goddess as much as any human can be. Killing a hexapedal carnivore with a hand-made spear, hiding for two days from a giant amphibious jellyfish desperate for food, surviving alone in the Well for five years before the computers on this side even registered the malfunction—those rumors had floated around the agency for decades. I'd found it impossible to believe that such a small, unassuming woman had done all they said she did.
- Called Out to Snow Crease Farm, by Constance Cooper
- Margit worked the latch-bar of the gate, which was socketed in the bony pit of what must be an adzehorn skull. With its broad-bladed prongs removed—for tools perhaps?—and the flesh long gone, the skull looked bald and vulnerable, as homely as a cattle skull.
- The Magician's House (Part 2 of 2), by Meghan McCarron
- "How much do you want to know about magic?" he said. He was nervous, watching me carefully like I might bolt.
- The Magician's House (Part 1 of 2), by Meghan McCarron
- The magician was a tall, spindly man with surprisingly thick hands and dark, graying hair. He folded into the chair like a marionette. To meet me, he wore black stretch pants, a silk pajama shirt, a burgundy cardigan, and decaying black flip-flops. If I had seen him on the street, I would have laughed, but in the oven-room he looked right at home, whereas I felt self-conscious in my khaki shorts and pre-faded T-shirt. I had even blow-dried my hair. For the first time, instead of feeling invisible in my prepster clothes, I felt exposed.
- Marsh Gods, by Ann Leckie
- "Gods with enough power to make unlikely things happen are free to make pronouncements about the future," the crane said. "If I happened to be wrong, I would have said something untrue, and that could be disastrous for me."
- Jimmy's Roadside Cafe, by Ramsey Shehadeh
- After the world ended, Jimmy set up a roadside cafe in the median of I-95, just north of the Fallston exit.
- My Greedy Plea For Help, by Ted Prodromou
- "You're doing meta-wishes," he said, "and meta-wishes are trouble. Ever since people started reading Hofstadter, all of a sudden I've got to worry about punks like you erasing causality entirely."
- In Lieu of a Thank You, by Gwynne Garfinkle
- Unlike you, Ernest was ill-versed in the ways of love, hearts and flowers and everything designed to trap a woman. I was trapped by Ernest, of course, but there was something honest about the arrangement.
- Running, by Benjamin Crowell
- "In this situation we give you a two-week emergency air stipend, but it's intentionally set so low that you can't really live on it. Frontier here, can't afford to support people who aren't contributing. You'll need to find some way to make up the gap."
- On the Eyeball Floor, by Tina Connolly
- People in Organs go home coated with grease and vinegar; people in Bones have lost fingers to the machines, and still nobody wants the job where a hundred half-live cyborgs line up in rows, twitching when your back is turned.
- No Love for the Middleman, by Tony Frazier
- Three things could cause an explosion like that: a bomb, a high-velocity impact like a plane crash or a meteorite, or a super. With experience, you can pretty much tell which is which, just by the sound. This sounded like a super.
- Tell Her, by Rachel Kincaid
- I remember what it said because it was weird, not because it was important. MORE IN HEAVEN & EARTH. I know it was August, because that was when Regina was moving out.
- The Refutation of Rosemont, by Barth Anderson
- Though Jeremiah Rosemont used his authority and status several years ago to liberate me from my tenure at Liggett & LaSalle, and the burden of the salary that went with it, my life's work is still a search for living, modern myths that make sense of the world—but more, that make the world.
- The Gadgey, by Alan Campbell
- Besides, E.T. was plastic-looking, not like the proper aliens he'd seen on Sky when he was round at Gordie's. Not like this thing. This thing had a whole bunch of tentacles, like wee willies, hanging from its chin.
- Five Good Things About Meghan Sheedy (Part 2 of 2), by A.M. Dellamonica
- The dust bomb had been concealed under the steps of the infirmary, just on the edge of the playground. Dispersal had spread it like a ball of seeds from a dandelion, and now the infirmary was missing a perfect quarter-sphere of its structure.
- Five Good Things About Meghan Sheedy (Part 1 of 2), by A.M. Dellamonica
- It was a way of dealing, Dinah knew, and she tried to ignore Aidan as he threw an imaginary grenade and then made a sprinkling motion over Jesse, a finger-waving shorthand that used to mean falling snow.
- Valiant on the Wing, by Chris Szego
- "I'm terribly sorry," she said, in a thin and lilting voice, "but it seems. . . ." Then she fell, a leaf dropping, onto the polished wooden floor.
- In Ashes, by Helen Keeble
- My brother had frozen in place, his whole body canted forward like a hunting cat, and his eyes fixed on the smouldering embers in the fireplace just visible behind our father's folded form. It was the first fire he'd seen for years.
- Ki Do (The Way of the Trees), by Sarah Thomas
- Our twin maples pass as much as fifteen minutes a day in chitchat, but they only speak to each other. I fear neither of them will ever be great artists unless one of them dies.
- Linkworlds (Part 2 of 2), by Will McIntosh
- "Tweel, I think I've spied an unrecorded world! Come take a look!"
- Linkworlds (Part 1 of 2), by Will McIntosh
- I didn't like the way all the marbles were piled on top of each other, because that's not how the worlds are. Worlds have lots of space between them, and they whiz around, and they bounce off the edges of the universe and whiz back toward the middle, or they bounce off other worlds, only worlds don't collide much any more because people steer them with their singing.
- Kip, Running, by Genevieve Williams
- Almost as one, the runners leap from the shelter roof. When the maglev leaves the station, they'll be on top of it, heading for the labyrinthine transfer station beneath the eye of the ancient, decaying Space Needle.
- All Talk, by Will Ludwigsen
- Colin rubs his temples with practiced drama. His eyelids drop and his breathing slows. He holds up his palm toward a young blonde tour guide.
- Dead, by Haddayr Copley-Woods
- She'd vaguely imagined that as soon as the gunshot rang out, the police, or at least security, would surround her. She hadn't made a plan beyond the shooting, so in the absence of one, she just kept walking home, where she waited for the police at the kitchen table, the gun in her lap.
- Where We Live, by Daniel J. Pinney
- He emerged first with a crate of unburned incense, a second time with a blasphemous but remarkable painted ceramic statuette of the Prophet, the third time with a round mirror, almost a meter across, perfect blown glass backed with silver inside a ring of something golden. My father flashed it to me in triumph, catching the sun, and then he tumbled backwards.
- We Love Deena, by Alice Sola Kim, illustration by Hellen Jo
- I don't remember which attempt it was, how many people I had been so far. But this time I was Pam, a girl who worked at the bookstore in Deena's neighborhood. Pam, whose hair was the same color as her skin, a monochromatic honey shade that would have been boring and dreary on other people but looked delicious on Pam. I was reasonably sure that if Deena didn't love me anymore, she would love Pam.
- Tokyo Rising, by Lynne Hawkinson
- The fifth time hurt him. That was when the giant secret government robots went berserk and bombed the schools during the national examinations. Kai lost his young daughter, and he had not yet found a way to replace her
- Looking for Friendship, Maybe More, by Corie Ralston
- Fellow Station residents: The D'ohrahd are here to subjugate the human race! High-Earth Station is only their first conquest!! Earth will be next!! Stop them now!!! Join us at the protest at the D'ohrahd Welcoming tonight!!!!
- How to Hide Your Heart, by Deborah Coates
- People call him. People he doesn't know. People who don't want anything to do with him or the things he hunts. They leave him messages—skeptical, frightened, defiant, crazy. They don't believe in what they've seen, can't imagine that it exists. They call anyway.
- The End of Tin, by Bill Kte'pi
- When Nick Chopper was a boy and not yet tin, they used to say every mirror was haunted. It's why the wights wouldn't look in them; it's why if you broke one there was hell to pay by seven sundowns, and if you didn't pay hell would come to collect.
- Still Living, by J. J. Irwin
- The murals are butterflies of time, pinned to the wall in a semblance of life. When Carlo died they became silent for a time, watchful, but in the month since they have gone back to each other, back to love and joy and the sunshine coming down on them in thick, buttery strokes. They're paintings; they don't have space for prolonged sorrow.
- R3 (Part 2 of 2), by Dennis Danvers
- Everybody's watching the same scenes: the fiery crash, the swelling tributaries of desperate people filling the huge parking lot, the surrounding neighborhoods and beyond, a sea of people as far as you can see, more and more all the time, looking to the sky, for what? For relief, for hope, for something impossible to believe in. For us.
- R3 (Part 1 of 2), by Dennis Danvers
- Donner's a mess—grazing on the wrong shrooms again. She's let a little spider make a web in her antlers and won't let me touch it. "At least it's real," she says. "It is what it is. What are we? Freaks. Genetic meatloaf. Reindeer who can sing and dance."
- The You Train, by N.K. Jemisin
- I don't like being in there when it's that empty, sometimes it's not safe, but you know, a cab would've cost thirty dollars and I don't get paid 'til next week. But finally someone comes in, this woman, and she looks at me like I'm crazy and tells me the B doesn't run at night.
- Airport Shoes, by Ursula Pflug
- Airports are about coming and going; they are never about being anywhere, except perhaps the bar. I paid out a lot more cash to bartenders and ticket agents than I ever did on rent that summer.
- Goat Eschatologies, by Margaret Ronald
- The sign over the refrigerator had been knocked off-center. Pre-Apocalypse Sale on Cheese, it read in Gert's angular handwriting—a joke to start with, less and less funny every day. By now Gert was almost too ashamed to take it down.
- Ghosts and Simulations, by Ruthanna Emrys
- "Don't call them dead in front of visitors, unless they say it first. Also, you keep an eye on the clients. They talk to each other. There's a monitor you can look at, I'll show you later. But they're stubborn. They don't change their minds much, so they get into loops sometimes."
- Bears, by Leah Bobet
- Ninety-eight percent of all fictional deaths are directly attributable to being eaten by bears.
- Teinds, by Sonya Taaffe
- In your basement studio, you drew blackout curtains against the afternoon and lit a branch of white candles in the sink, and under their rags of light I watched your face change from all the angles I could find. I could not make it change enough.
- One Paper Airplane Graffito Love Note, by Will McIntosh
- I've heard a hundred legends accounting for the origin of the graffito confessions that have swept Chester, and met a dozen people who take credit for pioneering it. But all of them are wrong. I know who started it, and why.
- Making Payments, by Jason Stoddard
- I imagined some young Comparative Value Analyst factoring that into her stellar rating for the Young Couples' Complex. But they didn't tell you they charged you anyway, even if you didn't drink the damn stuff. And they didn't tell you about the upsells.
- The Master, by Lavie Tidhar
- He was no longer fashionable, and had not, in fact, written or published a book for several years. The children, too, were now almost alien to him: they were a generation he had not anticipated.
- Catherine and the Satyr, by Theodora Goss
- "Jack Byron is a devil," Grandmother Gight had told her, "and your life with him will be a hell. Are you ready to live in hell, my girl, for a red coat and the finest legs in Bath?"
- Minghun: Unlikely Patron Saints, No. 5, by Amy Sisson
- "Beloved daughter, you died very young and did not experience the unity of marriage. Yang Xingwu and his wife have recently lost a son. They have asked for betrothal so your souls might meet."
- How the Little Rabbi Grew, by Eliot Fintushel
- Rabbi Shlomo Beser was born with a caul, a shiny membrane that covered his head. It came to his maiden Aunt Dora that the child must have mystical capabilities, and she was right. At the age of two, Rabbi Shlomo recited all of the holy names of God as listed in the Book of Brilliance. He also recited several names that had never been written down.
- In Stone, by Helen Keeble
- It had been the only way to talk, after her voice had stopped. He'd carved his words into the rock, and her replies had come welling back, the stone weeping thin script of pure metals.
- All Kinds of Reasons, by Katherine Maclaine
- Tony skimmed the cursor over the image's direction arrows and made the baby spin. "Twelve months after birth. EEC Syndrome and sirenomelia, mostly. A couple of personality disorders too, according to the prediction software, but I think that's my fault."
- Practicing My Sad Face, by Marc Schultz
- My recall is getting better as the doctors fine-tune my hippocampus. Now I can remember that Joyce is my girlfriend without looking her up in pMemory. I still don't recognize her face or voice, but those are separate problems.
- Little Ambushes, by Joanne Merriam
- He twisted his fingers together as though emphasizing his alienness, every one of them looking like a slender thumb, and she thought his hands looked like a big, black spider wriggling at the end of its thread.
- The Girl From Another World, by Leah Bobet
- She snuggles up next to me. "Let me destroy your dark lords," she says. "Let me restore your kingdom. Let me avenge your sorrows and then I can go home."
- Artifice and Intelligence, by Tim Pratt, illustration by Mack Sztaba
- "I think I do not believe in ghosts. But if someone had asked me, three months ago, if I believed in spontaneously bootstrapping artificial intelligence, I would have said no to that as well. The world is an uncertain place."
- Wake-Up Call, by Leslie Brown
- Mom slept until I was ten, and then she woke three times that year.
- Limits, by Donna Glee Williams
- When little Cam let go of her hand and ran off to explore the world without her, she watched after him and waited. And Cam ran back to her with sparkling eyes, crying out "As far as the big rock! I went that far, Len!"
- The Perfume Eater, by R. J. Astruc
- I'm sure Johnny intends to bring the chair back upstairs at some point, but as the body-builder girlfriend spent the night, he hasn't had a chance yet. He'd have a hard time getting it away from the deev, anyway. Deev don't like being told by mere mortals to stand up and move.
- The Captain Is the Last to Leave, by Caroline Lockwood Nelson
- "Jessie hated having her picture taken," the girl tells him. He would like to tell her what a young girl she is for all of this, too young for ripped-out throats and missing women. He would like to squeeze her hand, but he stays on his side of the booth and watches the waves and the gray sky and he waits for her to quiet.
- Brazos, by Jerome Stueart, illustration by Lydia C. Burris
- We yapped for fifteen minutes about dry West Texas weather, like we were neighbors, except he had a gleam in his eye. I knew I would lose something.
- The Leaving Sweater, by Ruth Nestvold
- Growing up in remote Rolynka, Alaska, in the middle of the last century, Victoria Askew never really learned the trick of how to leave.
- 29 Union Leaders Can't Be Wrong, by Genevieve Valentine
- He's not, though; no better and no worse. He looks like someone he would know. He touches his cheeks, runs his finger down the bridge of his new nose. When he cries Callahan stares at the cabinets until he's got hold of himself.
- Gift of Flight, by Nghi Vo
- My mother's wedding dress was the skin of a swan, still blindingly white after more than a decade nestled in tissue paper. She would never let me try it on, no matter how hard I begged, or how my young arms ached to stretch into strong beating wings.
- Private Detective Molly, by A. B. Goelman, illustration by Egypt Urnash
- That's when I see my new boss. Four feet of trouble. Brunette variety. Tear tracks cutting through the dirt on her face, wearing jeans that were already old when Molly Dolls were nothing more than molded plastic and fantasy homes.
- Ex Machina, by Margaret Ronald
- "'And One said, I will choose among you certain of your folk, that they may know the lightning's path, and the mysteries of light, and the knowledge to heal that which was made and not born. For learning fails, and inscriptions weather away, and records molder, but the blood carries on.'"
- Brownman (Part 2 of 2), by C. Scavella Burrell
- There was nothing to breathe in that room but steam and smells. Suddenly I didn't want to be there, didn't know why I did whatever anyone told me.
- Brownman (Part 1 of 2), by C. Scavella Burrell
- "I've seen them," said Uncle. He'd had plenty of chance, delivering flower arrangements and stone slabs and people. "Wanting to follow. They can't, don't worry. The dead stay by their homes. They won't bother you in yours."
- The Hide, by Liz Williams, illustration by Liz Clarke
- The birds were white as they flew over the marsh, across the reedbeds and the frosted meres, but as they drew level with the hide their shade changed, from white to black. I saw their crimson eyes, sparks in the cloudy dark, as they disappeared into the storm.
- Fella Down A Hole: Unlikely Patron Saints, No. 2, by Amy Sisson
- The words mock me, 'cause every kid grows up in Pedy knows you don't walk around looking at the sky instead of the ground. That's the surest way to get yourself killed, out here where shafts mark the landscape like so many tunnels down to hell.
- Ferryman's Reprieve, by Kate Bachus
- "I killed a woman was dear to my heart. I knew it was a mistake when I done it."
- How the Mermaid Lost Her Song, by Mark Teppo
- "Fascinating," he murmured, staring into the squid's blank gaze. "Protector or devourer? I wonder." The squid shifted color again, draining to opaque white as if to give nothing away to the detective's question.
- Painted, by Becca De La Rosa
- Loretta waged war against the museum curators. They never saw her coming. She was the speck of dust tightrope-walking through the air, the rain left standing in pools by the entrance on rainy days.
- What the Thunder Said, by Lavie Tidhar, illustration by Robert E. Hobbs, Jr.
- Certainty made his voice heavy, his Other whispering all the while in his ear, a warning Mr. Nine fought in vain to ignore. "It was no inyanga who did this to your friend. The boy's soul was taken by the storm."
- Harvest, by Joanne Merriam
- Soldiers surround the area and shout at the humans to please step out of the line of fire. A tank raises its turret and somebody is shouting something about surrendering and then the aliens just aren't there anymore.
- The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun (Part 2 of 2), by Paula R. Stiles
- "We're talking about respectable people, here, not honest or kind or honorable ones. They'll do whatever it takes to keep looking respectable."
- The Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun (Part 1 of 2), by Paula R. Stiles
- "I found her in a disposal on Zero Level. I don't know if she's got kin or not, but if she does, I figure they'll be pretty worried about her. And if not, she'll need looking after."
- Raindogs and Dustpuppets, by Chris Gauthier, illustration by Marge Simon
- They had neither surface nor substance—they were little more than dog-shaped holes in the rain—but they behaved just like dogs.
- Horatius and Clodia, by Charlie Anders
- "If you're a foreign currency, you can't come in," I said. "I'm not set up to do forex yet."
- Foam on the Water, by Cat Rambo
- I found my reaction to her unsettling. I've worked hard at eliminating reactions to women. Too much potential trouble. Too much potential scandal. Here in Thailand it wouldn't matter, perhaps. Back home it would.
- Dead. Nude. Girls., by Lori Selke
- Her nipples are blue, too. He wants to touch them, take them in his mouth, to see if they, too, are cold. To see if he can warm them. But he isn't allowed to move his hands.
- Tradition, by Joey Comeau
- There are some words that connect with that secret part of you, and it feels as though you're opening up in slow motion like a flower on TV when you say them all by yourself. Last night, after I heard my mother say "atheist", I felt a bit of that strangeness. But standing in front of my mirror, I felt nothing.
- Three Days and Nights in Lord Darkdrake's Hall, by Leah Bobet
- "No," he said softly. "I know who you are. The lieutenant's girl. The only woman Stoneburn's ever allowed in his Company. They'll come. And they'll die."
- Somewhere in Central Queensland, by Grace Dugan
- They were the ones sheltering the dissidents who fled from the cities, and accepting the refugees who still continued to come from the north, when the government would have left them to starve.
- Godtouched, by Sara Genge
- She knows so many things she shouldn't. It's the hum, the godtouch that has told her all of this. Sometimes she knows if someone is alive or dead, sometimes she can tell if the clans will raid their dirty village. Most of the time she doesn't understand what she hears.
- Before Paphos, by Loretta Casteen
- It starts again. The baby begins to cough and choke.
- Locked Doors, by Stephanie Burgis
- You can never let anyone suspect, his mother told him. That was the first rule she taught him, and the last, before she left him here alone with It.
- Heroic Measures, by Matthew Johnson
- Pale as he was, it was hard to believe he would never rise from this bed. Even in the darkest times, she had never really feared for him; he had always been strong, so strong.
- Love Among the Talus, by Elizabeth Bear
- Nilufer raised her eyes to his. It was not what women did to men, but she was a princess, and he was only a bandit. "I want to be a Witch," she said. "A Witch and not a Queen. I wish to be not loved, but wise. Tell your bandit lord, if he can give me that, I might accept his gift."
- Isolde, Shea, and the Donkey Brea, by Ursula Pflug, illustration by Timothy Lantz
- If I went on without Shea, the donkey and I would have more to eat. But I didn't think I could. If I told Shea what I'd done maybe she wouldn't judge me. Maybe she'd stay instead.
- Magnificent Pigs, by Cat Rambo
- When I first took her to the hospital, they diagnosed it as Crohn's disease. Six months later, after I'd learned the vocabulary of aminosalicylates and corticosteroids and immunomodulators, they switched to a simpler word: cancer.
- Smoke & Mirrors, by Amanda Downum
- Brother Ezra, Madame Aurora, Luna and Sol the acrobats—familiar names, and a few she didn't know. She wondered if Jack still had the parrots and that cantankerous monkey. The show was here until the end of the month . . .
- Body, Remember, by E. Catherine Tobler
- I will not walk into the ocean today. It is more plea than pledge; I silently repeat the words and pray they become truth.
- Pockmarked Cement, by Kaolin Fire, illustration by Thomas Dodd
- Dharma Shankar, Ph.D., is in his field, juggling ears of corn while the locusts approach.
- Dead Man's Holiday, by Nicholas Seeley
- Coming back from the dead is like black nail polish or rubber bracelets: it's not so cool when everyone's doing it.
- High Windows, by Lavie Tidhar
- The collar closed around my neck as the Ibn Al-Farid began its gentle acceleration towards the Jupiter system.
- Winnowing the Herd, by Carrie Vaughn
- I hoped my sigh wasn't too audible. For lack of anything that might have bled before being cooked, the only things that smelled edible were my co-workers.
- Spinning Out (Part 2 of 2), by Jamie Barras, illustration by Carole Hall
- In ages past, on other earths, Pateelhogol's people, the Telorim, had controlled a great empire built on fabulous devices like the weather wheels. But they had warred amongst themselves. Their empire had fallen.
- Spinning Out (Part 1 of 2), by Jamie Barras, illustration by Carole Hall
- As night fell, Cap'n Macintyre gathered the crew on the quarterdeck for a council of war. "Well, lads," he said, "what's it to be: keep running or turn and fight?"
- Mayfly, by Heather Lindsley
- I'm talking about flexing my infant fingers with the memory of arthritis in my grandmother's hands. I'm talking about reading before teething. I'm talking about taking my first clumsy steps toward an electric bill I already know is due next Thursday.
- Sounding, by Elizabeth Bear
- Pen keeps her own counsel about who the worthy one is. She works nights at Nantucket Cottage Hospital. That gives them another little boost. Just enough, maybe, to stay afloat. So far.
- Fairest, by Brian Attebery
- It was the cloth itself that darkened, from milk white to a shade like the foam below the millpond. Her Highness straightened up and brushed her hair back, and in the mirror Abel saw the brightness that had passed from the cloth, now lighting and lightening her face.
- The House Beyond Your Sky, by Benjamin Rosenbaum, illustration by Vladimir Vitkovsky
- Among the ontotropes, transverse to the space we know, Matthias is making something new.
- The Town on Blighted Sea (Part 2 of 2), by A. M. Dellamonica
- "They tossed away a million of their fry." Bitterness clawed her lungs; it was always a mistake, discussing this with kids. The words coughed out in spurts, like blood.
- The Town on Blighted Sea (Part 1 of 2), by A. M. Dellamonica
- She took in everything at once. The blood, the corpses—one human and female, one squid and male—the smell of puke and, most important, the lack of an immediate threat.
- Flotsam, by Amanda Downum
- Rebecca smiles back, but her stomach's sour again. Hundreds of red-haired girls in Ireland, no doubt, hundreds of children who think they see faeries. She drags deep on the cigarette, trying to settle her stomach. No reason to think it's her girl, her faerie.
- Draco Campestris, by Sarah Monette, illustration by Mack Sztaba
- They were once a prized exhibit, but after the great taxonomic scandal under the previous Director, they became an embarrassment rather than a glory, banished to a cavernous hall in the sublevels of the Museum.
- The Women of Our Occupation, by Kameron Hurley
- They were from a far shore none of us had ever seen or heard of, and every night my father cursed them as he turned on the radio. He kept it set to the resistance channel. No one wanted the women here.
- Minty Bags a Squidboy, by Michael Hulme
- On quiet nights, they say, you can hear the wood creak and groan under the weight of all the many, many squid people. The squid people sing their songs to the sea, songs in slow, mournful, painful bellows. The sea doesn't want them, and the city doesn't want them either.
- Silent Blade, by Leah Cypess
- Danis woke up in the middle of the night and lay with her heart pounding, trying to convince herself she had only imagined the sound that had woken her. She had waited for that sound for five years, prepared for it day after day, dreamed of it night after night.
- The Welsh Squadron (Part 2 of 2), by Margaret Ronald, illustration by Ian Simmons
- "Tournaments. Tournaments and idiots searching for Christ relics and fighting on horseback. No blood. Nothing about watching your own men die. Relics don't change that. Nothing changes that."
- The Welsh Squadron (Part 1 of 2), by Margaret Ronald, illustration by Ian Simmons
- "Hitler's sent them to London. We should expect to scramble in a half-hour at most." He paused, then added, "There's a lot of them."
- Waiting on Alexandre Dumas, by William Davis
- At the hostess stand, Jan was smiling and flapping her hand like a spastic penguin. Before her was a huge black-and-white black man. I mean, he was black, racially, but he seemed to be colorless, like an old black-and-white movie.
- My Termen, by Eliot Fintushel
- Has not one experienced this with radio whine when one moves about the room, and the static shall sing? So my Termen already had observed in 1919 at Yoffee Institute, when he is inventing said instrument. This is one's theremin, what my Termen called ethervox or termenvox, voice of Termen.
- Dogtown, by Amanda Downum
- She looked stretched tight too—something had her nervous, and it wasn't the killer across the table. Dark eyes flickered toward the window, and the night beyond.
- Fourteen Experiments in Postal Delivery, by John Schoffstall, illustration by Michael Ryan
- I realize that these are traditional gestures of male romantic affection, and express a desire for forgiveness. They are not nearly enough. You are trying to melt the glacier of my anger with the Bic lighter of your contrition.
- Textual Variants, by Rosamund Hodge
- She couldn't even tell him the truth about why she felt weak. Because then she would have to tell him who the Warders really were, and who she was, and why she had spent the last three years fleeing across worlds and hunting for shards of the Crystal.
- Fortune's Food, by Kit St. Germain
- "It's not just cards, Father. She reads your coffee grounds, your food. She sees things in the linguini. Right on your plate. She told me my gold chain was between the mattress and the headboard. In my linguini! Is that right?"
- Cinderella Suicide, by Samantha Henderson
- Cinderella Suicide had the Whoremaster backed against the greasy-smooth wall of the Tarot, blade beneath his chins. She had that grinning-skull look that meant she didn't give a damn anymore.
- We Are Never Where We Are, by Gavin J. Grant
- In '36 in Spain, on the losing side, we realized we couldn't give more than we had. We'd almost given everything: you were in a field hospital with a bullet in your thigh and we were arguing over how deeply we should be involved. We'd already lived so long and I thought we should be more than just footpads serving time.
- The Water-Poet and the Four Seasons, by David J. Schwartz, illustration by Ann-Cathrine Loo
- Spring stands at the Water-Poet's door in a top hat and tails. He asks the Water-Poet to write him a fog sestina, a dozen sudden downpours, and forty-three cool showers for tomorrow.
- Love Goes Begging (Part 2 of 2), by Bennet H. Marks
- Following the usual friendly preliminaries, I began to render service unto his urgently upright staff. Let me not suggest that this is an onerous task.
- Love Goes Begging (Part 1 of 2), by Bennet H. Marks
- "Cupid! What a delightful surprise!" His wings had shrunk to quantum fluctuations, and his teeth were yellowed and cracked, like Scrabble tiles in some ancient runic language—Lemurian, or Old Norse.
- Every Angel Is Terrifying, by Nia Stephens
- Sometime before he came to New York Reece flew through a windshield and landed on a knife of glass. We had all seen the scar during Reece's brief turn as a model in Life Drawing, compared it to the abdominal scars of Warhol and Basquiat. There were two other long, wide scars on either side of his spine. We almost envied him; as scars go, his were admirably aesthetic, and we believed that suffering was good for a young artist.
- The Los Angeles Women's Auxiliary Superhero League, by Elana Frink, illustration by Dylan Meconis
- But no one sees Camille. She can't explain it, and she doesn't know why she's so sure that they don't see her, but there it is. She's invisible.
- Wayfaring Girls, by E. L. Chen
- Phil rolled his eyes. "I know exactly where we're going. East of the sun and west of the moon, right?"
- The Flying Woman, by Meghan McCarron
- The flying woman didn't fly above the clouds. "It's cold up there," she'd say, "and there's not enough air." She skimmed the roofs and treetops. Her legs dangled behind her, and she wore her wheelchair strapped to her back.
- Towers, by Leah Bobet
- She had felt strong enough to ramble the hills herself, to take up his sword, to defend and protect and be a guardian by his side. What had waiting been to that?
- The Purple Hippopotamus Wading Pool, by Joanne Merriam
- Sherrie looked at him critically: dark hair, thin, tall, wedding band, nice suit. It was three o'clock in the afternoon on a Wednesday, and this was his fourth beer. Angela was sitting at his table, looking affordable.
- Historians and Degenerates, by Joey Comeau
- Who lives off the grid, anyway? Revolutionaries and criminals and historians.
- Ignis Fatuus, by Eliani Torres
- Catherine closed her eyes and stretched, throwing her head back and crossing her wrists high above her head. She reminded him again of a barely tamed feline, a leashed snow tiger, the old breeds of grimalkin.
- The Desires of Houses, by Haddayr Copley-Woods
- The cord over the washing machine, the braided one, is waiting joyously for the teeth.
- Wrack, by Amanda Downum, illustration by Matt Hughes
- It took a second to recognize the low sound she made as laughter. "I need the sea." Her voice was rough, sibilant; the sound made Jess shiver.
- Portrait of Ari, by Mary Robinette Kowal
- Ari looked up from the mat she was cutting. "So the secret to getting you to dance is sleep deprivation?"
- Estrangement, by Kit St. Germain
- Her eyes widened in comprehension. "Ohhh. Gotcha. That would be Hamish or Vera. The parentals. They are always into things. They don't always know what they're into. What's the song do? Does it make sure that someone guards their daughter in case ravening Americans get her?"
- The Machine, by Joey Comeau
- A scientist (me) and a priest (David) walk into a bar, ten years before either of us are born, looking for a miracle.
- The Girl with the Heart of Stone, by Leah Bobet
- "I am going to seek the Beast in the wilderness," she told him. "I am going to win my own heart back, by force, by wit, or by sacrifice."
- Water, Fire, and Faith, by S. Evans
- It's dark as ashes where she swims, her way lit only by the bioluminescent patches on her tail, fingers, and toes.
- The Taste of Chicory at High Tide, by Lisa Mantchev
- When a blues-singin' hoodoo-slingin' mistress calls, a man's got to reply.
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Goat, by Jenn Reese
- It came as a surprise to no one except Yuhan himself that, in the Year of the Goat, he fell in love with one.
- Bone Women, by Eliot Fintushel
- So fucking vulnerable and frank she was, the bitch, the innocent, it aroused in me, like a piano string, willy-nilly, humming back to the tuning fork its A-440, an answering emotion. Which I duly quashed. Don't they know, goddammit, that they're supposed to suck it up and amble on? It's a man's world, haven't they heard? I don't like feeling.
- Intelligent Design, by Ellen Klages, illustration by Turner Davis
- Nanadeus rolled out a sheet of clay while she waited for God to come in out of the void. Now that there was fire, there was much to be done. Systems and cycles and chains of being to set in place. And the oceans, which had turned out to be a little tricky.
- Tall Jorinda, by Marly Youmans
- "My beauty," he said, "you've got hair enough to stuff a mattress, you've got eyes like saucers, eyelashes like wheel spokes, brows like cane thickets. If you tripped, you'd cause earthquakes in California, tidal waves in Japan. Catamounts and grizzlies, Indian tigers and giant pandas should be your pets."
- Bearing Witness (Part 2 of 2), by Marguerite Reed
- "You show me a cosmonaut who doesn't have nightmares, you're showing me someone with no imagination. We all have 'em, we just don't talk about it."
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Horse, by Jenn Reese
- The little mare shook her head like a child shaking off sleep, and pranced on his palm with her painted hooves.
- Bearing Witness (Part 1 of 2), by Marguerite Reed
- The biohazard bag floated by her knee. She pushed the pipettes in and zipped it shut. "Twenty more to go, and I don't have to run an experiment to tell you they'll turn out nonviable."
- Adventures in Dog-Walking in Downtown Philadelphia, by John Schoffstall, illustration by Ingrid Sundberg
- "Mom, I think there's a DVD player in your fish tank."
- The Moon Is Always Full, by Charles Coleman Finlay
- "You remember what Ralph used to say?" Martin asked. "We'd go outside and look at the moon, when it was just a half moon, and I'd ask him 'Is that moon half full or half empty?'"
- The Featherless Chicken, by Patrick Scott Vickers
- It's hard enough to pluck a chicken when the feathers are on the outside, but the other way around is simply impossible. Harriet's chicken is a Total Failure.
- Rapunzel Dreams of Knives, by Beth Adele Long
- "Do you want to go? His country is truly beautiful. Though it's awfully cold and the men are said to be unusually brutish."
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Snake, by Jenn Reese
- It continued like this for almost two months. Jin-Hua opened the pouch to feed the snake, and it hissed a vile curse involving her, her loved ones, and immense torture and discomfort.
- They Fight Crime!, by Leah Bobet
- Jack and Terri spend their nights off in the back of a '75 Caddy, fighting crime.
- Pip and the Fairies, by Theodora Goss, illustration by Susan Moore
- This is the sort of thing people like: the implication that, despite their minivans and microwaves, if they found the door in the wall, they too could enter fairyland.
- Severance Pay, by M. K. Hobson
- I didn't apply for the job. You don't see "Angel of Death" in the want ads.
- Exception (Part 2 of 2), by Jason Stoddard
- But Arcadia couldn't be destroyed. It ran on its own set of self-replicating nanoscale processors that blew on the wind until they found a place with sun and silicon and set about reproducing.
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Dragon, by Jenn Reese
- In the Year of the Dragon, Kwong found a glittering scale by the well and brought it home to his wife, for it reminded him of the sea.
- Exception (Part 1 of 2), by Jason Stoddard
- Something had reached through her memories, sending tendrils of thought from deep in her past to her present. As if another mind had tried to force itself into hers.
- Crow's Changeling, by Sarah Prineas
- "I've come for the child," he said.
- Family Tradition, by Frank Byrns
- An amateur, like I said, but still ... he's keeping up with me.
- The Strange Desserts of Professor Natalie Doom, by Kat Beyer, illustration by Kat Beyer
- When I was little, I had the run of the lab. Sometimes I got into trouble.
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Rabbit, by Jenn Reese
- In the Year of the Rabbit, Peisun decided to paint her heart's desire on a stack of thin, tea-stained rice paper.
- Red Sky, by Celia Marsh
- She knew all the risks involved. She just thought that it would be worth giving up everything for even one trip. To be up there, looking up, falling down, nothing but distance all around.
- The Fall of Changes, by Becca De La Rosa
- My name is Lantern and I sell days.
- Cloud Dragon Skies, by N. K. Jemisin, illustration by Frank Wu
- Even so, we kept our guard up. Who knew what new diseases they might have developed, up in the sky and surrounded by strangeness? Infected blankets. Germs as spears and arrows. Accept no gifts from them, the griots had warned, but of course people are greedy.
- Niels Bohr and the Sleeping Dane (Part 2 of 2), by Jonathon Sullivan
- My gaze kept wandering past the gorgeous mass of the castle, across the gray waters of the Sound, to the swelling of land on the other side. Sweden. Neutral Sweden.
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Tiger, by Jenn Reese
- When she was five, Suyee wished for a sister, and in the Year of the Tiger, her wish was granted. The baby was born healthy save for one thing: it wouldn't open its eyes.
- Niels Bohr and the Sleeping Dane (Part 1 of 2), by Jonathon Sullivan
- The man who sat across from us was also a Jew, but he would not go to the camps with us.
- Torn, by Daniel Kaysen
- "Well, how happy could I be? My wife died. I was a widower. I'm not even thirty. Excuse me for not dancing with joy. And excuse me for not being ecstatic at a hint of the afterlife. Life should be like a computer file. At the end, it gets deleted."
- The Historian, by Joey Comeau, illustration by Becky Cloonan
- The press last night had asked about the newest story, "The Secret Identity of The Cook". She'd explained that it was going to be published in a weekly news magazine, by the end of the week at the latest. The magazine would have first publication rights to all her histories, the stories behind the villains. Before this, she had given the stories out to everyone in the press, photocopied at her own expense. Now she was getting paid for her work.
- Pursued by a Bear, by Hannah Wolf Bowen
- He was there, later, when they took the last bear from the wild. He followed her until she fell, tranquilizer dart bright against her shaggy coat.
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Ox, by Jenn Reese
- In the Year of the Ox, Ting-An decided to plow his fields and sow them with animals instead of plants.
- Happily Ever Awhile, by Ruth Nestvold
- It wasn't that she hadn't forgiven him; she could hardly do otherwise, as much as she loved him, and it wasn't in her nature to be vengeful. She had forgiven her stepsisters, after all, when they stood there in front of her with bloody feet, their toes cut off to steal her prince from her.
- The Disappearance of James H___, by Hal Duncan
- In his white breeches and shirt open to the waist but still tucked in, he looks like some prince kidnapped by pirates to serve as cabin boy.
- A Field Guide to Ugly Places, by Patrick Samphire, illustration by Liz Clarke
- Scarcely twenty feet in front of him, a dozen kingfishers skimmed low over the chemical-streaked water in the culvert. He'd never seen even one kingfisher before; now there were a full dozen. If his heart hadn't been broken, Jamie reckoned he might have been amazed.
- She Called Me Baby, by Vylar Kaftan
- "The exact wording was 'I wish for my daughter to be cloned from my DNA, so that I may give her a secure future in every cell of her body.' Your mother was giving you a gift—badly, perhaps, but she meant well. Now, will you go see her as she's dying?"
- Planet of the Amazon Women (Part 2 of 2), by David Moles
- In Myrine all they have is a cenotaph. Nobody knows what happened to the bodies. In Themiscyra they do not even have that; when they talk about men it's like they're talking about a metaphor, or a myth.
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Rat, by Jenn Reese
- In the Year of the Rat, the girl-child Chyou became high priestess of rodents. They made her a cloak from the fur of white mice and wove beaded rat tails into her long black hair.
- Planet of the Amazon Women (Part 1 of 2), by David Moles
- But when it came it came suddenly, sweeping across Hippolyta in less than a year, in its progress less like a disease than like a curse. It defied drugs and vaccines and quarantines, brushing past exploration-grade immune enhancements as if they were so many scented medieval nosegays.
- Emlas, by Lisa Carreiro
- If I'd had so much as a few tarnished coins in my pocket, I might very well have swept my way to the next county. I plotted and planned, but could see no life other than that which I had. So I swept. Every morning, until Emlas became immortal.
- Liberty Pipe, by Sarah Prineas, illustration by David Bezzina
- It's when Maury got crushed by a hydraulic piston in a molding machine that I met the people from the other place. I don't know what they were. Perfect people, like kings and queens from a storybook. Or fucking fairies.
- Archipelago, by Anil Menon
- The idea was to get a group of people to hook up their sensoriums in a certain way and then use a data feed—the "stim"—to trigger a synchronization of minds; a firefly swarm, as it were, of minds all blinking, signalling, and responding in unison.
- Close To You, by Meghan McCarron
- When I first got here, the words came difficultly. People would ask questions. Questions! They'd ask me what I wanted. I'm telling you what I want. The woman in my thoughts. Can't you see her?
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Pig, by Jenn Reese
- When Bunsang finally recovered, he was thinner than ever, only now he had a pig's keen nose and could smell the eggs cooking in the neighbor's house, even though the neighbors were a day's walk away.
- Survivors, by Elizabeth H. Hopkinson
- When the Inspector talked to me, I told him it was all a mistake. If we went back and asked, the King might change his mind.
- The Diogenes Robot, by Mark Rich, illustration by Avijit Das
- I had fallen into a controlling mindset, the numbers said. Manipulative. Maybe I even lied, when I spoke to her. Maybe? The Truth Machine said I had, and that was that.
- On our street..., by Donald Barthelme
- On our street, fourteen garbage cans are now missing.
- Magic in a Certain Slant of Light, by Deborah Coates
- "Zeppelins," he says, crossing to her and putting his arms around her waist from behind as she turns back to the stove, "are a collective figment of the imagination."
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Dog, by Jenn Reese
- Because it was the Year of the Dog, and because Hsien had grown tired of his ancient body, he went down to Meat Swap on Sunday and bought himself the body of a forty-pound mutt.
- The Jenna Set, by Daniel Kaysen
- ...and then if they say no you flip to page two and you ask them if it's the dinner or the oral sex that they have the problem with.
- La Malcontenta, by Liz Williams, illustration by Emily Tolson
- In the centre of Winterstrike, Mars' first city, in the middle of the meteorite crater that gave the city its name, stands the fortress: a mass of vitrified stone as white as a bone and as red as a still-beating heart.
- Moons Like Great White Whales, by Charles Coleman Finlay
- "You love the way we're alone together, with whole worlds to ourselves. Whenever you start thinking about colonists following after us, changing the landscapes we've shared, you always get depressed."
- Shard of Glass (Part 2 of 2), by Alaya Dawn Johnson
- "There's nothing more powerful than a memory."
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Rooster, by Jenn Reese
- In the Year of the Rooster, Chen dreamed of a giant rooster with a beak as hard as stone and eyes the size of the moon at night. His nightmare bird pecked its way across the countryside destroying houses, uprooting trees, and killing the animals too slow to run from its massive clawed feet.
- Shard of Glass (Part 1 of 2), by Alaya Dawn Johnson
- I guess that I couldn't imagine my father actually hurting us. The danger was something only my mother understood—she knew what she had taken, and how much they would risk to take it back.
- A Coffee Cup/Alien Invasion Story, by Douglas Lain, illustration by Jeff Foster
- The UFOs in the sky over Portland look like hubcaps. Silver or chrome-plated saucers, all of them roughly the same size and all of them spinning, hang miraculously in midair, but most people either don't see them or pretend that they don't see.
- Homestay, by Tim Jones
- Nicola and I admitted that yes, we too had wings, but that we preferred to open them only when needed for flight. "Or in private," added Nicola. Her gaze swept the room as she said it, and I saw male gazes linger in return.
- Huntswoman, by Merrie Haskell
- "No matter what anyone else tells you," the queen said, capturing the huntswoman's eyes with her own, "remember that you will be best rewarded by me. Just bring me the princess's heart, and her hands."
- Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Monkey, by Jenn Reese
- When lightning struck Widow Mingmei's tree, a dozen monkeys fell out of its branches. As it was newly the Year of the Monkey, the Widow took this as a sign of great fortune.
- Inside the Tower, by Stephanie Burgis
- I've hated my mother for half my life, but watching her die is killing me.
- Two Dreams on Trains, by Elizabeth Bear
- A city like drowned New Orleans, you don't just walk away from. A city like drowned New Orleans, you fly away from. If you can. And if you can't . . . you make something that can.
- The Floating Otherworld, by Tom Doyle
- The other employees have left for the weekend O-Bon holiday. Japanese days of the dead. Late summer is the scary joyful season. Haunted houses, dancing, and fireworks. Fear helps people chill. It isn't helping you, maybe because you're a foreigner. Gaijin.
- 2:30, by Leslie What
- "Here's the deal," the dentist told me, holding up the X-ray for me to examine. "You've got a colony of micro-people living in number thirty-one."
- The New Year's Party, or, Dancing on Sleipner's Bones, by David J. Schwartz
- She's stunning in a sleeveless black dress that's cut high and low and hugs her like a bodysuit. Her accessories are diamond stud earrings, matching tennis bracelet, and a pearl-handled Colt .45.
- Into Something Rich and Strange, by Barth Anderson
- As soon as I realized that the rapacious, rot-sucking revenant would not stop till I was dead, I changed my phone number. I changed the locks on my windows, my doors, I let my beard grow out, and I changed—
- You Can Walk on the Moon if the Mood's Right, by Bill Kte'pi
- "I lost my finger, few hours ago. I'm trying to find it."
- Time's Swell, by Victoria Somogyi and Kathleen Chamberlain
- Sometimes she tells me that she met me here, six months ago, that she knows nothing about my past. And then there are the days when she tells me that we've traveled through time, that we have come from the future and are trapped here. She tells me that she was a temporal scientist, that I was her project. Those are the bad days.
- Echo, Sonar, by Kate Bachus, illustrations by Mats Holmgren
- Lost, Vaughn had thought to himself, as the commander's voice floated past him. He repeated it, thought of the tower of waves in squall and his father's big wool sweaters in the same somber gray. My father is lost at sea.
- Some Girlfriends Can, by Stephanie Burgis
- I've read the women's magazine articles. I've listened to Mom's and Amy's advice. Acting snarky to your boyfriend's ex can only make you look bad. Especially when she's a three-thousand-year-old goddess who can turn you into a slug if she gets mad.
- The Great Old Pumpkin, by John Aegard
- I promised my family I would turn away from my studies, all the while resolving to continue in secret. I committed everything I knew to memory, burned all my papers, and embroidered my most unfathomable and precious secrets in near-invisible thread on my security blanket, which as you can see, I carry still.
- Prisoners of Uqbaristan, by Chris Nakashima-Brown
- Captain Womack recruited me as Hollywood's liaison to the military-entertainment complex, saying they needed more Tinseltown savvy over at Task Force Loki: the only covert operations team with its own reality show. I mean, in addition to the news, which we help program without even asking for credit.
- The Trail of My Father's Blood, by Christopher Barzak
- My old man had been dead and gone for eight years now, but what killed him had walked these woods for at least a hundred.
- Walking Hibernation, by Joanne Merriam
- Jennifer pulled out her sword. She hadn't used it in years, but nobody else seemed capable of defending them. "Anybody got a gun?" she asked, and several of the men went for their sidearms. "Silver bullets?" A general shaking of heads. Jennifer sighed and walked toward the back door, which was beginning to sag inwards.
- Spillage, by Nancy Kress
- I am a coachman, he thought with relief, and searched for something else in the darkness, something more. There was nothing. He was a coachman, and that was all.
- Revision (Part 2 of 2), by Jason Stoddard
- "There's no UNDO button. There's no 'just kidding' switch. Edits are permanent. Your mind is forever changed."
- Revision (Part 1 of 2), by Jason Stoddard
- When you're very old, the tree of the mind does require pruning. But altering the imbalance of personality should not be part of what an Editor does.
- The Green Glass Sea, by Ellen Klages, illustration by Greg McBrady
- In the summer of 1945, Dr. Gordon was gone for the first two weeks in July. Dewey Kerrigan noticed that a lot of the usual faces were missing from the dining hall at the Los Alamos lodge, and everyone seemed tense, even more tense than usual.
- The Pale, by Liz Williams
- She came out of the poisoned sea, my mother, out of darkness and winter.
- Hold Tight, by Gavin J. Grant
- —When the world was young, one of them said, we played with you. We were friends, great friends. I was young, you were young, maybe you don't remember me? We played Red Rover, Leviathan chasing Giant Squid, high tig, rainbows and sunbeams, hide and seek, tops and bottoms, forts and castles. Those were good days. Do you remember yet?
- Iron Ankles, by David J. Schwartz
- Naming the ankle-grabbers made them real, which was frightening. But it also made them knowable, and Wilma learned early in life that ignorance and fear were close relations.
- Crossing Borders, by Tom Doyle
- Her most controversial feature was her face: the face of a precocious, prurient child, the kind of face that made the most innocent of lollipops look naughty. All the genders with a taste for human females found her repellent and irresistible at the same time.
- Displaced Persons, by Leah Bobet, illustration by Alex McVey
- One day you're on top of the world; the next, in the gutters of the Emerald City.
- Magic Carpets, by Leslie What
- The wind blew around me, above me, over my ears, and down my neck, and in and out of the spaces between my toes. I felt warmth under my feet and knew it was truly the very breath of the devil. Leaves hovered in the sky like hummingbirds. I heard an echo in the canyon and imagined that the canyon was Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers' new stadium.
- Snow and Salt, by Genevieve Cogman
- She came up out of the ground even more beautiful than when she had gone down into it. Her face was as white as snow, and her hair as black as ink, and her lips as red as the blood on her gravestone.
- The Algorithms for Love, by Ken Liu
- Every interview we did followed the same pattern. The moment when Clever Laura™ first turned to the interviewer and answered a question there was always some awkwardness and unease; seeing an inanimate object display intelligent behavior had that effect on people. Then I would explain how Laura worked and everyone would be delighted.
- Tracks, by Stacey Gruver, illustration by Nicholas Lawrus
- Something's not right in that train yard.
- Straw, by Sarah Monette
- "Everyone I loved was dead, kid. Everyone. And I probably killed them, although I don't remember it."
- Women Are Ugly, by Eliot Fintushel
- I took Clarissa to a burger place. I could have taken her to the rim of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way and watched the universe flash by, Big Bang to Heat Death, but she wanted a burger and fries.
- Once Upon a Time at the Learning Annex, by Michael Canfield
- He came from nowhere, footing across sand and brush, to confront a parking lot and an Edge City. He made his way through rows and rows of parked cars, an unlit stub of cheroot between scarred lips. When he removed his hat to wipe the sweat, his heavy brow still cast shadow over dark eyes.
- Borne Away, by Haddayr Copley-Woods, illustration by Steven Riggs
- Our home was very much like we had been once: three-in-one. If you walked out of the north door, you were in Iona, Scotland. If you walked out of the south door, you were in Kildare, Ireland. And if you walked out of the east door, you were on the Isle of Women.
- Broken, by Rosamund Hodge
- Her voice wavered. "I mean, I can't even keep a B average, and they want me to save the world. I'd be an absolute loser of a hero."
- Love of the Sea, by Dawn M. Paris
- "Don't you remember what it was like, before you started staying ashore? When the wind made the sails crack, and the bow sent up spray to sparkle in the moonlight? The salt on your lips and the sea in your nose?"
- Unfinished (Part 2 of 2), by Jason Stoddard
- "I would like to have the focus to paint again. I would like to be able to remember what I did the day before, without confusing it with a day from forty years past. Or a hundred years past."
- Unfinished (Part 1 of 2), by Jason Stoddard
- "Most cases are only eighty to a hundred years old," I said. "In their first light mindclutter. I don't know why Clariti sent me to Edit you. I would think they would have sent someone more experienced."
- Tetrarchs, by Alan DeNiro, illustration by Carole Carmen
- Buying oranges, one at a time, was one of my favorite things. Along with jazz, which was one good chord after another.
- Alone in the House of Mims, by Barth Anderson
- "Your celebrity impressions are hilarious," said Wyhoff, smiling. "I love your Dick Cheney as Lon Chaney as Wolfman eating the senator. Nicely layered. Each imitation distinct."
- Burn Here With Me, by Amy Hembree
- The day that Caleb signed the record contract, the first thing his brother told him was not to fly in planes. Rock stars die in plane crashes, he said.
- Magic Makeup, by Ray Vukcevich
- Linda said, let's go as each other, and I said, how the heck do you expect us to pull that off? "Makeup," she said. "Magic makeup."
- Why I Am Not Gorilla Girl, by Daniel Starr, illustration by David Deen
- So I don't know why Jane's so mad because even if I am a Media Star it doesn't mean anything because I didn't get the guy.
- The Grammarian's Five Daughters, by Eleanor Arnason
- The mother thought for a while, then produced a bag. "In here are nouns, which I consider the solid core and treasure of language. I give them to you because you're the oldest. Take them and do what you can with them."
- Rapture (Part 2 of 2), by Sally Gwylan
- I believe but for the events of this week, Josef would have been in a cell alongside Kropotsky & the others. As things stand it's almost certain he will instead bear witness against his comrades.
- Rapture (Part 1 of 2), by Sally Gwylan
- A small man whose gestures & intonation burned with fevered zeal, Owings exhorted his audience to Pray! Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead them into the ways of righteousness! As he shouted, the air inside the hall began to sparkle, golden motes drifting down. I doubted my eyes, but others were seeing it too, looking up, gaping.
- Louisa, Johnny, and the North Shore Huldre, by S. Evans
- Johnny's never seen a manitou packed into a muslin dress that tight before. He wants to slow down and take a better look. He tells himself it's only polite to be friendly to the little mysteries that live along the North Shore, but his eyes are caught by the line of her hipbone straining against the fabric.
- For Now It's Eight O'Clock, by Alex Irvine, illustration by Arthur Broughton
- "I'm going to get that Wee Willie Winkie," my neighbor Jeff said. "Tomorrow night. You with me?"
- Genderbending at the Madhattered, by Kameron Hurley
- By the end of the night, we were always drunk. Page and Nib would be yelling about whose turn it was to be male in their ongoing adolescent opera, and Rule would be wearing a dress, illegally.
- Doctor Mighty and the Case of Ennui, by Paul Melko
- "So, yeah, I did the whole career quiz thing, and my empathy was zero and my megalomania was like 100, so I went with supervillain," Auntie Arctic said around a mouthful of pad thai. "It was either that or homemaker. What about you?"
- A Season in Silence, by Jennifer de Guzman
- When my mother tells me to do something, or not to do something, it's like I don't have any choice—what she says goes. I hate that feeling, like not being separate from my mom, like I'm an extra arm or leg that always does what she wants.
- Century to Starboard, by Liz Williams, illustration by Ursula Freer
- The sea looks just like my Versace silk camisole, but apparently we're expecting a storm later on. We've been through a typhoon already, off Manila. I thought I'd be terrified, but actually it was quite exciting, and we couldn't feel it at all—the Ship's big enough to ride out even huge hurricanes.
- St. Ailbe's Hall (Part 2 of 2), by Naomi Kritzer
- This past Sunday had been the craziest yet. There had been protestors outside the church—some objecting to Jasper's presence, others defending her right to be there. Three quarters of the people waving signs weren't Catholic, and nearly all of them were from out of town.
- St. Ailbe's Hall (Part 1 of 2), by Naomi Kritzer
- There was a Siberian husky in the last pew of St. Mary's. It was standing on its hind legs, holding a hymnal and singing, so Father Andrew knew that it must be an enhanced dog—but what was it doing in church?
- The War of the Flowers, by Brenda Cooper
- Before I could touch my daughter, at the end of every day, I had to take a decon shower and pull on an ugly jumpsuit. That should have been enough penance.
- Three Tales from Sky River: Myths for a Starfaring Age, by Vandana Singh, illustration by Naomi Nowak
- Her scalp was no longer bare, but covered with tentacles, each as thick as her little finger. They writhed and looped about her face, and gave her otherwise pleasing appearance a terrible aspect.
- In the Late December, by Greg van Eekhout
- Santa goes down the list, pushing the team relentlessly across the black. Little girl after little girl, little boy after little boy, absent, vanished into the emptiness of the old, dying, dead universe.
- The Ice Princess, by Jae Brim
- Tomorrow would be the Ice Princess pageant and a new princess would be chosen for the year to come. On the day after, Elisa would give up her crown and walk out onto the frozen lake, like every princess before her, back to the start of the pageant almost a hundred years before.
- Rushes #12 of 12: For the Twelve, by Jay Lake
- Jayce stood, shrugged out of her bicycle shirt and racing pants until she was sky-clad, brown as a walnut and naked to the world. The Twelve exchanged glances. They had expected no formal rites today.
- Heavy Things, by Hannah Wolf Bowen
- She was learning slowly that she couldn't fly, that her wings could never support her weight.
- Circus of Regret, by Aynjel Kaye, illustration by Elantriell
- Ebb takes hold of her rope and lowers herself from the platform. Head first, she descends, one leg wrapped around her rope, the other pointed in front of her. She slides a little way then makes more rope, slides down farther.
- Toobychubbies, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
- When you have two kids who are less than four years old, you view the Toobychubbies as a godsend. No matter how good your intentions are to be the best mother in the universe, you have a finite amount of energy, and the kids are perpetual motion machines.
- Sleeping with Bears, by Theodora Goss
- Dr. and Mrs. Elwood Barlow request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Rosalie to Mr. T. C. Ursus on Saturday, the thirteenth of June, at one o'clock at the First Methodist Church.
- Rushes #11 of 12: Eleven Went to Heaven, by Jay Lake
- Some died alone, some asleep, one in quiet pain and two more in shrieking terror of their lives. I remember them all.
- The Dream Factory, by Jenn Reese
- You need a bunch of realistic fantasy creatures for the movie, and Stan Winston figured out long ago that it was easier to hire off-world than build all these bizarre creatures from scratch. It's a big industry secret.
- Twenty-One Pennies, by Joel Best, illustration by Robert J. Beam, Jr.
- The things people pray for, you have to wonder. Stone, he just wants to be human again.
- Living with the Harpy, by Tim Pratt
- Living with the harpy presented certain difficulties. Her feathers clogged the shower drain, and the smell of unsavory meats cooked over chemical fires drifted from her room. She screamed profanity sometimes, with obvious glee. I occasionally found drowned mice in the coffeemaker.
- Indra's Rice, by S. Evans
- Ganesh, in his aspect as Gajanana, loomed behind her, his trunk curling and uncurling. The noose he carried in his upper left hand rested loosely about her neck, rope prickling against her pulse-points.
- Rushes #10 of 12: Deka Logos, by Jay Lake
- Are these injunctions? Instructions? Perhaps commandments to the faithful? None can say, though theories abound.
- The Memory of Water, by David Moles
- There was no escaping the conclusion: surrounded by ten thousand square kilometers of desert, he had drowned.
- The Birdcatcher, by Erika Peterson, illustration by Maral Agnerian
- A sudden wind blew a little swirl of birds around his feet. They rose to his knees and then his hips in a whirlwind gust, a dense flock springing up out of nowhere. More birds appeared on his outstretched hand, and when they flew away, his hand was gone.
- The Cleansing Fire of God, by Jay Lake
- Officially you're here for reading proscribed foreign journals. That and your history of secularism. But we both know you're really here because of the message you got from the moon.
- Shopping at the End of the World, by Douglas Lain
- If you want to understand how the disorder spread from the Lloyd Center Mall to the rest of the city of Portland, how the blood in our Orange Juliuses became a radioactive haze in the streets, you should start with what didn't happen.
- See Jack Run: An Intergalactic Primer, by Wade Albert White
- See Q-zarc. Q-zarc is the enforcer who has been hired to break Jack's legs. He walks on twelve tentacles. Isn't he funny-looking?
- Brightly Shining, by Jay Lake
- England's troubles hung heavy; Nazi zeppelins coasted her skies free as the clouds. Though the war struggled on, the RAF had been grounded for years.
- Sunfast, Shadowplay, and Saintswalk, by Rudi Dornemann
- Sometimes, the saints don't let go; they keep riding the moment a little longer and a little longer and they don't let go. There was a mask-wearer that our grandmother told us about, a friend of hers when they were little, who was the Saint of Stones and Answers for thirty-four years.
- Beguiling Mona, by M. Thomas, illustration by Nicole Cardiff
- Nayessa's mother was a spider. Nayessa didn't know how this was true—her mother had only the expected number of arms and legs—but the old people in the neighborhood on Blue Cat Way said it was true, and they were old enough to know such things.
- Pressure, by Jeff Carlson
- Beyond this shelf, the sea floor plunged away for miles. This place was like another planet, strange and new, and I was the very first.
- Momi Watu, by Nisi Shawl
- I scanned the labels of the laundry bags. Entomologists say two weeks is long enough. They've studied the life cycle; they should know. But it was researchers that got us in this fix in the first place, so I wait three, just to be sure.
- Aprill, With His Shoures Soote, by Jay Lake
- Heere bigynneth the Greyn-Manns Tale
- Drowned Men Can't Have Kids, by Karina Sumner-Smith
- If there was one place that she was never, ever allowed to go, it was the river behind the house. Maybe that was why she loved it so much.
- The Siren of Ocean City, by Tobias Seamon, illustration by Chris Whitlow
- Halfway home from the war but unable to take another step closer, I'd stomp through the sands at dusk, imagining I was Odysseus. Not the clever hero at the gates of Troy, but the wrecked Odysseus, the one trapped in strange places as he forgot his own name.
- The Game This Year, by Lisa Goldstein
- The pictures on the board are deepening into three dimensions now. The first stage of the game is over and the players begin to play for real, each feeling that they look over the rim of the world.
- The Central Tendency, by Daniel Kaysen
- Lallie slowly showed me something better than numbers. Matrices and transformations, laws, proofs, operations. Every number has a million faces, but the million faces all line up and you can cancel them all out and just be left with abstractions, blank-faced letters alone at the heart of everything. Do not, ever, tell me there's no god.
- Rushes #7 of 12: Stars in the Sky, by Jay Lake
- Pleiades boosts outsystem on a slow, spiral orbit, jealously leaching energy from bloated Sol, staying ahead of the limits of the radiation shielding. Sister Sun eats her children.
- Crossroads, by Catherine Dybiec Holm
- Damned if this walking-between-the-worlds crap didn't follow me into the afterlife.
- Portraits of My Lovers, by K. J. Kirby, illustration by Christine Griffin
- I make sure there's enough space around me, and then I change. No pain like in the movies, just four vulnerable minutes like being very, very drunk. And then, peltless, cold.
- Sock Heroes, by M. Thomas
- There was no more speaking, for they began to tumble, and the heat pressed against them.
- The Riverbed of the World, by B. C. Holmes
- "Suppose you were me," Kolay said to Galla, "and a foreigner came to you to ask why there are transsexuals in the world. What would you say?"
- Linear Projection, by Tom Crippen
- That was 1965, the beginning of the silver epoch. Bud did not give it that name until enough decades had passed for him to finally catch on.
- Rushes #6 of 12: Proud Walkers, by Jay Lake
- This place is mine. Five generations of my family are buried here. My father is buried here. I cannot leave.
- Five Things of Beauty, by Patrick Samphire
- The first thing of beauty was an origami bird so delicate and fine that when Srilal lifted it on the palm of his hand, he thought it might fly away.
- The Island of Varos, by Severna Park, illustration by Janet Chui
- Early in the Occupation when the Conqueros came, my mother painted her birds in secret. Materials were scarce so she resorted to the old technique of distilling color from the night air.
- Lost and Found, by Sandra McDonald
- Mom considered the contraption over the rim of her coffee cup. "Where are my car keys?" The machine hummed for a moment and then displayed its answer in green block letters: "In the basket by the front door."
- For the Plague Thereof Was Exceeding Great, by Jennifer Pelland
- Kathleen Murphy gripped her can of Mace tightly as she rode the Red Line to work, hands sweating inside the latex of her surgical gloves. All around her, her fellow T riders were openly clutching Mace or pepper spray as well, all glancing around the car from behind safety goggles and surgical masks.
- Rushes #5 of 12: The Symbols at Their Doors, by Jay Lake
- The May dance was a ward for the entire village, painted in young flesh.
- Fetch, by David Moles
- "The Russians can't get their dog back," Akers said. "No way the capsule can reenter without burning up. Our guys think she's got air for maybe a week—ten days, tops. The President wants NACA to mount a rescue mission."
- The Book of Things Which Must Not Be Remembered, by C. Scavella Burrell, illustration by Tatiana Starchevsky
- "Pharaoh has taken back the lower lands and has called for all his servants," said Greatgrandfather. "I will return to service to a true ruler of the red and black lands, for however many years the gods have left for me. There is much to be written, and there are many things to be corrected."
- Dead Letter, by Samantha Henderson
- I don't bother to dress, not anymore. I've got five pairs of striped pajamas and I wash them all every week.
- Pan de los Muertos, by Dru Pagliassotti
- He was Take-Man, dark beneath the orange glow of the October dusk. Take-Man, his heartbeat the engine tick; Take-Man, his laugh the sickening crumple of metal meeting metal at 65 miles per hour; Take-Man, whose teeth had the shine of razorwire and whose voice was the rattle of discarded brass casings on pavement.
- Rushes #4 of 12: Gospel Truth, by Jay Lake
- Every night I dream of my tomb given over to Him, rolling the boulder shut with the Christ buried within. Would that I had found a way to die in His place.
- You and Me, by Gavin J. Grant
- We are acting on realities as perceived by our forecasting and planning departments.
- A Chromepunk Anthology, by M. Bennardo, illustration by Linus Persson
- Ram turned over his engine three times, six times, nine times, feeling the hot gasoline roar in his veins. He arched his chassis and spread his axles, chrome glinting everywhere under the sun.
- Visit the Sins, by Cory Doctorow
- The kids had been scattered, unable to focus. Then they had the operation, and suddenly it wasn't a problem anymore. Whenever their attention dropped below a certain threshold, they just switched off, until the world regained some excitement.
- Start with Color, by Bill Kte'pi
- Her dreams have been lazing at her elbows, small white elephants and green giraffes, grazing from invisible trees. They move aside, harrumphing at her as the paper interrupts their breakfast.
- The Book of Jashar, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Following the death in 1998 of my beloved cousin, Oedipa Maas, I came into possession of certain effects of the late Timothy Archer, at one time Bishop of San Francisco.
- Rushes #3 of 12: Three the Rivals, by Jay Lake
- Aching from the labor of Creation, Mother Ge rested in the garden that would be Britain. There her children petitioned her.
- Snow Day, by Jennifer Pelland
- True, I had sex with Max all the time. I mean, who didn't have sex with their android? That was their main selling point.
- Winged, by Jenn Reese, illustration by Frank Sipala
- Anne kept her wings unfurled behind her as she sat, like a great snowy cloak. Franklin always told her to sit like that whenever she could because it maximized her best feature. Wings were a gift to men as well as to women, he said, and it would have been selfish of her to disagree.
- Air, Water, and Road, by Aynjel Kaye
- They're bus pirates. You don't mess with bus pirates.
- Why the Elders Bare Their Throats, by Patrick Weekes
- One day, the village children were out foraging with an elder when a Rikath came upon them, a great snarling gray creature with long fangs and crimson eyes. The children froze just as they had been taught, and the elder bounded off. The Rikath darted after him, stone knife ready in one paw.
- Rushes #2 of 12: Dresséd All in Green, Oh, by Jay Lake
- One night just before Yuletide, the Lord of Misrule pursued the Wren Boys through London's cobbled streets.
- Famishing, by Heather Shaw
- Rachel had been dieting for months for the big day tomorrow, but looking at the pictures of herself over the years, she realized with a sinking heart that she was larger now than she'd ever been before.
- . . . What a Spaceman's Gotta Do, by Daniel Kaysen, illustration by MAtt
- Trouble was, on the last day of high school I'd carefully and very publicly told everyone that in ten years' time I was going to be a famous writer, living in New York, married with no kids, skinny as a rake, and far too rich and successful to go to a reunion.
- Poison (Part 2 of 2), by Beth Bernobich
- "I think it's because of the needles. If he didn't bother to use clean ones. . . ."
- Poison (Part 1 of 2), by Beth Bernobich
- Our keepers, the scientists, had used complicated words like metamorphosis and hormones and camouflage to explain us. We could turn invisible, they'd said. We could change from male to female and back. Survival adaptations, they'd called it. I wondered if what Yenny did was for our survival.
- Rushes #1 of 12: One Is All Alone, by Jay Lake
- "So," says a voice of rattling leaves and creaking branches. "At last you return."
- Interrupt, by Jeff Carlson
- Whatever happened to the sun seems to be intensifying. This time I blacked out for at least five days.
- L'Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars), by Dean Francis Alfar, illustration by Hal Hefner
- He told her that such a kite was impossible, that there was no material immediately available for such an absurd undertaking, that there was, in fact, no design for a kite that supported the weight of a person.
- Jack's House, by Jay Lake
- "That one was always uncommon civil for a Cat. One of their voices of moderation, you might say." Benjamin sighed. "We had a plan, once, that Rats and Cats should set aside our spears. We could have joined together in a thorough search for the Cheese."
- Joined Together, by Chris Garrett
- "Everybody thought . . . well, they figured that an old black woman, just off the boat from Haiti, must know something about the hoodoo, right? Do you know what my Mama did in Haiti before she came here? She was a seamstress and a teacher."
- Klokwerk's Heart (Part 2 of 2), by Anna Tambour, illustration by Karl Huber
- The thing in the slab leaning up against the back of the glass case wrenched her heart. A fossil bird, rising with every ounce of its strength from the trap of the stone that grasped it. Its beak pointed towards the sky, wide open in an arrested scream—for help? Its wings were held out from its body like a cloak.
- Klokwerk's Heart (Part 1 of 2), by Anna Tambour, illustration by Karl Huber
- Gretina watched Werner as he worked with his tiny tools, dozens of them, to make incomprehensible objects. All small, smaller than her hand; all like nothing she had ever seen. They whirred, they pulsed, they pumped when he stuck tiny tubes in them. They crawled along the table till they fell into her lap.
- It Takes a Town, by Stephen V. Ramey
HOME OF THE MARS ROCKET
- The Scent of Rotting Roses, by Jay Lake
- "Do you know what that plant is worth? The gene package by itself, let alone a growing, healthy specimen." He grinned. "More than any bonus for old tech ever paid. And we found it."
- The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death, by Ellen Kushner
- St. Vier stopped before the front door; in the recessed entryway, there was a flash of white. Cautiously he drew his sword and advanced.
- Unspeakable, by M. C. A. Hogarth, illustration by M. C. A. Hogarth
- None of them were comfortable tales, and most of them were edloña, unspeakable, unthinkable. Why I returned, I could not say.
- The Minotaur, by Bill Kte'pi
- I have to step over seven-inch tall couples having sex on my bathroom floor to brush my teeth, and the mouthwash is filled with blinking floating eyeballs. The eyeballs are mine, but I think the copulating couples have meandered in from the neighbors.
- Counterpoint, by Jennifer de Guzman
- "Hard work is the price of genius, sometimes, Amadeo," Padre Martini tells me. "It is not enough for you to make beautiful music. The music must have form."
- Emergency Claus, by Kenneth Brady
- Santa comes down the chimney of rotorwash on a static line and hits the ground hard. When he gets up, he's already firing.
- The Bear Dancer, by Lee Kottner, illustration by Cynthia Rudzis
- I started thinking like a scholar again, thinking about the sweat lodge and trying to codify in ethnological and psychological terms what had gone on there. Perhaps that was my mistake.
- Coyotes, Cats, and Other Creatures, by Karen L. Abrahamson
- "Each time you go for a walk, I want you to think about one of the painful memories that make you not want to get up in the morning. I want you to carry that feeling with you and imagine it's something concrete, something you can see. Take it with you into the woods and leave it there."
- Wantaviewer (Part 2 of 2), by Michael J. Jasper
- "You may want to come by some other time, ma'am. Sometimes the Wantas get that way, get a little out of control."
- Wantaviewer (Part 1 of 2), by Michael J. Jasper
- Nobody from the Netstreams had been able to get closer than this, and the airspace around all thirty landing sites had been restricted since the arrival of the ships in November.
- Rhythm of the Tides, by Lisa A. Nichols
- My mother was lost to the sea while I was still in my cradle.
- Comrade Grandmother, by Naomi Kritzer, illustration by Marge Simon
- "For everything there is a price, Comrade Daughter," Baba Yaga said. "For everything there is a cost. We are not socialists here. Have you come to me ready to pay?"
- Looking Back, by Corie Ralston
- My wedding band caught the light from the front porch. I pulled the ring from my finger and placed it on the table just inside the door. A small parting gift.
- Talisman, by Tracina Jackson-Adams
- Nobody understands how hard it is to stop at just hitting. Nobody gives me any credit for that. And nobody understands how damned good it feels to touch someone.
- Other Cities #12 of 12: Stin, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Stin is the city for those who are tired of other cities.
- Feel of Heaven, Texture of Hell, by Kenneth Brady
- He rested his chin in front of the pin box on the black bedroom dresser and watched the pins slide slowly, one at a time, toward his face.
- Mr. Muerte and the Eyeball Kid, by Sean Klein, illustration by Alain Valet
- Lunchtime, Jimmy finds an eyeball in his stew. "Cool," he says, balancing it on his spoon.
- Lion's Blood (excerpt), by Steven Barnes
- Out of an enfolding bank of mist glided twin dragons. Rearing back like sea horses, stub-winged and fanged, each dragon was perched on the prow of a ship, each ship about fifty hands in length. The ships' oars scooped water and sculled ahead silently, every motion practiced and perfect.
- Once Upon a Time in Alphabet City, by Joel Best
- Pinocchio's gunning Luckies and knocking back bourbon at the bar when the fairy with the blue hair steps in from the street wearing a sheer Day-Glo blouse and hot pants that leave little to the imagination.
- Dream the Moon, by Linda J. Dunn
- Maybe it's better never to dream. Then you don't have to live with failure.
- Other Cities #11 of 12: The Cities of Myrkhyr, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Each behemoth that screams by overhead is a mile wide, blotting out the sky in all directions.
- Ignis Fatuus, by Timons Esaias
- "Got fire!" he called. "Pure fire! Clean, warm, sparkling, regenerating, energizing, ever-oxidizing Fire!"
- Other Villas, by Erika Peterson, illustration by Jeff Doten
- Flavia and her household never talked to the wild children. If one tried to pretend that they were simply little birds or animals, they were less disturbing.
- Confounding Mr. Newton, by James Allison
- "The sun should be yellow, perhaps? Not black."
"That's not the sun," explained my brother. "It's me. I'm in mourning, you see."
- Christmas Season, by Jay Lake
- Every year come the Friday after Thanksgiving, Pawpaw gets to cleaning his shotgun.
- Other Cities #10 of 12: Penelar of the Reefs, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- It was only from the northeast that a small ship, riding high in the water, might have the good fortune to navigate the reefs to Penelar.
- Show and Tell, by Greg van Eekhout
- Show and Tell is my worst subject. I nearly failed it last year and almost did not advance.
- The Illuminated Dragon, by Sarah Prineas, illustration by Kari Christensen
- One wing of the butterfly shivered, then twitched itself free of the paper; the other wing, the abdomen, and the antennae followed, until the living insect lay trembling on the page.
- Freedom, Spiced and Drunk, by M. C. A. Hogarth
- No anadi, no female, can escape the mind-death. It may claim you while you carry your first child or wait until your sixth, but it will claim you.
- Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Boy, by Ray Vukcevich
- . . . if she does notice, I hope she'll stew slowly in silence instead of boiling over and calling her henchmen to snatch me off the street and drag me back to the hacienda for torture by chili peppers. . . .
- Other Cities #9 of 12: Jouiselle-aux-Chantes, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Jouiselle-aux-Chantes is the city of erotic forgetting.
- Quink, by H. Courreges LeBlanc
- Base personality my ass. Yigs didn't have one, not even retreads. But people believed what they needed. They were all of them blinded by emotion.
- Bringweather and the Portal of Giving and Taking, by Barth Anderson, illustration by GAK
- "Suicide. Ha! The woman who pioneered prognostication using the Animus in urban decay?" Bringweather stuck his head in a Dumpster and his voice echoed as he said, "A solstice would sooner depart from the calendar. Ridiculous!"
- As Above, So Below, by John M. Ford
- All moments were one to a dragon, tomorrow as real as yesterday, this very instant the same to it as last year or next generation.
- Shepherd's Calendar (Part 2 of 2), by Alan DeNiro
- "Some of the priests on the ship, the telepaths mostly, wanted to know the shepherds more. Maybe they thought that the shepherds were closer to God, closer than humans ever could be."
- Shepherd's Calendar (Part 1 of 2), by Alan DeNiro
- The shepherds made only two requirements of the crew on wherespace voyages: no sex, no violence.
- Other Cities #8 of 12: Maxis, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Princes and Priscilla, by Ruth Nestvold
- "She doesn't need to run a kingdom. She needs to marry and produce an heir. That's her function!"
- Agent Provocateur, by Alexander Irvine, illustration by Ben Strickland
- Baseball fans are always alert to the possibility of history being made.
- Miss Parker Down the Bung, by Kate Bachus
- Jenkins was a fierce free climber, for a digger. Likeden they'd have made her a rift scout, or even a survey crewman, hadn't it been for the trouble on that deep drop some time ago.
- Two Quarter King, by Daniel J. Bishop
- The first miracle passed almost unnoticed. I guess that's the way first miracles are.
- Other Cities #7 of 12: New(n) Pernch, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- There is only one thing the machines cannot build, and that is the guiding intelligence of the new city.
- A Constellation of Windows, by Jean Seok
- The hamster ran well enough in the small apartment, but it took no more than a few minutes of leaping and skidding before Enoch's jaws closed over the wriggling morsel.
- Sea Change, by Michael P. Belfiore, illustration by Dee Sunshine
- Philip woke one morning with a sea anemone in his mouth.
- The Final Solution (Part 2 of 2), by K. Mark Hoover
- My father was an electrician. My mother taught piano. I don't remember much about my sister, except that she was very beautiful. There are no photographs; all I have are memories.
- The Final Solution (Part 1 of 2), by K. Mark Hoover
- "You're the only man who can do it, Paul. The only one who can set right what, surely, was never meant to happen. You'll be healing an open wound in the history of our species."
- Other Cities #6 of 12: Zvlotsk, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Lügenmetzger's true metier was the murder case. He could often solve murders before they occurred.
- Travel Agency, by Ellen Klages
- I tell Emily that she'll be sleeping in the attic, if that's okay. The child's eyes light up as if she'd just been offered a bunk on a pirate ship.
- Little Gods, by Tim Pratt, illustration by Mark Precious
- "Little things get little gods. It's only natural."
- Not to Mention Jack, by Charlie Anders
- Carol Vance lifted her balloon, seeking an altitude from which a falling body would have the chance to do some thinking on the way down.
- Time of Day, by Nick Mamatas
- I had just gotten off work and was on my way to more work when the phones in my mind rang. It was another seven jobs calling in, begging for my attention.
- Other Cities #5 of 12: Ylla's Choice, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Ylla's Choice is a spherical city of several million. Its bonsai gardeners should be famous throughout the galaxy; its actors orate well; its corridors are clean, and through the shielded glass windows of a marvelous design, the glowing swirl of gas outside is beautiful.
- "Identity Is a Construct" (and Other Sentences), by Douglas Lain
- The star cruiser Culture 1 resembles a giant library, but there are vending machines in the stairwells, and storage closets where we sleep, and there are lounges on every level, where constructs can meet each other, discuss pre-Socratic philosophers or MTV or Edward Hopper paintings, and attempt to fall in love.
- driftings, by Dana Christina
- I am repetitive function, he said, and you
are decorative. Existence depends on quality
of performance. To avoid termination,
I must not err, and you must not break.
- Other Moments, by Daniel Goss
- "They're not 'memory lapses.' You can't forget something that never happened."
- Carol for Mixed Voices (Part 2 of 2), by Madeleine Rose Reardon Dimond
- When she came home the next night, she found the tree nailed, wildly askew, to the coffee table. Teenage accessories—earrings and keychains—dragged the drooping branches down further.
- Other Cities #4 of 12: Amea Amaau, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Amea Amaau is a new and gleaming city in a matrix of six hundred and forty-three thousand cities exactly like it, somewhere in the terribly exciting part of the world.
- Carol for Mixed Voices (Part 1 of 2), by Madeleine Rose Reardon Dimond
- "I renew the pledge I made to you when I took office: you will be safe in your home, safe in your work, safe in your play from any who dare to oppose us. Wherever Americans walk, they'll walk in safety."
- Fiddler, by H. Courreges LeBlanc, illustration by Shelton Bryant
- The big flying turtle was about set to barbeque downtown Tokyo when the drive bell rang, and up sluiced a car so damn gorgeous it hurt to look at it.
- Money for Sorrow, Made Joy, by M. C. A. Hogarth
- One by one the rest of the caravan joined us: sturdy eperu, neuters, the only sex of the Jokka that could withstand the grueling travel of a trade caravan. Last of all came little Thodi, our orphan found two circuits back.
- Chameleon (Part 2 of 2), by Beth Bernobich
- She pulled an envelope from the stack. It was the letter she'd mailed to her mother the week before. A red stamp over the address read: "Return to Sender. Addressee Unknown."
- Other Cities #3 of 12: Ahavah, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- You can't ride the rails for long without hearing about Ahavah.
- Chameleon (Part 1 of 2), by Beth Bernobich
- I make Sarah lank and tall; I dress her neatly and without distinction—white blouse, dark knitted skirt, shoes dulled and scuffed at their toes. She looks ordinary—deliberately so. But with her eyes, I can gaze upon my audience; through her mouth I will speak.
- Forget Me Not, by Angela Boord, illustration by Judith Huey
- Monks came for only two things: tribute and war. But I'd never seen so many of them in one place. I wondered who my man would have to go fight now.
- The Rented Swan, by Joan Aiken
- "It's in the lease, sir; didn't you read it? Furniture, fittings, appurtenances, and one swan, care of aforesaid swan to be undertaken by the hereinaftermentioned Henry Wadsworth Oglethorpe."
- The Cruel Brother, by Justine Larbalestier
- Greta smiled, and did not take her hand away, or resist, as Hans pulled her closer, and began unlacing her all over again.
- Alien Animal Encounters, by John Scalzi
- Our question this week: What is the most interesting encounter you've ever had with an alien animal species?
- Other Cities #2 of 12: Ponge, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Ponge, as its inhabitants will tell you, is a thoroughly unattractive city. "Well," they always say at the mention of any horrible news, "we do live in Ponge."
- Water, Green River, Daybreak, by Sarah Prineas
- "Witch magic is for girls. A boy with talent studies with a warlock. Different techniques, different spells, different purposes."
- Ovigonopods of Love, by Joe Murphy, illustration by Gavin Schnitzler
- The first moon has passed its zenith. He-towers rise on all sides. Long slender Haes sail between them, skimming along the surface, their pods flared as sails. Shadows under the moon as shaes flit through the sky with pods spread to glassy thinness in crescent wings.
- When She Came Walking, by Tim Jones
- The first time she walked down our street, pots jumped off stoves, coal leapt from scuttles, wood went rat-a-tat-tatting down hallways. In our yard, a broom and spade got up and lurched around like drunks, trying to decide which way she'd gone.
- Somewhere Down the River (Part 2 of 2), by Simon Bewick
- "We kept wonderin' whether that lonely soldier was gonna pop back up, maybe with an M16 he wanted to introduce us all to."
- Other Cities #1 of 12: Bellur, by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Other cities celebrate their poets or sculptors, offer the world their playwrights and clowns; Bellur, its censors.
- Somewhere Down the River (Part 1 of 2), by Simon Bewick
- She let the smile die on her lips and took a small drink from the bottle. "Actually, sweetheart, I already got a man. He's back in Angola doin' 9 to 12. Killed a man that was nasty to me."
- On the Wall, by Jo Walton, illustration by Colleen Doran
- Their purpose in making me was to have a scrying glass capable of seeing the future. In this sense I am a failure—I can see only what is, not what has been or will be.
- In a Mirror, by Kim Fryer
- Libby smiled. "It's okay to say ovarian cancer." Roger made a small sound and Libby looked up at him. "Not using the words gives them too much power," she added.
- Toaster of the Gods, by Randall Coots
- "I am God," Larry's toaster solemnly intoned one morning.
- Right Size, by M. L. Konett
- "We're sick of hearing about how perfect it is where you're from. If it was so good, how come your family's Okies too?"
- One-Eyed Jack, by Connie Wilkins, illustration by Noel Bebee
- He might have been reduced to one eye, one arm, and scarcely more than one good leg, but Lightning Jack lacked nothing in between. Nothing at all.
- Understanding Human Behavior, by Thomas M. Disch
- He wondered, as all erasees do, why he'd decided to wipe out his past.
- Medusa at Morning, by Beth Bernobich
- A strand of hair slithered across her breast, the dark copper glinting in the sunrise.
- The Anthvoke (Part 2 of 2), by Steve Berman
- I remember when she was all I ever thought about. When I would call her three times during the day just so I could hear her voice.
- The Anthvoke (Part 1 of 2), by Steve Berman
- "Anyone other than an anthvoke would want something from me in return. Anthvokes aren't interested in flesh." She tugged at the front of her sweat-stained tank top, briefly revealing the butterfly tattoo over her petite breasts. "Do you really want to share me with someone else?"
- Explosions, by Michael J. Jasper
- The Wannoshay had been here only eight months when the brewery blew up.
- A Private Unbinding of Time, by James Allison
- "This whole neighborhood is built over magma. Volcanoes burned here once." Flecks of soot danced under streetlamps. "There's flaws in the rock here. Fissures. Could be a problem."
- Going Once, by Mark Rudolph
- No matter how hard Aaron tried, he couldn't ignore the day he dreaded most: the day Darren's body would be auctioned off, piece by piece, to the highest bidder.
- With the Dawn, by Jon Hansen
- "As I said, we do believe you. But it is my duty to ensure that all blasphemy be scourged from the people, by any means necessary." His fingers touched my face, cold worms tracing my cheekbone, and I fought back a shiver.
- A Piece of Bamboo, by Derek James, illustration by Socar Myles
- "Today you will learn to fight," his father said. "Though I hope you will never need to."
- Plenty, by Christopher Barzak
- These days magic is not something in which everyone can afford to believe. There is a suspicious absence of miracles. But sometimes impossible things happen when no one is looking.
- Waiting, by John R. Platt
- Death sat quietly underneath a gnarled old oak tree in the park off Plainfield Avenue.
- Slugball (Part 2 of 2), by K. Mark Hoover, illustration by Frank Wu
- We plunged into blackness. Icy wind whipped tears from my eyes and blurred my vision. The grumble of the generator faded above, letting other sounds intrude: the squealing whine of the rollers sliding down the guide rails, cables straining with an unnerving twang, the metal car rattling and shaking.
- Slugball (Part 1 of 2), by K. Mark Hoover, illustration by Frank Wu
- "Aleksander, if there's any trouble during the flight, kill Ms. Tal immediately."
- The Circular Library of Stones, by Carol Emshwiller
- My latest discovery was momentous, to say the least. Who would have thought it: a great, white, stone, circular library to be danced in!
- Sittin' a Spell at Miz Love's, by Nancy Proctor
- Only a witch would live in such a dark, smelly house with seven cats. Only a witch would keep four fat goldfish in a pond out back or keep a neat row of little handmade pin-stuck dolls in a drawer. And only a witch would offer visiting children glasses of muscadine wine and keep a dead woman in the closet.
- Higher than Usual, by Derek Paterson
- "Accounts ambushed us downstairs. We could have used your help. But you were nowhere to be found." He drew himself up and glared at me, his face twisted. His hands were balled into fists. "Aren't you one of us?" he demanded.
- Something on the Bed, by D. K. Latta
- "Come on, sport, you know there's no such thing as little boys."
- Pale Foxes, by Meredith L. Patterson, illustration by Bill Reames
- Ordinary women cannot raise a blacksmith boy; he would bring secrets into their house that could bring harm to an ordinary family.
- Underground, by Jennifer de Guzman
- Fairy dust makes everything beautiful: when you're using it you look beautiful and everything looks beautiful to you.
- The Calcium Efflux Conspiracy, by Joe Murphy
- "There isn't much time. The voices behind the Illuminati have fallen silent. The New World Order has ceased its relentless quest for world domination. I predicted this; they're puppets, after all."
- Desert Scene with Blue Female, by Ramon Arjona
- Cyan's long sapphire hair ran down over her naked azure body. Her delicate blue hands moved gently between the branches of the low shrubs, as if she were searching for something.
- Spontaneous Generation, by Shikhar Dixit, illustrations by Duncan Long
- It was hard to look away while Laura drew. She knew how to build light and depth, shadow and meaning, all from the crumbling powder of charcoal, the quivering, spreading streak of black India ink.
- The Green Corn Dance, by Emily Gaskin
- "The dreams—I don't think they're dreams, Betty."
- Last Call in Temperance, by Alan DeNiro
- I fished the whiskey out of my pack, took a hot swig, and considered Sonny's dead body sprawled on my tomato-red couch.
- A Winter's Tale, by Nora M. Mulligan
- Now, she thought. Today there will be snow, and everyone will be still for a day.
- The Fen-Queen's Bride, by P. K. Graves, illustration by Bill Reames
- "You are so mean and stubborn and ugly that I will curse you for it. Each time you open your mouth, a horrible insect or an ugly swamp creature will drop from it."
- Mary Margaret Road-Grader, by Howard Waldrop
- It was the time of the Sun Dance and the Big Tractor Pull. Freddy-in-the-Hollow and I had traveled three days to be at the river. We were almost late, what with the sandstorm and the raid on the white settlement over to Old Dallas.
- Crossing the Camp, by Michael J. Jasper
- They step back to examine him. Most of them are already taller than me, almost as tall as Jaime. The adults, when they walk upright like humans, are nearly seven feet high.
- Unreliable Witness, by Jo Walton
- My name is Katherine Whippleshaw, and I'm eighty-nine years old. Last week I was visited by an alien.
- With Open Eyes, by Cecilia Tan
- "You couldn't have saved her. Even if you'd been there. . . ."
- Late for Dinner, by Ursula Pflug, illustration by Christiane Pflug
- "Your mother knew enough to paint the doors and windows to other worlds. Those are the most important doors there are; it's only through them that the terrible darkness of our time can escape, only through them that the fish can swim here. She painted maps for them. If those doors are shut forever, we're all lost."
- War of the Lights, by Madeleine Rose Reardon Dimond
- The Christmas season was already off to a bad start when a spaceship landed on top of my house. I hate it when that happens.
- The Fallen and the Muse of the Street, by Tim Pratt
- Samaelle had relinquished her armor and black wings in favor of a tank top and ragged denim shorts. She kept her sword, strapped firmly to her back, but no mortal would see it. They never did, until the last moment.
- The Palm Tree Bandit, by Nnedi Okorafor
- Women were not allowed to climb palm trees for any reason—not to cut down leaves or to tap the sweet milky wine. You see, palm wine carried power to the first person to touch and drink it.
- Words of Love, Soft and Tender, by Mark Rudolph, illustration by Cathy Buburuz
- Two black eyeless heads, one over each of her shoulders, puffed out green feed-me spoors. Garskein should have left her babies at home—her neck pouch must ache from the weight—but no one could tell her anything. Usually, a parent ate a first brood before their mouths opened.
- Transubstantiation, by Stephen Woodworth
- The dying sun stretched from horizon to horizon in the sky above him, red and boiling in its final, furious glory. It had swallowed two of its children whole, and now it licked the Earth with tongues of flame.
- The Secret Number, by Igor Teper
- "Bleem!" shouted Ersheim, banging his fists against the desk. "The secret integer between three and four!"
- Special Edition, by Simon Bewick
- "Everything is hunky dory until we get to the ending. Kong got away."
We watched King Kong eight times over the next two days.
- The Passing of Sadly True, by James Allison, illustration by Darryl T. Jones
- Our only child was a boy. Anna handed him to me when he was tiny and bawling, and I saw him die in a plane crash. I loved him anyway.
- Little Brother, by Bruce Holland Rogers
- "Little Brother isn't like your other toys, Peter," Mommy said. "You have to be extra careful with him, as if he were a real baby."
- Relentlessly Mundane, by Jo Walton
- Tharsia's apartment was hung about with tapestries and jangling crystal windchimes and a string of little silver unicorns, and it reminded Jane of Porphylia and everything she wanted to forget.
- I Know Why Sales Clerks Fall from the Sky, by Mark Heath
- Clerks aren't heavy—they weigh as much as cotton candy, if you buy it in five-foot cones—but the bodies flop on the shovel and gum up the rake, and it takes time to herd them into the sun. It's easier to let them melt where they fall.
- Occurrence at Arroyo de Buho Bridge, by Chuck Rothman
- A wonderful way to start the new year, Bierce thought as he faced the firing squad. No one offered him a blindfold. Bierce had come to Mexico with his eyes open, and would go out the same way.
- Valley of Darkness, by K. Bird Lincoln, illustration by Wolf A. Read
- Kuranosuke decided he was beyond hope when the resort manager discreetly gave him a glimpse of ivory flesh through a convenient fold in her kimono, and his body refused to stir. The long journey back from the battlefields over the Pacific was not long enough to thaw a heart gone cold with grief and doubt.
- Pvt. Parker, Missing in Action, by D. K. Latta
- Then there are the stories that only get told when the hour is late and too much booze has been consumed . . . the stories that take you back to the moments you don't want to remember, when, on the field of battle, you saw more of the nature of reality than you ever wanted to.
- Eliyahu ha-Navi, by Max Sparber
- He was small enough that my great-grandparents could fit him into an accordion case. . . . This is how the Jews brought the prophet Elijah to the New World.
- Estranged, by Bruce Holland Rogers
- After the divorce, my wife said she didn't know who or what she wanted to be. When I heard that she had become a toaster, I felt vindicated.
- Triage, by Tamela Viglione, illustration by Darryl T. Jones
- Forty-eight cases. Currently available public ward beds: twenty. Health care was a constitutional right. Universal health care, government-subsidized medical treatment, was available to all. Within limits.
All material in Strange Horizons is copyrighted to the original authors and may not be reproduced without permission. Violators will be prosecuted.