Archive | Fiction

15 June 2018 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #40B: “Withholding Judgment Day” by Ryan Dull

5:00 AM GMT

Brother Franco Corsini always woke up early when the world was ending. Some Elegian monks could roll out of bed twenty minutes before Christ returned and perform their duties without a hitch, but Brother Franco needed a long morning to get into the right mindset. He lay in the pre-dawn light with his blanket pulled to his chin and prayed for humanity in expanding concentric circles – first himself, then his monastery, then the city of Milan, the nation of Italy, the people of the world, the dead, the unborn, and all Creation. Through the wall of his cell, Brother Franco could hear his neighbor already rejoicing at the top of his lungs. But his neighbor expected Christ to return before 6:00 AM, and so of course he was yelling. Brother Franco belonged to the 2:00 to 3:00 PM GMT slot, which he shared with Brothers Dimitri Abdulov and Hernan Esteban, both of whom were currently sound asleep in the Elegians’ second monastery in central Colombia. Brother Franco had nine long hours left. He knew, but did not yet expect, in an immediate, physical way, that the world would end. For a novice, this might have been cause for alarm. But Brother Franco had been expecting the end for years now, and he trusted that he would get there, even if it took all morning. 

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01 June 2018 ~ 12 Comments

DP FICTION #40A: “Tank!” by John Wiswell

The tank hates revolving doors. They’re paralyzed watching the doors whoosh by, trying to imagine anyone getting into the convention center through these things. The curb crumbles beneath the tank’s treads, and commuters honk for them to get their back-end out of the road. Two tweens sneak around the tank’s chassis, carrying a rack of brightly colored cosplay wigs, and slip into one of the revolving glass chambers.

“Be brave,” the tank tells themself.

The tank nudges their barrel inside, getting barely halfway in before the door clanks against their barrel. Instinctively they try to back up, rending steel frames and shattering glass everywhere.

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16 May 2018 ~ 3 Comments

DP FICTION #39B: “Graduation in the Time of Yog-Sothoth” by James Van Pelt

Jackson clung grimly to his seat as the bus rattled over a corduroy stretch of road, tossing him against Gwynn. She held a flute case in her lap, while in the back of the bus, the rest of the flute section, seven girls and a boy—piped a discordant, screeching melody that wasn’t improved by bouncing around as the bus lurched down the rough track. Gwynn wore her hair short, seldom used makeup, and he’d often seen her sitting in between classes working on a sketch pad.

“Weren’t you supposed to play today?” said Jackson. The bus lurched left, pushing them the other way.

“Last week for seniors.” She looked out the window. The woods that lined the road when they took the bus in kindergarten were now blasted, shattered and burnt fragments that stuck up from the ground in painful angles. “The underclassmen have to learn how to play without us.”

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02 May 2018 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #39A: “The Efficacy of Tyromancy Over Reflective Scrying Methods in Prediction of Upcoming Misfortunes of Divination Colleagues, A Study by Cresivar Ibraxson, Associate Magus, Wintervale University” by Amanda Helms

MAGUS’S NOTE

My colleagues will note that in writing this paper I have not attempted to divide the research from myself, as can be noted here with my use of “I” and “my.” Unlike some individuals whom I will not name, I have never attempted to pass blame; I take full responsibility whenever it is deserved. Therefore, and because the use of the third person and passive speech loses the vibrancy and verve the subject of tyromancy deserves, I have elected to forgo the more pedantic and tedious tone such works more frequently employ.

CONSPECTUS

This report discusses whether tyromancy, divination using cheese, might be more effective and accurate in its predictions than the more popular methods of scrying through reflective surfaces, such as mirrors or bodies of water. Specifically, the report considers whether tyromancy is more effective at divining colleagues’ misfortunes. While the literature on tyromancy must be greatly expanded, this study’s results indicate that indeed, cheese might tell us more than the average crystal ball, mirror, or pool of water.

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16 April 2018 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #38B: “Her February Face” by Christie Yant

In her youth the doors to the shrine of Elena’s heart were wide open for all to see. Some kept their hearts in private spaces, secret and hidden, but not Elena. She kept hers in the front room, because what good is a bright heart if it can’t be shared? 

Every morning she polished the shrine, and dressed her heart with fresh flowers that filled the air with the scent of jasmine and violet. She hung small crystals that caught her heart’s light and refracted it into every color, filling the room with rainbows. 

On the wall above her heart Elena kept her collection of smiles. Smiles for celebrations, for sunrises and sunsets, for soft sheets and warm limbs, for surprise and wonder at her extraordinary good fortune. It was an impractical placement; it would make more sense to store them near her vanity, but she liked having them out where visitors could appreciate them and where she could select exactly the right one at the last minute, before she walked out the door.

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02 April 2018 ~ 1 Comment

DP FICTION #38A: “Giant Robot and the Infinite Sunset” by Derrick Boden

Giant Robot stands alone on the battlefield. Its hulking titanium shoulders slouch. Its articulated polymer knees bow inward. Its blazing fiberoptic gaze falters, downturned. But Giant Robot experiences neither regret nor remorse while surveying the wreckage at its feet.

It knows only aloneness.

Giant Robot scours the battlefield. It scrutinizes the meat and metal carcasses that litter this desert torched to glass. Servos click a nervous rhythm beneath its knuckled joints. It relocates corpses with the utmost delicacy, but still they crumble in its hands. Underneath, there is only ash. Its gaze sags—

There. A patch of sand between two corpses, shielded by an overturned transport. A desert bloom sprouts, an improbable splay of color. Lavender? Periwinkle?

No. Amethyst.

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16 March 2018 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #37B: “Soft Clay” by Seth Chambers

I wander the Chicago streets unseen. I’m plain, drab, faceless. I’m a shadow drifting through the world of form. It isn’t all bad, being this way. I ghost into theaters and museums and concerts without paying. Guards see me bypass the lines and slip through the doors, but somehow I never quite register.

Being nobody has its perks but now I hunger to be somebody once again, to have a name again. To do this I must find the right man to follow. I wander the Chicago Loop looking for certain telltale signs of pain, longing, emptiness.

We live in a world of grief and so it doesn’t take long to find him. He carries himself with an undefined heaviness and peers through a fog of yesterdays. His emptiness drags me along.

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12 March 2018 ~ 0 Comments

The Best of Strange Horizons 2017

Strange Horizons is a freely available online speculative fiction zine that also publishes nonfiction and poetry.  Their editors-in-chief are Jane Crowley and Kate Dollardhyde.  Their senior fiction editors are Lila Garrott, Catherine Krahe, An Owomoyela, and Vajra Chandresekera, and their podcast is edited, hosted, and usually read by Anaea Lay.  They publish a variety of styles of stories and have regularly attracted award nominations in recent years.  All of the stories and poetry in the zine are published in the podcast.  This list covers all of the stories published since the last Best of Strange Horizons list posted here on November 9, 2015.  In that timeframe, Strange Horizons published about 53 stories (it’s hard to get an exact count because the poetry podcasts are mixed in the same feed).

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02 March 2018 ~ 1 Comment

DP FICTION #37A: “What Monsters Prowl Above the Waves” by Jo Miles

We emerged, inching forth from the sea’s safe haven into the bright void above.

We had done it.

Sharp-edged light flooded the vehicle, casting disturbing shadows through the water within. Three of our arms, drifting lazily in a moment’s rest, merged shadows like a new menace from without. One arm whipped about in alarm, and we spun, searching, assuring our whole self that no danger was near. But that arm refused to calm. The interior of the vessel was safe – our other arms, questing, found nothing but smooth walls and each other, confirming we were alone – but the cloudy surface of our vehicle revealed only dim and distant shapes.

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16 February 2018 ~ 1 Comment

DP FICTION #36B: “Artful Intelligence” by G.H. Finn

It was the worst of times. It was the beast of times. It was 1888.

A time of hammered steel, arcane runes and ivory towers. A city of steam. And ghosts.

Such was Londome. A place filled with Angels of despair and Daemons of delight.

We lived in a bold new world of gleaming brass cogs, delicate silks, spellcast iron and intoxicating spices. More than half of which we’d looted from countries we had conquered and ground beneath our feet. All in the name of civilisation, of course.

Beneath the crystal-paned glass of the dome, throughout this most ancient and modern of cities, cobbled streets were filled with glowing gaslights, grinding gears, bloodstained steel, fractal lace and enchanted metal.

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