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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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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02 February 2018 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #36A: “9 Things the Mainstream Media Got Wrong About the Ansaj Incident” by Willem Myra

1. Jeter and Amir were neither thugs nor terrorists. They were dumb kids, plain and simple. They meant no harm to anybody, human or alien. They were armed with blatantly obvious toy guns and throughout the whole ordeal they used PG language.

2. They weren’t turned into ash. Weren’t deleted from existence with the pull of a trigger. There was no disintegration ray involved. The alien guarding the main gate used vasoconstrictor-based pistols. That’s how Jeter and Amir died, from internal bleeding. The medical report that wasn’t shown on TV confirmed it.

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16 October 2017 ~ 0 Comments

DP FICTION #32B: “Three Days of Unnamed Silence” by Daniel Ausema

A letter would be waiting for me at home, a real physical letter, like the old days. I knew about it, knew what it would mean, as I rushed through the day, calibrating grading bots and marking AI tests. As soon as I met my quota and had the batteries for my hDevice fully kinked, I hurried down to the great rotating front door.

The grunt whose effort powered the door slipped just as I approached. It shouldn’t have been a problem. Engineers work all kinds of failsafes into the systems so what a grunt does won’t go directly into the connected machine. Supposed to, anyway. But for some reason, the grunt’s tripping translated into an interruption in the door’s power, which made the door jerk. I slammed my shin into it, limped inside.

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11 September 2017 ~ 0 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is a near future dystopia published in 1985 about a United States of America that has become an oppressive theocracy.  ((It has also very recently become a TV series streaming on Hulu, but I haven’t seen the show so I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about that)

Offred lives in Gilead, the theocratic country that the United States has become in a near future.  The Christian Bible is the rule of the land, or at least a very strict interpretation of a very selective subset of the Christian Bible.  Tales of the “way things used to be” are a constant mantra told by those in power to justify the extreme measures taken to uphold the current law, tales of when women could not walk the street without being harassed, when women were expected to paint themselves for beauty, when women had to fear rape and assault.  Women are safe now, they say, treated as the precious vessels they are meant to be, to bear children as God intended.  There is a wall in town where the body of criminals are hung on display: atheists and homosexuals and adulterists and traitors and others.  All for the safety of the good citizens of Gilead, of course.

A lingering effect of the way things used to be is low fertility across the population, caused by some mixture of chemicals, diet, medications, intentional blocking of fertility, and other causes.  In the new world women who can’t produce children are unwomen, sent to labor camps to live short miserable lives.  Lower class women, at least.  Upper class women may be assigned handmaids who, inspired by the tale of Jacob’s handmaiden in the Bible, may act as a pregnancy proxy for an infertile wife (according to the dictates of Gilead, no man is infertile, it is always the wife).

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16 June 2017 ~ 9 Comments

DP Fiction #28B: “Regarding the Robot Raccoons Attached to the Hull of My Ship” by Rachael K. Jones and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

From: Alamieyeseigha, Anita To: Alamieyeseigha, Ziza Date: 2160-11-11   Dear Ziza, You already know what this is about, don’t you, dear Sister? The robot raccoons I found clamped along my ship’s hull during this cycle’s standard maintenance sweep? Oh, come on. Really? You know I invented that hull sculler tech, right? They’ve got my corporate […]

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01 May 2017 ~ 2 Comments

DP Fiction #27A: “The Things You Should Have Been” by Andrea G. Stewart

“You should have been a doctor,” my mother said. She squinted at me through the screen, as though the new computer I’d bought her had some secret flaw. She never quite trusted that it was better than her old one. “You always liked stitching when you were small. Remember that shirt you made? So many compliments!”

“Mom, it’s a little late for that. I’m thirty-three.” I tugged at the hem of my jacket, my elbows rubbing against the chair’s metal armrests. Fidgeting usually helped me calm my nerves. It didn’t help now. It had seemed simple on paper: five years away from home. Now the only thing I could think of was the blackness of space beyond these metal walls.

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17 April 2017 ~ 0 Comments

DP Fiction #26B: “The Long Pilgrimage of Sister Judith” by Paul Starkey

When she heard the call to prayer Sister Judith knew something was wrong, even if she couldn’t immediately identify what was amiss. As she was wont to do when she was anxious, she tugged at the rosary around her neck, and it was as she did this that her mind put two and two together. […]

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12 April 2017 ~ 0 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas

World War II is over, decisively ended when the Empire of Japan unleashes their new superweapon on t sthe United States of America. Soon they are declared the United States of Japan, under the rule of the Emperor.

The story begins from the point of view of people held in an internment camp for Japanese-American citizens, who are immediately released upon the Japanese seizing control. 40 years later, the child of one of those, Beniko Ishimura, is working as a video game censor as the subversive video game United States of America starts gaining popularity. United States of America is an alternate history war game where the United States won World War II. Meanwhile, Akiko Tsukino of one of the secret police forces, is out to investigate the game herself. They cross paths and begin to uncover deeper secrets about the game and about the United States of Japan.

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27 February 2017 ~ 0 Comments

The Best of Escape Pod 2016

written by David Steffen Escape Pod is the weekly science fiction podcast, edited by Norm Sherman, what is I think the longest running science fiction podcast out there. In February Escape Pod once again participated in the Artemis Rising event across the EA podcasts. Escape Pod published 43 stories in 2016. Every story that is […]

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