The Hero of Port Walden

Before we go any further, let me stop to ask you some questions. I’m so excited to have met you, but there’s something I want to tell you before you enter the port. You see, I haven’t really been honest with you and you must have wondered why I was out here all alone….

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The Fog of Venus

Venusians do not worry about being on time, and I think I know why. It’s the fog—the dense fog that permeates the atmosphere and keeps visibility so low. Every terraformed planet has its quirks, and this is ours: though the poisonous gases have been removed, the…

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Squibbers

When Countess bit Zimin on the playground, her mom and dad got called in for a parent-teacher conference. Everybody was trying to pretend they weren’t upset by putting on smiley faces, but they were mad, Countess could tell. She wasn’t supposed to bite people till…

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Order in the Court

The judge pounded his gavel three times on the sound block. “Next case!” The bailiff stood at attention. “Sol versus Robert J. Walsh. Case Number 28769-807.61. Mr. Walsh was clocked doing 121,546 kilometers per hour within the ecliptic.” The judge scanned the arrest…

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The Difference Salt Makes

Carlos didn’t want to appear suspicious, so he stayed in a doorway three houses down from the corner. He tried to distract himself, thinking about the possibilities of using curry sauce in chicken Kiev, but he kept looking at the corner. Carlos wanted this to be over…

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Sugar and Spice

“It’s not that you’re boring,” John protested, even though it was. He hated conversations like this, and they always seemed to happen to him. This was his third uncomfortable breakup in as many months. “Then what is it?” Lila demanded, her pout twitching…

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The Creation

The curtain went down. The heat death of the universe played out in one last resounding note, the final dénouement to the performance. “Well.” The young one emoted wildly, sending sparks of light and beauty bouncing off its consciousness. “What did you…

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Fair-weather Friend

We finally did it. For centuries philosophers both of science and religion wondered how much it would take to push ourselves to the brink. They hypothesized and prayed to what end man would come if they kept pushing the limits. All of the wars fought, the corruption…

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Martian Bluff

Zai Lockheart felt slightly claustrophobic on her mother’s porch despite the open, rolling wilderness of the Martian countryside that surrounded her. The house was a pre-fab job—“my aluminum box” her mother called it—and it felt cheap and flimsy compared to…

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Diplomatic Relations

TO: Major-General Peter Wixtreed FROM: Colonel Todd Fuller RE: Continuing contact with Species #7652-28D As suggested, sir, we pressed for visual contact and after some time the diplomatic envoys gave in, though not without a good deal of trepidation. They seem…

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The Holy Brand

Julius Bright wasn’t a designer, though he was often mistaken for one. Julius was the man who made designers, who launched and crushed careers. He had owned magazines, was the heir to an incredible fortune, a net star, an idol. Twelve years ago, Julius Bright told…

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Pigment

Stretching his thin arms, Xytherzuk slipped into his council chair, the last of nine to be seated before the chamber of balance. The high-council glared down upon the little grey being staring up with black eyes that were nervous and begged for mercy. A being in robes…

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The Post-Emotional Age

Terina fumbled in her pocket for her pill box, a present from her mother. If you had to live with such an unfortunate disease, Mama had told her bluntly, you might as well have something nice and unobtrusive to hide the necessary medication. Terina had needed a pill…

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Saturn Swallows Its Children Whole

On Saturn’s ring plasma knives were illegal and as such, costly. Tangerine remembered Big Slab used to wear one around his neck, but she had never seen him use it. But this was Earth, and Earth was said to be civilized, unlike those settlements on Saturn’s rings….

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A Room of One’s Own

“It’s a transition period,” Meryl says, but everyone knows that once you’re in, it’s nearly impossible to get out. It’s a matter of logistics, really. We’re a three-person, which means that each of us gets about five waking hours per day. Take travel…

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From Liquid to Glass

She let him make love to her. He smelled like new cars and cologne, he moved with a measured rhythm. Her mouth tasted like mint toothpaste. She looked over his shoulder through the white light of the window. She was sweating into her sheets, her breath silent, and her…

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For Granted

Traditions are hard to break but the ones that mean something never go away. Today is just any other day for Marci except that today she walks to the store to get her groceries. Marci America is sweating after the first few steps of her journey to the store. She feels…

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Exodus

Daikan hadn’t told anyone about the birds. They were his secret, but each day, he had to prove to himself that his secret was still there. The fields stretched out wide and sun-kissed, rows of wheat and corn and the colonial crop of beravados swaying gently in the…

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