Read about the contributors to our fourth issue and see excerpts from each article or story.
The media are already part of our exploration of space and when we have permanent settlements, the challenges, temptations and enthusiasm for a story will be the same for reporters as Tige Aronsen discovers.
John Alfred Taylor amused us in the last issue with his tale of nano-technology disaster aboard a spa in space. Here, he takes a look at what happens to the sweat shops when they move off Earth and bring in the wrong person.
In our second issue, Derek introduced us to Olee's space bar. He returns there with an aptly titled story about an unlikely love match.
Ken Rand has sold stories to Weird Tales, Aboriginal SF, On Spec, and many more. He wrote The 10% Solution: Self-Editing for the Modern Writer for Fairwood Press. His first novel, The Eternity Stone, is out from The Fiction Works (www.fictionworks.com). Also watch for Voices of Wonder, from Wildside Press, and Stories From the Lucky Nickel, from Yard Dog Press. His website: www.sfwa.org/members/Rand/
Zeroes and commas. Lots of them.
More than I'd ever seen on a credit transfer voucher.
And all those zeroes and commas were made out to my account.
The voucher flimsy fluttered before my eyes like a moth in freefall caught in
the effeminate fingertips of Mr. Joshua Alexander Horn, one of the most powerful
men on Berenson Corporation Station Number One--The One, as we called the
orbital city. A BereCorp vice
president, Horn could toss money around like that, I knew.
But a voucher to me?
There it was, my name, on the "recipient" line:
Tige Aronsen, and my account number. TransSystem
InterNews newsworkers like me never see those numbers outside of dreams.
The validation line was blank.
So, Horn wanted to bribe me. He
wanted me to write a story, either favorably about him or unfavorably about some
enemy. Maybe he'd been caught with
his hand in the cookie jar and wanted me to not write a story. In a moment, he'd say something like "do what I ask and
I'll validate." What did he
I thought about what all those zeroes
and commas could buy. I could retire, quit the rat race for good, and get back to
Mars. I could get away from the
One's noise and pollution, it's stifling sameness, and the nightmarish view of a
desolate, charred Earthome constantly overhead.
And there was Tira.
A woman like her needs money. I
got lucky that one time when she was slumming, but it would take many zeroes and
commas to make her a steady habit.
I could pay a few debts.
John Alfred Taylor was born in Missouri, and educated in Missouri, Iowa, and the school of hard knocks. Military service in Germany. Taught at University of New Hampshire, Rice University, and is now a Professor Emeritus of Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. He is currently finishing a time-travel novel set in Elizabethan London and describes research as hell.
Shoshanna was in free fall for the first time, and wasn't exactly sick, though she was wearing a bag with a sticky mouthpiece on a strap around her neck just in case. She didn't notice her queasy stomach – like most of the other girls born on Callisto, Shoshanna had never seen the stars except on a screen, and all of them were clinging to the net around the single port, oohing and aahing at the myriad points of brightness. There was even one girl with a bag already glued to her mouth hanging there, determined not to miss the stars.
might be their only chance, Shoshanna thought, but she wasn't going to say
anything that scary to the others. It was just a guess, and if she was wrong,
why have everyone nervous for nothing?
it was, it wouldn't be nice. Nobody bought sixteen kids and shipped them into
space for no reason. She didn't think it was for sex: Shoshanna was small for
twelve, and some of the girls were younger than she was. Besides, there were
places for that back in Callisto.
Doran's face turned red. "You did what?"
His boss, Dave, shrugged his
shoulders. "Couldn't be helped. Stan's out sick and Ned took his shuttle
"But not her. She's an
emigreen -- a pre-med student to boot."
"Hey, I'm an 'emigreen' too.
Almost everyone here is, or was, except you. Besides, I don't get that many
applications. Ain't a glamour job you know."
"Is now, if she gets
"She is hired ... and what's
that remark supposed to mean? You haven't got a thing for Eri have you?"
Doran took a deep breath and glanced
out the window. The tourist crowd below Dave's tiny, bare office swept along
Luna City's main lava tube like geese in a Terran travelogue, only in
Technicolor. Steady now. He turned back to Dave. Was that a smirk on his face?
"Dave, don't be an idiot."
"Then get out there and do your
It was a smirk. Doran wheeled
and bolted for the door, which hurried up and slid out of his way.
"Remember to check the parts
bin," Dave called after.
In the ready room beyond, Doran
clipped his helmet to his air tank frame, flopped his tool belt over his
shoulder, and ignored the spare parts bin in his rush to leave. With a practiced
lack of inattention, he headed for the elevator.
Trying to keep his mind off his new
partner, he calculated the time element of that morning's inspection tour.
In a few minutes Eri straighten up. "Hey? What's this?"
Doran leaned in close. The
synthrubber gaskets on the hatch seemed crinkled. He had never seen that before.
He shook his head. "Can't be anything."
Eri bent in, getting close to him.
Damn that perfume. "Do you know
how many Air Beams there are on Luna, not to mention their big brothers on space
stations and shuttles? How many years of safe operation? I've never heard of
even one malfunction."
She sighed. Her breath was warm,
scented with mint. Doran backed away.
But she continued to squint at the
hatch. "Uh, I hate to say this, but your faultless Air Beam is
"What? No way." He leaned
back in. "That's an allegory, escaping air doesn't really bubble."
But escaping air can cause swirls of
minute dust, which resemble bubbles.
"Helmets!" Doran grabbed
Eri barely hesitated before jerking
her helmet over her head and twist-locking the seal.
Doran waited long enough to make sure
Eri was secure, before scooping up the K9-Bot and moon‑shuffling for hell
down the tube. No time to cycle through the lock. He glanced back to make sure
Eri was with him. If they could just get far enough away …
The rush of air flung him off his
feet. He sprawled on the floor, clutching the K9 to his chest. The walls seemed
to close in on him. He felt Eri clinging to his boots, holding on in desperation
against the onrushing air.
Airborne dust and debris blasted past
them. Rocks of every size tumbled past – sucked toward the decompression site.
Doran spun away from boulders as they
rumbled by, Eri rolling with him. But there were too many. A big one slammed
into the K9, knocking the wind out of Doran. Another clobbered him on the back.
Derek Paterson tells us he lives in
Scotland, overlooking some of the loveliest island and mountain scenery you're
likely to find anywhere. His short fiction has appeared in Jackhammer E-zine,
Strange Horizons, This Way Up, NeverWorlds, and is currently available
from Eggplant Literary
Productions's Jintsu e-texts.
Who would have thought that "Mayday" Merrick would have fallen
for Olga Golenko? He the handsome,
square-jawed pilot who, it was said, regularly broke the hearts of sighing young
women. She the formidable assistant cook at Olee's Bar on the edge of Ganymede
Spaceport, noted for the perfection of her fried eggs and her ability to balance
six beer kegs on her broad shoulders when unloading the quarterly supply
transport from Earth.
A less likely match could not possibly have
been devised by a thousand AIs generating random word combinations for a
thousand Galactic cycles. And yet.
. . .
Buddy brought the grim news.
He stumbled into the bar, pushed his way through the early afternoon
crowd and sprawled across the counter, gasping for breath.
"Mayday's a gonner," he told his
avid listeners, after they'd poured two beers down his throat to revive him.
"He was flying out to Camp Nineteen on South Plateau.
Magstorm came up fast, before he could get out of there."
Buddy shook his head sadly and started on his third free beer.
"And that was all Mama wrote."
Olga pulled her pilot up onto the ledge and bent over him until their visors
were touching. The little men
gathered around them, solemn yet curious. He wasn't moving, wasn't saying anything.
She so badly wanted to open his visor and kiss him, but could not.
To her relief, his eyelids fluttered open.
The pilot stared up at her, uncomprehending.
"Do not talk," she whispered.
"I get medical kit."
"What a lovely voice," he said.
To her surprise, his gloved fingers stroked the curve of her helmet
visor, wanting to reach her face. "Are
you an angel? Have I died and gone
"Not yet," she said, and hot tears
burned their way down her cheeks. "You
must be very still. Wait, I be back
with medical kit."
She made to get up but he held her hand,
"Don't leave," he said.
I not be long."
His gaze drifted across the sky.
"He was going to shoot us."
Olga indicated the canyon.
"Down there, buried under much rock."
"Shhh. Talk later. Rest now."
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Last updated on September 9, 2007