Read about the contributors to our seventh issue and see excerpts from each article or story.
A unique way of encouraging us to keep our cities clean has unforeseen side effects for Nick and those like him.
A youth from out of town who needs help tracking down his lost brother leads Shahtsi to assemble an assortment of characters to find him.
When Mary Maynard disappears on a space station, Kit her student is determined to find her, even though the authorities aren't convinced she's there.
Mary Turzillo takes the idea of a Greek legend and brings it up to date in a story about the perils of Virtual Reality that may not be as far into our future as we would like to believe.
In a future world where a tattoo defines your genetic suitability to become a parent, some people will do anything to have a child. A plan Rick goes along with until at twenty-eight, he learns what it means to take responsibility.
A cover up at the local Linear Accelerator is the least of Phil Jackson's worries when he sees words on signs that are different from the words others see. That is until he discovers a link between the two.
Nursing the elderly in a secure Luna nursing home takes on a new dimension for Jun as her charges inexplicably begin dying.
K. D. Wentworth was born and attended college in Oklahoma. She teaches elementary school and won the Writer's of the Future contest in 1998. Since then, she has sold over fifty short stories -- two of them Nebula finalists.
wandered the teeming New York streets, as always in the forlorn hope of finding
something, anything, however small, to deposit. It was late June and heat
had descended over the suffering city every morning for the past week until it
seemed everyone would smother.
he had lost his home, he had not understood what a palpable presence the heat
could be, how it could stalk you like a thief and steal the very breath out of
your lungs. He picked his way around the sizzling stretches of bare pavement
when he could, but was often forced to cross and then the heat seared his bare
feet to the bone. Shoes would have protected him, but even if he’d possessed a
pair, in his present state of desperation, he wouldn’t have been able to keep
them on for more than five minutes. He’d picked up a free ham and cheese
sandwich down at the shelter, but he couldn’t bring himself to eat it yet.
Real food always tasted like sawdust these days.
Then, when he rounded the corner, he saw it, the blue-and-white city trash can standing like a beacon across the street. A sleek middle-aged woman, salt-and-pepper hair pinned up against the heat, stopped before its open maw and tossed in a cigarette butt. The ever present ache curled up around his spine like a sleeping dragon twitched its tail.
Two seconds later, the trash receptacle judged the refuse ‘acceptable’ and vented it down to the great fusion conversion torch beneath the city. The woman’s head arched back as the can stimulated the pleasure centers within her brain.
hands shook. He hadn’t eaten for four days and now this. Blotting the sweat
off his face with the back of a threadbare sleeve, Nick felt his bare foot take
that first step into the overheated street. The woman opened her eyes and strode
off, a vacant smile on her face. Nick took another step toward the trash can as
she disappeared around the corner. He was holding the sandwich so tightly now
that it had gone shapeless between his fingers. It would have tasted like
cardboard slathered with glue anyway.
as well feed it to the can ... might as well ...
Marian Allen lives in Indiana with her husband, children and an assortment of animals. She has worked as a high school teacher, accountant, executive secretary and Red Cross youth worker. Her three novels have been published by Serendipity Systems. She is a member of the Southern Indiana Writer's Group.
was standing here, right on this very spot, when
on, get out of here,” I said. “You're blocking the table.”
looked around, but nobody was interested in jewelry and holy trinkets; this
stuff I put outside usually grabs tourists, but this was off-season. He pulled
out his pink slip – his status papers – to show me he was freehold – as if
I couldn’t tell from his neck: no collar, you know? – as of the Release.
at the Release – comes every seven years – all slaves are freed. All slave
records automatically roll over to freehold at the Central Registry.
doing that face: that ‘slavery is evil’ face you Terrans make. Excuse me, I
don’t mean to be rude, but it gets my back hairs up. Look at this – look at
how they’re standing on end back there. I hate that.
slaves get a signing fee – sometimes pretty hefty – in place of a salary.
They have a union. No kidnapping allowed, like you people used to do. Okay,
okay, it was before your time. No offense meant, none taken, I hope. Every seven
years, they’re all freed and either sign up again or don’t.
you're free,” I said to the beggar. “Congratulations.”
need a place to spend the night, and some food.”
tell me? Look – ” I pointed across the street. “There's a man with a
brazier. Smell that spiced meat? He sells that to hungry people. And look over
there – there’s a sign in that window, ‘Rooms to Let’.”
don’t have any money.”
that my problem?”
me. Please.” He held out his palms, like this, with the fingers spread.
That’s like a kit wanting to be picked up, it’s that kind of asking. He was
telling me he wasn’t a man compared to me, that his universe revolved around
me. His palms were calloused but not cracked. He had done plenty of hard work on
a long-term basis; had kept his pads medicated until they toughened up, a sure
sign of a good worker. So what was he doing in the city, asking me for a
Cherith Baldry was born in Lancaster, England and studied at Manchester University and St. Anne's College, Oxford. After a time teaching, including lecturing at the University of Sierra Leone, Cherith is now a full time writer. Her novel, The Reliquary Ring is published by MacMillan this year.
looking for information about Mary Maynard,” the young man said. “My
name’s Kit Austen. They told me to come here at the check-in. You are the head
of Admin., Mr...?”
eyed him coldly from behind his desk. “Curtis. Stephen Curtis. And who exactly
are you? Have you authorization? We don’t hand out information to just
Kit dug into an inside pocket and produced a plastic identity strip. “You do
remember Mary Maynard, then?”
fed the strip into his computer and examined the details that flashed up on the
monitor. His unexpected visitor’s identity strip was in order, and carried
clearance from the University where Mary Maynard had worked. Somehow Stephen
found that irritating.
handed back the strip. “Here at Interchange we
what can you tell me?”
touched a key, and information rippled up on his screen. “Mary Maynard arrived
here on the regular shuttle from Earth, and booked a room for five days while
she waited for her connection to Sirius Three.”
right. She was due to speak at a conference.”
never made that connection. Our investigations discovered that no one had seen
her for twenty-four hours before that. All the evidence suggests that she either
stowed away on a different ship, or opened an airlock and stepped out into
shook his head. “Mary wouldn’t do either of those things. She wasn’t like
that. I suppose you did run a lifesigns check to make sure she wasn’t still on
gave him an unfriendly stare. Kit was a tall young man dressed in rumpled denim.
His tawny hair was brushed back as if he faced into the wind. He had a backpack
slung over one shoulder, and carried a guitar, in its case, in the other hand.
In the antiseptic, recycled air of Interchange he somehow managed to bring a
breath of the outdoors. Stephen felt that he took up too much space, or perhaps
that his clean gray office was suddenly too small.
returned his look with a clear, interested gaze, showing nothing of the
revulsion, or worse still the horrified fascination that Stephen identified on
most people’s face when they first saw his scars.
fascination made Stephen uneasy with strangers. As Head of Admin., he could
usually delegate contact with the passengers to one of his
Mary Turzillo's story Mars is no Place for Children won the 1999 Nebula for Best Science Fiction Novelette. A former Kent State University professor, she has published stories in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Interzone, Science Fiction Age and anthologies in the United States, Germany, Italy and Japan.
her virtual kingdom, Dimitrea roved alone among atoms, exploring bonds, pulling
molecules apart, re-engineering tulips and radishes. Her work was her essence,
and she earned the green to live a bucolic life, patenting berries that tasted
like paradise, pineapples that eased arthritis, soy beans that cured breast
cancer. She was master of one of the two great technologies, and operator of the
Dimitrea was alone, and so, because she knew apples from oranges, there was a
pregnancy, and then there was Cora.
Cora blossomed. Helping plant bulbs one fair October day, Cora found a tiny,
propeller-nosed mole accidentally cut in two by Dimitrea’s spade, and begged
her mother to heal it.
had to explain that using the two technologies to work on animals was forbidden
by law, because it might lead to working the technologies on human DNA.
did not question that, then. Cora never questioned anything, then. But biddable
six-year-olds bloom into sullen preteens; it’s only natural.
one sultry afternoon when Dimitrea shed her headset, she saw that Cora had been
waiting, all hot to pounce, boiling over to talk. Dimitrea shook her head clear
of her current problem, virtual radicals to be transplanted until they
replicated the enzyme she needed. She stretched her neck to enjoy the stir of
you’ll positively logoff. I met Princess Di.”
sniffed something fishy, but she welcomed any chance to talk with her moody
child. “Princess Di? Where?”
tropic! So brave, and beautiful. And I saw Mother Theresa and Theodore Sturgeon
and – ”
– And not Elvis, I hope.”
zero it. Everybody has met Elvis. I got to
prickled the back of Dimitrea’s neck, where the headset had bit into her skin.
“You were surfing Hell, weren’t you? You promised me if I didn’t install
child-proof software you’d keep out of Z-rated worlds.”
world isn’t Z-rated. I mean, it is, but it shouldn’t be. Princess Di is
practically a Catholic saint.”
real Princess Di. God only knows what Haderic has done with her. Cora, you’re
only twelve. Keep to the mainstream sites.”
made as if to leave, then turned around. “I suppose that means you’ll try to
stop me from going to the VRom.”
that? Is the school running it?”
Resa Nelson has sold over a dozen stories to Science Fiction Age, Aboriginal and several anthologies. She is also the TV/Movie columnist for Realms of Fantasy.
watched anxiously as Abby undid the buttons
wasn’t that Abby's looks repulsed him. She was just the kind of woman who
failed to inspire a second glance. She was doughy and overweight. Skin pale and
freckled. Hair black and wiry.
one beautiful thing was what she didn’t have: a gene tattoo.
the way Abby stared at her license, she must have been on the verge of changing
her mind. Rick couldn’t let that happen. He’d invested too many years in
her. “What’s wrong?” he said.
didn’t look at him. Instead, she focused on the
Naked under Abby’s large and luxurious comforter, Rick slid over to the edge of the bed. If Abby wasn’t beautiful, at least she owned a beautiful sky-rise condo in the heart of Houston.
rooms were spacious, the carpets plush and feather soft, and the furniture was
heavy and expensive.
a soft and gentle touch, he caught her hovering hands inside his.
looked up abruptly. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m forty and
you’re twenty eight. Maybe I’m having second thoughts about – but I
can’t be having second thoughts! I’m so lucky. So fortunate. This is exactly
what I’ve always wanted. Beyond my wildest dreams, even. I don’t know, I
don’t know, I
gasped softly as Rick pressed the back of her hands to his lips.
watched her closely. He paid attention to the tiniest hint of color creeping
across her face. The expression in her eyes. The flickering of her gaze.
kissed her fingertips lightly. “Do you trust me?”
her hands trembled inside his, Rick
“Yes. Of course. I put my life in your hands every day.”
rose on his knees on Abby’s bed to face her as she stood next to it. He let
loose the last button and
Abby raised one arm to show him the
took a good look at it. He traced his fingertips around the scar. He drank in
the moment as if it were well-aged whiskey. He savored every second.
Her doctor had removed her Preconceive implant, leaving tiny and precise stitches. It was official. Now she could get pregnant. Abby was likely to be the richest and most powerful woman Rick would ever know, but touching the skin around her scar drove the point home.
didn’t notice the coming of the Sign Man. The first time I saw him he was
already a fixture on the corner halfway between the newspaper building and the
post office, tattered black overcoat flapping around him like last year’s
feathers on a molting crow. I met his mad eyes across the street for only an
instant before averting my own with the city-dweller’s practiced ease.
crude placard, today’s sign, hung below his matted beard. Careful block print
proclaimed, ‘RAAL COVER-UP!’
I looked again. RAAL was the Russell Affiliated Accelerator Lab, where I was
headed to do an interview. But no, the sign read ‘RAFFLE COVER-UP,’ and in
smaller letters, ‘Lies in the House of God.’
blinked. I knew the story; I’d written it. A recent local scandal in a
church-run funding scheme. But I could have sworn the sign said “RAAL.” I
stopped walking and watched the Sign Man while the ‘Don’t Walk’ sign
blinked its crimson warning. He began shouting, one fist pounding an imaginary
I had RAAL on my mind, I rationalized, since I was on my way out there. And I
had only glanced at the sign. It happens. But my stomach writhed, as if I’d
eaten something disagreeable. If I closed my eyes I could still see the image of
the sign, the letters ‘RAAL’ sharply drawn.
light changed, and a well-dressed woman ahead of me glanced across at Sign Man
as she stepped off the curb. She did a double-take, cartoon-style, and stopped
abruptly. I almost bumped into her, but she just stood gaping across at the Sign
Man. He wasn’t even looking at her. He’d suddenly stopped shouting and was
thanking someone who'd pressed a coin into his hand.
woman turned to me, frowning. “What does that sign say?”
cover-up,” I answered. “Why?”
Her face drained as pale as Sign Man’s cheap white posterboard. “Thanks,” she choked, and hurried on across the street.
Bemused, I looked back at the Sign Man. He was staring at me. Expressionless and deliberate, he winked. A shiver pricked me, like I’d left my coat back at the office.
second of our gods died the morning of April
the time I was pushing the Rejuvenation machines and their accompanying sera
down the cool beige corridor to Madame Hsieh’s living quarters. The scent of
jasmine teased my nostrils as I steered the heavy cart down the hall; normally
the cart drove itself to appointments, but that was too slow for me today. I
wanted desperately to be on time so that Madam Hsieh could indulge in her one
vice: a cup of jasmine tea before the discomfort of Rejuvenation.
she wasn’t supposed to drink any caffeine at all, none of the Rejuvenated were
supposed to; but it was such a small vice, and a pleasant one at that. We would
sit cross-legged at the edge of a tiny pond and watch flame-colored carp glide
by as we sipped golden tea from china cups thin as eggshell. Tendrils of
fragrant steam rose from Madame Hsieh’s fingers and a smile of Buddha-like
tranquility settled upon her fine, ancient face.
knew I wouldn’t get in trouble for indulging Madame Hsieh’s one little vice;
so renowned and so thoroughly charming a woman could bend the rules, even on
Luna Prime. I felt a lopsided grin moving across my face as I stopped the cart,
and myself, in front of her doorway and pressed the door chime. Of all the
Rejuvenated I visited, she was my personal favorite, one of the few I
looked forward to seeing.
smell of jasmine grew stronger. Soon I’d hear her faint, crackly voice, ever
so faintly accented: “Jun. Early as usual. You do your job too well.”
pressed the door signal a second time. Madame Hsieh had reprogrammed it to sound
like wind chimes.
wind chimes tinkled again. No response.
Hsieh?” I leaned into the comm unit. “It’s Jun. I’m here for
Rejuvenation. Is there something wrong with your door signal?”
pressed my ear against the comm unit. A whisper came from the other side of the
door: “Li...teh. Ah.”
The next thing I heard was breaking china.
instinct my right hand drew out the keypad and
lay before me, face down, surrounded by spilled tea and shards of porcelain. I
knelt by her side. Her pulse was weak and erratic. Her eyes were closed,
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Last updated on September 9, 2007