James Beamon discovered awhile back that if he wrote down some of the stuff he randomly makes up all the time, people might print it. It’s been a semi-charmed life ever since with his stories popping up at F&SF, Apex Magazine, Daily Science Fiction and a slew, or maybe a half slew, of others. An Air Force veteran who’s deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, James now lives in Virginia with his wife, son and a cat who thinks his part-time job is alarm clock, even on weekends. Especially on weekends.
about the narrator…
Dom is an artist living in Silver Spring, Maryland. He also runs a show online called Dom’s Sketch Cast where he makes art while listening to music and interviewing creative people.
The Wind You Touch When You Run
By James Beamon
This pursuit starts as they all start, going after the Underground Railroad. It will end as it always ends, with us feeding the Minotaur. The in-between is where I tell tales.
I wipe sweat from my eyes while my son Langston squints under the blue-white light of this alien sun, scanning the swollen green and purple foliage for signs of recent human passage. He points his machete at a fresh boot print obscured by dense undergrowth. We pick up pursuit, south. It reminds me of a little-known facet of my favorite story.
“The original Underground Railroad ran south to Spanish controlled Florida a lot longer than it ran north,” I tell Langston. “I’m talking more than two hundred years, going as far back as the fifteen hundreds, and lasting until well after the Revolution.”
J. M. Evenson lives with her husband and young children in Los Angeles.
about the narrator…
Stephanie Malia Morris works in a bookstore by day and a library by night. She has narrated for StarShipSofa, Far Fetched Fables, and all four of the Escape Artists podcasts, guest-blogged on subjects ranging from book recommendations to zombie turkeys, and performed Shakespeare in a handful of weird churches. She is a recent graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. You can find her on Twitter at @smaliamorris
The Spice Portrait
By J.M. Evenson
They said my love for my daughter was excessive, that I made her weak by kissing her and singing in her ear at night.
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about the author…
Bo Balder lives and works near Amsterdam. She is the first Dutch author to have been published in F&SF and Clarkesworld, after winning the prestigious Dutch Paul Harland Award twice. Her short fiction has also appeared in Nature Futures, Futuristica Vol. I and more. Her sf novel “The Wan”, by Pink Narcissus Press, was published in 2016.
about the narrator… Amy H. Sturgis holds a Ph.D. in Intellectual History from Vanderbilt University and specializes in both Science Fiction and Indigenous American Studies. She is regular staff with the StarShipSofa podcast, editor in chief of Hocus Pocus Comics, and faculty at Lenoir-Rhyne University. She lives with her husband in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
A House of Her Own
By B. Balder
Aoife was only eleven when she caught the little house in the forest. She surprised it as it drank from a puddle, half-hidden under a writhing tree root as large as her own body. Fast as an eel, she snaked her hand around it and held on tight. It was no bigger than a strawberry, all soft and furry and yellow. Even in the gloom of the giant, bad-tempered trees, it shone like a candle flame.
Alexis A. Hunter is a speculative short story writer in possession of a superbly shaped skull. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found cursing too much on Twitter or taking too many pictures of her daughter. Her stories have appeared in magazines such as Fireside Fiction, Shimmer, and Apex, among others. To learn more, visit www.alexisahunter.com — or if you aren’t afraid of a few (hundred) f-bombs, follow her on Twitter (@alexisahunter).
about the narrator…
Alex is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. They have had short stories in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Daily Science Fiction, Shimmer, and more. They live in Denver (where they bicycle, drink tea, and twirl their ever-so-dapper mustache) with their two furry little bastards cats.
Your Body, By Default
By Alexis Hunter
They brought you back because they want something from you. Maybe one day they will bring people back because they can or because it’s the right thing to do — but for now there’s you and there’s them and there’s the unspoken obligations that lie between you both.
The IED blew your body into pieces: bone and brain and blood, sprayed in the sand with the twisted shell of your tank.
Maybe you weren’t always happy with your body; maybe your breasts were smaller than you would have liked and your toes reminded you of tree roots and there was that one mole right in the middle of your back that you always managed to catch with the hook of your bra; but it was your body. Your history was written in scars and tattoos. And you knew it, inside and out.
You made it yours over the years — the shaved sides of your head accenting the bright shock of magenta hair spilling over the top, the solid black contact lenses that made pupil and iris indistinguishable, the ornate scrolling ink that wrapped your ribcage.
This hunk of flesh you now inhabit is foreign. It is devoid of scar and ink and memory. It bulges or dips in all the wrong places. What it is is wrong, just as what it isn’t is wrong. It’s ten kinds of not you and you’re helpless under this skin.(Continue Reading…)
Alex Yuschik is a PhD candidate in Mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh studying set theoretic topology. Aside from math and writing, Alex likes ghosts, burritos, and video games, which when all put together sounds like a pretty great party. Alex is also the proud owner of a Shiba Inu named Kebab.
about the narrators…
Originally born in Texas, Tren eventually escaped and wound his way through a mystical series of jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area where he has worked as a software QA Tester for both graphics drivers and video games, a freelance mascot performer, and several jobs on a PBS kids’ show. For most of his life, people have told him that his voice is a pleasure to listen to. But since being a werewolf phone sex operator can get boring, he decided to use his powers to entertain a broader audience.
Adam Pracht lives in Kansas, but asks that you not hold that against him. He’s currently unemployed, so if you need a full-time writer, editor, narrator, marketer, PR guru or, frankly, someone to pull your weeds if you offer health insurance… drop him a line. He was the 2002 college recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy award for writing about the disadvantaged and has published a disappointingly slim volume of short stories called “Frame Story: Seven Stories of Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Horror & Humor” which is available from Amazon as an e-Book or in paperback. He’s been working on his second volume – “Schrödinger’s Zombie: Seven Weird and Wonderful Tales of the Undead” – since 2012 and successfully finished the first story. He hopes to complete it while he still has the hang of the whole living thing.
Texts from the Ghost War
By Alex Yuschik
While I realize driving that mech likely takes all of your limited resources, please take care not to step on the roses.
Don’t step on the roses. I don’t care if we’re under imminent attack.
Your mech is standing so close to them I’m cringing.
about the author… Matt Dovey is very tall and very English and most likely drinking a cup of tea right now. He has a scar on his arm where the ice of Europa cut through his suit and left him gasping for air on a Jovian moon that he can’t remember leaving. He now lives in a quiet market town in rural England with his wife & three children, and despite being a writer, he still hasn’t found the right words to properly express the delight and joy he finds in this wonderful arrangement.
His surname might rhyme with “Dopey”, but any other similarities to the dwarf are purely coincidental. He was the Golden Pen winner for Writers of the Future in 2016, was shortlisted for the James White Award the same year, and is an associate editor over at the best fantasy fiction podcast in this world and the next, PodCastle. He has fiction out and forthcoming all over the place; you can keep up with it at mattdovey.com, or follow along on Facebook and Twitter both as @mattdoveywriter.
about the narrator…
Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin fantasy trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked YA series from Tor Teen. Her novels have been finalists for the Nebula and the Norton.
Her narrations have appeared in Podcastle, Pseudopod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, John Joseph Adams’ The End is Nigh series, and more. She co-hosts Escape Pod and runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake.
The Ghosts of Europa Will Keep You Trapped in a Prison You Make for Yourself
By Matt Dovey
–then scooted her chair over to the microscope. Amira only needed a glance at the holographic zoom floating over the scope. The viral cells were replicating rapidly, budding and splitting at a phenomenal rate.
“Hey, Mariana, look at this.” Amira indicated the hologram, then was struck, at once, with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu: something beyond the familiarity of her lab and its clean white surfaces, or the flat icy plains of Europa beyond the carbonglass windows. And more than the déjà vu, there was a feeling of _instantaneousness_, that this moment had arisen out of nothing, that nothing was all that had been there before, that everything had just–_appeared_. (Continue Reading…)
Gwendolyn Clare is a New Englander transplanted to North Carolina. She holds a BA in Ecology, a BS in Geophysics, a PhD in Mycology, and
swears she’s done collecting acronyms. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, among others.
about the narrator…
Dionne Obeso is a freelance editor and a writer of science fiction and fantasy. Her awesome flash fiction can be found at SpeckLit.com and Daily Science Fiction. When she isn’t adventuring in fantastical worlds, exploring alien environs, or trekking through the high Sierras, she returns to her home base in the California Bay Area to remind her husband what she looks like. She has purple hair, a secret identity, and a strong position on the Oxford comma.
Holding the Ghosts
By Gwendolyn Clare
Abby was in control of the body the first time a glitch occurred. She was “home from college for the long weekend”–that’s what the imprinted memories showed, at least–and her mother was pouring dollops of blueberry pancake batter onto the sizzling cast-iron griddle.
Her father had found an excuse to go into work on a Saturday morning, as he often did ever since Abby “went off to college.” She assumed this was her father’s strategy for coping with empty nest syndrome and tried not to feel hurt by his avoidance. Her interpretation wasn’t entirely incorrect, but of course she did not comprehend exactly how empty the nest was.
When Abby stopped living with them full time, the body stopped being Abby full time. Leasing the body was quite expensive, so this was the only logical decision. But Abby’s father could not reconcile himself to the idea that Abby only existed on the weekends when they rented the body, never mind that the techs would fabricate memories for her so that she believed she had experienced all the intervening days.
The body shouldn’t have known this. The body should only know what Abby knew.
“Do you want another one? We’ve still got some batter here.”
Abby looked up from the purple-and-amber swirls of blueberry juice and maple syrup she was prodding with her fork. “Um… no thanks, Mom. I think I’m full.”
“I wish you wouldn’t worry about the freshman fifteen,” her mother fussed. “If anything, you look like you’ve lost a few pounds this semester.”
“I’m not your daughter, you know. I’m just carrying her ghost for a while.” (Continue Reading…)
Sam Ferree grew up in what Neal Stephenson called a Midwestern American College Town (MACT) and has never really left. That, and being surrounded by lawyers for most of his life, has made him somewhat obsessive-compulsive about supporting his comments with citations and factual evidence.
In 2010, Sam graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in English after spending a year abroad in Freiburg, Germany. He spent most of his college career haunting the Mill and Java House, producing short plays with Free Association Student Theatre, agonizing through writing workshops, and pestering the college and English department into making a undergraduate creative writing program.
After graduating, he did that cliche post-English-BA-thing and worked in a coffee shop and bookstore before signing up for AmeriCorps. He moved to New Orleans and wrote grants and copy for a housing rehabilitation nonprofit. In June, he moved to St. Paul and now works as a communications associate at another small nonprofit.
In the summer of 2011, Sam published his first short story with the great Sybil’s Garage, and his work has since appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magainze, Deimos eZine, and Daily Science Fiction. His play, “The News is Next,” won the Nicholas Meyer Scholarship for Dramatic Writing and he is a alumnus from Young Playwrights’ Incorporated from 2006. Mostly he writes speculative fiction, personal essays, and plays and takes a perverse pleasure in copy and grant writing.
Also, Sam reads a lot, and drinks too much coffee. He wears sports coats for the pockets and has a habit of ending his sentences with “so…” He is estranged from reality and divorced from practicality. Driving instructors have said he is a master at parallel parking.
about the narrator…
As an undergraduate at Georgia Tech, I was very involved with the campus radio station, WREK 91.1 FM. I’m back doing some things for them now, including an airshift (that I no longer do but I’m leaving the page up.) That page has some of my play lists from when I was doing the shift – jazz, baby! WREK is a very good and very different station, so follow the links and learn more about it. I rebuilt their automation system, revamped their database and did the CGI scripts that show you (limited) playlists, recent additions to programming and the music database search.
I now have online a project that I did in some AI courses in grad school. It is a digit recognition neural network and if I say so myself, I think it is pretty cool. It was one of the first things I did in Java, so it isn’t as elegant in design and execution as it could have been, but it does the trick.
The Law of Gravity
by Sam Ferree
That sunrise was the best they had made yet. The air was cool, not cold, and the Termination was just the right shade of pomegranate red around the sun. The light breeze smelled like oranges. It reminded me of candy, not real fruit, just that imitation flavor that somehow tastes better than the real thing.
“I think Lauren’s dead,” Lukas repeated, his avatar’s young face contorted in disgust. Lukas had chosen a runner’s physique, because, out there, he’d been a track star in college; why that mattered to him was beyond me.
“What do you mean you think she’s dead?” I asked. We were sitting at Reel Café — a not-so clever pun, I thought — at the edge of the patio. We had met there every Monday morning for years.
My coffee was cold and my cigarette spent. Lukas had ordered his usual Earl Grey and a grapefruit, but he hadn’t touched either one.
Lukas shook his head. “Her avatar is in Smith Field. Just standing there, staring off at nothing. It’s been doing that for weeks. I spoke with a friend of mine, an administrator. They’re shutting down her account because her fees are overdue. She hasn’t been away from the Flat for more than two days in decades. She’s dead, Noah.”
“So she’s been away for a few weeks. That doesn’t mean anything.”
“But it’s a pretty good sign she isn’t coming back.”
The orange scent was fading and Lukas was silent. I said, “Well, what do we do?”
“What?” Lukas looked up. Eventually, he shrugged. “I suppose we arrange a funeral.”
I nodded, but said, “I don’t actually think she’s dead.”
“She is,” Lukas muttered. His twenty-something avatar wore an old man’s bitterness.
I picked up my coffee. The mug looked like it had been made by a five year old. Everything about the Reel Café had that hokey-imperfection. When you sat in the chairs, you half-expected a distinguished looking gentleman to walk up and ask you to please not sit on the dadist art.
I dropped the mug. It shattered with a disappointing crack. A nearby waiter started toward me, glowering and brandishing a towel like a gladiatorial weapon.
“Why did you do that?” Lukas asked.
“Just testing,” I said, knowing that Lauren would have been less than amused. (Continue Reading…)
Okay, I’m not going to lie to you: I got myself a copy of Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson because, hey, Tara wrote a book.
Yes, I know, I know, the actor is not the character. And yes, I’ve seen other work Benson has written, performed, and directed. I was kind of expecting a certain type of novel, and to a certain extent, I did get it.
I also apparently stumbled into chick-lit. How did that happen?