Luke Pebler is a graduate of the 2012 Clarion Workshop at UCSD, and my fiction has appeared in the Sword & Laser Anthology and others.
about the narrator…
Joshua Price adapts written works for the blind through his organization Beyond Sight Entertainment.
by Luke Pebler
When I wake, it is not yet hot. But it will be soon.
I am already thirsty.
I get up from the cot and go to the machine. I put my dick into the intake cup, and when my pee flows into the machine it clicks on automatically. I stretch and reach out to snag my camera by its strap. I review the shots I took yesterday while I finish going. The machine whirs while it does its work. I wait, still looking at photos.
When the machine beeps, it has produced almost eight ounces of clean warm water. I sip some of it, just enough to wet my mouth, and put the rest into a second machine.
When the second machine beeps, it has produced five ounces of hot coffee.
I crouch in the corner of the room, where the rising sun cannot find me. It is still cool here. I inhale deeply, wanting not even the steam of the coffee to go to waste. I sip.
When I look up, the boy is in the doorway, watching. I do not know how long he’s been there.
Jason Sanford is the award-winning author of a number of short stories, essays, and articles, and an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Born and raised in the American South, he currently lives in the Midwestern U.S. with his wife and sons. His life’s adventures include work as an archeologist and as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Jason has published more than a dozen of his short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone, which once devoted a special issue to his fiction. His fiction has also been published in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog: Science Fiction and Fact, InterGalactic Medicine Show, Tales of the Unanticipated, The Mississippi Review, Diagram, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Pindeldyboz, and other places. Book anthologies containing his stories include Year’s Best SF 14, Bless Your Mechanical Heart, and Beyond the Sun.
A collection of Jason’s short stories, titled Never Never Stories, was published by a small press in 2011.
Jason’s awards and honors include being a finalist for the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novella, winning both the 2008 and 2009 Interzone Readers’ Polls for best story of the year (and being a co-winner of the 2010 Poll), receiving a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, being nominated for the BSFA Award, and being longlisted for the British Fantasy Award. His stories have also been named to the 2012 and 2013 Locus Recommended Reading Lists along with being translated into a number of languages including Chinese, French, Russian, Polish, and Czech.
Jason co-founded the literary journal storySouth, through which he ran the annual Million Writers Award for best online fiction. His critical essays and book reviews have been published in a number of places including SF Signal, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and The Pedestal Magazine. He also writes a regular column for the Czech SF magazine XB-1.
about the narrator…
“I may not be perfectly wise, perfectly witty, or perfectly wonderful, but I am always perfectly me.” -Anonymous
I’m a horticulturist by trade, current stay at home mom for two children, team mom for the local Goalball team, and advocate for Blind/Visually Impaired causes and adoption causes. I love D20 gaming, reading, camping and canoeing, card playing, and music.
by Jason Sanford
“Ah Paprika, you dance so well,” Satoshi exclaimed each bright-sun morning, his praise always pleasing no matter how many times Paprika heard it. And Paprika could dance, she really could. Not like some of the olds, who’d spent millennia shaping their locked-down bodies through graceful movements. But still she could dance. Ballet. The Twist. The Bhangra.
Sometimes she’d make herself as tiny as Satoshi’s hand and pirouette for hours on his workbench while he reformed nano into exciting, long-lost toys. Other times she’d dance full sized–child sized as Satoshi would say, although Paprika knew to never speak that depressing word to customers. Paprika would create a full-flowing lehengas skirt–always the brightest of greens–and she’d dance in the store window, spinning and spinning until she was so overcome with happiness she’d dance through the window into the outside world, leaping and spinning to imaginary partners, bowing and smiling to the boys and girls who never came, flying across the deserted streets and passing in and out of the empty but perfectly preserved buildings surrounding Satoshi’s shop.
But whenever any of the few olds left in the city visited, Paprika restrained herself by simply sitting at her table in the window display. Not that she was for sell–Satoshi always made that clear to any customer who mistook her for other than what she was. With her young girl’s body and innocent happiness, Paprika knew she helped Satoshi sell more than merely the bright toys which populated his store. She sold nostalgia. Happy memories of long-vanished childhoods.
And if nostalgia helped keep Satoshi alive, that was fine with Paprika.
I’m an American speculative fiction writer. Born and raised in Chicago, I now live in the Greater Toronto Area. My short stories are often set in an alternate or near-future Chicago.
narrator Mandaly Louis-Charles
about the narrator…
My full name is Mandaly Louis-Charles. I was born and raised in the Caribbean Island of Haiti. I love languages. I promote my culture and native language on my blog at www.sweetcoconuts.blogspot.com
Into the Breach
by Malon Edwards
I’m off my bunk and into my jodhpurs, knee-high leather boots and flight jacket the moment the long range air attack klaxons seep into my nightly dream about Caracara.
Muscle memory and Secret Service training kick in; I’m on auto-pilot (no pun intended) and a good ways down the hall buttoning up both sides of my leather jacket to the shoulder a full thirty seconds before I’m awake.
And just so you know, the ever so slight tremble in my hands and fingers is not fear. It’s adrenaline. I’m cranked and ready to put my foot all up in it.
A door to the right opens and Pierre-Alexandre falls in on my right flank, his steps brisk like mine. Our boots echo down the long hallway as we make our way from the underground bunker at Soldier Field to the bunker at Meigs Field.
What you think we got? he asks.
My reptile mind—that wonderful, hedonistic thing of mine—notices how lovely his make-me-jump-up-and-dance-like-I-just-caught-the-Holy-Ghost-in-church dark skin looks in the red emergency scramble lighting.
I began writing short fiction in 2010 after a long career as a music and radio industry columnist and journalist. The second story I wrote and the first one I published, “The Old Equations,” appeared in Lightspeed magazine and went on to be named a finalist for the Nebula Award and to be shortlisted for the StorySouth Million Writers and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial awards. I’ve subsequently been published in Fireside Magazine, Escape Pod, and the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology of humorous SF.
I graduated from Kenyon College with degrees in English and Psychology. Kenyon not only taught me a love of reading and literature that will always be a part of my soul, it also gave me unique opportunities to be a better writer. While at Kenyon, I studied under writer-in-residence Ursula K. Le Guin and Peruvian playwright Alonso Alegria. Both have been big influences on how I approach writing.
While I continue to write short fiction, I am currently working on my first novel.
Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince
by Jake Kerr
In the early twenty-first century, author Lesley Hauge wrote an essay entitled “we are what we leave behind” to little fanfare. In the wake of the Meyer Impact in 2023, amidst the coming to terms with the shock and loss, the essay was rediscovered and rose to prominence with a new understanding that all we may know about half the planet is what they left behind.
Literary giant Julian Prince examined what–and more importantly–who we left behind. So it is entirely appropriate to examine his own life the way he examined those of the millions that died on that fateful day in 2023, by what he left behind–the interviews, the articles, his own words, and the words of others.
These are the fragments that make up the whole. For most of us that is all we have, and Prince knew that more than anyone.
So… Julian Prince… Julian Samuel Prince.
He was born on March 18, 1989, and died on August 20, 2057.
Prince was an American novelist, essayist, journalist, and political activist. His best works are widely considered to be the post-Impact novels The Grey Sunset (published in 2027) and Rhythms of Decline (published in 2029), both of which won the Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2031.
Prince was a pioneer of Impact Nihilism, a genre that embraced themes of helplessness and inevitable death in the aftermath of the Meyer Impact. His travelogue, Journey Into Hopelessness (published in 2026) outlined Prince’s return to North America, ostensibly to survey the damage to his home state of Texas. The book’s bleak and powerful language of loss and devastation influenced musicians, artists, and writers worldwide, giving voice to the genre as a counter to the rising wave of New Optimism, which sprang out of Europe as a response to the Meyer Impact and the enormous loss of life.
Not much is known of Prince’s early life. He spoke rarely of his childhood, and with the loss of life and destruction of records during the Meyer Impact, little source material remains. What is known is that Prince was an only child, the son of Margaret Prince (maiden name unknown) and Samuel Prince. He was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, but moved to Dallas, Texas, when he was eight years old. In an interview before his death, Prince noted:
“I was a good kid, a boring kid. I didn’t cause trouble, and trouble didn’t find me. I studied hard and planned on being a journalist, figuring that I was better at observing the world than shaping it. I graduated high school, and continued with my journalism classes via the net. Up until the Impact, I was thoroughly and utterly average.”
Michael Swanwick has received the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards for his work. Stations of the Tide was honored with the Nebula Award and was also nominated for the Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. “The Edge of the World,” was awarded the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award in 1989. It was also nominated for both the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. “Radio Waves” received the World Fantasy Award in 1996. “The Very Pulse of the Machine” received the Hugo Award in 1999, as did “Scherzo with Tyrannosaur” in 2000.
His stories have appeared in Omni, Penthouse, Amazing, Asimov’s, High Times, New Dimensions, Starlight, Universe, Full Spectrum, Triquarterly and elsewhere. .
His books include In the Drift, an Ace Special; Vacuum Flowers; Griffin’s Egg; Stations of the Tide; The Iron Dragon’s Daughter, a New York Times Notable Book, and Jack Faust; his short fiction has been collected in Gravity’s Angels, A Geography of Unknown Lands, Moon Dogs, Tales of Old Earth, and a collection of short-shorts, Cigar-Box Faust and Other Miniatures.
He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Marianne Porter, and their son, Sean.
About the Narrator…
Born in New York, Michael Liebmann is a legal secretary now living in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been everything from a convention organizer today to a trivia master at science fiction conventions in the 1970′s and 1980′s. He’s also an amateur voice actor who has worked on over 40 projects, most of which are based on Star Trek, and is now at work on the Babylon 5 fan audio drama Novo Babylonia.
The Dala Horse by Michael Swanwick
Something terrible had happened. Linnea did not know what it was. But her father had looked pale and worried, and her mother had told her, very fiercely, “Be brave!” and now she had to leave, and it was all the result of that terrible thing.
The three of them lived in a red wooden house with steep black roofs by the edge of the forest. From the window of her attic room, Linnea could see a small lake silver with ice very far away. The design of the house was unchanged from all the way back in the days of the Coffin People, who buried their kind in beautiful polished boxes with metal fittings like nothing anyone made anymore. Uncle Olaf made a living hunting down their coffin-sites and salvaging the metal from them. He wore a necklace of gold rings he had found, tied together with silver wire.
“Don’t go near any roads,” her father had said. “Especially the old ones.” He’d given her a map. “This will help you find your grandmother’s house.”
“No, Far-Mor. My mother. In Godastor.”
Godastor was a small settlement on the other side of the mountain. Linnea had no idea how to get there. But the map would tell her.
Her mother gave her a little knapsack stuffed with food, and a quick hug. She shoved something deep in the pocket of Linnea’s coat and said, “Now go! Before it comes!”
“Good-bye, Mor and Far,” Linnea had said formally, and bowed.
Then she’d left.
from Amazon.com… A screenwriter, novelist, and the award-winning author of over one hundred short stories, Matt spent a decade traveling the western hemisphere as a professional wrestler and combat instructor before retiring to write full-time. He now resides in Los Angeles and bleeds exclusively on the blank page.
He has no actual knowledge of the answer to life, the universe, and everything. But he makes sure to ask every demon he meets, just in case.
Knowing by Matt Wallace
A grey pallor hung heavy over the landscape. Heaven’s fire had long gone out, leaving the sky a cold hearth. The ashen soot that covered it might once have been the burning ember of eons, but now its livid color irradiated the early dawn. It soaked every molecule of air like a pale leaden necrosis, existing independently of the season, fostering neither cold nor heat.
A caravan of old cars rambled through the grey morning, balding tires rolling over the broken disrepair of State Highway 24. Chrysler Imperials and winged hatchback Newports, Chevy Chevelles and Novas and flatbed El Caminos, Dodge Darts and Coronets, Ford Fairlanes and Falcons, Lincoln Comets and Continentals, Olds Eighty-Eights and Cutlass Supremes; early 1960’s vintages, all. They traveled toward Oneonta, the Northern New York town whose name was taken from the Iroquois word for a place of meeting.
The Earth’s reclamation of its wilderness in post-nuclear North America continued. Lush foliage blurred as the cars headed deep into the rural upstate, creating rich green wraiths in their murky windows that danced and swooped and curved. The lead car, a Dodge Charger that outshined the rest by miles, would reach Gilboa around breakfast time.
There the wind blew warm through the world’s oldest forest. There they’d been called.
There they’d find the Answer.
by Arthur C. Clarke
Read by Norm Sherman Performed byGraeme Dunlop as Alveron; Steve Eley as Rugon; Nathaniel Lee as Orostron; Mur Lafferty as Hansur; Paul Haring as Klarten; Alasdair Stewart as Alarkane; Dave Thompson as The Paladorian; Ben Philips as T’sinadree; Jeremiah Tolbert as Tork-a-lee
Arthur C. Clarke was born in the seaside town of Minehead, Somerset, England in December 16, 1917. In 1936 he moved to London, where he joined the British Interplanetary Society. There he started to experiment with astronautic material in the BIS, write the BIS Bulletin and science fiction. During World War II, as a RAF officer, he was in charge of the first radar talk-down equipment during its experimental trials. His only non-science-fiction novel, Glide Path, is based on this work. After the war, he returned to London and to the BIS, which he presided in 46-47 and 50-53. In 1945 he published the technical paper “Extra-terrestrial Relays” laying down the principles of the satellite com- communication with satellites in geostationary orbits – a speculation realized 25 years later. His invention has brought him numerous prestigious honors. Today, the geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometers is named The Clarke Orbit by the International Astronomical Union. The first story Clarke sold professionally was “Rescue Party”, written in March 1945 and appearing in Astounding Science in May 1946. He obtained first class honors in Physics and Mathematics at the King’s College, London, in 1948.
In 1953 he met an American named Marilyn Torgenson, and married her less than three weeks later. They split in December 1953. As Clarke says, “The marriage was incompatible from the beginning. It was sufficient proof that I wasn’t the marrying type, although I think everybody should marry once”. Clarke first visited Colombo, Sri Lanka (at the time called Ceylon) in December 1954. In 1954 Clarke wrote to Dr Harry Wexler, then chief of the Scientific Services Division, U.S. Weather Bureau, about satellite applications for weather forecasting. Of these communications, a new branch of meteorology was born, and Dr. Wexler became the driving force in using rockets and satellites for meteorological research and operations. In 1954 Clarke started to give up space for the sea. About the reasons, he said: “I now realise that it was my interest in astronautics that led me to the ocean. Both involve exploration, of course – but that’s not the only reason. When the first skin-diving equipment started to appear in the late 1940s, I suddenly realized that here was a cheap and simple way of imitating one of the most magical aspects of spaceflight – weightessness.” In the book Profiles of the Future (1962) he looks at the probable shape of tomorrow’s world. In this book he states his three Laws: 1.”When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.” 2.”The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” 3.”Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In 1964, he started to work with Stanley Kubrick in a SF movie script. After 4 years, he shared an Oscar Academy Award nomination with him for the film version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He co-broadcasted the Apollo 11 , 12 and 15 missions with Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra for CBS. In 1985, He published a sequel to 2001 : 2010: Odyssey Two. He worked with Peter Hyams in the movie version of 2010. They work was done using a Kaypro computer and a modem, for Arthur was in Sri Lanka and Peter Hyams in Los Angeles. Their communications turned into the book The Odyssey File – The Making of 2010. His thirteen-part TV series Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World in 1981 and Arthur C. Clarke’s World of strange Powers in 1984 has now been screened in many countries. He made part of other TV series about the space, as Walter Cronkite’s Universe series in 1981. He has lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka since 1956 and has been doing underwater exploration along that coast and the Great Barrier Reef. So far it has been to over 70 books, almost as many non-fiction, as science fiction. In March 1998, his latest, and probably last, novel: 3001: The Final Odyssey was released.
Rescue Party by Arthur C. Clarke
Who was to blame? For three days Alveron’s thoughts had come back to that question, and still he had found no answer. A creature of a less civilized or a less sensitive race would never have let it torture his mind, and would have satisfied himself with the assurance that no one could be responsible for the working of fate. But Alveron and his kind had been lords of the Universe since the dawn of history, since that far distant age when the Time Barrier had been folded round the cosmos by the unknown powers that lay beyond the Beginning. To them had been given all knowledge–and with infinite knowledge went infinite responsibility. If there were mistakes and errors in the administration of the galaxy, the fault lay on the heads of Alveron and his people. And this was no mere mistake: it was one of the greatest tragedies in history.
The crew still knew nothing. Even Rugon, his closest friend and the ship’s deputy captain, had been told only part of the truth. But now the doomed worlds lay less than a billion miles ahead. In a few hours, they would be landing on the third planet.
Once again Alveron read the message from Base; then, with a flick of a tentacle that no human eye could have followed, he pressed the “General Attention” button. Throughout the mile-long cylinder that was the Galactic Survey Ship S9000, creatures of many races laid down their work to listen to the words of their captain.
“I know you have all been wondering,” began Alveron, “why we were ordered to abandon our survey and to proceed at such an acceleration to this region of space. Some of you may realize what this acceleration means. Our ship is on its last voyage: the generators have already been running for sixty hours at Ultimate Overload. We will be very lucky if we return to Base under our own power.
I’m not a huge fan of military SF. But I am a fan of post-apocalyptic SF. I’m not a huge fan of augmented-humanity SF. But I am a fan of humans-aren’t-the-most-powerful-people-in-the-universe SF. So when author Jonathan C. Gillespie put out his new novel The Tyrant Strategy: Revenant Man I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my cup of post-apocalyptic, augmented humanity, military-style, humans-aren’t-so-great tea.
That’s an awfully complicated blend, by the way. Not too many people sell it.
Carmela wouldn’t have stopped if she had known that the kid was still alive.
She spotted the body lying under a creosote bush, maybe ten yards from
the road, and she hit the brakes. She grabbed the roll cage of the
old dune buggy and pulled herself up, standing on the driver’s seat to
scan in both directions along the unpaved road. A dust devil twirled
a silent ballet off to the southeast, but hers was the only man-made
dust trail in evidence for miles. She raised her hand to cover the
sun and squinted into the bleached, cloudless sky–no vultures yet,
which was good, since vultures attract attention. Minimal risk, she
The dune buggy itself wasn’t that valuable, but the newer-model solar
panels powering it would be enough to tempt any sane person, and the
carboys of potable water were worth a small fortune out here.
Carmela swung out of the dune buggy and jogged over to check out the
body. It was tall but skinny, with the not-yet-filled-out look of a
teenager. Pale skin, a tint of sunburn, brown hair cropped at
chin-length. The girl was lying face down in the dust, so Carmela
rolled the body over and checked her front pockets for anything of
interest. A month ago, she would have felt ashamed, but scavenging
was the norm down here; after all, dead people don’t miss what you
take from them.
In a time of thousand-page fantasy epics, a little book like Genevieve Valentine’s Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti is easy to overlook. I recommend making the effort to track it down. Mechanique is a beautifully written book. Genevieve Valentine says more with hints and suggestions than some authors can say in a thousand words of blunt narration. There is more truth in Mechanique than in other books twice its size.
Mechanique has been categorized “steampunk,” but it does not indulge in the Victorian nostalgia that marks the steampunk literature that I’m familiar with. The world of Mechanique is a post-war wasteland, where last scraps of civilization survive in walled cities. It is outside these cities that the Circus Tresaulti pitches its tents. Little George, the book’s first person narrator, is the circus’s advance scout, putting up posters and checking the mood of the inhabitants to see if they’re the kind of people who might enjoy a circus — or who would rather enjoy chasing a circus out of town.
The mechanical legs that Little George wears for these excursions are fake, but the core of the circus are its genuine half-mechanical performers. Women with metal bones, men with reinforced mechanical bodies, and, once, a man with mechanical wings. It sounds like a good deal — have your fragile and overheavy bones replaced with light, flexible copper and spend your days on a high-flying trapeze. The Boss doesn’t take just anyone, though, and being accepted by Boss and having the bones installed doesn’t mean you’ll survive being part of the act.
No one joins the Circus Tresaulti who isn’t at least a little bit broken. Valentine’s narrative is equally fractured, slipping from second person to third person, pausing in the present tense and then sliding back into the past. Little George narrates in first person. Elena and a few other characters narrate in third person. The reader also hears whispers and asides from another narrator, the voice of the storyteller, who points out when the characters aren’t quite being honest with themselves. The overall effect is strange, and could be off-putting for many readers. I found it entrancing.
Readers of Fantasy Magazine and Beneath Ceaseless Skies will already be familiar with stories about the Circus Tresaulti. All of those stories are available as podcasts: Study, for Solo Piano; The Finest Spectacle Anywhere; Bread and Circuses. If you’re unsure whether you’ll like Mechanique, give those a listen. The tone and the style of the narration does not change from the stories to the book. Valentine just pulls the curtain back a bit more in her novel, and lets her readers see things that she only hinted at in the short stories.
Mechanique steps away from traditional adult fantasy literature with its illustrations. I heartily approve of this trend. The artist who did the cover (and the promotional Tresaulti tickets) has done a handful of lovely black and white illustrations for the interior. One picture in particular that stands out in my mind is the drawing of Elena sitting alone in the big top, swinging back and forth on the trapeze and staring away into the darkness.
Mechanique is surreal. The narrative is nonlinear and the magic works because Boss says so. Readers looking for traditional fantasy narratives should probably look elsewhere. Fans of Genevieve Valentine, and those readers who are willing to take a risk, should buy a ticket for the Circus Tresaulti. They have beer in glasses, dancing girls, and mechanical marvels to shock and amaze you.