Originally published in Esquire, issue #3151, March 23rd, 2064. While waiting in the Austin terminal for my mono to Ottawa, I began to think. Ten years ago, this trip would’ve taken two hours. Now, it’s a brisk thirty-five minutes. Barely enough time for my coffee to cool down. I’m thankful for it, too. I hate the crowds. Constant shoving, the noise and chatter, the smells, the pick-pockets and wide-eyed gypsy kids. On the train, I buy breakfast from a peddler. Pancake cubes are my favourite but the girl only has fry-up cubes left. Another problem with the crowds. If they

She swept into the chamber more snowflake on the breeze than Empress of all. The swanlike feathers of her ballgown alighted in a mound of purest white, as she paused in exquisite repose. Standing at the top of the staircase, a sovereign amongst her vagabond horde, even the orchestra lingered on a note to admire her. The occasion demanded such excellence, and she delivered. The Empress of all who remained in our frozen world surveyed the ballroom’s dance floor with eyes of chill beauty. She took in each and every reveller with a single elegant sweep of her head. Seeing

Cephas again observed his body in the reflections of the broken glass in the control room. While lacking either male or female genitalia, the absence of breasts indicated a stronger likelihood of maleness. But there was no way to be sure. The people he watched and listened to were either male or female, masculine feminine, man woman, boy girl, guy gal, dude chick, gentleman lady, cowboy cowgirl, muchacho perra, gigolo slut. So far, Cephas had catalogued seven hundred sixty-two words used to designate male from female in a variety of contexts. When he watched their bodies move under grainy light

The small pinkish human pushes his round glasses back up his button nose and inclines his round-cheeked head, standing between two packed cylinders of silk thread taller than himself. He turns around and disappears through the shimmering portal. Zutroq attaches the silk-filled black cylinders to her carrying rod, which she subsequently hoists up onto her lean upper shoulders. With her lower left arm, she reaches behind her oval head and pulls up her kasa, shielding her eyes and face from the bright suns. The silk continues its journey. Produced on Earth – one of the newest members of the 27

It was mid-week and still too early for paying customers. I was watching the vidscreen at the Stray Cat show programs about Earth, and wishing I’d never left. The mirror above the bar showed Lena circulating in a green silk dress. The matching scarf around her neck marked her available. In the corner sat a couple of Bavarsi, a telepathically-bonded pair who specialised in threesomes. Their scarves were red: they must have been waiting for their patron to turn up. The vidscreen was showing a documentary about sea turtles. It was one of the reasons I liked to work the

The door erupted in an explosion, devouring the six security locks. A small metal canister flew from the freshly made opening in the door. Samantha jumped from the couch as it bounced off the floor once, twice- BANG! A blinding flash of orange light followed the sound. Samantha clutched her face, falling to her knees in disorientation. If anyone said anything she could not hear it over the ringing in her ears. Two sets of hands took a strong hold of her arms and pulled her up. Her blurry eyesight could make out the heavily equipped men in uniform that

CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE FBI BROUGHT IN TO INVESTIGATE WAPITI FIRE AND EXPLOSION Star-Tribune Staff, September 8, 2048. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Denver field office have arrived in Cody to take part in the investigation of the explosion and fire at the Lost Trails Saloon in Wapiti that took the lives of an undetermined number of people last Wednesday evening. Park County Sheriff Neal Stewart described the FBI presence as a welcome addition to the local and state team that is seeking to unravel the causes of the mysterious event, the deadliest in Western Wyoming since the 1940s. As

The calm before the storm. That’s what Captain Belcheck called it; the peaceful moments that occurred as two vessels soundlessly drifted around each other, waiting for the long cannons to come into range. Halson watched the enemy Cray elegantly glide around a large nimbus clouds. They were close enough to see the crew, scurrying around the rigging like tiny ants among the fragmented steel plates. It was a rather common rule to never start firing until you could tell what your enemy was wearing. Captain Belcheck rarely followed the rules though. Two of the port sniper cannons were being loaded

“Ain’t no job for a lady, that.” The man who spoke typifies the kind of south of the river sleaze-on-the-make that I spend the best part of my days trying to avoid. I stand beside the little red and white tent, hands on hips, eyebrow arched with dangerous intent. He wavers on the edge of the pavement, wondering whether to continue with this conversation or to quit while he is ahead. I don’t try to deny what I do for a living, though it may be a little difficult to hide sometimes; the thigh length waders and heavy-duty gloves are

Q It used to be considered as a disease. Parents told about abnormalities in the amniotic fluid would weep inconsolably, and consider the option of a late termination, fully supported by the medical world. Those who believed the presence of life outweighed the ability to endure it bore children into a world they could never truly understand, other than through pain and confusion. As science, and society grew in strength, and illnesses vanished, and the scope of normal was stretched beyond the narrow confines of the 19th century, which itself was wholly permissive by the standards of the 16th, several