Captain Yuel Telspa walked with a swagger and appeared quite comfortable on her feet, even though it had been a good three years since any of her trio of followers had set foot on a place that had full gravity. The rest of her crew rocked on the balls of their feet, had to fight for every step forward. “The Wanhanii system is getting crowded, ain’t it?” she asked, laughing at their difficulties, “When I started mining the rocks, I swear there wasn’t a single soul in the middle regions of the Harlish Galaxy, not counting the Rockers. They all...

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Lunch that day was cubes of honeyed melon lightly dusted with sugar. Father placed each cube, one at a time, on Ayako’s tongue, the sweetness filling her mouth with light. When the last piece of melon was gone, Ayako made her way back to the library. She walked the winding corridors, sometimes of stone, sometimes of crystal, sometimes of meat that heaved like the sides of a dying animal. She walked the corridors and into the library, and to the marble table that held the Register. It continued to count even if the brief time it had taken to eat,...

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Lunch that day was cubes of honeyed melon lightly dusted with sugar. Father placed each cube, one at a time, on Ayako’s tongue, the sweetness filling her mouth with light. When the last piece of melon was gone, Ayako made her way back to the library. She walked the winding corridors, sometimes of stone, sometimes of crystal, sometimes of meat that heaved like the sides of a dying animal. She walked the corridors and into the library, and to the marble table that held the Register. It continued to count even if the brief time it had taken to eat,...

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While Holly worked, Wyatt looked out over the edge of their campsite. A light drifted closer, a man on a horseback, close enough to their meeting spot that the local theme set took over. The rider brought his horse to a stop at the edge of their mesa before wheeling his horse around and galloping away. They were just two people meeting out on the frontier, nothing too strange about that. Wyatt pulled at the collar of his plaid shirt, trying to cinch it tighter around his neck. Who would have figured the desert would get so cold at night?...

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In pure silence, exploration craft Onomatopoeia traverses through interstellar space. Yataro Kobayashi – seated in Zen position – is trying to keep as much of the outside Universe out as possible, while the instruments of his space craft are trying to take as much signals from the surrounding void in as possible. Strangely, their goals are almost the same. I am nothing, Kobayashi meditates, like all the rest. I am one with the Universe. Apart from a myriad of stars, cosmic radiation and some undetectable quantum fluctuations – the sensors report to the board computer – there is nothing. Yet,...

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How long is a piece of string? In my case, it’s about eighty-five thousand kilometres. That’s the distance from the Anchor in Heinlein all the way up to the Lentil, that impossibly huge lozenge of frozen comet that flies like a giant’s kite on a piece of spiderweb over the lunar equator. I was there when the tether first made moonfall, spun out from Partway Station in twenty-four barrel-thick lines, each one three times as strong as it needed to be. For every kilometre that went down towards the Moon, another kilometre reached up towards faraway Earth. In those days,...

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Miranda Axel didn’t think much of The Domes when she first arrived. They were plain grey spheres cut in half and slapped against the ground; their alien humps out of place on the red desert sand of Solastam. Now that Miranda Axel had got a closer look, sitting there with a bottle of Iced Brandy, she was never going to think about her time on Solastam without remembering the mysterious alien city. As much as she wanted to see what it looked like from the inside, it wasn’t going to happen. Outsiders were strictly forbidden. The Kyith had extended their...

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How much has really changed in Los Angeles? It’s true that our visitors are very free with their favorite weapon, the good old-fashioned mind control ray from outer space, but is it really so different? I wake up again, Echo Park, it is one o’clock in the afternoon and I have nothing to do. No one will hire someone with a history of mental illness. The irony is that now we should all be insane, we should all be crackers. But it’s as though alien occupation is only a mild heat wave. As though the “Stasi” of 2012 (From the...

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In the moment before Saskia Brandt awoke, she had a vision of red chrysanthemums falling. The flowers looked unreal. Their stems were too straight and their falls too slow. Their Gestalt was artful sadness. Then the sky beyond them wintered and the dream faded. She awoke to freezing darkness. Her throat was dry. She turned and coughed. The edge of her breast touched a cold surface and, with a shock that stopped her coughing, she understood that she was lying on a metal tray, naked but for a loose shroud. She raised her knees until they bumped metal. She passed...

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Now Sam realized that for the first time in years, he was actually scared. The sensation, however, had not been inspired by the automatic gunfire ringing in his ears, nor was it attached to the potential for death that the noise represented. Sam hadn’t even wanted to be alive for a very long time. What was really getting to him right now, though, was the glass. The enormous hospital windows that overlooked the southern parking lot were shattering and spraying everywhere… just like the night when his entire world had turned into a nightmare. # One year ago “It’s just...

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