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What is Science Fiction?
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.
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Science Fiction

Disaster


Science fiction came of age during the cold war. For virtually it's entire existence, it's been easier than not to imagine manmade technology leading to cataclysm. Fortunately, our worst nightmares haven't come true, though we are a species dedicated to walking the tightrope in so many ways. Just as stories fall flat without conflict, modern humanity gets bored without courting extinction on an ongoing basis, we suppose. Definitely, a fertile ground for science fiction.

by Megan Arkenberg
After sunset, my reflection appears in the black depths of the kitchen window, thin and pale and drunk. The ruins of the gas station are burning in the hills, a sheet of wet gold floating on my chest. I can almost smell the smoke. My eyebrows are dark and straight with frowning, my lips black with the dry, expensive wine I've spent these last four hours sipping from a plastic cup. I can almost see Michael in the angles of my face, the tipping back of my heavy-legged chair, my nervous fingers crumpling the thin red plastic, fingernails black with grease. I buried my brother three days ago. There's some space on the side of the gas station where the ground is soft. Back when Michael and I were little, back before the world ended, we used to bike up the hill to that gas station and spend all of our pocket change on candy bars and toy soldiers. If I came alone, the woman behind the counter would give me a stick of gum for free, to take back home to Michael.
Published on Mar 7, 2014
by Therese Arkenberg
I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night --Sarah Williams, "The Old Astronomer"
Published on Apr 18, 2014
by Alan Bao
The Chinese are coming. The Chinese are coming.
Published on Mar 31, 2014
by M. Bennardo
In several items yesterday, the Visitor was variously described as having six legs, eight legs, or "an unholy agglomeration of writhing, thrashing appendages, unable to be counted." The correct number of legs is eight. In our cover story, it was reported that electronics in the city and some suburbs had been disabled by an "electromagnetic pulse, or EMP." In fact, there was no such burst. Instead, the Visitor itself appears to be continuously emanating the electromagnetic radiation.
Published on Jan 3, 2013
by Dave Beynon
***Adult Language in the tale that follows*** "Please."
Published on May 9, 2014
by Beth Cato
We began to burn the books, and Dad tried to kill himself. Almost all of the extra furniture had been burned over the previous month, leaving the upholstery and padding from sofas and chairs heaped on the big bed in what used to be just Mom's and Dad's room. Me and Taylor stayed in that room all day since heat rises, and we wore so many layers of clothes that it was hard to go up and down the stairs. Anyway, with so many of the walls and rooms empty, the whole house echoed so their voices really carried from the downstairs library.
Published on Aug 18, 2011
by Ian Creasey
Published on Nov 29, 2012
by Dex Fernandez
Squirrel died in the snow. I heard the shot and came running. I found him gurgling and clutching his throat. He'd been hit right in the throat, right above the breastplate of his armor. He was looking at me, pawing the dirty snow with his free hand, and I knew right then he was trying to scream. All that came out of his mouth was blood, bright red, gushing over his hand and his ridiculous bush mustache, what he called his 'flavor saver.' Spraying the dirty gray snow around him.
Published on Dec 23, 2013
by Toiya Kristen Finley
*out'er rims*, n. *1*. areas of continents flooded in 2014 by rising sea levels due to climate change; the resulting regions. Why she brought the kids one last time would be the question always troubling her, never finding its reasonable answer. She told herself she wanted them to see the shore before the world changed again. After all, no one regretted last chances unless they weren't taken. Six years earlier she'd thought of visiting NYC, the bistro where she met her husband, to honor his memory. But she fussed over the budget. Her last chance passed her by, after half of New York City had eventually been submerged by the encroaching Atlantic.
Published on Apr 8, 2011
by Ewan C. Forbes
The skies were burning outside my window but I paid them no heed. During a break up, it is amazing how long it takes for information from the outside world to seep through. My phone had been ringing for days but I was in no mood to talk. When I finally noticed the storm outside it seemed fitting. As far as I was concerned it was pathetic fallacy. I moped around the flat. Moping was all I had the energy for. I tried to do it without looking at things. Everything reminded me of her: the photos, the dirty dishes, the books, the posters. Everything. I noticed that the t-shirt I was wearing was one that she had brought me. I use her shampoo, so even my hair reminded me of her. I cut it off.
Published on Apr 24, 2012
by Renee Carter Hall
The crow tightened his grip on the silent power line. He was not going to fly. He was not. He was not. An instant later, he opened his wings, launched from his perch, and flew the next slow circle of his route. The transmitter embedded in his back had long since given out, and the only input he had now was his own sight, nothing augmented, no algorithm to compare what his eyes saw with the surveillance databases. He circled the dead city block anyway, always watching, even though there was nothing left to watch for.
Published on Nov 8, 2012
by Louise Hughes
We agreed we would meet up for the ten year reunion and so, without even a phone call, each of us made our way back. I waited for Martha at the airport in the rain. There were trains waiting beside the platform, bright adverts in their windows encouraging me to climb on board and head south towards the sun and beaches of the coast, but we did not take a train. Rain dripped from her hair to her grin. We wove through the stationary cars on Main Street, hauling our small cases along the pavement, dodging puddles. We weren't quite ready for conversation.
Published on Oct 14, 2014
by K.G. Jewell
Transcription of Orkney artifact 345NG, recovered at -10M, 3K SW from primary blast center. Handwritten on loose-leaf paper. Minutes of the February meeting of the Orkney Boarding School Fiction Society, as recorded by Secretary Ewan Charlet, President Sophie Marwick presiding. Vice President Jamie Hurley also attending.
Published on Aug 1, 2011
by Larry Kincheloe
"Happy B-Day", the old man said to the girl as he handed her the package wrapped in cloth. "Oh, thank you Grampy," said the girl. It was her twelfth season and she knew that getting a present on her B-Day was a custom left over from the old days.
Published on Apr 3, 2013
by Michelle Ann King
"You're welcome, caller," Elizabeth says, and disconnects the line. She leans back in her chair, her hands kneading the aching muscles in her neck. One of the temps comes round with a tray, and she grabs a coffee from him with a grateful smile. The red light on her console flashes again. She hesitates, then presses the button to log herself out. She's been on for the last five hours straight, she can afford a five-minute coffee break.
Published on Jan 24, 2011
by Afalstein JD Kloosterman
It was the start of third shift and Quality Assurance Specialist Wilfrid Sachs was, as usual, typing out his resignation letter on his clean suit's wristpad. ...being long past retirement age, and health no longer allowing me to fulfill my job appropriately, I must again resign my position at Thermadyne Inc. I again thank Thermadyne for the many opportunities it has given me over the years, and trust the company will continue well enough without me.
Published on Nov 20, 2013
by Timothy R. Knuck
We ate meatloaf with carrots, celery, and a layer of ketchup that peeled like a second skin. It was reheated and dry and smelled of warmed lettuce. "Eat up," my dad said.
Published on May 8, 2014
by Andrew Kozma
They came to the mountain because that's where their prophets had told them to go. If they went to the mountain, the prophets said, they would be safe and they would be saved. And so they came in droves. They drove cars, they took trains, they rode buses, they hired horses, and they walked. Oh, how they walked. No matter how they came to the mountain, in the end they all walked. Their prophets had called it a mountain, but it was more of a hill topping a collection of hills. Each hill they climbed brought them to a peak and they exulted, but then they looked up. There, before them, was another hill. Behind them was the trail of hills they'd already climbed. The hills collected on the face of the earth like warts.
Published on Feb 18, 2013
by David Glen Larson
The world may have been ending, but that was no reason to throw trash on the floor. The bin was only three feet away. That's thirty-six inches. Simon Sacks could have landed a rocket the size of a flea on a Martian dog's ass, but the chief engineer of the Ark project couldn't be bothered to land a Styrofoam cup in a metal can. Milo propped his arms on the broom handle and stared at the short man in the sweater vest.
Published on May 17, 2012
by Rich Larson
He waited until Eta Carinae was in the viewport, roiling on its stellar winds. It was blinding. "Four hundred times the size of the old sun," he said. "Which, of course, fit upwards of a million Earths."
Published on Sep 26, 2012
by David D. Levine
You've got to hold to your priorities, Michelle Fletcher. That's what you tell yourself as you scrub and scrub and scrub at the crusted black grit in your one saucepan. You've got to remember what's important. Your nails are short and bare of polish, ragged and splitting where they clutch the rusty steel-wool pad, and the skin of your hands is red and rough and raw. You have to hope the constant ache in your joints is just from the never-ending effort of staying alive, and not the beginnings of arthritis. There are no decent doctors here. You've only yourself to blame, 'Chelle. You got distracted again, got thinking about what you would have done with a nice salmon filet back in the Heron Point house, and let the rice burn in the pan. Oh, you managed to save most of it, and gave the least-burned bits to Tom and Janie, but the part you kept for yourself tasted of charcoal and shame. A fitting punishment for letting your mind wander. You have to stay on your toes if you're going to keep your family alive on a pitiful half-cup of rice per person per day.
Published on Mar 25, 2011
by David D. Levine
Joan put a hand into the beam of her headlamp, carefully inspecting the white LED light on her pale, pale palm. Was it fading already? She checked her fanny pack to be sure she had a spare battery. Sometimes she thought it would be easier to do her foraging during the day. But going out by night not only avoided the need for heavy protective clothing, it was less disturbing. At night she couldn't see the roiling brown sky, or the blackened shells of burned-out buildings, or the bleached and crumbling remains of billboards and road signs.
Published on Oct 1, 2010
by Ken Liu
"When I was little," Dad says, softly chuckling, "the Moon was so small I thought I could put it in my pocket, like a coin." I don't answer because there's no time to talk. The tide is coming.
Published on Nov 1, 2012
by Matt London
The soles of the dance shoes on Joan Jansen's feet were scored and coated with countless layers of rosin. She bent the shoes up and down, stretching the fabric, and inside, her feet. What else could she do? That was her routine. It wouldn't do her any good to pull a muscle or fall down during her final performance. Clusters of dancers stretched to loosen up, their muscles tense from the crowds and the city. They hummed to themselves while in the pit the band tuned their instruments. Joan eyed her co-star David, who paced back and forth, singing the five hardest notes in the show over and over again. Everyone was nervous, as nervous as the first night of previews. So much could go wrong.
Published on Nov 27, 2012
by Jennifer Mason-Black
And on the last day came the snow.
Published on Mar 1, 2011
by Steven Mathes
Knight would love to say that he went into the woods to be like Thoreau: to learn self-reliance, economy, solitude, all those noble things that noble people learn. No, he ran for it. He fled. His old mentor Pablo used to say that the thing that you run from the hardest is always the thing that circles around to get you. Knight ran into the woods to escape persecution because of his old age. He ran for his life, and now he stumbled along a dark country road. He had many miles to go before he would be in the true wilderness, but it was already pretty bad here. Weeds sprouted through the cracks in the shattered pavement, and the screams of predators carried through the failing light. Grizzlies roamed these woods nowadays, not just the timid black bears of his youth. There were big cats, cougars, not only the spooky but small bobcats. There were coy-wolves bigger than timberwolves, huge packs of them. Worst, of course, were the feral humans like him.
Published on Jun 15, 2012
by Will McIntosh
It took a moment to place the sound, because no one should have been making it in their house. It was the soft, rhythmic squeal of a mattress and the wheeming of a woman approaching a stifled climax. The sound sent an icy blast through Phoebe's stomach. She had begun to suspect, but only in the abstract. The shift to concrete was jarring. He wouldn't humiliate her like this, would he? In this tiny house, with his mother home?
Published on Oct 14, 2011
by Sean Melican
I sneezed. My daddy held his hand over my mouth. "Hush, son, hush, all right?" He buried my face against his shirt, which smelled stale and faintly of rice, beans, and collard greens. "I love you. Try not to sneeze for a while, ok? Not 'til we're up there and then it's ok." His big hand pressed me tighter to his chest. My memory of walking through the doors is just those few moments. I don't remember standing in line.
Published on Apr 5, 2013
by Bernie Mojzes
The bells of Strahov Monastery hadn't rung, I'm told, for over eighty years. Termites got into the thick wood beams some twenty-odd years before the building was boarded up and abandoned. Or maybe it was carpenter ants. Or maybe it was just dry rot. The details don't matter. What matters is that steel I-beams were set into the millennia-old wood and stonework and the ancient bells welded to them to prevent catastrophe. I've seen them. There's no way they can ring.
Published on Sep 16, 2011
by K. C. Norton
"I'm tired, Viva," I said, blowing into the cup formed by my hands. She said, "Me, too," as she tugged the flaps of her hat low over her ears and looked away from me across the field that would yield no crop but winter now. Her breaths came out in little puffs of steam. "Have you found Daffy?"
Published on Nov 27, 2013
by Colum Paget
"I see the acid-elms have a new predator," says Zina. "Good," says Olesia, "Death to traitors."
Published on Jan 24, 2012
by John Paolicelli
The Children of Chiron sat silent in prayer as they waited for their holy leader Joshua to enter the temple. The red-robed zealots bowed their heads as they genuflected, making the crowded hall look like a roiling sea of flames. Rebekah looked around at the undulating crimson and wondered if she was in Hell rather than the portal to Heaven. "Mary," she whispered to the woman seated next to her. "Mary, I had a dream last night for the first time in a long while. It felt so real; it looked so vivid, so beautiful. I dreamed--"
Published on Jul 4, 2011
by Sarah Pinsker
1. A poisonous snake could bite you, and you could die. 2. You could prick your finger on a previously undiscovered poisonous cactus.
Published on Jul 20, 2012
by Bruce Holland Rogers
Public service ads produced by the Big Three had been running in all the major media: television, radio, magazines, and web sites. Each of the Big Three took a slightly different approach, targeting different consumers, but the basic message was the same. The Brent virus was dangerous. It didn't kill, but it caused permanent changes to brain chemistry. Initial symptoms resembled the onset of the common cold. There was no vaccine. No cure. The best defense was prevention. The ads emphasized frequent hand washing and basic hygiene. Anyone feeling the first signs of a head cold should stay home and submit to a quarantine order.
Published on Aug 13, 2012
by Guinevere Robin Rowell
They announced the end of the world on Friday afternoon. Of course the apocalypse couldn't come on a Monday.
Published on Sep 21, 2011
by S. A. Rudek
***Editor's Note: There is language here that may not be appropriate for young, or PG, readers*** The first time I hear "California Gurls" by Katy Perry, we are heading south on Magnolia Drive toward Montauk Bluffs because we think there might be guns down there.
Published on Oct 13, 2011
by A. Merc Rustad
Benjamin sat on the sidewalk with his favorite dinosaur book, the one about Velociraptors. Up in the sky, the clouds of silver nanobots flew higher and higher until he couldn't see them anymore. It was very quiet now. Benjamin held his book tight so it wouldn't get lost or eaten up, and looked around for Daddy.
Published on Mar 20, 2014
by Elizabeth Shack
At recess the Arks dot the sky like unwinking stars. Ally and her friends aren't supposed to talk about it, eyes wide above the breathing masks that muffle their voices, but they do. Where they'll go, what they'll bring. Every kid Ally knows has a suitcase packed, just in case they win. Hers has photos from the zoo and a birthday card her little brother Rafe drew in red crayon. He called the scribble Mars. The only time they don't talk is after the monthly drawing, when no one can bear it. Some kids, somewhere, were chosen, but it's not anyone they know. At recess no one looks up. Those nights, Rafe crawls into her bed. He doesn't understand--at four he's barely old enough to enter the lottery--but he knows something's wrong. Their parents are crying, and Ally will keep him safe.
Published on Jun 3, 2013
by Eric James Stone
What did the lady find in the future? There was nothing... There was nothing bad there. Nobody was sad in the future. Nobody was poor. Nobody hurt anybody else. Nobody was sick. Nobody did anything bad. You're right, that does sound like a happy place. But the lady wasn't happy in the future. She was all lonely. She wanted to see her little girl again.
Published on Dec 14, 2010
by Brian Trent
During the wedding in Niantic Falls, people tried not to look at the white light in the sky. The overcast heavens reflected on the lake like a massive gray mirror, but the grassy embankment where the wedding party assembled seemed as bright as emerald. Even the pale lawn chairs glowed softly. There had been some discussion of dispelling with the tradition of keeping brides' side and grooms' side separate, particularly since the two groups were so wildly uneven. A full hundred attendees crowded the chairs on the brides' side of the green hill. They gazed wonderingly across the aisle to the mere two dozen guests of the grooms who had come to their lakeside village.
Published on Mar 3, 2014
by John Van Pelt
"What is it!?" Boy's eyes sparkled. "Is it anything?" "Let me sit first, won't you?" I steadied myself with my good arm, and sat heavily on an Elder stone. "Let me see." I took the rectangular block from his grasp with both hands. It was lighter than I expected.
Published on Feb 23, 2012
by Damien Angelica Walters
Hush Leda sleeps within a nightskin.
Published on Feb 28, 2014
by Nathan Wellman
“Daddy, watch me do the airplane thing!” Robert shushed Dinah and told her to keep still. She was jostling the other people in line. They’d been here for eight hours, but he hadn’t heard a single complaint from anybody. What did they have to complain about, really? Up ahead their shuttle to safety was belching steam as the engineers put on the finishing touches. Soon it would be up, up, and away. Bye bye Earth. Bye bye apocalypse. They would wait with perfect patience.
Published on Nov 25, 2010
 
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