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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

Space Travel


One of the most daunting aspects of making science fictional aspirations real is the vast distances--and nearly insurmountable obstacles--between interesting space objects. Thank goodness for the fertile imaginations of sf writers, who can conquer all. Generational starships have been a staple of science fiction, from crazy metal rockets to hollowed out asteroids. Wormholes and space-bending tubes are always popular with the technology conquers all crowd. Even better; faster than light travel - which may be more honestly classified as fantasy than science fiction proper. Whatever the taxonomy, space is truly the final frontier, or the next frontier anyway. It's a great setting for some good old-fashioned storytelling.

by Edoardo Albert
Lars Caron had only taken over as mission commander because Pete Boardman had died. We were the most scanned, checked, and examined group of human beings in history--after all, on the first mission to Mars, you don't want someone falling ill or freaking out on the way--and Pete had checked out clearer than any of us. Then, seven days before departure, he went and died. The autopsy said his heart gave out, but I knew, from speaking to the doctors, that they could not find anything wrong with him. Dead, he presented as perfect a physical specimen as he had when alive. Me, I think he collapsed under the burden of hope that was placed upon him; mission commander, new world, new beginning. So, I grant Lars Caron had some big shoes to fill. But three months into the voyage, we were all getting thoroughly sick of the chip on his shoulder, the unspoken assumption that we had caused every problem laid in front of him. Space is like that: stuff happens. So, the slight sigh and the lowering of his head when he saw me approaching came as no surprise. "Now what's wrong?" he asked.
Published on Aug 7, 2014
by J.W. Alden
They tell you not to wear the uniform in public these days. Folks don't like to be reminded of the war. Not long ago, things were looking grim. Defense exercises lit up the night sky every other week. The skirmishes drew nearer to home with every engagement. Doomsayers were out in force everywhere you looked, screaming about imminent invasion. Things are different now. The enemy is on the run. We're winning. But the war has shaken the public's sense of security, maybe for good. I feel the eyes on me as the hostess leads me to my table. I'm used to it. Half of them are regulars, but they still gawk like they're surprised to see me. The war had just begun when I first started coming here. People used to stare back then too, but the expressions were different. They didn't turn their heads when I looked. They smiled. Some of them would even shake my hand and thank me for my service. That doesn't happen anymore.
Published on Dec 26, 2013
by Leslie Jane Anderson
It was only an affair because he was the captain and Maria was a cadet. If they had been the same rank it might just be a mistake. The other cadets will probably call her a slut now. She hides in her room and the computer pours her a cup of tea. She looks out her window at the earth, spinning. Spinning. She dreams. The concrete basement of her parent's home has flooded, and the racks of their old clothes have fallen under the water. Wires fall from the ceiling and the electricity skitters across the surface like angry white spiders. There was no way to fix this. No way. Everything was ruined. She dreams she is bleeding into the secret caverns of herself.
Published on Dec 20, 2012
by Helena Leigh Bell
Year Zero Pilot Martha Stevenson could not bring her mother's piano, its keys yellowed and stained. Her husband chided her as she brushed away the dust, telling it goodbye.
Published on Jun 20, 2014
by Annie Bellet
The boys lay on their backs side by side staring up through the open roof of the abandoned building. Dylan clutched Meek's hand in anticipation as the ground shook and a roar filled the air. Tiny pebbles danced up from the ground around them and dust ran like water off the crumbling walls. "Ten… nine… eight… seven… six… five," Dylan whispered, "four… three… two… one."
Published on Dec 17, 2010
by Nicky Drayden
***Editor's Note: Be forewarned: the imagery may be unsettling, some language would not fit at an elegant tea.*** With a fine bone knife I make my incision, cutting back the sticky membrane of Our Tjeng's hull. I slip my hand inside and carefully widen the tear until it's big enough for me to step through. Our Tjeng has blessed Kae and me with gills to breathe within his walls. The viscous liquid is clear and burns my eyes, tart and slick on my tongue.
Published on Aug 16, 2011
by M. E. Garber
Jandara's famed purple-red plains swelled in the antiquated pleasure cruiser's windscreen as the ship lurched downward. The explosion that killed Seema's husband, Arun, had damaged the steering mechanisms of his beloved antique, and Seema fought the craft as shudders wracked it. Vibrations from the steering gears tingled, throbbed, and finally shook her arms. In the passenger compartment, Natesha, her seven-year-old daughter, wailed, echoing Seema's fear: Without Arun, I cannot survive. The ship's belly bumped the ground, rose up, and dove hard. Tearing metal shrieked louder than Natesha. Seema buffeted in her restraints as a series of booms shook what remained of the ship. Then it settled, hissing, to the ground.
Published on Aug 25, 2014
by Richard E. Gropp
I stood on the deck of the ship and watched as my planet fell dark, receding into the distance. "This is certainly the long way 'round," the ship whispered in my ear. "We have stations on both sides--you could have stepped right through. We could have folded you all the way."
Published on Oct 3, 2012
by James E Guin
You stand there watching me try on this blouse. "It looks nice," you say, and this time you're actually paying attention.
Published on Dec 4, 2013
by Benjamin Heldt
The flickering light of the television cast Henry's shadow across the darkened room, and across me. Through the speakers a steady voice called time to t minus zero. The rockets fired. Henry gasped, though he didn't move. He was too close, as always, sitting cross-legged on the floor not two feet from the screen. Huge sheets of ice cracked, and fell from the scaffolding and fuel tanks, vaporizing in the blanket of smoke and fire blooming out from the launch site. "Buddy," I said, trying to keep my voice from breaking, "come sit with dad on the couch."
Published on Mar 4, 2013
by Brian Lawrence Hurrel
Jump flash, blinding but brief. Alpha Centauri A swims into view. It takes only a few minutes after our emergence into realspace for the receiver to align itself with Earth. A long burst of static roars, fades. A voice mutters indistinctly, distorted as if bubbling up from deep under water, then suddenly rings out in shrill clarity. "… and this so-called Daedalus drive is not only a scientific impossibility, but a perfect example of misappropriated resources."
Published on May 3, 2011
by K.G. Jewell
"Fifty-Nine, baby! Fifty-Nine!" Ted chortled, chipping a chunk of rock off Fenrir's surface and dumping it into the sample bag clipped to the hip of his spacesuit. He looked up at Saturn hanging overhead and flashed two fingers. Two moons to go. He was that close. He deactivated his ground anchor and stepped his aging, creaky bones towards the boxy tangle that was his ship.
Published on Jan 13, 2012
by K T
It took tens of thousands of engineers ten million man-hours and over a trillion dollars spread over the course of ten years. There had been political sacrifice, financial sacrifice, even marital sacrifice. Five people died, including a mother, a teacher, and a grandfather of twenty-five. Perhaps, by diverting the same resources, we could have finished the war in Afghanistan twenty years ago. But at last, and not without luck, a man stood atop Olympus Mons. To be that man required years of study in physics, math, chemistry, biology, geology, and languages; including English, Russian, Chinese, and C++. At minimum. It required the eyes of an eagle, the muscles of a Navy SEAL, and the brain of Deep Blue. No TV, no hobbies, no girlfriend, no family. Just blood, sweat, tears, and neurons to live the dream of every bright young male since 1957. Only the brightest, most athletic, most determined polyglot autodidactic polymathic genii could even enter the competition against one thousand equally infallible candidates from every continent.
Published on May 12, 2011
by Will Kaufman
***Editor's Note: Adult language in the story that follows*** Chapter One
Published on Apr 25, 2014
by Sara Thustra
"Now you stop it," snapped the sister. "You sit there and you smile and you tell him you miss him, damn you. Space exploration is a hard job, and one we should be proud of. It's not his fault this seems so often to us." The camera came on. The warble of great distance and stranger forces, too, played with the image. The man it showed was quite old, and dressed in a uniform from decades ago. "...Sally?" he said hesitantly.
Published on Jan 2, 2012
by Brynn MacNab
We deployed on February 14, Saint Valentine's Day, named for the saint who performed forbidden marriages. I stood in line next to a guy named Wallace Ault. Around us was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, a lot of people sobbing on each other's necks. Wallace and I weren't falling apart. He had a girl, a nice lean thing with good legs in a swirling brown knee-length skirt. She kissed him goodbye real quick and ran. I figured maybe they were secretly married themselves.
Published on Aug 5, 2014
by Devin Miller
"My job as a father, Jalel," he told me one morning, "is to leave you better off than I was." It was a cold morning. On this planet, called Apella, the winters lasted years. Frost clung to some of the heartiest vegetation ever studied, and in their shadows, small animals sent up puffs of white dust in their quest for buried food.
Published on Mar 18, 2013
by Bridget A. Natale
***Editorial Advisory: Yes, there's adult language in the story that follows*** "I can't go to Bellingham with you. Not right now."
Published on May 1, 2013
by Ruth Nestvold
I
In the midst of the lush, jungle-like vegetation of Caipora, the only thing moving was the monkey.
Published on Feb 2, 2012
by Jonathan Fredrick Parks
This is Tomorrow speaking. The voice came from the Eleven O' Thirty radio. The left bar flashed painting the storage room a green color. Are you listening? I turned the dial two clicks to the right. You are me from the future, right?
Published on Sep 2, 2011
by Craig Pay
Something blue. Celeste: 25, Joseph: 26, Susie: 5
Published on Nov 15, 2011
by L.L. Phelps
We're falling fast through the atmosphere, what's left of the station shaking violently as it breaks apart. "We have to get to the escape pods," Natayla screams at me. I can barely hear her over the roar around us, but I can read the words on her lips as fear dances wild in her eyes. "Now!" she screams, shaking me.
Published on Mar 24, 2014
by Cat Rambo
Day One After the men in dark sunglasses ushered Djuna outside, spring's chill chased her up the steps into the bus's welcome heat. She wavered on the last step, suitcase in front of her like a wall, thinking, "My fiftieth spring on Earth, can I really leave that?" Someone pushed at her and she went in.
Published on Feb 24, 2012
by Stephen V. Ramey
Our paranoia is infinite today. And not without reason. We have just endured a journey to and from Mars orbit in full view of the world. Areas of the ship that were supposed to be off-limits were not. Every bowel movement, every wet dream and dry heave, a veritable sampler of trysts--it has all been broadcast, sprinkled across the globe like so much Hollywood glitter. The ultimate Reality Show, with our crew of six as unaware actors. Jimmy found the first pinhole camera. He brought it to me, pinched between his fingers like an insect with overlong legs. A frown fixed on his blocky face. His blue eyes blinked and blinked again.
Published on Apr 17, 2012
by Shane D. Rhinewald
Jerry sits in his favorite chair--the one with the red, plastic back. He says the others just don't feel right. His eyes dart around the room with boyish wonder, but they're a man's eyes, milky with cataracts, edged with wrinkles. He looks at the black and white pictures on the wall depicting historic events and gives me the date (down to the time of day in some cases) for everything from the Kennedy assassination to the shooting at Columbine. "Jerry, how do you feel today?" I ask, tapping my pen. Every session starts with a similar line of questioning; Jerry likes the routine. "Do you know how you feel?"
Published on Apr 2, 2012
by Christian Roberts
The one thing they all agree about is that I'm insane. They probably warned you about that before they brought you in here. Did they also tell you I used to be the navigator? Thirty years. Never a mark against my record. At least, not until I told them what I'd found. Sit up here on my bunk and I'll tell you about it. Come on, they won't let you leave until your time's up, you know. I won't bite if you won't. I know, cheering up duty is no fun. I had to do it when I was a kid. I hated it too. There you go, settle down now and pretend to listen. I'll pretend you're cheering me up.
Published on Jan 25, 2011
by Douglas Rudoff
Most people were unsettled by the journey past the dead to the ship's forward viewing dome. Brad didn't mind as it allowed him solitude. He floated through the zero gravity of the dimly lit, quarter-mile-long corridor of the necropolis, pulling himself along the rungs between the rows of thousands of white sarcophagi encircling him on all sides, the blank faces of their occupants just barely visible through small windows. In four days, he'd be joining them. Right before he reached the viewing dome, the lights in the necropolis brightened suddenly. In the distance, the entry door clicked open. Brad heard muffled voices as a four-person recovery crew entered. He floated for a few minutes as he watched them pull themselves forward and detach a sarcophagus. With two people on either side, they carefully floated back to the open door. The door shut with another click, and the lights dimmed.
Published on Apr 30, 2013
by Jeff Samson
I was always the first to fall asleep. Sometimes she'd have to lay awake with me for hours. Stroking my hair. Rubbing my temples. Reading to me from old books we'd find in stores that smelled of leather and dust. Or singing to me in whispers. Her breath a gentle, sweet current on my ear. Quieting my stubborn head.
Published on Feb 17, 2011
by Ryan Simko
"Just wait," she said. "This will be the best part." A small bar in Cleveland, somewhere my memory only vaguely recalls after all this time. It wasn't the bar I was looking at. It was her smile, a smile like a supernova, spectacular, blinding, beautiful, and threatening to collapse my world into nothingness.
Published on Nov 22, 2013
by J. Spear
Dear Ellie, the letter probably would have started. Or should I say Dearest? I like Dearest, so let's pretend it said that. Dearest Ellie,
Published on Aug 26, 2014
by Ferrett Steinmetz
The flight attendant speaks as though he will win an Olympic medal if he finishes this safety speech in record time. "Today's interstellar flight to the Taurean cluster will take approximately seventy years external-time, racking up six hours on your biological clocks. To avoid unnecessary amputations, please keep all hands, feet, and other protuberances within the boundaries of your personal cryogenics chamber.
Published on Mar 26, 2012
by Steven R. Stewart
Mark hangs up his apron. He strides past Shelly and helps one of the automatic doors open with a shove. Shelly follows to the courtyard of the spaceport. Mark sits on a bench beneath a lighted sign that says “Mark and Shelly’s Pizza.” There is a big red slash through Shelly’s name. Shelly stands across from him and draws on her cigarette like she has been drowning without it. Still lighting them off each other, Mark notices, but she looks good, hasn’t aged a day.
Published on Sep 2, 2010
by Eric James Stone
Wise Ones, see here in front of you Girl Who Asks Too Much. Such a name does not cause pride to the Folk of the Egg. Dare not speak to her, or she will ask of you all the day long. Why are some plants food for the Folk and some plants death?
Published on Mar 24, 2011
by Amy Sundberg
Two packs of balloons, pink and blue. Ellen knows Rick's favorite color is green so she avoids it on purpose. Red plastic cups, white napkins, a bag of lime-flavored tortilla chips, and store-bought salsa. This is what she brings every year for the celebration, which she privately calls Man on the Moon Day. She drives the two hours to Grass Valley with Sarah sitting in the back playing with her action figures. "Pow pow," goes the bad guy. "Zoom zoom," goes the good guy, dodging out of the way. "I'll never give up," the bad guy declaims in a fake British accent.
Published on Jul 2, 2012
by Nathan Tavares
You'll get to see the sky, they said. We see the sky all the time, we said. Hello. Look out the windows.
Published on Sep 24, 2012
by E. Catherine Tobler
Coming back to Earth isn't anything like he thought it would be. He's not entirely sure what he expected; he doesn't anticipate that the air will be as magnificent as it is, for one. Spring now and this city by the lake explodes with allergens: pollen, seeds, leaves, and petals. Normally, his body would puff up in response: running nose, watering eyes, a sinus that has forgotten how to move air. He breathes deep, uncomplicated droughts of the pollen-saturated air; he tastes the distant snowdrops and daffodils and the strands of saffron in the crocus--crocin, diester, disaccharide gentiobiose!--he can speak these words, he can break each down and how it applies to the aroma, the flavor, but he cannot tell anyone why it matters. He breathes so deep his sinus is coated golden, his lungs are burnished gold; he should expel the color for days, he does not. He keeps it inside.
Published on Apr 11, 2014
by Pam L Wallace
You laughed when you scooped up something from the beach. You brushed off the sand, then offered it in cupped hands. A rock, perfectly heart-shaped--except for a chip on the left side that gave it a lopsided appearance, just like your smile. Here's my heart, you said. It'd been three weeks, four days, seven and a half hours since we met. A lifetime, a second, forever. I took your heart. You pulled me into your arms, fiercely tender. The waves crashed in an iridescent green sheet, rushing to coat our feet with icy froth. And I drowned in the deep ocean blue of your eyes.
Published on Jun 16, 2014
by Ross Willard
“Do you know what the real trick to life in deep space is?” Doctor Bennett, Cassandra to her friends, scribbled something on her notepad as she replied, “What?”
Published on Dec 1, 2010
by Ross Willard
Thomas stared at the cards in his hand. He bit his lower lip and worried it between his teeth as he eyed the pile of black rock that lay halfway between himself and his opponent. "Dammit boy, you in or not?" Drawled the old man.
Published on May 24, 2011
by Joseph Zieja
It stared back at me like a cataract, blue and bloated, the black canvas of space all around it. Half illuminated by the nearest star, I followed the line between light and dark with my eyes, staring at the face of dusk. Or dawn. I didn't know which way the planet rotated. For my home, I was woefully ignorant of its orbitology. I could describe the orbital elements of every planet in every system in the galaxy, but I did not know my own. I rubbed the back of my hand to try and stop it from shaking. It didn't work. It never worked.
Published on Nov 14, 2012
 
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