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"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

Virtual Reality


Of all the science fictional tropes this may be the one we are slamming into headlong at the most blistering pace. Go to Second Life, play with your friends vie Wii, even share virtual messages in a bottle on your iphone. Take a look at the amazing motion capture on Microsoft's new gaming technology. It's happening. The effect on societies, and the all-important individuals within them, is far less clear.

by Robert Bagnall
I have an avatar. I am forty-three years old. I am balding and thickening around the middle. I have a mediocre job with a mediocre company which has outward ambitions to be in the top twenty in their sector in five years, but inwardly merely wish to be still in business. My ambitions mirror theirs.
Published on Jun 18, 2014
by Peter M Ball
***Editor's Note: Adult Language in the adult story that follows*** They've been together long enough for this to become ritual: Deanna Sable in the clawfoot bath, head resting against the curve of the tub, her fingers coiled around a Stuyvesant smoked down to the filter; Kirk seated at the door, bare-chested and nursing his third beer, drawing what comfort he can from the proximity to the cracked tiles. Watching one another, half a smile shared between them, looking for new ways to fill the idle silence.
Published on Nov 15, 2013
by Shannon Fay
Though there was a bowl of hammer pills in the living room ("Hammer pills! For a quicker than liquor buzz!") Cora elbowed her way through the crowd and went into the kitchen to pour herself a glass of wine. Getting drunk the old-fashioned way always calmed her down. It gave her that warm fuzzy feeling of being a child again and stealing fingers from her dad's bourbon bottle. The party seemed to be a success. People were laughing, talking, dancing. Some of the more attractive/confident guests were playing spin the bottle in the corner (What were they, twelve? Not that Cora was any expert on what people did at parties). Her mom would be so proud of her, playing hostess, drinking socially rather than alone on the couch. "Oh Cora," her mother had sighed after catching teenaged Cora sneaking into the liquor cabinet once again. "Drinking alone is just too sad. Drink with friends and no one will say boo."
Published on Aug 4, 2014
by Ronald D. Ferguson
"I speak for the President." Drugs make the words difficult to say, but the man asked about my job. "He's not the press secretary, but our sources say he regularly sees the President. Hmm. Charles Milford. Top security clearance. Maybe a speech writer. He'll do."
Published on Feb 11, 2013
by Ronald D Ferguson
"I told the boy's parents there was no hope, but so long as he has brain activity they won't give up. Poor kid. He's only fourteen." "Doesn't matter. His body is shutting down. Kidneys are already gone. We can prolong it for a few days, but we can't repair so much trauma. Still maybe there's something...."
Published on Mar 27, 2014
by Michael R. Fletcher
Alex Baker - UNPLUGGED. Thursday, Oct 19th, 2023. 9:45 pm
Published on Dec 9, 2011
by Stephen Gaskell
Passing Mr. Lao's office, she noticed he'd left his door open. On the far side, light spilled through the margins of the door that led outside. Maybe it was a sunny day. She tried to remember the feel of sunlight, the sensation of almost looking into the sun, the shape of the clouds, but her mind was full of the pixelated forms.
Published on Oct 4, 2010
by Preston Grassmann
Erwin stands outside the door of his house/her house and wonders if his wife is home/not home. He has just finished another long day of theoretical discussions about cats and boxes and he just wants to sleep. He knows that whether or not she is there depends on the observation of that morning's event. In quantum entanglement, if the measurement of one entangled particle is known (clockwise), the other will have an inverse corresponding value (counterclockwise), no matter how far apart they are.
Published on Jun 4, 2014
by Erin M. Hartshorn
Sally patted her grandmother's shoulder. "It's time to go." "I don't want to. I can still be useful."
Published on Nov 3, 2011
by Aubrey Hirsch
Now if we, like those characters in recent movies, discovered specific clues in the world around us suggesting that we do in fact live in a simulation, we would of course consider those clues carefully to see what they say about how we should live our lives. --Robin Hanson Listen. We're fairly certain it's true. The laws of the universe just don't make sense the way they should and it's more and more apparent with every atom of gold we run through the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and every electron we smash up at the Large Hadron Collider that we are living in a universe especially constructed for us. And, since we all know infinities cannot be constructed, we must conclude that our universe has been simulated.
Published on Aug 30, 2011
by KJ Kabza
Terry bit the inside of his cheek again. He felt disconnected from himself, from this single-window room. In fact, it wasn’t like a hotel room at all. More like somewhere between a forgotten closet and a prison cell. Despite the neutral colors, the telephone’s dark cradle gave the room’s nature away. “Listen…” Terry began, slowly. “No, I know,” said the voice of Margie. “I know all about it. They scan your brain, take your memories of your spouse, and make a program you can talk to--just once, one year later--to say goodbye. For closure.”
Published on Nov 11, 2010
by Alex Livingston
To read the Dear John letter, I had to throw something away. To free up some memory in my apartment. As I slapped one of my bedside lamps into Recycle, I wondered if breaking up had been easier when people had physical bodies. Before we all uploaded ourselves. Before the Simulation's inviolable objects-per-owned-volume policy forced you to get rid of a thing you loved each time you wanted something new. But I didn't want anything new. I only wanted to know why David had left me.
Published on Apr 16, 2012
by Mary E. Lowd
It feels strange to me, deep in my stomach, that I can't find my ten-year-old girl in real life--but that, maybe, I can find her here. My hand shakes on the computer mouse as I log in to Second World, using one of the default avatars--a woman with straight blonde hair like a plastic shell and the expressionless face of a crash-test dummy. I try messaging my daughter through the in-game chat window right away, but my message bounces back. I check for her name, "fluttercat," on the online user list, but it's not where it should be between "flutter14" and "flutterkid." My throat constricts with a swallowed sob, but I refuse to believe this tenuous connection to my missing daughter won't pan out. Maybe she's set her status to "hidden."
Published on Jul 10, 2012
by Dany G. Zuwen
Sam knew Elena wanted him to leave his dead wife. He peered up at Elena's eyes. Her squint of disapproval egging him on, he opened the door to the Room. The bright light scorched his eyes like when he was little and stared at the sun and Mom said it'd blind him. But eventually, after the door closed behind Sam with a metallic click, his sight adjusted.
Published on Oct 24, 2012
by Gemma Elizabeth Noon
***Editor's Note: Adult language She manifests about three feet away from him, a moment of static and then a perfectly formed human being. She is a blend of his favorite aunt, his primary school teacher, and the barista in his local coffee bar. She is pretty, in a nonsexual kind of way. She is as bland and nonthreatening as the plain white room they are standing in, and he knows instinctively this whole staging point is designed to put him at his ease.
Published on Jun 24, 2014
by K. S. O'Neill
Maddy's working a half-day even though it's Friday. She gives me a smooch and looks sideways at the cameras in the kitchen. "They're off!" I tell her, rolling my eyes a bit.
Published on Jul 3, 2014
by C. Richard Patton
You are there again. Near the rock. In the blackness; in the void. I know that it is you, even though I cannot see that it is you. I know it is not me. I am not there. Not there, where you are. You slump against the rock. It is a small, unnaturally round, boulder. It supports your back as you recline against it, uncomfortably. You roll to your left, twisting, and push off the rock, into a standing position. You lift one foot, place it on the rock, for reference as much as for support. Your faded trousers, cut off below the knees, show a gap of hairy calves above sandaled feet--or they would if it were less dark. You still wear your glasses, useless though they are in this continual night. You have no shirt; you are comfortable enough and you are easier for me to monitor without it. You step up, onto the rock. With this exertion I can sense that you are in good shape, your muscles are lean and your joints smooth even though you have begun the second half of your natural lifespan. You step carefully off the rock and amble forward into the dark.
Published on Aug 8, 2012
by Nina Pendergast
It's the chance of a lifetime. Or at least, that's what they tell her. She only knows that the cameras are rolling and the company has been planning this for months and she is, in actuality, nothing more than a glorified guinea pig. The first woman to experience simulated time travel created from pieces of her own memory. "Due to the simulator's design, we really have no idea what kind of experience you'll have," her boss explained to her several days earlier, ten minutes before the final press conference. "We loosely control the setting and structure of the environment, but as for dialog, interaction, character realism..." He leaned back in his chair, arms crossed casually behind his head. "That's where you come in." She imagined herself as the last point on his checklist, a tidy box to be filled in, imagined him thinking: See, it's done. Look what I accomplished. She nodded, but the words "character realism" left a bitter edge in her throat. It'll be me in there, she thought. My fourteen-year-old self.
Published on Oct 25, 2013
by Stephen R. Persing
"It's always a beautiful day." Those words, not spoken but thought, fell across Ward's mind. He even noted, with a chuckle, that the "voice" in his head had the same Massachusetts accent as he did. It spoke his language; anything to make him feel at home.
Published on Dec 9, 2013
by Conor Powers-Smith
***Editor's Note: Cursing in this story*** "This is where the magic happens," Louis said.
Published on Aug 16, 2013
by Cat Rambo
When he realized how upset his wife was, George wondered if he might have miscalculated. Normally a quiet and loving partner, she was unpacking the dishwasher with a great deal of clattering and muttering. "It's not as though you even ever dated her!" she said, slamming a series of mugs into the cupboard.
Published on Jun 27, 2014
by Melanie Rees
The curtains billowed as a cold gust swept through the open window. Unknown voices whispered on the breeze with a metallic tincture, sending chills down Miranda's spine. "Someone's out there," she said.
Published on Sep 17, 2013
by Erica L. Satifka
On days like these, when the boredom reaches down Park's throat like a debutante's finger, it's all he can do not to hop on his board and hoist a hearty double-middle-finger salute to this crummy slice of consensus reality called Home Sweet Home. He'd do it too, if he knew the subroutines wouldn't reel him in, fish-flopping on the macadam. No way in hell am I going through that again, he thinks, shuddering.
Published on Jul 4, 2014
by Erica L. Satifka
Monday: Slide a steak knife up your sleeve. Smile when you enter the office through the plate-glass window that faces the sidewalk. The glass will shatter, but it cannot harm you. Because you, my friend, are a Winner.
Published on Sep 10, 2014
by Alex Shvartsman
I move through the aisles slowly, with the casual gait of a bored shopper who's there to kill fifteen minutes while his spouse is trying on shoes across the street. Someone not likely to make an actual purchase and, therefore, ignored by the salespeople. I disregard the flashy displays of electronics piled up high and the enticing discounts. Instead, I study the cameras, the location of the clerks, and the security tag detector equipment by the exit.
Published on Mar 12, 2012
by Brian Yamauchi
"What are you thinking?" she asks. I wrap my arms around her shoulders as the waves roll onto the beach. The California sun falls toward the horizon, and the autumn breeze cools our wet bodies.
Published on May 19, 2014
by Christie Yant
***Editor's Warning: Brief adult language, and graphic details of dying and death live here.*** I never saw my mother's body after she died. The man on the other end of the line asked me if I wanted to--whether they should delay the cremation so that I could make the two-and-a-half hour drive up the coast to where she lay in storage. Pale and spotted with bright red cherry angiomas, her sides striped with purple scars from multiple kidney surgeries and her arms mottled with worn red gashes where the tremors had caused her to scratch herself, I had seen enough of my mother's body when she had been alive.
Published on Oct 18, 2012
 
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