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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.






Original Science Fiction & Fantasy every weekday. Welcome! We publish very short science fiction as broadly defined: sf, fantasy, slipstream, etc. Please read today's short story below. Browse topics in the sidebar, and read what intrigues; subscribe via email to receive each story in your inbox for free; and consider becoming a paying member to ensure we can keep paying authors and providing stories to all.

Just Right?

Mary Lawton is a product of the 60s and a mother of three. She has a graduate and master's degree in English literature and is now midway through a PhD. An Agatha Christie fanatic, Mary spends her free time sidestepping red herrings and writing anything that comes to mind.
Goldilocks was dead.
A world just right for life, scientists promised, neither too hot nor too cold.
Once the probe had returned showing images of a habitable zone in Proxima Centauri, it was all systems go. They had been wrong. Liquid water no longer existed here.
Collins knew transforming this landscape into an Earth-like one was impossible for him. Soon, he would die like the others. The radiation which soaked the planet and boiled off the last of the water was killing him.
Following the crew burials, his hands bled. More familiar blisters had formed and burst. He headed back to the Southey.
On the ship, B.E.A.R, humanity's robotic savior was busy. After using lasers to explore beneath the surface, she gathered, sifted, and processed mineral samples.
Collins moved slowly; his vision impaired by whorls of silt particles. Large amounts of x-ray and ultraviolet radiation bombarded this little sphere. Yet its hostile surface environment still held beauty. The unspoiled terrain stretched miles ahead, an undulating vision of terracotta. Mesmerizing. The falling dust rapidly erased his footprints, the only blemish on the sandy ground.
If you could forget the radiation, ozone-poor atmosphere, and lack of water, the planet had possibilities. He grimaced. The pain was escalating; blood flowed from his dry gums. Not long now.
As a blueprint for life, it was too soon. Maybe the future would be another story.
Funny, that's what humans always thought.
He smiled.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021


"Just Right?" resonates with me because it exemplifies humankind's hope for survival in the toughest of eventualities. I deliberately included childhood story references to illustrate the innocent wonder that hopefully, irrespective of life's hardships, never truly leaves any of us. I wanted to capture the inherent beauty in ugliness and concluded the story on a positive note, knowing that perhaps in the future, everything will be just right.

- Mary Lawton
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