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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.

Jupiter Stone

Kelly Ann Jacobson is the author or editor of many published books, and her forthcoming chapbook An Inventory of Abandoned Things recently won the Split/Lip Chapbook Contest. Her short fiction has been published in such places as Northern Virginia Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, New Plains Review, Gargoyle, and Best Small Fictions 2020. Kelly is a PhD candidate in fiction at Florida State University and teaches speculative fiction and short story for Southern New Hampshire University's online MFA in creative writing. More information about her can be found at kellyannjacobson.com/.

To understand my story, you must first understand me--not in the philosophical sense, but the physical entity that is "me," the way that my identical atoms are contained in their random motion. Imagine a balloon filled with helium, only there is no balloon. Imagine a cloud, only without the liquid droplets. This must be difficult for you. You humans like solidity and a visible evidence of strength. But you must accept that our strength is a direct result of our instability--or it was, before "our" became a concept, a memory, a thing that I light at the heart of the balloon of me whenever I need to burn.
I believe my translator has recalibrated.
Let's start again.
My name is Woo Sa. These words should be whispers in the wind, but I suspect that even your translator prefers hardness. I come from the planet you call Jupiter, which we call home--in our language, of course.
How can I explain it?
In your language, our planet is named as the "sky father." God of thunder. King. The largest planet in our solar system, and yet inaccessible to you journeyers--until now, of course. How you wrote off this mass of hydrogen, this undefined surface, inhospitable, you thought, to any life.
Then what am I?
You have the story of the Owl Goddess, Minerva, in Greek called Athena and birthed from Zeus. We have the Great Red Spot. From it, we were birthed, spun out like helicopter seeds from your maple trees. Our cataclysmic event was not a bomb, or an asteroid, but a slow shifting of the ratio of hydrogen to helium comprising our planet. Such a change created monsters--versions of us that consumed the others, so that they grew and grew and became the very atmosphere around us. Those of us who survived did so by finding the one place the monsters would not go: the spot where they were born, which might, if they got too close, consume them.
In your language, home means the noun of a place one lives, but also the verb of returning to a territory after leaving it. A constant making and remaking. In our language, home means a stable place where we are remade.
This reshaping is not a painless process.
There were casualties.
And so things would have continued, if not for that ship. Into our atmosphere it sailed, bringing with it a "clean" water vapor exhaust, which, on your planet, seems harmless.
But what is water, if not hydrogen? What is water, if not the very stuff our planet lacked?
What is water, if not our savior from the Great Red Spot, our own lake of fire?
Again, the very composition of our planet changed.
There were casualties.
And there was only one ship, with only space for one of us to hitch a ride. My people chose me as emissary in the hopes of an eventual rescue. I was the youngest. I was the last.
You should have seen their faces, those humans, those discoverers of my messages on mirrors and computer screens.
And now, your faces, outside this box.
Your eyes, scanning my words.
You resist, but you will take me back there, one day soon. You will bring your thunder. For what is hydrogen, if not the father of deuterium and tritium? What is hydrogen, if not a bomb?
As I said, our strength is a direct result of our instability.
As I said, home is a remaking.
Has my translation completed more successfully this time?
Let's start again.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, February 22nd, 2021
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