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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.

Road Test

KJ Kabza's work has appeared in F&SF, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Buzzy, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and others; has made both the 2013 Locus and Tangent Recommended Reading Lists; and has been reprinted in The Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2014 (Prime Books) and The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Six (Night Shade Books). He lives in sunny Tucson, where he enjoys roller skating and hiking, though not simultaneously.

Six months before her sixteenth birthday, my sister started training for her road test. She was more serious about it than most--morning runs, afternoon swims, evenings spent at the roller-rink or racquetball court. Karlee would surely run her mile in under seven minutes.
Mom was thrilled, but Dad was nervous. "If she comes in under seven, she'll be cleared to drive any car on the road," Dad said. "Think about it. Do you really want Karlee cleared for a sports car?"
"Why not?" Mom had said. "She'll have earned it, won't she?"
They didn't have this conversation in front of me, of course. I had to eavesdrop. It made me wish I lived back in 2030, when obesity rates were at their highest and they didn't issue vehicle qualifying scores based on your athletic ability. I'd take living in the past if it meant that I could drive, too. But here in 2068, I was boned. You can't exercise your way out of a wheelchair.
Sure enough, Karlee ran her mile in 6:48. Mom poured her a glass of sparkling grape juice to celebrate and Dad did his best to smile. "Can't you be happy for me?" Karlee asked me.
I did try. And it helped a little that Dad sometimes made Karlee drive me places. Mom bought Karlee a Chevrolet Nighthawk, and those things go fast.
I wasn't riding with Karlee two months later, though, when she got into the wreck.
Karlee's first wheelchair matched mine. Everyone cried, me included, even though a monstrous part of myself felt relieved. For the first time in my life, Karlee couldn't leave me behind anymore.
But I'm only a little bit of a monster, and a few months later, after many late nights online, I said to her, "Let's go somewhere."
Karlee said bitterly: "Where can we possibly go?"
I showed her the feed on my tablet. The national protests against the possible renewal of the road test legislation were in four hours.
I said, "Together, we can go lots of places."
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Author Comments

There are some policy-makers who are trying to combat the rising weight of the average American through legislative means--e.g., New York City's infamous and ill-fated ban on the sales of sodas above a certain size. What might these laws look like if they were more draconian and sweeping? What unforeseen consequences would they have?

- KJ Kabza
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