Lee, Yoon Ha: “The Shadow Postulates”

The Shadow Postulates

by Yoon Ha Lee

Kaela Navus was reading a beginners’ sword-dancing manual when a hand descended upon her own, blotting out the diagram. She looked up, mouth opening in protest, only to have the scroll plucked from her grip and rolled shut. The black lines faded into ricepaper-white. “Teris!” Kaela said.

Her roomsister, Teris Tascha, set the scroll down on the escritoire out of Kaela’s reach. “You won’t learn the pattern for the Swallow Flies Home from a diagram,” she said. “It has to live in your muscles.”

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Nestvold, Ruth: “An Act of Conviction”

An Act of Conviction

by Ruth Nestvold

The Language Mangler lies on the bed, his seed spent. Now is the time, but I must savor the moment, the smell of sex and the anticipation of imminent death, before I perform my calling, and enact judgment.

These Wirimgans from the stars are stubborn creatures, not meek as our Wirimgan slaves from the neighbor planet. Their leaders have declared us a forbidden world, and yet they come to Rakild, stupid as Edvika, walking into our traps like dumb animals. Or come with promises of wealth and new technology, like the five-fingered-fool slowly slipping into sleep beside me.

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Pelland, Jennifer: “Captive Girl”

Captive Girl

by Jennifer Pelland

In the choreographed chaos of space, she searches for patterns that do not fit. She listens to the hiss and murmur of the interstellar winds; she peers into the visible spectrum and beyond. Whistling particles stream by, and her mind sizes them up, then discards them as harmless background radiation. Just flotsam on the solar winds. Wait, that light— No, it’s just a weather satellite catching a glint of sun. Too close, anyway. She does not let anything approach the planet without scrutiny.


She zooms in, listening hard.

“A-s-t-e-r-o-i-d,” she types out. “Possible collision course.”

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Pelland, Jennifer: “The Kennel Club”

The Kennel Club

by Jennifer Pelland

I should know better than to pick up calls from the Moon. But even though the wall was flashing “Mare Tranquillitatis,” I waved open the connection anyway.

“Have you found a man yet?”

“Hi, Mom.”

She glared at me, anticipating my response even before the three-second transmission delay carried my words to her. “I suppose that means no. You’re not getting any younger, Selene! You’re rapidly approaching ‘now or never’ territory. What are you, thirty-eight? You’ll be out of eggs soon!”

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Pelland, Jennifer: “The Last Stand of the Elephant Man”

The Last Stand of the Elephant Man

by Jennifer Pelland

“Mr. Merrick, please wake up.”

Joseph Merrick’s eyes fluttered open, and he stared up at an unfamiliar ceiling. Was this the hospital ward? Had something new happened to him?

Good God, he was lying flat on his back.

He struggled to sit upright, astounded at how effortless the action was. “What—”

The word came out clearly.

His left hand flew up to his mouth. His flat mouth. “My God,” he murmured against his fingers.

And then he saw his unblemished right arm.

“Is this Heaven?” he asked the white-swathed figure at the foot of his bed.

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