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After October

The Tsar abdicates in February. The Provisional Government gets around to letting Fyodor out of prison in March. In April, he meets his Uncle Grigor at a Petrograd cafe. They talk about magic, death and revolution. “I don’t care, Fyodka. Romans or Visagoths, Christians or Mohammedans, Tsars or…” The old man waves his hand, making […]

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Droplag

I. GHADA AND ASAD “Oh, Ghada, Ghada, Ghada.” “If you say my name one more time, I swear to Jesus, I will kill you.” Asadullah Khan scowled. Ghada Nabulaale rolled her eyes. Was this going to be their new relationship? Had time dilation really turned her former lover into someone with gnarled joints and arthritis? […]

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The Landholders No Longer Carry Swords

The elders claim life is better now. Since the ascension of the young dukes, the landholders no longer carry swords, and we are no longer obliged to kneel in their presence. Taxes have been lowered; we can keep more of our grain, our olives, our limes. Obligatory civic work days have been decreased to five […]

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The Elgin Age

Even grayed by the morning haze, Vesuvius still dominated the horizon of Naples’ harbor, dwarfing the merely human activity below. The city still drowsed in the dawn, for the most part, with only the harbor showing signs of industry. A small, mobile forest of masts passed westward as the fishing fleet chased the retreating gloom […]

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Hero-Mother

Keloc nuzzled his mate’s throat, licking the sweet oil mixed with her sweat.  Underneath the honey masking-scent, she tasted like fear.  Duv whimpered, her black fur rough beneath his tongue.  She lay across the bedding, on her spine, bent slightly backwards to expose the weak place where her pelvic and ventral bone plates met.  She […]

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Karaluvian Fale

“Allow me to pay for your drink, Lady Kara,” Leksander Oash drawled. “I know Fale has trouble at time with the bills.” Coins rang on the dust-gritted tavern table as the young nobleman stood with an unpleasant smile, staring at the woman a few tables away. Behind him, his half-brother Alge guffawed, and one of […]

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Work, with Occasional Molemen

Topeka’s city lights make the low-hanging autumn rain clouds glow phosphorus orange. Against the clouds, I can see bats no wider than my hand. Not birds or moths. Bats. They make hairpin turns no bird could ever manage, snapping up the mosquitoes that have been so thick this summer. It’s a big happy bug hunt […]

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The Winged City

When General Minkhir returned through the Winged City’s gates, her clay servant Chukash saw the emblem of conquest in her hand. This time it was a bronze crescent, drenched in blood as always. Chukash fell in beside her, holding a basin to catch the blood. The trees to either side of them straightened, the gray-brown […]

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The Bleeding and the Bloodless

by Ruth Nestvold Cold. No date, no location. So cold, cold and hot, my fingers are burning. Where am I?
Devlin woke, jolting and in pain, and slowly opened his eyes. He was being carried on a stretcher through a white world: not the green-tinged paleness of the sleep chamber he had expected to see on waking, but a cold, earthly white with an orange cast, a white of muffled shapes and shadows. The people carrying the stretcher were bundled in heavy coats in shades of green and orange with hoods covering their heads and hems to their ankles. Furs and thick blankets of some soft material had been thrown over him. He obviously was not on Jordan. Of course, he couldn't be on Jordan; they had left Jordan, were on their way to Earth. After leaving the Epsilon Eridani system, the first shift crew had taken over and the rest of them had retired to sleep their way through the stars. Something had gone wrong. Where was his crew? Where was he? He decided to try his voice. "What happened?" Two pairs of eyes trained on him, eyes so dark he could see no pupils in them, in faces coffee-colored like his own but hairier. Eyes that looked human but with an indefinable strangeness to them, other, different, in the middle of features that were familiar yet off somehow. They spoke rumbling words in a language he'd never heard before. Overwhelmed, Dev allowed unconsciousness to take him again.

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