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I’ve Moved.

I’ve moved my commenting for Triangulation: Morning After to www.stephenvramey.com  Join me there, won’t you?

 

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

Mikeys

 By

Robert J. Sawyer

Damn, but it stuck in Don Lawson’s craw—largely because Chuck Zakarian was right. After all, Zakarian was slated for the big Mars surface mission to be launched from Earth next year. He never said it to Don’s face, but Don knew that Zakarian and the rest of NASA viewed him and Sasim as Mikeys—the derisive term for those, like Apollo 11’s command-module pilot Mike Collins, who got to go almost all the way to the target.

Yes, goddamned Zakarian would be remembered along with Armstrong, whom every educated person in the world could still name even today, seventy years after his historic small step. But who the hell remembered Collins, the guy who’d stayed in orbit around the moon while Neil and Buzz had made history on the lunar surface?

Don realized the point couldn’t have been driven home more directly than by the view he was now looking at. He was floating in the control room of the Asaph Hall, the ship that had brought him and Sasim Remtulla to Martian space from Earth. If he looked left, Don saw Mars, giant, red, beckoning. And if he looked right, he saw—

We’re thrilled to have a story from Robert J. Sawyer this year, and it’s a doozy too, 4000 words of excellent SF and a fitting culmination to the Last Contact theme. This brings to an end our teasers. We hope you will read the rest of the stories (as Paul Harvey might have said) and recommend the collection to friends, family, and fellow supporters of short fiction. The book goes on sale at the Confluence Convention in Pittsburgh this weekend (252 pages, $16) and I’ll post here when it becomes available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. We also plan on a Kindle edition and various ebook formats for those of you who like your books electric.

The full Table of Contents is here.

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

The Loss of Pain

 By

Amy Treadwell

They had tried bathing him in pig’s blood. Then dog’s blood. Then the secretions of a certain stinging fish. They scarified the backs of his hands and rubbed arsenic and hellebore into the wounds. They immersed him in the Jordan River, and with each symbolic drowning he prayed to Saint Lazarus that the God of all Mercy might remember his answer to another captain and let him rise like Naaman with the skin of a newborn babe.

When the friar suggested castration, Sir Bernard drew the line.

“I would confess to many sins, good Friar, but lechery is not among them.”

“Try to see it in the light of Christ’s sacrifice.”

Bernard closed his eyes and covered his face. His commanding officer had told him the divine suffering of the leper was the closest analog to Christ’s suffering on the cross. Numbness would come first, followed by loss of muscle, then the slow decay of tissues he could no longer feel. It was not painful, he said. The man had worn gloves when he handed Bernard his discharge papers. They had burned his tabard along with his bedding.

So, why did we take this story? I fell in love with the writing in this piece from the very first read. It evokes a world in vivid detail and puts you deeply into the diseased flesh of a sympathetic character. Our concern was the lack of a clear speculative element. Amy addressed the speculative “feel” in revision, which helps. I wish it could be longer to do full justice to its themes, but it’s quite amazing even at this length. I hope you will agree.  The original was 5500 words; final edit is 5400 words.

Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

Seedling

 By

Eric Zivovic

Tabitha drifts in the void, alone with her thoughts. It is an unusual sensation. Not the physical solitude, for that is her existence, but rather the isolation. Before, the voices of the network always surrounded her with their ceaseless dialog of telemetry updates, guidance, warnings, and identification beacons. These were the conversations of her life, three years spent plying between Earth and Moon, exchanging essential supplies for refined titanium, one gravity well for another and back again.

So, why did we take this story? In filling out the collection, we wanted a few short interludes to break up the longer stories. This was one of the short pieces that caught our eye early and we held it for a long time (sorry, Eric!) before finally deciding it was the final piece we wanted. It’s an elegant tale of last contact that should strike home with a large portion of our audience. We’re happy to have it. The original was 400 words; final edit is 370 words.

Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

To Rule, Do Nothing

 By

T. F. Davenport

After laying out the corpse and heaping snow over it, Kandel went on with his daily walk. Hydrocarbons and astral dust filtered in through the pores in his suit, collecting in tiny pouches where atom-by-atom the suit recombined them into a drinkable slurry.

Ostensibly he was gathering food, but really it was just a way to pass the time while he awaited his next visitor. Like everything else in his new life, this business of finding food was uncomplicated. Existence was no longer a matter of striving. Things were simpler now. Nothing to do and no one to speak to. The same ineluctable razor that divided the star-pricked vacuum from the endless white dunes of snow also divided what he could have—food, water and a place to lay his head—from what he couldn’t: anything else. The few things allowed to him came automatically.

So, why did we take this story? As flash goes, this one was flashy indeed. We enjoyed the way it developed to a most unexpected and high stakes ending. We asked for some rearrangement to maximize the effect and the revision did not disappoint. The original was 700 words; final edit is 640 words. And, no, it’s not about the current political situation in Washington. That’s a tragedy; this one is more dark comedy.

Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

In the Shadow of God, There is Fire

 By

Sandra M. Odell

The vase tumbled and shattered.

“Oh!” Rita dropped to her knees, hands trembling as she brushed bits of porcelain into her palm. She picked up a tangle of wispy brown feathers; they crumbled to dust. “Oh.”

“That was a Ming vase from the Hongwu period, Miss Jimenza,” Alban Hausmann said softly from his seat behind the cherry-wood desk, “a one-of-a-kind example of artisanship valued at over nine-hundred-thousand dollars.”

Rita squeezed her eyes shut. Between her work and her mother’s Social Security, they survived one check at a time. How would she pay rent and buy diapers while looking for a new job? “I—I’m so sorry, sir. It was an accident.”

“Your pay will be docked twenty dollars for the vase and another ten dollars for the feathers. Arrakockra nesting feathers, while not irreplaceable, are not easily come by. Please do try to be more careful.” He stood. “I will take my tea in the study after you have finished here.”

Rita made certain he had gone before she broke down in tears.

So, why did we take this story? The prose is magnificent and the character so real she polishes your silver. Add a very interesting speculative conceit and you have a winner. We asked for some tightening and Sandra delivered a very good rewrite. The original was 4800 words; final edit is 4600 words.

Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

The Bright Air That Breathes No Pain

 By

Eric Schaller

“Dig,” the girl said. Her dress was the brilliant white of sun-smacked snow, her hair pale as straw and she ran a pink comb through it as she talked. She used Pert shampoo, a fact she had revealed to Todd during recess, even inviting him to smell the botanical aroma. Smell but not touch. She pulled away when he pressed too close to her curls.

Was that why he had followed her into the woods?

“I’m tired.” Todd’s palms were tender and dirty and he could feel the beginnings of a blister. More than one. He thought he might cry but resisted the tightness in his chest, the pressure behind his eyes. Girls always carried tales.

“The only work worth doing is hard work,” the girl said with evangelical conviction. She shook her hair and it glittered in the dappled light.

So, why did we take this story? We are not a literary anthology, but we do enjoy literary technique applied to speculative themes. This story was haunting in its language and situation. We had issues with accessibility; the plot was a little too obscure for us, though we very much liked the way the story came full circle in an evocative way. We asked Eric to address this concern in revision and he did so very well. It’s not your “typical” spec fic story by any means, but it’s a darned interesting one. The original was 4700 words; final edit is 4925 words.

Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

The Charnel Pit

 By

Stephen Gaskell

Thanh dug his fingernails into the coffin and hefted its edge onto a different part of his shoulder. His skin was aflame, the whole of his shoulder from the base of his neck to the top of his arm raw with pain.

He grimaced. To cry out would be shameful and bring dishonor to the memory of the dead emperor. At least the agony stopped his mind dwelling on why six lowly servants had been chosen as pallbearers. Not to mention why the coffin was so wretchedly heavy, when its occupant had been nothing more than skin and bones at death.

Mercifully, less than five hundred paces later, the procession leader raised a hand. The oversized sleeve of his black tunic pooled at his shoulder. Six servants rushed forward to take the load from Thanh and the other bearers. Thanh was glad for the reprieve, however short it might be.

So, why did we take this story? The world building was wonderful and the character’s situation quite interesting. We had some issues with pacing that Stephen addressed in rewrite and subsequent revision, and the final product is impressive indeed.  The original was 5300 words; final edit is 4575 words.

Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

Ghost Horses and Dream Dogs

 By

Shanna Germain

There was no such thing as a jockey. Not anymore. But once upon a time, Dale had been one of the best. He was built for it, born for it—the one good thing his father gave him was his genes. A lack of height, a slim build, strong for his size, bones as hollow as birds’. He never had to throw up or do water loss to keep his riding weight. He was lucky like that.

Once upon a time, he’d rode the best. Mabel Gray. Thunderbolt Kid. Red Rider. Even Carlyle St. George, the big red roan with one blind eye that everyone wanted to retire, but who took the Triple when he was on the far end of five. Dale had lived for the thrill of those huge creatures under him, the stretch and pull of muscle and will, that last gallop to the finish line, horse and rider moving, breathing, almost flying, as one.

Now, there were only ghost horses and dream dogs. Nothing substantial, nothing that could hold even the weight of a small man. At night, Dale dreamed he was without gravity, a bird upon their see-through backs, dreamed that he had become as much of nothing as they were.

So, why did we take this story? One thing we definitely look for is variety in voice, in plot, in approach to the theme. We loved the language and the imagery of this one from the beginning, but a couple of us worried that it was not quite accessible (i.e. understandable) enough. I suggested a rewrite and Shanna came through with a wonderful revision that addressed our concerns very well.  The original was 3500 words; final edit is 3000 words.

Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.

As I receive contracts and final edits from authors, I’ll post a teaser from their story here and on our Facebook page.  You know where to get the rest, right? Comments are welcome.

In Ruins

 By

J. M. Odell

Zahur heard Iko’s uneven shuffle, and straightened. Using the loose end of one of his bandages, he wiped up a drip of ochre pigment. Repainting the glyphs was a precaution, his way of ensuring they stayed fresh.

He hoped Iko came with good news. They’d been locked in limbo for far too long. Though the others seldom complained, Zahur felt responsible for their situation. Not that he’d done the deed; he’d been dead at the time. But Mhotep, chief architect of their pyramid, had known how to hold a grudge. Why else would he have hidden their invocation, stranding them on the path to the afterlife?

So, why did we take this story? A story that can make me laugh out loud and tear up in the same sitting gets my vote. The other editors also saw potential here. It’s a nice contrast to other stories and one reason we ended up rejecting another ancient Egypt set story that was as good in terms of story execution, but lacked this one’s range. We had some issues with pacing, particularly in the opening scene and Jo-Anne did a nice job addressing this in revision. The original was 5500 words; final edit is 4900 words.

Tune in tomorrow for our next tease. The full Table of Contents is here.