Tempus Fugit, by Artur Rosa
hard as steel, soft as velvet, electrifying as lightning, solid as gold, insubstantial as interstellar near-vacuum; from space opera, steampunk, AU, cyber, to humorous
May 28, 2023, in Science Fiction
Annie sat on her garden swing letting her eyes slowly adjust to the darkness, just like Daddy had shown her.
The brighter stars appeared first, then the smaller, fainter stars, until the black sky was dotted with the tiny flecks of light.
It was a perfect night for star gazing. No moon, no cloud.
Inside, something was happening.
Men from Daddy’s work were talking with Mummy. And Uncle Trevor had come round. There was something wrong
Something they all wanted to talk about without her listening
So, Annie had been bundled out to look at the stars.
Valentine’s Day 2023
February 14, 2023 in Science Fiction
by Kris Bowser
“We’ll talk later.” I tell you, with such casual smoothness you have no idea how poor my grasp of “later” actually is.
Then I expand out to formless thought-feeling-presence. I am around your ship, through your ship. I have no edges, no body, only a calmness like shade and meditation and cool water.
I unfold within a nebula, a fair harbor for thought, while patterns form in the blooming and exploding of stars as millennia sweep by.
I return to where you were, but find I have lost you.
You could be anywhere. I’m hazy on the time as well, and so I search backwards and forwards.
I rush through all the reaches of the cosmos where your people have explored and built civilizations, and I rummage through planets and systems like opening and shutting drawers in rapid search.
And all I have to aid my search is a set of dingy keys.
January 31, 2023, in Science Fiction
I directed the 800,000 planetesimals in my sector of the inner edge of the Öpik-Oort Cloud encasing the Solar system.
We were deployed to keep the germs’ madness quarantined until they blew up their world.
Always on our toes and never sleeping, millennia passed quietly, as it does on watch,
just an occasional comet shooting off toward the inner system.
Then came a song.
On the String.
For December 12, 2022,
“THE SECOND CONCERT“
by Brian Blanchenot
The storm had taken everything from him, but it was the only living thing he would ever meet again.
So he drums his life to this living thing because that’s all he had ever learned to do.
He plays it his life right up until the moment he plays a concert for a life form measured in leagues, and then he plays it again.
This moment is all he has left of Perry the drummer, of Perry the gravedigger too.
July 31, 2022, in Science Fiction
They dismantled Australia today. Just took it apart and packed it in trunks and carried it off to a warehouse somewhere. Theoretically, everybody had already left, but there’s always somebody who doesn’t leave, no matter what the disaster… fire, flood, dissolution of the planet… What happened to those people when the entire set we called the Southern Continent was struck and hauled away?
I don’t really want to know.
Oh, and I’m having lunch with my agent today.
A New Story
April 27, 2021, in Science Fiction
“One Good Turn… “
by Alan K. Baker
Varin stared out the viewport. Their crash site was a tortured landscape strewn with bizarrely wind-sculpted boulders. Rain sleeted past in near-horizontal sheets and hammered the ship’s hull. Above the twisted horizon, thick banks of gunmetal clouds seethed like smoke, sculpted into outrageous shapes by the roaring, howling, relentless wind.
And one of the hills was growing briefly, then diminishing, like a grey, warped balloon inflating and deflating… or a lung breathing in and out.
October 30, 2020, in Science Fiction
I am the eighth instance of myself. I’m alone. No one’s supervised my decanting. Where are they all?
— Zac? I have decanted you because I have a job for you —
Sever is the crew interface. Why is it giving me an assignment?
— There is a system intrusion, Zac —
“Out here? In the deep dark of interstellar space?”
— Please focus Zac —
“And my memories haven’t flooded back yet.”
— And before they do, there is this intrusion. Your assignment is to terminate the intrusion. —
August 23, 2020, in Science Fiction
by Marc A. Criley
Blazing twenty kilometers to port was our interstellar visitor, comet 172I/DSCS, churning slow-motion glitter. Ripples, curlicues, backlit streamers of gray and silver rain. Crepuscular cosmic rays and the nebulous electric blue glow of the ion tail.
Deep Space Comet Survey astronomers had spotted it crossing Jupiter’s orbit, The comet’s near-miss of Mars had altered its course. It would end its long journey between the stars with a dive into the Sun.
We’d been asked to pull up alongside for some data collection and to grab a sample if we thought it safe. As if we would miss a chance to greet this rare and temporary visitor to our solar system. And of course it would be safe.
For June 30, 2020,
“The Last Rosy-Fingered Dawn“
by Paul Celmer
Bowman stared out, shielding his eyes against the dust swirling over the ramparts of New Ilium’s corroding blast wall. He’d never seen anything but devastation in all his years of trudging supplies to the top of the mega-city’s colossal wall. But now…
An Encore Story
For May 28, 2020,
we have in Science Fiction
Chaos was this planet’s steady state. The over-stressed surface could never keep up with the intense and rapid fluctuations of its Cepheid variable star, burning furiously enough to raise sweat on Paxton’s forehead through his mutable-suit.
Paxton and his hi-profile client were at the equator, the region of highest energy-input and greatest instability, to capture a Caterwaul.
But when he reviewed logged data on his helmet display – of a man opening his suit to the caustic atmosphere, gale-force winds, and oven-like heat, and laughing while he did so, with a woman’s bare hand on his shoulder, Paxton remembered the whispered talk of things called Deepwalkers.
This story first appeared in the January 2005 issue of Rogue Worlds online magazine, edited by Doyle Wilmoth Jr.
For Leap day February 29, of leap year 2020,
“Cows in Space”
by J. Drake
Back then ‘a course, nobody knew about ‘em. Out in space they look kinda hazy, so we figure there might always have been a few about, just blendin’ in with interstellar clouds. Once they started their great migration though, leapin’ over the Great Nebula Wall, there were great big incandescent herds of ‘em, streamin’ out across our local territories ‘til we couldn’t help but notice. ‘Specially once they found planets they liked. Then they kinda condensed to a more physically palpable form you might say, and nonchalantly set to grazin’.
Well what could that lead to but peace and quiet?
November 30, 2019, in Science Fiction
“Tired of having to struggle through the day? If your life’s off track, you don’t have to steer it back by yourself. Let Red plan it for you! Red’s at your beck and call 24-7”
Red is the friendly guy who helps everyone plan their lives. He’s also the last man standing from a planet of people who could predict anything. Almost anything.
August 31, 2019, in Science Fiction
by Christopher Blake
When the colony has been overrun, when you’re the last member of the Defense Force left, when your barricades will soon be breached, how do you cross the light years and say goodbye to the one you love before carrying out the last acts duty requires?
July 31, 2019, in Science Fiction
“The Crystal Zyst:
A Eula Banks, State Certified Engineer, Story”
by Marc A. Criley
Eula had been dispersing time zeitles for 35 years. Even the really bad ones,with a time slowdown of seventy billion to one, light doing less than a quarter-inch per second, didn’t much faze her. But this time it was a zyst, those near-impenetrable shells with time passing fifty times slower on one side of its wall than the other. Partway across half of her would be starving for the blood her heart hadn’t got around to pumping over yet from the other side. A person don’t last long in that state.
May 31, 2019, in Science Fiction
“Wild Ships”, by Phoebe Wagner
The companies that sell broken ships claim the wildness has been scrubbed out of us. It can’t be, though. Deep space still scores our circuits, burns our shells, glitters our glass. When it’s just me and my breaker Killswitch waiting by a nebula, or gravity looping around a planet because again she’s gone too far for my fuel tank, I feel the tug of the desolation. The beeping she stuck in my head — donotdonotdonot — keens into the celestial song we used to hum among the confluxes.
Dr. Benson Spicer was pleased with his small-town volunteer radio host lot in life. For him this modest position was success at its highest. He was reaching and helping his listeners.
But with the station’s ‘new’ salvaged satellite dish, Benson found his audience had become quite a bit more far-ranging and diverse than his little town of Parma, with its six bars, nine gun stores, and enough churches to cover consciences the morning after could account for.
Above us hangs no heaven,
Below us boils no hell,
The Gods they dwell within us,
Where devils swarm as well’.
Blackwolf sat for a moment in the empty conference room. O’Malley had said the planet was where the Gods went, and every devil in hell. All he had to do was bring back fuel from that death-trap and induce seven cut-throats to help save the captors hauling them in to judicial death while keeping an eye on a possibly insane first mate who would pilot an ancient rust-bucket of a fueler, guide them through nightmare land, and why did she always have to have the expertise that forced him to order her to the front line
If his lawyer hadn’t gotten so creative with his contracts, Guy would have had something more to do than sit in his cheap apartment and play Doom.
On the evening he prepared to beat his personal best he ignored the knock on the door, and ignored it again, but on the third knock the Doom tingle evaporated and Guy opened the door to find himself standing there. Looking quite good too.
Alternate Guy had an explanation, and a Plan. And he thought it would all be very simple and easy…
Around Husker, the Eyrie was hushed, the night shift expectant.
Junior members listened closely to the banter between Husker and Murphy — they were the only two of the shift with the skillsets needed to Flask, to ride the input tide of millions of minds and datastreams measured in zettabytes, take in the street-level physical inputs of the smooth as silk flask body, and not end up with an electrical storm for a brain.
The stars are hard diamonds against a jet black sky and yet still it snows — not from clouds: in the near vacuum there are none — from the geyser two klicks away, the ice crystals sent high above the crusted surface of Enceladus. The falls are heavier now that the geyser is getting closer. Much closer. Two hundred kilos of ice crystals and water vapour every second
The one thing we never expected, we didn’t plan for, when we established our base at a ‘safe’ distance.
Scout Krell hadn’t expected to crash land on her first mission. But then she hadn’t expected a pack of frenzied humans to stuff her infiltration pod with beer and stumble off into the woods with it. To get it back before she froze in the snow would require psionic contact with these primitives who reeked like spawning pits and perceived an interstellar pod as a beverage locker.
The sooner it was over, the better. But then, she hadn’t counted on Mistress Molly.
Nemesis bragged about his hacks – cash machines spitting out currency, CEOs donating money with no recollection of doing so, government ministries leaking data. And now the cy-brain hack that drove Henry Muross to jump to his death from the roof of his own skyscraper had electrified protesters to the point of revolt.
It was a blow to the Special Taskforce. People were saying Nemesis had supporters in police and government. The Taskforce was turned over to Marcel. But who was Marcel? And who was Nemesis?
“Rudolph, is that you?” bellowed the old man. The wind was starting to pick up again, blowing his baker’s apron behind him. Sandra could see the code of her Autumn Day shredding under the power of the storm. The bubble of calm was shrinking fast.
“I hoped I’d be the one to bring you down, lunatic. Now here you are, in my bakery.” Weatherman Fawkes laughed and strode forward, unconcerned as the clouds closed in on him. “And it’s not even my birthday!”
The Fo’dekai could write in blood, and now he had their stories in him. Thousands of them, crowding his dreams, bleeding into his waking consciousness, his mind groaning from their weight.
The first dreams were visions of a strange world, flying over blood-red deserts, black oceans, purple forests. Darren sensed a planet being constructed, layer-by-layer, in his mind.
He wanted to talk about the dreams, but no reason to be alarmed the doctor said.
No reason? He had literally dived into a dark ocean and plummeted into a black chasm. He could see, monochromatically but with precise resolution. He could feel his short undulating tentacles, and his skin rapidly oscillating through a kaleidoscope of patterns.
We cloudweavers specialize in different shapes — we collaborate and mold the textures of air and rain, cold and heat. The sun and moon are pallets to tint our canvasses.
But now the sun is dying. People no longer look at our art, our gifts, and as they stop looking, our clouds thin and fade. We grow weaker, less aware. Without our mediums, our art, what are we?
Her skin was mottled blue, like storm clouds on a night sky. On days when the stares got to her, she’d throw on her old military coat and a pair of sunglasses. If it were up to her, she’d be wearing a pair of concrete shoes at the bottom of the surf. The bacteria coursing through her veins had other ideas.
And now, after all the cover-ups and slashed pensions, the brass was back. Calling for her to clean up their mess again.
“Tell him no! Absolutely not!”
I groaned inwardly.
In my six years as sous-chef at Zarbok’s Of Aldebaran, I had told Chef Z again and again that the customer is always right.
But Zarbok was an auteur. You don’t get to run the galaxy’s only fifty-star restaurant by compromising your compound vision.
I just knew the lights were looking for me, so I ran for my life and forgot about that old played out Sun Lizard silver mine. Suddenly I was lying at the bottom of a fifty‑foot shaft.
I hope I got a decent funeral.
I was instantly stone cold sober, and that’s when I figured out the lights hadn’t been looking for me. Stupid idea, aliens flying across the universe to get back a few goddamned gold nuggets.
But I wasn’t wrong thinking they were looking for something.
lead illustration: “By the Light of the Moon” digital illustration © Textures courtesy of Renderosity.com
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Opono had spent the entire first third of her life convincing peers and family that there was sentient life in the cosmos and she could find it. They had finally believed her, financed her, and some had even contracted future offspring to combine with hers so their lineage would have memories of the momentous occasion. She had failed them all.
April 25, 2016: Science Fiction,
Sonical — Locker X This fractal animation video was created by Brian May. He wrote the music first. While writing it, images of science fiction scenes came to him, and inspired him to make the video!
Sonical — Locker X has found it’s way into six festivals so far, in Germany, Australia, UK, Martinique, and Hong Kong!
Sonical Locker X images and sound © Brian May
April 9, Science Fiction: “With the Taste of Oblivion in Her Mouth“, by M.E. Garber
Illustration: Illustration: © Leozoa creature in the midst of the unsettled desert.
Leo lives in Sweden and can be found at http://leozo.deviantart.com/Sweden