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Here for the Reading, 2017:

Happy New Year’s to All

Here’s hoping 2018 will be a really good year

Dec 28, 2017: Fantasy, “Revolution Days, by Gary Kloster

Xin believed that on Revolution Day, she would kneel in the courtyard of Prosperity House and feel the razor’s touch.

Instead, a black car brought her and Scholar Tan to Smiling House, home of the Honest Guard. Men with white uniforms and black clubs escorted them into the towering building where the enemies of the Path were interrogated, judged, and executed.

            On a hard wooden bench in a bare grey room, Xin waited.  She served the Common Path. She had nothing to fear.  But when she was called into the room, when she saw the man, the thing, tied to the table, she wished they had left her to the clean emptiness of her meditations, to her silent slavery.

Lead Illustration: James Zapata thumbnail this page: Fran Eisemann

Dec 15, 2017: Science Fiction, “Watchers”, by David A. Gray

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.

Illustrations by Giovanni Palumbo and  Maciej Rebisz Background by Daniel Fleites

 Nov 29, 2017: Young People of all Ages, “The Moon Fox”, by Amy Fontaine

  The little fox showed up after a big shooting star streaked across the sky.  He couldn’t remember who he was.  But he knew he wanted to run, to glow, to leap through the air.  But he also wanted to please all those very strange people, and they didn’t want him doing any of those things

 Nov 20, 2017: Science News and Information, The Size-Luminosity Relationship in Extra-Galactic Astronomy, by Alex Drozd

An article on the curious case of the density range shared by all modern-day elliptical galaxies. Some physical process we don’t understand is driving all elliptical galaxies to evolve towards a certain common density. Is this an attribute of galaxy structures themselves, or a consequence of an undiscovered physical law? The size-luminosity relationship is a mystery – evidence of a major trend that astronomers never would have expected. Alex Drozd explores the phenomenon.

Nov. 14, 2017,A Trip to 3rd and Starlight: An Interview with the Editor

We interviewed Robert B. Finegold, M.D., AKA Dr. Bob, the editor of 3rd and Starlight, an anthology of new voices in science fiction and fantasy.  He is our assistant editor for the Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales department.  In emails I address him as Doc, but secretly I think of him as First Lensman Finegold. His kickstarter for this year’s Starlight Anthology – 3rd and Starlight —  has started today. The Starlight Anthologies provide wider audiences for edgy new voices in science fiction and fantasy. All authors are winners, finalists, or semifinalists in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. They have published in Asimov’s, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Galaxy’s Edge, among others, been nominated for Hugo, Campbell, and the Sir Julius Vogel awards, and/or are winners of the Aurealis and the Jim Baen Short Story contest award.

∼ Happy Hallowe’en ∼

to All!

     

October 31, 2017, Myths, Legends, & Fairy Tales, “In a Field of Bone-Bonnets”, by Aimee Picchi

The old witch climbed into bed, drew her quilt to her chin, and spoke. The hut settled on its haunches, listening. “I know in my bones my end is near. You have served me well, with more care than I would ever have imagined. But you are a magicked thing.  You need a witch’s power to remain alive. I’ve used the last of mine to grant you three days to find a new witch.”

Then softly she mumbled some last advice.

October 18, 2017, Eldritch , “Bolaji Has a Heart“,, by Osahon Ize-Iyamu

When Bolaji’s husband died, people cast her aside as if she were dead, like she didn’t exist anymore without her man, that dead woman. But lots were drawn and it was her turn at the night job, and with it, all the things unseen in the dark, the loneliness of the task, the tales of Masquerades and demons, marauders and spearrangs that had a little too much fun spinning up people’s insides.  There were people that took their turn and came back different, never came back, died in strange ways. Who taught them to fear the night? Who taught them this darkness was evil, sinister, a hand trying to bind them? Why did the fear persist? She stood, shoulders high and back tense, eyes alert. And when everyone was shut in for the night, when it was pitch black, she set out.

September 30, 2017, Young People of All Ages,The Noisy World Before the Doors“,, by Melion Traverse

If you were a dog,

if you were in a cage waiting for someone to take you,

to take you out the Good  Door and home with them,

if you could change your size and shape and color to please them,

of course someone would pick you right away —

wouldn’t they?

September 26, 2017, Eldritch,The Sandwich Shack“,, by Patrick Hurley

Most of the Windy City’s secret places are gone now.  But every once in a great while at summer twilight, when soft lamps have filled the tree-lined streets with a faint silver glow, you may happen to find  Brady’s Sandwich Shack. Your smartphone will lose its signal. Attempting to document the retro interior on Instagram causes the app to crash. Twitter and Foursquare will be unable to triangulate your location, and reviews on Yelp mysteriously refuse to upload.

Don’t panic. Relax. Enjoy the blues. Savor the smell and order some food. If you’re with someone, enjoy each other’s company… …you never know who may drop in.

August 28, 2017, Eldritch, The Glanconer”,, by LJ McLeod

It was too wild, all jagged rocks and sun-bleached driftwood. But it suited me, this beach and this night, a night one could believe in monsters….

Just as the last of the sun disappeared I saw him. He emerged from the grey waves dripping wet and perfect. His hair was black as sin and his pale skin shone like the moon. His body was slender and his face all strange angles, but he was heartbreakingly beautiful. My Irish grandma had told me the old stories and I could see the danger — but his fathomless black eyes fastened on me, ensnared me.

August 24, 2017, FantasyWhat Fools These Immortals Be, by Evan Dicken

I’d only glamoured him so I could get a better look, maybe ask a few questions, but when I looked back the man was dead. Riding a storm down from the snowline, cloaked in swirls of wind-driven ice, I went to find his family, to explain, to help. But when I found her sitting next to the embers of a dying fire, she was cursing the storm, the unseasonable cold, the dying crops.

She was cursing me.

August 18, 2017, Science Fiction“The Icy Breath of Enceladus”, by Liam Hogan

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.

July 21, 2017, Young People of All Ages, “Tree with Chalicotheres”, by Vicki Saunders

Magda practically lived in the tree, and she wouldn’t leave it to the mercy of Harris and his chain saw, in spite of Carla and her pizza bribes, policemen, firemen, dire threats from Child Services, rain, hunger… and that beast from the Paleolithic.

July 8, 2017, Young People of All Ages, The Stork and the Crone, by Barbara A. Barnett

What was this woman doing disturbing Deifilia’s nest on the belfry?  Offering frogs and asking for a baby for her daughter!?  Hah!  From the looks of the old crone she probably  wanted the infant for some unsavory purpose. Perhaps to boil into a stew.

No deliveries for her.  Deifilia was sure of that.

June 24, 2017, Fantasy,Conspiracy in Theory and Practice”, by Mike Reeves-McMillan

The dignified woman in gray and the little man in loud tweed were both in Lincolnsville about the goblin reports.  To her they were marsh gas and poppycock.  To him they were certain proof of his theories.  And he had plenty of theories.

The battle lines were clear, but the outcome was not.

June 7, 2017, Science Fiction,  “Mistress Molly and Krell”. by Jared VanDyke

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.

May 31, 2017, Eldritch The Undine & Pain’s Brother“. by Lucia Iglesias

The Undine is a pain-artist  In the perpetual dusk that haunts the caverns, she strains the shadows for prey, seeking her next masterpiece. The stranger who sweeps from the shadows, his smile pale and puckered as a scar, his breath spiced with smoked marrow and charred bones, offers her a spoilt city to paint in pain, on one small condition,

May 28, 2017, Fantasy Souls of Dinosaurs“. by Alexandra Balasa

 

Iulian has hunted this soul for eight years, eight long and painful years. It is a horror dredged up from his nightmares to hear it so close. . But Iulian is the Empire’s bloodhound, and tonight he must take back that soul.

April 28, 2017, Science Fiction  “Defender of the People”  by Bojan Ratković

 

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?

April 26, 2017, Science Fiction  “Weatherbuns”  by Diana Hauer

 

“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!”

    

March 29, 2017, Fantasy  “Sweeter Than Lead”  by Benjamin C. Kinney

 

She stood atop the wall and stared at the shifting black towers of the Nameless City, as if this time she might spot the shadows of its bygone masters. She flexed her toes against the rampart’s top, the basalt as cold and solid as ever. Only the wall and her vigilance held the City in check, but one of those would not last.

March 25, 2017, Literature and Media “The Essential Fairy Tale” by

Sam Muller

An article on the dark side of fairy tales…

The original villainess of Snow White’s story was her mother.  Grimm Brother’s first edition was faithful to the tale they heard and recorded, the tale of a mother who orders the murder of her adolescent daughter out of jealous vanity and devours what she believes to be the dead child’s lungs and liver…

March 15, 2017, Fantasy:The River’s Daughter and the Gunslinger God“,  by Matthew Claxton

The river’s daughter had hair as long and green as eelgrass, and skin the livid white of a fish belly. Her teeth were sharp, and through her thin lips, she sometimes whispered spells and curses, for her mother had been a sorceress. Since her mother’s departure, swathed in furs in the middle of a winter storm, the river’s daughter had not seen a single outsider to the valley. She spoke to the winds and her siblings the creeks, and she amused herself by practicing charms to change her shape. This dwarf, this outsider who moved with such purpose, fascinated her. She watched him from silent concealment in the forest.

March 9, 2017, Science Fiction:The Fo’dekai Artifact“,  by J. D. Moyer

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.

Feb 27, 2017, Fantasy: “Repo Priest”, by Joel E. Roosa

“In here. Name’s Ben Wilton.  Been possessed thoiteen times now.”  She held out her crosses as if they were shields, and shuttled backwards.

            “Ma’am, it’s not a vampire.  Crosses won’t help.”  Father Belloch unlocked the decrepit old door, and let it slowly creak open.

            The walls were covered with blood-red heretical writings, curses, evil symbols, and dirty limericks. The green ooze covering the floor added a foul smell to the overall ambience. What he didn’t see was the victim in question.

            He rummaged through his backpack and brought out a small umbrella.  He popped it open and stepped cautiously through the doorway. 

Feb. 25, 2017: Eldritch:”Hollows”, by Emmett Schlenz

He was singing another song to the rusted chain dangling from the ceiling when a black hole opened in his chest. It sucked his heart out from behind his ribcage and he knew with a ghost’s certainty, with the instinctual sympathy between the dead and those close to death, that his brother was dying. He had not seen Michael, hadn’t been able to see another human being, since the day he died bloody in the street, listening to the screeching of wheels on concrete.

Feb. 21, 2017: Science Fiction:”Painting Clouds, by A. Merc Rustad

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?

Feb. 18, 2017: Science Fiction:”Ghosts of Bunker Seven, by Derrick Boden

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.

Jan. 31, 2017: Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales:Thief or Felon Bold“, by Alter Reiss

She laughed. “We are within the hill and beyond the stream that stains like blood,” she said. “I will tell you now one true thing: when you bargain with those who live within the hollow hill, you give us things which it amuses us to take, and we give back things which it amuses us to give.”

Jan. 30, 2017: Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales: “Fruits of Victory“, by Jonathan Shipley

In the darkness overhead, Ilianthe saw a point of light flash into being.

  Flash and hold steady. Another way station in the void. Another star, created of angel light and dragon fire. Their victory allowed them to create stars, to reshape the Cosmos  Hundreds more would be scattered through the darkness of the heavens, and the Holdings would no longer hang cold in the lightless emptiness.  Yet victory had not brought peace.

Jan. 26, 2017: Science Fiction: In Zarbok’s Kitchen, by Matthew F. Amati

“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.

 

 

Jan. 25, 2017: Fantasy: With the Breath of his Bare Hands, by Tyra Tanner

Elu smelled demon.

It was a raw scent, like blood in the mouth. The smell that promised a belabored death, a clawing death, a fangs-upon-flesh death.

Sometimes, the memories of his ancient heroics played themselves out in his mind, and the gore colored his sight, but the scent of demon was always there.

It kept his fear alive.

And fear had kept him alive.

 

Jan. 24, 2017: Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales: Black Annis and the Barguest, by Sarah L. Byrne

They call me Black Annis, the village folk do.   I walk the woods alone, my voice gone dry as old leaves, and I’ve not forgotten how to make me a glamour when I need one, with claws of iron and hair like duckweed.

But what does that do against a bargeust from the lands to the north, fangs like blades, breath a bellows blast, eyes of flame?

 

Jan. 11, 2017: Science Fiction: A Meeting of Spirits, by Russell Adams

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 © Eugenius330   Textures courtesy of Renderosity.com

 

Jan. 10, 2017: Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales: “Godmother Death”, by Kate O’Connor

At first, I thought I had been sent for her. She was so very small, barely a breath in her tiny body.   But no, it was her mother, eyes fixed on me, on the tipping point between life and death. And her mother said, “Will you look after her?”

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digital painting “I Waited”, by Kim Myatt

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Jan. 9, 2017: Eldritch: “Sheila Slinkypaw and the Penguin”, by Kevin J. Guhl

Gene concerned me.  He never spoke, didn’t seem to breathe, never took off his head.

Happy New Year Everyone.   We hope 2017 will be a good year for us all. To read all the stories for 2017, you can subscribe here: Subscribe 2017

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