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Threshold

Threshold by Ben Phenicie TO: The People of Prociv, Descendents of Roarcaster Deth exiled you, and your history is forgotten. Look at the night sky! There should be stars, a thousand beautiful points of light, not the unbroken blackness you see when the sun is gone. Retrace your myths, legends, religions – how I hope these words translate into your languages. The stars beckoned us outward once, but we turned away… now you may be our only hope. Higley Randapatham Message to the Exiles, AY 4414                                                                                              Darg– Authority Year (AY) 2367 It was like Blue Danube, the way the round-edged yellow construction cubes waltzed in orbit with the long, rectangular barges. Darg loved pretending they weren’t building a vast deception. He whistled the melody as he programmed. Once it was finished, the Veil would prevent the Roarcastrian rebels from seeing the cosmos. The framework was suspended in Prociv’s mesosphere, held aloft by solar sails and vast orbiting power satellites. Darg watched and whistled as an arrondissement – one piece, as thin as canvas, of the the gigantic icosahedron – unfurled over the planet’s cloud tops, covering Prociv’s greens and blues with translucent gray. Worker robots sealed it in place. “They cannot rebel, if they do not know we exist,” Reznik reasoned, gesturing grandiloquently at the Veil. His hologram console glowed with schedules and ship trajectories. Reznik was a chubby,...

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View Finder

View Finder By Walt Socha   Yes, it worked. Through the dim red light, Alice could see the print taking shape in the developer. She let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. The timer chattered and she moved the paper to the stop bath then, after a count of ten, to the fixer. Once the developed image was in the rinse, she cleaned up the spills and covered the trays. Finally, she turned on the regular lights and hung the print on a makeshift drying rack. She felt her face spread in a grin as she inspected her photographic print. Nice crisp lines, all in focus and the three subjects centered in front of the town’s memorial. Maybe the school’s Archaic Photography club would let her become a member. A pang of loneliness shot through her gut, but she shunted it away with practiced ease. Then Alice frowned. There were too many people in the photo. Cripes, the first picture with her brand new second-hand camera was double exposed. She glanced at the old camera as if it could offer an explanation. It was a large format antique with its single sheet film holder. Even the man at the camera store wasn’t sure where or when it was made. He said it looked like a very old Linhof.  But he did have the 4 by 5...

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The Melting of 92A

The Melting of 92A by Anne Patterson Friedman It was background, and often enough foreground, for the bulk of Katya’s experience, which slowly, without notice, had condensed to form her snowbound mind. Throughout her stay on the icy world, she had seen no other life—no bugs, no shoots greening the bleak expanse. She knew of these in shadowed ways only, from frayed memories, from bedtime tales not wholly forgotten. And now, eyeing the spine of a curved white ridge, she wondered if Outpost 92A were not itself alive, a planet-sized armadillo curled into its sleeping self. She stepped away...

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God-Deaf

God-Deaf By Cheryl Barkauskas   “Please, Sister,” the woman said, weeping. “No one else will help my son since he was expelled from the Temple. They’re all afraid, they won’t even see him. You’re my last hope.” Erai pressed the woman’s hand. “Don’t cry. Everything will be fine.” She closed her eyes, calmed herself, and dropped into the prayer-meditation that years of devotion and training had made instinctive. Mother, are you there? she asked in the silence of her mind. Yes, daughter, the Goddess replied. Her voice shimmered soundlessly. The question was rhetorical—Erai felt the divine presence like a warmth. Is it right to leave the Temple and treat this woman’s son? What do you think? the Goddess asked. I’m not sure. We’re supposed to ask them to be brought here, but she says he’s too sick, and of course I remember him from his novitiate. And how can I turn her away? She’s in such pain . . . Compassion is a virtue. So is obedience. But compassion is the higher virtue. That’s what we’re taught. Erai pondered. So the virtuous path must be to treat him. Is that right? It is good, the Goddess said. Erai opened her eyes. The anguish she’d felt in empathy with the frightened mother had been replaced by calm and utter certainty. “It’s all right, I’ll help you,” she told the woman. “You...

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Harry and Harry – P&E Winner

Harry and Harry by Arthur Doweyko Harry and Harry – First place winner in the SF/F short story category of Preditors and Editors Writers Poll. Publishing date May First 2011 12 Jan 2024 Sweat burned Harry’s eyes, cascading over both nose and chin. Although he tried to calm himself by sinking into the worn confines of his leather easy chair, his gut preferred to tremble, and his breathing remained short and raspy. The sole source of light in his basement sanctuary came from a series of blinking multicolored flashes. The apparatus sat a few feet in front of him, and...

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