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Current Issue Highlights



March/April 2019

We always like to do something a little seasonal when the opportunity arises, so for our March/April issue, you can expect something in the April spirit (either April 1 or April 15—take your pick), like “Hop and Hop with Gleepglopgeep! A Bedtime Reader,” from Tim McDaniel; “Parenting License” by Leah Cypess, and “The Little Sailboat,” by James Gunn, along with a selection of more serious (but still seriously good) hard SF, ranging from C. Stuart Hardwick’s “Dangerous Company” and “Beneath a Red Sun” from James C. Glass, “Second Quarter and Counting” from James Van Pelt, and “The God of All Mountains,” by Jo Miles, as well as “The End of Lunar Hens” by M.K. Hutchins, and “The New Martian Way,” an SF mystery from Brendan DuBois.

Then there’s a new fact article from Richard A. Lovett, plus stories from Matt Kressel and Mercurio Rivera; Sarina Dorie; Tom Greene; Bond Elam; Brad Presslar; Bruce McAllister; Bud Sparhawk; Eric Del Carlo; Jay Werkheiser; Vajra Chandrasekera; Jack McDevitt; Steve Rasnic Tem; Elizabeth R. Adams, as well as all our regular columns.


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Beneath a Red Sun

by James C. Glass

Five ships went out from the Helas system, each with forty souls on missions that would last most of a lifetime. Following an arc of established gates stretching five thousand light-years along the Orion arm from their point of origin on Terra, they searched for habitable planets revolving around red dwarf stars and any other systems they could find.

Red Star 5 was the last to leave Helas, its crew young and eager for adventure, but knowing it would be forty years before their return, and most of that time spent in cryosleep. Geologist John Shriver was barely twenty when he shipped out. For the first twenty years, they followed the line of pinches in spacetime and the long stretches of normal space in between at half light speed to visit systems listed as habitation candidates by Helas astronomers.

Scientists had warned them about what they might find. Even in the habitable zone, most close planets would be tidally locked and blasted with radiation and plasma from their active red suns. And this is what they found, three times—Terran-sized planets blasted to sterility with no signs of water and only traces of atmosphere, burning on one side and frozen on the other. The scientists were awakened three times, but only to analyze spectroscopic data before going back to sleep again.



A Mate Not a Meal

by Sarina Dorie

Mama struck at the silk cords in a complex song I had never heard. “If you love me, how will you show me? Will you sing to me until dawn and promise to never leave my side? Tell me I am your universe and you are mine.” She repeated words every so often to accompany her strumming.

He imitated her song, adding stanzas of his own. Mama clapped her pinchers together in pleasure. Clavira tried to draw his attention. “What about me? Do you love me? Gimme. Gimme.”

Her music was so inelegant it hurt my head. I wanted to chomp down on her with my fangs to put an end to her horrible music. I felt bad after I’d thought it. Maybe Mama had been right about why my sisters and I needed to go our separate ways.

The male tilted his head and studied her with eight eyes. He didn’t have twelve eyes like us. Venom dripped from his fangs and onto his chelicerae jaws. He must have thought she was a tasty morsel rather than an arachnipede. I didn’t blame him when her music was as disgusting as aphid droppings.

“Watch and learn,” Mama said. “But not over here.”



We Carry

by Marie Vibbert

In hell, we carry what we wasted.
We walk on plasticware,
a squeaking, slipping mass... 


Reader's Departments

Guest Editorial: Disciplined Daydreaming

by Robert Scherrer

I’m the luckiest guy in the world—my day job is science fiction. I work in theoretical astrophysics—more specifically, in cosmology. So I get to come up with new speculations about the Universe, work out the implications, and write scientific papers explaining my ideas. When I began writing science fiction much later in my professional life, I noticed interesting parallels between the process of generating new ideas for my research and assembling ideas for science fiction stories.

Science fiction has been called “the literature of ideas,” and there’s no doubt that new ideas play a central role within it. Similarly, scientists are constantly developing novel theories to explain new experimental results. But both fields operate under strict ground rules for what is allowed in the way of speculation and what is considered out of bounds. In that sense, science and science fiction are both forms of “disciplined daydreaming.”  READ MORE


The Alternate View: Ghost Galaxies from An Older Universe?

by John G. Cramer 

Sir Roger Penrose is an Oxford University superstar-theorist whose ideas have spanned an amazing breadth of territory, ranging from geometrical tiling to the nature of human consciousness to the structure of space-time. At age 87 he is still going strong, and for the last decade has been promoting and investigating a radical new theory, Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (or CCC), which is based on general relativity and which concerns itself with the origins of our universe and its predecessors. I find CCC to be a very interesting take on cosmology, but I’m afraid that it has some fatal flaws.

Basically, Penrose observes that during the evolution of an open Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker universe like ours, starting from the initial singularity of the Big Bang and ending with infinite expansion to timelike infinity, there are two distinct eras in which the universe lacks any way of “building a clock” to measure time, and so time itself becomes meaningless. One of these eras is the initial singularity of the early universe, in which time is infinitely dilated by gravity.



The Reference Library

by Don Sakers

One type of science fiction that’s been in vogue recently is noir SF. It’s a type that’s notoriously maddening to discuss—mainly because it combines two terms that defy definition: science fiction and noir. I’m going to pretend that we all know what science fiction means, but what is noir?

The word comes to us from the cinematic category called “film noir” (French for “dark film”), and refers to a style of (mostly) crime dramas that fuse aspects of German Expressionism with influences from hardboiled detective books.

In critical circles, there’s much argument over whether noir is considered a genre, a format, a style, a fashion, a flavor, a tone, a storytelling mode, or something else entirely. No matter how we classify it, noir usually involves a number of common elements.



Upcoming Events

by Anthony Lewis

Check here for the latest conventions upcoming in March and April. READ MORE



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