Thursday, August 22, 2013

Winter, and Free Fiction, is Coming

Another day of finding fantastic free fiction begins at QuasarDragon, with new issues of  Beneath Ceaseless Skies and The Lovecraft eZine, several links borrowed from my hard-working peer Regan Wolfrom at SF Signal, a Scott Sigler short story, audio fiction, flash fiction, comic, etc.  As is normal lately, there's more to come.

[Art from "The Pariah" linked below]

• At Author's Site: "A Girl With Excellent Taste in Music" by Scott Sigler. Speculative Fiction.
     "I just got these contact lenses. They’re only available to beta testers. I know a guy at Google. He got me the first-gen Google Glass."

• At Baen: [via SF Signal]
From The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 7:
"The Contrary Gardener" by Christopher Rowe. Science Fiction.
     "She paused before a container of bright pink corn kernels, their pre-programmed color coming from insecticides and fertilizers and not from any varietal ancestry. Kay Lynne didn’t like to grow corn. It grew so high that it cast her little cottage in shadow if she planted it on the side of the house that would see it grow at all. Besides, corn was cheap, and more than that, easy—just about any gardener could grow corn and a lot of them did."

• "The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times" by Eleanor Arnason. Fantasy.
     "When the Goddess built the world, she worked like a good cook making a meal, tasting as she went along. She tasted the fruit to make sure it was sweet and the bitter herbs to make sure they were bitter. She tried other things as well: rocks, clay, water, bugs, fish, birds, and animals with fur. Cooked or raw, everything went onto her tongue."

• "Close Encounters" by Andy Duncan. Science Fiction.
      "She knocked on my front door at midday on Holly Eve, so I was in no mood to answer, in that season of tricks. An old man expects more tricks than treats in this world. I let that knocker knock on. Blim, blam! Knock, knock! It hurt my concentration, and filling old hulls with powder and shot warn’t no easy task to start with, not as palsied as my hands had got in my eightieth-odd year."

• "Great-Grandmother in the Cellar" by Peter S. Beagle. Fantasy.
     "Old people forget things, I know that—my father can’t ever remember where he set down his pen a minute ago—but if I forget, at the end of my life, every other thing that ever happened to me, I will still be clutched by the moment when I gazed down at my beautiful, beautiful, sweet-natured idiot sister and heard the whining laughter of Borbos, the witch-boy she loved, pattering in my head. I knew he had killed her."

• "The Easthound" by Nalo Hopkinson. Fantasy.
     "They didn’t talk about skin coming off, either. Jolly should be picking someone to come up with the next line of the game. But Jolly broke the rules when she damned well pleased. Loup-de-lou was her game, after all. She’d invented it. Someone had to come up with a first line"

From The Best Horror of the Year Volume Five
• "Nikishi" by Lucy Taylor. Horror.
     "Seasick and shivering, Thomas Blacksburg peered out from beneath the orange life boat canopy, watching helplessly as the powerful Benguela current swept him north up the coast of Namibia. For hours, he’d been within sight of the Skeleton Coast, that savage, wave-battered portion of the west African shore stretching between Angola to the north and Swakopmund to the south."

• "Little America" by Dan Chaon. Horror.
     "First of all, here are the highways of America. Here are the states in sky blue, pink, pale green, with black lines running across them. Peter has a children’s version of the map, which he follows as they drive. He places an X by the names of towns they pass by, though most of the ones on his old map aren’t there anymore. He sits, staring at the little cartoons of each state’s products and services. Corn. Oil wells. Cattle. Skiers."

• "A Natural History of Autumn" by Jeffrey Ford. Horror.
     "They’d met the previous night at The Limit, an upscale hostess bar. Riku’s employer had a tab there and he was free to use it when in Numazu. He’d been once before, drunk and spent time with a hostess. Her conversation had sounded rote, like a script; her flattery grotesquely opulent and therefore flat."

• "Mantis Wives" by Kij Johnson. Horror.
      "Eventually, the mantis women discovered that killing their husbands was not inseparable from the getting of young. Before this, a wife devoured her lover piece by piece during the act of coition: the head (and its shining eyes going dim as she ate); the long green prothorax; the forelegs crisp as straws; the bitter wings. She left for last the metathorax and its pumping legs, the abdomen, and finally the phallus. Mantis women needed nutrients for their pregnancies; their lovers offered this as well as their seed."

• "Tender as Teeth" by Stephanie Crawford and Duane Swierczynski. Horror.
     "'Is it true that the cure made all of you vegetarians?' Carson asked. Justine was staring at the road ahead, but could see him toying with his digital recorder in her peripheral vision. He was asking a flurry of questions, but at the same time, avoiding The Big Question. She wished he’d just come out with it already."

• "The Callers" by Ramsey Campbell. Horror.
     "Does he mean Mark will be visiting by himself in future? Was last night’s argument so serious? His mother objected when his grandfather offered him a glass of wine at dinner, and then her mother accused her of not letting Mark grow up. Before long the women were shouting at each other about how Mark’s grandmother had brought up her daughter, and the men only aggravated the conflict by trying to calm it down."
• At Omni Reboot: "Squid!" by Mark Von Schlegell. Science Fiction.
     "The exhibition guard stands alone before the wide, blank exhibit window in the Halls of the Terran Seas. In the low illumination of the hall, its darkness seems to expand. The days pass and there is only this blackness. Yet every day, with a perfect clockwork the guard to oversee a green black nothing that has never, as far as anyone knows, been interrupted. It’s hard for the rare visitor to know if there is even water behind the glass at all."

• Now Posted: Beneath Ceaseless Skies #128.
"Ill-Met at Midnight" by David Tallerman. Fantasy.
     "What surprised him most—and much about this situation seemed remarkable—was that his target seemed actually to understand what was happening. Most people tried to peel at the cord, to pry it free. The impossibility of success, the fact that they were actually assisting their own strangulation, never even occurred to them."

• "The Clay Farima" by Henry Szabranski. Fantasy.
     "My brain is a sandstone rock, my heart a cold quartz stone. I am made of my dead mother’s love, I am made of my dead mother’s hate—all mixed up with blood and magic, dirt and clay."

• Now Posted: The Lovecraft eZine #26
• "The Crevasse" by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud. Horror.
     "Garner peered through shifting veils of snow at the endless sweep of glacial terrain before him, the wind gnawing at him, forcing him to reach up periodically and scrape at the thin crust of ice that clung to the edges of his facemask,"

• "Cement Shoe Cthulhu" by Derek Ferreira. Horror.
     "In everything, it’s as much who you know as what you know. Contacts, networking, social media, it’s all built around the same concept:  getting you out there, spreading your web,"

• "Between" by William Meikle. Horror.
     "I regretted it at that point of course, standing in the Western Highlands on a wet mud track in the gathering gloom, with rain beating on my head and cold water seeping into my ten guinea brogues."

• "The Moon’s Architecture" by Graham Lowther. Horror.
     "Someone walked up to me while I stood in the gray dampness, waiting for the public transport, and asked me if I had the time, with a peculiar emphasis on 'time.'"

• "The Arkham Terror" by Pete Rawlik. Horror.
    "Most vociferous was the newly graduated Herbert West. Over the last two years, as the young West carried out the final phase of his education, years in which the student determines his own course of independent study,"

• "The Pariah" by Bruce Durham. Horror.
     "A warm breeze stirred the brittle limbs of a dying tree. A branch split and cracked, tumbling end over end to bounce with a hollow sound off the sun-baked pavement."
Flash Fiction
  • At Daily Science Fiction: "In Dreams" by Jeremy Erman. Fantasy.
  • At Flashes in the Dark: "Corkscrew Bob" by Andy Evans. Horror.
  • At Nature: "Alone" by Marko Jankovic. Science Fiction.
  • At 365 Tomorrows: "Illicit Consumption" by Bob Newbell. Science Fiction.
Audio Fiction
• At Beneath Ceaseless Skies: "The Study of Monstrosities" by Greg Kurzawa. Famtasy.
     "Seven subjects, Ethan thought. One of them a child. All of them physically torn into two distinct beings: a functional husk, and an abomination. He had read the doctor's journal. The subjects had come from different families, different boroughs, different backgrounds. None of them had known any of the others. All of them Raah?"

• At Internet Archive [LibriVox]: First on the Moon by Jeff Sutton.YA Science Fiction.
     "The four men had been scrutinized, watched, investigated, and intensively trained for more than a year. They were the best men to be found for that first, all-important flight to the Moon--the pioneer manned rocket that would give either the East or the West control over the Earth. Yet when the race started, Adam Crag found that he had a saboteur among his crew ... a traitor! Such a man could give the Reds possession of Luna, and thereby dominate the world it circled." Text here (1958).

Comic Books

Other Genres
• Flash Fiction at Every Day Fiction: "Considering Fruit" by Katrina Ray-Saulis

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