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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

High Concept

When we finally met aliens, most of us expected they would be different. Why wouldn't they be? Different environments, different evolutionary paths--it just made sense that they wouldn't be like us.
Violence as an art form, though. Who would have thought aliens would come up with that?
They hit us without warning. All over the world their portals appeared--immense, glowing gateways through which streamed an unending flood of machines. Some flew, some crawled, some tunneled through the earth. In all shapes and sizes.
But they all killed, and did so with a grace and beauty that was mesmerizing in its single-minded pursuit of destruction. Washington, Beijing, London, Paris, New Delhi, and Moscow fell before we knew what was happening. Virtually every major city in the world came under attack.
It all seemed to be about spectacle, just like every big-budget, sci-fi invasion flick you ever saw. The White House blew up like they had packed it full of dynamite. Big Ben lit up the night sky as if it was a giant Roman candle. By the time the aliens were through with the Eiffel Tower, it looked like a toy some immense toddler had trampled on. The Taj Mahal, the Kremlin, the Great Wall of China--all met their cinematic end. They seemed to have a thing for our monuments--to the point where they ignored obvious, strategic objectives.
If the aliens had been less involved with their "art," they might have won. Their preoccupation allowed us to cut their machines off at the source and take them out one by one--at a tremendous cost in lives. It was a near thing. There were a thousand acts of bravery as people came together to drive back the invaders, just as countless tales of tragedy went unwitnessed--except by the aliens and their machines. Finally, though, we bottled them up in their beachheads. As long as they didn't open up any new portals or pull some other trick out of their alien sleeves, we would be okay.
When we finally met the aliens across the negotiating table, the first thing we asked them was why. Why couldn't we have been friends? Why did they hate us so much? What did we have that they wanted so badly?
No, they told us. You don't understand. Violence as an art form. They never would have thought of it. Death and suffering raised to a type of visual poetry. Brilliant. Just brilliant. So moving.
The credit was all ours, they assured us.
It was all those movies, you see. The aliens were huge fans.
When we finally realized they were serious, we asked, Was it over, then? Was that the end of their little magnum opus? Could we bury our dead and start putting our world back together?
Of course, they assured us. They would even help.
After all, there was the sequel to think about.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 26th, 2022
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