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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.

Gold and Memory

Gold is enduring.
We find it occasionally, sometimes in the form of great hoards of rectangular bars or circular disks buried under crushed brick and stone. More often as odd bits, a bent ring here, a mangled shape there. All worked by hands that clearly cared about their craft and their purpose, even when that is murky to us.
Every now and then a piece survives intact.
I have one of those, dug up by a scavenger and traded to me for some vegetables. The shape is simple, two lobes atop and a point on the bottom. A tiny broken ring, nestled between the lobes, puzzled me, until I realized the device was meant to hang from a thong. While polishing it to new shine, I made two discoveries. One momentous, one puzzling.
It could open, on hinges so tiny I could barely see them. The craft required amazed me. Who knew the ancients possessed such refinement? Our finest smith could not equal it.
Inside was a scrap of blackened rot, perhaps a curse or good luck talisman of some sort, now lost to decay. And fifteen mysterious runes--I'll reproduce them for you here on my parchment.
I wonder what they mean?
The End
This story was first published on Monday, April 11th, 2022

Author Comments

This piece came to me while I was thinking about endurance. Gold is an element, very stable and long-lasting. Biological organisms are very unstable, but also capable of reproducing themselves successfully through drastic tribulations and immense spans of time. We find fossil redwoods that are close kin to the ones living today. But the memory of what we humans once were is more ephemeral; when Mohenjo Daro was dug up we could barely understand it, yet it lived as a city only a few millennia ago. What if it was a much longer span of time, and a much sharper collapse, between now, and the lifetime of my future protagonist? What will be remembered by post-crash humans in fifty thousand years? Or a hundred thousand?

- Peter Sartucci
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