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Not just rockets & robots...
"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.

Science Fiction


Here there be Nanites. Nanotech is a dangerous substance: in the hands of a talented science fiction writer it becomes indistinguishable from magic, thereby proving Arthur C. Clarke correct. But Greg Bear ("Blood Music") and Neal Stephenson ("The Diamond Age") among others have proven that a cautionary tale, turning on the plight of all-too-human characters, can be woven of this magic gossamer fluff.

by Edward Ashton
You're peeling back your inner gloves, aching in every muscle after a twelve-hour shift, when you feel a faint pressure against the inside of your left wrist where the thick latex is doubled over. You barely have time to register the sensation before it disappears with a soft pop, and a cloud of tiny motes appears around your hand, sparkling in the harsh white lights of the decontamination room. Your heart lurches and you yank your hand back, but it's a spastic movement, directed by your terrified lizard-brain rather than the part of you that thinks, and those few centimeters of exposed skin at your wrist pass through the cloud before you stagger backward, cradling your arm to your chest. You look down to see a thin dusting of gray specks on your skin, then feel a brief, almost-painful tingling as they disappear, leaving behind an angry-looking scattering of tiny red bumps. You stare at the pattern of spots, frozen, until they begin to form red constellations against your sweat-grimed skin. The burner is less than two meters away. Will charring up to the elbow be enough? You try to think back to your training, but your mind is a howling void. Has it been ten seconds yet? Twenty? How long does it take the nanos to worm their way into an artery? You should probably go all the way to the shoulder now, but you still haven't moved. You've seen what the burner does to an arm or a leg before, and a tiny voice inside your head is whispering that all you need to do is wait. Just a few more seconds now, and there won't be any point. You won't have to do it at all.
Published on Sep 25, 2014
by Matthew Castleman
The nurse left work on time. He passed under the dim glow of the ID dome, and through the ratcheting gate that snapped to either side with a hiss and a click as the dome's radio eye found the code pricked into his skin. Joel's mind drifted back across the day. A little girl whose adopted pet had unwittingly carried trace amounts of home-cooked attack flu from the slums. A riot policeman whose can of flash-arthritis had exploded on his belt, very nearly fusing his lower spine. A young musician with nanocancer, the swarms of atom-machines in his body cobbling together an expanding mass of bristling silicon on his chest and neck, usurping more and more of his metabolism to power their purposeless fabrication.
Published on Apr 15, 2019
by Maggie Clark
In fourteen years of marriage, Pritchard Nichols had on many occasions considered himself a bad husband, but none worse than the day he informed his dying wife of his intention to grieve her passing. “Are you mad?” said Myna, though it was increasingly hard for her to speak, and her once-dulcet voice now rasped at the attempt. If it weren’t for the nano protocol routinely targeting pain centers in her deteriorating body, Pritchard’s declaration might have sent her to an early crematorium then and there.
Published on Apr 27, 2012
by L. R. Conti
Going into the job interview with my skin set to flash is risky, but I do it anyway. After all, I need them to remember me. I need them to think I'm bold. I need them to know I am up for a risk. So, I walk in with stripes, change to blue, change to scales, change to purple fur. I sit in the only seat available. By the time my skin flashes to stone, an annoyed voice says, "Dr. Drone, Please set the skin to something steady." It comes from the male in the green uniform. The other three nod in agreement.
Published on Jun 18, 2019
by Tim Deans
The General slapped me on the back with one hand while prodding his forefinger against the observation window. "That meets the definition of a miracle, Doctor." "Yes, sir," I replied, "it does."
Published on Nov 28, 2012
by Paul G Di Filippo
Nearly all biohackers agree on one thing concerning the infamous Twaddle virus: it was elegantly scripted. Contagious via mere touch or aerosol dispersal (a sneeze, a cough), the synthetic infection was able to cross the blood-brain barrier within hours of contact with a human host. A retrovirus, it wrote itself ineradicably into the victim's cortical genome, forever altering the sufferer's neurochemistry. As a final insult, the parasite caused the mocking signature logo of its unknown maker to appear upon the brow of each victim, scribed in colorful active OLED nanopixels: a GIF of an obese cartoon duck waddling across a barnyard: what soon came to be known as "the Twaddle duck."
Published on Aug 27, 2012
by Alex Drozd
The five patients sat in the waiting room, their minds soon to be surgically enhanced. Improved and prescient, they would be valuable assets to the ones organizing and paying for the procedures. Beneath the room's low ceiling and partially burned-out, overhead light, Jaun Patterson, Melanie Lewis, Andrew Takomi, and Preethi Sarker sat at a table, exchanging banter and small talk, while Collin Stevens sat on a collapsing couch in the corner, perusing a magazine. Though he was separate from them, he heard everything they were saying.
Published on May 30, 2017
by Andrew L Findlay
Rule five of the Regeneration Manual: The database in which all subjects are recorded must be monitored at all times, as failure to do so may result in errors for which your employer will not be liable.
Published on Apr 4, 2011
by K. A. Gillett
Taja's seven fingers worked quickly, efficiently. The tiny brushes at the end of each digit distributed yellow pollen from flower to flower. She worked her way up the branch, pollinating--as directed by the chief of the ag station--every fifth flower. The tree limb, cool under the touch of her real hand, swayed as she shifted her weight to reach the farthest apple blossoms, those closest to the sky. Wide-based wooden ladders leaned against old, gnarled apple trunks as her team climbed into the trees beside hers. In most orchards, the trees were dwarf with the horizontal branches low so that even a pollinator as short as Taja had no need to stand on tiptoes. But in this orchard, which stretched for kilometers to the horizon, the government was trying to preserve the old varieties, and some trees had branches six times her height.
Published on Apr 1, 2014
by Erik Goranson
I found the professor in a hospital bed. His boy sat next to him, teary eyed, clinging to his pale fingers. The professor was consoling the boy until he saw me. He cast a knowing look in my direction and sent the boy off to fetch some water. I found his scrutiny delightful. My disguise was impeccable, but even in his deteriorated state, the man remained astute. He offered a promising harvest.
Published on Jan 19, 2012
by Jude-Marie Green
Aunt Tad lounged on the porch swing, half in and half out of the sun. I brought her some lemonade because I was thirsty and hot, sweating through my shirt. She didn't sweat. She waved her hands slowly through the beams of sunlight, admiring the rainbows they painted on the floorboards. "Most people cast shadows," she said. "I shed refractions. It's kind of odd. But you get used to it." She took the lemonade in her glass hand. She wore a tank top and abbreviated shorts, leaving nothing to the imagination, really. Glass skull--no hair, of course--glass bones and skin, glass chest rising smoothly with her breath. Transparent everywhere except for some discreet cloudy spots shielding her internal organs. I sat next to her on the swing, squinting to see where the glass of the lemonade disappeared against the transparency of her hand and her lips.
Published on Dec 11, 2018
by Alexandra Grunberg
"Hello Mr.... Robinson? Is that right?" "Yes, that's correct."
Published on Apr 13, 2017
by Ryan Gutierrez
Jacob knew he had to work quickly. When the last breath exited the body, it was only a matter of time before the electrons in the nerve centers of the brain ceased to fire. At that time it would all be too late.
Published on Aug 17, 2011
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Trevor and I were sitting in our favorite niche at Rube Cube, watching, hearing, and smelling the stream of people flowing toward and away from the bar. Trevor held my hand under our microtable. Our knees touched because there wasn't enough room for them not to. People bumped us as they passed, because space was at a premium. It always was, everywhere in the city. The mutter of conversations people were having with other people or devices wove into a mat of sound around us, with the bar's trance music soundtrack lying under it.
Published on Dec 27, 2019
by Gareth D Jones
It wasn't his fault, and nobody blamed him for what happened, but Englebert felt the loss of his friend keenly and guilt weighed heavily on him. He tried to get back to some kind of normality, working with the other analysts, but everything felt hollow, meaningless. The nanomachines were still confusing his brain. He told Bakkar he was going away for a while, that they shouldn't try to contact him. Then he went out into the desert, alone, with no supplies or equipment. That's the last he was seen. Wait. That's the end. Go back to the beginning.
Published on Aug 7, 2015
by KJ Kabza
It begins to unravel in the Green Horse Café. And that frighteningly athletic-looking waitress (that's Jiao Ming, by the by, and she's gotta be 5'10" if she's an inch) is gonna be the one to pull that first, tempting thread. The moment hits at 12:05 P.M., when this guy that Jiao wishes she didn't know enters with a gust of ankle-biting air. His name, as Jiao has read from his credit card on prior occasions, is Nathan Pinkwater. Slender but flabby, tall but self-conscious, he slouches in a funny way when he walks and bites his nails all over the place (look at those cuticles, would you; ugh), and tends to flirt with all the debonair suaveness of a shaven orangutan. At least the usual dandruffy snow on Pinkwater's shoulders has evaporated in the happy spring of improved personal hygiene.
Published on Oct 5, 2012
by Lancer & Shelli Kind
"You really want a pet?" Diff says. He can't believe what he's hearing. "We've got a lot of logic to build and the boss keeps mentioning deadlines and I'm supposed to be meeting Zoe in an hour." Diff grabs a can of canned air, leans back in his chair, and sprays it through his beard so the ends of his Fu Manchu dance. He hopes it makes him look thoughtful instead of annoyed.
Published on Jan 7, 2011
by Dylan Otto Krider
Would you be the first to climb onto the device? Would you proceed if you fully understood the scientific principles upon which it is based? What is it about the device that troubles you? Is it the flashy lights on the control panel? The eerie hum of the machine as it powers up? Is it the slight nod of the technician, inviting you to step on as he stands safely behind shatter-resistant Plexiglas?
Published on Dec 13, 2012
by Sam J Miller
Sabi As a young man, I tried not to hate the monks. I tried to share my mother's reverence, tried not to see them as cowards hiding from the world and the war. Now that I am one, I don't even try.
Published on Dec 6, 2013
by Ian Nichols
It's always difficult to tell someone they're going to die. They know there's something wrong with them; that's why they've come to see a doctor. You treat the symptoms, and make them feel better for now, but you take the samples and send them off for testing. Then you wait, the results come back, you call them and ask them to make an appointment. That's when they know. They know when you want to discuss the results in person. They come to your office and sit in the chair opposite you, not the one alongside where you usually seat them. There aren't going to be any tests this time. No pulse, no temperature, no blood pressure, none of it. The tests are all done, the diagnosis is in.
Published on Mar 13, 2012
by Patricia Duffy Novak
Oops, tactical error. Marla gave an internal grimace as she looked up from her salad-making to see her husband bustling down the hall with the latest issue of Woman's Journal in his hands. After the incident with the security system she'd vowed to stash her magazines where he couldn't find them. Looked like she'd gotten careless. Again. Tom, on one of his tangents, was the last thing she wanted to deal with today, with a head cold coming on. All she wanted to do was get supper over and go to bed.
Published on Feb 17, 2012
by Tony Pi
When Susumu Nakashima entered the competition hall, the origami masters and their audience fell into stunned silence. He knew they were staring at the pinned sleeve that marked his lost arm, or the gloved right hand that remained. Some murmured while others chuckled. The press peppered him with question after question, but Susumu chose not to answer. In the midst of his peers, Susumu voiced his only desire: "Let me fold."
Published on Oct 25, 2012
by Andrija Popovic
I was clean out of Late Autumn Day when they busted Danni, my weather dealer.

Residents gathered at windows and patio doors. They risked heat, humidity, and high particulate counts for peek at the arrest. Danni operated a ground-level bodega, with street and complex access. Our weather lady. The cops made sure to drag her into the parking lots, in easy view of the everyone. Her wife, Meryl, clutched at their cat, Silas, as he hissed under his breather mask.

A few brave souls clustered at the asphalt barrier between our space and police territory: the parking lot pavement. Armed drones kept us back. The officers in bright blue ABC armor clattered as they shoved Danni into the cruiser. You'd think she'd killed people, not brightened their day. "Fucking cops." Marlon, who lived below me. Didn't know him that well. "It's just weather! It's not even illegal."
Published on Apr 20, 2022
by Alter S. Reiss
Arric rode on white horses, on bays and on roans, in ox-carts and in carriages. He wore fine clothing and poor, farmer's hats and trader's breeches. Always moving, always hiding. If the Others learned how far he'd gone and why, he'd die. They didn't. Three months after he set out, he arrived at a ruined city marked forbidden to man. He crept in at night, as the black metal craft of the Others looped and whirled overhead. He darted from shadow to shadow, through fouled water, past twisted steel and shattered concrete. It took some hours before he found it, a building covered and recovered in paint and filth, looking little different than the ruins around it. "I come from the cape," he whispered to the darkness, "to see the technologist Asher." He gave the password, and hoped that it was worth what it had cost.
Published on Apr 20, 2015
by Michael Adam Robson
They were built as well as his clumsy human hands could fashion, programmed as well as his simple mind could design, but their potential was so much more. The most important thing he taught them was to improve on his own work, to evolve. At first they were like a colony of tiny ants. Individually they were simple, but their strength came from their numbers, their collective efforts. He supplied them with what they needed, and instructed them in how to proceed. Soon they became more like children, telling him what they needed, and organizing all on their own. It was around this time that he started to worry; he stopped supplying materials, and sealed off their world from his, not a molecule in or out.
Published on Jan 16, 2014
by Melody Marie Sage
I remember we celebrated with the dark chocolate torte at L’oiseau D’or. Its glossy black ganache was splashed with a comet trail of 24 carat gold stars. The gilt leaf dissolved tasteless on my tongue. The idea of it was titillation enough. Ian talked about the project, and I pretended to listen to him, enjoying the sound of his voice, the exuberant parabolas he made with his hands. I was an artist. Chemistry, nanotechnology, bionics, and their various intersects, did not interest me. Colors did: the yellow candle flame flickering on his irises, the flush at the base of his throat, the creamy ivory tablecloth beneath my fingers. I smiled into my champagne. No, that is not entirely true. I loved learning about science in school, but Ian was on another level. He virtually spoke his own language. Only a select few of his colleagues could parse the intricacies of his logic. Now, I wish I had listened more closely.
Published on Jul 17, 2015
by T. R. Siebert
My beloved is a planet-devouring cloud of nanobots the size of Jupiter. An endless nightmare of black nothingness. An opening maw to the abyss.
Published on Nov 30, 2020
by Lavie Tidhar
They caught up with him at last on the edge of Soi Cowboy. He'd been running for some time: a doll-repair shop in Nong Khai on the Mekong river, a stint in Vientiane--he'd dumped his last ID, changed his node in a back-street warez lab in Kunming and fled, fled across Laos and into Thailand, into Issan: where nothing ever happened, and one could--almost--disappear. They came for him nevertheless, as he knew they would, and he fled again, at last trying to hide himself in Bangkok, the city masking him, the hum of its endless electronics, wireless signals, radio and telephone and optics, cables and satellites all acting to hide one single human in that vast digital space--but they found him again and he had to run.
Published on Apr 22, 2011
by Ian Whates
In the space between blood and bone, the gap between gut and sinew, the nanobots set to work, sculpting and reshaping. There was no time to spare: he couldn't afford to go slowly or be gentle, so the process was brutal. A kaleidoscope of pain flooded his being--piquancy layered upon dull ache followed by deep throb--waves of hurt that chased each other across his awareness and back, as mass redistributed to conform to his will. The pain was an old friend, though. Finally, after eternal seconds of exquisite agony, it receded, ebbing away like a sigh lapsing into silence. His appearance was entirely transformed. Gone was the athletic dark-haired young man in matt black nonreflecting body suit. In his place, a far shorter, plumper woman: a slightly hunch-shouldered senior citizen in faded skirt and ill-fitting top. Instinctively he reached to finger the stolen data chip, just to reassure him/herself that it had survived the transition unaltered.
Published on Jun 20, 2018
by Gordon B. White
When the curators finally shepherd a gaggle of collectors and socialites towards Hermes, he notices they are all intact. They have never replaced limbs lost in factories or streets. Their children aren't born missing appendages. Art is merely one more luxury to them. Hermes's mechanical hand is an old model. It jitters his wine glass and troubles the middling Chardonnay, but when the collectors see it, their relief is palpable. They know how to approach him now and, by extension, his art.
Published on Mar 8, 2018
by Fran Wilde
Morning finds the farmers' market burst into flower and fruit below the expressway. Carts and tables elbow for space, showcasing chard, sunflowers, and bushels of crabs. The bridge above thumps its irregular heartbeat as cars rush forward over concrete slabs. By afternoon, the market will revert to its weekday form, a stained sandwich bag blowing across the shaded commuter parking lot.
Published on Sep 5, 2011
by Sean Williams
"Hello, Andre. How nice to see you again. I knew I would, one day." "I... can't say the feeling is mutual, Doctor Pedersen. It's amazing you're still alive!"
Published on May 11, 2018
by xxx bbb ccc
Henry came back to me in 2048, fifteen years after he'd left. I was married by then, with two kids. I was happy. But when I opened the door and saw Henry standing there, my heart sang.
Published on Nov 29, 2011