Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

The Winter Life

by Luc Reid

You are a male of the species called “Comminglers” in the local Earth language, because while humans pass meaning by outward signs, your people entwine your sense feelers and exchange memories and ideas directly. You are three months and seventeen days old. You may expect to live about another week, possibly ten days, before you die of old age.

You were born in October, which because of where you are stationed on this tilted planet means that you have only ever known winter and an icy late Fall. Your first weeks of life were spent exchanging memories without stop with other members of the tiny clan–46 Comminglers, no more–in order to learn to think, care for yourself, and fulfill your hereditary role of data sphere queryist. You answer questions by manipulating the data sphere and communing through its port. “What is the structure and purpose of the human sense of taste?” “What is the history of enmity between the humans of Israel and the humans of surrounding Arabic countries?” “What is the quality of the experience of existing in summer?”

This last question haunts you, although it was asked long ago, days. You know, from the sphere, everything there is to know about summer: the temperature variations, cultural adaptations, responses of plant life, and so on. But you will never know summer, even though you remember it from others’ memories. Your people are rarely concerned with such things. They do not travel. But then, your people have evolved to exchange memories with thousands, tens of thousands, not with a mere 46. There are vast empty places inside you, shades of experience you cannot find among your few fellows.

You query the sphere, a question for yourself only. You receive times, societal rules and behavior norms, place names. You connect with the human dataverse and exchange information, financial promises, plans, clearance from the government of the Earth clan called Chile. Then you shoulder your data and authorization pack and leave the vast tribal room. On your way, others try to commingle with you, but you give each only the faintest idea in response to their questions.

“Where are you going?”

“Why are you leaving the room?”

“I will tell you when I return,” you intend to them. You do not contemplate the date of your return. It is in two weeks.

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2 Responses to “The Winter Life”

  1. Jason Fischer Says:

    August 3rd, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I really loved this one! A whole alien species packed into such a short space. Well done 🙂

  2. Luc Reid Says:

    August 3rd, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks! I try to do that to some extent will all of the stories in this series, but I like this one the best of the three in that respect.