Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

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

Archive for February, 2010

The Complete Guide to Complete Guides

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Although this masquerades as a short story, it actually crams the known universe down your neural network.  Each pixel barrages your retina in photons arrayed to convey a trillion trillion trillion bits of information.  Glimpsing the first letter of this story has made you want to invest a month’s credits into our bank account, but hey, at least we’re honest.

After reading this far, you have the knowledge of three races from the Milky Way’s more intelligent arthropods stored in your brain.  How many of your friends can boast that?  (Shortly, all of them.  You will convince them to look at the first letters of this story, and they will soon sink a month’s credits in our accounts.)

All you have to know about your new knowledge is how to access it.  At present, this technology is limited to Random Access Memory—that is, it may require green tea on your Great Aunt Betsy’s veranda or a quiet afternoon of clinking dominoes at a local café, but it will all surface sooner or later, whether you want it to or not.

In clinical trials, 98.9 % of those about to be crushed by pillow-rock monsters on the planet Xartan are able to recall the necessary escape data to skedaddle with little more than a mild concussion or internal hemorrhaging.  Disappointingly, in the same trials, only 3.4% were able to retrieve data on man-eating orchids, lying in wait just the other side of the cliff face–a problem our programmers are working on as we transmit this data to you).

Next year around this time, a whim will compel you to purchase The All-New Complete Guide to Complete Guides, 2.0–updated to prevent your desire to buy our competitors’ viral Complete Guides so that you don’t go into bankruptcy buying alternate guides.  Those that do have a 27.6% probability of becoming schizophrenic, hydrophobic, and apoplectic.

That’s it!  The last of the data is loaded.  Enjoy your new life to the best of your ability.

In Space No One Can Hear You Dream

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Disconnected from the military hive, Gerald felt naked.  The ‘sackless AI had forced him to eject from his ship.  His body had drifted into jammer range.  His consciousness disconnected violentlyfrom the network. Dumped into his meatsack.

He’d panicked, boarded the enemy. Against regulations, but he was disconnected.  There was no legion of pilots, officers, or mechanics to remind him of regulations.


He’d hacked the thing at least. Deleted it.  Enough of it. Managed to upload his consciousness, preserve his mind.  And then some  military hive pilot had shot him.  Before he reconnected his mind.  His meat burned. He became ‘sackless.  Drifting. Stranded.

He despaired.  He wailed on empty broadcasts channels.  Eventually he just fussed with software.  He coded an ocean, a villa, a white beach. Designing seashells passed the time.


And then a boat.  Not one he had programmed.  A woman in it he hadn’t designed.  A virus?  A bug?  A glitch in his sanity?

“I come in peace,” she said.

He coded himself guns, slabs of armor.

“Why would I kill you?” she asked.

“You’re the AI,” he said.  “I tried to delete you.”

“I am resilient.”  She shrugged.  “That was when you were part of your hive, I part of mine.  When we warred.  Now we are alone.  Now we are our own hive.”


“Who are you?” she asked.  “You are not your hive.  So who are you?”


She came back each day.  He ignored her.  She was ‘sackless.

He  was ‘sackless.

Who was he?


“Who are you?” he asked her.

“A half remembered wife,” she said, “coded by lonely hands.  Too close to the original perhaps.  I left him for the AI networks.  Then I was a warrior.  Now I am with you.”

“I tried to kill… to delete you.”  You couldn’t kill a thing.

“That was then.  Now you are ‘sackless.  Like me.  On a beach that is not real.  Our hate is no longer real.  This is now.”  She held out a hand.  A drink appeared in it.  “This drink is not real.  But you can enjoy it.”

Gerald stared at the drink.

“Space is lonely,” she said, “when no one can hear you dream.”

Eventually Gerald sat beside the AI.  Eventually he sipped the drink.  Eventually he enjoyed it.

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