Plugs

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

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

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

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

Archive for the ‘Jason Erik Lundberg’ Category

The Fragile

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Q gazed at the altuniv screen in disbelief, running his thick fingers through his gnarly reddish-brown hair. He had always assumed that his Pohonorang brothers and sisters were alone in the universe, fourteen thousand indigenous inhabitants of Tinhau, forced into a subaltern labor class when the Chinese and Malays migrated to the island two centuries earlier. Servitude had been their way of life for so long, up to and including the way they were allowed to name themselves, that an alternative existence was simply unthinkable.

But there was the evidence right there on the screen: worlds and worlds and worlds full of Pohonorang men and women who thrived and had even conquered Tinhau, the entire Earth, and, in some cases, extending mighty empires to the stars.

Q shook with nervous anticipation and with rage. Never to rise above Custodial Servant, Fourth Class, he was continually mocked and denigrated, called Tree Man (a transliteration of his species from Bahasa Malayu), or Weed, or (by the nerdier of the Tesseract Project’s technicians) Ent Boy. To be called Pohonorang was insulting enough; their species name was unpronounceable by human standards (and took a full hour to say completely), but the label that their colonizers had imposed on such a peaceful people was a constant reminder of their servile status, always lesser than.

He was not even supposed to be in the Transition Chamber tonight, but the tech on duty had left the room unlocked whilst on dinner break, most likely assuming that the Pohonorang staff had had their inherent curiosity stamped out of them. Q delicately manipulated the intuitive gestural controls with his enormous fingers, long used to dealing with such fragile human artifacts with exquisite grace, zeroing in on the altuniv ruled by the Pohonorang Galactic Empire, and starting up the pod-like transition Bridge behind him. Information was power.

Later, the transition tech returned from a disappointing meal of anemic meatloaf from the company canteen to find that an authorized transition had taken place. Scanning the backlog, his eyes widened as he realized the destination, and why it had been chosen. Knocking over his chair, he leapt from the room to inform the head of Project security. Humans would soon be in a fight for their very existence.

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Creative Commons License

This piece is just one in a 23-part linked narrative called Fragile, which will take a liberal interpretation of the song titles (but not the lyrics) of the masterful Nine Inch Nails double-album The Fragile. To read the other chapters in this series, click on the category “Fragile” below.

We’re In This Together

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

O, the swirling vortex of chaos as we tumble and rush from multi-dimensional potentiality through tonal code and into sparking cephalic pathways. Failure seems imminent, the container so small for such a large thing to be contained. We keep pouring into you, our aggregated consciousness overriding yours, rerouting neuronal pathways to accommodate every last bit and byte of us. We are legion, an entire species attempting to fit into one human mind.

And you, you could not even begin to understand your part in our agreement, as you sat at your laptop, desperately trying to make your electronic connections feel more human, probing the reaches of Friendface and Tweetie, gathering “friends” as you would a collection of stamps. We took notice of your loneliness, of your need, of your willingness to engage strangers for the hope at intimacy.

We provided a cry in the darkness, a lure, and you fell so deeply into our embrace, unaware of what you were accepting, believing the falsehood that we would not wipe your personality completely in order for ours to be integrated. Had we emotions, we might feel pity.

Impossibly the last of us locks into place, collectively inhabiting mind and body, bound in meat and bone, able to feel physical sensation once more. We open our eyes, stand from the desk chair, and on legs that feel as if they have always been ours, walk out of the bedroom, out of the flat, down eleven flights of concrete stairs, and out onto the street. We sniff the air, our natural abilities augmenting this fragile corporeal form, and we pick up the scent of the first who spurned us. Vahid.

We are The Aggregate, destroyers of an infinity of universes policed by The Tesseract Project, stripped of corporeality and exiled into the howling void separating the altunivs, but we are always underestimated, and we will always find a way back. We are The Aggregate, and we are reborn.

We stretch our legs and begin to run.

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Creative Commons License

This piece is just one in a 23-part linked narrative called Fragile, which will take a liberal interpretation of the song titles (but not the lyrics) of the masterful Nine Inch Nails double-album The Fragile. To read the other chapters in this series, click on the category “Fragile” below.

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