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.

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

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Archive for the ‘Series’ Category

Parthenia Rook, Episode MXLV: Penguins Neat

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Parthenia Rook, adventurer, renowned stamp collector, and backup drummer for The Ramones, paused to slather on a gloop of sunscreen before taking up her kayak oar once more. According to the GPS in her pineapple-frame sunglasses, she had three more miles to go before she’d reach the Magnetic North Pole and be able to reconfigure Doktor Mandrill’s latest nefarious device. Provided she could find it.

On the up side, the device had melted the polar ice, so she had open water all the way.

When her oar pulled at nothing but air, she briefly wondered if she had sunstroke. Then she saw the turrets on either side of her, and knew that she sat atop The Bonobo King’s submersible castle, a perfect replica of Neuschwanstein down to the last wedding-cake flourish.

A dozen dormer windows opened, and rocket-propelled robotic penguins shot out in crazed trajectories before locking on to her position. Parthenia shoved off a nearby chimney, and slid sideways down the metal roof. Her kayak caromed off a pipe, the roguins zooming low to follow, straight for the edge of the roof.

“Penguins!” she thought. “Trust the good Doktor to get his poles reversed.”

At the last moment she caught a rain gutter with the oar and hung three stories above the water. Her kayak slipped off and spun downward, followed by the rockets. They slammed into it.

The resulting explosion knocked her upward again and blew an enormous hole in the side of the subschwanstein. She landed running, and dived through one of the dormer windows. A launch tube led down to an ammunition dump full of roguins and roseals.

She briefly debated setting some to explode, but the castle was already taking on water.

She still had to find Doktor Mandrill’s machine. It must surely be in the castle somewhere. Even if it went down with the castle, there was no assurance its destruction would bring back the ice cap.

Quickly, she texted her progress so far and prepared to delve deeper into the castle.

– – – – – – – – – –

Here Parthenia Rook’s intercepted last report ends, with supplemental material supplied by satellite and Orcandroid surveillance. Observation continued as ordered for the next two days. The castle sank and exploded underwater, with no sign of life detected. The North Pole is slowly resolidifying.

Respectfully submitted to his majesty the Bonobo King this 29th day of March, 2010.

– – – – – – – – – –

The previous appearances of Parthenia Rook by Luc Reid, Rudi Dornemann, Sara Genge, and Trent Walters may be found here.

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.


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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