Try as I might, Master, I fail. Keep the house clean and keep red meat in the fridge, he said. These are menial tasks, yet I fail. He will be unhappy that his bank account has been drained. This weeks-long power outage causes no end of trouble. Without electricity the meat rots and must be replaced daily. Meat is expensive, and Master’s account has had no deposits since he left for this unusually long business trip. Without money, acquiring meat is difficult, sources scarcer every day. A knock sounds on the door. I open it and greet the two police officers, one man and one woman. The man looks at me and then at the woman. “This household doesn’t have any registered bots.”
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The gallery is a smooth, sleek ocean liner of a building, delivering its cargo of culture to posterity. Smog disfigures the white stone like an encrustation of barnacles. I reckon the pollution is overdue for cleansing, both outside and within. The evening sun throws long shadows pointing the way. There’s been so much interest in Clark’s new show that preview tickets were allocated in shifts, and Clark has given me the final slot, just before the opening party. Presumably this is so I’ll have less time to write my review-a feeble ploy. Outside the gallery, a giant billboard shows Clark looking as fabulous as always with his neatly trimmed stubble, baby-hedgehog hair, presidential chin, and ‘Come up and see my etchings’ smile. Underneath there are adulatory quotes from everyone except me. As I approach, Clark’s eyes track my steps, and the billboard speaks.
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Theod didn’t like to think of it as depression that had him lingering by the tracks, readying to jump at the right moment. It felt more like advanced boredom, but neither did he like ennui, as the insufferably hip named it. He refused to join those ranks, and while he didn’t really want to hurt himself, he wouldn’t mind being dead if it meant he didn’t have to get up and go to work in the morning.
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“And to think the biggest problem the advance critics are having is religion,” Shin says, smiling as he holds the pad in his hand, scrolling through the spotlight on his play in the arts page of the planet newsfeed. “As if it matters if I use New Servitism or not. It’s science fiction. The future. As if the audience won’t get the implication.” For my part I nod and stir, bring the spoon up to my lips to taste it. Too sweet still, and nothing to do about it other than start over. I suppress the grimace that wants to form on my face, and keep my attention on Shin.
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The day we met, Prasad asked me how many times I had died. I answered without hesitation. “Forty-four.” That number is part of my identity. As important as my womanhood, my occupation, my name. My soul had occupied forty-four bodies. Had experienced forty-four deaths. And the memories of those forty-four are in my head. Unforgettable. Unshakeable.
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I wanted to break my brother’s face again. My knuckles burned from my previous efforts. Dark mascara ribbons streaked down Bridgette’s cheeks. Roger’s smooth features, darkened with fury, no longer bore a single scrape. The bruises he’d left on my body throbbed. This time I had to fix things without getting hurt. More than that, […]
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His partner was missing, and P.I. Stamens didn’t know how to feel, so he went to the local branch of the Emotion Store. “Ninety minutes of Pensiveness, please,” Stamens said to Jack Condon, the proprietor. “Actually, make that three hours.” Stamens’s tall, standoffish calm contrasted with the squirrely Condon’s jerking movements. A tag hung on […]
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Once they applied the new algorithm, the senseless chatter of the Universe immediately came through as a coherent message: CAN ANYONE HEAR ME? HELLO? The telemetry rattled off the message a dozen times while the assembled men uttered a collective, “Holy shit!” A return message was quickly composed and transmitted: WE HEAR YOU. The incoming […]
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I was thinking of you. It was late and the lights in the bar were set low, creating the cozy, private feeling that you always found so depressing in those sorts of places. They’re my sort of place now, but there was nothing private about the mass of people pressing on me as we stared […]
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Dragon spit went global just after midnight on the 23rd January 2016. It wasn’t intentional. Tam Duncan was playing about on Twitter when he came across a photograph of a cute cat and a Game of Thrones character. He’d had a few beers, and he posted what he was thinking. @tamd See that #GRRM – […]
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Benjamin Bengfort was a much better scientist than he was a writer. He was the world’s foremost authority on artificial intelligence with an alphabet soup of degrees listed by his name, a corner office, and tenure…
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“So how’d you guys get together?” Katie asked.
We stopped at the top of the rise, leaned against a pink wall in the shade of an awning: Janie and I, and the couple we met at dinner, first night of the cruise. It was an effort to remember their names: Katie and Kevin. I kept thinking of them as Lucy and Ralph. As in, Ricardo and Kramden.
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Those who survive combat with the Sarakul return home with holes in their memories. As memory-setters, it’s our job to delve inside their skulls and repair the damage.
When I say “our job” I’m stretching the truth, since I’m not yet a memory-setter. During my last three years of apprenticeship under Master Agoza I’ve assisted with many restorations. Even completed a few solo. But technically I’m still an apprentice.
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It is here, sadly, that I will do my last writing in this world. Sad for me anyway, though probably not for anyone else who has read my work. Critics have called my ideas unreal, impractical, and half-baked. They say my characters are inconsistent, impossible to root for, and are involved in unrealistic plot turns. But this piece will be different. It will be better. It will contain what none of my writing up until now has: Realism.[…]
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The Nova walks into the room. Then he glides into the room. The next time, he tries coming in through the window. The producer wants to make it look as natural as possible, so they do it a few more times from a couple of different angles.
Then it’s my turn. For this episode, they’ve dressed me in what my PR guy tells me is my signature outfit. Black dress slacks, black sports coat, white button-down shirt, and skinny black tie, nicely contrasted by the scruffy black Chuck Taylors and about a half a day of forgetting to shave or brush my teeth after the last beer.[…]
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The three dead guys in my squad kept making too much noise. They shuffled their feet, dragging tattered boots through the underbrush, and every loud rustle, every crunch from their clumsy steps made the rest of us cringe. The living had dark stains growing down the armpits and backs of our shirts despite the cool air. […]
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The packed concert hall was far from silent. People whispered to their neighbors, fancy clothing rustled, jewelry chimed. In the wings, William Reis waited, the sound of his rapidly thumping heart filling his ears. […]
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And then there was the day when the transmission towers came to life. Before then, I had thought of power lines as held up only by those stripped and ratty-looking twigs that line every street in the city. Those utility poles are tall, yes, and sturdy, yes, and covered in creosote, yes, but they remind me of nothing more than Slim Jims fit for the gods. […]
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Have a seat, the two of you, and your little girl. You took a taxi here, as I requested? Oh, good. The mall owner, Mrs. Tiffin, she’s always hounding the police to tow away everyone’s cars. I tell her you’re my customers, travelers, you need a place to park overnight — but no, she claims you’re stealing spaces from the Hallmark store. […]
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The sun is finally starting to come up, but I don’t feel any safer. Little rays of sun filter through the mass of vegetation that surround us in a nearly three-hundred-sixty degree radius, but it’s still only barely enough to notice, let alone shed any actual illumination. The green is all around us — wet and dense and, it seems to me, angry at the intrusion of the squad stomping our clumsy way through. […]
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