When the world changes shape, there’s always opportunity for those that seek it. Karrinyup Island once was a part of the Australian mainland, but the water level has caused Perth to retreat and entrepreneurial people have settled the abandoned territory in a bid for a new life. But don’t get too close; Australia has a sovereign boundary to protect, and a wall to keep the undesirable tide out. SY
Lewis was the first Australian I ever met. He came to Karrinyup Island when I was fourteen years old, sailing across the strait from Padbury on a fishing skiff and tying up at the docks at the end of Newborough Street. He wore boots and jeans and a broad round hat, shading his pale face from the sun. I couldn’t believe how white he was. I’d seen pictures of Australians before, but seeing one in the flesh was different. He fascinated me from that very first day.
None of what happened later was his fault. Not really. But when I think of that day now it makes me sick.
It was a cool morning in the dry season and the Sanmadi was chugging south at eight knots, carefully picking her way between the crumbling, weed-covered towers of what had once been called Jolimont. Flocks of seagulls went screeching and whirling from their nests twenty storeys above our heads, and a gentle breeze whipped the smell of seaweed across the deck. My brother Okitha stood at the prow with the depth sounder, calling numbers up to Dad in the wheelhouse—these waters were rarely travelled, and the wreckage in the sunken streets shifted and moved with the tides. Kadek, Dad’s Balinese dive partner, stood barefoot on the roof of the wheelhouse itself, scanning the south-east with his expensive Korean binoculars, looking for drone patrols or the red warning lights of sea mines. In my two years aboard the Sanmadi we had never come so close to Perth’s outer perimeter, and my nerves were jangling.
The technology of the future can realize the dreams of today, but we have to be careful that we don’t mistake them for nightmares. In this story Malon Edwards paints a vivid future where a form of immortality has been achieved, but it comes at a terrible price in the face of one of humanity’s most fundamental emotions, love. GH
“So, I’ve been thinking,” I start, and then stop because this is the conversation we’ve been avoiding most of her life.
But Jae Lyn doesn’t miss a beat. “You keep doing that, and you’re going to break something.”
She smiles and that dimple at the left corner of her mouth on her chin peeks out at me. More than anything, I’ll miss kissing it.
No. I can’t think like that.
I take a carton of apple-cranberry juice out of the refrigerator, pour us both a glass, and proceed to wipe that smile right off her face.
“You can’t die.”
Charlie is determined to breathe easy. He wants to create a new life for himself, away from the daily struggles. Information is always the key to power and everything has its price. A great piece of dystopian science fiction. SY
Charlie Glassman has $3.82 left in his tank. As a result he walks the streets with the same precision as a laser cutting a diamond. On quiet nights you can hear the distant echoes of large-scale industrial pumps all the way from Port Credit extracting oxygen from Lake Ontario, churning, grinding, set along the waterfront like the overgrown placentae of some botched laboratory experiment.
Tenement apartments hugging the Green Zone show their true colors in the sober light of day. Moss and climbing ferns hide the cracked foundations and graffiti courtesy of resident syndicates. Charlie’s disposable Sanyo reads yellow for this district, advising citizens to express caution when venturing out in broad daylight. Still he carries a small arsenal: his taser, his collapsible baton. He finds guns crude even in these disparate times and never ventures past curfew.
The sky is its own membrane, a hazy orange, veined with smoke. Charlie wipes a thin layer of grime off a pane of bulletproof Lucite. In the windowed glare of a William Sonoma he checks his mask is firmly clamped over his face for the third time since leaving his apartment, halting momentarily, but not before being threatened by the turbaned shop-owner, a sawed-off shotgun in his hands followed by a string of Hindi obscenities. The bastard even has the gall to step out his storefront before pressure equalizes. Charlie is suddenly blasted with a wall of cool air—try explaining that one to the Federal Reserve come tax time.
Too much carbon in the atmosphere and humans, in all their arrogance, thought they could fix it. Their solution now threatens all life on earth. A human look at impending apocalypse and the frailty of humanity. SY
Even the custom optics didn’t show Clarisse the subtle spectral difference between the Crust and the uncoated surfaces along the fynbos. She thought she could detect a slight glistening in the leaves of distant myrtle trees, or a liquid shimmer in the low yellowbush and bredasdorp along the border of the Olifants River, but there’d be no way to tell until it was too late.
“It’s ungodly quiet.” Peter Marsh squinted into the distance, shielding his eyes with a slender brown hand. Clarisse had always thought him a bit effeminate, but she’d seen him with at least seven women in the last few days, whooping it up in town as the world slowly ended.
She wouldn’t have pictured Peter as one of the ones who’d celebrate the catastrophe. With his pinched features, dark brooding complexion, and fussy habits, she’d always imagined him going out with a whimper, not a bang. He seemed more the bookish type, not a pre-apocalyptic Don Juan.
“Rationalized” was the winner of the 2011 Story Quest Short Story Contest. Dystopian short fiction has a long history, the modern era examples stretching back to the late 1940s, and some of the best science fiction fall into this sub-genre. The judges of the Story Quest contest determined that Larry Hodges’ piece, Rationalized, took a fresh approach, and carried a clear and brutal message. Hodges, a seasoned wordsmith, asks the question, what do I do if the odds are overwhelmingly against me? I’ll leave the answer to those who read his short story. GH
How nice—to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.
~ Kurt Vonnegut
It had been a long Saturday morning, but the training was over. Now Dr. Bruce watched Jeremy and his friend Lara as they played games and drank lemonade. Both actions were illegal.
He took a sip of the chemically-created lemonade he made himself. It was a break from the dreary diet of nutricubes and water, the only approved food or drink allowed or needed. He wondered if actual lemon trees still existed.
Jeremy came over. “Dad, where’s the puppy?” he whispered.
They’d “borrowed” it from the puppy farm.
“I kept it a secret like you asked, but when are you going to tell us what it’s for?”
“Soon,” Bruce said.