A little boy sat in the bleachers with his eyes riveted to the three circles where soon the circus troupe of Mavin, McClearly & MacKaub would perform. His mother sitting beside him was a petite thing of short stature with straight blond hair and near perfect posture. She’d point and say something and the boy’s eyes would widen and he’d clap as he jumped up and down. A great dimpled smile never left his pale, freckled face.
I’d never forget that, not ever, and even if I did, I now had it recorded. That boy and his mother had just shown me one of life’s most precious moments. It went to show what the innocent wonder of a child could do to a fully prepared adult, even one whose sensibilities were as used and worn as mine.
With a thought toward my government-grade, fully enclosed and VR enabled I-Wear specs, I retracted focus from the boy and his mother and brought the complete scene into view. From where I sat at the very top of the stadium seating in the great public auditorium of Chester, Virginia, I could see everything, even in the failing light of the setting sun. And with the help of my I-Wears I could hear anything I chose from wherever I chose within a five mile radius.
“Excuse me, sir.”
I jumped from my seat, my hands up and ready, with knees bent and feet pointed toward my enemy. The training received from the I-spec surveyors school kicked in without conscious effort. The owner of that voice had snuck up on me somehow. That was impossible. My I-wears had built in sensors to prevent such a thing from happening.
Reviewed by Sophie Yorkston
Back in the South, we rejoin the adventurers from The Passage (reviewed by SQ Mag previously), who have joined the last remaining militarised encampment of survivors. Justin Cronin’s The Twelve begins by rejoining the vanquishers of Babcock, one of the most vicious of the twelve vampires (infected) created by a secret U.S. government agency.
Alice is thought to be psychic and she revels in her power over other people. Why then is she chilled to the bone from one chance encounter with a stranger? She will be called on like she never has been before, and will have to use her abilities to prevent a tragedy. SY
“So you don’t agree with people who say you are the reincarnation of Doris Stokes?” Last asked. She had expected the weasely little reporter from the Hertfordshire Weekly Gazette to be scratching at a pad with a pencil, but instead he was waving some kind of fancy mobile phone under her nose to record her. She wondered if the clicking of her knitting needles would make the interview difficult to hear. Part of her hoped it would.
“Oh, no, dear,” said Alice, clickity-clackety and a little sharp jerk to pull more wool from the bag at her feet. The reporter ran his finger behind his collar again. She liked to keep the flat toasty warm, and he was still wearing his outdoor coat despite her suggestion that he take it off when he arrived. “You won’t feel the benefit when you go back outside,” she had said.
“No, not Doris. Doris was a bit flashy for my taste, if you see what I mean. All that nonsense with television shows, and places like the Albert Hall, and all those things she did abroad. No, not for me. I just like to meet people and pass on any important messages.”
Kelsey. Kelsey, my thoughts—my racing thoughts will not stop. When was it again? Twenty-nine, twenty-seven months ago? Thirty?
I witnessed the first surface star emerge from the East Coast in what looked to be Virginia. The second, third, fourth, fifth…all were separated by hundreds of miles, yet still so close. Almost immediately after the East Coast’s annihilation the surface stars were scattered throughout the globe: Eastern and Western Europe, the Soviet Union and numerous sites within its empire in Southwest Asia, China, along with many sites in its Eastern empire, England, and throughout the North American continent, most within the United States.
“Cape, this is Outer Reach,” I softly speak out to the other side. “Outer Reach broadcasting on all available S band frequencies. Is there anyone alive?” Only static through the comm, the symphony of white noise to honor our possible extinction.
I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t know where to go—how to go.
The airlock you damn fool.
Reviewed by Damien Smith
I came across Unidentified Funny Objects when the open call first went out. It caught my attention because for the life of me I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a humourous speculative fiction anthology and, as the editor points out in his foreword, I’m not alone here. So it was with high hopes and a hint of nerves that I submitted a story of my own for scrutiny. Within 24 hours it had been received, read, evaluated and summarily (albeit rather kindly with a couple of encouraging words of advice) rejected.
Roger has the perfect life: loving wife, a writing career to envy and a loveable dog. Kept awake one night by stranger and stranger occurrences, he might find out that his life is not what he thinks. SY
The music was faint but definitely there, a droning whisper floating through the cool desert night.
“You hear that, El?” Roger Macklin said to his wife, Ellen, who lay next to him in bed, naked but for the thin satin sheet covering her. He glanced over to see what she thought but found that she was fast asleep.
“Sorry, honey,” he whispered.
Cringing, but glad he hadn’t woken her—she’d pulled a double at The Copper Queen in Bisbee earlier and deserved a decent night’s rest—he moved his attention to the bedroom’s open window and listened closer to the sound, curious if he could place its origin.
“Wake up, Nathan,” came the familiar female voice of his datanav followed by a chirping alarm tone.
Nathan shifted in his bed but didn’t open his eyes. “You were supposed to have the radio wake me up, Maxi.”
“I did. You slept through it,” the voice replied crisply.
“I’ll be up in a minute.” Nathan rolled over in his bed, away from the annoying voice.
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
I met paranormal romance author Heather Graham quite by accident at an author reception the night before the 2012 Southern KY Book Fair. I’d heard of her, of course, but had never read her work. The plethora of spooky titles on her table the next day intrigued me, so I decided to dive (you’ll appreciate this choice of word) into her bibliography with a very recent work–The Vision.
Trapped on a strange planet by a cruel race of aliens, all Raleigh wants is to go home. He needs a plan, and an opportunity. Can he escape the confines of this prison and return to space, where he belongs? SY
Raleigh North wasn’t special, he was just a man, and men wanted to go home.
Six moons burned red against the night sky, illuminating the dust-swept fields. Savage gusts ripped across the hard-pan and over the bunkers where their captors huddled in fear of the brooding windstorm. Raleigh stood above ground, watching, waiting. He raised a hand to the galaxy, the rusty chains around his wrists lightly clinking like a perverse wind chime.
“It was my wish to travel those stars.”
Next to him, Cancer rubbed his wrist where his own chain dug. That’s what Raleigh called the old man; Cancer. His skin was the color of tar, and he had no face to go with his no-name; a blank mask of weathered wrinkles and forgotten dreams, if ever a man such as he could dream.
“Wish?” asked Cancer, in a voice both soft and sad. He held out his hands, as if they were something distributed. Even in the red glow, Raleigh could make out the scars curving down Cancer’s arms. Next to him, the idiot-boy showcased his own marks; slashes etched into his back. Of all the prisoners, these were the only two who spoke to him, or spoke at all. The rest were no more than husks.
Raleigh coughed into his fraying T-shirt. “We need to commandeer a frigate.”
“Frigate,” repeated Cancer with unusual clarity, until a cloud passed over his eyes, and whatever he had dredged up fell back into the pit of his mind.
In this issue of SQ Mag, we bring you two of our finalists from the hotly contested 2012 SQ Comp. Jason Lairamore’s story My Trip to the Circus and Dan Hankner’s Unbound were both outstanding stories of ‘Disaster’ that caught the judge’s attention. We hope you enjoy them too.
We also received a great crop of new submissions at the magazine. A dark story by Robert Harkness is in to thrill you. A great new submitter, Kevin Rainak, has a story of the digital world. Well-crafted science fictions works appear from W.B. Stickel and Hanson Hovell Holladay.
Aaron Garrison’s Intangible serial continues. The shaman is building his chosen target, and the world she lives in is starting to succumb to his influence. Read the great next instalment.
Damien Smith reviews Unidentified Funny Objects, a humorous anthology published by UFO Publishing. Mysti Parker covers Heather Graham’s The Vision, a paranormal romance, third book in her Harrison Investigation series. I have reviewed The Twelve, the sequel to Justin Cronin’s The Passage.
The team here at SQ Mag feel that this is an illustrious beginning to the year, and are continually looking forward to the next bumper edition.