the house was an altar with ten thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.
A house stands alone in a post-nuclear-strike landscape. It is one of those Tomorrowland kind of houses that people dreamed of in the 1950s: the stove is cooking eggs and bacon, the mice-robots are scurrying out to clean, the automatic systems are trying to entertain the absent occupants. Absent? Yes, and we find out what More Info »
The Race of the Birdmen
by Harry S. Franklin
“Alright Kid, take a knee.”
Oh ya, the knee—here it comes. One knee sunk into the grass like a pushpin, one elbow effortlessly posed over the opposite knee, chin up, eyes inevitably squinting into the sun, and most importantly, a mask of complete innocence and surprise.
This time it’s serious. Coach has got his arms folded across his chest—a clear sign of his mood. This was going to be one of those man-to-man jobs; which wasn’t too bad considering man-to-man usually means one man does all the talking.
“Here’s the deal.” Coach was always giving someone the deal. “Seems to me, you’re not gettin it. Maybe you think you’ve got it all figured out?”
“Zip it—I’m just getting started. Now, I’ve seen plenty of kids like you—you’re a good enough kid—and I’m not just talking about playing ball. It’s a difficult age and all that—I get it. I remember what it’s like. I used to have all my shit figured out, and nobody could tell me nothing.” Coach was the only adult without a kid on the team, and he never talked to you like a dad; his language was considered “salty” by the dads—but nobody ever said that to his face.
“That’s why I’m gonna tell you something I guarantee you haven’t heard before. Maybe then you’ll see there’s still room inside that thick skull of yours to cram in a few more lessons.”
The mask of innocence quickly morphs into a look of disappointment as the kid shutters one eye in a prolonged wink into the sunlight.
“Ever hear of the Birdmen from Easter Island?”
“Is it a movie?”
“Ha! No, this story is too original for Hollywood. But I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of them; do you know why?”
“Because you made them up?”
“Nope, the Birdmen were real, so is Easter Island—it’s that one with all the creepy stone heads. But you probably haven’t heard of the people who carved those heads, because they’re all dead.”
A wonderful, sci-fi fantasty fairytale told in an almost everyday way. A fabulous example of high-imagination meeting everyday truths. Funny and moving and utterly charming.
An anthology of stories by Jonathan Maberry, William Lashner, Kelly Simmons, Gregory Frost and more. Published by Blackstone Audio, 2013
The title says it all: all Poe’s tales and poems in one place. Doubleday & Company, Inc. (1984) ISBN 0385074077 (ISBN13: 9780385074070)
A true grandmaster of the short story form. You have to read a few stories by Bradbury and this has a whopping 1112 pages of them: a hundred of his best stories selected by the author himself. Read it in The Stories of Ray Bradbury (Everyman’s Library, 2010, ISBN-10: 0307269051, ISBN-13: 978-0307269058)
The ideas in Bradbury’s stories are wonderful and the worlds are fantastic or sometimes mundane and all of the experiences are deep and human, and the language..ah the language. This story is one of the more ‘mundane’, set on earth, in a lighthouse. Of course, it is much more fantastic than that… Bradbury is often More Info »
When was the last time you read a story written in form of answers to a police interrogation? This story by Neil Gaiman unfolds gradually from the shallow answers given by a teenaged girl about her less-than-perfect homelife, to something much more complex and true. And funny and touching and hopeful and sad. Find it More Info »
Who says speculative fiction can’t be literary? OK, well, nobody does anymore, and this story just goes to show it. The story takes places entirely around a card table on a luxury liner that you’ll come to recognize. But it doesn’t go where you think it’s going to! Read it at Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.