NEW FICTION: WORLD IN PROGRESS by Lori Ann White

Paul Raven @ 01-12-2010

Well, here we are: the last piece of Futurismic fiction for a while. But talk about ending on a high note! When Chris sent across Lori Ann White‘s “World In Progress” for me to look at, it felt as if she’d been carefully following the stuff I blog about here day after day, picking out some of my favourite riffs, memes and ideas, and rendering them down into one wonderful – and very human – story. It’s a super piece, and I’m proud to be publishing it; scroll down, read on, and find out why. :)

World In Progress

by Lori Ann White

And in The Far Corner, Wearing a
Too-Tight Jock Strap and a Crown of Thorns–

CLOSE UP on a face.  Calm, pale, waves of black hair brushed back from a broad forehead.  Retro Guy.  Grade A, 100% Pure Professional Athlete.  No drugs, no mods, no tweaks, no prods.  Just like the old farts ordered.

He’s staring at the wall above the mirror through eyes blue as an Artic bay.  Pan to the wall, to the framed honest-to-god newsprint, photo of a thick-necked thug in too-tight jacket.  He’s small, like Retro Guy, like they all used to be, but the smug grin and his squinty eyes radiate “big guy” waves.  He’s got one arm around a sad brunette.

The caption: “Bruisin’ Brawler Gene O’Connor: ‘No God-Damned Upgrades!  My Boy Will be a Real Boxer, Just Like His Old Man.’”

The camera pans back to Retro Guy’s face.

“Hey, Old Man,” he whispers.  “This fight’s for you.” Continue reading “NEW FICTION: WORLD IN PROGRESS by Lori Ann White”


NEW FICTION: PLATFORM 17 by Stephen Gaskell

Paul Raven @ 01-11-2010

Memory has always been a popular theme in Futurismic‘s fiction selection; maybe that’s a sign of the times, as I seem to blog about neuroscience and memory a lot in recent months, or maybe it’s just one of the frontiers that science fiction will always be best equipped to explore.

Either which way, I’m super proud to have Stephen Gaskell return to the site with “Platform 17″. What would you do to cure your child’s nightmares? Would you go so far as to penetrate to their heart? And what might doing so make you become?

Enjoy!

Platform 17

by Stephen Gaskell

Orsi stroked her son’s head. He slept fitfully, his hair sweaty and matted. From time to time, he moaned, made a low, frightened noise like a cornered animal. She’d rocked him to sleep an hour earlier, then carried him to his bed with numb arms.

“Oh, kicsi,” she whispered, straightening the rumpled blankets. She thought about singing a lullaby, but immediately felt silly at the idea. Csaba was ten, not two.

He jerked his neck back, eyelids twitching. His whole body shuddered and his arm came up to his head as though he were about to shield himself from a blow. “No, no,” he muttered, frantic. The arm across his face trembled, then lurched downwards as if it were being moved against his will. Then, as the previous night and the five before, he began screaming. Not a hearty shriek, but a terrible, hoarse, broken wail like fingernails raking down a blackboard.

“Csaba!” Orsi gripped his shoulders, shook him. “Csaba, wake up! It’s only a dream.”

His eyes blinked open, but he kept screaming. His face was pale, horrified.

“What did he do to you?” Orsi said, hugging her son too hard. “What did your father do to you?”

His screams faded, became whimpers. He didn’t answer. Continue reading “NEW FICTION: PLATFORM 17 by Stephen Gaskell”


NEW FICTION: IN PACMANDU by Lavie Tidhar

Paul Raven @ 01-09-2010

I’m very pleased to welcome globetrotting flyer-in-the-face-of-convention Lavie Tidhar back to the digital pages of Futurismic, and once again it’s with a story that stretches – or at least seems to stretch – our guidelines to breaking point, upsetting a few apple-carts full of sacred cows along the way. “In Pacmandu” is something a little out of the ordinary, even for us… and perhaps even (dare I say it?) for Lavie himself.

Are you ready? Then begin!

In Pacmandu

by Lavie Tidhar

  • GoA universe, Sigma Quadrant, Berezhinsky Planetoid, sys-ops command module

It has been two weeks since the disappearance of the Wu expedition.

We are gathered at the sys-ops command module of the Berezhinsky Planetoid, Sigma Quadrant of the Guilds of Ashkelon universe. The light is soft. Music plays unobtrusively in the background. Outside the windows it is snowing lines of code.

Present in the command module: myself, CodeDolphin, Sergei and Hong.

Our task –

‘Find out the fuck happened.’ Continue reading “NEW FICTION: IN PACMANDU by Lavie Tidhar”


NEW FICTION: OR WE WILL ALL HANG SEPARATELY by Nancy Jane Moore

Paul Raven @ 02-08-2010

This month’s fiction from Nancy Jane Moore takes us back to a post-collapse America, but this isn’t your average post-apocalyptic story. “Or We Will Hang Separately” brings together a bunch of favourite Futurismic themes – post-capitalist lifestyles, changes in climate (environmental, political and social), and resilient communities – and dares to dream that the end of an era doesn’t have to be the end of the line, that our technology can rebuild as well as destroy. Quiet, powerful and optimistic, this is where determined people work together to transcend a difficult future. Enjoy!

Or We Will All Hang Separately

By Nancy Jane Moore

Marty Shendo knew both the truck and the roads best, so she drove. Ooljee Yzaguirre rode shotgun – literally: She kept a rifle in her lap. Tomas Perez sat in the back, his gun also in easy reach. Within most communities – or at least the ones Ooljee knew – no one went armed. Traveling between them, everyone did.

The dust blowing in the open windows made it difficult to talk. Both Marty and Ooljee had covered their mouths and noses with kerchiefs, like old fashioned bandits, and Tomas had pulled his cap down over his face to block the worst of it. It was too hot to close the windows.

Ooljee stared out at the parched southern New Mexico landscape. Even before the extended droughts brought on by climate change, this had been harsh country to live in. Now, though, most people had given up trying to make a living out here. Even goats, who can survive on land incompatible with any other domesticated animal, need water.

She wondered what they would find up at Los Alamos — the enclave of scientists they were hoping for or just another group of people trying to survive in a world in which few things worked any more. Or maybe bandits, or, even worse, nothing at all. It was a long way to travel if it turned out to be nothing, especially in a jerry-rigged solar-powered truck that hit its high of 25 miles per hour only on downhill stretches.

“Please don’t let it be for nothing,” Ooljee thought. It might have been a prayer, if she’d known of any gods to pray to. Continue reading “NEW FICTION: OR WE WILL ALL HANG SEPARATELY by Nancy Jane Moore”


NEW FICTION: YOUR LIFE SENTENCE by C C Finlay

Paul Raven @ 01-07-2010

There are many different types of science fiction, from the classic Competent Men in their gleaming spaceships to the noir-tinged dystopic cities of cyberpunk. C C Finlay‘s “Your Life Sentence” is another type again, and maybe one of the most important and powerful – the sort that asks “what will happen if this carries on?”, but which asks it about something that’s – all too sadly – well within the boundaries of the possible.

Though I believe he started writing it before then, we received Charlie’s story not long after the announcement that the House and Senate of the State of Utah had passed a bill that would criminalise miscarriage. A dark serendipity, perhaps, but it makes “Your Life Sentence” one of the most timely stories we’ve ever published here. I hope you enjoy it.

Your Life Sentence

by C C Finlay

You sit in the bathroom, pants puddled at your ankles, and stare at the vase of orchids on the marble counter: the blossoms curl like purple teardrops.

Brandon, your husband, raps on the door.  “Hey!  Did you fall in?”

“Out in a second,” you answer.  For added verisimilitude you rattle the toilet paper roll.

“Well, call me if you need a lifeguard.”

You hate the joke.  “Sure thing,” you answer with saccharine cheer.

You live in a world that requires the bravado of false cheer.  For the past several days you’ve suffered from the too-familiar cramps, but you’ve been in denial, blaming the iffy paella valenciana at the restaurant two nights ago.  No more.  Only the deep breathing techniques you learned in Lamaze class the first time you were pregnant ease your panic.

“Honey!”  Brandon pounds at the door.  “We don’t want to be late.”

No, you don’t: the weekly doctor visits are a condition of your parole, after the second pregnancy.  Even you think that’s only fair.

“Almost done,” you answer.  A shudder runs down your spine, like a finger dragged across a keyboard badly out of tune.  You rise and pull your pants up.  The bowl flushes automatically, but you refuse to look back.  You tuck in your blouse, yank open the door.

Brandon stands there with a shoe in one hand and a big dumb grin on his square face.  “Know what week it is?”

“No,” you lie.  He leans over for a kiss and you dodge him.

“Week nine,” he says, laughing as if it’s a game.  “We’ll have the doctor fill out the Certificate of Conception, then call your parole officer.  Then if we have to check you into the hospital for the next thirty weeks–”

“Thirty weeks in the hospital — that’s almost like prison.”  You grab your keys and purse from the dresser.

“We’ve just got to stick to the plan,” he says earnestly.

Brandon has a plan, an answer, for everything.  It’s why you married him, and you liked that about him for a long time, even after you realized most of his answers don’t work for you.  “I think I left my ring in the bathroom,” you say, because you left it in the bathroom.  “Can you get it for me?”

“Sure!”

As soon as he turns away, you go to the garage.  You’re already driving down the street when he dashes out the front door.  He hops after you on one foot, still holding the shoe, shrinking in the rearview mirror as you speed out of the cul-de-sac. Continue reading “NEW FICTION: YOUR LIFE SENTENCE by C C Finlay”


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