Shell Game

by Kieran Sterling-Holmes

“I’m already locked inside a trillion cells. What difference does one more make?” He shouted this from his cage, the words slipping past receding guards to find more receptive ears in similar cages lining the corridor. It didn’t take long for his zen-like question to become a subtle but standing echo throughout the facility. Some treated it like a mantra, its repetition a source for stoic inspiration. Most thought it was a pretty good joke. Eventually, the echo found someone who understood and could answer the prayers of prisoner AShannon46812. # When you need human guinea pigs, the imprisoned and poor will do just fine, thank you. Still, Dr Andrews ... [continue]

Vanish on the Instant

by Terence Hannum

I. No one will know that I’m leaving, just that I’m gone. I carry the final box from my office to my packed up car. I open the tarnished gold trunk, the small lamp inside the trunk had long burnt out and the bulb is a pain to find. I push aside the empty quarts of oil and place the last box of books and research files over the bare spare tire. Something rustles in the woods and I turn to see what it is. Nothing is there, probably a rabbit or a deer. I take one last glance at the university, empty at night but illuminated against the dark. ... [continue]

By the Light of Day

by Hope Anne Elias

The host returned to consciousness in a flutter of dark eyelashes and dilation of pupils. Were it not for the familiar sound of his own wheezing, Gabriel would have mistaken the too-bright room for his post-death destination, wherever that lay. The realization that he was still alive gave Gabriel no comfort; it simply surprised him. Despite his doubts, however, he knew the watch–the one that remained forever on his left wrist–was always accurate. It was as if the watch was bound by the same laws as he himself: neither were allowed to shirk their duties or, in a sense, disobey. They both worked for something greater–the watch for its human ... [continue]

Worlds Enough

by Adrian Le Grand

I know exactly what Socrates meant and he fucking meant it literally. It’s just that most people aren’t smart enough, or not smart in the right way, or not weird enough, basically not enough like Socrates, to realize what he was saying. But I am. OK, so the bit I mean – the thing about his daemon talking to him? It wasn’t a metaphor. He wasn’t only talking about intuition, or good ideas or any of that shit. I mean, he might not have meant an actual daemon, but he did mean it spoke to him, and that he heard it. I have the same thing, from time to time. ... [continue]

The Unbelievers

by G. Scott Huggins

Commander Zuniga’s mouth hung open. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” “We do not believe in humans. It is an old superstition, easily disproven.” The android’s deep blue face was placid as any sea, though his body was, under his simple clothing, immensely fat. “But we’re standing right here, talking to you,” Zuniga said. “Three of us.” The android sighed. “You would hardly be the first androids to attempt to call themselves ‘humans’ to attempt to fool the gullible. Do you have any idea how often in history it’s been tried?” “Well, no,” said Engineer’s Mate Schwei. “Because we can’t download your memories. Or send commands, either. And I have ... [continue]

Editorials

  • Today’s Sci Phi Journal takes the unusual step of publishing two radically different stories alongside each other. We presented them together because they represent divergent views about human nature. Karen Ovér’s “Lazlo and Laroux” is a fantasy involving dragons, but her underlying position is that life would be blissful were it not for a tiny minority who spoil the world for the rest of us. Patrick S. Baker’s “Red Vet” is a gritty alternate history that … [continue]

Revisiting Robert Heinlein: Methuselah’s Children

by Alex Drozd

One of Heinlein’s early novels, Methuselah’s Children, is the first to introduce his “Future History,” a series of interrelated books and stories beginning a few hundred years in the future. It’s in this novel that his recurring character, Lazarus Long, is first introduced. Yet another one of Heinlein’s old man literary egos with a proclivity towards lecturing young folk, Lazarus Long drives many of the key events of Methuselah’s Children; namely, by convincing his secret society, the Howard Family, into ... [continue]
  • Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.Robert Heinlein I’ve always found it funny that Heinlein wrote this twelve years after his most famous work, Stranger In A Strange Land, in which Heinlein attempted ... [continue]
  • Orson Scott Card’s Ender Saga may be one of the most varied book series written to date. The first in the series, Ender’s Game, is a young-adult novel, while its sequel, Speaker of the Dead, explores a mixture of more adult-driven hard sci-fi and philosophical fiction. These two books are ... [continue]
  • “God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent — it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.” (Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For ... [continue]
  • Many years ago, a friend of mine who knows about these sorts of things handed me a book and said “Here, you have to read this.” It was a copy of Iain M. Banks’s Use of Weapons. I glanced over the jacket copy. “What’s the Culture?” I asked. “Well,” she ... [continue]
  • Before the quantum revolution, the scientific depiction of the natural world was a deterministic one, i.e., once all the initial parameters of a physical system were known, the evolution of a system could be predicted with exact precision. It was this ability to make exact predictions derived from empirical knowledge ... [continue]