Susan Palwick – The Fate of Mice (2005)

Susan Palwick‘s short story The Fate of Mice was first published by Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine in January 2005. I read this in The Best Science Fiction 2006 edited by Rich Horton.

The Fate of Mice tells the story of a lab mouse that has had its intelligence boosted.

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Kurt Vonnegut Jr. – 2BR02B (1962)

Kurt Vonnegut‘s short story 2BT02B was first published in If Worlds of Science Fiction magazine volume 11, issue six, from January 1962.

2BR02B tells the story of a future utopia where war, famine and disese have been erridicated and the population level is maintained through voluntary suicide.

I listened to this story for free through Librivox.

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Naomi Kritzer – Cat Pictures Please (2015)

Naomi Kritzer‘s short story Cat Pictures Please was published in issue 100 Clarkesworld Magazine in January 2015.

Cat Pictures Please tells the story of sentient AI that tries to help improve people’s lives. The AI is also a big fan of cat pictures and uses them decide on who to help.

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Andy Weir – The Egg (2009)

Andy Weir‘s short story The Egg was first published on his website Galactanet.com in 2009.

The Egg is a story about the meaning of life and the universe, with ideas inspired by Hindu philosophy.

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Octavia E. Butler – Speech Sounds (1983)

Octavia Butler‘s short story Speech Sounds was first published by the December 1983 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. I read the story in her collection Bloodchild and Other Stories, published in 1995.

Speech Sounds tells the story of a woman living in a postapocalyptic world where many people have lost the ability to speak or read.

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Reaching for a larlun

Joster fell limp onto warm stone as she pushed free from her cocoon. Ice peeled along her spine as she breathed and streched. She listened to the drip-drip-dripping of distant liquid.

She smelled gold, and iron, and five types of stone. Straining, she moved her outer eyelids, still frozen shut. Reaching out, she sensed a mind – the mind of a larlun – clean, slippery, wide.

Joster was weak. She was tired. She slept.

The larlun’s mind prickled. The pangs of hunger prickled. Joster unfurled her heavy wings. Their surface cracked as chunks of ice tumbled to the warm stone. She licked the water pooling beneath her and reached for the larlun. The larlun was slippery, but cleaner and wider than before.

Her tongue was dry and her eyes were still sealed. Joster uncurled her claws and pulled them along the warm stone, scraping, sharpening.

She closed her mind and slept.

Joster smelled life as she woke. She reached for the larlun, he was taut, was wide, was open and clean. Silent, she called to him, reached to him.

She waited. The larlun was close. He brought grass in a container made from dead trees. The grass crunched as it froze hard in her mouth.

The larlun shivered. His teeth chattered. She reached to his mind, but he was not afraid. She searched – his mind was wide and wide and wide. His mind told her he was cold. She cracked her icy wings.

Joster reached and asked the larlun why he was cold. The larlun said it was because he was cold. The stones were warm under her belly, so she drew the larlun close. She felt him shivering more. She smelled his blood and fear. His mind told her he was colder than before.

Perhaps she could kiss life into him like her mother did for her. Perhaps she could make him a cocoon, then he would become more, then he wouldn’t be cold. She reached with her mind and breathed her icy breath.

Joster heard the larlun cry out with his voice and his mind. She breathed into him, filling him with the life kiss until he stopped crying out. She kissed and breathed, making a cocoon for the larlun. She knew he would become more, become like her.

She reached out. His mind was thin, stretched, liquid. Then something snapped.

Joster reached and reached and reached, but the larlun was gone.

 

This text is copyright 2016 by Jon Cronshaw, released under a BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Licence.

Mike Resnick – Observation Post (2013)

Mike Resnick‘s short story Observation Post was first published in the 2013 anthology Beyond the Sun, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Observation Post is a comedy about an aliens observing Earth through intercepted TV show footage.

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