Your future is bright! After all, your mother is a robot, your father has joined the alien hive-mind, and your dinner will be counterfeit 3D-printed steak. Even though your worker bots have staged a mutiny, and your tour guide speaks only in memes, you can always sell your native language if you need some extra cash.
The avant-garde of science fiction have arrived in this space-age sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology, The New Voices of Fantasy. Here you'll find the rising stars of the last five years: Rebecca Roanhorse, Amal El-Mohtar, Alice Sola Kim, Sam J. Miller, E. Lily Yu, Rich Larson, Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Sarah Pinsker, Darcie Little Badger, Nino Cipri, S. Qiouyi Lu, Kelly Robson, and more. Their extraordinary stories have been hand-selected by cutting-edge author Hannu Rajaniemi (The Quantum Thief) and genre expert Jacob Weisman (Invaders).
So go ahead, join the interstellar revolution. The new kids have already hacked the AI.
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About the Author
Vina Jie-Min Prasad is Singaporean writer who began publishing short stories in 2016 with “The Spy Who Loved Wanton Mee” in Queer Southeast Asia: A Literary Journal of Transgressive Art, at which point she’d already been nominated for The James White Award for the best unpublished work of science fiction. She broke out with two major stories the following year, “Fandom for Robots” and “A Series of Steaks.” The two stories were each nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards. Prasad was then nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She graduated from the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2017.
E. Lily Yu’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, The Boston Review, Fantasy & Science Fiction, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Apex, Uncanny, Terraform, Tor.com, and many others. She has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus, and WSFA Small Press Awards, and won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2012.
Darcie Little Badger (Lipan Apache, Texas) has written fiction in Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, and The Dark. She is also in numerous anthologies, including Lightspeed’s POC Destroy Fantasy special issue, and Moonshoot: The Indigenous Comics Collection Volume Two. She is also co-writing Strangelands, a comics series in the H1 - Humanoids shared universe. When she is not writing indigenous gothic tales, she edits research papers, and has a PhD in Oceanography.
Nino Cipri is a queer and trans/nonbinary writer, editor, and researcher currently enrolled in the University of Kansas’s MFA in Fiction. They are also a graduate of the 2014 Clarion Writers’ Workshop. A multidisciplinary artist, Nino has also written plays, screenplays, and radio features; they have performed as a dancer, actor, and puppeteer; and worked as a backstage theater tech. Their work has appeared in Fireside Fiction, Interfictions, Nightmare Magazine and others. A book of their short fiction, Homesick, is forthcoming from Dzanc Press.
Rich Larson has been an extremely prolific writer of short fiction since 2011, with over a hundred stories sold to Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Tor.com, and more. He attended the Alpha Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Workshop for Young Writers and was a runner-up for the Dell Award in 2013. He is the author of the Violet Wars trilogy from Orbit and his debut collection is Tomorrow Factory from Talos Press. Born in Niger, he now lives in Ottawa, Canada.
S. Qiouyi Lu lives in California with a black cat named Thin Mint. They are a graduate of the 2016 Clarion West Workshop, and founder of Arsenika. Their short fiction and poetry have been published in Strange Horizons, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Anathema, Uncanny, and more. They have translated Chinese science fiction for Clarkesworld.
Sam J. Miller’s work has been nominated for the Nebula, World Fantasy, Crawford, Locus, Theodore Sturgeon, and Lodestar Awards, long-listed for the Hugo, James Tiptree Jr., and British Science Fiction Association Awards, and won the Shirley Jackson Award and the Andre Norton Award. He is a vegetarian in a line of butchers and got gay-married under a Tyrannosaurus Rex. He is the author of The Art of Starving and Blackfish City, and a co-editor of the critical anthology Horror After 9/11. Miller is a graduate of the 2012 Clarion Writers Workshop and currently lives in New York, New York.
Samantha Mills is an archivist living in Southern California. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and Diabolical Plots.
David Erik Nelson is a science fiction author and essayist. He has written reference articles and textbooks, such as Perspectives on Modern World History: Chernobyl, and builds instruments, as he chronicles in Junkyard Jam Band: DIY Musical Instruments and Noisemakers. His short fiction has been featured in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction, StarShipSofa, and anthologies like The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded (Tachyon, 2010), Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution (Tachyon, 2012), and The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 10).
Jason Sanford’s work has been published in Asimov’s SF, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, SF Signal, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and many more, with reprints appearing in many Best Of anthologies. British SF magazine Interzone once published a special issue of his fiction. He has been a finalist for the Nebula Award and his fiction has been translated into several languages. He co-founded storySouth and writes regularly for Czech SF magazine XB-1.
Amman Sabet has designed digital products and services for companies such as BMW, Adobe, Comcast, Wizards of the Coast, and Intel. He is a graduate of the 2017 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop.
Kelly Robson’s fiction published in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, and Uncanny. She has been a wine and spirits writer for Chatelaine Magazine, and has contributed several essays on writing to Clarkesworld’s Another Word column. Her short story “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” was a finalist for the 2015 Theodore Sturgeon Award, and her story “Two-Year Man” was a finalist for the 2015 Sunburst Award.
Suzanne Palmer began her science fiction and fantasy career in painting and sculptures, long before writing, and exhibited her art at various conventions nationwide. Her poetry and short stories have been in Asimov’s, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and many others since.
Little is known about the brutally minimalist Jamie Wahls, who presumably lives in a mimetic reality peppered with digital simulacra like the rest of us.
Alice Sola Kim has been published in Tin House, The Village Voice, McSweeney’s, Lenny, BuzzFeed Books, and Fantasy & Science Fiction. She received the prestigious Whiting Award in 2016, and has received grants and scholarships from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Elizabeth George Foundation.
Lettie Prell's first novel was in 2008, but more recently she has been published in Clarkesworld, Analog, Tor.com, and Apex Magazine. She currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa.
Amal El-Mohtar is a writer, reviewer, and poet. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Tor.com, Fireside Fiction, Lightspeed, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, Apex, Stone Telling, and Mythic Delirium, and her articles and reviews have appeared on NPR Books and on Tor.com. Her stories have been nominated for and won the Nebula, Locus, and Hugo Awards, and she her also won the Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem. She is currently the Otherworldly columnist at the New York Times.
Rebecca Roanhorse is an indigenous writer (Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo) whose breakout novel Trail of Lightning was nominated for the 2019 Nebula Award in the Best Novel category. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2018.
Hannu Rajaniemi (editor) is the author of The Quantum Thief, The Fractal Prince, The Causal Angel, and a standalone novel, Summerland. Rajaniemi was born in Finland, and completed his doctorate in Mathematical Physics at the University of Edinburgh. His works have received Finland’s top science fiction honor, the Tahtivaeltaja Award, as well as nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for best first science fiction novel in the United States. He is the and CTO of HelixNano, a synthetic biology startup based in the Bay Area, where he currently lives.
Jacob Weisman (editor) is the publisher at Tachyon Publications, which he founded in 1995. He is a World Fantasy Award winner for The New Voices of Fantasy (co-edited with Peter S. Beagle), and is the series editor of Tachyon's critically-acclaimed novella line, including the Hugo Award-winner, The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson, and the Nebula and Shirley Jackson award-winner, We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory. Weisman has edited the anthologies Invaders: 22 Tales from the Outer Limits of Literature, The Sword & Sorcery Anthology (with David G. Hartwell), and The Treasury of the Fantastic (with David M. Sandner). He lives in San Francisco.
Read an Excerpt
Alexander Weinstein's fiction has appeared in Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy and Best American Experimental Writing, and has been awarded the the Lamar York, Gail Crump, Hamlin Garland, Etching's Whirling, and New Millennium Prizes. He is the Director of the Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Siena Heights University. His collection of short stories, Children of the New World, was selected as a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year for 2016.
"Openness" follows the rise and fall of a romance complicated by technologically-enhanced digital intimacy.
BEFORE I DECIDED to finally give up on New York, I subbed classes at a junior high in Brooklyn. A sixth-grade math teacher suffering from downloading anxiety was out for the year, and jobs being what they were, I took any opportunity I could. Subbing math was hardly my dream job; I had a degree in visual art, for which I'd be in debt for the rest of my life. All I had to show for it was my senior collection, a series of paintings of abandoned playgrounds, stored in a U-Pack shed in Ohio. There was a time when I'd imagined I'd become famous, give guest lectures at colleges, and have retrospectives at MOMA. Instead, I found myself standing in front of a class of apathetic tweens, trying to teach them how to do long division without accessing their browsers. I handed out pen and paper, so that for once in their lives they'd have a tactile experience, and watched as they texted, their eyes glazed from blinking off message after message. They spent most of the class killing vampires and orcs inside their heads and humoring me by lazily filling out my photocopies.
The city overwhelmed me. Every day I'd walk by hundreds of strangers, compete for space in crowded coffee shops, and stand shoulder to shoulder on packed subway cars. I'd scan profiles, learning that the woman waiting for the N enjoyed thrash-hop, and the barista at my local coffee shop loved salted caramel. I'd had a couple fleeting relationships, but mostly I'd spend weekends going to bars and sleeping with people who knew little more than my username. It all made me want to turn off my layers, go back to the old days, and stay disconnected. But you do that and you become another old guy buried in an e-reader, complaining about how no one sends emails anymore.
So I stayed open, shared the most superficial info of my outer layer with the world, and filtered through everyone I passed, hoping to find some connection. Here was citycat5, jersygirl13, m3love. And then, one morning, there was Katie, sitting across from me on the N. She was lakegirl03, and her hair fell from under her knit cap. The only other info I could access was her hometown and that she was single.
"Hi," I winked, and when I realized she had her tunes on, I sent off an invite. She raised her eyes.
"Hi," she winked back.
"You're from Maine? I'm planning a trip there this summer. Any suggestions?"
She leaned forward and warmth spread across my chest from being allowed into her second layer. "I'm Katie," she winked. "You should visit Bar Harbor, I grew up there." She gave me access to an image of a lake house with tall silvery pines rising high above the shingled roof. "Wish I could help more, but this is my stop." As she stood waiting for the doors to open, I winked a last message. Can I invite you for a drink? The train hissed, the doors opened, and she looked back at me and smiled before disappearing into the mass of early morning commuters. It was as the train sped toward work that her contact info appeared in my mind, along with a photo of her swimming in a lake at dusk.
It turned out that Katie had been in the city for a couple of years before she'd found a steady job. She taught senior citizens how to successfully navigate their layers. She'd helped a retired doctor upload images of his grandchildren so strangers could congratulate him, and assisted a ninety-three-year-old widow in sharing her mourning with the world. Her main challenge, she said, was getting older folks to understand the value of their layers.
"Every class they ask me why we can't just talk instead," she shared as we lay in bed. Though Katie and I occasionally spoke, it was always accompanied by layers. It was tiring to labor through the sentences needed to explain how you ran into a friend; much easier to share the memory, the friend's name and photo appearing organically.
"At least they still want to speak. My class won't even say hello."
"You remember what it was like before?" she asked. I tried to think back to high school, but it was fuzzy. I was sure we used to talk more, but it seemed like we doled out personal details in hushed tones.
"Not really," I said. "Do you?"
"Sure. My family's cabin is completely out of range. Whenever I go back we can only talk."
"What's that like?"
She shared a photo of walking in the woods with her father, the earth covered in snow, and I felt the sharp edge of jealousy. Back where I grew up, there hadn't been any pristine forests to walk through, just abandoned mini-marts, a highway, and trucks heading past our town, which was more a pit stop than a community. The only woods were behind the high school, a small dangerous place where older kids might drag you if you didn't run fast enough. And my parents sure didn't talk. My mother was a clinical depressive who'd spent my childhood either behind the closed door of her bedroom or at the kitchen table, doing crossword puzzles and telling me to be quiet whenever I asked her something. My father had hit me so hard that twice I'd blacked out. My history wasn't the kind of thing I wanted to unlock for anyone, and since leaving Ohio I'd done my best to bury those memories within my layers.
So I spent our first months sharing little of myself. Katie showed me the memories of her best friends and family while I showed her the mundane details of substitute teaching and my favorite bands. I knew Katie could feel the contours of my hidden memories, like stones beneath a bedsheet, but for a while she let me keep the private pain of my unlocked layers.
That summer, Katie invited me to spend the weekend with her dad at their cabin. We rented a car and drove up the coast to Maine. We listened to our favorite songs, made pit stops, and finally left I-95 for the local roads. It was late in the afternoon, our car completely shaded by the pines, when our reception started getting spotty. I could feel my connection with Katie going in and out.
"Guess we might as well log off," Katie said. She closed her eyes for a moment, and all of a sudden I felt a chasm open between us. There was a woman sitting next to me whom I had no access to. "It's okay, babe," she said, and reached out for my hand. "I'm still me." I pressed my palm to hers, closed my eyes, and logged off, too.
Her father, Ben, was a big man who wore a puffy green vest that made him appear even larger. "And you're Andy," he said, burying my hand in his. "Let me get those bags for you." He hefted both our suitcases from the trunk, leaving me feeling useless. I followed him into the house, experiencing the quiet Katie had told me about. There were no messages coming from anyone, no buzz-posts to read, just the three of us in the cabin and the hum of an ancient refrigerator.
The last time a girlfriend had introduced me to her parents, we'd sat at Applebee's making small talk from outer layer info, but with Ben, there were no layers to access. All I knew were the details Katie had shared with me. I knew that her mom had died when she was fourteen, and that her father had spent a year at the cabin grieving, but that didn't seem like anything to bring up. So I stood there, looking out the living room window, trying to remember how people used to talk back in the days when we knew nothing about each other.
"Katie says you've never been to Maine."
"I haven't," I said, the words feeling strange against my tongue.
He walked over to the living room window. The afternoon sun shimmered on the pond, making it look silvery and alive, and the sky was wide and blue, pierced only by the spires of red pines. "Beautiful, isn't it?"
"Yeah," I said. The fridge hummed and from the other room I could hear Katie opening drawers and unpacking. I wasn't sure what else to add. I remembered a detail she had unlocked for me on one of our early dates. "I heard you've caught a lot of fish out there."
"You like fishing?" he asked, placing his hand on my shoulder. "Here, I'll show you something."
Ben retrieved an old tablet from the closet, and showed me photos on the screen. There he was with Katie and a string of fish; him scaling a trout in the kitchen sink. We scrolled through the two-dimensional images one by one as people did when I was a kid. Katie came to my rescue. "Come on, I want to show you the lake," she said. "Dad can wow you with his antique technology later."
"One day you'll be happy I kept this," he said. "Katie's baby photos are all on here." He shut down the device and put it back in its case. "Have fun out there. Dinner will be ready in an hour."
Outside, Katie led me on the trails I'd only ever seen in her layers. Here was the gnarled cedar that she'd built a fort beneath, and over there were the rocks she'd chipped mica flakes from in second grade. We climbed down the banks of the trail, holding on to roots that jutted from the earth, and arrived on a stretch of beach speckled with empty clam shells, mussels, and snails that clung to the wet stones. Far down the shore, a rock outcropping rose from the water. A single heron stood on a peak that broke the shoreline.
There was something beautiful about sharing things in the old way — the two of us walking by the shore, the smell of the pine sap, the summer air cooling the late afternoon — and for the first time in years, I wished I had a sketch pad with me. As Katie spoke, her hands moved in ways I hadn't seen people do since childhood, gesturing toward the lake or me when she got excited. I tried to focus on each sentence, sensing my brain's inability to turn her words into pictures. She was talking about the cabin in autumn, logs burning in the fireplace, the smell of smoke, leaves crunching underfoot.
"Are you even listening?" she asked when I didn't respond.
"Sorry," I said. "I'm trying to. It's just that without the ding it's hard to know when you're sending ... I mean saying something. ..." I stopped talking, hating the clunkiness of words, and took a deep breath. "I guess I'm just rusty."
Katie softened. "I know. Sometimes when I'm in the city, I can't remember what it looks like up here without accessing my photos. It's kinda messed up, isn't it?"
"Yeah," I agreed, "I guess it is." The heron hunched down and then lifted off, its wide wings flapping as it headed across the lake, away from us.
That night her father fried up the perch he'd caught earlier that day. The herbs and butter filled the small cabin with their scent, and we drank the wine we'd brought. After dinner, Ben brought out a blue cardboard box, and the three of us sat in the living room and played an actual game. I hadn't seen one in over a decade.
"You don't know how to play Boggle?" Katie asked, surprised. The point, she explained, was to make words from the lettered dice and to write them down with pen and paper without accessing other players' thoughts. I sat there trying to figure out what Katie was feeling as she covered her paper with her hand.
"What do you think?" Katie asked after the first round.
"It's fun," I admitted.
"You bet it is," Ben said, and made the dice rattle again.
Afterwards, when Katie and I were in bed, I listened to the crickets outside the screened windows. It'd been a long time since I heard the drone of them, each one singing within the chorus.
"So, what do you think of it here?"
"It's beautiful. But I can't imagine growing up without connection."
"You don't like the feeling?"
"Not really," I said. Being offline reminded me of my life back home before layers existed, when I'd lived with my parents in Ohio, a miserable time that technology had helped bury. "Do you?"
"Totally. I could live like this forever." I looked at her in the dark and tried to scan her eyes, but it was just her looking back at me, familiar yet completely different. "What about my dad?"
"I like him," I said, though it was only part of the truth. I was really thinking how different he was from my own father. We'dnever sat and eaten dinner together or played board games. I'd heat up frozen pizza and eat it in the kitchen while Dad would lie on the couch watching whatever game was on. Eventually he'd get up, clink the bottles into the bin, and that was the sign to shut off the TV. Thinking about it made me feel like Katie and her father were playing a joke on me. There was no way people actually lived like this — without yelling, without fighting.
I felt the warmth of Katie's hand against my chest. "What's the matter?"
"You can tell me," she said. "I love you."
It was the first time she'd actually said the words. At home it was just something we knew. We understood it from the moments we'd stand brushing our teeth together and the feeling would flash through her layers. And sometimes, late at night, right before we'd both fall asleep, we'd reach out and touch each other's hands and feel it.
"I love you, too," I managed to get out, and the weight of the words made something shift inside me. I felt the sentences forming in my head, the words lining up as though waiting to be released. Without my layers, there was nothing to keep them from spilling out. "Katie," I said into the darkness. "I want to tell you about my family."
She put her hands around me. "Okay."
And there, in the cabin, feeling Katie's body against mine, I began to speak. I didn't stop myself, but leaned into my voice and the comfort of hearing my words disappearing into the air with only Katie and the crickets as witnesses.
It was that night in the cabin that helped us grow closer. Shortly after we returned, I unlocked more layers for her and showed her the pictures of my father and mother — the few I'd kept. There was my high school graduation: my mother's sunken eyes staring at the camera, my father with his hands in his pockets, and me in between, none of us happy. I showed her the dirty vinyl- sided house and the denuded lawn, blasted by cold winters and the perpetual dripping oil from my father's truck. And she showed me her own hidden layers: her mother's funeral in a small church in Maine, her father escaping to the cabin afterwards, learning to cook dinner for herself. Having unlocked the bad memories, I also uncovered the few good ones I'd hidden: a snowy day, my father, in a moment of tenderness, pulling me on a sled through the town; my mother emerging from her room shortly before she died to give me a hug as I left for school.
Feeling the closeness that sharing our layers brought, Katie suggested we give total openness a shot. It meant offering our most painful wounds as a gift to one another, a testament that there was no corner of the soul so ugly as to remain unshared. It'd become increasingly common to see the couples in Brooklyn, a simple O tattooed around their fingers announcing the radical honesty of their relationship to the world. They went to Open House parties, held in abandoned meatpacking plants, where partiers let down all their layers and displayed the infinite gradations of pain and joy to strangers while DJs played Breaknoise directly into their heads. I resented the couples, imagining them to be suburban hipsters who'd grown up with loving parents, regular allowances, and easy histories to share.
Total openness seemed premature, I told Katie, not just for us but for everyone. Our culture was still figuring out the technology. A decade after linking in, I'd find drinking episodes that had migrated to my work layer or, worse yet, porn clips that I had to flush back down into the darkness of my hidden layers.
"I'm not going to judge you," she promised as we lay in bed. She put her leg over mine. "You do realize how hot it'll be to know each other's fantasies, right?" There were dozens of buzz- posts about it — the benefits of total intimacy, how there were no more fumbling mistakes, no guessing, just a personal database of kinks that could be accessed by your partner.
"What about the darker layers?"
"We need to uncover those, too," Katie said. "That's what love is: seeing all the horrible stuff and still loving one another."
I thought I understood it then, and though my heart was in my throat, my terror so palpable that my body had gone cold, I was willing to believe that total openness wasn't the opposite of safety but the only true guarantee of finding it. So late that summer evening, Katie and I sat on the bed, gazing into one another's eyes, and gave each other total access.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The New Voices of Science Fiction"
Copyright © 2019 Hannu Rajaniemi and Jacob Weisman.
Excerpted by permission of Tachyon Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION Jacob Weisman,
FOREWORD Hannu Rajaneimi,
OPENNESS Alexander Weinstein,
THE SHAPE OF MY NAME Nino Cipri,
UTOPIA, LOL? Jamie Wahls,
MOTHER TONGUES S. Qiouyi Lu,
IN THE SHARING PLACE David Erik Nelson,
A SERIES OF STEAKS Vina Jie-Min Prasad,
THE SECRET LIFE OF BOTS Suzanne Palmer,
ICE Rich Larson,
ONE HOUR, EVERY SEVEN YEARS Alice Sola Kim,
TOPPERS Jason Sanford,
TENDER LOVING PLASTICS Amman Sabet,
WELCOME TO YOUR AUTHENTIC INDIAN EXPERIENCE Rebecca Roanhorse,
STRANGE WATERS Samantha Mills,
CALVED Sam J. Miller,
THE NEED FOR AIR Lettie Prell,
ROBO-LIOPLEURODON! Darcie Little Badger,
THE DOING AND UNDOING OF JACOB E. MWANGI E. Lily Yu,
MADELEINE Amal El-Mohtar,
OUR LADY OF THE OPEN ROAD Sarah Pinsker,
A STUDY IN OILS Kelly Robson,