Shen, at Night

When holiest Shen walks, the moon gloams red. With each stride, her right foot steps into the future; her left, into the past. Like mourners, we cling to her hem, drawn in her wake from remotest village to black-stoned shore, to ailing tower long shucked of purpose. Our footprints fill her own, and in the filling are made deeper.

But holiest Shen does not ponder her passage. Nor does she sleep.

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Good to Go

After spending nearly 30 years managing the construction of the world’s first space elevator, I was determined to participate in the inaugural ascent from the floating platform off Kourou. Still in my prime thanks to anti-ageing treatments, I felt as strong and healthy as any astronaut, even though my presence on the crew was mostly for show. The risks were low, so my AI advisor informed me. Spun from carbon nanotubes and reeled downwards from a small asteroid captured by Planetary Resources Inc. in the late 2030s, nothing could disrupt that ribbon; nothing physical, at any rate.

As I took my place in the up-capsule, I mulled over the many false starts I’d witnessed. There would be no more pull-back to low Earth orbit; no more ‘we can’t afford to do it’; no more reality TV show nonsense. As New Year 2076 dawned, the long-postponed Big Push into the Solar System could finally begin.

We were good to go.

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Venom Honey

Melita was just finishing her last cup of tea for the day when she heard the unexpected footsteps outside.

She paused, cup suspended halfway to her lips. It was too late in the day for representatives from the chemical plant, and anyway she hadn’t gotten any signs of an impending visit…She stood up as the footsteps grew louder, crunching over the gravel path and then up the porch steps.

There was a loud rapping from the knocker. ‘Mother?’ came a muffled voice outside. ‘Are you in?’

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Vixerunt

Florian woke up a year older, his screenplay still unwritten. For a while, he lay in bed, confused, assuming he must be mistaken. There was word in his head, which he must have dreamt; ‘vixerunt’. He had no idea what it might mean.

He slid from under the duvet and walked slowly to the bathroom, inspecting his face in the mirror. He saw no obvious difference but still knew it. He hadn’t realised that people were always aware of their age at some unconscious level, however much they tried to deny it, and they always knew when it had changed.

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For Future Generations, Part 3

Welcome to the third and final section of our debut issue! Now that we have explored the history of generation ships and delved deeper into the ideas behind them, we move on to the third and final theme that arose from our submissions: what about the planet we may seek to leave behind?

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A Martian Sends an Email Home

>> Shiva is the conversion system used for producing
oxygen from the planets rich carbon dioxide atmosphere. << >> Sand storms is when ghosts wheels of civilizations past
roll on soft ground in frustration, leaving no trails, but
wanting to be noticed. Wailing in the wind anyway. <<

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The ‘What-The…!’ Tree

I lurch upwards, fighting to gulp air, my body trying to remember how. A pressure on my chest prevents me from flying off.

‘Breathe,’ a distant voice commands, and I do.

A warm flannel is passed roughly over my preservative-numbed and gunk-covered face as the tank drains around me, the vacuum pumps gurgling as the last of the fluid is sucked away. If anything, the air feels even colder than the liquid.

Slowly, painfully, I crack open my eyes, light flaring across them.

The room is quiet, the bays to either side empty, as unlike the organised chaos of our departure as anything can be. Am I the last to be awakened or the first?

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The Age of Exploration

Reality was a blur.

As it was every morning.

Tsukiko woke. 98 years young. The eldest member of the geriatric crew.

Her enhanced retinas spun to work, and reality focused. The augments’ efforts seemed to cause a whir in Tsukiko’s skull. She knew the sound was a figment of her imagination, a phantom of her own making. A persistent one, though.
The antimatter grav-engine in her quarters switched into day-mode and, slowly, Tsukiko felt the weight descend on her joints. Others preferred weightlessness in their personal chambers, but the light pressure made her feel oddly comforted, as if she were being embraced by embodied memories of Earth’s unrelenting tug. Besides, it numbed the unavoidable aches that came with an ancient body. Even an augmented one.

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Rainclouds

‘Maybe you want to put that weapon down, son.’

I never figured out how Moore could sound so calm with the barrel of a gun pointed at him. The two strangers standing on the edge of our lands were haggard, thin, and twitchy—the worst kind of travelers on Nuaga. Moore looked like royalty compared to them, in their threadbare clothes. But the way he squared his shoulders, the way his low baritone issued smoothly through the dry air—that was the real source of his authority, which set him apart from the wanderers and from me.

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A Generation Starship Answers The Wrong Question

The generation starship trope has provided a rich seam for science fiction writers. From Heinlein and Aldiss in the Golden Age of SF, the idea of a starship bound on course for generations, with its Noah’s ark of human cargo, has fascinated writers and readers. Yet, recent scientific advances have revealed how difficult it would be to build and sustain such a ship throughout its long voyage. More importantly, when we are eventually able to build it, will we still need it?

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For Future Generations, Part 2

The first section of our first issue is now complete, and we move from exploration to interrogation. Yes, perhaps a generation ship is currently our most feasible option, but will it always be so? Are the associated costs worth the benefits of such a titanic effort? Is there a middle ground? What haven’t we considered?

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