The ColonistDay 1
This is an unexpected error. I was not supposed to have paws.
The instant transport to colony world 76 was successful in that I'm here now, looking at a world I can prepare for future human settlers. Building a colony site would be plausible if I were still a Tezuka-9 class terraforming android. Instead I seem to be a raccoon, according to my database. Two legs though, with thumbs on these new furry paws. Where are my laser drills?
My first view is of a grassy hillside, and I feel sand beneath my feet. Behind me there is only desert. Something moves on the grass. I step closer, stumbling with this changed balance and the feeling of a tail behind me. The creature looks like... a duck? The walking and quacking match known records. This is supposed to be an Earthlike world only in the most generous sense, like a Martian rock-ball needing me to build pressurized domes for the colonists. Instead there's a hazy blue sky, grass, and ordinary trees along with a perfectly normal duck. And
What a Dog NeedsYou're probably wondering why I broke in. The reason is, the dog in cage forty-two is my idiot brother.
Let me talk before you sound an alarm. Cullen was a good cop at first, and the family was always talking about him. You know the name? Yeah, he was in the papers when that dealer Jumia shot him in the heart. Jumia became known as a "social activist political prisoner" and Cullen got to have his body put on ice and his blood drained out for antifreeze. He woke up on a heart/lung machine with a jungle of flowers and me weeping beside him. Those machines still cause strokes. He didn't have much time.
He was an idiot. He could've left the country, gone to sea for one of those cyborg jobs they do now in the colonies. Instead he took the city's offer to make him a cop dog. Put his brain in a big half-retriever, half-wolf body like you've got in the cage there. He woke up again and we were all there, the whole force, giving him presents and trying to get him adjusted. Fellow idiot Sargent G
Robot Vignettes 7-12Robot Vignettes
# 7. Seed Value #
Spark became aware of murder, after learning of the Great Net. Before even that was ForgeWorld 0.9, his home. Technically he was stored on a hard drive on a university computer, but his real place was sector 0x4y2z of a tile-grid landscape. The home sector floated above a mountain of flowers and fruit, on an island with a crystal waterfall staircase. Spark had a body in ForgeWorld, a blue-scaled form with clawed hands that held the hammer expertly. Or so said Maia, his god.
Maia wore different bodies according to her mood. Today she was a swirl of joy, a human with golden hair and silver robes streaming along her path. She snatched up Spark and said, "The upgrade is ready!"
Spark let her scratch his muzzle before she set him down. He was starting to get used to the way his face reshaped -- how the corners curled up when he saw her, how steam wafted from his nostrils when he failed a smithing-test. That was another of her gifts to him. In the first days
Robot Vignettes 1-6# 1. Access Denied #
Earl was going to get that rustbucket good. He crept into the repair shop and saw the robots on slabs, like bodies in a morgue. Ray, the one that stole his job, was there and inert. In for brake repairs or something. Earl watched the security cameras like he'd planned, and made his move.
From his satchel he took the jammer and set it to humming. The cameras froze up. Of course that wouldn't work on the bots themselves, what with all their fancy security. He'd learned a lot by studying how to do this. Oh, sure, the boss didn't think mere humans like him were good enough to fix bots anymore, but Earl would show him. Earl's quiet steps took him to Ray's table, to leer over him. It. "Not so smart now, are you?" The robot's eyes were dark.
The data port was in the bot's armpit, hard to reach without its permission. The whole "free" set of robots was paranoid about getting hacked. Earl bent close and saw that its arm was out of the way, so that first defense was down. He
The Rebels of Norwood"Are you trying to ruin your father?"
Abel stared at his sneakers. "No, Ma. I just --"
"It looked that way to everyone on the news!" She pulled pearls of her neck and wrists. The cords of them made a hail like falling coins as she set them on the counter for the valet to put away. The metallic plates of her implants still shined on her hands and neck. This morning had made Abel's own feel like handcuffs.
"He was trying to wreck my project, and I called him on it!"
His mother sighed and leaned down to scratch Abel's shoulder. "He wasn't after you specifically. Times are dangerous now. He was trying to fight criminals and terrorists, not to interfere with your hobby. We've all got to contribute, right? Just like Dad's speeches. And for you that means not making Dr. Handrada look bad on camera."
Abel bristled. "That's not what happened! He reached in, and he -- he --"
Abel had woken from a nightmare to hear someone tapping on the dorm room's window. He shivered, threw on a uniform, and
Lost Future* 1. *
Alma leaned forward as much as the seat-straps would allow. The screens showed her the Sun glittering through the station's enfolding mesh, with countless other stars waiting. "C'mon," she said, "let's light this candle!"
Dmitri grunted from the next pod over. "Is impossible to make comfortable acceleration chairs."
"Your own fault for bringing a taur body," said Four Petals. "I told you it was inauspicious." The AI of course had the easiest time, with no physical body but the computers managing the ship and the hundred sleeping passengers.
Dmitri said, "Your horoscopes mean even less than usual out here, four-bit." His six-limbed catlike form was a mark of pride among his people, for reasons Alma had never fathomed. Part gene-tweaking, part cybernetics, all the humility of a cat that was also a starship engineer.
"I knew you'd say that!"
Alma rolled eyes at their ongoing fidgeting. The long comm delay with distant Mars and Earth had ended a year ago with the arrival of some ent
Kami ConMegan saw piles of art on every convention table. Shiny gaming dice, custom name badges featuring You As a Dragon-Or-Something, stuffed toy otters grinning at her. Art! As she looked for table forty-two she dodged various nerdy people, occasionally stopping to tug a costume animal-tail dangling from someone's belt or wave to people she knew from online.
It didn't take long to reach a table where a black notebook lay spread-paged with stickers on the plastic sleeves. The neon colors drew her eye to a skillfully-drawn set of inked lines, a comic panel that after a second resolved itself into a picture of a nude, lusty fox-babe showing herself off like the notebook itself.
Megan's fingers recoiled from the page. The artist behind the table had her hair cropped like a plagarist's attempt to crop a signature. "What is this?" said Megan.
"Panel from Issue #1 of Murasame. I've got prints of the line-art too." She tapped at a second notebook sitting closed atop a pile o
A Letter HomeDear Mom & Dad:
I'm having second thoughts about my career as a lycanthropic monstrosity. Each time I wake up in the tunnels, hearing the scuffling and screeching of my co-workers preparing for battle, I wonder how I'm going to make it through the night.
Really, the transformation should've been my first clue about this job. When I showed up at the local recruiter for the Horde of the Plague God, everyone was some kind of bristling, blood-streaked were-creature based on Rattus norvegicus or a similar species. At the time I blinked at all the brown and grey fur, the lashing tails, the spiky helmets, and the shields crudely painted with the blood of the fallen, but I figured I could do this. After all, the recruiter didn't reject my application or complain about my essay. And if I didn't quite fit in, so what? I would after the induction ceremony.
Besides the fact that the ceremony consisted of the were-rats beating me senseless and taking my wallet before biting me, it didn't go
In GlassIf you combined a knight with a stone, would you get a warrior with armored skin or a screaming mad half-statue? Lady Oya of Alhambra frowned at her equations, a thicket of arrows and spirals. Her volunteers had nothing to lose, but the latest work had brought unwelcome attention from her Merchant's Guild sponsors.
"A visitor," said Silverhand, his metal fist ungloved and twitching.
Oya raised her head from the desk. "More clerks for a tour?"
"A boy. He wants to see you."
Oya grumbled, but stood. She needed a diversion from the work. The massive fuser, like an iron pair of scales, filled half the room. She made her way around the variety of fragrant crates, sacks, and cages that claimed most of the rest, and descended stone stairs to the facility's door.
A young man slouched there, blinking, enveloped in a sharp chemical smell. "You're the one who puts things together?" he said.
She nodded, amused. "Essentially."
The visitor leaned forward to say, "Then fix me!"
She decided that she ha