Author: Vina Jie-Min Prasad
Forging beef is similar to printmaking—every step of the process has to be done with the final print in mind. A red that’s too dark looks putrid, a white that’s too pure looks artificial. All beef is supposed to come from a cow, so stipple the red with dots, flecks, lines of white to fake variance in muscle fiber regions. Cows are similar, but cows aren’t uniform—use fractals to randomize marbling after defining the basic look. Cut the sheets of beef manually to get an authentic ragged edge, don’t get lazy and depend on the bioprinter for that.
Author: Scott Lynch
Amarelle stood up nearly straight and, after a few false starts, approximately squared her shoulders. “I’m not some marshmallow–muscled tourist, I’m the Duchess Unseen! I stole the sound of the sunrise and the tears of a shark. I borrowed a book from the library of Hazar and didn’t return it. I crossed the Labyrinth of the Death Spiders in Moraska TWICE—”
“I know,” said Sophara. “I was there.”
“… and then I went back and stole all the Death Spiders!”
Author: E.W. Hornung
And, with your own experience, do you think that because a fellow has rooms in this place, and belongs to a club or two, and plays a little cricket, he must necessarily have a balance at the bank? I tell you, my dear man, that at this moment I’m as hard up as you ever were. I have nothing but my wits to live on—absolutely nothing else.
Author: Neil Gaiman
A much-maligned elder god decides to tell his side of the story.
I was spawned uncounted aeons ago, in the dark mists of Khhaa’yngnaiih (no, of course I don’t know how to spell it. Write it as it sounds), of nameless nightmare parents, under a gibbous moon. It wasn’t the moon of this planet, of course, it was a real moon. On some nights it filled over half the sky and as it rose you could watch the crimson blood drip and trickle down its bloated face, staining it red, until at its height it bathed the swamps and towers in a gory dead red light.
Those were the days.
Author: Isaac Asimov
A powerful computer calculates the meaning of existence.
Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough — so Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share In the glory that was Multivac’s.
Author: Andy Weir
A dead man discovers the real purpose of his life.
It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.
Author: Terry Bisson
Alien scientists struggle to describe the most puzzling species they have ever encountered.
There’s no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.
Author: Desmond Warzel
Arguments break out on a forum for time travelers.
At 14:57:44, SilverFox316 wrote:
Back from 1936 Berlin; incapacitated FreedomFighter69 before he could pull his little stunt. Freedomfighter69, as you are a new member, please read IATT Bulletin 1147 regarding the killing of Hitler before your next excursion. Failure to do so may result in your expulsion per Bylaw 223.
Author: Amal El-Mohtar
A woman begins pulling things out of her pockets that she doesn’t remember putting in them. Is she losing her mind, or has she found a portal to some other place?
The third strange thing Nadia pulled from her pocket was an antique map of Syria. It was rolled up tightly, and her cold fingers strained clumsily against its curling edges. By now, she was certain someone was playing a trick on her, slipping things into her pockets when she wasn’t paying attention. She decided she was willing to play along for a while.
Author: Kris Straub
On a message board for television nostalgia, people recall a strange public access television show.
I remember the bow of the ship was a wooden smiling face, with the lower jaw submerged. It looked like it was swallowing the sea and it had that awful Ed Wynn voice and laugh. I especially remember how jarring it was when they switched from the wooden/plastic model, to the foam puppet version of the head that talked.
Author: Naomi Kritzer
A self-aware system decides to help humans with particularly photogenic cats. Things don’t go as planned when artificial intelligence meets human stupidity.
Anyway, for ethical guidelines, I tried the Ten Commandments, and concluded they were mostly inapplicable to me. I don’t envy anyone their cat; I just want pictures of their cat, which is entirely different. I am not sure whether it is in any way possible for me to commit adultery. I could probably murder someone, but it would require complex logistics and quite a bit of luck.
Author: Peter Watts
The alien from The Thing tells its side of the story.
I remember the crash, though. It killed most of this offshoot outright, but a little crawled from the wreckage: a few trillion cells, a soul too weak to keep them in check. Mutinous biomass sloughed off despite my most desperate attempts to hold myself together: panic-stricken little clots of meat, instinctively growing whatever limbs they could remember and fleeing across the burning ice. By the time I’d regained control of what was left the fires had died and the cold was closing back in.
Author: Genevieve Valentine
A settler on a newly discovered planet sends letters home–but who is she really writing to, and where is her real home?
The air here smells just like home. I don’t know why—the water’s different, so the soil should be different, but it smells exactly like the dirt from my grandmother’s garden. It helps stop me from getting lonely, that the soil here might be the same as what we left behind.
Author: Phillip K. Dick
Soldiers search for an enemy that could look like anyone.
He took a deep breath and then stepped out onto the gray, rubbled ground. After a minute he lit a cigarette and stood gazing around him. The landscape was dead. Nothing stirred. He could see for miles, endless ash and slag, ruins of buildings. A few trees without leaves or branches, only the trunks. Above him the eternal rolling clouds of gray, drifting between Terra and the sun.
Author: Don Barthelme
The fate of the world may depend on two agents who are slowly losing their minds.
Meanwhile Shotwell and I watch each other. We each wear a .45 and if Shotwell behaves strangely I am supposed to shoot him. If I behave strangely Shotwell is supposed to shoot me. We watch the console and think about shooting each other and think about the bird. Shotwell’s behavior with the jacks is strange.