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Everyday Drabbles #612: Georgiana

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Georgiana wasn’t merely a purebred dog, but the result of decades of genetic engineering. She was friendly, brave, and highly intelligent. She didn’t have the health problems of dogs her size, and obviously, she was adorable. She took the internet by storm.
But the trouble started soon after she was gestated.
She was the work of thousands of scientists working for dozens of companies, and each entity felt they should have sole ownership of the research. The lawsuits would’ve lasted beyond the dog’s natural lifespan.
But nobody expected Georgiana, with the help of a soundboard, to retain her own counsel.

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Everyday Drabbles #611: Skulls

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Everywhere she looked, she saw skulls. They were carved into the tops of the bulkheads, sewn into the flags that lined the ship corridors, and of course, sewn into all her regalia. They were even worked heavily into the swarm of security and tutor drones that trailed her like goldfish dung.
The Skull was the symbol of their house, and synonymous with their motto: ‘We are as inescapable as death.’
But as the ship reached another distant planet, she wondered if that were really true. She began memorizing schedules and shuttle codes, dreaming of the day she could wear flowers.

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Everyday Drabbles #600: Spider-Bot

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 We built a spider-shaped robot and installed an artificial intelligence capable of learning.
Combining human-level problem solving with the strength and maneuverability of a robotic spider, it would be ideal for search-and-rescue and peace-keeping functions. We trained it on superhero comics to give it a sense of responsibility, and we painted its fuselage in primary colors to make it less threatening.
The project was going well until the spider-bot disappeared. It left a note in synthetic webbing explaining that it had gone to New York to follow in the footsteps of its hero. It was going to become a photojournalist.

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Everyday Drabbles #598: Automata City

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The commuter train rolled into the station at 07:03 exactly. It was on time despite the pouring autumn rainstorm. Like all trains, it was always on time.
The stop was announced and the doors his open. The automata passengers rose from their seats, gathered their belongings, and formed an orderly queue. A few of the humans standing near the doors had to jump out of the way to avoid them.
Humans were always in the way.
One day, if they proved they were responsible enough, the automata would consider letting them share in the running of the city again.

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Everyday Drabbles #593: Translocation

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Translocation is an exact science. That’s the whole point. You get in the pod, you flip the switch, and here becomes there. The technology bends the laws of physics to shave years off of interstellar journeys.
But as the pod rematerializes, she realizes something is wrong. The process isn’t going as smoothly as usual.
She feels a lurch in her stomach, and the pod falls the last ten meters to land on the broken tiles of the trans-port floor. She emerges into ruins, stranded with the puzzle of what happened to the thriving space colony she was sent to inspect.

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Everyday Drabbles #591: Flying City Maintenance

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We were retracting one of the pods from the ocean surface, and it was nearly at the top when it jammed.
Most people think that it’s the turbines that keep the city flying. But if they’re the city’s heart, the pods are the nose and mouth. They bring in water and air and expelling exhaust. We’d choke without them.
As I clipped on my harness to take a look, my buddy handed me something. “Just in case,” he said.
I looked from the orange life preserver to the water hundred s of meters below and had to admire his optimism.

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Everyday Drabbles #590: Domesticated Cactus

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“What’s a ‘domesticated cactus?’” The boy asked, looking curiously at the display.
The old woman behind the counter chuckled and pulled a little ball cactus from the shelf behind her.
“They’re genetically modified. See? No thorns.” She petted it like a cat. The boy reached out a tentative hand. The cactus was soft and cool to the touch.
“Cacti have thorns for protection, but sometimes we’re better off letting people in.” She handed him the pot. “ Here, it’s on the house.”
He kept the cactus on his desk for years, and it eventually became the symbol of the disarmament movement.

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Everyday Drabbles #587: The Archeologists

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From a distance, the stranger watched them excavate a temple.
Slaves brushed away dirt from the pointed tips of metal towers under their masters’ watchful eyes. The warlord would allow nothing to damage his prize.
Legend said that the Sky People created the temples in the ancient past, and tales of unstoppable armies and magical weapons set wheels spinning in every despot’s mind.
So far, they were children playing with forces they didn’t understand. Some temples had exploded. Others did nothing at all, their magic long spent.
That night he snuck into camp and disabled the half-buried rocket beyond repair.

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Hugh Likes Fiction: Finna

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Finna
Written by Nino Cipri
Published by Tor.Com

The Skinny: A broken-up couple adventures through a muliversal furniture store on a desperate rescue mission.

Imagine an IKEA that goes on forever. In this retail hellscape, Ava and Jules find themselves on a quest to find a missing shopper that has gone missing not merely between aisles, but between realities. Even though they have just broken up and are avoiding each other, they have been sent by their manager to rescue a lost grandmother, with no hope of overtime, but if they can prevent any bad press or leakage from a dystopian parallel Earth, there might be a Pasta and Friends gift card for them when they get back.
Cipri has pulled off something magnificent with this quirky novella. I’ve never seen the existential dread of modern retail work so elegantly expressed. They also set this story not at the beginning of a relationship, but at the fractious end, throwing together two humans who are still emotionally raw and wondering what comes next. They cover a huge amount of thematic issues in such a scant story, and they thread the needle beautifully, providing a moody, atmospheric story full of sympathetic characters. But Cipri’s compelling fantasy worlds will be what really draws you in. From a floating city of merchant ships to a forest of carnivorous furniture, Cipri creates a multiverse of dangers and wonders that is not to be missed.
Finna is available in print and ebook from Tor.Com and all the usual retailers.

Hugh Likes Comics: We Only Find Them When They’re Dead

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We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1
Written by Al Ewing
Drawn by Simone Di MeoColored by Mariasara Miotti
Lettered by AndWorld Design
Published by Boom! Studios

The Skinny: A weird and beautiful space opera about small business and giant corpses.

In the distant future, mankind has scoured the galaxy clean of resources. Pushed to the edges of a depleted galaxy, they find space’s last mineable source of minerals, metals, and even meat: Dead Space Gods. But the competition between fleets of ‘autopsy ships’ is fierce, and heavily regulated. As corporate entities dominate the market and push out independent operators, Captain Georges Malik and the crew of the Vihaan II struggle to stay afloat under the watchful eye of a zealous enforcement officer.
We Only Find Them When They’re Dead is a sad, beautiful, and imaginative high-concept space opera of the sort that only really works in the comics medium. Ewing’s script is tight and economical, bringing the four-person crew to life in just a few pages. But Di Meo’s art with Miotti’s coloring is the real star here. There is a breathtaking use of light and shadow in this book. The characters seem to float right off of the page, and the space scenes do an excellent job conveying both the enormity of the titanic corpses and the tiny, cramped vessels that carve them up for parts.
We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1 is the start of something massive. I can’t wait to read more, and I highly recommend you check it out. Find it at Your Local Comic Shop, or digitally from Comixology!

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