Posts Tagged ‘Short Fiction’

by Chris Braak.

Part One of Two

How will we know when the Singularity has ruined science fiction?  When I go back to my bookshelf and my old Heinleins crumble to dust in my hands.  Philip K. Dick rises from his grave to feast on improbable memories…

Mahmoud Truely awoke at 6:55.  There was a man in his room, tearing off strips of the paper walls and eating them.  The man had a black and white beard, and was balding.  He wore a bright yellow shirt.  He had those new sunglasses that are all white plastic with a thin strip of polarized plastic in the middle.  The man ate a hole in the wall, and then started pulling off pieces of the table, which Mahmoud could now see was made of papier-mache.  Mahmoud watched the man slowly eat his way across the tiny fifty-credit flat, and waited to wake up.  Minutes passed, and he did not.  The balding man with the beard eventually finished the table, then turned and looked at Mahmoud.


[New short fiction from Erin Snyder.  Erin is an unemployed writer currently living in New York City.  He maintains several websites and blogs, including The Middle Room, located here: ]

Of the four days Dale Brogan had scheduled in New York City, three were committed to meetings and negotiations over a proposed merger.  His company was entertaining these discussions to fuel media and investor interest.  Before he even left for the city, Dale’s CEO had pulled him aside to let him know there was no way in hell he’d see his company married off.  “Try to sound like we’re taking them seriously, though,” the old man had said, laughing.  “Talk them up, give them the works.  After all, we’ll look like shit if they don’t make a good offer.”


In history and geneology, there are innumerable highly-specialized and often under-appreciated fields of study.  The history of 16th century printer’s inks, for instance, is fully as rigorous as more popular fields (the history of mathematics, for instance, the history of the Medicis, the history of historians), and is yet generally considered to be a waste of precious, history-gathering resources.

The history of magic occupies a position much like this:  it is a difficult and often fascinating subject, and yet it’s fruits are considered to be full of empty calories.  What does it matter, really, how David Devant performed the Mascot Moth?  Who really cares whether or not Selbit was actually the first person to perform Sawing a Woman in Half?  And yet, no doubt in many respects because of the triviality of the results, historians in this field are some of the most enthusiastic and obsessive historians at work in the world.

There is one name that aggravates them to no end, one name that provokes exasperated sighs and groans of frustration, one name that is, without question, the most famous in the field:  Ozymandius McKaye.


It started with insomnia.  Just me, lying awake at night, listening to the radiator tick, listening to something in the basement hissing away (it might have been the hot water heater, I’m not sure), listening to my roommate shuffle around upstairs with his insomnia, to the cars on the street that sometimes pass by at one in the morning and leave en masse at two in the morning when all the bars close, and everyone drunkenly tools along home.  I have never heard an accident while lying awake at night,  and sometimes I wonder what I would do if I did hear an accident.  Would I go out and help?  I like to think that I would help, but, in the first place, I’m not sure what I could do that would be helpful, and in the second place, sometimes it’s very cold outside.


Wanna know how sausage is made? Well, look elsewhere, because I am not the man to break anyone of their enjoyment of sausage. Or scrapple, for that matter. Maybe Spam. But that would first take some research about how Spam is made. (Note for future column: Find out how Spam is made.)

But I’ll do the next best thing, and ruin your idea of what fiction writing is like.


[The finale of the story that began here, and which you have been reading for the past week. Haven’t you? –ed]

[Art by David Frankel, DDS]


With the building above me gone, the army of placid-seeming synthetic men could point their double-barreled rifles directly at me. I leapt back from the stairway as a wave of bullets rained down, chipping stone, ricocheting around the chamber. They bounced harmlessly off the black fullerene rappresses, which continued to manufacture more deadly un-men, even as the motile ones were after me.


[The story begins here. It is a product of a powerful Science.]

[Art by David Frankel, MFA]


The countermeasures appeared as a stroke of lightning and a sound like the world had cracked in half. By the time the coloured pinwheels of the afterimages had cleared from my eyes, the synthetic woman had been charred to a crisp, and lay canted at a strange angle on the ground. All that was left were blackened acrylic-polymer bones.

“What the hell was that?” I asked my gun.