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February 2015 cover art

Letters to a Useless Nephew on a Backwater Planet

By Iain Ishbel

I.

Dear nephew:

You are an idiot.

My sister remains, of course, entirely delighted with you. She spends her days boasting of your triumph: the runt of her first litter, her little baby babooshka — you see, learning Earth languages is not difficult — assigned to a real-life planetary Overthrow. And yet to me, nephew, you have revealed your idiocy in a single letter. This before even arriving in your assigned system!

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Black Road

By L. Nicol Cabe

Dust obscured the sun, the thick yellow haze hung low in the sky. The townspeople lazed under porches, choking for water and fanning themselves. The adults kept saying that it was hot, so hot, hotter than usual this year. Many looked at each other with worried glances, the yellow dust clinging to their sweat and wrinkles, making masks of their fear.

Dylan felt itchy and hot. Inside the cover was cooler, but not enough to endure the dust-roughened whispers around him. He grabbed a cracked, hard-plastic bottle, filled it with cloudy water on the sly, and took off into the waist-high scrub behind his house.

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