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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Blemish

By Damien Krsteski

[MY WIFE] dragged me to one of her company cocktail parties.

“Sure I’ve seen it,” I said to a middle-aged woman who had blabbered to me, champagne in hand, for the better part of an hour.

Really? What did you think of it?”

The subject was the latest [MOVIE DIRECTOR]’s film, a supposed existential masterpiece I’d only read about in my newsfeed.

“It’s the finest of the decade,” I quoted the review. “The way he plays with light in the death scene to convey a sense of despair is absolutely mind-blowing and indicative of his style.”

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

The Weather Forecast

By Jackie Bee

2020 (June 10, 20:57)

There’s a large green carpet on the floor of the make-up room. It’s so soft and fluffy I can imagine myself lying on grass, the yellow lamp over my head serving as the midday sun. Rational and self-respecting adults shouldn’t be lying on the floor like this, and if anybody comes in and sees me … but I know that nobody is going to come in. Not yet. It’s just that the carpet looked so inviting. Bury myself in the soft pile and fall asleep…

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

By Edward Pearce

It was a comfortable suite. Just a couple of rooms with a separate toilet and shower, but spacious enough. And, of course, a screened-off area for Al, his escort, as they liked to call him. The furnishings were of good quality and the decor tasteful, if a little muted. A huge wafer TV hung on one wall, and on the sideboard was a lengthy menu with meals that Darren knew were excellent. He’d had three of them already, and regretted slightly that he wouldn’t get round to trying all fourteen. All in all, however, that was a minor concern.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Berryblack

By Jez Patterson

“I wasn’t expecting you so soon.”

“When we got your email, we were so intrigued we wanted to see it right away.”

“Of course,” Marion said. The two men were young, clean-shaven, and although not dressed in suits, were so smart as to look like they could either be on the way to church or a gallery opening.

Except it was Saturday, not yet midday. They were prompt though — she’d only sent the email yesterday afternoon.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Shrinking Squares

By Joe Marchia

Time travel was easier than we thought. Or, the fact that it was even possible made it seem easy. We were doing it all the time. It was like beating hearts — it was always happening. It was like the invention of the car. It was big.

But at the same time it was lonely. It was solipsistic, which is why not everyone did it. I’ll explain: Imagine you have the option to change the universe you’re in. You can go back to a point in time, or forward. But it would be a different universe. Your parents would look enough like your parents, but you’d know they were not the same ones. They were similar, but not the same. Would you do it then?

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

The Traditional Taste

By Jon Arthur Kitson

The robot didn’t slurp. Koa found that obscene.

No one else in the room seemed to care.

“It’s not mixing air with the coffee,” Koa said. “It won’t get an accurate flavor profile.”

“It doesn’t need air,” a technician — ’Brad’ according to his name tag — answered.

Koa’s eyes rolled. He folded his arms across his chest, squeezed the brass spittoon between his legs and stared down the tasting table at the robot. It sat in his father’s spot.

It’s blank eyes were lit red. Liquid drained into its chest cavity.

No spitting. Obscene.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Moon’s Majesty

By Brendan Verville

She tightened the blindfold around her eyes and then tilted her head to the side, as if trying to look at something from another angle. She gripped the handle of her sword tight, her jaw working thoughtfully.

Walker watched her vain attempt at protecting herself and noted a meager elegance about her work. He saw a perfect balance. Her legs met at an acute angle as they crossed into the lotus position, and the sword in her hand acted as a weight to keep her grounded. Her back was to the water, and if she chose to let go of that weapon, which outsized her by more than a few pounds, she would go tumbling backward down the hill and into the sea. She couldn’t see the water crashing at her back, but she could hear it, and Walker was sure the noise filled her head.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Time to Sell

By J. Rohr

“In a vial, ladies and gentlemen, I give it to you in a vial. Your own personal dose to do with as you please. Five minutes out of the day. Step right up and pay for the one thing you never thought you could buy back: Time!”
Dad said to take note of everything. “Especially your Uncle E. Nota bene. Never mind the man; he’s got faults like any of us, but he knows the business.” So, it’s best to keep my mouth shut and just listen to Uncle E.

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The Mad Scientists Guide to World Domination

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, edited by John Joseph Adams

The Mad Scientists Guide to World DominationReview by Dan Hope

The idea of mad scientists seems so overdone, like an old relic of serials from the Cold War era, which is why it was so surprising to see such nuance in a new anthology edited by John Joseph Adams, called The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination.

The obvious expectation is a bunch of short stories about white-haired men in lab coats, cackling and rubbing their hands nefariously over a workbench covered in bubbling vials. There are a few of those in here, but the authors have given us a surprisingly wide variety of characters, goals, and motivations. Sure, there are guys, but there are also good guys with good intentions gone wrong, normal guys who are misunderstood, geniuses with broken hearts or broken minds, even children who don’t understand their own power. Another laudable choice was to include stories where the mad scientist is a woman, instead of the traditional stereotype.

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