Thursday, March 28, 2019


Ross 128b
By Janet Shell Anderson

“A temperate exoplanet within the inner limit of a habitable zone.” Paradise! That sold Frank.

Paradise. I don’t think so.

First off, Frank’s in trouble, this is dodgy and far; that’s why we’re here. Second, it’s all red murk. The sun’s little, dark, squinty, a red dwarf called Ross; we’re on Ross 128b. The year’s nine days. I’m Snooky Balboa, fourteen by the new calendar, not really exactly fourteen, but what does Frank care? I’m tired of red. The flagstones on the patio are red, the walls of the Apollo Morongo Diablo Inn, red. The pool’s red. In it—-red, slick philosophish that talk, climb out, naked as noon, want to have a conversation on the nature of reality, whether or not God is the ground of all being, what is sin? Should they evolve? They look at me with their big eyes, wriggle their fins, kind of eager in a way I don’t like, flop back in.

Frank spent a fortune to get us to this resort; now he’s disappeared. What counts is, I can’t get my hair done right, so in this light my superfine Octavia Infrared plume looks skanky. I ought to put on clothes.

The place feels skanky. Just wrong. The flowers’re black, the shrubs, black, the crouchtrees and hotforests, morongo purple. There’s a three-headed dog, real friendly, but he slobbers. No one’s here. There are no people. Supposedly at night there’s a blue-footed booby band called the Lost Souls, but I haven’t seen them. The resort’s got this big pool and then little, hidden, private lighted pools outside everyone’s bedrooms, lah de dah, twinkling walkways over the pools so you can sit and have a drink right over the water, do anything you want. Where you step lights up, glows; it’s ok. Except no one’s here. Alexas, that’s all. And slick philosophish with dorsal fins, advanced degrees, maybe some blue-footed boobies.

The phish like me. Frank says I look like Venus Milo and Mona Lisa rolled into one, if they spent a hundred million dollars on their hair at Scampis and tanned nude. Even so, Frank got up at dawn to go for a walk near the ocean, which has high tides. I warned him about it. He’s been gone hours.

I did see one other person when we first got here. Jessie James, real good looking, athletic, sculpted, her hair all flame red, burning, golden, mauve, raspberry, huge, weightless up in the caravan tower headdress all the Euros were wearing when we left, no clothes on except a thong that said in tiny gold script, “I Believe.” Gauzy wings too. Pretty cheesy.

Frank got into a little trouble politically back home in Washington, DC, nothing too serious, nothing Frank couldn’t talk his way out of; but Neo Langley was looking into it. We lived on N Street in Georgetown, his townhouse, 18th century. Steep hills, cobblestones, nice shopping near the canal, river restaurants, Georgie Ws, not bad, and I miss my demoncat, Fuzz, who couldn’t come. Our Alexa will take care of him, but he’d like this, the redbyrds, Cardinal trees, burning bushes.

Frank mentioned he thought they were going to blame him for some kind of coup. It must not of worked.

I don’t like the idea of Jessie James. What kind of name is that?

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Published by 365 Tomorrows, Vestal Review, Grey Sparrow, decomP, FRIGG and many others, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, included in an anthology with Joyce Carol Oates, I am an attorney.

Thursday, March 21, 2019


By Jake Marmer

“...the intelligentsia had accepted the Tohu-Bohus as legitimate music. Their jarring rhythms tumbled across the lawn. A light sculpture in the corner twisted, flickered, grew with the tones.”
- Samuel Delany, “NOVA”

it’s music because we agree that it is:
invisible horn vomiting black light –
inside this flare-book,
nature’s quantifiable coincidence,
fermented nerve, singed atavism –

singed sound paints
your portrait
on psychoacoustic cellophane, wraps
it around something small, something vile

bending the string, purple fingers rise
far above guitar’s ringed neck –
above the bruised mouth
and its stratosphere

a pile of near-voices walking
from harm to harmony
try to summon a black hole
try to stumble into one
burnt eyes looking for triggers –
(Tohu-Bohus signature move)

black hole dream: to inhale light so hard
your vision turns molecular tasseology
black hole dream: to drain semantics, thread-suns
so the poem could congeal

– accretion of dissonance, complete and elegant –
and because it is
purple fingers gather
so much paraphrase
that there’s no doubt, no doubt left
about the – beginnings –

heaven is a swamp your voice
is sinking in, and this
swamp groove is the song of its mangled footprints

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Jake Marmer is a poet, performer, and a high school teacher. He is the author of three poetry collections: "Jazz Talmud" (Sheep Meadow Press, 2012), "The Neighbor Out of Sound" (Sheep Meadow Press, 2018), and "Cosmic Diaspora" (Station Hill Press, forthcoming 2019). Born in the wild Ukrainian steppes, Jake considers himself a New Yorker, even though he now lives in the Bay Area.

Thursday, March 14, 2019


By Tony Daly

HE was the hero of the Battle of Adjunar
Stormed the citadel with no care for his own servers
Without him, the organic shield never would have dissolved,
The soldiers of the 5th and 27th divisions of the
Intergalactic Marine Strike Force never would have breached the walls
The evil of the Halcien Empire never would have seen its end
Millions of young Adjunians would have grown up slaves,
Or maybe never grown up at all

But HE will never know the impact of his actions,
Or even that those actions took place,
For HE is being replaced by a new model,
A sleeker, faster, more ruthless killing machine, HE-x1.

HE was only a BETA android: just a test
HE will be mind wiped, reprogrammed
Become a bodyguard and cocktail waitress for
The Acting General Overlord of the Regional Dynasty
Until such time, probably two years at most, as the full-time
General Overlord of the Regional Dynasty is appointed
At which time, HE will be decommissioned and scrapped,
Being forgotten, as countless android war hero’s before him

But you can honor him in his afterlife,
Just send a modest downpayment to secure your piece of history,
You may own his head (perfect for a security system or just for display),
or a set of coasters made from his hands (what a conversation starter!)
Act now, before all records of his brave deeds pass into forgotten history.

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Here is a short bio: Tony Daly is a DC/Metro Area creative writer. He has work forthcoming with The Stray Branch, The Horror Zine, Pure Slush, 0-Dark-Thirty, and others. He also serves as an Associate Editor with Military Experience and the Arts.

Thursday, March 7, 2019


Echo Chamber
By John C Adams

Chris Miller clicked the Decline Echo Chamber button and watched it disappear in front of his eyes. But before he could enjoy the momentary thrill of saving a few pennies as he settled into an evening on The Corporation's Society Unlimited application, a deluge of comments appeared replying to his first post.

Thirty seconds later, precisely long enough for Chris to become mildly irritated, The Corporation triggered the first of what would be many nudges encouraging him to pay extra to have the negative comments removed.

Chris smacked Decline again as soon it re-appeared, but it was immediately replaced by an equally annoying Are You Sure? button, pulsing in his peripheral vision. He blocked it out by resting an open book against the screen. Sixty seconds later, it emerged on the other side of the screen. He covered it with his book, but the button gradually wormed its way to the middle of the screen, until it was simply easier to click the tiny cross on the top-left corner of the button.

"Yes," Chris muttered to himself. "I am damn well sure!"

Chris's partner Billy glanced up from the screen opposite. He chuckled at the sight of his better half moaning as The Corporation connected him to the outside world for yet another evening of social interaction.

"Diversity of opinion getting you down again?"

"Being asked to pay to get rid of stuff I don't agree with? What does that say about me if I accept?"

Billy smiled. His fair, curly hair tumbled into his eyes and he tucked it behind his ears. He leant back in his chair, tipping the front castors off the ground, just keeping his balance by maintaining contact between his toes and the floor.

"Tells me that life's too short, frankly. Just press the button! It's only a few pennies! I click it just to get rid of the prompts."

Chris scowled. Precisely what they wanted over at The Corporation. Either you were fed up with seeing ranting arguments about the most innocuous of posts, and paid up. Or the electronic nagging got to you eventually, and you paid up.

Are You Sure? returned. This time, it throbbed in the middle of the screen. Chris clicked Echo Chamber, and watched his credits decline as the cost of the service was debited from his account.

It became more expensive, the later you paid for the Echo Chamber during your session on Society Unlimited. Damn it, it was cheaper to be an intolerant so-and-so from the moment you logged in!

The bliss of the Echo Chamber took only nanoseconds to numb Chris's annoyance. Billy was right. The joyous absence of the Are You Sure? button was worth the cost of it alone. And the carping criticism of his post on the correct oven temperature for soft meringues disappeared. It was replaced by a barrage of praise from people who claimed to have tried it, loved it and couldn't recommend the recipe highly enough.

Some of them referred back to Chris's blog post yesterday, about how to make sticky toffee with just the right consistency that it melted in your mouth. One or two wags added a few flirty jokes about how good it tasted. A conspicuously attractive couple of influencers cracked a dirty gag about sucking up every last drop. People loved the hint of smut, and everyone just piled in. Suddenly, he had thousands of likes, and hundreds of comments recommending his blog.

Chris's first instinct was to join the banter, but he hesitated. This was a fantastic response rate, but could anyone have tried it in the five minutes since he'd posted his blog? It took two hours to cook meringues!

Beckoning Billy to take look, Chris swivelled the screen round and showed him the results.

"Advertising. At least they give you something for your money. Better than an eerie silence online."

Chris pondered this wisdom as the seconds ticked down before the Echo Chamber expired. The timer had appeared in the top-right corner of his screen as soon as he'd paid. Occasionally, it was joined by a pulsing button, offering him a discount if he paid now to extend his Echo Chamber session, even though it still had an hour to run.

Nothing was worse than posting something, only to have it ignored. But how could he tell which, if any, of these clicks and likes and downloads of his recipes were genuine?

What if the Echo Chamber was just an empty shell?

- - -
John C Adams is a Contributing Editor for the Aeon Award and Albedo One Magazine, and a Reviewer at Schlock! Webzine. John's fantasy novel Aspatria and futuristic horror novel Souls for the Master are available now on Amazon.

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