Conservation Laws

I met Gyanendra Sahai for the first time in the bowels of the Lunar Geological Institute, in front of a display case containing an old-fashioned, heavy-built moonsuit. There was a large crack along one side of the suit and a rust-coloured discolouration along the opening. I was thinking about the pre-colonization days of moon exploration […]


Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse

My apocalypse doesn’t ride on horseback or raise the dead or add suns to the sky. It arrives by tank and drone, the strict report of automatic weapons, the spying eyes of neighbors. It seeks my spouse’s life. Mine, too. I don’t expect to survive. Chula has better odds. She is a four-time triathlete, perfect […]


Learning to See Dragons

The spring she was thirteen, Annie taught herself to see dragons. She sat by the window in the hospital and looked out at the soft, strange Smoky Mountains, and the spreading gossamer haze that rose off them, and the white rucked clouds above. “I thought the old dragon was too mean to die,” her father […]


Sorrow and Joy, Sunshine and Rain

You weren’t born so much as you flared into being, surrounded by a multiplicity of tongues and the sloshing sway of the mother waters. Had you been a human child, you would have wailed. Instead, your birth-song was the death rattle and prayers of these chained humans calling, together, a plaintive babble for release, for […]


The First Witch of Damansara

Vivian’s late grandmother was a witch—which is just a way of saying she was a woman of unusual insight. Vivian, in contrast, had a mind like a hi-tech blender. She was sharp and purposeful, but she did not understand magic. This used to be a problem. Magic ran in the family. Even her mother’s second […]


The Bone Plain

Erika went west by bus until the names on the signs began to look alien and the other passengers spoke in a lilting dialect that was hard to understand. The bus climbed switchback roads up from the dry steppe and into verdant hills, gradually emptying of people until Erika was the only passenger. The bus […]

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Elemental Love

Fifty-three percent: Water. Tasteless, odorless, almost colorless blue. A single oxygen atom with open arms, clasping hydrogen twins. The universal solvent, creating the specific you. Eighteen-and-a-half percent: Carbon. As graphite, soft enough to mark paper. In diamond, hard enough to withstand the pressure of six million atmospheres. In your body, the respiration of thirty-seven trillion […]