When Miranda is forced by her mother and sisters to leave Earth and cross the universe to the middle-of-nowhere planet her family has owned for generations she's beyond pissed. She fears she will be stranded there. Forever. Or at least the better part of her summer vacation.
All because her grandmother decided to die.
Really, no matter what century you live in, a teenager's life is never fair.
I set my phone inside my purse and wait for the inevitable lift off, reminding myself that there is nothing to worry about. Our mother is practically a goddess. I smile at that thought, closing my eyes.
We are on our way to Grandmother's planet.
Just one stop, first.
The Pool: Tower
The Clans of Terrasta continue to torment the young survivor of a doomed expedition to the planet as she seeks to save both herself and the planet.
Six stories of unusual robots in unexpected situations including the cover tale of robots that just care too damn much and the journey of a sex toy that has grown self-aware.
"We sent a crawler in already," the officer explained, pointing at a dashboard screen on the cruiser behind her. They had rolled a small robot into the building and it was recording the dining room, staring at the dead family sprawled across the floor. "The mama is at the back of the house in the nursery."
(This short story collection contains reprints alongside original fiction.)
Life somehow seems brighter the day the Salvation system comes online: a virtual paradise offering respite from decades of recession and warfare. But Salvation becomes a trap. Humanity sheds it flesh and falls into this digital realm, leaving a meager handful of survivors struggling to survive in the real world.
And then the invaders arrive.
This is the expansion of the story arc began in the popular short story "The Prophet" and features the future-hero Wanderer.
Several times in his life Priest had felt a stilling, as if the world itself had grown heavier, had weighed on his considerable frame and pushed him to a stop. It happened now as Ron reached for the door and Priest held his breath, forcing the warning to stay in his lungs. Ron might not have told Priest what sins he had committed worthy of jailing but Priest was a good read of character and he found Ron's lacking. The fool was too impetuous.
A man has been banished to another planet to make amends for the horrors he unleashed on Earth. His penance is to build a new world.
But will he do it?
I am unworried now that others might claim my prize. We do not fight over our spoils. Not our way, anymore.
Cobbler and Minion
A young man, living on a strange world where robots fall from the sky and serve those that bind them, finds his harsh life all the more unbearable when his robot abandons him. (Story - Originally appeared in Ruined Cities)
Izzy’s new job aboard a solar station orbiting Earth becomes more complicated when she begins receiving cryptic messages from a ghost. This story was a winner in the “L Ron Hubbard presents the Writers of the Future” contest, and first appeared in Writers of the Future Volume XXVI.
The Kol Effect
A specialist in time travel attempts to help a wealthy tycoon unravel a tricky domestic situation with unexpected results. (Story - originally appeared in Neo-Opsis #19)
Skipster has proven moderately interesting but so far the results are disappointing, especially considering the amount of money I spent to acquire this early prototype. I suspect my resources might have been better directed towards procuring…
John Seven, a clone, is scouring deep space to rescue his creator’s lover from a race of brutal aliens. It falls to him and his crew of fellow clones to finish what their originals started. In the final battle between human and alien John will be forced to choose between following his duty or following his heart. (Story - originally appeared in War of the Worlds: Front Lines)
The gas flowing into John Seven’s lungs brought with it several lifetimes of yesterdays and the warm intensity of those memories dragged him deeply into the distant past.
Her Robot Babies
In the aftermath of a civil war between robots and their makers, a robot family makes their way across country, looking for a place to call their own.
AT NIGHT WE STUFF OUR BABIES inside microwave ovens.
Proof in the Pudding
A man sets about proving, via a tangible experiment, his thoughts on the nature of consciousness. (Story - appeared in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Presents Flush Fiction)
The lower body had been the easiest to remove though convincing surgeons to do it had taken years, the support of a tech company with deep pockets and a law team to challenge his wife
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Levi is experimenting to find out if faith is enough to build a well-rounded personality or if the certainty of an afterlife would be better. The story alternates Levi’s point of view with Carol’s and is an interesting meditation on a philosophical and religious issue.
If you've considered a career in game design but aren't sure how the industry works, how game companies are structured and what a designer will be expected to know before they are employable, then this is a quick low-cost intro.
A bit chilling, to imagine we could not only bring life to computer programs, but also TORTURE them. Quite a new twist on the singularity. Might make you consider A.I. rights, even as we merely approach that future.
Other stories though - "Mama" and "The Mogul's Wife" - are close to perfect in the way they provide enough detail so you understand the world of the story, and why the characters act as they do. Both these stories and "Fleshsmith" also describe intriguing possible future/alternative worlds.