Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 53
Not on the Gallows
by Harry Turtledove
The Fairy Godfather
by Tim McDaniel
Carry On, Torus
by Gregor Hartmann
by Michael Meyerhofer
It Becomes You
by Laura-Marie Steele
Why Death is Silent
by William Fischer
IGMS Audio
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
The Toll
by Chuck Wendig

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Carry On, Torus
    by Gregor Hartmann

Carry On, Torus
Artwork by Anna Repp

Becoming aware of thoughts banging around in the old bean, I deduced that I was conscious again. And still breathing, which seemed rather a good thing.

In the cozy embrace of the survival bag, I wiggled my fingers. A metal ring was a comforting presence.

"Good morning, Torus," I said.

"Good morning, sir," my factotum replied, his tiny speakers vibrating my knuckle.

The ring that housed my virtual valet was modest. Self-effacing. Like moi, Andrew Woozer, gentleman. A simple gold band, with no engraving to impede his wee thoughts as they whirled around my right index finger like greyhounds at track.

I rubbed my face, felt stubble. How long had I been unconscious?

"Is it morning, Torus?"

"Morning is the period of time from sunrise till noon, sir. On this Kuiper Belt Object, we are currently located on the hemisphere facing away from the sun. In local terms, the corresponding temporal setting is approximately midnight."

"Dash it all, Torus, I know I'm stranded on a KBO, but couldn't you be a trifle more cheery?"

A pause.

"The object on which we crashed has a short rotational period. In one hour fifty-six minutes twenty-one seconds, rotation will bring the sun into view, hence aligning our circumstances with your preferred salutation."

"That's more like it."

The survival bag was snug, but never let it be said that a Woozer shirks his duty. I outsided my noggin like a mole reconnoitering a new garden.

A remarkable panorama of stars binged across the black sky. Blazing as if just out of reach. Not surprising, really, since (a) I was in the Kuiper Belt, at the outermost edge of the solar system, and thus closer to the heavens than on poor old Earth, and (b) the thin bubble of the escape dome was near my face, so only a wisp of atmosphere stood between me and their bright company.

"My yacht?"

"Completely vaporized, sir."

"Are you certain?"

"Yes, sir. You were lucky to be able to eject."

Sunrise disappointed. Even at KBO distance, the sun should have been an extremely bright star, enlightening the environs and lifting the Woozerly mood. Instead, it was shrouded in gray fog. Not a bracing, night-of-mischief, concealment-from-policemen fog. Rather, a dismal, pea-soup-and-oatmeal, cold-water-in-the-socks fog.

"The Rot is eating the inner solar system," I grumbled.

"Most unfortunate, sir."

"I hope the boffins are satisfied."

"I suspect they're all dead, sir. Thus incapable of altering their mental state in response to a change in external stimuli."

I had never understood what the boffins were trying to accomplish with their bloody photospheric engineering. Something about nana bees? Unleashing a swarm of nana bees to gather light from the sun and fill our batteries with clean energy? Well, a right fine mess they'd made. The entire human race had been devoured.

With one significant omission. Moi.

"Well, Torus, I must get on with it. Surviving. Defying the Rot. Embodying the best humanity has to offer."

"Very good, sir."

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