Letter to the Editor: Atomjack e-anthology ‘Butterfly Affects’

Posted August 16, 2009 by planetmagazine
Categories: Letters to the Editor, Planet Magazine

Tags: ,

Dear Editor:

Atomjack has just published its first e-anthology, Butterfly Affects*.  The theme is alternate futures, where some changed event in our past (as recently as Gary Hart and the Berlin Wall) has affected our future in drastic and dramatic ways.  I would like to invite your readers to have a look.

The anthology begins here:


Adicus Ryan Garton, editor of Atomjack

*As in what the butterfly affects


Website: Starship Modeler

Posted August 16, 2009 by planetmagazine
Categories: Planet Magazine, Science Fiction, Website


Starship Modeler is an information resource for the science fiction, factual space, fantasy, mecha, or anime scale model builder.


‘More Blood’ by David Such

Posted July 12, 2009 by planetmagazine
Categories: Planet Magazine, Science Fiction

Tags: , ,

Illustration (c) 2009 Romeo Esparrago

Illustration (c) 2009 Romeo Esparrago

The girl sitting next to him was hot, but damn she could talk. Jes was Sam Blood’s latest potential new girlfriend. She hadn’t quite separated from her current man, but Blood had a feeling that this was imminent. The uComm beeped in Blood’s ear. He activated it on silent while pretending to continue to listen to what Jes was saying.

“Blood, we have another tasking order,” his partner spoke in his ear, “it’s a worker’s comp case, a back-injury claim. The insurance agency hasn’t been able to prove it, but their AI has indicated that this perp is a faker. I’m uploading the file now, have a squiz and I will pick you up in 10.”

Blood considered this and took a swig of his He-Man 9000 Super Strong Ultra Beer. It tasted like crap but what the hell, he had an image to uphold. He focused back on what Jes was saying: “… I can’t believe it, he was such an arsehole. Don’t you agree?”

Blood thought that he was pretty safe in going along with this, “Yeah — a total tool. Who is this again?”

“I just told you, my ex-fiasco! Were you even listening?”

“Of course, Babe, I’m just a little distracted at the moment. My partner and I have this big case that we are working on. We need to catch a cheater.”

“A cheater! I’m an expert on that.”

“Is that right? Tell me everything. I’m here for you Jes, I want you to know that.”

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‘The Hero’s Wife’ by Michael Meyerhofer

Posted July 8, 2009 by planetmagazine
Categories: Fantasy, Planet Magazine

Tags: , ,
Illustration (c) Romeo Esparrago

Illustration (c) Romeo Esparrago

You don’t know me, but you know my husband.

Likely, you heard about him fighting Shogun’s Bane, that undead dragon with a penchant for carrying off gorgeous but rather disagreeable virgins way back during the Year of Black Snow.

Or else you read that epic poem detailing my husband’s battle against the four-armed Troll King. Or how my precious Therocles stole a magic flower from the den of a kraken to heal a dying child. Maybe you told that same story to your own children to frighten away the chill of long winter nights. For me, though, those stories bring no comfort.

He says he comes home as often as he can, but that’s still only once or twice a year. I guess a leaky cottage and an aging wife can’t compare to the courts of kings and the shy giggles of well-manicured princesses. I know he made a vow — so did I — but there are some vows even knights don’t honor.

Every visit, it’s the same thing. Therocles paces for a few days, hot-tempered as a demon-bat, then says he has to get going before the snow blocks the roads. By then, Dastian has had his nose bloodied and I have finger-shaped bruises on my thighs.

This year was no different.

* * *

“I cannot sit idle all winter, woman!” He reached for his boots. “Somewhere, brave souls are in need!” His square jaw and jet-black hair made him imposing as ever. I thought of how his looks used to thrill my blood. Where had that feeling gone?

“We could use you here,” I said. “The plow’s still broken and there’s a wyvern nesting in the chimney–”

He cut me off. “Dastian, bring my pauldrons!”

I winced at how he spoke our sweet son’s name. Dastian would have done anything to earn his father’s praise instead of his fist. “I’ll get them for you,” I volunteered.

“No! Dastian is practically a man. Sooner he learns which end of a lance is up, the better he’ll be in this world!”

I decided to change the subject. “My love, about that chimney…”

He snarled with exasperation. “I don’t have time to tussle with a wyvern — not with the snows coming! And I don’t have the coin to see it done, either!”

I wanted to argue with him, but I knew he was right — about coin, at least. Wyverns always nest deep, steely talons burrowed in stone. They love chimneys because of the darkness, the heat. Safest way is to hire a sorcerer to charm them out. But for all my husband’s exploits, we rarely had two coins to rub together. Therocles rarely accepted payment for his adventures, and then only what was absolutely necessary to care for his steel and his horse, plus a few macabre gifts for me and Dastian. A Dwarfish jewel hammer carved with skulls. Scrolls of Elfish poetry, reeking of perfume. A map drawn on Troll skin.

This visit, though, what he brought back was far less impressive.

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‘The Package’ by Ilan Herman

Posted July 2, 2009 by planetmagazine
Categories: Planet Magazine, Science Fiction

Tags: , ,

Illustration by Andrew G. McCann

Jeff was watching the news in his living room when a knock sounded on his apartment door. He opened the door and smiled at the rotund mailman, who’d been serving the apartments for ten years. “How ya doin’, John?”

Holding a mid-sized cardboard box, the mailman smiled through his thick and graying mustache and asked, “What ya order?” He inquired only because he knew Jeff wouldn’t consider the question intrusive.

“I didn’t order anything,” said Jeff as he eyed the box.

“But it has your name and address on it,” the mailman said. “Why would someone bother to send you something you didn’t order?” He rapped his knuckles lightly on the box. “Good packaging job.”

Jeff shrugged. “I’m not sure I want it. Maybe you should take it back.”

The mailman, who wished to avoid carrying the package back to his van and back to the warehouse, chuckled. “Now that doesn’t make sense. It’s not like they’re chargin’ you or somethin’. Take it. It’s yours.” He leaned toward Jeff and held out the box. Convinced by the mailman’s hard sell but also curious about what the package held, Jeff accepted the box — about two square feet and five pounds.

The postal employee saluted. “US Mail delivers once again.” He turned and rumbled down the stairs with one more glance and a smile at the middle-aged man standing at the door to apartment 106.

* * *

Jeff walked into his apartment and shut the door. He laid the box on the coffee table and heard the postal van chug away. He then fetched a knife from the kitchenette and cut through the tape sealing the box. The label didn’t have a return address. He liked the fact that his last name, Simmoneyous, was spelled correctly. Many times when he’d requested an order, his surname was jumbled by the sender, though never to the point of a botched delivery.

The box contained a fireman’s red helmet and black jacket, both of excellent quality and authentic-looking. His first name was etched on the front of the helmet and above the breast pocket of the jacket that fit snugly around his shoulders, yet left plenty of room to raise his arms. The helmet also hugged his scalp well, as if the designer knew the exact circumference of Jeff’s head.

A warm vibration soothed his skull as soon as the helmet was resting on his head. Then a stocky, sky-blue creature formed from thin air and floated a foot off the ground. The creature had no limbs. One watery-brown eye centered its round face that had no mouth or nose. Two short tentacles rose from the top of its head.

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Letter to the Editor: Scribblers’ Retreat

Posted June 24, 2009 by planetmagazine
Categories: Science Fiction

Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference 2009: Literacy is our purpose. Fulfilling dreams is our goal. http://www.scribblersretreatwritersconference.com

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‘The Man in the Cowboy Hat’ by Jude Coulter-Pultz

Posted June 15, 2009 by planetmagazine
Categories: Fantasy, Planet Magazine

Tags: , , ,

Illustration by Romeo Esparrago

Illustration by Romeo Esparrago

It’s the same every night. The same nightmare every night for weeks. It never changes, and that makes it all the worse.

In the nightmare, I’m only six years old. Even though I know I’m really sixteen, it doesn’t matter. You can only run so fast when you’ve got the legs of a kindergartner. In the end, I’m going to get chopped up by the man in the cowboy hat, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

It starts in the old Halloway house — the perfect setting for a game of hide and seek. It must have been built at least two hundred years ago, back when nooks and crannies were all the rage. I’ve been Nick Halloway’s friend for years, so I know all the best places. No one apart from Nick himself ever found my hiding spot behind the laundry machine in the basement. You have to crawl on all fours through the spiders and their spiderwebs, and lord knows what else just to reach it. Then you have to sit there in that dark, square hole, with your arms, legs, head, and butt all scrunched up against the damp pipes and the dusty floor.

I hear footsteps. Even the first time I had this dream, I knew what the footsteps meant. One by one, down the stairs. Each footfall seems to be carefully filled with the greatest possible amount of malice. I consider running over to the door to lock it, but it’s too late. It’s always too late. The rusty hinges let out a low creak as the man in the cowboy hat steps into the room. I can’t see him, but I know he’s there. I can hear the jingle-jangle of his spurs now, coming closer and closer. Ching. Ching. Ching. My only hope is that I can hold my breath until the man in the cowboy hat decides to walk away. The footsteps pause. He must be almost on top of the laundry machine by now. Time passes reluctantly, as if being squeezed from the air. Gradually, an itch grows at the back of my throat. It feels like one of the spiders has somehow crept into my mouth and has started spinning a web down inside my trachea. The waiting is unbearable.

At last the man in the cowboy hat turns and leaves, jingling and jangling and full of menace. Still I wait, fighting the maddening urge to clear my throat, until the footsteps disappear completely up the stairs. I emerge from behind the laundry machine like a drowning sailor, a coughing, gasping, sputtering mess. As I try to muffle the coughs with my hand, I spot a spider scurrying away over my fingers. It’s the same thing every night. I flick it away and wipe the strands of silk from my lip. Every night for weeks.

But this time, something happens to make me freeze. Standing in the middle of the darkened room is Nick Halloway, as if he had been waiting for me all along. This isn’t right. He’s not supposed to be here. Not now. My stomach suddenly turns heavy and cold. I thought knowing what was going to happen was what made this dream so awful. Now that it seems to be changing, I’m filled all the more with dread.

“Derek? Derek Young?” The voice that comes out of his mouth is not his. It’s older and it doesn’t belong at all.

My head starts to spin, and I feel like I’m going to throw up. I call out his name. Maybe if he hears his name, he’ll snap out of it and turn back into my best friend.

“Nick? Who–?” He looks down at himself and then smiles ruefully. “Oh, right– sorry. I forgot about that. Hold on.”

Nick takes a slow breath, closing his eyes and his lips tightly. Then, before my eyes, his body begins to inflate like a long balloon. Features come anew to his face and his body, defining a tall, pale man in a trenchcoat. His hair is an untamed mess that looks like it’s been slept on in all the wrong ways. As a finishing touch, a pair of fashionable shades appear atop his slender nose, although he immediately removes them. Underneath, he has the red-rimmed eyes of a profound insomniac.

“Gato, Nightmare Hunter, at your disposal,” he announces, with a slight bow.

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