Flightcraft, in Luna Station Quarterly
A romance in its beginning, an ancient craft, and an aeroplane named for a traitor.
Cat knows when she’s finished speaking that she must be flushed with emotion – it’s a practised spiel that nevertheless works its way through her body every time, like a form through canvas. But she looks up and Talitha is smiling at her, tentative, luminous.
“We could do this again,” Cat says, suddenly. “I mean, it’s nice to have company at lunchtimes. It’s been lonely since everyone up at the base started to leave.”
“I’d like that,” Talitha says, and she’s smiling again.
A little belatedly, a new story, about spaceships, queers and beleaguered civil servants: Alnwick, at Middle Planet. Here is an excerpt:
Meg hesitated, and in that moment of silence, the shuttle left the ground, moving straight up as though hung from a cable, rapidly enough to make her ears pop. The city receded beneath then, becoming a jewellery box of shining lights. “I don’t like to say, Minister,” she said, at last, and to her surprise, he smiled as though he’d been expecting her response.
“I won’t push,” he said. “Oh, one more bit of shop-talk: I suppose it’s all lost beyond recovery, but what was the cargo in the pod?”
“Tins.” Meg spread her hands. “There’s going to be hydroponics and food reclamation on board, but it’s a long way to Barnard’s Star. It was thought the crew might like—well. Tinned pineapple. Cream of tomato soup.”
“Tinned pineapple,” the minister said, faintly.
A new story! This one concerns Indians, weddings and spaceships.
Archana and Chandni, in Betwixt (3000w)
There was a package from Tara-didi in the morning, delivered via orbital station pickup with a note stuck to the outside. Should be opaque to little sister’s sensors, she’d written. Us bad girls need to stick together. Archana only had time for a quick peek at something pointy-pink with four speed settings before Dabbu Auntie barged in to call her to the beautician. “She has come from Naya Bharat!” Dabbu Auntie announced. “To thread your eyebrows! You want to get married with those so-shaggy caterpillars? Come!”
A story about magic and mayhem and words, but mostly about a colossal fuck-up, and a lighthouse. This one is published by Strange Horizons.
Nine Thousand Hours by Iona Sharma (5000 words)
You must understand: there wasn’t anything to do, at that time. You couldn’t go online, or read a book. You couldn’t check your email or read the news. So many people took up running that there were two London Marathons that year. And magic had become a primal thing – you could do it if you knew the working so well it was part of your body; you couldn’t look it up. And I remember people didn’t even do that: they were frightened, because of me, because of what I had done.
A new story! This one is published by Expanded Horizons, and concerns, among other things, a new colony world, a new language, a very ordinary Indian household, and a garden.
Ur by Iona Sharma (4500 words)
The mali came in the morning to talk about their plans for the garden. “Flowers, madam,” he said, firmly. “We must have flowers.”
Edited to add! A lovely review of this story from Paige Kimble.
A new story! This is, as a friend described, a sort-of post-apocalyptic story about lawyers, published by Goldfish Grimm’s Spicy Fiction Sushi. (It’s a great name for a magazine, I love it.)
One-Day Listing by Iona Sharma
People say that the asteroid that destroyed 47 Piscium was set in motion by a passing star. That it was a handful of dust coalesced into rock, with a bare nothing of a molten core, minding its own business out on the far reaches of traversed space, until its nearest star puffed off its outer layers in a radiant twinkling and it tumbled into history contrariwise to the spin of the galaxy.
I have another story forthcoming with Expanded Horizons, “Ur” (which is neither post-apocalyptic nor about lawyers), on which more anon.