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by Robert Lowell Russell
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This Week in SHOWCASE #6
by Bruce Bethke
Editor, Stupefying Stories
Hi, and welcome to the special WorldCon Edition of SHOWCASE, the (more or less) weekly free webzine companion to STUPEFYING STORIES magazine and the STUPEFYING STORIES PRESENTS anthology series. This week we’re introducing some new features—which we probably should have thought to highlight in the column to your left, but too late now—as well as presenting four outstanding new stories by authors Alex Shvartsman, Robert Lowell Russell, Guy Stewart, and Kit Yona.
As for the new features: first, we’ve added a “Coming Soon” calendar, which is not to be taken as Holy Writ but is our plan of record for what we expect to be releasing in the next few months. We’ll be expanding it, adjusting dates, and filling in details as we go along, but if you’re looking for when and where particular stories or particular authors are scheduled to appear, this is the place to start.
Second (and skipping down to the middle of the left column now), we’ve added an FAQ, which we also expect will continue to grow and evolve as the questions keep coming in. This is not meant to replace our submission guidelines, nor is it the place to send a query about the status of your submission, but if you have a question about what the heck it is we think we’re doing—and Lord knows, we ask ourselves that often enough—send it in, and we’ll be happy to try to answer it.
Third—and this is not expected to become an important or regular feature, but it’s there now—we have an editorial by yours truly, addressing the questions of where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to for the past four weeks. If you’ve been following us on facebook you probably know most of this already, but if not, you can read it now.
Speaking of facebook, this brings us to our fourth and most exciting new feature: the SHOWCASE site is now absolutely plastered with buttons for facebook, twitter, and digg. (Does anyone actually use digg anymore? Never mind; the button was easy to code.) If you read something here that you think is worth sharing with your social network, you are now just a single click away from doing so. Somebody test it out and let me know if it works, okay?
There’s more; there’s always more, and if you really want to read it you can click through to the editorial. But as for me, I’m ready for some stories! This week SHOWCASE is proud to present—
“The Storyteller” by Alex Shvartsman
You don’t know the entire story.
The fable has some of it right. There was a young woman named Scheherazade, and she lived in a dark age. The Persian tyrant king took a virgin to his bed every night, and then had her beheaded in the morning. Scheherazade was a vizier’s daughter, growing up at court and blossoming into a beauty. At a time when most people couldn’t read Scheherazade was a student of history and art, and a collector of books. She understood the nature of men and feared that her father’s position wouldn’t protect her for long...
“Here There Be Monsters?” by Robert Lowell Russell
The canary-yellow shirt read Camp Fit, but it didn’t quite fit the bulbous, pre-adolescent boy cringing in the cabin’s corner. Rows of bunks lined both sides of the room. Standing over the boy, Worgly raised his shaggy brown arms and roared his terrible roar. “You’re going to eat me!” And the monster gnashed his terrible teeth, and rolled his terrible eyes, and showed his terrible claws.
The boy’s expression changed from terror to puzzlement. “You want me to eat you?”
“Yes!” shouted Worgly. “Wait... No.”
Pulling a tattered manual from his fur, the monster flipped through it and read for a moment, then nodded and put the book away again. “Do-over.” Worgly pointed a talon at the boy...
(P.S. If you enjoy this one, be sure to read Robert’s story “Elves Are Douchebags” in SHOWCASE #2.)
Anna Joaquim sighed contentedly, taking Dabney Joaquim’s arm and snuggling closer. She did not have eyes for him, though. Looking into the deep darkness of the Wild Lands beyond the Interstate Rail car window, she whispered, “I love you.”
Dabney knew her action and words were, if not a lie, at least a gross misrepresentation of her feelings. He detected the lack of proper tonal inflection, skin moisture levels, muscle tone and pheromone production present if the words had been directed at him. He’d known since his activation that her deepest desire was to walk the unprotected Wild Lands. It was therefore his desire as well. Every Life Companion had its human’s memories and desires uploaded. Dabney’s job was to make sure his human’s life was completely fulfilled. He bit his lower lip, hoping she wouldn’t notice his non-response. He had no idea how to meet her desire to be in the Wild Lands...
(P.S. And if this one piques your curiosity, be sure to read Guy’s sidebar piece, On writing “Oath.”)
In the end, there was no pain. That was due to the drugs, and through the fuzzy mist that blanketed her thoughts Marta was pleased they worked as well as they were supposed to. At the moment it was somewhat hazy, but the past few months hadn't been much fun. The doctor had explained what was happening, but Marta didn't feel as if her body was betraying her. Difficult to find fault after ninety-two relatively problem-free years. It had been a good run.
She was vaguely aware of what seemed to be every living descendant offering tearful goodbyes, right down to the youngest great-grandchild. Marta couldn't recall his name but managed to form a ghost of a smile beneath her breathing tube. The mass of humanity slowly emptied from the room until just her children and the doctor remained...