Last One There’s a Rotten Egg

Harris and Sanchez bunny-hopped into the chasm in the reduced gravity of this strange world, but Kwon held back. Despite the surveillance and the simulations and the successes of the rovers she was deeply unsettled. Petrified eggs—larger than the Zaqar lander the astronauts flew in on—sat half submerged in a pool of hydrocarbons at the… Continue reading Last One There’s a Rotten Egg

You’ll Know Me by the Look in My Eyes

Only robots have lived on Mars, back to the Soviet landers. We’re smarter now—self-aware—and more numerous, but it’s still a planet free of humans. Not free of humanity, though. Millions of androids with the same bipedal frame, the same specs, the same face. Radical forms of self-expression should have been expected. We gave ourselves unpronounceable… Continue reading You’ll Know Me by the Look in My Eyes

Mapping the Tetra

"Seen one Tetra, seen 'em all. What'd I tell you?" "More than I asked for," said Pia. "I hired a pilot, not a color commentator. Stay the course." The impossible bulk of a Predecessor Tetra loomed before them, a lightyear to a side and as smooth and as black as any human tool could measure.… Continue reading Mapping the Tetra

Into the Black

Deloza followed behind Metsker, bouncing lightly across the Tirawa basin on Rhea. After a generation of studying from afar, using orbiters and rovers and all variety of instruments they were finally here in the flesh. Humanity had reached the anomaly. Radiance Base was 15 klicks away. They'd taken a buggy most of the way and… Continue reading Into the Black

The Heart of Elatus

The air was stale, but the fact that there was air at all was something of a miracle. Demetri was the first person to walk the halls of Elatus in a thousand years. He shut his visor. Breathable as the air might be, it was damp and there were thick carpets of mold overhead, as… Continue reading The Heart of Elatus

Lifeforms on Aether Rex

Nia's backpack dug into her shoulders. It was heavy and hard, but it contained her suit's life support system. It made constant clicks and whirs and gurgles, almost white noise but more distracting. The worst part was that it probably wasn't needed. Aether Rex was perfectly safe by the initial readings. But Nia heard enough… Continue reading Lifeforms on Aether Rex

Breakfast on Mars

"Desmond, it's time for breakfast." He was completely engrossed in cataloging the root structures of the young bean sprouts he was growing, and he ignored the reminder. For a third time. A voice came over the intercom. Not the virtual assistant again, but the commander. Desmond couldn't ignore her. "Stop working and come eat." He… Continue reading Breakfast on Mars

City People

The clouds were catching on the pointed tips of the skyscrapers like stray threads on a cotton sweater. A light drizzle spilled from the tears. They weren't supposed to be here, and that's what made it exciting. They were explorers, rediscovering ancient secrets and pocketing old-world treasures. Mikey found a little black rock—a pebble, really—with… Continue reading City People

Big Dipper

The tether was made of exotic matter and wrapped in an energy sheath she couldn't begin to describe, and perhaps it was that modicum of incomprehension that made the dip so exhilarating. Of course, the crisp black edge of the supermassive black hole dominating her vision gave her a rush too. Sagittarius A* sat at… Continue reading Big Dipper

Hope Incarnate

Soft orange light bathed the Trailblazer III as it tumbled out of bulkspace, and the captain of the expedition, Paz van Dijk, finally set eyes on the citrine sphere that was UDF 2457. The red dwarf didn't even have a proper name, but to Paz it was hope incarnate. "Nice and easy," she said. "Maintain… Continue reading Hope Incarnate