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Memorial – M. Raoulee

We gather on the road heading out of town as dawn stains the sky. None of us speak. We walk. I think. It’s a little like how we used to march into the hills when the sounds of shelling got close.

I wonder if Kaezel remembers the same as I do. I stretch my tendrils out to them and they brush me back. They don’t hold on, of course they don’t. Not now when I taste-sound of everything we left in the ashes at the end of the war.  

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Uncle Wayne’s Bookstore

The State as the noxious machine defacing humanity is flexing its mechanical muscles on a new level here in the United States of America. Chaos and hardship, bureaucratic mazes separating parents from reclaiming their children who have been treated like livestock, new plans for militarized detention camps for families of immigrants––it’s shocking and painful. I’m not trying to add cutting-edge commentary here. I’m just saying the phrase “a life hangs in the balance” has new meaning for me and I’d feel awful if I didn’t add something to the collective efforts to lessen the suffering.

I’m a substitute teacher for Portland Public Schools. I’ve seen how trauma impacts young lives, the long work ahead for the people who teach and care for them, the hard work the kids themselves have to put in to overcome their circumstances. On the last day of school I was working as a music teacher. Apparently there weren’t any music classes left in the year, so I found myself rolling aimlessly around an empty room on a computer chair, waiting for the unlikely class. Sam called me on the phone and we talked about his Uncle Wayne who’d just passed.

Wayne was an avid reader, and he left behind massive piles of pulp science fiction, hard-boiled crime, and fantasy. It’s a remarkable catalogue of under-the-radar imagination, and Wayne actually catalogued it. Sam found in his home messy, idiosyncratic notes on every book he read that were then shaped into a proper entry for each book in three spiral notebooks. As curators of science fiction ourselves we can’t help but remark at Wayne’s peculiar hobby, which we see as a life’s work, an unthanked scholar enjoying fringe literature out in New Hampshire

Sam’s family has been gracious enough to hand us this library, and we aim to archive it and sell off Wayne’s collection to fund our magazine and also do a little good in the form of support for rotating charities of Sam’s choice. In the interest of jumping in when we really feel like we need to,

from Tuesday, June 26th to Tuesday, July 3rd we’ll be sending free books from Wayne’s collection (shipping on us) to anyone who can email proof of a donation made to RAICES between these dates.

What I’m saying is, if you pitch in to mitigate the ill effects of the present American Dystopia, we wanna help Uncle Wayne give you a pat on the back, a nod of encouragement, from the legion of Great Beyonds he was always reading about.

We can be found then and always at planetscummsubmissions@gmail.com

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Arno’s Claw – Klaus Wenzel

An ember dusk shimmered through the penthouse windows. Arno-6 scanned his employer’s living room for any signs of disorder. According to his internal time-mapping data, Eric Pernish, the master of the residence, would return home within the hour. It being a Wednesday, Arno-6 knew that Mr. Pernish and his newest female consort, Olivia Lambo, would be concluding their post-work coital exchange about this time, after which, the company car would deliver Pernish home to the elegant high-rise building in downtown Los Angeles. Likely,  he would arrive home more famished than usual, given his day’s many exertions, both professional and intimate. For Eric Pernish, like his father before him, oversaw Liquid Inc., the largest international name in adult VR entertainment.

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Rewilder – Laduke Ely Loomis

The Rewilder wakes and finds himself alone, residence cube dark. He dresses in a white jumpsuit as the walls brighten. The plasma-touch system displays the date, time, and weather conditions (haze and dust will be thick today, and air acidity is up 200 PPM). With a tap he turns the panel before him reflective, with another he summons the news. He shaves morning stubble hearing about tensions between East Dome and West Dome. He brushes his teeth watching trailers for new Sense-Sim™ games and interactive movies. He thinks about sending Molly a message, but looks at the chat box too long and regrets having sent her three the night before. She has yet to respond.

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From Issue #4!

Johnson, Johnson–is it light? Feels like I haven’t seen daylight in forever.”

“Yes, sir. Morning is coming. It’s over.”

“The visitor?”

“Reports indicate the craft is in low orbit, on an exit trajectory. Broadcasting a final message before departing our planet.”

“But why? Why leave after coming so far?”

“Burn-out, sir. The visitor partied too hard. In the end the people of Earth–our people–were far more radical and righteous dudes.”

“More radical dudes. Hmm. I wonder–at what cost? The coastline cities are gone–the Midwest an irradiated husk. We haven’t heard from London in over twelve hours. Hard-partying, yes. But at what cost? Johnson? Johnson, can you hear me? Johnson….”

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Lucky That Way – Jonathan Coumes

Dad was always the strong one. The one who held the family together, the one who kept Mom from going over the edge when Katherine disappeared. Dad coaxed her back out of herself, out of the valium fog. Got her to walk, got her to read, to take two bites of a six-hour meal. Dad was the rock on which we built our whatever. It must have been his hobbies—piles of Hemingway, half-drafted blueprints, sawdust and woodwork, an endless succession of fly rods. He could center himself and bring us into orbit.
So I guess we should have noticed. When he started me tying his flies, stopped carving and then left his shop altogether, when he started The Old Man and the Sea at breakfast and hadn’t made it to the marlin by dinnertime. I know I should have noticed. Not that it would have helped.

I was lucky enough, though, coming back when I did.

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The Colliding Worlds Of Meghan Lake – Chinyere Onyekwere

Somewhere in rural America, mother and child enjoyed great outdoor scenery–ravishing rolling grasslands nestling a sparkling clean river. Mother laid down her giggling infant, wandered off barefoot to explore the soothing caresses of the river’s cool waters, blissfully unaware of unfamiliar things lurking behind her, inexorably honing in on her child.

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The Emperor’s Liar – Jeff Stoner

It was Eighthday night, and the card tables in the seedy Rift Beta Niner casino were hopping. Martin “Cutshanks” LeCroix looked down at his chips and grimaced through his funjuice buzz. The stocky, gray-haired space pirate had only enough chips for one more hand, and nowhere enough to cover the credit he’d been advanced by the house. If he busted this round, he was out, and flat broke. In the lawless Rift Zone, that meant only one thing: indenture.

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A Small Price to Pay – Aaron Emmel

Walk as though you are accustomed to firm ground beneath your feet. Shake your hair loose. Let your arms swing away from your body. Increase the length of your strides as though you’ve spent your entire life surrounded by abundant space, more space than could ever be explored or exhausted—but keep your head down, because here on Earth you are not a free woman of the New Cities; you are a subject of the Perpetual Empire.

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