by Avery Parks
“How much longer?” Dr. Jean Williamson called out, voice echoing tonelessly through the ship. It had been two years since Somnus had known any footsteps other than Jean’s, its sterile corridors lifeless and cold.
The onboard AI Ariadne answered, its voice modulated to sound female. “312 days until we reach Oenopion, Doctor. Just over ten months, if that is a more acceptable unit of time for you.”
“A long damn time regardless.” And then three more years until we’re back on Earth. Jean sighed and stretched, resting her palms against the ceiling of the cramped compartment without much effort. “What’s on the docket?”
“In addition to your usual duties, we have the weekly maintenance of the hydroponics bay.”
“Understood. I’ll see to the crew, first.” She strode to the ladder and slid down two levels in the partial gravity before opening the hatch to Somnus’ medical bay.
Six pods filled the space. Five with glass tops fogged from the low temperatures inside; one, empty. Jean swallowed the familiar longing to sleep away her loneliness; only after she completed her mission could she join the others in their dreamless slumber. She turned instead to the first, checking the data for the pod’s occupant.
Dany Rousseau’s sleeping face was just visible through the haze, framed by gray curls. Retired from the European Space Agency and old enough to be Jean’s mother, she was blissfully unaware of the years passing by. Jean pressed a hand against the glass, wishing she could speak with her. With any of them.
by Avery Parks
The Stick Dancer
by Mahmud El Sayed
We're Right Here
by J.B. Toner
By Colleen Anderson
Trained by a Veteran of the Solar Wars
by Elizabeth R. McClellan
by Marisca Pichette
ESSAYS & INTERVIEWS
How Things Measure Up
by Don Guadagni
Talking with AI about Philosophy
by Jean-Paul Garnier
FROM THE EDITOR
Letter from the Editor
by Jonathan S.
Other fiction in this issue:
Missing at Language-to-Language by Julia LaFond
Other poetry in this issue:
Astral Dreams by Colleen Anderson
Perseus by Januário Esteves
My Alien Neighbor by Lorraine Schein
Stellar Day at Play by Richard Enos
Night Sky by Greg Schwartz
Stolen Kisses by Greg Schwartz
Other non-fiction in this issue:
Interview with Natacha Chough