Sci Fiction Classics Volume 4

BOOK: Sci Fiction Classics Volume 4
Sci Fiction Classics
Volume 4
version 1.2
Editor's Note

Sci Fiction
was an online magazine published by the Sci Fi
channel between 2000 and 2005. In it was published short science
fiction, both original material and classic stories. After the magazine
was discontinued, much of the content remained available for a few
years, until the website was removed a few years later.

Most of the stories are still available online with a little searching,
mostly via mirrors of the website captured before it was shut down.
The format is somewhat inconvenient for reading, however, especially
if using mobile devices or e-readers. This project grew from a desire
to have a high-quality, convenient e-book version of these stories.

The primary changes made to the source material is to strip out most
of the website-specific formatting from the files, and to present each
story as a single file as opposed to the multi-page format used in the
original magazine. Formatting of the stories themselves has been
generally standardized; when something was questionable I consulted
hardcopies (when available) to determine what the author's intention
was. The stories have also been proofread and obvious errors

The files themselves have also been standardized; which is
probably of interest only to those who may want to work with the text
in the future. Most of the formatting was done by hand in a generic
text editor.

The stories are presented in chronological order by the date that they
were published in
Sci Fiction
. This volume contains "classics" --
older stories that were republished online in the magazine.

The Wikipedia entry for
Sci Fiction
was invaluable in compiling this collection. Stories were sometimes
removed from the archive, and the list from the above Wikipedia article
is incomplete, so I have also relied on captures of the Sci Fiction
archive page from the Internet Archive
) to compile a
full list.

The source of each story in this volume is listed below.

"Among the Dead" by Edward Bryant, published 21-Jul-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"A Crowd of Shadows" by Charles L. Grant, published 4-Aug-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"God's Hooks!" by Howard Waldrop, published 18-Aug-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Can These Bones Live?" by Manly Wade Wellman, published 1-Sep-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Allamagoosa" by Eric Frank Russell, published 15-Sep-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"View from a Height" by Joan D. Vinge, published 6-Oct-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"A Kingdom by the Sea" by Gardner Dozois, published 20-Oct-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Bagatelle" by John Varley, published 3-Nov-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Free Dirt" by Charles Beaumont, published 17-Nov-2004.
Retrieved 29-Jan-2014 from

"Two Weeks in August" by Frank M. Robinson, published 1-Dec-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Transfer" by Barry N. Malzberg, published 15-Dec-2004.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Gather Blue Roses" by Pamela Sargent, published 5-Jan-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Beam Us Home" by James Tiptree, Jr., published 19-Jan-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Familiar Pattern" by A. Bertram Chandler, published 2-Feb-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"The Yellow Pill" by Rog Phillips, published 16-Feb-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"They Don't Make Life Like They Used To" by Alfred Bester,
published 2-Mar-2005. Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Space-time for Springers" by Fritz Leiber, published 16-Mar-2005.
Retrieved 29-Jan-2014 from

"The Sea Was Wet as Wet Can Be" by Gahan Wilson, published 6-Apr-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Brown Robert" by Terry Carr, published 20-Apr-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Black Country" by Charles Beaumont, published 5-May-2005.
Retrieved 29-Jan-2014 from

"The White King's Dream" by Elizabeth A. Lynn, published 18-May-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Transformer" by Chad Oliver, published 1-Jun-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Mouse" by Fredric Brown, published 15-Jun-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Come On, Wagon" by Zenna Henderson, published 6-Jul-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"The Tenants" by William Tenn, published 20-Jul-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"A Life in the Day of…" by Frank M. Robinson, published
3-Aug-2005. Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"To Be Continued…" by Robert Silverberg, published 17-Aug-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Under the Hollywood Sign" by Tom Reamy, published 14-Sep-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"The Water Sculptor" by George Zebrowski, published 28-Sep-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Painwise" by James Tiptree, Jr., published 12-Oct-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"All the Sounds of Fear" by Harlan Ellison®, published 26-Oct-2005.
Retrieved 29-Jan-2014 from

"The Beautiful People" by Robert Bloch, published 9-Nov-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"The Man Who Never Forgot" by Robert Silverberg, published 23-Nov-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"Star Light, Star Bright" by Alfred Bester, published 7-Dec-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from

"The Great Wall of Mexico" by John Sladek, published 21-Dec-2005.
Retrieved 28-Jan-2014 from


Version history:

version 1.0 - 29-Jan-2014. Initial compilation.

version 1.1 - 29-Jan-2014. Added "Free Dirt," "Space-time for
Springers," "Black Country," and "All the Sounds of Fear."

version 1.2 - 15-Mar-2014. Text of all stories proofread and errors
corrected. Errors in story ordering fixed.


I may be contacted for feedback or questions at [email protected]

Among the Dead

Edward Bryant

Mummified pine shiver in the wind. Dry branches whir a litany for the
dead. The moon, silver skull with a smile, sheds no tears for a wasted
earth. Below, the metaphor is bone.

Child's blocks, heavy stone joined by edges, break the mountainscape.
Three tourists cling together inside a mausoleum. And around them,
hundreds of silent companions wait.

On the bank of the river, beside the road no longer traveled, is a sign.
Raised bronze letters: THEY SHALL LIVE AGAIN.

Shall they?


Foster dreamed:

Spinal fragments of a dead lizard, fire-blackened.

The Autumn Leaf Tour and the train. The tracks lay far down the mountain
and were crisscrossed by tumbled cars. Bones inside the charred engine—deadman
switch that didn't work—and a graded curve taken too fast. Skeletons
everywhere—the trail of bones leading up the mountain. Bones that
collapsed and jumbled like pickup sticks and …

Images—how it must have been—the germ aerosols bursting high
above Denver, the enormous hiss like a deodorant or insect spray, the
vapor white-seeping down and becoming invisible, then killing and killing
and nothing but bones—the aspen, white in the daylight, jointed,
articulated, dying faster than the leaves—the Autumn Leaf Tour—and
the trail up the mountain.

The girl—just as pale, never in the sun, never naked. And now,
because he wanted her to, she opened her legs that he might taste, and he
tasted tomato paste and liver and scallions … Sampled and ate.


"This morning we finished the last of Gunderson. Gunderson, Vernon L.,
according to the records. Age forty-seven, race Caucasian, sex male, death
from emphysema May 21, 1972. There was a Gundersen, Lillian G., but we
skipped her; just left her there in the vaults. She was too damned skinny,
some sort of wasting cancer. Maybe when the day comes that we polish off
the last toe-joint of Zytlinsky, George M., we will be forced by necessity
to thaw out dead, emaciated Gundersen, Lillian G.

"Of course by then we'll probably all be dead anyway. Our gums are
bleeding and the goddamn diarrhea's getting worse. Mardin says that
deficiency diseases will get the three of us long before there's any
chance of starvation. But I guess the way things are now is a form of
starving to death. Last night Connie dreamed about a Caesar salad, cherry
tomatoes, Russian dressing, the whole works. She had to tell me about it
today, in detail. I could kill her for that. I'll dream tonight about
green vegetables, and I'll agonize."

Foster snapped the journal shut. God, he thought, it would make a
tremendous beginning for a horror story.

"Hi," said Connie, from the doorway. "I brought you a tray. Mardin fixed
it—it still isn't my turn until tomorrow. I thought maybe you didn't
want to eat with Mardin tonight." Her last words almost phrased a

"No," said Foster. "I don't want to eat with crazy Mardin, that goddamn

Connie's skin was delicately, almost abnormally, pale. Her face quickly
betrayed the flush.

"Jesus," said Foster. "Here we are at this place and time and you can
still blush at profanity. God, girl, your sensitivities are incredible."

"Sorry," she said. "I'm me." She set the tray on the desk in front of
Foster, her silver charm bracelet jingling.

"No kidding." Foster slid the dull metal tray closer. With a tentative
gesture he touched the hemisphere covering his supper. "So what is it
tonight? Spaghetti and seasoned Italian sauce? Roast capon garnished with
parsley? Idaho big-reds
au gratin?
How about one of Mardin's superb
soufflés?" He idly traced his initials in the condensed steam that
dappled the metal.

"Please," she said. "Don't. Mardin's bad enough." He saw that her hands
were curled into tight fists. Foster marveled with mild pleasure that he
could almost feel the pain of her nails deeply buried somewhere inside
those knotted fingers.

"Sorry." But it was no real apology. Foster lifted the dome from his
supper. A thin vapor rose from the platter of meat. "Smells good," Foster
said pleasantly. "Pot roast tonight?"

"Rib steak," said Connie in a thin voice. She turned and started for the

"Don't go."

Connie hesitated, then continued to walk.

"Please." Foster deliberately inserted a mild note of pleading in his
voice. The girl stopped, turned, faced him, and Foster saw she was close
to crying.

"All right," she said. "But only because I don't want to be alone, and I
can stand you better than Mardin." She sat down on the edge of Foster's
bed. Connie was so light she barely made an impression on the bedspread.

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