Where the good stuff hangs out.
In which a slave strives to escape the clutches of his elven masters...
He had long since outgrown the manacles that bound him, but the Masters did not care. He was beneath their notice, a beast fit only to be kept in the stables with the other animals.
But he was patient, and he had a plan.
All his life he had known nothing but the shackle and the whip. By night he slept with the horses, by day he toiled for the Masters among the lofty heights of Eldanheir, greatest and most ancient of the timeless cities of the elves. Not that any elf would deign to instruct him – he was their slaves’ slave, working for human house-thralls trusted to manage the day-to-day needs of the Masters.
Only the most menial and back-breaking of tasks were his, and he took pride in that, for none could bear the loads he could lift, nor labour as long as he. He worked without complaint. He climbed the highest branches, crossed the most precarious of spans, cleaned the foulest of waste, and uttered no word of protest. He served in obedient silence. And he hated.
He hated the elves. He hated the humans, who were no freer than he but beat him as readily as any overseer. He hated glorious, painfully beautiful Eldanheir with its sculpted boughs, its soaring bridges and spans of greenwood, its treetop palaces and aerial gardens. So many wild things tamed by the elves and made to serve their needs, just as he was.
Blacktooth the Ugly
In which a motley band of adventurous types, united by their lack of coin, embark on a quest to defeat the eponymous orc chieftain and fare less than well...
When I awoke, bleary-eyed and aching, I found myself gazing upon a nightmare of red, green and blue. Since none of these colours held much meaning in the context of a person, even in the loosest sense of the word, I blinked and rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
It did not help. The being before me was clad from bulging calf to colossal chest in form-hugging cloth of sky blue. Over his azure leggings, he wore tiny shorts that were dyed a ghastly cherry red and boots of the same colour. On his left hand, apparently in deference to the fashion of the time, he bore a single scarlet glove. And surmounting this explosion of poor taste like incongruously-hued snow upon a mountaintop was a bald and indisputably green head, possessed of features only the saintliest and most myopic of mothers could love.
“Hello!” the monster boomed jovially. “I am Mojo the Magnificent! It is very good to meet you, my very good friend!”
The Electropop Appreciation Society
In which a hapless PI and his tentacular friend battle robot assassins, crime bosses, solipsism and a bottle of port someone left lying around, while complaining bitterly about being forced to save the world.
Frank Kincaid was not a happy man. He wasn’t even Frank Kincaid. At least, not the original.
It started like this: you want something done right, do it yourself. Don’t have the time? Copy yourself into a new body and send it instead. Expensive, certainly, but if the job was important enough, the payoff sufficiently high, you’d be crazy to send anyone else.
But what if the job was unpleasant? What if it was something you didn’t want to do? Well, that was easy too: you adjust the copy, tweak it a little so it won’t mind getting its hands dirty or, if it does, it’ll be stubborn enough to do it anyway. And then, assuming you’re a decent human being, you meet up afterwards, buy yourself a few beers, pat yourself on the back, and reintegrate.
Assuming. Of course, if you’re not a decent human being, you take the money and run. Saves having to fill your head with all those unsettling memories. And then your copy would find itself stranded somewhere – say, a sleazy bar in the cheap side of a half-finished habitat dome on Mars – with no money, some newly acquired enemies, a head full of edited memories and personality algorithms, and one solitary certainty to cling to: that the real Them, whoever They were, whatever Their actual name might be, was an absolute, first-class, no-holds-barred, unrelenting bastard.