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From a fragment attributed to Herodotus. They lived on the mountainside very simply, the men hunting meat, the women gathering nuts and berries, the children playing at being men or women. They spoke names of things, of course, to say Bring me sticks for the fire, or I am going to dig roots, but these names had come down to them through generations, bestowed by some creator at the beginning of time. Fearing to take upon themselves the function of gods, they did not name one another; they were few enough, and needed only to point. To say that man would have been impolite, and to say the fat man or the bent old woman would have been very rude.

Children learned early only to point. They learned early to kill rock rabbits and skin them and cook them and eat them. They learned to throw stones and gather firewood. She looked no different than the others—dark eyes and shaggy dark hair, tawny skin, bare callused feet—but wrong things came out of her mouth. Someone is eating it! No, no! They had. It is the sun.

Sun was sun, not a round flat cake of seed meal baked on the hot stones by the fire. The mother should have punished her then and there, the others declared. But the mother was too tenderhearted, and the girl went on in her wrongheaded ways. It looks like a flower! Or, See, the shadows in the moon, they look like a rabbit sitting up on its hind legs! But the moon was the moon, not a rabbit.

And the wrongnesses she said grew more perilous day by day, so frightening that other children stayed away from her, or were ordered away, and adults muttered when they saw her coming. All too soon the girl began to experience the monthly courses of a woman, and it was time for her to find a mate. Often this process took care of itself, but not in the case of this girl. Her mother acted on her behalf, arranging matters with an older man who, although respected, had no woman, because—well, it would have been very, very rude to say, but—.

He looks like a bear turd on feet! His mother hit him to hush him, but the damage was done. Folk gabbled with terror; what unknowable craft was in this girl? The man now called Turd picked up a stone from the ground and hurled it at the girl who had named him. It struck her on the chest hard enough to stagger her.

Others roared with echoing wrath and joined in, elder men and women throwing stones the size of their fists. If any had caught the girl on the head they would have felled her, but they cut and bruised her body and legs so that she cried out. Looking for her mother, she saw her standing to one side, weeping but not trying to stop the others as they all joined in. Smaller stones flung by children hit the girl in the face. She turned and fled down the mountainside until she could no longer run.


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Then she fell to the rocky ground, sobbing. She awoke at dawn, shivering from lying on cold stone, stiff and bruised. Blinking, she sat up to rub her eyes, but winced when she touched her sore, swollen face. Then she winced anew at the memories, and her heart hurt worse than her body or her face. Close at hand lay a deerskin bunched into a bundle.

The girl stared at it a moment before she fumbled it open. Inside she found a few rounds of cake and three strips of dried venison. The girl flung the rock away, but its message stayed with her, all too clear: she was not to return. At least someone cared whether she might starve.

She stared at the flat cakes. They looked like the cakes her mother made.

The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 13

But then, all cakes looked much the same. Her throat closed against the sight of the cakes, but she felt thirst. She needed to find drink. Many nameless shallow waters sprang out of that mountainside, running down over rocks to no one knew where. Taking the deerskin laden with provisions, the girl walked aimlessly until she heard a trickling sound. When she found the stream—it could have been any mountainside rill, perhaps a few fingers deep and no broader than her slender body—she cupped her hands to drink, then splashed water on her face.

Its cold touch stung her reddened eyes, yet soothed her soul. She had no reason for doing this except that she had to go somewhere, and the water would give her drink. She walked through days and shivered through nights and saw many deer but no folk, nor did she expect to find any; she presumed no people in the world but those—those who were no longer her people. A day came when she had nothing left to eat except her last half-round of cake. Following the rill, she saw it run through a cleft of stone too narrow for her. A rift of rock stood in her way; she climbed it, as she had climbed many others.

But this time, as she reached the top, she stiffened to a halt, dropped to a crouch and stared. A dark bright bigness filled a hollow of the rocks, gleaming and giving off sparks of white light amid colors, sky stone tree colors all blended. What was this shining mystery? And where had her rill gone?

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For a long time she froze like a rabbit, only her nostrils moving to catch any hint of danger. When her fear lessened, she clambered to the cleft where the stream ran. The bigness had to be water, it grew out of water and therefore must be water, yet—she stood atop the crags at a cautious distance and stared—yet how was it water?

It seemed packed or piled in such a way as she had never seen, so much water in one place that it took on gloss and color, and she could not look through it to whatever lay beneath.


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  • Perhaps there was no bottom? But there had to be. Stone held it. Like when I hold water in my hands to drink, she breathed. The mountain held this water in one place? Slowly she walked forward for a better look—then leaped back, for she had seen the form of a person moving on the sheen of the water. Her knees weakened.

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    She sat trembling atop the rocks. Still trembling, she eased forward on her hands and knees. Zod Wallop Grief-stricken over the death of his daughter, a writer attempts to deal with his loss by retreating to a lakeside cottage. Status Quotient: The Carrier A young man struggles to survive alone on an alien world after fellow colonists, guilty of exterminating a race of sentient natives, end up murdering themselves. Bug Jack Barron A confrontational TV talk show host takes on the billionaire owner of a major cryogenics corporation after he discovers the latter has come up with a process which extends human life by replacing aged adrenal glands with those harvested from irradiated black children.

    I find objections to it ridiculous. Schuyler Miller, Analog , November — January Child of Fortune A young woman raised in privilege and wealth travels across the galaxy, earning her way as a wandering storyteller. I enjoyed [it] immensely. Deus X Pope Mary I hires a cyberspace detective to locate the stolen virtual brain of a priest whose abduction has halted a controversial inquiry into the existence of cybernetic souls.

    Iron Dream, The A tongue-in-cheek tale written by a young Adolph Hitler about a heroic leader who endeavors to cleanse a post-holocaust world of subhuman mutants. Little Heroes A powerful music conglomerate hires an ex-rocker to design a virtual reality superstar for the legions of rock and roll fans around the world. Men in the Jungle, The Bart Fraden, ousted president of the Belt Free State mining colony, takes off across the galaxy in search of greener pastures, but makes the mistake of landing on a world ruled by the cannibalistic Brotherhood of Pain. Schuyler Miller, Analog , March I love his stories.

    Pictures at 11 Green Army commandos storm an LA television station and take the staff and news anchors hostage. Russian Spring With the U. Solarians, The Reclusive aliens contact Earth and propose a clever but risky plan to defeat a race of implacable machine-beings, whose vast numbers threaten the destruction of civilization. I enjoyed [it].

    Brown, Asimov's , May The trip turns disastrous, however, when the captain falls prey to the seductions of a female pilot searching for the ultimate orgasm. An amusing take on early human civilization. Paranoid, downbeat, and boring. Lightly rubbed on the corners with a flat uncreased spine; no interior markings. Cover art and interior line drawings by J. Seumas Gallagher.

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    The time is With the Gunfight at the O. Corral and the battle with the thing that used to be Johnny Ringo behind him, the consumptive Doc Holliday makes his way to Leadville, Colorado with Kate Elder - Big Nose Kate - where he plans to spend the rest of his brief life. But he loses all his money in a poker game and decides that the best way make money in a hurry is to become a bounty hunter. And the biggest bounty is on Billy the Kid, who is clearly being protected by some serious magic.

    Top 5 Fantasy Worlds

    So Doc enlists the magic of Geronimo Near Fine. Seumas Gallagher;. Light edge and corner wear with a flat uncreased spine; no interior markings. Cover art by Barbara Armata; interiors by Brion Wackwitz.

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    Middlesex, England: Penguin 60s, First Printing - First Thus. New York: Ultimate Publishing, Some rubbing on the cover; no interior markings. What makes Biblio different? Facebook Instagram Twitter. Sign In Register Help Basket. Basket items. Toggle navigation. Fantasy From W. Fraser Sandercombe Browse all Fantasy from W. Fraser Sandercombe All new arrivals from W. Fraser Sandercombe. Lovelace New York: Grosset and Dunlap, Grant; Lin Carter; Guy N. Smith; C. Bruce Hunter; J. Williamson; Robert E. Heath; Evelyn K.

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