Villagers With Pitchforks

The flaming torches were delayed in transit, sorry.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Periodic Table of Science Fiction

Back in the old days of 2002, Michael Swanwick embarked on an unusual project: he wrote a short short story every working day. One story for each element of the periodic table, in order from hydrogen all the way through the elements up to good ole element 118, Ununoctium. The stories were great fun: some of them really about the elements:

Last of all, and most valued, are the oxygen planets, often called the "Goldilocks worlds" because in order to hold the extensive oceans that make such atmospheres stable, they must be neither too far from their suns nor too near, but can only exist at a "just right" distance.

And some of the stories weren't about the real element at all:

But it is not beauty that brings visitors to the Ritz-Beryllium. Beauty, for them, is so common as to be invisible.

They come for the squalor.

At the Ritz-Beryllium, maids place dust-bunnies under the beds each morning. There is always a film of grime on the bureaus and the smudgy patina of fingerprints on the mirrors. The bathtubs all have rings.

You can read them all over here.

- Thanks to Lucy Kemnitzer for jogging my memory.


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