Touch the sky and grieve with a sentient spaceship, in new Canadian science fictionS

"The ship stood inside itself and looked out through blue fabricated eyes." It's one of my favorite short-story openings in ages. Damon Shaw's "A Little Thing" is just one of two new stories up at Canada's science fiction magazine, AE.

We've reported on AE's struggle to get off the ground in the past, but now it's finally up and running, with new fiction going up every Monday. And the first two stories are pretty great — Damon Shaw's story is a flash fiction piece, so we can't reproduce too much of it here or give too much away, but here's the first paragraph:

The ship stood inside itself and looked out through blue fabricated eyes. From beneath rain-wet trees, it watched the last villagers toiling up the hill towards Alice's cottage. Sensors in the old woman's bed (pulse fifty-two bpm and falling), told the ship it was time.

And the other story, Matt Moore's "Touch The Sky, They Say," is kind of demented and awesome. At first, it reminded me of the story about an endless staircase that we linked to a while ago, but then it turns out to be something quite different and yet equally odd, as you start to realize when you get to the bit about the sky "cutting through" the towers. Here's how that one begins:

Four steps up onto the observation platform and the sky is barely a foot above my head. Featureless, grey - a morning headache after a bad night's sleep. Same as it looks from the street, forty-one floors down.

Up here, the wind is July-hot and attic-dry, switching directions, rippling our clothes. The group is a mix of business types on lunch and other assorted pilgrims. Like me. There's a middle-aged guy in black jeans and a sleeveless Harley Davidson shirt. A teenager with hair spiked despite his school blazer and tie.

The last one up is a girl in her twenties with peroxide-blonde hair and a Ramones T-shirt. She doesn't hesitate - fingertips stroke the sky. I see my own uncertainty mirrored in her expression. Once in a while, the stories go, someone collapses to the planks of the platform, sobbing.

Not her.

She lowers her hand and descends the wooden steps to the elevator, heavy boots clopping all the way. A pudgy man with crescents of sweat in the armpits of his suit presses his palm against the sky for an instant, then follows the blonde.

There's six of us left, trying not to make it too obvious we're all waiting to see who will go next. The Harley shirt turns and leans against the wooden railing. We''re at the highest point in the city; you can see for kilometres. See straight across to where the sky cuts through the CN Tower and the truncated columns we used to call skyscrapers. Maybe he's just here for the view. I join him at the railing and look south. The lake's calm today, reflecting the sky's perpetual flat, grey light. I jam my hands in my pockets, fingering the folded-up rejection letters.

All in all, the latest pro science fiction magazine seems to be off to a great start. Check it out! [AE Science Fiction]