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Hugo Awards

The Novellas and Novelettes

Volume 2: 1980-1999

(custom book cover)

Jerry eBooks

Title Page




Enemy Mine - Barry B. Longyear

Sandkings - George R.R. Martin


Ker-plop - Ted Reynolds

The Battle of the Abaco Reefs - Hilbert Schenck

Songhouse - Orson Scott Card

The Moon Goddess and the Son - Donald Kingsbury

Palely Loitering - Christopher Priest

Options - John Varley

The Locusts - Larry Niven

The Homecoming - Barry Longyear

Fireflood - Vonda N. McIntyre



Lost Dorsai - Gordon R. Dickson

The Cloak and the Staff - Gordon R. Dickson


One-Wing - Lisa Tuttle and George R.R. Martin

Nightflyers - George R.R. Martin

The Brave Little Toaster - Thomas M. Disch

All the Lies that are My Life - Harlan Ellison

Savage Planet - Barry L. Longyear

The Lordly Ones - Keith Roberts

Beatnik Bayou - John Varley

The Ugly Chicken - Howard Waldrop

The Autopsy - Michael Shea



The Saturn Game - Poul Anderson

Unicorn Variations - Roger Zelazny


In the Western Tradition - Phyllis Eisenstein

Emergence - David R. Palmer

True Names - Vernor Vinge

Blue Champagne - John Varley

With Thimbles, With Forks, and Hope - Kate Wilhelm

The Fire When It Comes - Parke Godwin

The Thermals of August - Edward Bryant

The Quickening - Michael Bishop

Guardians - George R.R. Martin



Souls - Joanna Russ

Fire Watch - Connie Willis


Unsound Variations - George R.R. Martin

Brainchild - Joseph H. Delaney

Another Orphan - John Kessel

The Postman - David Brin

To Leave a Mark - Kim Stanley Robinson

Aquila - Somtow Sucharitkul

Nightlife - Phyllis Eisenstein

Pawn’s Gambit - Timothy Zahn

Swarm - Bruce Sterling



Cascade Point - Timothy Zahn

Blood Music - Greg Bear


Hardfought - Greg B; ear

Seeking - David R. Palmer

Hurricane Claude - Hilbert Schenck

In the Face of My Enemy - Joseph H. Delaney

Black Air - Kim Stanley Robinson

The Sidon in the Mirror - Connie Willis

Slow Birds - Ian Watson

The Monkey Treatment - George R.R. Martin



Press Enter ■ - John Varley

Bloodchild - Octavia E. Butler


Valentina - Joseph H. Delaney and Marc Stiegler

Cyclops - Joseph H. Delaney and Marc Stiegler

Summer Solstice - Charles L. Harness

Elemental - Geoffrey A Landis

Blued Moon - Connie Willis

The Lucky Strike - Kim Stanley Robinson

Return to the Fold - Timothy Zahn

Silicon Muse - Hilbert Schenck

The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule - Lucius Shepard

The Weigher - Eric Vinicoff and Marcia Martin



24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai - Roger Zelazny

Paladin of the Lost Hour - Harlan Ellison


The Scapegoat - C.J. Cherryh

Sailing to Byzantium - Robert Silverberg

Green Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson

The Only Neat Thing to Do - James Tiptree, Jr.

Dogfight - Michael Swanwick and William Gibson

The Gift from the Graylanders - Michael Bishop

The Fringe - Orson Scott Card

Portraits of His Children - George R.R. Martin



Gilgamesh in the Outback - Robert Silverberg

Permafrost - Roger Zelazny


R&R - Lucius Shepard

Escape from Kathmandu - Kim Stanley Robinson

Spice Pogrom - Connie Willis

Eifelheim - Michael Flynn

The Winter Market - William Gibson

Thor Meets Captain America - David Brin

Hatrack River - Orson Scott Card

The Barbarian Princess - Vernor Vinge



Eye for Eye - Orson Scott Card

Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight - Ursula K. Le Guin


The Blind Geometer - Kim Stanley Robinson

The Forest of Time - Michael Flynn

The Secret Sharer - Robert Silverberg

Mother Goddess of the World - Kim Stanley Robinson

Dream Baby - Bruce McAllister

Rachel in Love - Pat Murphy

Flowers of Edo - Bruce Sterling

Dinosaurs - Walter Jon Williams



The Last of the Winnebagoes - Connie Willis

Schrödinger’s Kitten - George Alec Effinger


The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter - Lucius Shepard

Surfacing - Walter Jon Williams

The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians - Bradley Denton

Journals of the Plague Years - Norman Spinrad

Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus - Neal Barrett, Jr.

Peaches for Mad Molly - Steven Gould

The Function of Dream Sleep - Harlan Ellison

Do Ya, Do Ya, Wanna Dance? - Howard Waldrop



The Mountains of Mourning - Lois McMaster Bujold

Enter a Soldier, Later: Enter Another - Robert Silverberg


Tiny Tango - Judith Moffett

The Father of Stones - Lucius Shepard

Time Out - Connie Willis

A Touch of Lavender - Megan Lindholm

Everything But Honor - George Alec Effinger

The Price of Oranges - Nancy Kress

At the Rialto - Connie Willis

Dogwalker - Orson Scott Card

For I Have Touched the Sky - Mike Resnick



The Hemingway Hoax - Joe Haldeman

The Manamouki - Mike Resnick


Fool to Believe - Pat Cadigan

A Short, Sharp Shock - Kim Stanley Robinson

Bones - Pat Murphy

Bully! - Mike Resnick

A Braver Thing - Charles Sheffield

Over the Long Haul - Martha Soukup

The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks - Dafydd ab Hugh

Tower of Babylon - Ted Chiang



Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress

Gold - Isaac Asimov


Griffin’s Egg - Michael Swanwick

And Wild for to Hold - Nancy Kress

The Gallery of His Dreams - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Jack - Connie Willis

Understand - Ted Chiang

Dispatches from the Revolution - Pat Cadigan

Fin de Cyclé - Howard Waldrop

Miracle - Connie Willis



Barnacle Bill the Spacer - Lucius Shepard

The Nutcracker Coup - Janet Kagan


Stopping at Slowyear - Frederik Pohl

Protection - Maureen F. McHugh

Uh-Oh City - Jonathan Carroll

The Territory - Bradley Denton

Suppose They Gave a Peace . . . - Susan Shwartz

True Faces - Pat Cadigan

In the Stone House - Barry N. Malzberg

Danny Goes to Mars - Pamela Sargent



Down in the Bottomlands - Harry Turtledove

Georgia on My Mind - Charles Sheffield


Wall, Stone, Craft - Walter Jon Williams

The Night We Buried Road Dog - Jack Cady

American Childhood - Pat Murphy

Into the Miranda Rift - G. David Nordley

Mefisto in Onyx - Harlan Ellison

Dancing on Air - Nancy Kress

Deep Eddy - Bruce Sterling

The Franchise - John Kessel

The Shadow Knows - Terry Bisson



Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge - Mike Resnick

The Martian Child - David Gerrold


Melodies of the Heart - Michael F. Flynn

Cri de Coeur - Michael Bishop

Les Fleurs Du Mal - Brian Stableford

Forgiveness Day - Ursula K. Le Guin

A Little Knowledge - Mike Resnick

The Singular Habits of Wasps - Geoffrey A. Landis

The Matter of Seggri - Ursula Le Guin

Cocoon - Greg Egan

Solitude - Ursula K. Le Guin



The Death of Captain Future - Allen Steele

Think Like a Dinosaur - James Patrick Kelly


A Man of the People - Ursula K. Le Guin

A Woman’s Liberation - Ursula K. Le Guin

Fault Lines - Nancy Kress

Bibi - Mike Resnick and Susan Shwartz

Where the Old Gods Die - Mike Resnick

Luminous - Greg Egan

Must and Shall - Harry Turtledove

Tap - Greg Egan

The Good Rat - Allen Steele



Blood of the Dragon (missing) - George R.R. Martin

Bicycle Repairman - Bruce Sterling


Gas Fish (missing) - Mary Rosenblum

Immersion - Gregory Benford

Time Travelers Never Die - Jack McDevitt

The Cost to Be Wise - Maureen F. McHugh

Abandon in Place - Jerry Oltion

Beauty and the Opéra or the Phantom Beast - Suzy McKee Charnas

Age of Aquarius (missing) - William Barton

The Land of Nod - Mike Resnick

Mountain Ways - Ursula K. Le Guin



“. . . Where Angels Fear to Tread” - Allen Steele

We Will Drink Fish Together . . . - Bill Johnson


Ecopoiesis - Geoffrey A. Landis

Loose Ends - Paul Levinson

The Funeral March of the Marionettes - Adam-Troy Castro

Marrow - Robert Reed

Broken Symmetry - Michael A. Burstein

Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream - James Alan Gardner

Moon Six - Stephen Baxter

The Undiscovered - William Sanders



Oceanic - Greg Egan

Taklamakan - Bruce Sterling


Get Me to the Church on Time - Terry Bisson

The Summer Isles - Ian R. MacLeod

Story of Your Life - Ian R. MacLeod

Aurora in Four Voices - Ted Chiang

Steamship Soldier on the Information Front - Nancy Kress

The Planck Dive - Greg Egan

Echea - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Time Gypsy - Ellen Klages

Divided By Infinity - Robert Charles Wilson

Zwarte Piet’s Tale - Allen Steele

Boldface story title = Winner


Best Novella

Enemy Mine, (Barry B. Longyear), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1979

Ker-Plop, (Ted Reynolds), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, January 1979

The Battle of the Abaco Reefs, (Hilbert Schenck), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1979

Songhouse, (Orson Scott Card), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, September 1979

The Moon Goddess and the Son, (Donald Kingsbury), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, December 1979

Best Novelette

Sandkings, (George R.R. Martin), Omni, August 1979

Palely Loitering, (Christopher Priest), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1979

Options, (John Varley), Universe 9, May 1979

The Locusts, (Larry Niven and Steven Barnes), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1979

Homecoming, (Barry B. Longyear), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October 1979

Fireflood, (Vonda N. McIntyre), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1979


Best Novella

Lost Dorsai, (Gordon R. Dickson), Destinies, February/March, February 1980

One-Wing, (Lisa Tuttle and George R.R. Martin), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, January-February 1980

Nightflyers, (George R.R. Martin), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April 1980

The Brave Little Toaster, (Thomas M. Disch), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1980

All the Lies That Are My Life, (Harlan Ellison), All the Lies That Are My Life, October 1980

Best Novelette

The Cloak and the Staff, (Gordon R. Dickson), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1980

Savage Planet, (Barry B. Longyear), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, February 1980

The Lordly Ones, (Keith Roberts), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1980

Beatnik Bayou, (John Varley), New Voices III: The Campbell Award Nominees, April 1980

The Ugly Chickens, (Howard Waldrop), Universe 10, September 1980

The Autopsy, (Michael Shea), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1980


Best Novella

The Saturn Game, (Poul Anderson), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, February 1981

In the Western Tradition, (Phyllis Eisenstein), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 1981

Emergence, (David R. Palmer), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, January 5, 1981

True Names, (Vernor Vinge), Binary Star #5, February 1981

Blue Champagne, (John Varley), New Voices #4, August 1981

With Thimbles, with Forks, and Hope, (Kate Wilhelm), Listen, Listen, November 1981

Best Novelette

Unicorn Variation, (Roger Zelazny), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 13, 1981

The Fire When It Comes, (Parke Godwin), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1981

The Thermals of August, (Edward Bryant), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1981

The Quickening, (Michael Bishop), Universe 11, June 1981

Guardians, (George R.R. Martin), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 12, 1981


Best Novella

Souls, (Joanna Russ), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1982

Unsound Variations, (George R.R. Martin), Amazing Science Fiction Stories, January 1982

Brainchild, (Joseph H. Delaney), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1982

Another Orphan, (John Kessel), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September 1982

The Postman, (David Brin), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November 1982

To Leave a Mark, (Kim Stanley Robinson), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November 1982

Best Novelette

Fire Watch, (Connie Willis), Isaac Asimov’s Wonders of the World, February 1982

Aquila, (Somtow Sucharitkul), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, January 18, 1982

Nightlife, (Phyllis Eisenstein), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1982

Pawn’s Gambit, (Timothy Zahn), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, March 29, 1982

Swarm, (Bruce Sterling), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1982


Best Novella

Cascade Point, (Timothy Zahn), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, December 1983

Hardfought, (Greg Bear), The Wind from a Burning Woman, 1983

Seeking, (David R. Palmer), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, February 1983

Hurricane Claude, (Hilbert Schenck), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1983

In the Face of My Enemy, (Joseph H. Delaney), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, April 1983

Best Novelette

Blood Music, (Greg Bear), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1983

Black Air, (Kim Stanley Robinson), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 1983

The Sidon in the Mirror, (Connie Willis), Isaac Asimov’s Space of Her Own, April 1983

Slow Birds, (Ian Watson), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 1983

The Monkey Treatment, (George R.R. Martin), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1983


Best Novella

Press Enter ■, (John Varley), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1984

Valentina, (Joseph H. Delaney and Marc Stiegler), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, May 1984

Cyclops, (David Brin), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March 1984

Summer Solstice, (Charles L. Harness), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1984

Elemental, (Geoffrey A. Landis), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, December 1984

Best Novelette

Bloodchild, (Octavia E. Butler), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1984

Blued Moon, (Connie Willis), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, January 1984

The Lucky Strike, (Kim Stanley Robinson), Universe 14, June 1984

Return to the Fold, (Timothy Zahn), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, September 1984

Silicon Muse, (Hilbert Schenck), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, September 1984

The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule, (Lucius Shepard), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1984

The Weigher, (Eric Vinicoff and Marcia Martin), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 1984


Best Novella

24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai, (Roger Zelazny), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1985

The Scapegoat, (C.J. Cherryh), Alien Stars, January 1985

Sailing to Byzantium, (Robert Silverberg), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1985

Green Mars, (Kim Stanley Robinson), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1985

The Only Neat Thing to Do, (James Tiptree, Jr.), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1985

Best Novelette

Paladin of the Lost Hour, (Harlan Ellison), Universe 15, August 1985

Dogfight, (Michael Swanwick and William Gibson), Omni, July 1985

A Gift from the Graylanders, (Michael Bishop), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1985

The Fringe, (Orson Scott Card), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1985

Portraits of His Children, (George R.R. Martin), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November 1985


Best Novella

Gilgamesh in the Outback, (Robert Silverberg), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1986

R & R, (Lucius Shepard), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1986

Escape from Kathmandu, (Kim Stanley Robinson), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1986

Spice Pogrom, (Connie Willis), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October 1986

Eifelheim, (Michael F. Flynn), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, November 1986

Best Novelette

Permafrost, (Roger Zelazny), Omni, April 1986

The Winter Market, (William Gibson), Interzone #15, Spring 1986

Thor Meets Captain America, (David Brin), The River of Time, June 1986

Hatrack River, (Orson Scott Card), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1986

The Barbarian Princess, (Vernor Vinge), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, September 1986


Best Novella

Eye for Eye, (Orson Scott Card), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March 1987

The Blind Geometer, (Kim Stanley Robinson), The Blind Geometer, December 22, 1986

The Forest of Time, (Michael Flynn), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June 1987

The Secret Sharer, (Robert Silverberg), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1987

Mother Goddess of the World, (Kim Stanley Robinson), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October 1987

Best Novelette

Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight, (Ursula K. Le Guin), Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences, November 1987

Dream Baby, (Bruce McAllister), In the Field of Fire, February 1987

Rachel in Love, (Pat Murphy), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1987

Flowers of Edo, (Bruce Sterling), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1987

Dinosaurs, (Walter Jon Williams), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1987


Best Novella

The Last of the Winnebagos, (Connie Willis), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1988

The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter, (Lucius Shepard), The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter, April 1988

Surfacing, (Walter Jon Williams), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1988

The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians, (Bradley Denton), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 1988

Journals of the Plague Years, (Norman Spinrad), Full Spectrum, September 1988

Best Novelette

Schrödinger’s Kitten, (George Alec Effinger), Omni, September 1988

Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus, (Neal Barrett, Jr.), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1988

Peaches for Mad Molly, (Steven Gould), Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, February 1988

The Function of Dream Sleep, (Harlan Ellison), Midnight Graffiti, June 1988

Do Ya, Do Ya, Wanna Dance, (Howard Waldrop), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1988


Best Novella

The Mountains of Mourning, (Lois McMaster Bujold), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, May 1989

Tiny Tango, (Judith Moffett), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1989

The Father of Stones, (Lucius Shepard), The Father of Stones, May 26, 1989

Time Out, (Connie Willis), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1989

A Touch of Lavender, (Megan Lindholm), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November 1989

Best Novelette

Enter a Soldier. Later: Enter Another, (Robert Silverberg), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1989

Everything But Honor, (George Alec Effinger), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1989

The Price of Oranges, (Nancy Kress), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1989

At the Rialto, (Connie Willis), Omni, October 1989

Dogwalker, (Orson Scott Card), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November 1989

For I Have Touched the Sky, (Mike Resnick), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1989


Best Novella

The Hemingway Hoax, (Joe Haldeman), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1990

Fool to Believe, (Pat Cadigan), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1990

A Short, Sharp Shock, (Kim Stanley Robinson), A Short, Sharp Shock, May 1990

Bones, (Pat Murphy), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1990

Bully!, (Mike Resnick), Bully!, September 1990

Best Novelette

The Manamouki, (Mike Resnick), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1990

A Braver Thing, (Charles Sheffield), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1990

Over the Long Haul, (Martha Soukup), Amazing Stories, March 1990

The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, A Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk, (Dafydd ab Hugh), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1990

Tower of Babylon, (Ted Chiang), Omni, November 1990


Best Novella

Beggars in Spain, (Nancy Kress), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1991

Griffin’s Egg, (Michael Swanwick), Griffin’s Egg, January 1991

And Wild for to Hold, (Nancy Kress), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1991

The Gallery of His Dreams, (Kristine Kathryn Rusch), The Gallery of His Dreams, July 1991

Jack, (Connie Willis), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October 1991

Best Novelette

Gold, (Isaac Asimov), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 1991

Understand, (Ted Chiang), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1991

Dispatches from the Revolution, (Pat Cadigan), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1991

Fin de Cyclé, (Howard Waldrop), Night of the Cooters, December 1990

Miracle, (Connie Willis), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, December 1991


Best Novella

Barnacle Bill the Spacer, (Lucius Shepard), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1992

Stopping at Slowyear, (Frederik Pohl), Stopping at Slowyear, 1992

Protection, (Maureen F. McHugh), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1992

Uh-Oh City, (Jonathan Carroll), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, June 1992

The Territory, (Bradley Denton), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1992

Best Novelette

The Nutcracker Coup, (Janet Kagan), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, December 1992

Suppose They Gave a Peace . . ., (Susan Shwartz), Alternate Presidents, February 1992

True Faces, (Pat Cadigan), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1992

In the Stone House, (Barry N. Malzberg), Alternate Kennedys, July 1992

Danny Goes to Mars, (Pamela Sargent), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October 1992


Best Novella

Down in the Bottomlands, (Harry Turtledove), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January 1993

Wall, Stone, Craft, (Walter Jon Williams), Wall, Stone, Craft, 1993

The Night We Buried Road Dog, (Jack Cady), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1993

An American Childhood, (Pat Murphy), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1993

Into the Miranda Rift, (G. David Nordley), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July 1993

Mefisto in Onyx, (Harlan Ellison), Omni, October 1993

Best Novelette

Georgia on My Mind, (Charles Sheffield), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January 1993

Dancing on Air, (Nancy Kress), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1993

Deep Eddy, (Bruce Sterling), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1993

The Franchise, (John Kessel), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1993

The Shadow Knows, (Terry Bisson), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1993


Best Novella

Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge, (Mike Resnick), Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge, October 1994

Melodies of the Heart, (Michael F. Flynn), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January 1994

Cri de Coeur, (Michael Bishop), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1994

Les Fleurs du Mal, (Brian Stableford), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October 1994

Forgiveness Day, (Ursula K. Le Guin), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November 1994

Best Novelette

The Martian Child, (David Gerrold), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September 1994

A Little Knowledge, (Mike Resnick), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1994

The Singular Habits of Wasps, (Geoffrey A. Landis), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, April 1994

The Matter of Seggri, (Ursula K. Le Guin), Crank #3, Spring 1994

Cocoon, (Greg Egan), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1994

Solitude, (Ursula K. Le Guin), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1994


Best Novella

The Death of Captain Future, (Allen Steele), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October 1995

A Man of the People, (Ursula K. Le Guin), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1995

A Woman’s Liberation, (Ursula K. Le Guin), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1995

Fault Lines, (Nancy Kress), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1995

Bibi, (Mike Resnick and Susan Shwartz), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, mid-Dec 1995

Best Novelette

Think Like a Dinosaur, (James Patrick Kelly), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1995

When the Old Gods Die, (Mike Resnick), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, April 1995

Luminous, (Greg Egan), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, September 1995

Must and Shall, (Harry Turtledove), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November 1995

TAP, (Greg Egan), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, November 1995

The Good Rat, (Allen Steele), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, mid-Dec 1995


Best Novella

Blood of the Dragon, (George R.R. Martin), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1996

Gas Fish, (Mary Rosenblum), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1996

Immersion, (Gregory Benford), Science Fiction Age, March 1996

Time Travelers Never Die, (Jack McDevitt), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1996

The Cost to Be Wise, (Maureen F. McHugh), Starlight #1, September 1996

Abandon in Place, (Jerry Oltion), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1996

Best Novelette

Bicycle Repairman, (Bruce Sterling), Intersections, January 1996

Beauty and the Opéra or The Phantom Beast, (Suzy McKee Charnas), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March 1996

Age of Aquarius, (William Barton), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1996

The Land of Nod, (Mike Resnick), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1996

Mountain Ways, (Ursula K. Le Guin), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1996


Best Novella

. . . Where Angels Fear to Tread, (Allen Steele), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October/November 1997

Ecopoiesis, (Geoffrey A. Landis), Science Fiction Age, May 1997

Loose Ends, (Paul Levinson), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, May 1997

The Funeral March of the Marionettes, (Adam-Troy Castro), The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1997

Marrow, (Robert Reed), Science Fiction Age, July 1997

Best Novelette

We Will Drink a Fish Together . . ., (Bill Johnson), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1997

Broken Symmetry, (Michael A. Burstein), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, February 1997

Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream, (James Alan Gardner), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1997

Moon Six, (Stephen Baxter), Science Fiction Age, March 1997

The Undiscovered, (William Sanders), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March 1997


Best Novella

Oceanic, (Greg Egan), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1998

Get Me to the Church on Time, (Terry Bisson), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May 1998

The Summer Isles, (Ian R. MacLeod), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October/November 1998

Story of Your Life, (Ted Chiang), Starlight #2, November 1998

Aurora in Four Voices, (Catherine Asaro), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, December 1998

Best Novelette

Taklamakan, (Bruce Sterling), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, October/November 1998

Steamship Soldier on the Information Front, (Nancy Kress), Future Histories, June 1997

The Planck Dive, (Greg Egan), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, February 1998

Echea, (Kristine Kathryn Rusch), Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, July 1998

Time Gypsy, (Ellen Klages), Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction, September 1998

Divided by Infinity, (Robert Charles Wilson), Starlight #2, November 1998

Zwarte Piet’s Tale, (Allen Steele), Analog Science Fiction and Fact, December 1998


Barry B. Longyear

The Dracon’s three-fingered hands flexed. In the thing’s yellow eyes I could read the desire to have those fingers around either a weapon or my throat. As I flexed my own fingers, I knew it read the same in my eyes.

“Irkmaan!” the thing spat.

“You piece of Drac slime.” I brought my hands up in front of my chest and waved the thing on. “Come on, Drac; come and get it.”

“Irkmaan vaa, koruum su!”

“Are you going to talk, or fight? Come on!” I could feel the spray from the sea behind me—a boiling madhouse of white-capped breakers that threatened to swallow me as it had my fighter. I had ridden my ship in.

The Drac had ejected when its own fighter had caught one in the upper atmosphere, but not before crippling my power plant. I was exhausted from swimming to the gray, rocky beach and pulling myself to safety. Behind the Drac, among the rocks on the otherwise barren hill, I could see its ejection capsule. Far above us, its people and mine were still at it, slugging out the possession of an uninhabited corner of nowhere. The Drac just stood there and I went over the phrase taught us in training—a phrase calculated to drive any Drac into a frenzy. “Kiz dayuomeen, Shizumaat!” Meaning: Shizumaat, the most revered Drac philosopher, eats kiz excrement. Something on the level of stuffing a Moslem full of pork.

The Drac opened its mouth in horror, then closed it as anger literally changed its color from yellow to reddish-brown. “Irkmaan, yaa stupid Mickey Mouse is!”

I had taken an oath to fight and die over many things, but that venerable rodent didn’t happen to be one of them. I laughed, and continued laughing until the guffaws in combination with my exhaustion forced me to my knees. I forced open my eyes to keep track of my enemy. The Drac was running toward the high ground, away from me and the sea. I half-turned toward the sea and caught a glimpse of a million tons of water just before they fell on me, knocking me unconscious.

“Kiz dayuomeen, Irkmaan, ne?”

My eyes were gritty with sand and stung with salt, but some part of my awareness pointed out: “Hey, you’re alive.” I reached to wipe the sand from my eyes and found my hands bound. A straight metal rod had been run through my sleeves and my wrists tied to it. As my tears cleared the sand from my eyes, I could see the Drac sitting on a smooth black boulder looking at me. It must have pulled me out of the drink. “Thanks, toad face. What’s with the bondage?”


I tried waving my arms and wound up giving an impression of an atmospheric fighter dipping its wings. “Untie me, you Drac slime!” I was seated on the sand, my back against a rock.

The Drac smiled, exposing the upper and lower mandibles that looked human—except that instead of separate teeth, they were solid. “Eh, ne, Irkmaan.” It stood, walked over to me and checked my bonds.

“Untie me!”

The smile disappeared. “Ne!” It pointed at me with a yellow finger. “Kos son va?”

“I don’t speak Drac, toad face. You speak Esper or English?”

The Drac delivered a very human-looking shrug, then pointed at its own chest. ”Kos va son Jeriba Shigan.” It pointed again at me. ”Kos son va?”

“Davidge. My name is Willis E. Davidge.”


I tried my tongue on the unfamiliar syllables. ”Kos va son Willis Davidge.”

“Eh.” Jeriba Shigan nodded, then motioned with its fingers. ”Dasu, Davidge.”

“Same to you, Jerry.”

“Dasu, dasu!” Jeriba began sounding a little impatient. I shrugged as best I could. The Drac bent over and grabbed the front of my jumpsuit with both hands and pulled me to my feet. ”Dasu, dasu, kizlode!”

“All right! So dasu is ‘get up.’ What’s a kizlode?”

Jerry laughed. ”Gavey ‘kiz’ ?”

“Yeah, I gavey.”

Jerry pointed at its head. “Lode.” It pointed at my head. “Kizlode, gavey?”

I got it, then swung my arms around, catching Jerry upside its head with the metal rod. The Drac stumbled back against a rock, looking surprised. It raised a hand to its head and withdrew it covered with that pale pus that Dracs think is blood. It looked at me with murder in its eyes. ”Gefh! Nu Gefh, Davidge!”

“Come and get it, Jerry, you kizlode sonafabitch!”

Jerry dived at me and I tried to catch it again with the rod, but the Drac caught my right wrist in both hands and, using the momentum of my swing, whirled me around, slamming my back against another rock. Just as I was getting back my breath, Jerry picked up a small boulder and came at me with every intention of turning my melon into pulp. With my back against the rock, I lifted a foot and kicked the Drac in the midsection, knocking it to the sand. I ran up, ready to stomp Jerry’s melon, but he pointed behind me. I turned and saw another tidal wave gathering steam, and heading our way. “Kiz!” Jerry got to its feet and scampered for the high ground with me following close behind.

With the roar of the wave at our backs, we weaved among the water-and sand-ground black boulders until we reached Jerry’s ejection capsule. The Drac stopped, put its shoulder to the egg-shaped contraption, and began rolling it uphill. I could see Jerry’s point. The capsule contained all of the survival equipment and food either of us knew about. “Jerry!” I shouted above the rumble of the fast-approaching wave. “Pull out this damn rod and I’ll help!” The Drac frowned at me. “The rod, kizlode, pull it out!” I cocked my head toward my outstretched arm.

Jerry placed a rock beneath the capsule to keep it from rolling back, then quickly untied my wrists and pulled out the rod. Both of us put our shoulders to the capsule, and we quickly rolled it to higher ground. The wave hit and climbed rapidly up the slope until it came up to our chests. The capsule bobbed like a cork, and it was all we could do to keep control of the thing until the water receded, wedging the capsule between three big boulders. I stood there, puffing.

Jerry dropped to the sand, its back against one of the boulders, and watched the water rush back out to sea. “Magasienna!”

“You said it, brother.” I sank down next to the Drac; we agreed by eye to a temporary truce, and promptly passed out.

My eyes opened on a sky boiling with blacks and grays. Letting my head loll over on my left shoulder, I checked out the Drac. It was still out. First, I thought that this would be the perfect time to get the drop on Jerry. Second, I thought about how silly our insignificant scrap seemed compared to the insanity of the sea that surrounded us. Why hadn’t the rescue team come? Did the Dracon fleet wipe us out? Why hadn’t the Dracs come to pick up Jerry? Did they wipe out each other? I didn’t even know where I was. An island. I had seen that much coming in, but where and in relation to what? Fyrine IV: the planet didn’t even rate a name, but was important enough to die over.

With an effort, I struggled to my feet. Jerry opened its eyes and quickly pushed itself to a defensive crouching position. I waved my hand and shook my head. “Ease off, Jerry. I’m just going to look around.” I turned my back on it and trudged off between the boulders. I walked uphill for a few minutes until I reached level ground.

It was an island, all right, and not a very big one. By eyeball estimation, height from sea level was only eighty meters, while the island itself was about two kilometers long and less than half that wide. The wind whipping my jump suit against my body was at least drying it out, but as I looked around at the smooth-ground boulders on top of the rise, I realized that Jerry and I could expect bigger waves than the few puny ones we had seen.

A rock clattered behind me and I turned to see Jerry climbing up the slope. When it reached the top, the Drac looked around. I squatted next to one of the boulders and passed my hand over it to indicate the smoothness, then I pointed toward the sea. Jerry nodded. “Ae, Gavey.” It pointed downhill toward the capsule, then to where we stood. “Echey masu, nasesay.”

I frowned, then pointed at the capsule. “Nasesay? The capsule?”

“Ae capsule nasesay. Echey masu.” Jerry pointed at its feet.

I shook my head. “Jerry, if you gavey how these rocks got smooth”—I pointed at one—“then you gavey that masuing the nasesay up here isn’t going to do a damned bit of good.” I made a sweeping up and down movement with my hands. “Waves.” I pointed at the sea below. “Waves, up here”; I pointed to where we stood. “Waves, echey.”

“Ae, gavey.” Jerry looked around the top of the rise, then rubbed the side of its face. The Drac squatted next to some small rocks and began piling one on top of another. “Viga, Davidge.”

I squatted next to it and watched while its nimble fingers constructed a circle of stones that quickly grew into a doll-house-sized arena. Jerry stuck one of its fingers in the center of the circle. “Eche, nasesay.”

The days on Fyrine IV seemed to be three times longer than any I had seen on any other habitable planet. I use the designation “habitable” with reservations. It took us most of the first day to painfully roll Jerry’s nasesay up to the top of the rise. The night was too black to work and was bone-cracking cold. We removed the couch from the capsule, which made just enough room for both of us to fit inside. The body heat warmed things up a bit; and we killed time between sleeping, nibbling on Jerry’s supply of ration bars (they taste a bit like fish mixed with cheddar cheese), and trying to come to some agreement about language.






The Drac laughed. “Lode.”

“Ho, ho, very funny.”

“Ho, ho.”

At dawn on the second day, we rolled and pushed the capsule into the center of the rise and wedged it between two large rocks, one of which had an overhang that we hoped would hold down the capsule when one of those big soakers hit. Around the rocks and capsule, we laid a foundation of large stones and filled in the cracks with smaller stones. By the time the wall was knee high, we discovered that building with those smooth, round stones and no mortar wasn’t going to work. After some experimentation, we figured out how to break the stones to give us flat sides with which to work. It’s done by picking up one stone and slamming it down on top of another. We took turns, one slamming and one building. The stone was almost a volcanic glass, and we also took turns extracting rock splinters from each other. It took nine of those endless days and nights to complete the walls, during which waves came close many times and once washed us ankle deep. For six of those nine days, it rained. The capsule’s survival equipment included a plastic blanket, and that became our roof. It sagged in at the center, and the hole we put in it there allowed the water to run out, keeping us almost dry and giving us a supply of fresh water. If a wave of any determination came along, we could kiss the roof good-bye; but we both had confidence in the walls, which were almost two meters thick at the bottom and at least a meter thick at the top.

After we finished, we sat inside and admired our work for about an hour, until it dawned on us that we had just worked ourselves out of jobs. “What now, Jerry?”


“What do we do now?”

“Now wait, we.” The Drac shrugged. “Else what, ne?”

I nodded. ”Gavey.” I got to my feet and walked to the passageway we had built. With no wood for a door, where the walls would have met, we bent one out and extended it about three meters around the other wall with the opening away from the prevailing winds. The never-ending winds were still at it, but the rain had stopped. The shack wasn’t much to look at, but looking at it stuck there in the center of that deserted island made me feel good. As Shizumaat observed, “Intelligent life making its stand against the universe.” Or, at least, that’s the sense I could make out of Jerry’s hamburger of English. I shrugged and picked up a sharp splinter of stone and made another mark in the large standing rock that served as my log.

Ten scratches in all, and under the seventh, a small “x” to indicate the big wave that just covered the top of the island.

I threw down the splinter. “Damn, I hate this place!”

“Ess?” Jerry’s head poked around the edge of the opening. “Who talking at, Davidge?”

I glared at the Drac, then waved my hand at it. “Nobody.”

“Ess va, ‘nobody’ ?”

“Nobody. Nothing.”

“Ne gavey, Davidge.”

I poked at my chest with my finger. “Me! I’m talking to myself! You gavey that stuff, toad face!”

Jerry shook its head. “Davidge, now I sleep. Talk not so much nobody, ne?” It disappeared back into the opening.

“And so’s your mother!” I turned and walked down the slope. Except, strictly speaking, toad face, you don’t have a mother—or father. “If you had your choice, who would you like to be trapped on a desert island with?” I wondered if anyone ever picked a wet freezing corner of Hell shacked up with a hermaphrodite.

Half of the way down the slope, I followed the path I had marked with rocks until I came to my tidal pool that I had named “Rancho Sluggo.” Around the pool were many of the water-worn rocks, and underneath those rocks, below the pool’s waterline, lived the fattest orange slugs either of us had ever seen. I made the discovery during a break from house building and showed them to Jerry.

Jerry shrugged. “And so?”

“And so what? Look, Jerry, those ration bars aren’t going to last forever. What are we going to eat when they’re all gone?”

“Eat?” Jerry looked at the wriggling pocket of insect life and grimaced. “Ne, Davidge. Before then pickup. Search us find, then pickup.”

“What if they don’t find us? What then?”

Jerry grimaced again and turned back to the half-completed house. “Water we drink, then until pickup.” He had muttered something about kiz excrement and my tastebuds, then walked out of sight.

Since then I had built up the pool’s walls, hoping the increased protection from the harsh environment would increase the herd. I looked under several rocks, but no increase was apparent. And, again, I couldn’t bring myself to swallow one of the things. I replaced the rock I was looking under, stood and looked out to the sea. Although the eternal cloud cover still denied the surface the drying rays of Fyrine, there was no rain and the usual haze had lifted.

In the direction past where I had pulled myself up on the beach, the sea continued to the horizon. In the spaces between the whitecaps, the water was as gray as a loan officer’s heart. Parallel lines of rollers formed approximately five kilometers from the island. The center, from where I was standing, would smash on the island, while the remainder steamed on. To my right, in line with the breakers, I could just make out another small island perhaps ten kilometers away. Following the path of the rollers, I looked far to my right, and where the gray-white of the sea should have met the lighter gray of the sky, there was a black line on the horizon.

The harder I tried to remember the briefing charts on Fyrine IV’s land masses, the less clear it became. Jerry couldn’t remember anything either—at least nothing it would tell me. Why should we remember? The battle was supposed to be in space, each one trying to deny the other an orbital staging area in the Fyrine system. Neither side wanted to set foot on Fyrine, much less fight a battle there. Still, whatever it was called, it was land and considerably larger than the sand and rock bar we were occupying.

How to get there was the problem. Without wood, fire, leaves, or animal skins, Jerry and I were destitute compared to the average poverty-stricken caveman. The only thing we had that would float was the nasesay. The capsule. Why not? The only real problem to overcome was getting Jerry to go along with it.

That evening, while the grayness made its slow transition to black, Jerry and I sat outside the shack nibbling our quarter portions of ration bars. The Drac’s yellow eyes studied the dark line on the horizon, then it shook its head. “Ne, Davidge. Dangerous is.”

I popped the rest of my ration bar into my mouth and talked around it. “And more dangerous than staying here?”

“Soon pickup, ne?”

I studied those yellow eyes. “Jerry, you don’t believe that any more than I do.” I leaned forward on the rock and held out my hands. “Look, our chances will be a lot better on a larger land mass. Protection from the big waves, maybe food..”

“Not maybe, ne?” Jerry pointed at the water. “How nasesay steer, Davidge? In that, how steer? Ess eh soakers, waves, beyond land take, gavey? Bresha,” Jerry’s hands slapped together. “Ess eh bresha rocks on, ne? Then we death.”

I scratched my head. “The waves are going in that direction from here, and so is the wind. If the land mass is large enough, we don’t have to steer, gavey?”

Jerry snorted. “Ne large enough, then?”

“I didn’t say it was a sure thing.”


“A sure thing; certain, gavey?” Jerry nodded. “And for smashing up on the rocks, it probably has a beach like this one.”

“Sure thing, ne?”

I shrugged. “No, it’s not a sure thing, but, what about staying here? We don’t know how big those waves can get. What if one just comes along and washes us off the island? What then?”

Jerry looked at me, its eyes narrowed. “What there, Davidge? Irkmaan base, ne?”

I laughed. “I told you, we don’t have any bases on Fyrine IV.”

“Why want go, then?”

“Just what I said, Jerry. I think our chances would be better.”

“Ummm.” The Drac folded its arms. “Viga, Davidge, nasesay stay. I know.”

“Know what?”

Jerry smirked, then stood and went into the shack. After a moment it returned and threw a two-meter long metal rod at my feet. It was the one the Drac had used to bind my arms. “Davidge, I know.”

I raised my eyebrows and shrugged. “What are you talking about? Didn’t that come from your capsule?”

“Ne, Irkmaan.”

I bent down and picked up the rod. Its surface was uncorroded and at one end were arabic numerals—a part number. For a moment a flood of hope washed over me, but it drained away when I realized it was a civilian part number. I threw the rod on the sand. “There’s no telling how long that’s been here, Jerry. It’s a civilian part number and no civilian missions have been in this part of the galaxy since the war. Might be left over from an old seeding operation or exploratory mission..”

The Drac nudged it with the toe of his boot. “New, gavey”

I looked up at it. “You gavey stainless steel?”

Jerry snorted and turned back toward the shack. “I stay, nasesay stay; where you want, you go, Davidge!”

With the black of the long night firmly bolted down on us, the wind picked up, shrieking and whistling in and through the holes in the walls. The plastic roof flapped, pushed in and sucked out with such violence it threatened to either tear or sail off into the night. Jerry sat on the sand floor, its back leaning against the nasesay as if to make clear that both Drac and capsule were staying put, although the way the sea was picking up seemed to weaken Jerry’s argument.

“Sea rough now is, Davidge, ne?”

“It’s too dark to see, but with this wind..” I shrugged more for my own benefit than the Drac’s, since the only thing visible inside the shack was the pale light coming through the roof. Any minute we could be washed off that sandbar. “Jerry, you’re being silly about that rod. You know that.”

“Surda.” The Drac sounded contrite if not altogether miserable.


“Ess eh ’Surda’ ?”


Jerry remained silent for a moment. “Davidge, gavey ‘not certain not is’ ?”

I sorted out the negatives. “You mean ‘possible,’ ‘maybe,’ ‘perhaps’ ?”

“Ae possiblemaybeperhaps. Dracon fleet Irkmaan ships have. Before war buy; after war capture. Rod possiblemaybeperhaps Dracon is.”

“So if there’s a secret base on the big island, Surda it’s a Dracon base?”

“Possiblemaybeperhaps, Davidge.”

“Jerry, does that mean you want to try it? The nasesay?”


“Ne? Why, Jerry? If it might be a Drac base—”

“Ne! Ne talk!” The Drac seemed to choke on the words.

“Jerry, we talk, and you better believe we talk! If I’m going to death it on this island, I have a right to know why.”

The Drac was quiet for a long time. “Davidge.”


“Nasesay, you take. Half ration bars you leave. I stay.”

I shook my head to clear it. “You want me to take the capsule alone?”

“What you want is, ne?”

“Ae, but why? You must realize there won’t be any pickup.”


“Surda, nothing. You know there isn’t going to be a pickup. What is it? You afraid of the water? If that’s it, we have a better chance—”

“Davidge, up your mouth shut. Nasesay you have. Me ne you need, gavey?”

I nodded in the dark. The capsule was mine for the taking; what did I need a grumpy Drac along for—especially since our truce could expire at any moment? The answer made me feel a little silly—human. Perhaps it’s the same thing. The drac was all that stood between me and utter aloneness. Still, there was the small matter of staying alive. “We should go together, Jerry.”


I felt myself blush. If humans have this need for companionship, why are they also ashamed to admit it? “We just should. Our chances would be better.”

“Alone your chances better are, Davidge. Your enemy I am.”

I nodded again and grimaced in the dark. “Jerry, you gavey ‘loneliness’ ?”

“Ne gavey.”

“Lonely. Being alone, by myself.”

“Gavey you alone. Take nasesay; I stay.”

“That’s it. see, viga, I don’t want to.”

“You want together go?” A low, dirty chuckle came from the other side of the shack. “You Dracon like? You me death, Irkmaan.” Jerry chuckled some more. “Irkmaanpoorzhab in head, poorzhab.”

“Forget it!” I slid down from the wall, smoothed out the sand and curled up with my back toward the Drac. The wind seemed to die down a bit and I closed my eyes to try and sleep. In a bit, the snap, crack of the plastic roof blended in with the background of shrieks and whistles and I felt myself drifting off, when my eyes opened wide at the sound of footsteps in the sand. I tensed, ready to spring.

“Davidge?” Jerry’s voice was very quiet.


I heard the Drac sit on the sand next to me. “You loneliness, Davidge. About it hard you talk, ne?”

“So what?” The Drac mumbled something that was lost in the wind. “What?” I turned over and saw Jerry looking through a hole in the wall.

“Why I stay. Now, you I tell, ne?”

I shrugged. “Okay; why not?”

Jerry seemed to struggle with the words, then opened its mouth to speak. Its eyes opened wide. “Magasienna!”

I sat up. “Ess?”

Jerry pointed at the hole. “Soaker!”

I pushed it out of the way and looked through the hole. Steaming toward our island was an insane mountainous fury of whitecapped rollers. It was hard to tell in the dark, but the one in front looked taller than the one that had wet our feet a few days before. The ones following it were bigger. Jerry put a hand on my shoulder and I looked into the Drac’s eyes. We broke and ran for the capsule. We heard the first wave rumbling up the slope as we felt around in the dark for the recessed doorlatch. I just got my finger on it when the wave smashed against the shack, collapsing the roof. In half a second we were under water, the currents inside the shack agitating us like socks in a washing machine.

The water receded, and as I cleared my eyes, I saw that the windward wall of the shack had caved in. “Jerry!”

Through the collapsed wall, I saw the Drac staggering around outside. “Irkmaan?” Behind him I could see the second roller gathering speed.

“Kizlode, what’n the Hell you doing out there? Get in here!”

I turned to the capsule, still lodged firmly between the two rocks, and found the handle. As I opened the door, Jerry stumbled through the missing wall and fell against me. “Davidge. forever soakers go on! Forever!”

“Get in!” I helped the Drac through the door and didn’t wait for it to get out of the way. I piled in on top of Jerry and latched the door just as the second wave hit. I could feel the capsule lift a bit and rattle against the overhang of the one rock.

“Davidge, we float?”

“No. The rocks are holding us. We’ll be all right once the breakers stop.”

“Over you move.”

“Oh.” I got off Jerry’s chest and braced myself against one end of the capsule. After a bit, the capsule came to rest and we waited for the next one. “Jerry?”


“What was it that you were about to say?”

“Why I stay?”


“About it hard me talk, gavey?”

“I know, I know.”

The next breaker hit and I could feel the capsule rise and rattle against the rock. “Davidge, gavey ‘vi nessa‘?”

“Ne gavey.”

“Vi nessa . . . little me, gavey?”

The capsule bumped down the rock and came to rest. “What about little you?”

“Little me. little Drac. From me, gavey?”

“Are you telling me you’re pregnant?”


I shook my heard. “Hold on, Jerry. I don’t want any misunderstandings. Pregnant. are you going to be a parent?”

“Ae, parent, two-zero-zero in line, very important is, ne?”

“Terrific. What’s this got to do with you not wanting to go to the other island?”

“Before, me vi nessa, gavey? Tean death.”

“Your child, it died?”

“Ae!” The Drac’s sob was torn from the lips of the universal mother. “I in fall hurt. Tean death. Nasesay in sea us bang. Tean hurt, gavey?”

“Ae, I gavey.” So, Jerry was afraid of losing another child. It was almost certain that the capsule trip would bang us around a lot, but staying on the sandbar didn’t appear to be improving our chances. The capsule had been at rest for quite a while, and I decided to risk a peek outside. The small canopy windows seemed to be covered with sand, and I opened the door. I looked around, and all of the walls had been smashed flat. I looked toward the sea, but could see nothing. “It looks safe, Jerry.” I looked up, toward the blackish sky, and above me towered the white plume of a descending breaker. “Maga damn sienna!” I slammed the hatch door.

“Ess, Davidge?”

“Hang on, Jerry!”

The sound of the water hitting the capsule was beyond hearing. We banged once, twice against the rock, then we could feel ourselves twisting, shooting upward. I made a grab to hang on, but missed as the capsule took a sickening lurch downward. I fell into Jerry, then was flung to the opposite wall, where I struck my head. Before I went blank, I heard Jerry cry ”Tean! Vi tean!”

. . . the lieutenant pressed his hand control and a figure—tall, humanoid, yellow—appeared on the screen.

“Dracslime!” shouted the auditorium of seated recruits.

The lieutenant faced the recruits. “Correct. This is a Drac. Note that the Drac race is uniform as to color; they are all yellow.” The recruits chuckled politely. The officer preened a bit, then with a light wand began pointing out various features. “The three-fingered hands are distinctive, of course, as is the almost noseless face, which gives the Drac a toad-like appearance. On average, eyesight is slightly better than human, hearing about the same, and smell . . .” The lieutenant paused. “The smell is terrible!” The officer beamed at the uproar from the recruits. When the auditorium quieted down, he pointed his light wand at a fold in the figure’s belly. “This is where the Drac keeps its family jewels—all of them.” Another chuckle. “That’s right, Dracs are hermaphrodites, with both male and female reproductive organs contained in the same individual.” The lieutenant faced the recruits. “You go tell a Drac to go boff himself, then watch out, because he can!” The laughter died down, and the lieutenant held out a hand toward the screen. “You see one of these things, what do you do?”

“KILL IT . . .”

. . . .I cleared the screen and computer sighted on the next Drac fighter, looking like a double x in the screen’s display. The Drac shifted hard to the left, then right again. I felt the autopilot pull my ship after the fighter, sorting out and ignoring the false images, trying to lock its electronic crosshairs on the Drac. “Come on, toad face. a little bit to the left . . .”

The double cross image moved into the ranging rings on the display and I felt the missile attached to the belly of my fighter take off. “Gotcha!” Through my canopy I saw the flash as the missile detonated. My screen showed the Drac fighter out of control, spinning toward Fyrine IV’s cloud-shrouded surface. I dived after it to confirm the kill . . . skin temperature increasing as my ship brushed the upper atmosphere. “Come on, dammit, blow!” I shifted the ship’s systems over for atmospheric flight when it became obvious that I’d have to follow the Drac right to the ground. Still above the clouds, the Drac stopped spinning and turned. I hit the auto override and pulled the stick into my lap. The fighter wallowed as it tried to pull up. Everyone knows the Drac ships work better in atmosphere . . . heading toward me: on an interception course . . . why doesn’t the slime fire. just before the collision, the Drac ejects. power gone; have to deadstick it in. I track the capsule as it falls through the muck, intending to find that Dracslime and finish the job. . . .

It could have been for seconds or years that I groped into the darkness around me. I felt touching, but the parts of me being touched seemed far, far away. First chills, then fever, then chills again, my head being cooled by a gentle hand. I opened my eyes to narrow slits and saw Jerry hovering over me, blotting my forehead with something cool. I managed a whisper. “Jerry.”

The Drac looked into my eyes and smiled. “Good is, Davidge. Good is.”

The light on Jerry’s face flickered and I smelled smoke. “Fire.”

Jerry got out of the way and pointed toward the center of the room’s sandy floor. I let my head roll over and realized that I was lying on a bed of soft, springy branches. Opposite my bed was another bed, and between them crackled a cheery campfire. “Fire now we have, Davidge. And wood.”

Jerry pointed toward the roof made of wooden poles thatched with broad leaves.

I turned and looked around, then let my throbbing head sink down and closed my eyes. “Where are we?”

“Big island, Davidge. Soaker off sandbar us washed. Wind and waves us here took. Right you were.”

“I. I don’t understand; ne gavey. It’d take days to get to the big island from the sandbar.”

Jerry nodded and dropped what looked like a sponge into a shell of some sort filled with water. “Nine days. You I strap to nasesay, then here on beach we land.”

“Nine days? I’ve been out for nine days?”

Jerry shook his head. “Seventeen. Here we land eight days.” The Drac waved its hand behind itself.

“Ago. eight days ago.”


Seventeen days on Fyrine IV was better than a month on Earth. I opened my eyes again and looked at Jerry. The Drac was almost bubbling with excitement. “What about tean, your child?”

Jerry patted its swollen middle. “Good is, Davidge. You more nasesay hurt.”

I overcame an urge to nod. “I’m happy for you.” I closed my eyes and turned my face toward the wall, a combination of wood poles and leaves. “Jerry?”


“You saved my life.”



Jerry sat quietly for a long time. “Davidge. On sandbar you talk. Loneliness now gavey.” The Drac shook my arm. “Here, now you eat.”

I turned and looked into a shell filled with a steaming liquid. “What is it, chicken soup?”


“Ess va?” I pointed at the bowl, realizing for the first time how weak I was.

Jerry frowned. “Like slug, but long.”

“An eel?”

“Ae, but eel on land, gavey?”

“You mean ‘snake’ ?”


I nodded and put my lips to the edge of the shell. I sipped some of the broth, swallowed and let the broth’s healing warmth seep through my body. “Good.”

“You custa want?”


“Custa.” Jerry reached next to the fire and picked up a squarish chunk of clear rock. I looked at it, scratched it with my thumbnail, then touched it with my tongue.

“Halite! Salt!”

Jerry smiled. “Custa you want?”

I laughed. “All the comforts. By all means, let’s have custa.”

Jerry took the halite, knocked off a corner with a small stone, then used the stone to grind the pieces against another stone. He held out the palm of his hand with a tiny mountain of white granules in the center. I took two pinches, dropped them into my snake soup and stirred it with my finger. Then I took a long swallow of the delicious broth. I smacked my lips. “Fantastic.”

“Good, ne?”

“Better than good; fantastic.” I took another swallow, making a big show of smacking my lips and rolling my eyes.

“Fantastic, Davidge, ne?”

“Ae.” I nodded at the Drac. “I think that’s enough. I want to sleep.”

“Ae, Davidge, gavey.” Jerry took the bowl and put it beside the fire. The Drac stood, walked to the door and turned back. Its yellow eyes studied me for an instant, then it nodded, turned and went outside. I closed my eyes and let the heat from the campfire coax the sleep over me.

In two days I was up in the shack trying my legs, and in two more days, Jerry helped me outside. The shack was located at the top of a long, gentle rise in a scrub forest; none of the trees was any taller than five or six meters. At the bottom of the slope, better than eight kilometers from the shack, was the still rolling sea. The Drac had carried me. Our trusty nasesay had filled with water and had been dragged back into the sea soon after Jerry pulled me to dry land. With it went the remainder of the ration bars. Dracs are very fussy about what they eat, but hunger finally drove Jerry to sample some of the local flora and fauna—hunger and the human lump that was rapidly drifting away from lack of nourishment. The Drac had settled on a bland, starchy type of root, a green bushberry that when dried made an acceptable tea, and snakemeat. Exploring, Jerry had found a partly eroded salt dome. In the days that followed, I grew stronger and added to our diet with several types of sea mollusk and a fruit resembling a cross between a pear and a plum.

As the days grew colder, the Drac and I were forced to realize that Fyrine IV had a winter. Given that, we had to face the possibility that the winter would be severe enough to prevent the gathering of food—and wood. When dried next to the fire, the berrybush and roots kept well, and we tried both salting and smoking snakemeat. With strips of fiber from the berrybush for thread, Jerry and I pieced together the snake skins for winter clothing. The design we settled on involved two layers of skins with the down from berrybush seed pods stuffed between and then held in place by quilting the layers.

We agreed that the house would never do. It took three days of searching to find our first cave, and another three days before we found one that suited us. The mouth opened onto a view of the eternally tormented sea, but was set in the face of a low cliff well above sea level. Around the cave’s entrance we found great quantities of dead wood and loose stone. The wood we gathered for heat; and the stone we used to wall up the entrance, leaving only space enough for a hinged door. The hinges were made of snake leather and the door of wooden poles tied together with berrybush fiber. The first night after completing the door, the sea winds blew it to pieces; and we decided to go back to the original door design we had used on the sandbar.

Deep inside the cave, we made our living quarters in a chamber with a wide, sandy floor. Still deeper, the cave had natural pools of water, which were fine for drinking but too cold for bathing. We used the pool chamber for our supply room. We lined the walls of our living quarters with piles of wood and made new beds out of snakeskins and seed pod down. In the center of the chamber we built a respectable fireplace with a large, flat stone over the coals for a griddle. The first night we spent in our new home, I discovered that, for the first time since ditching on that damned planet, I couldn’t hear the wind.

During the long nights, we would sit at the fireplace making things—gloves, hats, packbags—out of snake leather, and we would talk. To break the monotony, we alternated days between speaking Drac and English, and by the time the winter hit with its first ice storm, each of us was comfortable in the other’s language.

We talked of Jerry’s coming child.

“What are you going to name it, Jerry?”

“It already has a name. See, the Jeriba line has five names. My name is Shigan; before me came my parent, Gothig; before Gothig was Haesni; before Haesni was Ty, and before Ty was Zammis. The child is named Jeriba Zammis.”

“Why only the five names? A human child can have just about any name its parents pick for it. In fact, once a human becomes an adult, he or she can pick any name he or she wants.”

The Drac looked at me, its eyes filled with pity. “Davidge, how lost you must feel. You humans—how lost you must feel.”


Jerry nodded. “Where do you come from, Davidge?”

“You mean my parents?”


I shrugged. “I remember my parents.”

“And their parents?”

“I remember my mother’s father. When I was young we used to visit him.”

“Davidge, what do you know about this grandparent?”

I rubbed my chin. “It’s kind of vague. I think he was in some kind of agriculture—I don’t know.”

“And his parents?”

I shook my head. “The only thing I remember is that somewhere along the line, English and Germans figured. Gavey Germans and English?”

Jerry nodded. “Davidge, I can recite the history of my line back to the founding of my planet by Jeriba Ty, one of the original settlers, one hundred and ninety-nine generations ago. At our line’s archives on Draco, there are the records that trace the line across space to the racehome planet, Sindie, and there back seventy generations to Jeriba Ty, the founder of the Jeriba line.”

“How does one become a founder?”

“Only the firstborn carries the line. Products of second, third, or fourth births must found their own lines.”

I nodded, impressed. “Why only the five names? Just to make it easier to remember them?”

Jerry shook its head. “No. The names are things to which we add distinction; they are the same, commonplace five so that they do not overshadow the events that distinguish their bearers. The name I carry, Shigan, has been served by great soldiers, scholars, students of philosophy, and several priests. The name my child will carry has been served by scientists, teachers, and explorers.”

“You remember all of your ancestors’ occupations?”

Jerry nodded. “Yes, and what they each did and where they did it. You must recite your line before the line’s archives to be admitted into adulthood as I was twenty-two of my years ago. Zammis will do the same, except the child must begin its recitation.”—Jerry smiled—“with my name, Jeriba Shigan.”

“You can recite almost two hundred biographies from memory?”


I went over to my bed and stretched out. As I stared up at the smoke being sucked through the crack in the chamber’s ceiling. I began to understand what Jerry meant by feeling lost. A Drac with several dozens of generations under its belt knew who it was and what it had to live up to. “Jerry?”

“Yes, Davidge?”

“Will you recite them for me?” I turned my head and looked at the Drac in time to see an expression of utter surprise melt into joy. It was only after many years had passed that I learned I had done Jerry a great honor in requesting his line. Among the Dracs, it is a rare expression of respect, not only of the individual, but of the line.

Jerry placed the hat he was sewing on the sand, stood and began.

“Before you here I stand, Shigan of the line of Jeriba, born of Gothig, the teacher of music. A musician of high merit, the students of Gothig included Datzizh of the Nem line, Perravane of the Tuscor line, and many lesser musicians. Trained in music at the Shimuram, Gothig stood before the archives in the year 11,051 and spoke of its parent Haesni, the manufacturer of ships. . . .“

As I listened to Jerry’s singsong of formal Dracon, the backward biographies—beginning with death and ending with adulthood—I experienced a sense of time-binding, of being able to know and touch the past. Battles, empires built and destroyed, discoveries made, great things done—a tour through twelve thousand years of history, but perceived as a well-defined, living continuum.

Against this: I Willis of the Davidge line stand before you, born of Sybil the housewife and Nathan the second-rate civil engineer, one of them born of Grandpop, who probably had something to do with agriculture, born of nobody in particular.. Hell, I wasn’t even that! My older brother carried the line; not me. I listened and made up my mind to memorize the line of Jeriba.

We talked of war:

“That was a pretty neat trick, suckering me into the atmosphere, then ramming me.”

Jerry shrugged. “Dracon fleet pilots are best; this is well known.”

I raised my eyebrows. “That’s why I shot your tail feathers off, huh?”

Jerry shrugged, frowned, and continued sewing on the scraps of snake leather. “Why do the Earthmen invade this part of the Galaxy, Davidge? We had thousands of years of peace before you came.”

“Hah! Why do the Dracs invade? We were at peace too. What are you doing here?”

“We settle these planets. It is the Drac tradition. We are explorers and founders.”

“Well, toad face, what do you think we are, a bunch of homebodies? Humans have had space travel for less than two hundred years, but we’ve settled almost twice as many planets as the Dracs—”

Jerry held up a finger. “Exactly! You humans spread like a disease. Enough! We don’t want you here!”

“Well, we’re here, and here to stay. Now, what are you going to do about it?”

“You see what we do, Irkmaan, we fight!”

“Phooey! You call that little scrap we were in a fight? Hell, Jerry, we were kicking you junk jocks out of the sky—”

“Haw, Davidge! That’s why you sit here sucking on smoked snakemeat!”

I pulled the little rascal out of my mouth and pointed it at the Drac. “I notice your breath has a snake flavor too, Drac!”

Jerry snorted and turned away from the fire. I felt stupid, first because we weren’t going to settle an argument that had plagued a hundred worlds for over a century. Second, I wanted to have Jerry check my recitation. I had over a hundred generations memorized. The Drac’s side was toward the fire, leaving enough light falling on its lap to see its sewing.

“Jerry, what are you working on?”

“We have nothing to talk about, Davidge.”

“Come on, what is it?”

Jerry turned its head toward me, then looked back into its lap and picked up a tiny snakeskin suit. “For Zammis.” Jerry smiled and I shook my head, then laughed.

We talked of philosophy:

“You studied Shizumaat, Jerry; why won’t you tell me about its teachings?”

Jerry frowned. “No, Davidge.”

“Are Shizumaat’s teachings secret or something?”

Jerry shook its head. “No. But we honor Shizumaat too much for talk.”

I rubbed my chin. “Do you mean too much to talk about it, or to talk about it with a human?”

“Not with humans, Davidge; just not with you.”


Jerry lifted its head and narrowed its yellow eyes. “You know what you said. on the sandbar.”

I scratched my head and vaguely recalled the curse I laid on the Drac about Shizumaat eating it. I held out my hands. “But, Jerry, I was mad, angry. You can’t hold me accountable for what I said then.”

“I do.”

“Will it change anything if I apologize?”

“Not a thing.”

I stopped myself from saying something nasty and thought back to that moment when Jerry and I stood ready to strangle each other. I remembered something about that meeting and screwed the corners of my mouth in place to keep from smiling. “Will you tell me Shizumaat’s teachings if I forgive you. for what you said about Mickey Mouse?” I bowed my head in an appearance of reverence, although its chief purpose was to suppress a cackle.

Jerry looked up at me, its face pained with guilt. “I have felt bad about that, Davidge. If you forgive me, I will talk about Shizumaat.”

“Then, I forgive you, Jerry.”

“One more thing.”


“You must tell me of the teachings of Mickey Mouse.”

“I’ll, uh, do my best.”

We talked of Zammis:

“Jerry, what do you want little Zammy to be?”

The Drac shrugged. “Zammis must live up to its own name. I want it to do that with honor. If Zammis does that, it is all I can ask.”

“Zammy will pick its own trade?”


“Isn’t there anything special you want, though?”

Jerry nodded. “Yes, there is.”

“What’s that?”

“That Zammis will, one day find itself off this miserable planet.”

I nodded. “Amen.”


The winter dragged on until Jerry and I began wondering if we had gotten in on the beginning of an ice age. Outside the cave, everything was coated with a thick layer of ice, and the low temperature combined with the steady winds made venturing outside a temptation of death by falls or freezing. Still, by mutual agreement, we both went outside to relieve ourselves. There were several isolated chambers deep in the cave; but we feared polluting our water supply, not to mention the air inside the cave. The main risk outside was dropping one’s drawers at a wind chill factor that froze breath vapor before it could be blown through the thin face muffs we had made out of our flight suits. We learned not to dawdle.

One morning, Jerry was outside answering the call, while I stayed by the fire mashing up dried roots with water for griddle cakes. I heard Jerry call from the mouth of the cave. “Davidge!”


“Davidge, come quick!”

A ship! It had to be! I put the shell bowl on the sand, put on my hat and gloves, and ran through the passage. As I came close to the door, I untied the muff from around my neck and tied it over my mouth and nose to protect my lungs. Jerry, its head bundled in a similar manner, was looking through the door, waving me on. “What is it?”

Jerry stepped away from the door to let me through. “Come, look!”

Sunlight. Blue sky and sunlight. In the distance, over the sea, new clouds were piling up; but above us the sky was clear. Neither of us could look at the sun directly, but we turned our faces to it and felt the rays of Fyrine on our skins. The light glared and sparkled off the ice-coveredice-covered rocks and trees. “Beautiful.”

“Yes.” Jerry grabbed my sleeve with a gloved hand. “Davidge, you know what this means?”


“Signal fires at night. On a clear night, a large fire could be seen from orbit, ne?”

I looked at Jerry, then back at the sky. “I don’t know. If the fire were big enough, and we get a clear night, and if anybody picks that moment to look.” I let my head hang down. “That’s always supposing that there’s someone in orbit up there to do the looking.” I felt the pain begin in my fingers. “We better go back in.”

“Davidge, it’s a chance!”

“What are we going to use for wood, Jerry?” I held out an arm toward the trees above and around the cave. “Everything that can burn has at least fifteen centimeters of ice on it.”

“In the cave—”

“Our firewood?” I shook my head. “How long is this winter going to last? Can you be sure that we have enough wood to waste on signal fires?”

“It’s a chance, Davidge. It’s a chance!”

Our survival riding on a toss of the dice. I shrugged. “Why not?”

We spent the next few hours hauling a quarter of our carefully gathered firewood and dumping it outside the mouth of the cave. By the time we were finished and long before night came, the sky was again a solid blanket of grey. Several times each night, we would check the sky, waiting for stars to appear. During the days, we would frequently have to spend several hours beating the ice off the wood pile. Still, it gave both of us hope, until the wood in the cave ran out and we had to start borrowing from the signal pile.

That night, for the first time, the Drac looked absolutely defeated. Jerry sat at the fireplace, staring at the flames. Its hand reached inside its snakeskin jacket through the neck and pulled out a small golden cube suspended on a chain. Jerry held the cube clasped in both hands, shut its eyes and began mumbling in Drac. I watched from my bed until Jerry finished. The Drac sighed, nodded and replaced the object within its jacket.

“What’s that thing?”

Jerry looked up at me, frowned, then touched the front of its jacket. “This? It is my Talman—what you call a Bible.”

“A Bible is a book. You know, with pages that you read.”

Jerry pulled the thing from its jacket, mumbled a phrase in Drac, then worked a small catch. Another gold cube dropped from the first and the Drac held it out to me. “Be very careful with it, Davidge.”

I sat up, took the object and examined it in the light of the fire. Three hinged pieces of the golden metal formed the binding of a book two-and- a-half centimeters on an edge. I opened the book in the middle and looked over the double columns of dots, lines, and squiggles. “It’s in Drac.”

“Of course.”

“But I can’t read it.”

Jerry’s eyebrows went up. “You speak Drac so well. I didn’t remember. would you like me to teach you?”

“To read this?”

“Why not? You have an appointment you have to keep?”

I shrugged. “No.” I touched my finger to the book and tried to turn one of the tiny pages. Perhaps fifty pages went at once. “I can’t separate the pages.”

Jerry pointed at a small bump at the top to the spine. “Pull out the pin. It’s for turning the pages.”

I pulled out the short needle, touched it against a page and it slid loose of its companion and flipped. “Who wrote your Talman, Jerry?”

“Many. All great teachers.”


Jerry nodded. “Shizumaat is one of them.”

I closed the book and held it in the palm of my hand. “Jerry, why did you bring this out now?”

“I needed its comfort.” The Drac held out its arms. “This place. Maybe we will grow old here and die. Maybe we will never be found. I see this today as we brought in the signal fire wood.” Jerry placed its hands on its belly. “Zammis will be born here. The Talman helps me to accept what I cannot change.”

“Zammis, how much longer?”

Jerry smiled. “Soon.”

I looked at the tiny book. “I would like you to teach me to read this, Jerry.”

The Drac took the chain and case from around its neck and handed it to me. “You must keep the Talman in this.”

I held it for a moment, then shook my head. “I can’t keep this, Jerry. It’s obviously of great value to you. What if I lost it?”

“You won’t. Keep it while you learn. The student must do this.”

I put the chain around my neck. “This is quite an honor you do me.”

Jerry shrugged. “Much less than the honor you do me by memorizing the Jeriba line. Your recitations have been accurate, and moving.” Jerry took some charcoal from the fire, stood and walked to the wall of the chamber. That night I learned the thirty-one letters and sounds of the Drac alphabet, as well as the additional nine sounds and letters used in formal Drac writings.

The wood eventually ran out. Jerry was very heavy and very, very sick as Zammis prepared to make its appearance, and it was all the Drac could do to waddle outside with my help to relieve itself. Hence, wood-gathering, which involved taking our remaining stick and beating the ice off the dead standing trees, fell to me, as did cooking.

On a particularly blustery day, I noticed that the ice on the trees was thinner. Somewhere we had turned winter’s corner and were heading for spring. I spent my ice-pounding time feeling great at the thought of spring, and I knew Jerry would pick up some at the news. The winter was really getting the Drac down. I was working the woods above the cave, taking armloads of gathered wood and dropping them down below, when I heard a scream. I froze, then looked around. I could see nothing but the sea and the ice around me. Then, the scream again. “Davidge!” It was Jerry. I dropped the load I was carrying and ran to the cleft in the cliffs face that served as a path to the upper woods. Jerry screamed again; and I slipped, then rolled until I came to the shelf level with the cave’s mouth. I rushed through the entrance, down the passageway until I came to the chamber. Jerry writhed on its bed, digging its fingers into the sand.

I dropped on my knees next to the Drac. “I’m here, Jerry. What is it? What’s wrong?”

“Davidge!” The Drac rolled its eyes, seeing nothing; its mouth worked silently, then exploded with another scream.

“Jerry, it’s me!” I shook the Drac’s shoulder. “It’s me, Jerry. Davidge!”

Jerry turned its head toward me, grimaced, then clasped the fingers of one hand around my left wrist with the strength of pain. “Davidge! Zammis. something’s gone wrong!”

“What? What can I do?”

Jerry screamed again, then its head fell back to the bed in a half-faint. The Drac fought back to consciousness and pulled my head down to its lips. “Davidge, you must swear.”

“What, Jerry? Swear what?”

“Zammis. on Draco. To stand before the line’s archives. Do this.”

“What do you mean? You talk like you’re dying.”

“I am, Davidge. Zammis two hundredth generation. very important. Present my child, Davidge. Swear!”

I wiped the sweat from my face with my free hand. “You’re not going to die, Jerry. hang on!”

“Enough! Face truth, Davidge! I die! You must teach the line of Jeriba to Zammis. and the book, the Talman, gavey

“Stop it!” Panic stood over me almost as a physical presence. “Stop talking like that! You aren’t going to die, Jerry. Come on; fight, you kizlode sonofabitch.”

Jerry screamed. Its breathing was weak and the Drac drifted in and out of consciousness. “Davidge.”

“What?” I realized I was sobbing like a kid.

“Davidge, you must help Zammis come out.”

“What. how? What in the Hell are you talking about?”

Jerry turned its face to the wall of the cave. “Lift my jacket.”


“Lift my jacket, Davidge. Now!”

I pulled up the snakeskin jacket, exposing Jerry’s swollen belly. The fold down the center was bright red and seeping a clear liquid. “What. what should I do?”

Jerry breathed rapidly, then held its breath, “Tear it open! You must tear it open, Davidge!”


“Do it! Do it, or Zammis dies!”

“What do I care about your goddamn child, Jerry? What do I have to do to save you?”

“Tear it open.” whispered the Drac. “Take care of my child, Irkmaan. Present Zammis before the Jeriba archives. Swear this to me.”

“Oh, Jerry.”

“Swear this!”

I nodded, hot fat tears dribbling down my cheeks. “I swear it..” Jerry relaxed its grip on my wrist and closed its eyes. I knelt next to the Drac, stunned. “No. No, no, no, no.”

Tear it open! You must tear it open, Davidge!

I reached up a hand and gingerly touched the fold on Jerry’s belly. I could feel life struggling beneath it, trying to escape the airless confines of the Drac’s womb. I hated it; I hated the damned thing as I never hated anything before. Its struggles grew weaker, then stopped.

Present Zammis before the Jeriba archives. Swear this to me . . .

I swear it. . . .

I lifted my other hand and inserted my thumbs into the fold and tugged gently. I increased the amount of force, then tore at Jerry’s belly like a madman. The fold burst open, soaking the front of my jacket with the clear fluid. Holding the fold open, I could see the still form of Zammis huddled in a well of the fluid, motionless.

I vomited. When I had nothing more to throw up, I reached into the fluid and put my hands under the Drac infant. I lifted it, wiped my mouth on my upper left sleeve, and closed my mouth over Zammis’ and pulled the child’s mouth open with my right hand. Three times, four times, I inflated the child’s lungs, then it coughed. Then it cried. I tied off the two umbilicals with berrybush fiber, then cut them. Jeriba Zammis was freed of the dead flesh of its parent.

I held the rock over my head, then brought it down with all of my force upon the ice. Shards splashed away from the point of impact, exposing the dark green beneath. Again, I lifted the rock and brought it down, knocking loose another rock. I picked it up, stood and carried it to the half-covered corpse of the Drac. “The Drac,” I whispered. Good. Just call it “The Drac.” Toad face. Dragger.

The enemy. Call it anything to insulate those feelings against the pain.

I looked at the pile of rocks I had gathered, decided it was sufficient to finish the job, then knelt next to the grave. As I placed the rocks on the pile, unmindful of the gale-blown sleet freezing on my snakeskins, I fought back the tears. I smacked my hands together to help restore the circulation. Spring was coming, but it was still dangerous to stay outside too long. And I had been a long time building the Drac’s grave. I picked up another rock and placed it into position. As the rock’s weight leaned against the snakeskin mattress cover, I realized that the Drac was already frozen. I quickly placed the remainder of the rocks, then stood.

The wind rocked me and I almost lost my footing on the ice next to the grave. I looked toward the boiling sea, pulled my snakeskins around myself more tightly, then looked down at the pile of rocks. There should be words. You don’t just cover up the dead, then go to dinner. There should be words. But what words? I was no religionist, and neither was the Drac. Its formal philosophy on the matter of death was the same as my informal rejection of Islamic delights, pagan Valhallas, and Judeo-Christian pies in the sky. Death is death; finis; the end; the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out. Still, there should be words.

I reached beneath my snakeskins and clasped my gloved hand around the golden cube of the Talman. I felt the sharp corners of the cube through my glove, closed my eyes and ran through the words of the great Drac philosophers. But there was nothing they had written for this moment.

The Talman was a book on life. Talman means life, and this occupies Drac philosophy. They spare nothing for death. Death is a fact; the end of life. The Talman had no words for me to say. The wind knifed through me, causing me to shiver. Already my fingers were numb and pains were beginning in my feet. Still, there should be words. But the only words I could think of would open the gate, flooding my being with pain—with the realization that the Drac was gone. Still . . . still, there should be words.

“Jerry, I.” I had no words. I turned from the grave, my tears mixing with the sleet.

With the warmth and silence of the cave around me, I sat on my mattress, my back against the wall of the cave. I tried to lose myself in the shadows and flickers of light cast on the opposite wall by the fire. Images would half-form, then dance away before I could move my mind to see something in them. As a child I used to watch clouds, and in them see faces, castles, animals, dragons, and giants. It was a world of escape—fantasy; something to inject wonder and adventure into the mundane, regulated life of a middle-class boy leading a middle-class life. All I could see on the wall of the cave was a representation of Hell: flames licking at twisted, grotesque representations of condemned souls. I laughed at the thought. We think of Hell as fire, supervised by a cackling sadist in a red union suit. Fyrine IV had taught me this much: Hell is loneliness, hunger, and endless cold.

I heard a whimper, and I looked into the shadows toward the small mattress at the back of the cave. Jerry had made the snakeskin sack filled with seed pod down for Zammis. It whimpered again, and I leaned forward, wondering if there was something it needed. A pang of fear tickled my guts. What does a Drac infant eat? Dracs aren’t mammals. All they ever taught us in training was how to recognize Dracs—that, and how to kill them. Then real fear began working on me. “What in the hell am I going to use for diapers?”

It whimpered again. I pushed myself to my feet, walked the sandy floor to the infant’s side, then knelt beside it. Out of the bundle that was Jerry’s old flight suit, two chubby three-fingered arms waved. I picked up the bundle, carried it next to the fire, and sat on a rock. Balancing the bundle on my lap, I carefully unwrapped it. I could see the yellow glitter of Zammis’s eyes beneath yellow, sleep-heavy lids. From the almost noseless face and solid teeth to its deep yellow color, Zammis was every bit a miniature of Jerry, except for the fat. Zammis fairly wallowed in rolls of fat. I looked, and was grateful to find that there was no mess.

I looked into Zammis’s face. “You want something to eat?”


Its jaws were ready for business, and I assumed that Dracs must chew solid food from day one. I reached over the fire and picked up a twist of dried snake, then touched it against the infant’s lips. Zammis turned its head. “C’mon, eat. You’re not going to find anything better around here.”

I pushed the snake against its lips again, and Zammis pulled back a chubby arm and pushed it away. I shrugged. “Well, whenever you get hungry enough, it’s there.”

“Guh meh!” Its head rocked back and forth on my lap, a tiny, threefingered hand closed around my finger, and it whimpered again.

“You don’t want to eat, you don’t need to be cleaned up, so what do you want? Kos va nu?”

Zammis’s face wrinkled, and its hand pulled at my finger. Its other hand waved in the direction of my chest. I picked Zammis up to arrange the flight suit, and the tiny hands reached out, grasped the front of my snakeskins, and held on as the chubby arms pulled the child next to my chest. I held it close, it placed its cheek against my chest, and promptly fell asleep. “Well. I’ll be damned.”

Until the Drac was gone, I never realized how closely I had stood near the edge of madness. My loneliness was a cancer—a growth that I fed with hate: hate for the planet with its endless cold, endless winds, and endless isolation; hate for the helpless yellow child with its clawing need for care, food, and an affection that I couldn’t give; and hate for myself. I found myself doing things that frightened and disgusted me. To break my solid wall of being alone, I would talk, shout, and sing to myself—uttering curses, nonsense, or meaningless croaks.

Its eyes were open, and it waved a chubby arm and cooed. I picked up a large rock, staggered over to the child’s side, and held the weight over the tiny body. “I could drop this thing, kid. Where would you be then?” I felt laughter coming from my lips. I threw the rock aside. “Why should I mess up the cave? Outside. Put you outside for a minute, and you die! You hear me? Die!”

The child worked its three-fingered hands at the empty air, shut its eyes, and cried. “Why don’t you eat? Why don’t you crap? Why don’t you do anything right, but cry?” The child cried more loudly. “Bah! I ought to pick up that rock and finish it! That’s what I ought.” A wave of revulsion stopped my words, and I went to my mattress, picked up my cap, gloves, and muff, then headed outside.

Before I came to the rocked-in entrance to the cave, I felt the bite of the wind. Outside I stopped and looked at the sea and sky—a roiling panorama in glorious black and white, gray and gray. A gust of wind slapped against me, rocking me back toward the entrance. I regained my balance, walked to the edge of the cliff and shook my fist at the sea. “Go ahead! Go ahead and blow, you kizlode sonofabitch! You haven’t killed me yet!”

I squeezed the windburned lids of my eyes shut, then opened them and looked down. A forty-meter drop to the next ledge, but if I took a running jump, I could clear it. Then it would be a hundred and fifty meters to the rocks below. Jump. I backed away from the cliff’s edge. “Jump! Sure, jump!” I shook my head at the sea. “I’m not going to do your job for you! You want me dead, you’re going to have to do it yourself!”

I looked back and up, above the entrance to the cave. The sky was darkening and in a few hours, night would shroud the landscape. I turned toward the cleft in the rock that led to the scrub forest above the cave.

I squatted next to the Drac’s grave and studied the rocks I had placed there, already fused together with a layer of ice. “Jerry. What am I going to do?”

The Drac would sit by the fire, both of us sewing. And we talked.

“You know, Jerry, all this,” I held up the Talman. “I’ve heard it all before. I expected something different.”

The Drac lowered its sewing to its lap and studied me for an instant. Then it shook its head and resumed its sewing. “You are not a terribly profound creature, Davidge.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Jerry held out a three-fingered hand. “A universe, Davidge—there is a universe out there, a universe of life, objects, and events. There are differences, but it is all the same universe, and we all must obey the same universal laws. Did you ever think of that?”


“That is what I mean, Davidge. Not terribly profound.”

I snorted. “I told you, I’d heard this stuff before. So I imagine that shows humans to be just as profound as Dracs.”

Jerry laughed. “You always insist on making something racial out of my observations. What I said applied to you, not to the race of humans . . .”

I spat on the frozen ground. “You Dracs think you’re so damned smart.” The wind picked up, and I could taste the sea salt in it. One of the big blows was coming. The sky was changing to that curious darkness that tricked me into thinking it was midnight blue, rather than black. A trickle of ice found its way under my collar.

“What’s wrong with me just being me? Everybody in the universe doesn’t have to be a damned philosopher, toad face!” There were millions—billions—like me. More maybe. “What difference does it make to anything whether I ponder existence or not? It’s here; that’s all I have to know.”

“Davidge, you don’t even know your family line beyond your parents, and now you say you refuse to know that of your universe that you can know. How will you know your place in this existence, Davidge? Where are you? Who are you?”

I shook my head and stared at the grave, then I turned and faced the sea. In another hour, or less, it would be too dark to see the whitecaps. “I’m me, that’s who.” But was that “me” who held the rock over Zammis, threatening a helpless infant with death? I felt my guts curdle as the loneliness I thought I felt grew claws and fangs and began gnawing and slashing at the remains of my sanity. I turned back to the grave, closed my eyes, then opened them. “I’m a fighter pilot, Jerry. Isn’t that something?”

“That is what you do, Davidge; that is neither who nor what you are.”

I knelt next to the grave and clawed at the ice-sheathed rocks with my hands. “You don’t talk to me now, Drac! You’re dead!” I stopped, realizing that the words I had heard were from the Talman, processed into my own context. I slumped against the rocks, felt the wind, then pushed myself to my feet. “Jerry, Zammis won’t eat. It’s been three days. What do I do?

Why didn’t you tell me anything about Drac brats before you.” I held my hands to my face. “Steady, boy. Keep it up, and they’ll stick you in a home.” The wind pressed against my back, I lowered my hands, then walked from the grave.

I sat in the cave, staring at the fire. I couldn’t hear the wind through the rock, and the wood was dry, making the fire hot and quiet. I tapped my fingers against my knees, then began humming. Noise, any kind, helped to drive off the oppressive loneliness. “Sonofabitch.” I laughed and nodded. “Yea, verily, and kizlode va nu, dutschaat.” I chuckled, trying to think of all the curses and obscenities in Drac that I had learned from Jerry. There were quite a few. My toe tapped against the sand and my humming started up again. I stopped, frowned, then remembered the song.

“Highty tighty Christ almighty,

Who the Hell are we?

Zim zam, Gawd Damn,

We’re in Squadron B.”

I leaned back against the wall of the cave, trying to remember another verse. A pilot’s got a rotten life/no crumpets with our tea/ we have to service the general’s wife/ and pick fleas from her knee. “Damn!” I slapped my knee, trying to see the faces of the other pilots in the squadron lounge.

I could almost feel the whiskey fumes tickling the inside of my nose. Vadik, Wooster, Arnold. the one with the broken nose—Demerest, Kadiz. I hummed again, swinging an imaginary mug of issue grog by its imaginary handle.

“And, if he doesn’t like it,

I’ll tell you what we’ll do:

We’ll fill his ass with broken glass,

and seal it up with glue.”

The cave echoed with the song. I stood, threw up my arms and screamed. “Yaaaaahoooooo!”

Zammis began crying. I bit my lip and walked over to the bundle on the mattress. “Well? You ready to eat?”

“Unh, unh, weh.” The infant rocked its head back and forth. I went to the fire, picked up a twist of snake, then returned. I knelt next to Zammis and held the snake to its lips. Again, the child pushed it away. “Come on, you. You have to eat.” I tried again with the same results. I took the wraps off the child and looked at its body. I could tell it was losing weight, although Zammis didn’t appear to be getting weak. I shrugged, wrapped it up again, stood, and began walking back to my mattress.

“Guh, weh.”

I turned. “What?”

“Ah, guh, guh.”

I went back, stooped over and picked the child up. Its eyes were open and it looked into my face, then smiled.

“What’re you laughing at, ugly? You should get a load of your own face.”

Zammis barked out a short laugh, then gurgled. I went to my mattress, sat down, and arranged Zammis in my lap. “Gumma, buh, buh.” Its hand grabbed a loose flap of snakeskin on my shirt and pulled on it.

“Gumma buh buh to you, too. So, what do we do now? How about I start teaching you the line of Jeriban? You’re going to have to learn it sometime, and it might as well be now.” The Jeriban line. My recitations of the line were the only things Jerry ever complimented me about. I looked into Zammis’s eyes. “When I bring you to stand before the Jeriba archives, you will say this: ‘Before you here I stand, Zammis of the line of Jeriba, born of Shigan, the fighter pilot.’ ” I smiled, thinking of the upraised yellow brows if Zammis continued, “and, by damn, Shigan was a Helluva good pilot, too. Why, I was once told he took a smart round in his tail feathers, then pulled around and rammed the kizlode sonofabitch, known to one and all as Willis E. Davidge . . .” I shook my head. “You’re not going to get your wings by doing the line in English, Zammis.” I began again:

“Naatha nu enta va, Zammis zea does Jeriba, estay va Shigan, asaam naa denvadar. . . .”

For eight of those long days and nights, I feared the child would die. I tried everything—roots, dried berries, dried plumfruit, snakemeat dried, boiled, chewed, and ground. Zammis refused it all. I checked frequently, but each time I looked through the child’s wraps, they were as clean as when I had put them on. Zammis lost weight, but seemed to grow stronger. By the ninth day it was crawling the floor of the cave. Even with the fire, the cave wasn’t really warm. I feared that the kid would get sick crawling around naked, and I dressed it in the tiny snakeskin suit and cap Jerry had made for it. After dressing it, I stood Zammis up and looked at it. The kid had already developed a smile full of mischief that, combined with the twinkle in its yellow eyes and its suit and cap, made it look like an elf. I was holding Zammis up in a standing position. The kid seemed pretty steady on its legs, and I let go. Zammis smiled, waved its thinning arms about, then laughed and took a faltering step toward me. I caught it as it fell, and the little Drac squealed.

In two more days Zammis was walking and getting into everything that could be gotten into. I spent many an anxious moment searching the chambers at the back of the cave for the kid after coming in from outside. Finally, when I caught it at the mouth of the cave heading full steam for the outside, I had had enough. I made a harness out of snakeskin, attached it to a snake-leather leash, and tied the other end to a projection of rock above my head. Zammis still got into everything, but at least I could find it.

Four days after it learned to walk, it wanted to eat. Drac babies are probably the most convenient and considerate infants in the universe.

They live off their fat for about three or four Earth weeks, and don’t make a mess the entire time. After they learn to walk, and can therefore make it to a mutually agreed upon spot, then they want food and begin discharging wastes. I showed the kid once how to use the litter box I had made, and never had to again. After five or six lessons, Zammis was handling its own drawers. Watching the little Drac learn and grow, I began to understand those pilots in my squadron who used to bore each other—and everyone else—with countless pictures of ugly children, accompanied by thirty-minute narratives for each snapshot. Before the ice melted, Zammis was talking. I taught it to call me “Uncle.”

For lack of a better term, I called the ice-melting season “spring.” It would be a long time before the scrub forest showed any green or the snakes ventured forth from their icy holes. The sky maintained its eternal cover of dark, angry clouds, and still the sleet would come and coat everything with a hard, slippery glaze. But the next day the glaze would melt, and the warmer air would push another millimeter into the soil.

I realized that this was the time to be gathering wood. Before the winter hit, Jerry and I working together hadn’t gathered enough wood. The short summer would have to be spent putting up food for the next winter. I was hoping to build a tighter door over the mouth of the cave, and I swore that I would figure out some kind of indoor plumbing. Dropping your drawers outside in the middle of winter was dangerous. My mind was full of these things as I stretched out on my mattress watching the smoke curl through a crack in the roof of the cave. Zammis was off in the back of the cave playing with some rocks that it had found, and I must have fallen asleep. I awoke with the kid shaking my arm.


“Huh? Zammis?”

“Uncle. Look.”

I rolled over on my left side and faced the Drac. Zammis was holding up its right hand, fingers spread out. “What is it, Zammis?”

“Look.” It pointed at each of its three fingers in turn. “One, two, three.”


“Look.” Zammis grabbed my right hand and spread out the fingers. “One, two, three, four, five!”

I nodded. “So you can count to five.”

The Drac frowned and made an impatient gesture with its tiny fists. “Look.” It took my outstretched hand and placed its own on top of it. With its other hand, Zammis pointed first at one of its own finge