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LOVE HURTS

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Twenty-six brilliant speculative fiction stories about love, and the pain that so often accompanies it. Enjoy a cornucopia of imaginative tales, wondrous settings, and unforgettable characters—such as the disillusioned time traveler who visits ancient Japan to experience a “Moment of Zen,” the young woman from planet Kiruna who can only communicate in song when the moonlet Saarakka is up, and the sorcerer who loses their happiness in a bet with a demon.

Rich and wonderfully diverse, this collection spans many speculative fiction genres: from SciFi to Dystopian, from Fantasy to Magical Realism, from Steampunk to Superhero, from Horror to Weird. Sometimes funny, occasionally happy, frequently gut-wrenching—these stories will take your heart on a wild emotional ride.

Stories by Jeff VanderMeer, Hugh Howey, Karin Tidbeck, Charlie Jane Anders, Holly Phillips, Aliette de Bodard, A. Merc Rustad, Steve Simpson, Mel Paisley, J. D. Brink, Matt Leivers, Michael Milne, Michal Wojcik, Carla Dash, Terry Durbin, Michelle Ann King, Kyle Richardson, Leah Brown, G. Scott Huggins, Dan Micklethwaite, Victoria Zelvin, Shannon Phillips, Keith Frady, Jody Sollazzo, David Stevens, and Morgen Knight.

. . . the quality is consistently good. Kyle Richardson’s ‘Catching On’ is a superhero story with an unexpectedly moving ending.

IndieReader

. . . a top-shelf selection of tales . . . consistently strong . . .

Kirkus Reviews

Hailey rolls her eyes, like she’s had this conversation a thousand times before. “The accelerator,” she says. “The one you’re going to help me destroy? We’ve been over this already.”

The accelerator. Just the mention of it sends a shiver up my spine. The new particle cannon, built by Falory Industries, designed to blast an ordinary human to the end of the temporal spectrum. Man’s attempt at unzipping the fabric of time with a giant, gleaming gun. “No,” I say, leaning back in my chair, “I’m pretty sure we haven’t had this conversation yet.”

Hailey’s shoulders slump. She looks tired, worn out, like a mannequin left in the sun so long it’s started to melt. “Well, whatever,” she says. “We’re having it now.” She places her slender hand on mine and says, “You’ll help me, right?” Her glossy eyes lock on.

My cheeks flush and my gut twists, just a bit. Cloudy eyes, porcelain skin, the face of a black-and-white Hollywood starlet—looking at Hailey is like looking at a beautiful corpse. My body never knows how to react. “I don’t know,” I mumble. I clear my throat and look away.

Hailey squeezes my hand, undeterred. “You know I can’t break in without you.”

— from Catching On, by Kyle Richardson