Air Bridge (20)
July 11, 2015
HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize Hammond Innes’s 1951 espionage thriller/Robinsonade Air Bridge. Set in England during the Berlin blockade and airlift of 1948–49 (during which time the British RAF and other aircrews frustrated the Soviet Union’s attempt to gain practical control of that city), the novel’s protagonist is a mercenary pilot… but is he a traitor? Hammond Innes wrote over 30 adventures, many of them set in hostile natural environments. Enjoy!
As I sat there in the cockpit, I was conscious of a growing sense of panic. To go on and on — that was all I wanted — to go on into infinity, into unconsciousness. Automatically I kept glancing at my watch. Just as automatically I pressed forward on the control column, as my watch came up to five, pushing the nose of the plane down. It was only years of operational training that enabled me to do that, for it was against all reason, against all the instinctive desire of mind and body. It meant action.
The clouds came up to meet me. From a flat sea of gray they became a tenuous, insubstantial drift of mist. Then the stars were blotted out and nothing was visible beyond the pulsating interior of the cockpit. I watched the altimeter dial — 6,000 — 5,500 — 5,000. Through my earphones I was picking up instructions from Gatow Airways to planes reporting over Frohnau: Okay York 315. Channel A-able and call Controller. And then another York was in my headphones reporting number and cargo at twenty miles. York 270. Clear to Beacon.
I pressed my A button for automatic radio tuning to Gatow Tower. York 315. Clear to QSY. Channel D-dog and call Gatow director.
Channel D-dog. That was Ground Control Approach! Things were bad down there. It meant ceiling zero and driving rain. It meant that I should have to do a controlled approach landing. I’d never done one before. I’d never been talked down in my life. We hadn’t had those sort of aids when I had been flying on Ops. I cleared my throat and pressed my B button. “Hallo, Gatow Airways!” I called. “Hallo, Gatow Airways!”
Faint through the earphones came the answering voice from Gatow. “Gatow Airways answering. Give your number and position please. Give your number and position please. Over.”
“Hallo, Gatow. I have no number. This is Saeton’s Dakota returning from Hollmind. Fraser piloting. I am now leveling out at Angels Five and will give you my position from Frohnau beacon. Can you direct me in please? Over.”
“Gatow Airways answering. You cannot land at Gatow. I repeat, you cannot land at Gatow. Overshoot and proceed to Wunstorf. Proceed to Wunstorf. Acknowledge please. Over.”
A wave of dizziness caught me and for a moment I thought I was going to black out. Then it had passed. “Fraser answering. I must land at Gatow. I am injured. I must land at Gatow.” I started to tell them what had happened to Tubby and how Saeton was wounded, but they cut me short. “Overshoot and proceed to Wunstorf. I repeat: Overshoot and proceed to Wunstorf.”
“I cannot fly any farther,” I cried desperately. “Am coming down. Repeat I am coming down.”
There was a pause. Then: “Okay, Fraser. Give your position, please.”
I looked quickly down at the instrument panel. The plane was fitted with a Speny automatic pilot. “I am going back now to get M/F bearings on Frohnau and Gatow. Off.”
I switched over to the automatic pilot and went back to the navigator’s desk. I got the M/F bearings and found that my position was almost directly over Spandau. I moved back to the cockpit and in sliding into the pilot’s seat wrenched my arm so that I had to bite back the scream of pain that came to my throat. Half-collapsed over the control column I called Gatow again: “Hallo, Gatow. Fraser calling. Am flying Angels Five directly above Spandau. Please direct me. Please direct me. Course now 085 degrees. Please direct me. Over.”
“Hallo, Fraser. Keep flying your present height and course. I will direct you in a few minutes. Give speed and acknowledge. Over.”
“Speed 135,” I answered. “I await your directions. Over.”
I wiped the sweat from my forehead and disconnected the automatic pilot. Waves of nausea swept over me. My mind seemed a blank, unable to concentrate. Through the earphones came the sound of Gatow calling other planes. From the fuselage behind me I heard Saeton’s voice call out, “Fraser! Are you in trouble?”
“No,” I said. “No, I’m all right.”
“If you want any help…”
But I didn’t trust him. “I’m all right,” I called back. “Don’t flap.” My throat felt dry. My tongue was like a piece of coarse flannel. I wanted to vomit.
“Hallo, Fraser. Gatow Airways calling Fraser. Can you hear me? Over.”
“Fraser answering. I hear you.” My voice sounded weak and hoarse. Oh God! I breathed. Let’s get this over.
“GCA think they have located you. Channel D-dog and call Director.”
“Roger, Gatow.” I pressed my D button, my hand trembling and damp with sweat. “Hallo, Gatow Director. Fraser calling Gatow Director.”
A new voice, much clearer, sounded in my earphones. “Turn 180 degrees, Fraser. Turn 180 degrees.”
“Roger, Director.” I braced myself for the effort and shifted the control column, giving right rudder at the same time. The movement brought the sweat cold on my forehead again. I should never make it. I felt I just couldn’t make it. The control column was heavy as lead. To work the rudder brought my shoulder in contact with the back of the seat. Pain seared through my neck and up into my head as I completed the turn and straightened out. God! This was going to be hell.
“Thank you, Fraser,” came the voice of the Director of Controlled Approach. “I have now identified you. New course. Left on to 245 degrees and reduce height to 3,000. Acknowledge.”
“Roger.” I turned the plane on to. its new course, my senses strained to catch the director’s voice. I felt sick with the strain. If only I had done one of these landings before! A sheet of water lashed against the windshield. The plane bucketed violently, wrenching at my shoulder as I moved to maintain course, the control column thrust forward, my eyes fixed on the altimeter dial and the luminous circle of the compass where the needle hovered at 245.
Else touched my arm. “Are you all right, Neil? Can I dp anything?”
“No,” I said. “I’m all right. Just watch Saeton, that’s all.”
She wiped the sweat from my forehead with her handkerchief. “If you want me…”
“I’m all right,” I almost screamed at her. “Strap yourself in. Go on. Fix your safety belt. We’ll be going down in a minute.”
She hesitated. Her hand touched mine — a caress, a wish that she could help — and then she was gone and I was alone with the voice of GCA saying, “Right on to 250 degrees now, Fraser. Right on to 250. Speed should be 120 now. You’re doing fine. You’ll be into the glide path soon. How are you feeling?”
“I’m feeling all right,” I answered. I wasn’t, but there was no point in telling him that my eyes found it difficult to focus on the instruments. The concentration was causing dizziness. “Hallo, York 270. Climb to 3,000 and return to base. Climb to 3,000 and return to base. Emergency landing ahead of you. Acknowledge. Over.” It was the voice of Gatow Director, clearing the way for me and almost immediately 270 acknowledged. Then GCA was calling me again: “Right on to 252 degrees now, Fraser.” I shifted the rudder slightly and slid on to the new course. “That’s fine, Fraser. You’re on the glide path now. Reduce speed to 100. Lower flaps and undercarriage. Two miles to touch-down. You’re doing fine. Can you hear me? Over.”
“Yes, I can hear you,” I answered.
A new voice came in: “This is talk down. Don’t acknowledge from now on. Check flaps and undercarriage. Reduce height by 500 feet per minute. Fine. Right two degrees. You’re one and a half miles from touch-down now. You’re fifty feet above the glide path. You’re doing fine. Right on the glide path now. One mile to go….”
I could see nothing through the windshield — just my reflection, that was all. I stared at the instrument panel. The dials were blurred. I seemed conscious of nothing but the voice in my earphones. My whole body was tense, reacting to the GCA Director’s instructions. The pain was blinding. My body seemed one screaming hell of pain. It shot along my nerves and jangled in my head like a burglar alarm. I could feel the nerves of my brain stretched taut. And I prayed — God, don’t let me black out now.
“… Half a mile to go now. You’re coming in a little too steeply. You’re below the glide path. Keep up, Fraser! Keep up!” I jerked at the control column, cursing blindly to keep myself from screaming. “That’s fine. You’re bang on now. Left one degree. You’re coming in to touch-down now. Start to level out. You should be able to see the runway lights now. Level out! Level out! Look ahead and land visual.”
I jerked at the control column, peering through the streaming windshield. A light showed — a row of lights. They were blurred and unreal. I felt the plane sag. I had pulled it up too hard. It sagged right down on to the lights, dropping on its belly, heavily, uncontrollably. The wheels hit and I screamed as the seat slashed up into my shoulder. For a second we were airborne and instinctively I applied left rudder and altered the position of the control column. We hit the deck again. But this time we stayed there. I sagged over the control column in a blinding sheet of pain and then I reached for the brakes and applied them. The plane swung — right rudder — but the wing dipped and suddenly we were pivoting to a stop and I blacked out.
I couldn’t have been out for long, for when I came round, Else was just coming through into the cockpit. “Are you all right, Neil?”
I sat up slowly, feeling the stillness of the plane, the lack of motion. Thank God! We were on the ground. I wiped the cold sweat out of my eyes with the back of my hand. I was on the floor and outside the plane I heard voices and the sound of cars and then the roar of a plane landing close by. “Yes,” I said weakly. “I’m all right. What about you?”
“I had my safety belt fixed.” She had knelt down beside me and was loosening my collar. “You were wonderful, Neil. Saeton said you were crazy to try it. He do not think you will do it. I do not think he want you to do it. And when you have done it he ask me…” She turned her head at the sound from the open door of the fuselage. “They are coming now. You will soon be in hospital and then you will be able to rest.”
Figures appeared in the cockpit doorway. The faces were blurred and I pushed my hand across my eyes. “What’s all this about, Fraser?” It was the Wing Co. Flying. “Because of you two planes have had to overshoot and return to base. You were told to proceed to Wunstorf…”
“Please,” Else interrupted him. “He is hurt.”
“It’s his own fault,” the wing commander snapped. “If he’d done as he was told —”
“He is hurt with a bullet,” Else cut in. “How can he go on to Wunstorf? Now please let the doctor see him. He is very bad I think.”
I caught hold of Else’s arm with my left hand. “Help me to my feet,” I said. She put her hands under my armpits and levered me up. I braced myself against the navigator’s table, my eyes closed, fighting to maintain consciousness. The station commander appeared in the doorway. From very far away it seemed I heard him call for a medical orderly. Then he turned back to me. “Before you go off in the ambulance, Fraser, perhaps you’ll explain the extraordinary message you gave Airways.”
“What was that?” I asked uncertainly.
“Something about Carter having been murdered.”
I pushed the sweat out of my eyes again. God! I felt weak. “He was murdered,” I said. “Saeton killed him because he knew I would try to get him back from the Russian zone. If I brought Carter back, then you would have to believe what I put in my report.” My vision had cleared slightly and behind the station commander I saw the figure of Squadron Leader Pierce. “Do you believe me now?” I asked Pierce.
“Where’s Saeton,” he asked. “I thought you said you’d brought him back?”
“Why are you piloting the plane I let Saeton borrow?” the wing commander asked.
And then Pierce again: “What have you done with Saeton?”
Questions, questions, questions — why the devil couldn’t they leave me alone? “You don’t believe what I told you.” My voice was shrill. “You don’t believe me, do you? All right then.” I pushed them out of the way, staggering blindly as I stumbled into the body of the plane. “Pierce,” I called, standing over the blanketed figure of Tubby still strapped along the seats. “Take a look at that.”
Pierce pulled back the blanket. There was a gasp and a short heavy silence. “So Carter was at your farmhouse at Hollmind.” He slowly put back the blanket. Then he turned to me and gripped my left arm. “I’m sorry, Fraser. I’ve been rather dense. Now. Where’s Saeton?”
I looked round. I couldn’t see him and I glanced at Else. “You were in charge of him. Where is he?” I asked.
She shrugged her shoulders. “I do not know. After you land I come straight to the cockpit. I do not trouble myself with him any more.”
Pierce strode to the door. “Sergeant! You were the first here. Did anybody leave the plane?”
“Yes, sir,” came the answer. “A big, powerful-looking man.” There was a hurried exchange of words and then the sergeant added, “He commandeered one of the jeeps. Said he had something urgent to report. He was injured, I think, sir. Leastways, there was a lot of blood on ’im.”
Pierce glanced at me. “Did Saeton do that?” He nodded to the figure huddled under the blanket.
“Yes,” I said.
“Right. Sergeant! Take my jeep — find the man and arrest him. His name is Saeton.” Pierce turned and pushed his way up the fuselage. A moment later I heard him on the R/T to Emergency, ordering them to signal R.A.F. Police to close all exit gates and patrol the standings where aircraft were parked.
Another plane thundered in down the runway. The station commander took my arm. “I’m sorry, Fraser. It seems we’ve all made a mistake. Now we’ll get you to the M.O.” He piloted me to the door. An ambulance was waiting. “Ah, there you are, Gentry. Fraser’s hurt. Better get him across to the sick bay right away.”
Else and the station commander helped me out of the fuselage. The rain drove in sheets across the runway lights. We were just moving across to the back of the ambulance when Pierce flung out of the plane shouting for a car. “What is it, Pierce?” the station commander called.
“Saeton,” he shouted. “Control have just come through on the R/T. Plane 481 — that’s Saeton’s Tudor — has just passed the tower, taxi-ing towards the runway. They’ve ordered him to stop, but he doesn’t answer. They’re calling an R. A.F. Regiment patrol car now.”
We halted and our eyes were turned eastwards towards the purple lights of the perimeter track. Faintly through the driving rain the lights of an aircraft showed, swinging on the last turn, moving forward to line up at the runway end. The driving squalls of rain periodically wiped it out, but a moment later we caught the roar of its engines and twin spotlights came hurtling through the murk towards us, went roaring past us and swept up and on into the night, a single white light that dwindled and was lost almost instantly. In the moment of its hissing, thundering passage past us I had recognized Saeton’s Tudor — my Tudor — the cause of Tunny’s death.
I felt suddenly sick at heart at the thought of Saeton getting away with it. There were the engines, too. They were Tubby’s work as much as his. “You must stop him,” I said to the station commander. “Stop him!”
“Don’t you worry,” was the reply. “Well get him. We’ll send fighters up and force him down.”
I felt sorry then. I had asked for a man-hunt and it seemed I was going to get it. I shivered violently and the M.O. hustled me into the ambulance. All the way to the sick bay I was thinking about Saeton, alone up there in the cockpit of his plane. He was injured, like I had been. But there was no comforting goal for him, nothing for him to try for. He would eventually black out and then….
“It is best he go like this,” Else said quietly. I nodded. Perhaps it was best. But I couldn’t help thinking about it. Where would he try to make for — Russia? One of the satellite countries? He could sell those engines to the Russians. He would be safe behind the Iron Curtain.
Again as though she had read my thoughts, Else said, “You do not have to worry about Saeton. He is gone behind the Iron Curtain. Now I must work to reproduce the engines that we of the West have lost. And you must help, Neil. You are the only person now who know what those engines are like.”
I didn’t say anything. I was only remembering that Saeton had fought in two wars for his country. He had murdered a man so that those engines would be produced in British factories. Surely he wouldn’t barter them with the Russians for his life?
The M.O. wanted to put me straight to bed. But as soon as he had dressed my shoulder I insisted on being taken down to the Operations Room. He tried to make me remain in the sick bay, but somehow I couldn’t face the thought of lying there, waiting for news. In the end he agreed to let me go, but before I left he gave me a dry overcoat and a blanket to wrap round me.
The Operations Room seemed crowded. There was the station commander and Pierce, the Wing Co. Flying and the I.O. Somebody tried to stop Else from coming in with me. I told him to go to hell, and then Harry Culyer was coming towards me. “I just been down to the mortuary with Di,” he said. “She asked me to tell you how much she appreciated…” His voice trailed off. “She was pretty cut up, poor kid.”
“What’s the news of Saeton?” I asked.
‘They’ve got fighter squadrons up searching for him.”
The station commander turned at the sound of my voice. “We’ll get him,” he said. “The weather’s clearing to the west.”
“To the west?”
“He’s flying westward?” I asked.
“Yes. One of our mobile radar outfits located him a few minutes back just south of Hanover.”
“Then he did not go to Russia?” Else exclaimed.
“Of course not,” I said.
“But why does he not go to the Soviet Zone? Is he so stupid he does not know he will be safe there? I do not understand.”
It was impossible for me to explain to the satisfaction of her logical German mind why Saeton had turned his back on the East, so I let it go. I found a chair and slumped into it. Reports were coming in all the time on an R/T loudspeaker, but I didn’t listen. It was squadron-to-base stuff — the fighters reporting back. I didn’t want to listen. It was horrible to think of Saeton up there being hounded by a pack of fighters. And he could so easily have turned eastwards.
The minutes dragged slowly by. Five-thirty… six… six-thirty. Dawn was breaking over the airfield. And then suddenly there was a whoop and somebody’s voice was crackling over the radio: “I’ve got him now. Flying at 10,000 feet, course slightly north of west. He is now over the Scheldt estuary. Making for England, home and beauty, I should say. What do I do now? Over.”
“Tell that boy to start heading him off, back into Germany,” the station commander ordered. “And get the rest of the squadron up with him.”
We followed it all in the R/T messages. In a moment the whole pack of them were buzzing round Saeton, beating him up, diving past his nose, flying just above him, trying to force him down and away from the coast. And I sat there and thought of Saeton alone there in the cockpit of the Tudor, his hand undressed and bleeding, and the fighters hurtling across the perspex so close that he could almost touch them. I could almost feel him wincing at each roar of a machine scraping at the paint of the aircraft. I remembered the pain I had suffered at each movement of the control column. God! It was horrible.
Intermittently the voice of a radio operator kept calling Saeton, ordering him to return to base, to return to Wunstorf. I sat rigid in my seat, expecting all the time to hear Saeton’s voice come in. But he didn’t answer. And as the minutes dragged by, the Operations Room, with its constant stream of instructions to planes coming in and the group of officers waiting, became unreal. In my mind I was there in the cockpit of the Tudor with Saeton. He has turned north now. He has turned north. We are diving right across his nose, but we are making no impression. He won’t turn back. The bastard won’t alter course. What are your instructions please? We cannot fly any closer. Over. The voice of the leader of the fighter squadron, excited, tensed up with the danger of the thing he was doing.
I didn’t hear the reply. I was with Saeton, seeing him hunched over the control column, his face gray, the blood oozing between his fingers and sticky on the wheel. I could see him in my mind so clearly — solid and square, as immovable from his purpose as a bull who has seen the red of the matador’s cloak. What was his purpose? What did he plan to do?
And as if in answer to my question the leader of the squadron came back on the air. He’s putting his nose down now. We’re over the North Sea. And then more excited. He’s going into a power dive. He’s trying to shake us off. He’s going straight down now. My God! No, it’s all right F. for Freddie swept right across his nose, but he’s clear now. Thought they’d tangle that time. I’m right on his tail now. He’s diving on full power. Air speed 320. I’m keeping right on his tail. He’s going straight down. We’re at 5,000 now. Four — three — two. My God! Isn’t he ever going to pull out? I don’t think he can pull out. He can’t possibly pull out.
There was a pause then. The fighter was pulling out of his dive. I knew the rest of it before the squadron leader came back on the air. I’ve just pulled out and am banking. The Tudor drove straight into the sea. There’s a great column of water. It’s settling now. Can’t see anything of the plane. There’s just some slick on the surface of the sea. That’s all. He went straight in. Never pulled out of that dive. Went slap in. Am returning to base now. Am returning the squadron to base.
There was a heavy silence in the Operations Room, broken only by the squadron leader’s voice calling his aircraft into formation. In that silence I had a strange feeling of loss. One shouldn’t have any sympathy for a man like Saeton — his ambition had outrun the bounds of our social code, he had killed a man. And yet… There had been something approaching greatness in him. He was a man who had seen a vision.
I shifted stiffly in my chair and found that Else’s hand was gripping mine. Culyer was the first to speak. “Poor devil! He must have blacked out.”
But I knew he hadn’t blacked out. Else knew it, too, for she said, “He choose the best way.” There was a note of admiration in her voice.
“I’m sorry it had to end like that,” the station commander murmured. I think he was regretting his order to send fighters up.
I closed my eyes. I was feeling very tired.
I looked up. Culyer was standing over me.
“You worked on those engines with Saeton, didn’t you?”
I nodded. I was too tired to speak.
“You know we were arranging for Miss Meyer here to get to work for us and the Rauch Motoren? Well, that’s going to take time. Suppose we do a deal with the British? Suppose the two of you work on the project together?”
Still the engines! I wanted to say, “Damn the bloody engines.” I wanted to tell him that they’d already cost the lives of two men. And then I looked up and saw Else watching me. There was excitement — a sort of longing in her eyes. And then I knew what the future was.
“All right,” I said. “We’ll work on it together.”
Somehow that seemed to make sense — if we reproduced those engines for the West, then perhaps Saeton and Tubby would not have died for nothing. As soon as I had made the decision the tenseness inside me seemed to ease and I was relaxed for the first time in days. Else was smiling. She was happy. And despite the pain of my shoulder I think I was happy too.
RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION: “Radium Age” is HILOBROW’s name for the 1904–33 era, which saw the discovery of radioactivity, the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. This era also saw the publication of genre-shattering writing by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, Olaf Stapledon, Karel Čapek, H.P. Lovecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Philip Gordon Wylie, and other pioneers of post-Verne/Wells, pre-Golden Age “science fiction.” More info here.
READ GORGEOUS PAPERBACKS: HiLoBooks has reissued the following 10 obscure but amazing Radium Age science fiction novels in beautiful print editions: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”), Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt, H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook, Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins, William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, J.D. Beresford’s Goslings, E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man, Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage, and Muriel Jaeger’s The Man with Six Senses. For more information, visit the HiLoBooks homepage.
SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable |
Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire”.
ORIGINAL FICTION: HILOBROW has serialized three novels: James Parker’s The Ballad of Cocky The Fox (“a proof-of-concept that serialization can work on the Internet” — The Atlantic); Karinne Keithley Syers’s Linda Linda Linda (which includes original music); and Robert Waldron’s roman à clef The School on the Fens. We also publish original stories and comics. These include: Matthew Battles’s stories “Gita Nova“, “Makes the Man,” “Imago,” “Camera Lucida,” “A Simple Message”, “Children of the Volcano”, “The Gnomon”, “Billable Memories”, “For Provisional Description of Superficial Features”, “The Dogs in the Trees”, “The Sovereignties of Invention”, and “Survivor: The Island of Dr. Moreau”; several of these later appeared in the collection The Sovereignties of Invention | Peggy Nelson’s “Mood Indigo“, “Top Kill Fail“, and “Mercerism” | Annalee Newitz’s “The Great Oxygen Race” | Flourish Klink’s Star Trek fanfic “Conference Comms” | Charlie Mitchell’s “A Fantasy Land” | Charlie Mitchell’s “Sentinels” | Joshua Glenn’s “The Lawless One”, and the mashup story “Zarathustra vs. Swamp Thing” | Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri’s Idoru Jones comics | John Holbo’s “Sugarplum Squeampunk” | “Another Corporate Death” (1) and “Another Corporate Death” (2) by Mike Fleisch | Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer and Frank Fiorentino’s graphic novel “The Song of Otto” (excerpt) | John Holbo’s graphic novel On Beyond Zarathustra (excerpt) | “Manoj” and “Josh” by Vijay Balakrishnan | “Verge” by Chris Rossi, and his audio novel Low Priority Hero | EPIC WINS: THE ILIAD (1.408-415) by Flourish Klink | EPIC WINS: THE KALEVALA (3.1-278) by James Parker | EPIC WINS: THE ARGONAUTICA (2.815-834) by Joshua Glenn | EPIC WINS: THE MYTH OF THE ELK by Matthew Battles | TROUBLED SUPERHUMAN CONTEST: Charles Pappas, “The Law” | CATASTROPHE CONTEST: Timothy Raymond, “Hem and the Flood” | TELEPATHY CONTEST: Rachel Ellis Adams, “Fatima, Can You Hear Me?” | OIL SPILL CONTEST: A.E. Smith, “Sound Thinking | LITTLE NEMO CAPTION CONTEST: Joe Lyons, “Necronomicon” | SPOOKY-KOOKY CONTEST: Tucker Cummings, “Well Marbled” | INVENT-A-HERO CONTEST: TG Gibbon, “The Firefly” | FANFICTION CONTEST: Lyette Mercier’s “Sex and the Single Superhero”