The ISF Magazine is proud to present a short story by Lou Antonelli!
Lou published is first short story in 2003 when he was 46. Since then he has had 77 short stories published in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, in venues such as Asimov’s Science Fiction, Jim Baen’s Universe, Dark Recesses, Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, Greatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD), and Daily Science Fiction, among many others. He has received eleven honorable mentions in the annual anthology “The Year’s Best Science Fiction” edited by Gardner Dozois and published by St. Martin’s Press for 2010, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 2004.
His steampunk short story, “A Rocket for the Republic”, was the last story accepted by Dozois before he retired as editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction after 19 years. It was published in Asimov’s in September 2005 and placed third in the annual Readers’ Poll.
THE RETURN OF ALFRED BESTER
By Lou Antonelli
“That’s strange, I thought the nickname ‘Pops’ was used by Americans for an elderly man,” said the Captain. “You don’t look very old at all.”
“Physically, I’m only 35, although chronologically I’m 837,” said Pops. “That’s not where I got the nickname. It comes from an old American frozen treat, the popsicle.”
The Captain stiffened. “I didn’t know you had been resuscitated.”
“That’s okay, I’m glad to be alive,” said Pops. “Of all the ‘criminals’ who were frozen by the American People’s Republic, I was one of the guiltiest. I wasn’t a businessman, I was a traitor.”
“That explains your accent,” said the Captain. “The Texas War.”
“That explains why they stuck me here in this grunt job entering records for my rehabilitation,” said Pops. “You said you could use my help. How could I possibly help you?”
The Captain sat down and laid his cap on the table. “You probably know the Aryan Nation in Idaho is the area most culturally similar to the old United States.”
“Yes, from what I’ve heard, they haven’t learned a thing.”
“They haven’t forgotten a thing, either,” said the Captain. ”Have you heard of Doctor Gul-Branson?”
“Yes, the anthropologist at the university in Sallake City,” said Pops. ”He comes by headquarters often, although I haven’t seen him in a few months.”
“That’s because he’s in Idaho right now and he’s not an anthropologist, he’s an ethnographer,” said the Captain. ”He went into the mountains to do some field research and study their isolated culture.”
“Not to be rude, but what has this got to do with me?”
“The Aryans opened up a little with Dr. Gul-Branson because his specialty is American culture. They seemed to have some sympathy for him, because he knows about their origins. But communications have gotten spotty, and we’re worried about him. His most recent message seemed very stiff and stilted. He won’t set a date to leave.”
“You think he might be under some kind of duress?”