139

They pull their fist closed as another species drops. Saiga antelopes. Murre. Musk oxen. They swivel in their chair, facing the panorama of beastkind surrounding them. Gnarly fingers point. Who next?

No species may be safe from the mass die-offs stemming from warm, wet or otherwise anomalous weather. Here, D. A. Xiaolin Spires anthropomorphises climate change as a villain searching for its next prey. Her work joins the growing genre of climate fiction and anthologies like Ecopunk

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires runs, hides and dives—shedding fur to escape Climate Change’s warm, wet, idiosyncratic wrath. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Fireside.//

130

We play litter-hopscotch. Wu falls, writhes in plastic nets, splashes into the sea. But my ballerina balance shoes tiptoe across the football field-sized patch of debris. I jump over a bucket. I win.

Babies love to play with cardboard boxes and litter.  So do kids of the future. As the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” grows from its current size of three Frances , one can imagine smaller patches serving as kids’ play zones. With the rising sea-level making future humans live more aquatic lifestyles, advances in tech in textiles and shoes make us even more agile and buoyant. // Statement by the Author

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires sails the waters in her boat of cobbled-together plastic litter. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Fireside.//

126

The world’s homebody population watched the last corporate office detonate, making room for more residential housing. Powerhouses of labor, they stepped out to celebrate and blinked in the sun.

As more and more of the population works from home, one can imagine a future where everyone is able to. Imagine if they could 3-D print all the supplies they need and never needing to step foot out of their “bedroom office.” Corporate office skyscrapers could make way for even more housing. Economizing on energy use, this trajectory of the future of labor might not be so bad (at least from a narrowly conceived environmental perspective)! // Statement by the Author

 //D.A. Xiaolin Spires types furiously from home. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Fireside.//

122

A mercurial, opalescent hand surges from thawing permafrost, dives into waves, twisting as it searches for victims. It pools around goggles of deep sea explorers and plunges into fish’s gaping mouths.

As climate change drives temperatures up and the permafrost thaws, a hidden danger swims closer to the surface . Beneath the crust of Artic permafrost, around 23 Olympic swimming pools of mercury lie still, waiting for their toxic release. Inspired by this discover, D. A. Xiaolin Spires anthropomorphises mercury to create an unnamed villian. Is this antagonist a true villain or a defender of the planet from those destroying it? Only the reader can decide. // Alex Massey

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires emerges from the permafrost. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Terraform.//

114

Inchoate beings in the Corvus constellation wrap beaks around space-time, creating parabolic curves to hook succulent temporal anomalies.

On Earth, scientists have found that crafty ravens make tools such as hooks to scoop up food at a faster pace (as the only non-human hook-making animals in the wild). Meanwhile, in the Corvus (raven) constellation, D. A. Xiaolin Spires’ inchoate beings are displaying the same complex brainpower and engineering capacity to signal intelligent life. As we’ve seen in past stories, ravens are known for their intelligence, able to recognise faces, and more. Who knows what else their parallel raven constellation brethren could do? 

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires manufactures hooks using her sharp beak. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Fireside. @spireswriter//

109

Retiring Faux-Meat Competitive Eater Checks Into A Diet Facility
Surgeons penetrate her skull, implant an electrode into her basal
forebrain and press the trigger. ~
Zz!~ Her cravings switch off.

 In the first serial story published by the Vault, D. A. Xiaolin Spires serves us up a second helping of competitive eater Yamamoto. Reading that innovative approaches to food cravings and impulsive behavior may lead to new methods of dietary supervision, Spires surrenders her character to another stage for observation by a crowd – a diet facility. Is this technology new in her universe? Or are cravings now pathologised? That is up to the impulses of our readers. // Alex Massey

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires chomps on a faux-meat “Sham Jim”. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Fireside. @spireswriter//

108

Flecks fly from Yamamoto’s lips. She soaks another lab-grown burger in water, swallows it whole. The crowd cheers, waving flags featuring animations of stem cell extraction.

As lab-grown meat grows in popularity, the public begins to turn its attention from the scientists who created it to where it will be sold. Contemplating this, D. A. Xiaolin Spires blends together the notions of promotional stunts and extreme sports to create a new competitive eating contest. In the crowd, the ethical consumer cheers, waving flags made of digital OLED fabrics. In Spires’ future, GIFS are printable, and meat is vegetarian. Will her fiction become fact before our very eyes? // Alex Massey

//D.A. Xiaolin Spires waves from a billowing fabric screen. Work in Clarkesworld, Analog and Fireside. @spireswriter//