Excerpt for Outposts of Beyond January 2018 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Outposts of Beyond

January 2018

Published by Alban Lake Publishing at Smashwords

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Short Stories

The Library of Ice by Mike Morgan

I Do Have Half of an Octopus, I Believe It Is by Tim McDaniel

Cyberlink by Eamonn Murphy

Savant by Maureen Bowden


Tempting Fate by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Tick Tock by K. S. Hardy

Freighter Pilot Has Alien Elvis’ Baby by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

The Imbuing of a Celestial Orb by Robert William Shmigelsky

A Robot’s Question by Vonnie Winslow Crist

Talisman by Vonnie Winslow Crist

They Dig by K. S. Hardy

Perimeter by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Venus by John Grey

Robots vs Humanity by John Grey


Editorial: Why I Write

A Wolf to Guard the Door, reviewed by Eamonn Murphy

Book Reviews by Jim Lee

JFK and the Space Nazi by Robert E. Porter

A Little Help, Please


Universal Wonder by Mitchell Davidson Bentley

The Cold Moon by Sandy DeLuca




WEBMASTER: Tyree Campbell


Cover art “Universal Wonder” by Mitchell Davidson Bentley

Cover design by Atomic Fly Studios

We highly encourage letters to the editor, and will publish some as a feature in future editions of Outposts of Beyond. Send them to, and please put Letters in the subject line.

Vol. V, No.3 January 2018

Outposts of Beyond is published quarterly on the 1st day of January, April, July, and October in the United States of America by Alban Lake Publishing, P.O. Box 141, Colo, Iowa, 50056-0141. Copyright 2018 by Alban Lake Publishing. All rights revert to authors and artists upon publication except as noted in selected individual contracts. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the authors and artists. Any similarity between places and persons mentioned in the fiction or semi-fiction and real places or persons living or dead is coincidental. Writers and artists guidelines are available online at Guidelines are also available upon request from Alban Lake, P.O. Box 141, Colo, Iowa, USA, 50056-0141, if request is accompanied by a self-addressed #10 envelope with a first-class US stamp. Editor: Tyree Campbell. Subscriptions: $27 for one year [4 issues], $50 for two years [8 issues]. Single copies $8.00 postage paid in the United States. Subscriptions to Canada: $33 for one year, $60 for two years. Single copies $10.00 postage paid to Canada. U.S. and Canadian subscribers remit in U.S. funds. All other countries inquire about rates.

Editorial: Why I Write

There’s a very easy answer, and I could end this piece almost immediately with it: I have stories to tell.

But telling stories is and has always been an act of creation, a means of relaying events both actual and fictitious to an audience eager to learn, to imagine, to dream. That necessarily makes complicated the writers’ acts of creation. The key words here are “to an audience.” True, and especially in the world of the small independent press, the audiences are small. Our voices, our words, are drowned out by the overwhelming noise that emanates from the major publishing houses.

Theodore Sturgeon’s Law applies, of course, to presses big and small: 90% of everything is crap. Still, we try harder as a small indie, simply because we cannot compete monetarily with the behemoths, so we have to do so qualitatively. And leave it up to the reader to decide whether a story is worth reading.

That’s a great source of motivation.

I write, then, not just because I must, but also because I can make a difference. So do most other writers. You’ll hear their voices in this, and in our other publications. You’re invited . . .

Tyree Campbell

January 2018

btw, Letters to the Editor will be read and, perhaps, even published. Address them to

Crisis, with Pterodactyls

By Tyree Campbell

Crisis, with Pterodactyls is a two-part steampunk story. In the first part, Cherry Gentry must go back in time from the year 2053, dressed as a man, to persuade the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to use a steam-powered printing press. There she meets a man who is willing to assist her—for a price! In the second part, Cherry and her companions find themselves among dinosaurs, with no idea how they got there. Escape proves problematic—and comes at a cost. Even if you don’t think you like steampunk, you’ll enjoy this character-driven story.

a 99-cent short story!

The Library of Ice

Mike Morgan

The ice was coming for them. Tendrils of frozen gray were snaking across the curved racks of books, sending out gunshot cracks of sound as new ice crystals formed. The shifting, growing mass was barely six feet away and closing rapidly.

"This is completely unacceptable," said Somerled, "I can't die yet--I haven't finished my book."


Somerled had one goal left in life--he wanted to read. With each shake of a medical expert’s head, with each increasingly blunt prognosis, his other dreams and ambitions had fallen away one by one, decreed unrealistic, unobtainable, too likely to sabotage his drug regimen, until only this last objective remained. If he could do nothing else, if time for all other endeavors was lost to him, he could at least read.

The consensus among all his doctors was that he had only a few months of mobility to enjoy, at best. Then, he would be confined to bed, then to a life-support cradle, and then... More than one expert had advised him to fill out a will, while he still could.

After struggling with his condition, his Syndrome, for so long, it was a shock to hear the end was finally near. With the passing of the years and the skillful deployment of gradually more powerful prescriptions, Somerled had started to believe he might win this fight with a body crumbling from the inside out, or he might at least pass away from old age before a winner could be decided. But no, there would be no such stay of execution.

The cancellation of what he had deluded himself into thinking would be his last several decades of comfortable retirement had brought clarity of thought, if nothing else. If he had time for the achievement of only one last task, then let that feat be the devouring of books. Here on Ceres, he hoped his wish would be granted.


Gliding in a long hop into the library, Somerled took a moment to absorb his surroundings. Like the rest of the dwarf planet's interior, the library was an ultra-low-g environment, with less than one percent of Earth gravity present. Somerled couldn't float here as he could in his usual zero-g haunts, but it wasn't so different. Close enough that his brittle bones, pocked with a ruinous chaos of holes and fissures, wouldn’t shatter under the weight of his own flesh.

The microgravity made the trip possible. Without it, his doctors would never have let him travel.

In the near absence of gravity, almost every surface in the room was used in some way, giving the main chamber a strangely cave-like appearance: shelves jutting from opposing walls almost touched, forming stalactites and stalagmites of compressed literature. Under it all, there was a dull, pedestrian floor for patrons to eventually fall down to; like most of the surfaces in Ceres colony, it sported patterns of inlaid metal.

Grabbing hold of a handrail, he oriented himself to the same "up" as the reception area and pushed off in that direction.

"How may I be of assistance?" asked the librarian, before glancing up and taking in Somerled's appearance.

She covered her shock well. Somerled appreciated the effort. Some people screamed when they saw him.


"My name is Somerled Overgaard. I'm here about the Space Force Adventures books."

"I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with..." began the librarian, but Somerled handed her a data tablet with a letter of introduction already displayed.

She tried her best, he was sure, but her hand still wavered for a fraction of a second before she took hold of the small e-reader. Like so many, the librarian was nervous about touching anything he'd laid hands on.

Her eyes widened a little when she saw the signature of the library's Head of Popular Media at the bottom of the document.

"I called ahead to get special priority for the reservations," Somerled explained. "I prefer paper books and since you generally only stock one physical copy of each edition, I wanted to make certain they'd all be here during my stay."

She looked uncertain. "But there are so many."

Somerled put on his most ingratiating smile. "I've come a long way. Maybe that's why your boss took pity on me."

The diminutive, black-haired woman frowned. "Oh, you're not from the Belt?" She was being so very careful not to stare at his skin.

Somerled nodded slowly. "I'm from Outpost Europa, a small satellite colony. The Ceres Collection is the preeminent source of books and art for the entire Trans-Martian/Jovian region. Excluding libraries on Earth, your institution is by far the best in the civilized system."

"Thank you," she replied, enjoying the flattery. He noted how the fabric of her clothing was shot through with the same patterns of metal he’d seen in the flooring. The spaceport employees’ uniforms had featured similar motifs too. It was a degree of design consistency he hadn’t expected. The librarian’s next words dragged his attention back to their conversation. "But how can you read all these before your entry visa expires?"

Most visas to Ceres were limited to thirty days. Somerled had made special arrangements to get around that limitation. "You needn't worry. I took the liberty of arranging an extended visit." Somerled tried not to dwell on her use of the word ‘expire.’ He knew all too well he was likely to expire before his entry documentation.

Before she could ask any more questions, Somerled got in one of his own. "What's your name?"

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