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Less than the numerous billions of stars within the universe, what types will alien existence take? How will they dwell? And what's going to ensue after we meet them? extraterrestrial beings: fresh Encounters collects solutions to those questions from a few of today's top technology fiction writers. From first encounters to existence along aliens—and tales of the aliens' personal lives—here are many futures: violent and peaceable, star-spanning and private. just one factor is bound: alien lifestyles will defy our expectancies.

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Example text

W hen you are forced to accept war as a fact, death becom es something you have to reckon with, a harsh reality that mangles your life even if it leaves you physically unharmed. But the kind o f death I m et with on the second page o f the Borba paper was by no means com m on and therefore acceptable in its inevitability: . . and we looked down the well in the back yard. We pulled up the bucket — it was fu ll o f testicles, about 300 in all. An image as if fabricated to m anufacture horror. A long line o f men, hundreds o f them, som eone’s hands, a lightning swift jab o f a knife, then blood, a jet o f thick dark blood cooling on som eone’s hands, on clothing, on the ground.

He asked me. When I told him I was from Croatia his tone o f voice changed instantly. ‘I’ve read in the newspapers 32 ON BECOMING A REFUGEE that you refugees are getting m ore money per month from the state than we retired people do, and I worked hard for forty years as a university professor for my pension. ’ The irony in his voice was already triggering a surge o f anger in me. 1 felt an almost physical need to explain my position to him, that 1 am not ‘w e’ and that ‘w e’ are not getting money anyway.

But while she is packing, I notice at the bottom o f her suitcase a little shabby grey dog, her favourite toy. I hold my breath for a moment, pretending not to see it. How does one recognize the beginning o f it all, I wondered not long ago. Now I see the answer in a tiny padded dog packed away among my daughter’s belongings: the war is here, now. ’ W e are all trapped. The two girls are at war, too: and even if hostilities were to cease instantly, how long would it take for these girls not to be afraid o f landing in Zagreb?

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