“The Captain’s Sphere” by Malcolm A. Schmitz A CrossGenres Story


From Crossgenres.com

Crossed Genres Publications is a small press publisher of progressive speculative fiction based in Framingham, Massachusetts.

It’s the mission of Crossed Genres Publications to give a voice to people often ignored or marginalized in SFF, which has led us to publish titles focused on older women, overweight women, immigration,skilled laborers, QUILTBAG families, and people marginalized throughout history.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Planets Collide


When Ava goes to the sky-docks on business, she dresses like a man.

Her uniform is perfect, her buttons burnished, her overcoat belted over the top. She hides her hair under an aviator’s cap, buckling the cap snugly around her chin; sometimes a dark strand of it falls out, and she tucks it back in. She laces her thickest boots tightly, even though they chafe against her false leg. For new acquaintances and potential partners, she allows her detested beard to grow and bears its scratch and torment.

The seedy office overlooks the sky-docks and reeks of Harrington’s stale tobacco. When she talks to him, she tries to do all the little things that will get her the respect she knows she’s earned, even though he’s known her for years. She splays her legs out, leans forward, and breathes in the pipe smoke like she was born for it.

“You’re going out again?” he asks.

“I need to catch an angel,” she tells him. “I’ll cover the expense.”

“Another one? How much time are you going to spend out there?”

“Enough. When last we were out, I found a throne.”

“A what?” He squints at her, pushing his glasses up. He resembles a walrus, all bushy moustaches and little dark eyes in a web of wrinkles.

“It’s a term of art. A group of angels. If I can approach them before we catch one, I may have a chance to study them in their natural habitat.”

“And you’ll risk your life and our ship for this, Lord Loftus?” He taps his pipe against the desk. “I know you like to study angels, but getting that close is real risky.”

She mentally sighs. She’s been doing this for years, since she was hardly more than a child: when she ran away from school, disguised herself as a boy, and went to sky. She’s known most of these people for a decade. But women don’t go to sky. Most everyone thinks of her as a man, because that’s how she acts.

The language of social spheres is one Ava understands, but she speaks haltingly and with an imperfect accent. Men lead and protect from the masculine sphere, women nurture and admire from the feminine sphere, and admen toil and build in the neuter sphere. It doesn’t matter what sort of body you have, or even what sort of mind, really – it matters what you do. When one does things that are ‘meant’ to be done by men, if one says one’s a woman, people will assume lunacy, and act accordingly. To act – and succeed – in the masculine sphere, she must become a pretender, and bear the epithets of Lord and sir and he.

The words are light as air, but they fall on her shoulders like heavy snow. Ava knows she ought to ignore them, but they still rankle. click for more

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