Science fiction and urban fantasy author Elizabeth Bear always surprises you. She'll write hard military SF like the superlative Carnival, complete with spies and alien tech, and then she'll turn around and write a book like New Amsterdam, about a forensic sorceress in an alternate-ninteenth century New York City full of crime and magic. Her restless, weird imagination always brings contradictory ideas together in a pleasing mashup. You can sample some of Bear's talent in her recent short story "Tideline," now free online, about a derelict war bot who befriends a homeless kid.

Here's a sample from the story's opening:

They would have called her salvage, if there were anyone left to salvage her. But she was the last of the war machines, a three-legged oblate teardrop as big as a main battle tank, two big grabs and one fine manipulator folded like a spider's palps beneath the turreted head that finished her pointed end, her polyceramic armor spiderwebbed like shatterproof glass. Unhelmed by her remote masters, she limped along the beach, dragging one fused limb. She was nearly derelict.


Intrigued? You should be. Here's your lunch break reading. Art above by Steve Stone, from the cover of Carnival.

Tideline [via Elizabeth Bear]