Contributor Feature Image

Featured Contributor: Jay O’Connell

Open Quote

Jay O'Connell, author of Snapshot

Jay O’Connell, author of Snapshot

The woman’s wrinkles were probably fake, too. An emotion I didn’t understand prickled the hairs at the nape of neck, and I wondered what it would be like, to live for a century or more in human form. Fun. As if in response, the Beacon thrummed gently in my pocket, its satin voice trickling down my auditory nerve like ice water.

One hour to my recall. One hour left to live.

Outside the hall the night was warm and fragrant of Creole cooking, fried shrimp and garlic, beer and sweat. A pair of children, maybe seven or eight years old, tap-danced for a small crowd of onlookers. The bottle caps glued to their sneakers clattered against the gritty pavement, as they grinned like mad, and humans and ETs alike snapped holos and tossed five dollar coins into the cardboard box at their feet. Something about the scene irritated me.

A large grizzled man stumbled out of the Hall behind me, his skin caramel colored, except for a whitish patch peeking from the open V of his red flannel shirt. Skin color was still important, here in the Southern states. He was what they called black. I was white. In actuality, we were both shades of brown.

Cover_IF11_100x133_NLHe walked drunkenly, like a man on a tightrope, to where the kids were tap-dancing. “How much for you boys to knock it off?” he said thickly.

They stopped dancing. The older of the pair frowned up at him. “What you mean?”

“How much to make you stop,” his gesture took in the semicircle of tourists, “stop demeaning humanity for pocket change?”

The kid squinted, chewed his lip. “Five hundred dollars?”

The drunk peeled five notes from a small wad of bills, and tossed it into the box top.

He slapped me on the shoulder as the kids gathered their money and scampered away to start somewhere else. “You sir,” he said. The skin around his eyes was tightly wrinkled with a lifetime of warring emotions, his breath redolent of whisky and raw oysters. “Why did you leave that show?”

I shrugged. I really didn’t know.Close Quote


Continue reading the Snapshot in IF10


Jay O’Connell writes science fiction when he isn’t busy living it, just down the street from the MIT campus in Cambridge MA. He lives with his wife, kids, cats and computers and awaits the singularity with a mixture of anticipation and nostalgia for a vanished world of book and record stores, fizzling vacuum tubes filled with static (the color of the sky over the port of Chiba city.) He has sold ten stories in 2013, after a few decades break from writing, and you can find his fiction in Asimov’s, Stupifying Stories, Istoptropic fiction and probably a few other places as well; you can follow his progress, or lack thereof, at, where he blogs about the creative process and The Meaning of Life.

Isotropic Discussion

Got something to say? Here's the place to do it. Don't let a touch of visiobibliophobia or prosopobibliophobia stop you from being heard.