From the unpublished field journal of James L. Goldstein, PhD, edited and with an afterword by J. J. Roth
Art by Justine McGreevy
In the three years since I left New Earth to take my current post studying native avifauna on the planet Callentradia, I have yet to encounter a species that should charm me as much as falsus-cygnus tympanum, the creature commonly known as the snare.
Snares have none of the annoying habits that many other common birdlike species on Callentradia present. Billy-blues smell like cattle pens. Twee-ops follow whatever they see until another moving animal or object crosses their field of vision. I’ve picked up a small army of them while trying to band a single pale pink leg. Once twee-ops imprint, they’re not easy to shake, but I’ve come up with a method that succeeds 99.9% of the time.
Kellies have a call like a rake on cement. Poreans have a symbiotic relationship with silibotes, midge-like creatures that live under their wings and have a predilection for flying up any human nostrils within sneezing distance.
None of my colleagues at the Center for Naturalist Studies on Callentradia would fault me for becoming a snare specialist. I wouldn’t have to stand for the constant, derisive yammering about perceived shortcomings of intellect or character that passes for camaraderie here, along the lines of, “What do you see in those things, Jim?” and be forced to come up with some sort of lame explanation as I would with, say, billy-blues. Like “Sorry, I’ve had too much of the sulfur-tinged air here, thought I’d try some barnyard for a change,” or “The aroma brings back fond memories of that time we roomed together at orientation, Alan.”
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2013 collection.
James L. Goldstein received his B.S. (summa cum laude), M.S. and Ph.D. all from Bennicott Polytechnic, the most prestigious university in Tellon, the thriving human colony on New Earth. A protégé of the renowned ornithologist, Simeon Brattwick, Dr. Goldstein’s career enjoyed a meteoric rise in the field of off-world ornithology until his beloved wife Allie’s death in the tragic Pioneer’s Cup regatta accident along with 17 other sailors. Fighting debilitating depression in the wake of Allie’s death, Dr. Goldstein left New Earth as a founding member of the Center for Naturalist Studies on the planet Callentradia.
J.J. Roth’s fantasy and science fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, The Colored Lens, Aoife’s Kiss and Every Day Fiction. A transplanted New Yorker, J.J. now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes when not chauffeuring two young sons or working at a large IT company. Visit http://www.jjroth.net for more info and updates.
Justine McGreevy is a slowly recovering perfectionist, writer, and artist. She creates realities to make our own seem slightly less terrifying. Her work can be viewed at http://www.behance.net/Fickle_Muse and you can follow her on Twitter @Fickle_Muse.Follow us online: