Tideline by Elizabeth Bear

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by Elizabeth Bear

• Word count: 4280
• Page count: 8

Tideline is a science fiction short story about the lone survivor of a war – a sentient war machine – and its struggles to create memorials for its fallen comrades. As it combs the beach looking for trinkets, it forms a most unusual friendship which prods it into doing things it otherwise would never do.

A heartwarming tale in a post-apocalyptic setting, Tideline has been slated for inclusion in Gardner Dozois’ yearly science fiction anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection coming out in July.

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.

The beach was where she met Belvedere.

Tideline was first published in the March 2007 edition of Asimov’s. You can listen to Tideline for free at the website Escape Pod.

If you enjoyed this story, you can learn more about the author, Elizabeth Bear at her website.

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2 thoughts to “Tideline by Elizabeth Bear”

  1. This one was a bit heartwarming. The setting was perfect, the ocean, and the author weaved that setting so well it was practically a character in the story. I found it interesting that the machine was capable of wanting the memory of her comrades to last, that she could share the stories of her comrades and herself with Belvedere. That she nurtured him and taught him things and passed to him the skills, the memories, and the humanity, that he needed to survive. A unique spin on a post war story, that left me filled with hope rather than despair.

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