No Signal

by Erin Hoffman

The day after the asteroid

hit, before everything went to

hell, in the cities at least,

there was this moment, this

island, of total clarity.

The power snapped, a sigh of

AC/DC's last exhalation, of

eerie quiet and technophiles

screaming inside. We thought

it was brief, an anomaly,

at first. When at last we

stepped outside, to forgotten

sunlight, silent streets but for

the murmur of awakening,

we knew the beginning of real.

Cars, converted from insects

on rails run by rules, met

at intersections, hands were

waved, consciousness achieved—

we learned, beyond metal, to speak.

The signal is gone. We do

not know if it will return.

Today we build, we learn, we

survive—and it is not so

difficult, as keys, as fire, as wire

as life with so many rules.

Erin Hoffman is a writer and video game designer who currently calls the San Francisco bay area home. She is a columnist for Escapist Magazine and a nonfiction contributor for an assortment of magazines including Strange Horizons and Gamasutra, and recently completed editing the essay collection Settlers of the New Virtual Worlds. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines including Not One of Us, Electric Velocipede, and Antimuse, and is forthcoming in Mythic Delirium and Asimov's. She writes fantasy and science fiction, with publications in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lone Star Stories, and elsewhere. For more details and her recent publication credits, visit