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What can we really know about reality when we’re separated from it by electronic and other barriers? That’s the question for characters in EQMM’s July/August 2022 issue. In “The Secret Sharer” by W. Edward Blain, a professor experiences the world through a virtual classroom, and in “Storm Warning” by Dana Haynes, a couple plays out an anxiety-ridden conflict in a storm cellar, hidden from the outside. In “The Shape of Australia” by Christine Poulson, a neighbor disappears—but to what realm? Is reality simply a set of statistics, as for the expat in “Quiet Pol” by Raoul Biltgen, a translation of this year’s Glauser Prize winner? And how disorienting can surroundings be during a time of war and violent dictatorship? The young movie-lovers in William Burton McCormick’s “Myrna Loy Versus the Third Reich” find out.

Rituals play a big part in building personal cosmology in Jill Vassilakos’s “The Message of Amun-Re” (set in Ancient Egypt, from the Department of First Stories), and David Dean’s haunting “The Wedding Funeral.” Families create their own universes, sometimes deceitfully, in two puzzlers by Marilyn Todd and R.T. Raichev, “Desperate House Wines” and “Sweet Death.”  Deceiving relatives also feature in the P.I. tale “Runaway” by Bill Pronzini and the twisty “Powerball” by Jack Bunker.

And how do nonhuman creatures impact human reality? Find out in “Sit. Stay. Die.” by Michael Bracken and Sandra Murphy, “Zoodunit” by Richard Helms, and “Serving Process” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Sometimes it’s not discovering what’s real but trying to shield others from harsh realities that a mystery turns on, as in “Servant of the Gentle” by Sandeep Sandhu (Department of First Stories), “The Monitor” by Cheryl Rogers, and “Snitches Get Stitches” by Derek Haas (Black Mask Department).

If you want to be sure you’re dealing with hard facts rather than elusive realities, turn to our Stranger Than Fiction column by Dean Jobb, the special retrospective in this issue’s The Jury Box by Steve Steinbock, and Kristopher Zgorski’s Blog Bytes.

Our readers are important to us, and in this issue we present the winners of the 2021 EQMM Readers Award! Look for our July/August 2022 issue on sale at newsstands on June 14, 2022. Or subscribe to EQMM in print or in a wide variety of digital formats.

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