Science Fiction & Fantasy

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017

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Aug. 2010 (Issue 3)

Fiction: “How to Become a Mars Overlord” by Catherynne M. Valente, “Patient Zero” by Tananarive Due, “Arvies” by Adam-Troy Castro, “More Than the Sum of His Parts” by Joe Haldeman.

Nonfiction: “Dear Mars” by Pamela Gay, “Bangs & Whimpers: A Look at the Top Five Doomsday Scenarios” by Carol Pinchefsky, an interview with Robert J. Sawyer by Andrea Kail, “Cyborg-netics” by Matt London.

In This Issue: Aug. 2010 (Issue 3)

Editorial

Editorial, August 2010

Welcome to issue three of Lightspeed. On tap this month… Fiction: “How to Become a Mars Overlord” by Catherynne M. Valente, “Patient Zero” by Tananarive Due, “Arvies” by Adam-Troy Castro, “More Than the Sum of His Parts” by Joe Haldeman. Nonfiction: “Dear Mars” by Pamela Gay, “Bangs & Whimpers: A Look at the Top Five Doomsday Scenarios” by Carol Pinchefsky, an interview with Robert J. Sawyer by Andrea Kail, “Cyborg-netics” by Matt London.

Science Fiction

How to Become a Mars Overlord

Welcome, Aspiring Potentates! We are tremendously gratified at your interest in our little red project, and pleased that you recognize the potential growth opportunities inherent in whole-planet domination. Of course we remain humble in the face of such august and powerful interests, and seek only to showcase the unique and challenging career paths currently available on the highly desirable, iconic, and oxygen-rich landscape of Mars.

How to Become a Mars Overlord by Catherynne M. Valente

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Catherynne M. Valente

“Mars is just one of the dominant images and metaphors of SF. So the question is, if you write about a Mars that is different from the one we know from probes and images sent back to earth, is that still SF, or does it become a willful kind of fantasy, creating a world that never did and never will exist? After all, much of fantasy consists of alternate Earths. I don’t know. I’d like Mars to be an interstitial space, one which is still the focus of so many longings and dreams, and yet is unavoidably a real place, and one which is not perhaps as writers 70 years ago hoped it would be.”

Nonfiction

Dead Mars

Once upon a time—four point six billion years ago—a thick atmosphere surrounded Mars, perhaps even coloring its sky blue. Once upon a time—three to four billion years ago—an ocean covered thirty percent of the Red Planet’s surface, and deltas formed as water rushed from the land to the sea. Once upon a time—as recently as 2 million years ago—Mars’ volcanoes, the largest in our Solar System, erupted, spilling lava down one hundred kilometer long slopes.

Science Fiction

Patient Zero

September 19. The picture came! Veronica tapped on my glass and woke me up, and she held it up for me to see. It’s autographed and everything! For you, Veronica mouthed at me, and she smiled a really big smile. The autograph says, TO JAY—I’LL THROW A TOUCHDOWN FOR YOU. I couldn’t believe it. Everybody is laughing at me because of the way I yelled and ran in circles around my room until I fell on the floor and scraped my elbow. The janitor, Lou, turned on the intercom box outside my door and said, “Kid, you gone crazier than usual? What you care about that picture for?”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tananarive Due

“I had a story I really wanted to tell about a child being raised in isolation, ignorant of an apocalyptic infection raging in the outside world, so my approach to ‘Patient Zero’ was probably something like ‘A spoonful of science helps the narrative go down.'”

Nonfiction

Bangs & Whimpers: A Look at the Top Five Doomsday Scenarios

According to people much smarter than you, large asteroids hit the earth every ten million years, which means, of course, that we’re probably due. So when that day does finally come (and you know it will), kiss it all goodbye, baby: your life, your family, your friends and that meticulously color-coded and cross-referenced porn collection we know you’ve got stashed in your basement.

Science Fiction

Arvies

STATEMENT OF INTENT: This is the story of a mother, and a daughter, and the right to life, and the dignity of all living things, and of some souls granted great destinies at the moment of their conception, and of others damned to remain society’s useful idiots.

Arvies by Adam-Troy Castro

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Adam-Troy Castro

This is a post-poverty utopia where everybody lucky enough to be plugged into the society’s opportunities—the passengers or if you prefer “pilots” of the arvies—gets to do whatever the heck they want to do with their lives, indulging their slightest whims via the bodies whose wombs they occupy. I left unexplained what criteria determine who gets to enjoy all of this world’s vast opportunities and who becomes an enslaved recreational vehicle; that decision is made, from standards you and I can only guess at, long before any fetus is granted the gift of adult awareness. There must also be genetic and medical issues involved far beyond us. But no doubt, if some zygote possesses genetic gifts that promise vast talent in athletic pursuits, that’s a quality that would render their future body very very much in demand as athletic gear for some fetus interested in enjoying the ride from the safety of the amniotic fluid.

Nonfiction

Interview: Robert J. Sawyer

“What intrigued me was that SF—especially in film and TV—had taken as a given that future AI will be malevolent, and that there’s no way for humanity to survive the advent of things more intelligent than we are. Well, SF is supposed to be about offering choices for tomorrow—and if we don’t have a positive blueprint, then the negative one becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Science Fiction

More Than the Sum of His Parts

21 August 2058. They say I am to keep a detailed record of my feelings, my perceptions, as I grow accustomed to the new parts. To that end, they gave me an apparatus that blind people use for writing, like a tablet with guide wires. It is somewhat awkward. But a recorder would be useless, since I will not have a mouth for some time, and I can’t type blind with only one hand.

More Than the Sum of His Parts by Joe Haldeman

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Joe Haldeman

Published in 1985, “More Than the Sum of His Parts” was set in the then-distant future of 2058. “It seemed a reasonable time frame, when we were somewhat more optimistic about space industrialization,” Haldeman says, “although the waldo technology is wishful thinking, or arm-waving—I didn’t have any actual technological rationale for it happening that soon, or ever. The waldos themselves were inspired by the story ‘Waldo,’ by Robert Heinlein. The idea of smaller and smaller waldos building their miniaturized successors came from the notions about self-replicating ‘von Neumann’ machines that were cutting-edge techno-dreaming at the time.”

Nonfiction

Cyborg-netics

Long before the premiere of The Six Million Dollar Man in 1974, the idea of a bionic human has fascinated the scientific and science fiction communities. Just turn on the television or take a trip to the local movie theater to find some examples. But there’s a lot more to this burgeoning science than Darth Vader and the Borg. It’s not just science fiction; it’s not even science future. What most people might be surprised to discover is that the kinds of mechanized prosthetics writers used to dream about actually exist right now.