Science Fiction & Fantasy

Null States

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Feb. 2014 (Issue 45)

This month, we have original science fiction by Jessica Barber (“Coma Kings”) and Carrie Vaughn (“Harry and Marlowe and the Intrigues at the Aetherian Exhibition”), along with SF reprints by Ramez Naam (“Water”) and Robert Charles Wilson (“Fireborn”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Sunny Moraine (“So Sharp That Blood Must Flow”) and Ken Liu (“None Owns the Air”), and fantasy reprints by Rachel Swirsky (“Detours on the Way to Nothing”) and Eugene Mirabelli (“Love in Another Language”). All that, and of course, we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with a pair of feature interviews. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella reprint “Hellhound” by Robin McKinley and novel excerpts from ANNIHILATION by Jeff VanderMeer, DREAMWALKER by C.S. Friedman, and THE TRILLIONIST by Sagan Jeffries.

In This Issue: Feb. 2014 (Issue 45)

Editorial

Editorial, February 2014

This month, we have original science fiction by Jessica Barber (“Coma Kings”) and Carrie Vaughn (“Harry and Marlowe and the Intrigues at the Aetherian Exhibition”), along with SF reprints by Ramez Naam (“Water”) and Robert Charles Wilson (“Fireborn”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Sunny Moraine (“So Sharp That Blood Must Flow”) and Ken Liu (“None Owns the Air”), and fantasy reprints by Rachel Swirsky (“Detours on the Way to Nothing”) and Eugene Mirabelli (“Love in Another Language”). All that, and of course, we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with a pair of feature interviews. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella reprint “Hellhound” by Robin McKinley and novel excerpts from ANNIHILATION by Jeff VanderMeer, DREAMWALKER by C.S. Friedman, and THE TRILLIONIST by Sagan Jeffries.

Science Fiction

Coma Kings

So I guess the story begins, fittingly, with someone handing me a Coma rig and saying, play me. Two a.m. and I’m at this party in somebody’s trailer out in the trashy part of town. I’m stoned out of my mind and there’s something on the television, either one of those cheesy infomercials or some sort of comedy thing making fun of those cheesy infomercials, and I’m trying to figure out which.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Jessica Barber

I’m an electrical engineer, and I occasionally work building hardware for neuroscience labs, … One day a co-worker and I were having a conversation about what we were jokingly referring to as “brain DJs,” the idea being that you’d take, say, EEG recordings of somebody who was in a deep meditative state (or tripping, or whatever), and then induce somebody else to match their “brain waves” using magnetic stimulation (or flashing lights, or whatever).

Fantasy

Detours on the Way to Nothing

It’s midnight when you and your girlfriend, Elka, have your first fight since you moved in together. Words wound, tears flow, doors slam. You storm out of the apartment, not caring where you go as long as it’s far away from her. When you step off the front stoop onto the sidewalk, that’s the moment when the newest version of me is born.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Rachel Swirsky

I didn’t have any idea where I was going. There was just something about a girl with feathers for hair. I kept writing about her as “the girl with feathered hair” until I realized what that actually meant.

Science Fiction

Water

The water whispered to Simon’s brain as it passed his lips. It told him of its purity, of mineral levels, of the place it was bottled. The bottle was cool in his hand, chilled perfectly to the temperature his neural implants told it he preferred. Simon closed his eyes and took a long, luxurious swallow, savoring the feel of the liquid passing down his throat, the drops of condensation on his fingers.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ramez Naam

Sure—you could use direct neural marketing to sell sports cars. But in a lot of ways it’s actually creepier and more interesting when it’s so pervasive that it’s being used to sell something as commonplace as a bottle of water.

Fantasy

So Sharp That Blood Must Flow

In the end, the water goes black with the witch’s blood. Before this happens, the little mermaid understands that a deal is a deal, a bargain a bargain, and there can’t be reneging. But this isn’t reneging, she tells herself as she sinks down, down, down into water so black that in truth it would be difficult to discern witch’s blood within it even had a hundred witches been slaughtered in its depths.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sunny Moraine

One of the things that I think comes up a lot in discussions around representation in fiction—both in terms of characters and authors—is the idea that groups of people are rendered voiceless, that they simply aren’t heard and space is not made for them to speak when they do. Losing one’s voice feels like an especially vicious form of oppression.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Scott Grimando

Scott Grimando was born in 1968 in New York. He studied at Nassau Community College and Stevenson Academy of Traditional Painting. He maintains dual careers doing work in both advertising and illustration. He works in various mediums, including sketching, painting, digital painting, and photography, often utilizing more than one medium in each work. He has done book illustration work for major publishing houses as well as for Warner Brothers, Disney, Harley Davidson, Lucas Films, Nike, and major sports franchises. His work has been collected in an art book entitled SQP The Art of the Mythical Woman: Lucid Dreams. He currently lives in Long Island. His website is www.grimstudios.com.

Science Fiction

Harry and Marlowe and the Intrigues at the Aetherian Exhibition

Finally, Harry arrived at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington with her mother and her older sister Victoria. Once they entered through the great gilt doorway, a friendly attendant waited to show them to the royal salon. Harry glimpsed, through another ornate archway, the main hall and the exhibition installed there.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn

I always planned to tell a story where we meet Harry’s family … and see Harry in her role as Princess Maud. This was it. A story where Harry is balancing her two personae also makes a good fulcrum between what I see as two halves of the series—the early adventures where Harry and Marlowe begin their relationship and we learn about Aetherian technology, and the later stories, where the two will travel all over the world.

Fantasy

Love in Another Language

Linguists estimate that of the 6,000 or so languages now spoken in the world, about half will be gone within the next 100 years. In his paper “Endangered Languages of the Pacific Region,” Osamu Sakiyama reports that Nasarian has only twenty speakers, Maragus and Ura have only ten speakers each, and Aore has only a single speaker—and by the time you read this, those speakers will have died.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Eugene Mirabelli

We humans speak an amazing variety of languages—some of them truly extraordinary compared to our own—but this wonderful plenitude is rapidly disappearing. I wondered what it would be like for one of the last speakers of an onomatopoeia-like language. I imagine that such a terribly lonely speaker would want to preserve it, pass it on, teach it to others.

Nonfiction

Interview: Doug Dorst

I’m a lit geek, always have been, and will probably always identify that way. I think that’s one of the things that at various points I was worried about. “Am I going too far into the lit geek world in a way that’s really alienating to other people?” That was another place where it was great to be working with J.J. and Lindsey, and having people saying, “No, this is interesting. Run with it. If it’s taking you to strange places, by all means. If it’s working, it’s working.”

Science Fiction

Fireborn

Onyx turned her face up to the sky as she walked with her friend Jasper beside a mule-cart on the road that connected Buttercup County to the turnpike. She had spent a day counting copper dollars at the changehouse and watching bad-tempered robots trudge east- and west-bound through the crust of yesterday’s snow. Sunny days with snow on the ground made robots irritable, Jasper had claimed.

Fantasy

None Owns the Air

“Push! Push! Damn it, put your backs into it!” Kino Ye’s voice rose to a panicked screech as the four sweat-drenched soldiers strained against the spokes of the giant winch. “Push!” But one of the spokes snapped as the man leaning against it fell face-first into the sand, and the winch whipped around and tossed the other three men through the air to land sprawling on the beach a few paces away.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ken Liu

I think this illustrates a larger point which comes up in my fiction from time to time: Technology, by itself, does not have a moral stance; it simply magnifies the power of humans to accomplish what they want to do. I’m generally skeptical about “progress” as a pure positive for that reason.

Nonfiction

Interview: Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield is the first Canadian to walk in space, and also the first Canadian to command the International Space Station. Many of the videos he posted while in orbit became internet sensations, especially his zero-gravity rendition of the David Bowie song “Space Oddity,” which has been viewed over twenty million times on YouTube.