Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Jan. 2012 (Issue 20)

Science Fiction:  “How Many Miles to Babylon?” by Megan Arkenberg, “Gene Wars” by Paul McAuley, “Always True to Thee, in My Fashion” by Nancy Kress, “The Five Elements of the Heart Mind” by Ken Liu.

Fantasy:  “On the Acquisition of Phoenix Eggs (Variant)” by Marissa Lingen, “You Have Never Been Here” by M. Rickert, “Blue Lace Agate” by Sarah Monette, “A State of Variance” by Aimee Bender.

Novella: “Weyr Search” by Anne McCaffrey (Ebook-Exclusive)

Nonfiction: Interview: R. A. MacAvoy, Interview: Neal Stephenson, Artist Showcase: Alexey Zaryuta, Anne McCaffrey: An Appreciation by Todd McCaffrey (Ebook-Exclusive).

Jan. 2012 (Issue 20)


Editorial, January 2012

It’s been an exciting few months here at Lightspeed, and some major changes have taken place. You’ll have noticed by now our slightly different site design; read the editorial for more information about all of the changes, and to find out what we have in store for you this month.


How Many Miles to Babylon?

It’s getting harder and harder to pretend we aren’t racing along the edge of a knife, one box of flashlights and a fistful of batteries away from the mercy of the things in the darkness.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Megan Arkenberg

Lovecraft’s dexterous blending of science fiction and horror was certainly an inspiration for this story, but I can’t claim to produce anything near his level of cosmic dread.


Blue Lace Agate

Jamie Keller and his partner hadn’t found the shoggoth larva smugglers yet, but his boss, the head of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigation’s southeast hub, had other things on his mind.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sarah Monette

As best I can remember, I thought at some point, “Wouldn’t it be cool to write a Lovecraftian police procedural?” and it was all downhill from there.

Science Fiction

Gene Wars

The slime mould he’d created, a million amoebae aggregated around a drop of cyclic AMP, had been transformed with a retrovirus and was budding little blue-furred blobs.


You Have Never Been Here

You resist the temptation to look at faces because faces can be deceiving, faces can make you think there is such a thing as a person, the mass illusion everyone falls for until they learn what you have come to learn.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Paul McAuley

I borrowed the structure from J.G. Ballard’s condensed novels and Bruce Sterling’s “Twenty Evocations,” and strung as many ideas as I could on to the rise and fall of a corporate drone in the biohacking trade.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: M. Rickert

The type of fantasy that I most enjoy is a fantasy of revelation, a lifting of the veil, much more than a literature of escape. I think we are all living a big dream called reality.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Alexey Zaryuta

Usually I begin with outlines and perfect them, and then do the painting. This time I decided to begin with a tonal sketch without the outlining.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nancy Kress

For me, the characters always come first. I sort of inhabit them, and it’s natural that they then move through successive scenes, whether seasonal or not.


On the Acquisition of Phoenix Eggs (Variant)

Lloyds was not willing to insure a phoenix egg, not even of the most impeccable pedigree. Hence the inspection of the purchase became a great deal more important.


Interview: R.A. MacAvoy

I find serious martial arts students don’t read adventure fantasy, and serious readers of fantasy don’t bother to work out the moves in their heads. Bummer!

Science Fiction

Always True to Thee, in My Fashion

Suzanne liked wearing the new feelings. They were light and cool, allowing her a lot of freedom of movement. The off-hand affection made her feel unencumbered, graceful.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Marissa Lingen

I figure if you can’t say what drives people absolutely crazy about your point-of-view character, you probably haven’t nailed their voice yet.


Interview: Neal Stephenson

The notion of working the boundary line between a real currency and a virtual currency is inherently interesting to me.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ken Liu

When I was a kid, my grandparents and doctors made me drink a lot of “bitter soup” whenever I got sick, so that part required no research at all. But to write this story, I had to study some of the theories behind the bitter soups.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Aimee Bender

I had actually read some article once in a magazine that said women responded more to men who had symmetrical faces, which just seemed bizarre and awfully hard to track.


A State of Variance

Her son’s face was almost a perfect mirror of itself, in such a way that one realized how imperfections created trust because no one trusted her son, with that perfect symmetry in his face.

Science Fiction

The Five Elements of the Heart Mind

The Dandelion lost structural integrity so quickly that I doubt the bridge even had time for a distress call, and this escape pod’s radio is only sub-light.