Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Jan. 2013 (Issue 32)

Novella: “The Fear Gun” by Judith Berman

Novel Excerpt: Impulse by Steven Gould

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: Alexandra Knickel, Interview: Cory Doctorow, Interview: Lemony Snicket.

Science Fiction: Matthew Kressel (“The Sounds of Old Earth”), Jonathan Olfert (“Lifeline”), Cherie Priest (“Addison Howell and the Clockroach”), Theodora Goss (“Child Empress of Mars”).

Fantasy: A.C. Wise (“With Tales in Their Teeth, From the Mountain They Came”), Kristine Kathryn Rusch (“Purity Test”), Daniel Abraham (“The Cambist and Lord Iron”), Jeffrey Ford (“Daltharee”).

Jan. 2013 (Issue 32)


Editorial, January 2013

Happy 2013, and welcome to issue thirty-two of Lightspeed! We’ve got another great issue for you this month; read the editorial to see what we have on tap.


The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics

For as many years as anyone in the city could remember, Olaf Neddelsohn had been the cambist of the Magdalen Gate postal authority. Every morning, he could be seen making the trek from his rooms in the boarding house on State Street, down past the street vendors with their apples and cheese, and into the bowels of the underground railway, only to emerge at the station across the wide boulevard from Magdalen Gate.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Daniel Abraham

I came to economics late in life, and I’m tremendously fond of it (especially in some of its more modern, biology-based forms). The ideas in even pretty basic economics are fascinating and often counter-intuitive and delightful. Also, since I sometimes forget how to write short stories and have to relearn the skills, it’s nice to have a familiar structure like a three-test fairy tale to work from.

Science Fiction

The Sounds of Old Earth

Earth has grown quiet since everyone’s shipped off to the new one. I walk New Paltz’s empty streets with an ox-mask tight about my face. An acidic rain mists my body, and a thick fog obscures the vac-sealed storefronts. Last week they hauled the Pyramids of Giza to New Earth. The week before, Stonehenge. The week before that, Versailles and a good chunk of the Great Wall. But the minor landmarks are too expensive to move, the NEU says, and so New Paltz’s Huguenot Street, seven centuries old, will remain here, to be sliced to pieces in a few months when the planetary lasers begin to cut the Earth apart.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Matthew Kressel

I had watched a documentary of the dismantling of the old Yankee stadium and the construction of the new. And I thought, how could they tear down this place full of so much history, the literal House that Ruth Built? It was such a sin. To me, the new stadium was (and is) an antiseptic and plastic version of the original. The documentary captured my feelings not just about Yankee stadium but the way we take so many things for granted, and how some are happy with cheap plastic substitutes. I felt I had to write about this.


With Tales in Their Teeth, From the Mountain They Came

She woke with the words I love you on her tongue, speaking them aloud to an empty room. They tasted of smoke and ash drifting over a far-distant, muddy field. The War that had taken her lover had lost him. She knew he was dead, because she’d never spoken the words aloud before.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: A.C. Wise

[What books were in the Library?] All of them. Every book ever written and dreamed. And they’re all the perfect version the author had in their head, the wild and gorgeous thing they fell in love with and so desperately hoped the book would grow up to be, transported directly to the page.

Science Fiction

Addison Howell and the Clockroach

Addison Howell didn’t so much arrive in the town of Humptulips as appear there sometime around 1875. He had money, which set him apart from everybody else—because everybody else was working for the logging company, and mostly they didn’t have a pot to piss in, as my Daddy put it.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Cherie Priest

I’m a big fan of leaving a little narrative wiggle room, and in this case, you can choose to believe whichever viewpoint you prefer. They’re all credible, after a fashion, and they all undermine one another just a tiny bit, which I enjoyed.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Alexandra Knickel

Like most artists and illustrators, I’ve had an affinity for painting and drawing since early childhood days, I doodled a lot with my crayons, not to mention my teachers were always annoyed at me for drawing little critters instead of actually listening to what they were saying. But hey, it was so much more interesting than math and other stuff.



You’ve heard of bottled cities, no doubt—society writ miniscule and delicate beyond reason: toothpick spired towns, streets no thicker than thread, pin-prick faces of the citizenry peering from office windows smaller than sequins. Hustle, politics, fervor, struggle, capitulation, wrapped in a crystal firmament might reclaim the land, stoppered at the top to keep reality both in and out. Those microscopic lives, striking glass at the edge of things, believed themselves gigantic, their dilemmas universal.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Jeffrey Ford

I think what it was that helped me come up with this story was the idea that there is so much going on around us that we miss—not so much the size difference, as it is here—the ant we unknowingly crush, etc., although that’s part of it, but just the other cultures and signs and matrices of knowledge that, because we are unaware, they remain invisible to us. We live in a world of worlds, but we rarely see beyond where our own begins and ends.

Science Fiction


The day I meet my Lifeline is hot and dry, even for New Dakar. Dust chokes the air and filters the red sun to a washed-out orange that slathers its paint onto the road and the walls. I forsake the balcony in favor of a wall at my back. What little I have, I have it because I make that my rule. I see everything coming, and I leave myself nowhere to run. I don’t anticipate running, but I’ve known people whose Lifelines turned out to be sociopaths. Or just everyday enemies.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Jonathan Olfert

I believe we’re defined by how much we consider the needs of those below us—our employees, our children, our obstacles. Selfishness is a matter of forethought. As a missionary in the best and worst parts of California, I spent a lot of time around people of widely different social classes. Most people treat food as a right, whether they’re talking about tilapia or a can of off-brand tuna—and the closer they get to the tilapia end of the spectrum, the more they feel they deserve it. When I do that, I’m ashamed; when I see other people do it, I’m furious.


Interview: Cory Doctorow

Pirate Cinema was inspired by a legislative event in the United Kingdom, where I live. In 2009, they introduced legislation called the Digital Economy Act, which includes something called “three strikes,” which says that if you’re accused—without proof—of three acts of copyright infringement, you and your family get disconnected from the internet.


Purity Test

My feet are scraped and bleeding, my slippers shredded and almost useless. The dress hangs in tatters around me. No longer white, it still bears the pearls along the bodice, and I hope I can keep them close and sell them in whatever town I find myself in. Provided I find a town. Provided I ever leave these woods. I have traveled for two days, surviving on puddle water and berries, hoping that the sounds I hear behind me aren’t my father, Roland, and the dogs.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

When I think about unicorns, I think about girls and horses. (Girls love horses.) Then I moved to the whole idea that a unicorn can identify a pure or virginal woman. Which led me to the idea that cultures throughout history and currently seem to be obsessed with sexually innocent women, often at the expense of those women. Whenever I think about things like that, I get a little angry.

Science Fiction

Child-Empress of Mars

In the month of Ind, when the flowers of the Jindal trees were in blossom and just beginning to scatter their petals on the ground like crimson rain, a messenger came to the court of the Child-Empress. He announced that a Hero had awakened in the valley of Jar.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Theodora Goss

The idea really started with thinking about the “of Mars” books and what they would actually look like from a Martian perspective. After reading Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, it’s hard to take the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels seriously, although they’re still fun to read. But I thought about what would happen if those sorts of adventures, the human being on Mars adventures, were staged, were performance.


Interview: Daniel Handler (a/k/a Lemony Snicket)

I was in my early twenties, and a friend of mine made me some Lemony Snicket business cards for my birthday, and I used to give them out at bars, and I used to write long, rambling letters to the editors of newspapers and sign them “Lemony Snicket.” And so then years later when I started writing for children, it occurred to me that it would be fun to write them and publish them under the name of the narrator rather than the name of the author. And then I had this name lying around gathering dust.