Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Jan. 2014 (Issue 44)

This month, we have original science fiction by Jeremiah Tolbert (“In the Dying Light, We Saw a Shape”) and Anaea Lay (“Salamander Patterns”), along with SF reprints by Terry Bisson (“Bears Discover Fire”) and Zhao Haihong (“Exuviation”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Matthew Hughes (“His Elbow Unkissed”—a Kaslo Chronicles tale) and Adam-Troy Castro (“The Thing About Shapes to Come”), and fantasy reprints by Rosamund Hodge (“Apotheosis”) and Ursula K. Le Guin (“Elementals”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with feature interviews with Hyperbole and a Half’s Allie Brosh and bestselling epic fantasy author Scott Lynch. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella reprint “The Chambered Fruit” by M. Rickert and novel excerpts from Dru Pagliassotti, Chuck Wendig, and James L. Cambias.

In This Issue: Jan. 2014 (Issue 44)

Editorial

Editorial, January 2014

This month, we have original science fiction by Jeremiah Tolbert (“In the Dying Light, We Saw a Shape”) and Anaea Lay (“Salamander Patterns”), along with SF reprints by Terry Bisson (“Bears Discover Fire”) and Zhao Haihong (“Exuviation”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Matthew Hughes (“His Elbow Unkissed”—a Kaslo Chronicles tale) and Adam-Troy Castro (“The Thing About Shapes to Come”), and fantasy reprints by Rosamund Hodge (“Apotheosis”) and Ursula K. Le Guin (“Elementals”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with feature interviews with Hyperbole and a Half’s Allie Brosh and bestselling epic fantasy author Scott Lynch. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella reprint “The Chambered Fruit” by M. Rickert and novel excerpts from Dru Pagliassotti, Chuck Wendig, and James L. Cambias.

Science Fiction

In the Dying Light, We Saw a Shape

[email protected] calls them “space diatoms,” but I say “space whales.” They’re beaching themselves on our interstellar shores. Question is: why? —Tweet by @LilMeyerECID, January 7, 2021

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Jeremiah Tolbert

Meaningful science fiction stories are really about the human condition, or so I’ve been told enough times that I’ve begun to believe it. We’re a pretty self-centered species at a fundamental level, so a story that deals only with an extremely “alien” entity would not be very satisfying to our need for stories. At the core of any story, there has to be a human soul, regardless of how dressed up it is as “other.”

Fantasy

Apotheosis

The people of Ipu needed a god.

Of course they already had one. His name was Kuromasai, and he had ended three droughts, cured seven plagues, and defended them from an army of Heccan raiders. But he was also old, and each morning when he appeared for his offering of praise, he had grown a little bit fainter. Soon he would disappear completely, and what is a city without a god?

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Rosamund Hodge

Several months after writing “Apotheosis,” I looked at it again. And suddenly I realized that it was a completely blatant response to Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” I had read that story as a teenager and loved it, but I had probably taken it a bit more literally than I was meant to, because my first reaction was, “Why are you walking away? GET A GUN AND BREAK THAT KID OUT OF THERE.” Of course, that’s not the story Le Guin was trying to write. But it ended up being the story that I did.

Science Fiction

Bears Discover Fire

I was driving with my brother, the preacher, and my nephew, the preacher’s son, on I-65 just north of Bowling Green when we got a flat. It was Sunday night and we had been to visit Mother at the Home. We were in my car. The flat caused what you might call knowing groans since, as the old-fashioned one in my family (so they tell me), I fix my own tires, and my brother is always telling me to get radials and quit buying old tires.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Terry Bisson

The idea came to me on a NY (not KY) interstate, musing on the wide, wooded medians as a sort of created wilderness. I imagined a campfire and even “saw” the bears sitting around it. The story itself is your standard Southern old-timers’ nostalgia tale, with old tires instead of corn bread and sorghum as the icons of tradition.

Fantasy

His Elbow, Unkissed

Erm Kaslo arranged the materials of the experiment on the scarred and scorched workbench in his new lodgings. He had recently had to relocate to new quarters on the outskirts of Indoberia, after the custodial agent of his former lodgings had complained to the Commune about the noises, smells, and other disruptions arising from Kaslo’s suite of rooms. He had taken this isolated cottage in a clearing of the Forest of Shades, where his nearest neighbor was well out of earshot.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Matthew Hughes

On every world there are a few who know [that the shift of the operating principles of the universe] is going to happen. They are dismissed as kooks, because when rationalism is in the ascendant, everybody knows that magic is hokum. Conversely, when magic rules, everybody knows that cause-and-effect physics is unreliable in a universe that operates on the basis of focused will.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Mukesh Singh

Mukesh Singh was born in Mumbai, India in 1976. He received a BFA in painting from the Sir J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai in 1997. Since then, he has been working as a freelance illustrator, motion graphics artist, senior game artist, CG modeler and animator, and senior illustrator and concept artist for various comics, game, and film and television projects. He was awarded Best Colorist at the Comic Critique Awards in 2008, was nominated for Most Promising Newcomer at the International ComicCon San Diego 2008, and was featured in an exhibition entitled “Heroes and Villains: The Battle for Good” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2010. He currently works as a freelance illustrator and concept artist. He lives in Mumbai.

Science Fiction

Salamander Patterns

I hadn’t meant to become an astronaut, but these things happen. I worked hard, because I liked working hard, and that’s just where I landed. Apparently a chemical engineer with a PhD in molecular physics and a half-dozen Iron Man trophies is overqualified for most other jobs. I’m not complaining. Not meaning to become an astronaut and not wanting to be an astronaut are two entirely different things. Sometimes people don’t understand that when I try to explain, though. Which makes explaining the salamander even harder.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Anaea Lay

It wasn’t the world that appealed to me—in my head it’s just our world, a few years from now, except that a benevolent alien showed up and tried to teach us some things about engineering. My draw was Sharon, as somebody whose emotional life is out of sync with the emotional life she’s expected to have. We seem to be going through a bit of a cultural fetish for the clinically emotionally aberrant—you can’t turn around without finding Asperger’s or psychopathy or other things pop culture interprets as abnormal on that front.

Fantasy

Elementals

No one knows how many airlings there are, most likely not a great many, whatever a great many means. They inhabit the atmosphere, generally between a hundred and ten or twelve thousand feet above the ground, seldom clearly visible to human eyes, and leaving almost no trace of their presence. They swim in air as we do in water, but with far more ease, air being their native element. Slight motions of the whole body and the arms and legs move them gracefully through their three dimensions.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ursula K. Le Guin

The various elemental species revealed themselves to me one by one, at fairly long intervals. They didn’t come as stories. They came pretty much as they are in “Elementals.” Maybe at another period of my life I’d have used one or another of them in a conventional plotted story, but at this point, that seemed unnecessary. Pointing out their existence and characteristics was enough.

Nonfiction

Interview: Allie Brosh

Allie Brosh is the creator of the popular webcomic Hyperbole and a Half. The comic, which mostly deals with funny stories from the author’s childhood as well as touching on more serious subjects, like her ongoing battle with depression, is intentionally drawn to look like something a child would create using Microsoft Paint, and has a devoted following with almost 400,000 likes on Facebook. A print version entitled Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Stuff that Happened is out now.

Science Fiction

Exuviation

I saw him as soon as I stepped into the room. He was trembling. He was moaning softly. His hands were reaching into the air, as if they wanted to seize hold of something. Thin red lines were crawling over his bare arms. Suddenly I felt that the room was full of some special aura, some unknown energy.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Zhao Haihong

Every person may experience many changes in one’s life. You are willing to change yet still you may feel a bit uneasy about what may come after the change. Personally speaking, as a young writer who felt a bit bored about my old way of writing, I wanted to try something new and I was not afraid at that moment. But a good story should be the story of everyone, a story which could touch everyone. So I needed to reveal the other half of humanity: the other half that is afraid of what lies ahead.

Fantasy

The Thing About Shapes to Come

Monica’s new baby was like a lot of new babies these days in that she was born a cube. She had no external or internal sexual organs, or for that matter organs of any kind, being just a warm solid filled with protoplasm. But she was, genetically at least, a girl, and one who resembled her mother as much as any cube possibly could. That wasn’t much in that she had no eyes, no nose, no mouth, no chin, no hair, nothing that could be charitably called a face or bodily features, not even any orifices larger than pores.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Adam-Troy Castro

This just happens to be one of those stories where an insane idea, coming from god alone knows what part of the gray matter, suggested everything that followed, and the natural human responses just came up the way they normally would.

Nonfiction

Interview: Scott Lynch

Scott Lynch is the author of the World Fantasy Award nominee The Lies of Locke Lamora and its sequels, Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves. His short fiction has been published in several anthologies and in Popular Science. His online serial Queen of the Iron Sands is available for free at his website, www.scottlynch.us. Born in Minnesota in 1978, Scott currently lives in Wisconsin.