Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Jan. 2020 (Issue 116)

We have original science fiction by Christopher East (“The Men Who Change the World”) and J.R. Dawson (“She’d Never Had a Name Before”), along with SF reprints by duo Jason M. Hough & Ramez Naam (“All Together Now”) and N.K. Jemisin (“The Ones Who Stay and Fight”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Alexander Weinstein (“Destinations of Joy”) and Adam-Troy Castro (“Fortune’s Final Hand”), and fantasy reprints by Kij Johnson (“Story Kit”) and M. Rickert (“Holiday”). Our feature interview this month is with Tochi Onyebuchi. All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with our book and media review columns. For our ebook readers, we also have an excerpt from A Queen in Hiding, by Sarah Kozloff.

In This Issue: Jan. 2020 (Issue 116)

Editorial

Editorial: January 2020

Be sure to check out the editorial! It has a run-down of this month’s content, and it’s where we share all our news and updates.

Science Fiction

The Men Who Change the World

Staring west at a blood-red sunset, Adam Fisk leans against the railing encircling the beer garden, willing his body to feel the alcohol. Usually he’s blunted by the third Manhattan, but tonight his tolerance foils him. All he wants is an empty mind, cool evening air, the susurrant drone of insects. But his every attempt to find contentment is just that, an attempt, an effort he feels, unnatural and doomed to fail. He wills his eyes to enjoy the beautiful hues of the sun-touched horizon.

Fantasy

Story Kit

The pain of losing something so precious that you did not think you could live without it. Oxygen. The ice breaks beneath your feet: Your coat and boots fill with water and pull you down. An airlock blows: Vacuum pulls you apart by the eyes, the pores, the lungs. You awaken in a fire: The door and window are outlined in flames. You fall against a railing: The rusted iron slices through your femoral artery. You are dead already.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

All Together, Now

The rifle murmured into Wilson’s brain as he held it. It told him of its full load of guided, high-velocity, fire-and-forget armor-piercing rounds. It whispered of wind speeds and horizons, of lethal range and reload times, of firing lines and killing zones, of obstacles its smart bullets could arc around. He was the rifle, and it was him, a limb as familiar and intimate as his right arm, and more deadly by far.

Fantasy

Destinations of Joy

Ever since the discovery of the eighth continent, we’ve all had to come to terms with the presence of a landmass we never knew existed. In this age, wherein it often feels like every inch of mountain and valley has been charted, crossed, and geocached, how could we have been blind to a continent floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? We suppose, like the mapmakers of a millennium ago, we were blinded by our self-assured scientists and their navigational tools.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Reviews: January 2020

This month, reviewer Chris Kluwe takes a look at three new novels: Race the Sands, by Sarah Beth Durst; Knight of the Silver Circle, by Duncan M. Hamilton; and Agency, by William Gibson.

Science Fiction

She’d Never Had a Name Before

I never had a sister. Okay, so I did have a sister. She just died before she was born. No one talked about her, because sometimes a family looks ahead and sees through a veil into another universe where tomorrow is a given. But then we end up not living in that reality, and it creates a terrible break in our brains. Her name was Sarah. My dad finally told me her name on the deep black road between Omaha and Chicago, on my return to college for junior year.

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

Holiday

She says her name is Holiday, but I know she’s lying. I remember her face. It was all over the news for weeks, years even, but of course she doesn’t know that. I briefly consider telling her, saying something like, “Hey, did you know you’re a star?” But that would necessitate bringing up the subject of her death, and I’m not clear if she knows that she’s a ghost, or that almost everyone thinks her parents killed her. That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing any kid should have to hear.

Nonfiction

Media Review: January 2020

Carrie Vaughn, Lightspeed‘s stalwart movie reviewer, caughtTerminator: Dark Fate when it was in the theaters. Should you see it on DVD or streaming? Find out!

Science Fiction

The Ones Who Stay and Fight

It’s the Day of Good Birds in the city of Um-Helat! The Day is a local custom, silly and random as so many local customs can be, and yet beautiful by the same token. It has little to do with birds—a fact about which locals cheerfully laugh, because that, too, is how local customs work. It is a day of fluttering and flight regardless, where pennants of brightly dyed silk plume forth from every window, and delicate drones of copperwire and featherglass—made for this day, and flown on no other!—waft and buzz on the wind.

Fantasy

Fortune’s Final Hand

If the shuffle’s been thorough, the next hand is random. The cards emerge as bequeathed by chance, either with some splendid combination that guarantees a win, or more often with no synchronicity whatsoever, a collection of images that means nothing and therefore functions as a loss. All wins are temporary, and all losses more than you can afford. But if you’re at the tables, you play. Shuffle, and winning or losing depends entirely on the order in which they land.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Interview: Tochi Onyebuchi

Tochi Onyebuchi holds a BA from Yale, an MFA in screenwriting from Tisch, a master’s degree in global economic law from L’institut d’études politiques, and a JD from Columbia Law School. His writing has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction and Ideomancer, among other places, and he is the author of the novels Beasts Made of Night and Crown of Thunder. Tochi resides in Connecticut.