Science Fiction & Fantasy

Null States

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Jul. 2014 (Issue 50)

We have original science fiction by Adam-Troy Castro (“The New Provisions”) and Carrie Vaughn (“Harry and Marlowe Versus the Haunted Locomotive of the Rockies”), along with SF reprints by Jo Walton (“The Panda Coin”) and Howard Waldrop (“All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past”). Plus, we’ll have original fantasy by Theodora Goss (“Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology”) and Matthew Hughes (“A Hole in the World”), and fantasy reprints by Emma Bull (“De La Tierra”) and Carmen Maria Machado (from my aforementioned HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! anthology, “Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead”). As always, we’ll have an assortment of author and artist spotlights. We’ve also got feature interviews with award-winning author and futurist Karl Schroeder and legendary video game designer Richard Garriott. For our ebook readers, our ebook-exclusive novella reprint will be “Forlesen” by Gene Wolfe, and novel excerpts from Adrian Cole (THE SHADOW ACADEMY), Hannu Rajaniemi (THE CAUSAL ANGEL), and Jason Gurley (ELEANOR).

In This Issue: Jul. 2014 (Issue 50)

Editorial

Editorial, July 2014

Welcome to issue 50! Check out the editorial for a rundown of what appears in this issue and for some news and notes.

Science Fiction

The New Provisions

Phil called the toll-free number he’d been given, and after the usual twenty-minute hold time, reached a human being who explained that the tow truck driver really did have the right to haul away his car. It didn’t matter that the car had been parked in his driveway or that it had been completely paid for, and it certainly didn’t matter that it was the only form of transportation he and his wife had for getting back and forth from work.

Fantasy

Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead

This is the thing about my sister and I: we’ve never gotten along, even when we’ve gotten along. This is what happens when you have parents who fetishize family, and the viscosity of their blood relative to water: you resent the force with which they push you together with this person who is, genetics aside, a stranger. And that’s what my sister is: a stranger.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Adam-Troy Castro

This is not only anti-corporate ranting. It happens to be a function of the human animal that when people are given power over you, whether as employers or governments or even as condo associations or family members or lovers, they continue to test the limits of that power until you say, “No, that’s all you get, no more, the line is drawn here.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carmen Maria Machado

The structure was complicated because Kickstarters have so many moving parts, and there are so many decisions to be made: Do I put the updates in chronological order, or backwards like they appear on the site? … Because a Kickstarter page is so visual, I had to try and figure out the most natural and dramatically appropriate order in which to present these sections.

Science Fiction

The Panda Coin

Karol hung in the lock and yawned, which he’d have told anyone was his way of readjusting to the air pressure inside Hengist. Many around him were yawning too. All outworkers knew that a pressure yawn had nothing to do with tiredness.

Fantasy

Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology

Remembering Cimmeria: I walk through the bazaar, between the stalls of the spice sellers, smelling turmeric and cloves, hearing the clash of bronze from the sellers of cooking pots, the bleat of goats from the butcher’s alley. Rugs hang from wooden racks, scarlet and indigo. In the corners of the alleys, men without legs perch on wooden carts, telling their stories to a crowd of ragged children, making coins disappear into the air.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Jo Walton

Stories let us simplify an issue so that we can see the essence of it. Science fiction lets us get closer to actual struggle by letting us find new contexts for telling stories so we can see them from new angles.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Theodora Goss

The idea came to me many years ago, after rereading one of my favorite stories, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges. The Borges story is about a secret society that creates the encyclopedia of an imaginary world, Tlön. Eventually, items from that world begin appearing in ours. Archaeologists start finding artifacts from Tlön. The story is about how imagination creates reality.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Udara Chinthaka

Sri Lanka has a rich heritage of art and culture strongly influenced by our neighbor India. Ancient Lanka was influenced by different forms of art from different eras of Indian history and therefore a lot of it still remains in our art styles. One can find the influence of Indian art in Sri Lankan art, from colour to brush strokes. However, Sri Lankan art has a tendency to show more subtle blends in colour tones.

Science Fiction

All About Strange Monsters of the Recent Past

It’s all over for humanity, and I’m heading east. On the seat beside me are an M1 carbine and a Thompson submachine gun. There’s a special reason for the Thompson. I traded an M16 and 200 rounds of ammo for it to a guy in Barstow.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Howard Waldrop

My first story, “Lunchbox”, Analog, May ’72, was accepted my fourth day in the US Army (a draftee) in October 1970. I got to enjoy the sale about four minutes after mail call ’til I had to go back to doing pushups. I realized, the eighteen months I was in the Army, that if there was an East Coast Monster Emergency, I would be one of the guys sent out to stop the Rhodosaurus (or whatever).

Fantasy

A Hole in the World

“I’m taking Bodwon with me,” Erm Kaslo said. “He’s handy.” Diomedo Obron did not look up from the ancient tome in which he had been immersed when his security chief entered his work room. “All right,” he said.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Matthew Hughes

You wouldn’t want me in charge of designing the real world. I had an odd upbringing and my standards don’t fit the middle of the bell curve. In Kaslo’s world, I am the designer, and because I am a character-focused writer, what I want is for him to come through in the end. Probably not unscathed, but still punching.

Nonfiction

Interview: Karl Schroeder

You cannot travel faster than light. If you cannot travel faster than light, then all of these stories become fantasies. People have tried to figure out way to accelerate starships up to close to light speed, and you’d basically have to take enough energy to blow up a planet to do something like that. It’s crazy. It’s absolutely ridiculous to even try. But there is another way and it involves hibernation.

Science Fiction

Harry and Marlowe Versus the Haunted Locomotive of the Rockies

As they crossed the Great Plains of America, Harry was certain she’d never seen anything so astonishing in all her life. The Kestrel hadn’t had such a long stretch airborne since she crossed the Atlantic. Even on the third day of it, Harry leaned out a window to watch the land passing beneath them, and what seemed to be all of heaven passing above.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn

Sending Harry and Marlowe to my neck of the woods offered a great way to introduce “weird west” type stories and milieus to their world, and to see what Aetherian technology is doing in other places. Additionally, adventures in the “exotic” American west were a staple of Victorian adventure stories—see the Sherlock Holmes story “A Study in Scarlet,” for an example. I wanted to play with that trope.

Fantasy

De La Tierra

The piano player drums away with her left hand, dropping all five fingers onto the keys as if they weigh too much to hold up. The rhythms bounce off the rhythms of what her right hand does, what she sings. It’s like there’s three different people in that little skinny body, one running each hand, the third one singing. But they all know what they’re doing.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Emma Bull

All writing comes from a point of view; even an essay has a character behind the narrative, who shares the author’s name and some of her or his characteristics. Someone was watching this woman play piano. But not me. Someone who noticed and described it differently than I would.

Nonfiction

Interview: Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott’s Akalabeth, which he programmed in high school, is one of the first computer role-playing games ever published. Garriott went on to create the Ultima series, considered by many the high-water mark of interactive entertainment, as well as Ultima Online, the world’s first MMO. His latest project, the crowd-funded Shroud of the Avatar, is the spiritual successor of Ultima set within a new, engaging world.