Science Fiction & Fantasy

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July 2013 (Issue 38)

This month, we have original science fiction by Benjamin R. Lambert (“Division of Labor”) and Carlie St. George (“This Villain You Must Create”) and SF reprints by Margo Lanagan (“Mulberry Boys”) and Ryan North (“Cancer”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Adam-Troy Castro (“The Boy and the Box”) and Laura Friis (“Ushakiran”), along with fantasy reprints by Sophia McDougall (“Golden Apple”) and Ursula K. Le Guin (“The Stars Below”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with feature interviews with bestselling authors Hugh Howey and Austin Grossman. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella “The Wide, Carnivorous Sky” by John Langan and excerpts of the new Shannara novel Witch Wraith by Terry Brooks and Interrupt by Jeff Carlson.

In This Issue: July 2013 (Issue 38)

Editorial

Editorial, July 2013

Welcome to issue thirty-eight of Lightspeed! We’ve got another great issue for you this month; read the editorial to see what we have on tap.

Science Fiction

Division of Labor

No one said anything, but Sull could tell they were all a little jealous when he lost his arms and legs. The arms went first, the left one during a bath and the right one a few days later, while he was being fed. Then both legs went at once, which was rare, and Sull was proud of it. He was sitting in a marketing meeting with Glenda and Farook when suddenly his legs quivered and then turned into a slightly viscous liquid that ran out of his trousers like toothpaste from a tube. The liquid ran down the drain under the table with a soft slurping sound.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Benjamin Roy Lambert

I think that ultra-specialization will continue to be the trend until advances in AI/robotics begin to surpass all human abilities, at which point we will all be generalists again because there will be no point in devoting your life to a single narrow occupation (like writing!) just to be half as good as a machine. I’d also note that the benefits of specialization may outweigh the costs. My short story is a dystopia, but that may only be because it doesn’t show all of the benefits of specialization.

Fantasy

Golden Apple

The process of transforming sunlight into a solid object had been complete about a month when we broke into the lab and stole as much as we could carry. Carrying it was an issue, actually—obviously we were fairly sure it wouldn’t weigh much. But what do you carry sunlight in? Some sort of vacuum flask seemed appropriate. We didn’t want the sunlight to leak, or get contaminated. But would it die, somehow, if we shut it up in the dark?

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sophia McDougall

It seemed a beautiful image of sunlight made solid, of the fact that food is sunlight. At the beginning of the story, Alan reflects that the light of the sun is still present, even in the darkness, in the energy that’s fuelling his and Jan’s bodies as they break into the lab. In a way, he’s already made of light.

Science Fiction

Mulberry Boys

So night comes on. I make my own fire, because why would I want to sit at Phillips’s, next to that pinned-down mulberry? Pan-flaps, can you make pan-flaps? Phillips plopped down a bag of fine town flour and gave me a look that said, Bet you can’t. And I’m certainly too important to make them. So pan-flaps I make in his little pan, and some of them I put hot meat-slice on, and some cheese, and some jam, and that will fill us, for a bit.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Margo Lanagan

I’m in the process of clearing the decks of contracted stories. I think I need to take a deep breath and write a few stories that are not on demand and not to deadline. I’ve had a few years of taking on a lot of short-story commitments, and I need to just write a few stories that arise naturally, that insist on being written for their own sake. I have no idea what they will be.

Fantasy

The Boy and the Box

The boy looked like any other boy his age, except that, thanks to him, there had been for some time now no other boys his age, or of any other age. The elimination of all others had transformed him into the entirety of a subset that had once numbered billions. He was now the platonic ideal of his type, not just a boy, but the boy.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Adam-Troy Castro

[The story] springs from certain questions that have always bothered me: Namely, why an omnipotent being would want to be praised all the time, how profoundly empty that experience had to be, how omnipotence would almost certainly go along with sadism. The story puts these questions on the head of a boy instead of a deity, but let us be honest: Most definitions of a supreme being describe a very lonely and petulant creature whose only entertainment is watching an ant farm and occasionally poking it with a stick.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Jarreau Wimberly

Jarreau Wimberly is a freelance artist who studied Illustration at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He started his career working for game companies such as Fantasy Flight Games, Wizards of the Coast, and Blizzard, focusing on role-playing, board, and collectable card games. The majority of this work is in the fantasy and science fiction genres (A Game of Thrones, Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft). Some of his other notable projects include producing the package art for the 25th anniversary G.I. Joe toys, and illustration work used in the promotion of the second Hulk film.

Science Fiction

Cancer

This certifies that HELEN FRANCES LAWRENCE, sex FEMALE was born to JOHN DENISON LAWRENCE and VIRGINIA MATILDA LAWRENCE on SATURDAY at SIX TEN PM, this EIGHTEENTH day of AUGUST, 1990 at the MONTFORT HOSPITAL in OTTAWA, ONTARIO and will die of CANCER.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ryan North

The theme of knowing your own death isn’t one I’d explored before […] but I find it fascinating. Knowing how but not when, and knowing that “how” could easily only make sense after you’ve died (yay, ironic interpretations of words): that’s awesome. What’s most interesting about the book [This is How You Die] is, unexpectedly, how the stories aren’t mostly morbid and sad. “Cancer” is (hopefully) a funny story, and there’re lots more that approach it in the same way.

Fantasy

Ushakiran

The earliest movements she knows are not her mother’s movements but the sea rocking her mother, who lies unconscious on the ship’s deck, rescued. In that way, the sea can be said to be her mother. She is born under the morning star, and so is named Ushakiran. The surgeon delivers her into a world of storms and blood, of darkness and creaking wood, of a blanket wrapped close around her, cold arms that cannot hold her.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Laura Friis

The story was inspired by a picture of a ship I found and carried around with me for ages. I often use pictures for prompts, and I always knew I wanted to write about this ship because it just looked so alive and spectacular in the picture, with its sails and flags blowing in the wind and people rushing about on deck.

Nonfiction

Interview: Austin Grossman

Austin Grossman’s first novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible, was nominated for the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize, and his writing has appeared in Granta, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He is a video game design consultant for Arkane Studios, and he has written and designed for a number of critically acclaimed games, including Dishonored, Ultima Underworld II, System Shock, Trespasser, and Deus Ex. His second novel, You, came out from Mulholland Books earlier this year, and his short fiction has also appeared in John Joseph Adams’s anthologies Under the Moons of Mars and The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination.

Science Fiction

This Villain You Must Create

Granite killed Mr. Malevolence on a Tuesday. In his defense, Mr. Malevolence was trying to destroy the entire world at the time. Defeating him was nothing new for Granite, either—they were archenemies and had been for almost twenty years now. Saving the world was a very old dance, a box step that Granite could do backwards and blindfolded.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carlie St. George

Years ago, in one of my creative writing classes, another student asked what the plural of “nemesis” was, and it sparked this big debate, not just about the correct word, but if you could ever have more than one nemesis and if a word like nemesis should even have a plural form. So I start thinking about superheroes, naturally, because I’m a geek, and that’s kind of what I do, and I start wondering if a superhero could just decide to replace his nemesis if he ever actually succeeded in killing him.

Fantasy

The Stars Below

The wooden house and outbuildings caught fire fast, blazed up, burned down, but the dome, built of lathe and plaster above a drum of brick, would not burn. What they did at last was heap up the wreckage of the telescopes, the instruments, the books and charts and drawings, in the middle of the floor under the dome, pour oil on the heap, and set fire to that. The flames spread to the wooden beams of the big telescope frame and to the clockwork mechanisms.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ursula K. Le Guin

My child, your Elder will now tell you of a time long, long before you were born, an age of darkness, in which our People of the Sci-fi had no women. Among the People were only men. The men did all things well and bravely. They went where no man had gone before. But women they knew not, except as depicted upon the covers of their magazines, having large breasts and screaming.

Nonfiction

Interview: Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey is a self-described “bum,” who for the past twenty years has bounced from job to job—computer repair, roofing, yacht captain, bookstore clerk. In his spare time he wrote science fiction, and after growing impatient with the long waits and uncertain rewards of traditional publishing, he began self-publishing his work on Amazon.com. Just a few years later, his post-apocalyptic novel Wool, typed out in a storage room during his lunch breaks at the bookstore, was earning him over $100,000 a month on Amazon, had secured him a six-figure book deal from Simon & Schuster, and had been optioned for film by Ridley Scott, director of Blade Runner and Alien.