Science Fiction & Fantasy

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June 2015 (Issue 61)

Even in science fiction, supposedly the genre of limitless possibility, where everyone is invited to the adventure, heterosexual, heteroromantic, and cisgendered are considered the default, to the extent that everything else is “deviation,” and must be eyed with suspicion. This issue contains 10 original science fiction short stories (selected by guest editor Seanan McGuire), including new stories by award-winning queer authors Amal El-Mohtar, and John Chu; 4 classic short story reprints and a novella reprint (selected by guest reprint editor Steve Berman); approx. 10,000 words of original flash fiction (selected by guest flash fiction editor Sigrid Ellis); 7 nonfiction articles (selected by guest nonfiction editor Mark Oshiro); approx. 30 personal essays about the experience reading and writing science fiction as a queer person (selected by managing editor Wendy N. Wagner); original artwork (selected by and featuring a cover by guest art director Elizabeth Leggett); and more!

In This Issue: June 2015 (Issue 61)

Editorial

The Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Manifesto

I chuckle at the title of this anthology. Queers can’t destroy science fiction. No one can. No one can destroy the future. But we can, through malice or complacency or inattention, limit the future. We can so narrowly, so tightly map the possible that we wall ourselves into a cave of our own making. And we queers, we can and will and must destroy that narrowness of scope.

Science Fiction

Emergency Repair

I work the tip of a flathead screwdriver into the barely visible notch along the sternum and pry up the aluminum polymer casing covering the android’s chest. My fingers burn when they make contact with the exposed skeletal components — no time to let it cool down.

Science Fiction

勢孤取和 (Influence Isolated, Make Peace)

Jake acquired his target as soon as he stepped into the cafeteria. For the good of the war, he had passed without a trace through forests and mountains to reconnoiter and assassinate. For the good of the subsequent peace, Jake now needed to have lunch with a random stranger and emulate a human being.

Nonfiction

Backer Acknowledgments

We could not have put this issue together without the help and support of our wonderful Kickstarter backers — all 2,250 of them! One of the secondary Kickstarter rewards allowed backers to add their name to a list of donors that would appear in the published issue. About half of our backers chose this reward. We’re […]

Nonfiction

About the Special Issue Staff

Seanan McGuire, Guest Editor-in-Chief & Original Fiction Editor Seanan McGuire (who also writes as Mira Grant) is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, with her latest releases being Symbiont, Midnight Blue-Light Special, The Winter Long, Half-Off Ragnarok, and Sparrow Hill Road. She is a ten-time finalist for the Hugo Award, as well […]

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: John Chu

Go suggested itself at first because, unlike chess, modern day computers don’t play it very well. (I should point out here that I play even worse.) This is, in part, because Go has a huge state space. To me, plays in Go can feel rather subtle. Placing a stone off by a point can have drastic ramifications. A fight on one side of the board may affect the situation on the other side of the board. There’s a lot to keep track of.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kate M. Galey

I studied to be an EMT in college and spent a short time working in that field, and especially on an ambulance, that’s a daily reality. There are well-known interventions — like C.P.R. or defibrillation — that, despite what we see on TV, aren’t usually successful. It’s a hard situation to be in, because you can do everything perfectly and still lose someone. And even if it works, it doesn’t always work for long, and sometimes the damage you do trying to save someone isn’t worth it to them.

Science Fiction

Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind

Kiss a girl – X / Fall in love – X / Get a tattoo, because Dad says that after we all go into the Sing nobody on Earth is going to have a body anymore. I don’t care if it hurts. / Smoke a joint. / Egg Principal Novak’s house – X / See a solar eclipse. This one time, Sandra’s family was going to drive us down to California to see an eclipse, but then her mom called my dad at the last minute and said it was off. I wonder why?

Science Fiction

Melioration

Gramophone music crackles out over the quad. “Read that last part again, Jay,” Professor Norris says. I raise my voice. “‘They’ has been used as a singular pronoun since Chaucer: whoso fyndeth hym —” A champagne cork pops, the drinkers cheer. I can’t compete. “Oh, for goodness’ sake.” “You don’t approve?” asks the Prof. “This college isn’t a theme park.”

Science Fiction

Rubbing is Racing

bing bing bing / The lights speak to me as they flash red, red, red. They’re saying wait, wait, wait, then ready as yellow flashes, then get the fuck going as greens turns the sky into a maelstrom of steel and fire and I’m rising, pushed into the back of my navpod so hard I fear I’ll break through. The first three seconds are the most dangerous, the powers of heaven and earth look away as a hundred ships fight for the same small stretch of sky.

Science Fiction

Helping Hand

Alexandria Stephens knew she was going to die a slow, cold death in space. She floated fifteen meters from her capsule, a single-pilot maintenance shuttle that could operate in low- or high-Earth orbit.

Science Fiction

The Lamb Chops

Harry had never dated anyone quite like Aiden. The London flat changed when Harry moved in. The age-worn First Nation totem, the rampant wooden eagle, acquired a floppy silk bow. Harry changed it every so often: this one was the Maple Leaf; there was a rainbow one for Pride, and on special occasions it also wore a black silky top hat. Harry filled the place with potted plants, which flourished so long as Harry stopped Aiden trying to care for them.

Science Fiction

Queers Destroy Flash Fiction!

As part of our Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue, we opened up Lightspeed to flash fiction for the first time. The flash fiction section was guest-edited by Hugo-nominated editor Sigrid Ellis. Half of the flash selections are available online, while the other half are exclusive to the print/ebook edition.

Science Fiction

Black Holes

“What do you think it would feel like to die in a black hole?” Joey asked, then immediately added, “Not being morbid.” Kant laughed. He had a loud belly laugh that made the bare bedroom feel full and bright. The mattress they were lying on had no bed frame, and, at the moment, no sheets. The only set not being used as makeshift curtains were drying in the basement.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: RJ Edwards

I knew I wanted to write something about the Large Hadron Collider, this inconceivably huge and important thing that might change the world, and relate it back to these small decisions made by individuals. And I wanted to write about a relationship between two trans people. I started with this image that is very much rooted in my relationship with this friend. I borrowed his postcards and his laugh. Though it diverged from there.

Artist Showcase

Artists Showcase: Spotlight on the QDSF Illustrators

Some of the most innovative and talented queer creators are represented here. The field of speculative fiction is richer because of their contributions. Wait until you see C. Bedford’s clean design and evocative imagery; Paige Braddock’s powerful visual storytelling; Isabel Collier’s compelling, futuristic style; Odera Igbokwe’s potent and fluid expressions; Steen’s superb line and composition awareness; and Orion Zangara’s lush, lush ink work.

Science Fiction

Nothing is Pixels Here

“System Error ahead. Please turn around,” the Concierge’s voice speaks over the metallic growl of my dirt bike. I rev the throttle and lean into the warm wind. My seat bounces as mud ricochets up around me. Ahead, knobby limbs and crisp leaves dissolve into broken pixels. The SimGrid mutes as the soft voice fills the space between my ears, again. “System Error ahead. Please turn around.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: K.M. Szpara

The Internet, via role-playing and online accounts, message boards wherein no one can see or hear you, acts as an escape for many trans people. You can be your true self there without being questioned. That was the SimGrid portion of the story. When Ash plugs in at a young age, his avatar generates in his self-image. He gets to be “a character who just happens to be gay” — though he is unaware of this, that’s how the story begins for readers.

Science Fiction

The Astrakhan, the Homburg, and the Red Red Coal

“Paris? Paris is ruined for me, alas. It has become a haven for Americans — or should I say a heaven? When good Americans die, perhaps they really do go to Paris. That would explain the flood.” “What about the others, Mr. Holland? The ones who aren’t good?” “Ah. Have you not heard? I thought that was common knowledge. When bad Americans die, they go to America.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Chaz Brenchley

“If Mars were a province of the British Empire” has been the constant theme running through my head like an earworm. How it could have happened, what it might have meant, what it might imply for science, for politics, for international relations, for empire on two planets (or three, in fact, because the Russians have Venus). One of the consequences is that I keep interrupting myself with new revelations.

Nonfiction

Book Reviews, June 2015: Friendship, Chosen Family, and Queer Communities

This month, I want to take a look at how queers destroy science fiction through seeking, building, and defending community. The following books are all deeply concerned with the families we choose and the connections we build together, amongst each other, to survive worlds hostile to us.

Science Fiction

Madeleine

Madeleine remembers being a different person. It strikes her when she’s driving, threading her way through farmland, homesteads, facing down the mountains around which the road winds. She remembers being thrilled at the thought of travel, of the self she would discover over the hills and far away. She remembers laughing with friends, looking forward to things, to a future.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Amal El-Mohtar

It percolated for a long time before I decided to try and make it my submission to QDSF. When I focused on the relationship I was imagining instead of the time-travel MacGuffin, though, it started coming together — and it was in trying to figure out a frame for that relationship, and figuring out Madeleine’s character, loneliness, and motivation, that the story really emerged.

Science Fiction

Red Run

Hinahon didn’t belong in that hotel. On that Monday, she should have been at her apartment on East Bradford Street preparing to meet Natalie at a cozy restaurant downtown. It was their two year anniversary, and she was expected in a few hours.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: A.M.J. Hudson

Unfortunately, a lot of the experience with depression detailed in “Red Run” is similar to my own. When I began to question my sexuality, I met a lot of resistance from my family. When I came out, they didn’t talk about it. No one did. I was met with silence and blank stares, the shrugging of shoulders. Having to internalize so many things that defined who I am destroyed the trust I had in those around me.

Nonfiction

Interview: David Gerrold

When I watched “The Trouble with Tribbles” last year, I was aware that I was watching a piece of science fiction history. This was not my first introduction to David Gerrold’s work, however. Years ago, I was ranting to a friend about how hard it seemed to be to find good science fiction or fantasy with main characters who were gay. They recommended that I read THE MARTIAN CHILD.