Science Fiction & Fantasy

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June 2019 (Issue 109)

We have original science fiction by Deji Bryce Olukotun (“Between the Dark and the Dark”) and G.V. Anderson (“The Harvest of a Half-Known Life”), along with SF reprints by Ken Liu (“An Advanced Reader’s Picture Book of Comparative Cognition”) and Yoon Ha Lee (“Warhosts”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Isabel Cañas (“The Weight of a Thousand Needles”) and Caspian Gray (“Unpublished Gay Cancer Survivor Memoir”), and fantasy reprints by Karen Joy Fowler (“The Last Worders”) and Ellen Kushner (“When Two Swordsmen Meet”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with our book and media review columns. We also have an interview with debut novelist—and frequent Lightspeed contributor—Cadwell Turnbull. For our ebook readers, we also have an ebook-exclusive reprint of Tochi Onyebuchi’s novella “Dust to Dust,” and a pair of book excerpts: one from Bryan Camp’s new novel Gather the Fortunes, and one from Peter Cawdron’s book Reentry.

In This Issue: June 2019 (Issue 109)

Editorial

Editorial: June 2019

Be sure to check out the editorial for a run-down of this month’s content, plus all our news and updates.

Science Fiction

Between the Dark and the Dark

Two hundred ships moved through the stars, leaving an iridescent trail of transmission beacons in their wake. Five billion kilometers long, the beacons stretched all the way to Earth, a desiccated and shaken planet that the passengers once called home. Sometimes simple messages from the ships arrived in the data. After a long time, images came and—after an even longer time—clips of the passengers going about their lives. But the vast distances meant these clips were rare. Normally an image arriving on Earth was cause for celebration, because it meant the crew was still alive, or at least the ship’s systems were still functioning.

Fantasy

The Last Worders

Charlotta was asleep in the dining car when the train arrived in San Margais. It was tempting to just leave her behind, and I tried to tell myself this wasn’t a mean thought, but came to me because I, myself, might want to be left like that, just for the adventure of it. I might want to wake up hours later and miles away, bewildered and alone. I am always on the lookout for those parts of my life that could be the first scene in a movie. Of course, you could start a movie anywhere, but you wouldn’t; that’s my point. And so this impulse had nothing to do with the way Charlotta had begun to get on my last nerve.

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

An Advanced Readers’ Picture Book Of Comparative Cognition

My darling, my child, my connoisseur of sesquipedalian words and convoluted ideas and meandering sentences and baroque images, while the sun is asleep and the moon somnambulant, while the stars bathe us in their glow from eons ago and light-years away, while you are comfortably nestled in your blankets and I am hunched over in my chair by your bed, while we are warm and safe and still for the moment in this bubble of incandescent light cast by the pearl held up by the mermaid lamp, you and I, on this planet spinning and hurtling through the frigid darkness of space at dozens of miles per second, let’s read.

Fantasy

The Weight of a Thousand Needles

A full moon silvers the stalls of the Light Markets, the bazaar of the living and the dead. Here, where jinn mix with mortals and gods, where sorcery sits thick on the air, blue as incense, a crow presides over its wares. Silver rings set with opals like apricot pits nestled in obsidian silk; human teeth peer out of the smoky glass of a tall vase. Mother-of-pearl dice wink in candlelight, their pale faces carved with symbols even the jinn are too young to know. A young man approaches the crow’s stall, gliding dark out of the shadows of the alley. His eyes and hair are jet moonless night, his shoulders bear the velvet raiment of eight heavens.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Reviews, June 2019

This month, Arley Sorg reviews the novelZero Bombby M.T. Hill, and two works from authors whose short ficiton we’ve published here at Lightspeed: Vylar Kaftan (Arley reviews her debut novella, Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water) by ; and Sam J. Miller (who has a new novel called Destroy All Monsters).

Science Fiction

The Harvest of a Half-Known Life

I’ll never forget the taste of my mother’s marrow. I think of it now, as I rub oil into the stiff, cracking heels of my shoes: how I scooped it still warm from the bone, like pale butter. How it lingered in my teeth for days after the harvesting. And I think further back, as I often do lately, to the way her hands jerked and fluttered close to her bony chest before she passed. She was too weak to shape her signs properly so I can only guess their meaning. Perhaps I’ve guessed wrong—Aefha thinks so—but I can’t forget. Follow the ghosts.

Fantasy

When Two Swordsmen Meet

When two swordsmen meet, no one knows what to expect. It’s a cold night in a cold city. Cold stone under cold starlight. He walks down a deserted street, sure of himself, sure of the weapon he bears. He’s not altogether surprised when the stranger steps out of the shadows. “Hey,” he says to the newcomer. “You hungry? I’m going to friends with a fire and a big pot always bubbling on it.” By which we see that it’s not just his sword that defends him, whatever he may think. The other stands very still. “You’re not what I thought you’d be,” he says flatly. “Why not?” the swordsman asks, curious.

When Two Swordsmen Meet

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Media Review: June 2019

Carrie Vaughn tackles her biggest movie review so far: Avengers: Endgame. Come see if you agree with her take on this titan!

Science Fiction

Warhosts

The Warhosts sit in the lees of the starships while the sky grows less flushed with dawn, playing cards. At the same time, the regulators within the Red emissary and our own play their own game across a moist medium of flesh, chemical brew, and stench to determine where the next battle will be fought. We—the Purples—have been fighting the Reds for possession of this moon, jigsaw piece by slow jigsaw piece, as deliberately as a pavane or carved ice. The Reds have grown increasingly desperate. The moon has a certain strategic importance, and the Reds are very close to having to cede it entirely.

Warhosts

Fantasy

Unpublished Gay Cancer Survivor Memoir

Sydney’s cellphone rang and she ignored it, on the grounds that it was either her mother or news that someone had died, and either way she was too high to handle it. Her phone went quiet, then started ringing again, and anxiety clawed at her belly and then up her spine. Maybe someone wasn’t dead, maybe they were just dying, and if she ignored this call she’d miss her chance to say goodbye at the hospital. Everyone else would be there, and she’d be the only asshole who hadn’t made it in time.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Interview: Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull is a graduate from North Carolina State University’s Creative Writing MFA in Fiction and English MA in Linguistics. He attended Clarion West 2016. Turnbull’s short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. His short story “Loneliness is in Your Blood” was selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. His novelette “Other Worlds and This One” was also selected as notable story for the anthology. The Lesson is his debut novel.