Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Mar. 2012 (Issue 22)

Science Fiction: “The Day They Came” by Kali Wallace, “Test” by Steven Utley, “My She” by Mary Rosenblum, “Electric Rains” by Kathleen Ann Goonan.

Fantasy: “Alarms” by S. L. Gilbow, “Beauty” by David Barr Kirtley, “Halfway People” by Karen Joy Fowler, “The Legend of XI Cygnus” by Gene Wofle.

Novella: “Cleopatra Brimstone” by Elizabeth Hand

Novel Excerpt: The Games by Ted Kosmatka

Nonfiction: Artist Gallery: Ed Basa by J.T. Glover, Interview: R. A. Salvatore by The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, Interview: Ian McDonald by The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy

Mar. 2012 (Issue 22)


Editorial, March 2012

This month, our ebook-exclusive novella is “Cleopatra Brimstone” by Elizabeth Hand. Then we have original science fiction by new writer Kali Wallace (“The Day They Came”) and Steven Utley (“Test”), and SF reprints by award-winning authors Mary Rosenblum (“My She”) and Kathleen Ann Goonan (“Electric Rains”). We also have original fantasy by S. L. Gilbow (“Alarms”) and David Barr Kirtley (“Beauty”), and fantasy reprints by bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler (“Halfway People”) and the legendary Gene Wolfe (“The Legend of XI Cygnus”). All that plus our artist showcase, our usual assortment of author spotlights, and feature interviews with R. A. Salvatore and Ian McDonald. You’ll also notice a new addition in our ebooks this month: We’re featuring an excerpt in this issue from a forthcoming novel: THE GAMES by Ted Kosmatka.

Science Fiction

The Day They Came

You remember the day they came. The shady corner behind the store smelled of Lou’s cigarettes and the dumpster down the alley, just shy of pick-up day and overflowing already. You chewed your sandwich and stared at the weeds growing through the asphalt. The day was stifled by summer heat and suffocating humidity, too bright and too hazy all at once. A shadow passed overhead. You looked up.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kali Wallace

There’s always a worry when writing an alien invasion story that the aliens will be silly, no matter how hard you try to make them interesting. Alien invasion stories belong to a subgenre with a lot of history and expectation built into it. It’s very well-trod ground, so I kept asking myself what, besides aliens, this story was supposed to be about.



My curse is that I set off alarms. Smoke alarms. Car alarms. House alarms. It doesn’t matter what kind; I set them all off as soon as I get close to them. Close is usually about thirty feet. I don’t know why I set them off. I haven’t always been like this. I used to be fairly normal.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: S. L. Gilbow

I think one of my favorite things about “Alarms” is that Cara doesn’t even recognize her superpower when she gets it. That may be the way with all of us. We may have superpowers we don’t even recognize as such.

Science Fiction

My She

I wait outside the speaking chamber, where the young Speakers learn to Hear and Speak. The walls and carpeted floor are purest white, the color of this God place and the Speakers who live here walk by, all dressed in white like the walls and the floor, their palms on the shoulders of their guides.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Mary Rosenblum

We so often punish the one who is different in our societies. Perhaps it’s a leftover of our “mass production” mentality from the WWII years, or a more primitive “tribal” mentality, but we are not happy with someone who does not fit the specified mold, who marches to a drummer that the rest of us can’t hear. We are not tolerant of “different,” and I think it’s one of the biggest weaknesses we face as a race—that inability to value the unique.


The Legend of XI Cygnus

In the fall sky, not long after sundown, you may see Cygnus the swan, which the Greeks called Ornis. In its right wing is the small yellow star that the Arabs (the only people to have named it as far as I know) call Gienah. Its legend is ancient, having reached us at the speed of light.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Ed Basa

I think my dream illustration assignment is to be asked to work on the vehicles for the next Avatar movie. I wouldn’t mind spending sleepless nights trying to come up with exciting designs that would end up on the silver screen.

Science Fiction

Electric Rains

Ella sat by Nana’s body for two days before she pushed it out the window. She had spent the first half-day realizing what death was, the next half-day grieving, the following morning waking and feeling reverent if somewhat nauseated, and trying to decide what to do. It was three in the morning when she finally did it, and it was almost the season of electric rains.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kathleen Ann Goonan

We are technological creatures, and use the products of our scientific discoveries for various ends. Sometimes the results are predictable; often, they are not. Biotech is a strong presence in our lives today. As our scientific and engineering abilities become ever more finely honed, targeted biotech applications will become ubiquitous, with anticipated and unanticipated results.



Nicole Sanders was beautiful. One night after work, she stopped off at a bar downtown, which is where she met the beast. “Hi,” the beast said, in a gentle voice. “Can I buy you a drink?”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: David Barr Kirtley

A lot of my fiction is a retelling of something or other, because I have serious problems with the philosophical underpinnings of a lot of stories, and it often seems to me that the best way to answer them is to rewrite them in a way that lays bare the absurdity.


Interview: Ian McDonald

I’ve been interested in fiction in the developing world for quite some time. I live just outside Belfast, in Northern Ireland. It’s one of those places that’s kind of on the periphery of things. In many ways, it’s one of the least science fictional places in the world to grow up in. In another sense, it’s the perfect preparation for life in the twenty-first century—living through thirty years of civil, religious, and political violence is fairly good prep for the way I feel the twenty-first century is going to go.

Science Fiction


Something is eating the starship Stephen W. Hawking, chewing it slowly and efficiently to pieces. Hurtling through hyperspace, or merely hanging suspended therein (who can really tell about hyperspace?), the vessel has become entangled with an unknown entity that exhibits at least one recognizable attribute: curiosity.stev

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Steven Utley

Ah, science fiction—how I doted on the stuff from exuberant boyhood into sullen post-adolescence, a span of time encompassing Captain Video and Again, Dangerous Visions. In somewhat less general terms, between the ages of ten and about twenty-eight, I described an arc through Jules Verne (admittedly, a tough go at age ten), H. G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury, Philip José Farmer, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, and Barry Malzberg: ontogeny roughly recapitulating phylogeny.


Halfway People

Thunder, wind, and waves. You in your cradle. You’ve never heard these noises before and they are making you cry. Here, child. Let me wrap you in a blanket and my arms, take you to the big chair by the fire, and tell you a story. My father’s too old and deaf to hear and you too young to understand. If you were older or he younger, I couldn’t tell it, this story so dangerous that tomorrow, I must forget it entirely and make up another.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Karen Joy Fowler

I’m drawn to characters with imperfect knowledge of events, because they seem real to me. This is the human condition. We all have to operate daily without the data needed and all of our lives are severely impacted by events we don’t witness and are powerless to affect. By the ends of my stories, the reader knows at least as much as my narrator knows and sometimes more; if I know more than the narrator, then I mean for the reader to know that, too. Whatever questions remain in the story are questions for which I don’t have the answers.


Interview: R. A. Salvatore

I kind of took The Godfather and put it in extreme mode, you know? They relish power, they crave power—the only reason for the dark elves to have a system of justice to exact punishment, since they’re all a bunch of murderers and thieves anyway, is if someone else can bring a complaint against them. Their entire justice system is a mockery. If it’s not based on the priestesses and what Lolth says, then it goes, unless someone is wronged and can prove it. So, if you kill all the rest of them, nobody can bring the complaint. If nobody can bring the complaint, it never happened.