Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



May 2012 (Issue 24)

Novella: The Cosmology of the Wider World (Part 1) by Jeffrey Ford

Novel Excerpts: The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi and 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: Mikhail Rakhmatullin, Interview: Michael Chabon, Interview: Vernor Vinge.

Fantasy: Dale Bailey (“The Children of Hamelin”), Melanie Rawn (“Mother of All Russiya”), Catherynne M. Valente (“A Hole to China”), Kage Baker (“The Ruby Incomparable”).

Science Fiction: Linda Nagata (“Nightside on Callisto”), C. C. Finlay (“The Cross-Time Accountants Fail To Kill Hitler Because Chuck Berry Does The Twist”), Nicola Griffith (“Song of Bullfrogs, Cry of Geese”), David Langford (“Different Kinds of Darkness”).

May 2012 (Issue 24)


Editorial, May 2012

Welcome to issue twenty-four of Lightspeed! We’ve got another great issue for you this month, so click-thru to see what we have in store.

Science Fiction

Nightside on Callisto

A faint, steady vibration carried through the igloo’s massive ice walls—a vibration that shouldn’t have been there. Jayne heard it in her sleep. Age had not dulled her soldier’s reflexes, honed by decades spent on watch against incursions of the Red. Her eyes snapped open. She held her breath.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Linda Nagata

I knew I wanted to tackle a story that was hard SF, and set off Earth, so why not on one of Jupiter’s moons? I have a bad habit of starting story development with setting instead of plot, and that’s what happened here. So I just kept throwing ideas at the page until I had enough to create a story for my chosen setting.


The Children of Hamelin

The swings hang perfectly still in the windless dawn. I come here most mornings to stand among the abandoned jungle gyms and sliding boards; sometimes the swings squeak, sometimes they are still, but either way the equation comes to loss. Either way I think of Sarah.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Dale Bailey

If you’re looking at society at large, I think there would be a lot of civil unrest inspired by the destruction of our society’s existing certainties about the way the world works. I imagine millennial cults would develop and that traditional religious belief would see a sharp rise. Secular and scientific voices would likely be drowned out.

Science Fiction

Song of Bullfrogs, Cry of Geese

I sat by the side of the road in the afternoon sun and watched the cranefly struggle. A breeze, hot and heavy as a tired dog’s breath, coated the web and fly with dust. I shaded my eyes and squinted down the road. Empty. As usual. It was almost two years since I’d seen anything but Jud’s truck on Peachtree.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nicola Griffith

I really wanted to write about this world I’d discovered, its rich, slow secrecy—its winter melancholy that turned gradually, then all at once, into an astoundingly fecund summer. To do that, I needed a plausible way for Molly to stay behind, to live reasonably well in an otherwise-abandoned version of the place. I hit upon a creeping apocalypse.


A Hole to China

Tristram was certain she would never have made the attempt had she not heard that it was a thing other children often did. She did so want to be like other children—lolling about like great striped cats, batting at moths with oversized paws, snapping at dust-motes with wet pink jaws.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Catherynne M. Valente

Tristram is very much me as a child—she even lives in the part of the country where I grew up. Childhood was a sad and difficult place for me, one in which I was always trying to come up with explanations of the world without asking grown ups questions which might lead to me being rejected in some fashion. I was quite neurotic, really. All of that goes into Tristram.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Mikhail Rakhmatullin

Rakhmatullin’s characters often confront the viewer head-on, whether the subject is an alien with skin as variegated as an artist’s palette, or a mechanic who is, beneath all of the technology, aging, grizzled, and subject to the wear and tear of time. The environments he creates range from the nearly abstract to the thoroughly-realized worlds of his concept landscapes and battle scenes.

Science Fiction

The Cross-Time Accountants Fail To Kill Hitler Because Chuck Berry Does The Twist

Mabel blurred through the Doorway and stumbled into a wall. She groped for a fingerhold, anything to prop herself up until the gut-twisting vertigo passed. Every time she experienced the blur it got a little worse. All that worse added up to worst because she had made hundreds of auditing trips to the past during her thirty-nine year career in cross-time accounting.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: C.C. Finlay

A couple years ago when I was actively blogging, some editorial minion had complained about their slushpile being full of stories with titles that spoiled the ending mixed with time-travel stories about people trying to kill Hitler. I commented that maybe it wasn’t a good time to submit my story titled “The Cross-Time Accountants Fail to Kill Hitler Because Chuck Berry Does the Twist.”


The Ruby Incomparable

The girl surprised everyone. To begin with, no one in the world below had thought her parents would have more children. Her parents’ marriage had created quite a scandal, a profound clash of philosophical extremes; for her father was the Master of the Mountain, a brigand and sorcerer, who had carried the Saint of the World off to his high fortress.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kage Baker

I obediently spent my childhood writing little stories, until I reached that age when you dig in your heels and tell your parents you hate them and you’ll never, ever be what they want you to be. And I more or less ran away with the circus for the next twenty years.


Interview: Vernor Vinge

[On coining the term “the singularity”]: I used that term first, I think, at an artificial intelligence conference in 1982. […] I made the observation that if we got human-level artificial intelligence, that would certainly be a world-shaking event, and if we got superhuman-level intelligence, then what happened afterward would be fundamentally unintelligible.

Science Fiction

Different Kinds of Darkness

It was always dark outside the windows. Parents and teachers sometimes said vaguely that this was all because of Deep Green terrorists, but Jonathan thought there was more to the story. The other members of the Shudder Club agreed. The dark beyond the window-glass at home, at school, and on the school bus was the second kind of darkness.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: David Langford

The notion of basilisk images was something I’d had in mind ever since reading Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach. Hofstadter’s favourite analogy for the impact of Gödel’s Theorem on mathematics is a music recording that can’t be played because its resonances destroy the playing mechanism.


Mother of All Russiya

She paced the stones, her feet separated from the chill by sable-lined slippers. She was cold despite them, cold from her toes to her crown. Perhaps it was the vengeance of the fire, that she had not joined her husband in its embrace. Long ago, he had decided that he wished to be immolated in the manner of their ancestors.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Melanie Rawn

The difficulty was in trying to make the time and place more real—all this happened more than a thousand years ago, and in a part of the world that we don’t usually learn much about. Set a story in Ancient Rome or 12th Century England, and the reader will most likely have a mental file of background information; medieval Kiev is pretty much a mystery.


Interview: Michael Chabon

[Science fiction and fantasy] were the kind of books that I loved to read, so at any given moment in my life from the point that I decided to be a writer forward, which was around this time—I discovered Burroughs and then Arthur Conan Doyle right around the same time, and those were kind of my first two crushes—I would imagine writing books that I loved to read.