Science Fiction & Fantasy

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May 2014 (Issue 48)

We have original science fiction by Seth Dickinson (“A Tank Only Fears Four Things”) and Sandra McDonald (“Selfie”), along with SF reprints by Nisi Shawl (“Deep End”) and Sean Williams (“Zero Temptation”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Matthew Hughes (“The Ba of Phalloon,” a Kaslo Chronicles tale) and Fred Van Lente (“Willful Weapon”), and fantasy reprints by Rachel Pollack (“Burning Beard”) and Rajan Khanna (“Second Hand”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with a pair of feature interviews. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella reprint “Shiva in Shadow” by Nancy Kress and novel excerpts from DEFENDERS by Will McIntosh and THE SILK MAP by Chris Willrich.

In This Issue: May 2014 (Issue 48)

Editorial

Editorial, May 2014

We have original science fiction by Seth Dickinson (“A Tank Only Fears Four Things”) and Sandra McDonald (“Selfie”), along with SF reprints by Nisi Shawl (“Deep End”) and Sean Williams (“Zero Temptation”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Matthew Hughes (“The Ba of Phalloon,” a Kaslo Chronicles tale) and Fred Van Lente (“Willful Weapon”), and fantasy reprints by Rachel Pollack (“Burning Beard”) and Rajan Khanna (“Second Hand”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with a pair of feature interviews. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella reprint “Shiva in Shadow” by Nancy Kress and novel excerpts from DEFENDERS by Will McIntosh and THE SILK MAP by Chris Willrich.

Science Fiction

A Tank Only Fears Four Things

The surgery makes Tereshkova into a tank. In the war, she never showed any fear, not at Fulda, not even in the snows of Vogelsberg when the Americans dropped the first bomb. When Clinton and Yeltsin shook hands at Yalta, when the word came down to the 8th Guards Army to yield Frankfurt and withdraw to Soviet soil, Tereshkova spat into the dirt and said: “Too bad.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Seth Dickinson

We live in a society that fetishizes military hardware. It’s on movie posters, in our games, our bestselling books. There are discussion forums full of people arguing whether this plane could outfight that one. And I totally understand this: I think it’s the same psychological engine that brings people into Pokémon, or bird watching, or sports.

Fantasy

Burning Beard: The Dreams and Visions of Joseph ben Jacob, Lord Viceroy of Egypt

In the last month of his life, when his runaway liver has all but eaten his body, Lord Joseph orders his slave to set his flimsy frame upright, like the sacred pillar of the God Osiris in the annual festival of rebirth. Joseph has other things on his mind, however, than his journey to the next world.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Rachel Pollack

A midrash is a story created about characters or events of the Bible, sort of filling in gaps in the text with creative imagination. The original rabbis considered these divinely revealed, and the stories were usually pious. I prefer a modern sensibility and ideas that challenge traditional pieties.

Science Fiction

Deep End

The pool was supposed to be like freespace. Enough like it, anyway, to help Wayna acclimate to her download. She went in first thing every “morning,” as soon as Dr. Ops, the ship’s mind, awakened her. Too bad it wasn’t scheduled for later; all the slow, meat-based activities afterwards were a literal drag.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nisi Shawl

I was honestly surprised the first time someone asked me what crimes the prisoners in “Deep End” had committed and then wondered why I hadn’t named these offences. Where I come from, imprisonment is largely a given for huge percentages of the population. Whatever one has done doesn’t matter much—punishment is based more on WHO ONE IS.

Fantasy

Second Hand

Quentin Ketterly stood in the Gold Star Saloon and lit his cheroot with one hand, the other resting lightly on his hip, very close to his waistcoat pocket. He stared across the room at the five men playing poker at a nearby table. His eyes tracked the movement of the cards that they held and played, though his mind was on another set of Cards entirely.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Rajan Khanna

I’ve always been drawn to genre mash-ups, I think, because they’re a way to honor traditional tropes and yet cast them in a new light, to essentially play tropes off against one another. For me, the western has always been one of the most adaptable—it works well with fantasy, horror, or even science fiction. For me personally, there’s just something about many of those western tropes that appeals to me.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Peter Mohrbacher

Peter Mohrbacher works as a concept artist, illustrator, and Art Lead for projects such as Magic: The Gathering and Dragons of Atlantis. His art has been featured in Spectrum annuals 18, 19, and 20. He lives in San Francisco. His website is www.vandalhigh.com.

Science Fiction

Zero Temptation

Picture the most perfect place on Earth. If it’s a deserted desert island, you’d be close. Blue sky, white sand, green palm trees, crystal water, gently sighing surf . . . Paradise, right? Now picture yourself trapped there, with no way of escape. It doesn’t take long for heaven to turn to hell.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sean Williams

I think the technology is at the point where people can readily log everything they do, if they want to, but it’s not really mainstream yet. There’s no killer app, if I still can use that term without sounding facile. I like the idea of memory aids—and, going even deeper back in time, full-blown nostalgia engines—but I’m not going to do it myself if it takes any effort at all.

Fantasy

Willful Weapon

The torch of the Statue of Liberty blazed with an unearthly light. The steamship lumbered through the retina-stinging nimbus which draped the colossal lady and her fortress pedestal in a luminescent haze. Cellach mac Rath crowded with the rest of the bedraggled masses on the deck and watched his destiny loom ever closer: the towers of Manhattan, garlanded with gargoyles and lit with the fires of a million lanterns.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Fred Van Lente

Any story based in something fantastical, whether it’s superheroes or sword-and-sorcery, needs a human element the reader can latch on to emotionally. I am a huge history buff and read on that subject widely, and I especially love New York City history, where I’ve lived for two decades, so you manage to just pick up details that you can then deploy in a natural way in fiction that seems organic.

Nonfiction

Interview: Jeff VanderMeer

That little bit of dream is really just the kind of catalyst for all the rest of it. The other catalyst for it was really the fact that I have become so enamored of the wildlife and the wilderness of north Florida where I hike a lot, and so I’ve been wanting to write something with a setting that was like that for a while. That kind of combined in my imagination with the dream bits, and then the character came to me, and the situations that the character was in, and then I knew that I had a story.

Science Fiction

Selfie

If you ask me, I’m more like my mom than my dad. She and I love astronomy and the mysterious origins of the universe. Dad’s not only stuck on the past, he literally would move there if he could. Every summer he drags me along on his research trips to eras where sweaty-smelling people with wool bathing suits hole up in seaside deathtraps.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sandra McDonald

The word selfie is pretty well known now, thanks to Ellen DeGeneres and the Oscars, but it was relatively new to me until six months ago. I tried to push that word to its logical extension: another self, walking around on a temporary lease for a specified purpose. If I had a selfie, I’d send her off to grade college essays all day while I wrote the great American novel in coffee shops.

Fantasy

The Ba of Phalloon

“I’d say there are at least three hundred of them,” Kaslo said. “Mostly men, but quite a few women. I don’t see any children. I see clubs, knives, some homemade spears.” He turned from the narrow slit of unglazed window that pierced the castle wall.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Matthew Hughes

I try to write about serious things with a slightly comic bent. I have to keep reminding myself that there’s a thin line between ironic twists and the descent into buffoonery. Then I have to remind myself to watch for that line and stay on the right side of it.

Nonfiction

Interview: Michio Kaku

Forget the booster rockets, forget asteroid collisions, forget weightlessness, forget radiation dangers, all of that is bunk when I put intelligence on a laser beam and shoot the laser beam to the stars, and then at the other end there is a relay station which absorbs the laser beam and puts all this memory into a robot, and so you can then begin to feel and live on another star system. So this idea was inspired by Isaac Asimov and other science fiction writers, but now we think it could be possible.