Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Nov. 2013 (Issue 42)

This month, we have original science fiction by Sean Williams (“Death and the Hobbyist”—a Twinmaker Story) and Beth Revis (“The Turing Test”), along with SF reprints by James Tiptree, Jr. (“And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side”) and James Stoddard (“The Battle of York”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Kelly Barnhill (“The Insect and the Astronomer”) and Matthew Hughes (“Sleeper”—a Kaslo Chronicles tale), and fantasy reprints by Ian McDonald (“Tonight We Fly”) and Maria Dahvana Headley (“Bit-U-Men”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with feature interviews with NFL punter/über-geek Chris Kluwe and Dinosaur Comics-creator Ryan North. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella “Holy Places” by Martha Wells, and novel excerpts of Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Starhawk by Jack McDevitt, and SEAL Team 13 by Evan Currie.

In This Issue: Nov. 2013 (Issue 42)

Editorial

Editorial, November 2013

Welcome to issue forty-two of Lightspeed! We’ve got another great issue for you this month; read the editorial to see what we have on tap.

Fantasy

Bit-U-Men

Made clean, kept clean, wrapped dust-proof. An Energy-Rich Candy Made in the Great City of Chicago! Don’t confuse us with the competition!

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Maria Dahvana Headley

I did lots of research into candy-making in the ’20s in Chicago. The candy industry in Chicago was a big deal, and the stuff in the story is pretty accurate as far as that goes, the female workers, the kinds of machinery, although also, given that it’s a story about a candy factory, I went Wonka on the list of things Chet’s father brings in from his travels. Only a little, though—most things in this story are things you might find in the real world. Besides, of course, the talking, tasty mummy.

Science Fiction

Death and the Hobbyist

It wasn’t enough for my mother Juliet to be crazy. Of course not. She was always going to find a uniquely inconvenient way to drive us mad along with her.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sean Williams

This story has a complicated genesis. The short answer is that it’s a tie-in to my new novel, Twinmaker. I’ve been writing a bunch of these stories to explore aspects of the world and the main characters (including “The Missing Metatarsals” and “Face Value,” also published by Lightspeed). “Hobbyist” sprang in part from speculation regarding how death from illness is treated in a post-scarcity society. It would be easy to regard it as a vile injustice, but modern humans have always had a nuanced relationship with mortality, and that’s something I was keen to look into.

Fantasy

The Insect and the Astronomer: A Love Story

The Insect has never been in love. The Astronomer has never been alive. It is important that you understand this.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kelly Barnhill

So it is with every hero’s quest—there is a moment when the hero has an opportunity to choose ease and tranquility, where the object is obscured from view, where the sails go slack and resolve fades. And they may choose to give up and give in and give way to bliss and sweetness and sleep—and it is perilous. The Insect is fragile and vulnerable in his spirit, but he is in his body, too. And it was important show that.

Science Fiction

And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side

He was standing absolutely still by a service port, staring out at the belly of the Orion docking above us. He had on a gray uniform and his rusty hair was cut short. I took him for a station engineer.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: James Tiptree, Jr.

Science fiction embraces seduction. Alice Bradley Sheldon, writing under the pen name of James Tiptree, Jr. is adept at taking on this concept. With “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side,” first contact is mystical and mysterious. Every action of the Sirians is perceived as sexualized, even when the actions remain normal to the aliens. This is the same kind of enticement and curiosity that drives men and women to pursue ideas and fantastical dreams. At the same time, as a woman writing in a vastly patriarchal field, Sheldon described the plight of women in science fiction, and how essential they would be to the field.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Marius “Noistromo” Siergiejew

Marius “Noistromo” Siergiejew is a graphic designer, illustrator, and concept artist living in Cracow, Poland. He has worked on projects for clients in the comics, games, advertising, and music industries, including X-Men cover art for Marvel Publications. His work has been published by Lightspeed Magazine, Ballistic Publishing, Sirens Call Publications, and Bloody Disgusting. His website is www.noistromo.com.

Fantasy

Tonight We Fly

It’s the particular metallic rattle of the football slamming the garage door that is like a nail driven into Chester Barnes forehead. Slap badoom, slap badoom: that he can cope with. His hearing has adjusted to that long habituation of the rhythm of wall-to-foot-to-ball-to-wall. Slap baclang. With a resonating twang of internal springs in the door mechanism. Slap baclang buzz. Behind his head where he can’t see it. But the biggest torment is that he never knows when it is going to happen. A rhythm, a regular beat, you can adjust to that: The random slam of ball kicked hard into garage door is always a surprise, a jolt you can never prepare for.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ian McDonald

Technology is what makes us super. Every single one of us. Smartphones put us not just in contact with other people anywhere, anywhen, and give us the ability to socially interact, but also give us access to almost any piece of human knowledge. That’s a superpower. We can’t fly, but we have machines that can, and serve you a cocktail while you’re hurtling across the sky. Superhero stories are always about an aristocracy (like vampire stories)—an elite with special abilities and agency: Technology is the great leveller. All of us can have something like that power. As Syndrome says in The Incredibles, “When everyone’s super, no one is.”

Science Fiction

The Turing Test

“My name is Elektra Shepherd,” I say. “I’m eighteen years old. A freshman in university, majoring in artificial intelligence. Today I am a participant in a Turing test.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Beth Revis

I got the idea for the short story after talking with my husband about a novel idea I had involving a lot of elements on androids. I had been thinking of Philip K. Dick—I always felt that the androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? were fascinating, and the Blade Runner interpretations of them were equally intriguing. All these elements combined to spark the story—and another story, a book which I recently sold to Penguin/Razorbill. The short story is in no way similar to the novel I’m writing, but both were written with the same spark of inspiration.

Nonfiction

Interview: Chris Kluwe

Chris Kluwe is an NFL punter who played eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He made national headlines last year for a colorful, profanity-laden letter he wrote to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns taking him to task for his opposition to gay marriage. Kluwe is also a hardcore geek who enjoys science fiction novels, video games, and pen-and-paper role-playing games. His new book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, is a collection of highly opinionated essays on subjects ranging from football to humanity’s future in space.

Fantasy

Sleeper

Erm Kaslo always found that a strong drink or two helped clear his head of the after-effects of the sedative that cushioned the fragile human psyche from the irreality of passage through a whimsy. He was sipping from a glass of red abandon in the second-class lounge of the second-rate liner, Armitou, when harsh bells clanged throughout the ship. Immediately, the ever-present underhum of the vessel’s normal-space drive lowered its pitch then began to fade. In a few moments, Kaslo couldn’t hear the sound at all.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Matthew Hughes

This story is set in my far-future space-opera-ish Ten Thousand Worlds, a civilization extending up and down our arm of the galaxy. I’ve probably written close to a million words in various novels and short stories set in this universe, all of them at about the time that the big change from rationalism to sympathetic association (magic) is about to happen. Readers who find the setting interesting might visit my webpage and read the excerpts from other works set on Old Earth under the Archonate, as well as others of the Ten Thousand Worlds.

Science Fiction

The Battle of York

Young General Washington rode alone on his white stallion through the vast forest of Yoosemitee. His battle-axe, Valleyforge, hung glistening from the pommel of his saddle, the blood fresh-scrubbed from its edge. He had slain too many soldiers in the war against the Gauls and American Natives, and was glad to be going home.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: James Stoddard

So the idea came first, and the science was only secondary. The truth is, apart from the hard SF writers, much of what we call science fiction is fantasy. As far as we know, Faster Than Light travel is impossible, hyperspace is pure speculation, and traveling through a black hole will only get you squashed. (This holds with my current theory that physicists are fiction writers with calculators.) So the “magnetic field disaster” of my story is a device used to give credibility to a fancy.

Nonfiction

Interview: Ryan North

Ryan North is the creator of the popular webcomic Dinosaur Comics, which has run for over two thousand issues using the exact same art and panel layout for each strip. A Kickstarter he launched for his book To Be or Not To Be, a choose-your-own-adventure-style version of Hamlet, raised well over half a million dollars, making it the most successful publishing-related Kickstarter ever. He also co-edited the short story anthology Machine of Death, which hit number one on Amazon.com the day of its release. A sequel, This is How You Die, is out now.