Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Oct. 2010 (Issue 5)

Fiction: “Hindsight” by Sarah Langan, “Tight Little Stitches on a Dead Man’s Back” by Joe R. Lansdale, “The Taste of Starlight” by John R. Fultz, “Beachworld” by Stephen King.

Nonfiction: “When Universes Collide” by Dr. Pamela Gay, “Feature Interview: Marc Laidlaw” by Matt London, “Considering Cryonics” by Gregory Benford, “Five Planets that Will Kill You Dead” by Genevieve Valentine.

In This Issue: Oct. 2010 (Issue 5)

Editorial

Editorial, October 2010

Welcome to issue five of Lightspeed! On tap this month… Fiction: “Hindsight” by Sarah Langan, “Tight Little Stitches on a Dead Man’s Back” by Joe R. Lansdale, “The Taste of Starlight” by John R. Fultz, “Beachworld” by Stephen King. Nonfiction: “When Universes Collide” by Dr. Pamela Gay, “Feature Interview: Marc Laidlaw” by Matt London, “Considering Cryonics” by Gregory Benford, “Five Planets that Will Kill You Dead” by Genevieve Valentine.

Science Fiction

Hindsight

Second Coming is docked two miles underground. She’s made of a collapsible, repulsion-attraction subatomic slurry that the astrophysicists are convinced will survive the gravitational anomaly called Black Betty. Yes, the ship will survive; it’s her human cargo that’s doomed.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sarah Langan

“The idea came to me like a bolt of lightning. I’d been researching technological singularity, and started to wonder, what would happen to us, if we all uploaded at the same time? Would the density of our consciousness create a gravitational singularity, and if so, would we be hastening our own end, rather than avoiding it?”

Nonfiction

When Universes Collide

Once upon a time, in an age before civilization, before humanity, before the dinosaurs, even before the Big Bang, our universe…wasn’t. Nothing, nada. Void. It’s scary but true. Once upon a time, our universe didn’t exist, not even as a twinkle in God’s eye.

Science Fiction

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back

(Boom!) That’s a little scientist joke, and the proper way to begin this. As for the purpose of my notebook, I’m uncertain. Perhaps to organize my thoughts and not to go insane.

Tight Little Stitches

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Joe R. Lansdale

I think there are way too many places for me to know for sure [where this story came from], but I did grow up in the fifties and sixties, when the fear of The Bomb, was at its height. I also grew up on numerous science fiction and monster stories about creatures created by radiation and so on.

Nonfiction

Interview: Marc Laidlaw, creator of Half-Life

“Half-Life was conceived as horror first, and always intended to be scary above all else. The atmosphere shaded toward dark, dystopian SF in HL2, but in Half-Life 1 we treated the game as a Technological Gothic, with Black Mesa playing the role of the spooky old castle. The science fiction and horror elements set each other off nicely. At Valve, we are all about contrast. Unrelieved horror, like unrelieved anything, gets tedious, so we make sure our games are rarely flat: You’re either climbing toward a peak, plunging into a chasm, or approaching a dark corner. And when there’s no overt menace, you should be really nervous.”

Science Fiction

The Taste of Starlight

Pelops wakes gasping and shivering inside the CryoPod. A thin layer of ice crystals coats his cheeks and hands, pricking at his exposed skin. Crackling and moaning, he raises hands to his eyes and pries their lids open, shedding ice shards like tears. The curving glass surface before him is cracked into a mass of spidery lines. Struggling to inhale the frozen air, he pushes against the glass. The door of the pod refuses to move. He is entombed.

The Taste of Starlight

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: John R. Fultz

“Where did it come from? To be honest it was inspired to a large degree by Chuck Palahniuk’s story ‘Guts,’ which is probably the most disturbing and visceral piece of fiction I’ve ever encountered. It literally makes people pass out during public readings. My goal was to achieve that kind of intensity in a science-fiction setting.”

Nonfiction

Considering Cryonics

From submarines to robots, much of the technology we take for granted today was originally conceived, not by scientists or inventors, but by that biggest of dreamers: the science fiction writer. Once thought wildly impossible, cryonics—the freezing of the recently dead, to be revived and repaired in the future when technology allows—seems to be following that same path.

Science Fiction

Beachworld

FedShip ASN/29 fell out of the sky and crashed. After a while two men slipped from its cloven skull like brains. They walked a little way and then stood, helmets beneath their arms, and looked at where they had finished up. It was a beach in no need of an ocean—it was its own ocean, a sculpted sea of sand, a black-and-white-snapshot sea frozen forever in troughs and crests and more troughs and crests. Dunes.

Nonfiction

Five Planets that Will Kill You Dead

Aside from the many Class-Ms on which Captain Kirk had disastrous dates, let’s face it: there really is no good planet on which to crash. And if things have already gone so badly that your brave, space-faring expedition has to make an emergency landing on some mapped-but-untested interstellar hinterland, you’re already pretty much up a creek. However, since Murphy’s Law is the overriding constant of the universe, things can always be worse. And with these five planets (some of the galaxy’s wildest), we’ll show you just how bad a planetary crash-landing can get.