Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Oct. 2013 (Issue 41)

This month, we have original science fiction by the aforementioned Keffy R.M. Kehrli (“HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!”) and Ken Liu (“Ghost Days”), along with SF reprints by Constance Cooper (“Trouble Leaves a Scent Trail”) and Kameron Hurley (“Enyo-Enyo”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Dylan Otto Krider (“The Five Deaths of Marvin Dimitri”) and Charlie Jane Anders (“Small Dead Creatures”), and fantasy reprints by Karin Tidbeck (“Augusta Prima”) and Neil Gaiman (“An Invocation of Incuriosity”). All that, and, of course, we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with feature interviews with Melissa Marr and über-geek Felicia Day. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella “Human Readable” by Cory Doctorow and novel excerpts of Parasite by Mira Grant, Copperhead by Tina Connolly, and Poe by J. Lincoln Fenn.

In This Issue: Oct. 2013 (Issue 41)

Editorial

Editorial, October 2013

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

Fantasy

Augusta Prima

Augusta stood in the middle of the lawn with the croquet club in a two-handed grasp. She had been offered the honor of opening the game. Mnemosyne’s prized croquet balls were carved from bone, with inlaid enamel and gold. The ball at Augusta’s feet stared up at her with eyes of bright blue porcelain.

Science Fiction

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!

As late as ten years ago, a mad scientist with a dream could expect to turn a decent profit with his lesser inventions and build enough capital to put his (or her!) real plans into play. Those days are sadly over, although my father, fool that he was, claimed that they never existed.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Karin Tidbeck

What would become Augusta Prima’s world was originally born in 2005, when I co-wrote a Nordic LARP called Moira. It was a contemporary story set in the borderland between the human and the supernatural realms. The faerie folk, for lack of a better word, abducted a group of humans to examine them, and would, based on their findings, decide whether humanity should be exterminated or left alone.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Keffy R.M. Kehrli

I am a terrible person who enjoys schadenfreude pie more than almost anyone else I know. People say that the internet runs on cats or porn, but I feel this is inaccurate. Beneath the layers of pornography, cats, and pornographic cats, the internet really runs on schadenfreude. This story came from reading the now-defunct Regretsy site and browsing spectacular crowdfunding failures for far too many hours. I also felt like crowdfunding has been ubiquitous for the past three years and wanted to poke at it a little bit.

Science Fiction

Enyo-Enyo

Enyo meditated at mealtimes within the internod, huffing liquor vapors from a dead comrade’s shattered skull. This deep within the satellite, ostensibly safe beneath the puckered skein of the peridium, she went over the lists of the dead. She recited her own name first.

Fantasy

The Five Deaths of Marvin Dimitri

I first met Marvin several years ago, but you don’t have to know Marvin to know his story. That’s the sort of thing that’s just understood, that comes from living in Beaumont, Texas, where Marvin lived most all of his lives.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kameron Hurley

Some writers are gardeners, just throwing interesting seeds of things together and seeing what comes out, and some are careful, exacting architects who know precisely where they’re going and what they want to accomplish. I’m definitely the gardener variety. Writing is as much a process of exploration for me as it is for the reader.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Dylan Otto Krider

Marvin Dimitri is inspired by a family friend who has been declared dead about four times. Most of the deaths in the story are his: He went missing in Vietnam, died on the operating table, wandered back to work after they found his wrecked car.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Don Maitz

Don Maitz has been producing imaginative and iconic paintings for over thirty years. He has illustrated book covers for science fiction greats such as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, and has twice been awarded the Hugo for best professional artist, but is most famous for his paintings of pirates, particularly the character he created for Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. You can find out much more about him at paravia.com/DonMaitz.

Science Fiction

Trouble Leaves a Scent Trail

Peacekeeper Gimel 300254 CitrusPeel was doing routine crowd control down at the shellfish market when a Tav Messenger scuttled up to her. “Urgent, urgent!” the Messenger blasted, enveloping Peel in the scent. “Your boss wants you back at the station right away. Hope you’re not in trouble!”

Fantasy

The Master Conjurer

Peter did a magic spell, and it worked fine. With no unintended consequences, and no weird side effects. Two days later, he was on the front page of the local newspaper: “The Miracle Conjurer.” Some blogs picked it up, and soon enough he was getting visits from CNN and MSNBC, and his local NPR station kept wanting to put him on. News crews were standing and talking in front of his house.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Constance Cooper

The starting point for this story came when I wondered if crime could ever occur in a hive society. If you imagine aliens that are less inherently individual than humans, could there still be enough motive to commit, for instance, a murder? When I began writing, I had no idea how the story would end, but as I went on, it came to me that even under conditions of low individual selfishness, there might be selfishness on the group level. Everything grew out of that. The different genotypes of ammet, which could be redesigned or discontinued or even recalled if they turned out to be defective. The communal living, with refectories and dormitories. The basic drive of every ammet to do its predetermined job.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Charlie Jane Anders

I used to call myself an absurdist writer, back in the early 2000s—in keeping with the fact that I was doing more straight-up comic fiction. And I think that a lot of the goal of writing fiction, for me and maybe for other people too, is to point out how ridiculous and nonsensical a lot of stuff is. In this story, the media frenzy pretty quickly turns into a look at people’s unfulfilled yearning for the kind of power that they think Peter has. People fantasize about having the ability to change the world, without having to pay any price. Fantasy stories often revolve around the idea of paying a price for magic, and I wanted to approach that from a different direction.

Nonfiction

Interview: Melissa Marr

Melissa Marr is the author of the best-selling Wicked Lovely series, which has been optioned for film by Vince Vaughn. Her latest novel, The Arrivals, is about a group of strangers from throughout American history who find themselves transported to an alternate world that resembles the Wild West with monsters and magic.

Science Fiction

Ghost Days

Ona watched her Teacher turn around. The helmetless Ms. Coron wore a dress that exposed the skin of her arms and legs in a way that she had taught the children was beautiful and natural. Intellectually, Ona understood that the frigid air in the classroom, cold enough to give her and the other children hypothermia even with brief exposure, was perfectly suited to the Teachers. But she couldn’t help shivering at the sight. The airtight heat-suit scraped over Ona’s scales, and the rustling noise reverberated loudly in her helmet.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ken Liu

A common part of the experience of cultures facing the threat of loss (via emigration and assimilation, colonial domination, or something else) is the conflict between the older and younger generations as to the value and meaning of that cultural legacy. This story explores three possible resolutions—out of countless other possibilities—of this conflict.

Fantasy

An Invocation of Incuriosity

There are flea markets all across Florida, and this was not the worst of them. It had once been an aircraft hangar, but the local airport had closed. There were a hundred traders there, behind their metal tables, most of them selling counterfeit merchandise: sunglasses or watches or bags or belts. There was an African family selling carved wooden animals, and behind them a loud, blowsy woman named (I cannot forget the name) Charity Parrot sold coverless paperback books, and old pulp magazines, the paper browned and crumbling, and beside her, in the corner, a Mexican woman whose name I never knew sold film posters and curling film stills.

Author Spotlight

Afterword to “An Invocation of Incuriosity”

I would have been thirteen. The anthology was called Flashing Swords, the story was called “Morreion,” and it started me dreaming.

Nonfiction

Interview: Felicia Day

Felicia Day is the creator and star of the hit web-series The Guild. She’s also appeared as an actress in the Joss Whedon short film Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, as well as on TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural. Her latest project is Geek and Sundry, a YouTube channel offering a wide range of geek-themed videos.