Science Fiction & Fantasy

Null States

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Sept. 2017 (Issue 88)

We have original science fiction by Timothy Mudie (“An Ever-Expanding Flash of Light”) and Giovanni De Feo (“Ugo”), along with SF reprints by Marissa Lingen (“Blue Ribbon”) and Genevieve Valentine (“Carthago Delenda Est”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Jaymee Goh (“The Last Cheng Beng Gift”) and Tony Ballantyne (“A Pound of Darkness, a Quarter of Dreams”), and fantasy reprints by Tamsyn Muir (“The Magician’s Apprentice”) and Tobias Buckell (“Shoggoths in Traffic”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with our book and media review columns, and an interview with Theodora Goss. For our ebook readers, we have a reprint of the novella “Near Zennor,” by Elizabeth Hand, and an excerpt from the novel Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz.

In This Issue: Sept. 2017 (Issue 88)

Editorial

Editorial: September 2017

Be sure to check out the Editorial for a run-down of this month’s content, and for all our news and updates.

Science Fiction

Blue Ribbon

I should have known when I didn’t hear whooping and hollering and congratulations from Chornohora Station when I crossed the finish plane. My sister Luzia and I eked out a win over Scott and Ferenc Nagy in the maneuverability race even though Luz was just barely old enough to compete in the teen division. Usually that sort of thing calls for celebration, and Luz was not going to let it go without some. “Wooo!” she hollered into the comms. “That’s right, Pinheiros have beaten you again, even without Amilcar’s help!”

Fantasy

The Last Cheng Beng Gift

There was definitely something to be said about being Mrs. Lim, even into the Underworld: something about comfort, something about privilege, something about a status quo carried into the afterlife. The previous matriarch that bore the title of Mrs. Lim had moved on long before Mrs. Lim got there, but since Mrs. Lim had not liked the domineering nature of her predecessor, this did not bother her overmuch. One of things to be said about being Mrs. Lim was that during Cheng Beng, she received many, many presents.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

An Ever-Expanding Flash of Light

“Ladies and gentlemen, everyone you know—the entire world you know—is now dead.” Murmurs ripple through the assembled cadets. Not because they’re shocked—everyone knew what they were signing up for—but because it all happened without fanfare, a jump across light-years of space unaccompanied by any grand orchestral swell or roaring engine thrusts. The wiry guy with a shaved head standing next to Tone mutters, “Jesus, I didn’t even feel anything.”

Fantasy

The Magician’s Apprentice

When she was thirteen, Mr. Hollis told her: “There’s never more than two, Cherry. The magician and the magician’s apprentice.” That was the first year, and she spent her time sloo-o-owly magicking water from one glass to another as he read the newspaper and drank the coffee. Magician’s apprentice had to get the Starbucks. Caramel macchiato, no foam, extra hot, which was a yuppie drink if you asked her (but nobody did). “Quarter in,” he’d say, and she’d concentrate on the liquid shivering from cup to cup. “Now half. Slower.”

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Reviews: September 2017

This month, Amal El-Mohtar takes a look at Theodora Goss’ new novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne Valente.

Science Fiction

Carthago Delenda Est

Wren Hex-Yemenni woke early. They had to teach her everything from scratch, and there wasn’t time for her to learn anything new before she hit fifty and had to be expired. “Watch it,” the other techs told me when I was starting out. “You don’t want a Hex on your hands.” By then we were monitoring Wren Hepta-Yemenni. She fell into bed with Dorado ambassador 214, though I don’t know what he did to deserve it and she didn’t even seem sad when he expired.

Fantasy

A Pound of Darkness, a Quarter of Dreams

There was something sinister about the representative’s perfection. The oiled and combed dark hair, the even white teeth, the polished fingernails. His immaculate dark jacket and trousers, the pressed collar and cuffs of his shirt. He looked as if he’d dressed in the shop itself, not ridden up the damp valleys from Manchester on some dirty, smoking steam train, inevitably acquiring the grime and the dust from the tired upholstery of a grubby carriage. No one who had undertaken the walk down the wet high street should have kept their shoes so polished and shiny.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Media Reviews: September 2017

This month, reviewer Joseph Allen Hill turns his attention to two unusual science fictional couples, examining the pairings in the film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and then in the play Pilgrims.

Science Fiction

Ugo

That’s how Cynthia and Ugo met. The Easter egg hunt had just started when little Cynthia noticed a dark, short-haired nine-year-old boy, all alone, sitting by the church steps. Her first impression of him was his quietness, and the way he stared at her. When she told him (well, shouted) that it was impolite to stare at strangers, and why wasn’t he running like all others?—the dark-haired boy walked quietly over and told her that they didn’t need to hurry.

Ugo

Author Spotlight

Giovanni De Feo

Fantasy

Shoggoths in Traffic

We stole the cherry red 1984 Corvette at noon, when Random was inside the strip club for Tuesday’s Wings and Things and otherwise occupied. At one, we stopped behind a Denny’s to swap the plates, even though it felt dangerous to have paused knowing that Random would be standing in the badly maintained asphalt parking lot staring at where he’d left the ’vette and coming to certain conclusions. “It’s okay,” Abony said as I held the license plate in place and she screwed it on. “Take deep breaths.”

Shoggoths in Traffic

Nonfiction

Interview: Theodora Goss

Theodora Goss’s story “Singing of Mount Abora” won the 2008 World Fantasy Award for short fiction, and her work has also been nominated for many other major awards, including the 2007 Nebula Award for “Pip and the Fairies.” She’s also the author of Octavia is Lost in the Hall of Masks, which won the 2004 Riesling Award for Best Long Poem, as well as the novel The Thorn and the Blossom, A Two-Sided Love Story, the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting, and a new novel: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.

Theodora Goss