http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/itunes-rss/ Lightspeed Magazine » Lightspeed Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com Science Fiction & Fantasy Fri, 28 Aug 2015 22:38:22 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3 Science Fiction & Fantasy Lightspeed Magazine no Science Fiction & Fantasy Lightspeed Magazine » Lightspeed Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com Artist Showcase: Reiko Murakami http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-reiko-murakami/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-reiko-murakami/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:05:31 +0000 Henry Lien http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15075 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-reiko-murakami/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Sam J. Miller http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sam-j-miller-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sam-j-miller-2/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:04:57 +0000 Patrick J Stephens http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15068 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sam-j-miller-2/feed/ 0 Ghosts of Home http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/ghosts-of-home/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/ghosts-of-home/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:03:46 +0000 Sam J. Miller http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15121 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/ghosts-of-home/feed/ 0 The bank didn’t pay for the oranges. They should have — offerings were clearly listed as a reimbursable expense — but the turnaround time and degree of nudging needed when Agnes submitted receipts made the whole process prohibitive. (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Ghosts-of-Home.jpg) The bank didn’t pay for the oranges. They should have — offerings were clearly listed as a reimbursable expense — but the turnaround time and degree of nudging needed when Agnes submitted receipts made the whole process prohibitive. If she bugged Trask too much around the wrong things she might lose the job, and with it the gas card, which was worth a lot more money than the oranges. Sucking up the expense was an investment in staving off unemployment. Plus, she liked the feeling that since they came out of her pocket, it was she that was stockpiling favor with the spirits, instead of the bank. What did JPMorgan Chase need with the gratitude of a piddling household spirit in one of the hundreds of thousands of falling-down buildings that dotted its asset spreadsheets? All her boss cared about was keeping the spirits happy enough that roofs would not collapse or bloodstains spread on whitewashed walls when it came time to show the place — or a hearth god or brownie cause a slip or tumble that would lead to a lawsuit. The offerings came from her, and with each gift she could feel their gratitude. Interaction with household spirits was strictly forbidden, but she enjoyed knowing they were grateful. As now, entering the tiny red house at 5775 Route 9, just past the Tomahawk Diner. She breathed deep the dry wood-and-mothballs smell. She struck a match, lit the incense stick, made a small slit in the orange peel with her fingernail. Spirits were easy to please. What they wanted was simple. Not like people. Wind shifted in the attic above her, and she caught the scent of potpourri. A sachet left in a closet upstairs, perhaps, or the scented breath of the spirit of the place. Agnes knew nothing about this one, or any of the foreclosed houses on her route. Who had lived there. Where they went. All she knew was the bank evicted them. A month ago or back in 2008 when the bubble first began to burst. Six months on the job and she still loved to investigate, but her roster of properties was too long to let her spend much time in each. And the longer she stayed, the harder it was to avoid interacting. When she turned to go, he was standing by the door. “Hello,” he said, a young man, bearded and stocky and bespectacled, his voice disarmingly cheerful. She thought he was a squatter. That’s the only reason she spoke back. “Hi,” she said, carefully. Squatters weren’t her job. Trask had someone else to handle unlawful inhabitants. Most of the ones she’d met on her rounds were harmless, down on their luck and hiding from the rain. But anybody could get ugly, when they thought their home was threatened. Agnes held up an orange. “I’m just here for the offerings,” she said. “I won’t report that you’re sleeping here. But they do checks, so you should be prepared to move on.” He tilted his head, regarded her like a dog might. “Move . . . on?” “Yeah,” she said, and bit her tongue to keep from warning him. The guy Trask uses, he’s a lunatic. He’ll burn the place down just to punish you. She knew she should have been sympathetic to all the people overcrowded or underhoused because the banks would rather keep buildings empty than lower the prices. But nobody knew better than Agnes that when you broke the law, you had to be ready for the consequences. “Oh!” he said, at last. “Oh, you think I’m a human!” She stared. “You’re . . . not?” “No, no,” he said, and laughed. A resounding, human, manly laugh. It reverberated in her belly. “No . . . let’s just say I can’t move on. This is my house.” “I’m so sorry.” Agnes bowed her head, panic swelling in her stomach at her accidental disobedience. If Trask knew they spoke, she could get fired. “I meant no disrespect.” “I know,” he said. Spirits could see that much, or so the stories went. Beyond that it was tough to tell. Some were all-knowing and some were dumb as boxes of rocks. Lightspeed Magazine no 55:43 Author Spotlight: Vylar Kaftan http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vylar-kaftan-3/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vylar-kaftan-3/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:02:05 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15054 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vylar-kaftan-3/feed/ 0 Civilization http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/civilization/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/civilization/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:01:40 +0000 Vylar Kaftan http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15113 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/civilization/feed/ 0 Book Reviews: August 2015 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-august-2015/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-august-2015/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:05:35 +0000 Sunil Patel http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15083 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-august-2015/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Ursula Pflug http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-ursula-pflug/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-ursula-pflug/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:04:03 +0000 Jude Griffin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15069 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-ursula-pflug/feed/ 0 Python http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/python-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/python-2/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:03:16 +0000 Ursula Pflug http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15128 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/python-2/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Sarah Pinsker http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sarah-pinsker-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sarah-pinsker-2/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:02:07 +0000 Jude Griffin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15055 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sarah-pinsker-2/feed/ 0 And We Were Left Darkling http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/and-we-were-left-darkling/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/and-we-were-left-darkling/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 10:01:24 +0000 Sarah Pinsker http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15109 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/and-we-were-left-darkling/feed/ 0 I don’t remember her birth. My dream baby, the baby I have in my dreams, the one who crashed into my head one night and took roost. She is a day old, a week old, a year old, eight years old, three weeks old, a day old. She has fine blond hair, I don’t remember her birth. My dream baby, the baby I have in my dreams, the one who crashed into my head one night and took roost. She is a day old, a week old, a year old, eight years old, three weeks old, a day old. She has fine blond hair, except when she has tight black curls. Once she had cornrows that lengthened every time I looked away. “Her hair grows faster than I can cut it,” I said to my dream family. My family in my dream is my family in real life, but less helpful. In my dream, they are standoffish. They offer advice or jokes or criticism. They never take the baby from my arms. Even my wife, my dream version of my real wife, sits on a couch on the far side of the room. She smiles and gives me the occasional thumbs up. I am supported and loved. I am panicked and out of sorts. The dreams are so powerful my real breasts fill with milk. They ache. In the dream, nobody gives me any instruction on how to nurse, but we find our way. She never cries. During the day, I try to explain to Taya. She doesn’t understand. Doesn’t understand the dream baby, the real milk, the disorientation I carry into my morning. “What do you mean ‘she’s real’?” Taya asks. Does this have anything to do with giving up on getting pregnant?” We tried and failed for five years. We’re too old, too broke for the treatments that might get us there. Can’t afford to adopt. In the last year we’ve just stopped talking about it entirely. “It’s different,” I tell her. “It doesn’t feel like a wanting. It feels like she exists already. She’s real.” I start taking naps. I go to sleep as soon as I get home from the store, setting an alarm so that I wake a few minutes before Taya gets home from the veterinary clinic. I hide what I can. I don’t know how to say that this is my baby, not ours. It’s a variation on the same dream every time. Every night and every nap. I am holding my baby, cradling her [blond dark fine napped curly] head. My sisters are there, my parents, my wife. I remark that if I had known the baby was coming, I would have cleaned the floors, run a bath, made some food. “When was the last time I bathed her?” I ask, though her head smells sweet and clean. Nobody answers. She reaches for me and I fumble with my shirt. I’m unprepared, awkward. I look to my sister for advice, but she shakes her head and smiles. While the baby nurses, I look out the window at a composite of Georgia O’Keefe’s 1920s skyscrapers. They gleam silver against the velvet night. Giant windup toy monsters stalk the spaces between [the paintings the towers]. They are genial monsters despite their occasional exhalations of sparks. No buildings are stomped. My dream baby grows older except when she grows younger. She is sometimes a toddler, except when she’s not. She has left home twice, but each time returned to be a baby the next night. I greet her with relief. I am always surprised to see her. For the first moment, I always wonder that she is mine, even as I know it is true. I try to remember giving birth, but that’s not part of [the plan the dream]. She is always here. She was always here. She is [fourteen eighteen one day] old. I look online, using the search terms “dream symbolism” and “infants.” The results scroll past. Dreams of great earth changes, the divine child, responsibility, innocence. I dismiss most of it, but one link catches my eye: a bulletin board comment asking for other people who have had extended, repeating, real-feeling dreams of a baby. I click, scroll through the responses. There are hundreds. I don’t read them. I don’t want to find out if I share her. I don’t want to share her. The third time she leaves home, she leaves for good. For the first time in a year I sleep without dreams. Waking is easier, bedtime is sadder. I miss her. I find the website with the dream babies again. There’s a follow-up post by the same woman, and I read it this time. She is no longer having the dream, either. Lightspeed Magazine no 27:52 Interview: Kazuo Ishiguro http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-kazuo-ishiguro/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-kazuo-ishiguro/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 10:05:02 +0000 The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15089 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-kazuo-ishiguro/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Genevieve Valentine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-genevieve-valentine-5/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-genevieve-valentine-5/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 10:04:21 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15073 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-genevieve-valentine-5/feed/ 0 Given the Advantage of the Blade http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/given-the-advantage-of-the-blade/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/given-the-advantage-of-the-blade/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 10:03:20 +0000 Genevieve Valentine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15131 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/given-the-advantage-of-the-blade/feed/ 0 Put them all in a room together, and give them each a knife. They’ll hardly notice the change of circumstances. Their tales are nothing but this struggle, and they’re well enough used to being run through. You begin. At first it would be chaos. Put them all in a room together, and give them each a knife. They’ll hardly notice the change of circumstances. Their tales are nothing but this struggle, and they’re well enough used to being run through. • • • • You begin. At first it would be chaos. Fragile beauty and a kind heart does you no good here. (Never does; that’s what made it fairy stories, that so many people would help them just for kindness.) A hundred maidens with no name, or a hundred names but no cunning, would drop to the ground before they could even resign themselves to the knives they were holding, their slender fingers curling tentatively around handles of ivory and silver, a curious glint in their eye just before it’s too late. All but one of the maids will balk in that first crucial moment. That one’s used to the blade in her hand; she’s gauged its weight a thousand times, standing on bloody feet over the sleeping prince, waiting for courage. It’s a well-made knife, and she’d turn it inward easily. She’d die without a sound, and the mist of seafoam she makes would linger behind her long enough that Snow White has time to take a breath heavy with it before her stepmother’s knife finds her. Some are left — Rapunzel’s braid is wrapped around her with knife-combs lodged in it, Laili the faithful carries her knife held fast — but for the rest, their hair and their feathers and one sealskin cloak oil the floor. It forces the survivors apart to negotiate the new terrain. It’s difficult; one corner of the room is already lost to ice, where the Snow Queen stands, and no one dares so much as look. Outside, the animals of the forest and the desert and the shore, and six swans moving like brothers, would throw themselves against the walls until they died. A clever queen who can think to dispose of the dead — the stepmother of Snow White, perhaps, who knows what’s required to make a corpse useful — might stack some of the bodies for shelter, might scalp what she can and use brooches flashing gold to pin the pelts of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, black hair in front and pale behind her, so thick and sleek that knives would find no purchase. Snow White’s mother has a stomach that can eat hearts. Snow White’s mother wouldn’t waste her chance. The second sister of the water-gourds would fight her hardest, but it’s hopeless: She’s so small, and her arms are too weak to carry, and the older sister who would have helped her sits dead by the bank of the river beside the crocodiles that woke her, waiting to draw water for a girl who will never come home. Scheherazade fares better; hers is a voice that cuts through screaming, and she tells such fine stories about surviving. Those who come near enough are doomed. Even the Polar Bear Queen, whose magic shoes hold her half-forgotten on the ceiling, has to close her ears against it as she keeps her watch on the door. In the pause between battles, the witches will mutter to themselves to gather strength. (They never join forces, no matter how it might help them; they’re not that kind of witch.) The maidens will put their backs to the wall. The Queens will look from one to the other, smiling tightly and cataloging injuries. The second attacks are sublime. The first were mercy kills for the long-lashed cows. The women who are left by then would be of tougher stuff than the crumpled islands underfoot; they’ve met sorry ends before, and it’s made them clever and exacting. They won’t settle for losing to an inferior. So thinks Cinderella’s mother. But she’s met no opposition, so her cruelty’s balloon-thin, and as empty; it’s the sort of thing a Queen can tell. Cinderella’s mother would be set upon as if by dogs. Suffering Laili, to whom this is last of a long line of terrors, will lose to the Icelandic queen, who drops her lying finery and becomes a troll again, crushing Laili in a single blow. Her last breath is the name of her beloved. In the melee, Lightspeed Magazine no 24:23 Author Spotlight: Vandana Singh http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vandana-singh-3/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vandana-singh-3/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 10:02:53 +0000 Moshe Siegel http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15053 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vandana-singh-3/feed/ 0 Life-pod http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/life-pod/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/life-pod/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 10:01:06 +0000 Vandana Singh http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15106 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/life-pod/feed/ 0 Editorial, August 2015 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-august-2015/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-august-2015/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 10:05:55 +0000 John Joseph Adams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15081 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-august-2015/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Silvia Moreno-Garcia http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-silvia-moreno-garcia/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-silvia-moreno-garcia/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 10:04:47 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15067 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-silvia-moreno-garcia/feed/ 0 To See Pedro Infante http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/to-see-pedro-infante/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/to-see-pedro-infante/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 10:03:17 +0000 Silvia Moreno-Garcia http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15117 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/to-see-pedro-infante/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Chen Qiufan http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-chen-qiufan-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-chen-qiufan-2/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 10:02:47 +0000 Jude Griffin. Translated by Ken Liu. http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15052 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-chen-qiufan-2/feed/ 0 The Smog Society http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-smog-society/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-smog-society/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 10:01:57 +0000 Chen Qiufan. Translated by Ken Liu. http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=15100 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-smog-society/feed/ 0 Lao Sun lived on the seventeenth floor facing the open street, nothing between him and the sky. If he woke in the morning to darkness, it was the smog’s doing for sure. Through the murky air outside the window, (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/SMOG-SOCIETY-575X442.jpg) Lao Sun lived on the seventeenth floor facing the open street, nothing between him and the sky. If he woke in the morning to darkness, it was the smog’s doing for sure. Through the murky air outside the window, he had to squint to see the tall buildings silhouetted against the yellow-gray background like a sandy-colored relief print. The cars on the road all had their highbeams on and their horns blaring, crammed one against the other at the intersection into one big mess. You couldn’t tell where heaven and earth met, and you couldn’t tell apart the people either. Passels of pedestrians, dusty-faced under filter masks that made them look like pig-faced monstrosities, walked past the jammed cars. Lao Sun washed, dressed, and got his kit. Before he left, he made sure to give the picture frame on the table a wipe. He greeted the elevator girl, and the girl greeted him back behind a layer of mesh gauze. “It’s twelve degrees Celsius today with the relative humidity at sixty-four percent. Visibility is less than two kilometers, and the Air Quality Index of six-eighty indicates severe smog. Long-distance travelers, please be careful. Young children, the elderly, and those with respiratory illnesses, please remain indoors . . .” Lao Sun smiled, put on his mask, and stepped out of the elevator. On his light electric bike, he nimbly wove through the gaps between the crawling traffic. There were plenty of children banging on car windows hawking newspapers and periodicals, but no cleaners. This smog was here to stay for another couple of weeks. No point in cleaning cars now. Through the goggles on his mask, he could just barely see the road for a couple dozen meters ahead. It was as if someone was standing above the city pouring dust down endlessly. The sky was darker than the ground, dirty and sticky. Even with the filter mask, you felt as if the smog could worm its way through everything, through dozens of layers of polymer nanomaterial filter membrane and into your nostrils, your pores, your alveoli, your blood vessels, and swim all over your body from there; stuff your chest full until you couldn’t breathe; and turn your brain into a drum of concrete too thick to stir or spin. People were like parasites burrowed into the smog. • • • • On these occasions, Lao Sun always thought of old times with his wife. “Oh Lao Sun, can’t you drive slower, there’s no rush.” “Mm.” “Lao Sun, stop at that store ahead, I’ll buy a bottle of water for you.” “Mm.” “Lao Sun, why aren’t you saying anything? How about I sing you a song? You used to like singing.” “Mm.” Lao Sun parked his bike at the roadside and entered the big fancy skyscraper with all the fancily dressed men and women going in and out. They were all wearing filter masks, saving them the trouble of greeting him. The building manager was polite to him, though. He told him one of the public elevators was broken, so the others were crowded. He should use the freight elevator in the back, although it meant climbing a few more floors. Lao Sun smiled and said it was fine, although the manager couldn’t see that, of course. He took the freight elevator to the twenty-eighth floor, then climbed the stairs to the open platform on the top floor. It made him pant and puff a little, but no matter. From the top of the skyscraper, he could better see the smog: The aerosolized particles that engulfed the city hung thick like protoplasm, motionless. Lao Sun began to unpack his bag, taking out and assembling each intricate scientific instrument. He wasn’t clear on how they worked, but he knew how to use them to record temperature, pressure, humidity, visibility, particulate matter density, and so on. The devices were spruced-up versions of civilian-use models, less precise but much more portable. He glanced northwest. Lightspeed Magazine no 26:06 Artist Showcase: Euclase http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-euclase-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-euclase-2/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:05:41 +0000 Henry Lien http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14869 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-euclase-2/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: William Alexander http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-william-alexander/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-william-alexander/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:04:49 +0000 Laurel Amberdine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14864 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-william-alexander/feed/ 0 Ana’s Tag http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/anas-tag/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/anas-tag/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:03:59 +0000 William Alexander http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14902 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/anas-tag/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Taiyo Fujii http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-taiyo-fujii/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-taiyo-fujii/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:02:00 +0000 Robyn Lupo http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14854 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-taiyo-fujii/feed/ 0 Violation of the TrueNet Security Act http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/violation-of-the-truenet-security-act/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/violation-of-the-truenet-security-act/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:01:40 +0000 Taiyo Fuji. Translated by Jim Hubbert. http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14890 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/violation-of-the-truenet-security-act/feed/ 0 The bell for the last task of the night started chiming before I got to my station. I had the office to myself, and a mug of espresso. It was time to start tracking zombies. I took the mug of espresso from the beverage table, The bell for the last task of the night started chiming before I got to my station. I had the office to myself, and a mug of espresso. It was time to start tracking zombies. I took the mug of espresso from the beverage table, and zigzagged through the darkened cube farm toward the one strip of floor still lit for third shift staff, only me. Zombies are orphan Internet services. They wander aimlessly, trying to execute some programmed task. They can’t actually infect anything, but otherwise the name is about right. TrueNet’s everywhere now and has been for twenty years, but Japan never quite sorted out what to do with all the legacy servers that were stranded after the Lockout. So you get all these zombies shuffling around, firing off mails to non-existent addresses, pushing ads no one will see, maybe even sending money to non-existent accounts. The living dead. Zombie trackers scan firewall logs for services the bouncer turned away at the door. If you see a trace of something that looks like a zombie, you flag it so the company mail program can send a form letter to the server administrator, telling him to deep-six it. It’s required by the TrueNet Security Act, and it’s how I made overtime by warming a chair in the middle of the night. “All right, show me what you got.” As soon as my butt hit the chair, the workspace suspended above the desk flashed the login confirmation. INITIATE INTERNET ORPHAN SERVICE SEARCH TRACKER: MINAMI TAKASAWA The crawl came up and just sat there, jittering. Damn. I wasn’t looking at it. As soon as I went to the top of the list and started eyeballing URLs in order, it started scrolling. The TrueNet Security Act demands human signoff on each zombie URL. Most companies have you entering checkmarks on a printed list, so I guess it was nice of my employer to automate things so trackers could just scan the log visually. It’s a pretty advanced system. Everything is networked, from the visual recognition sensors in your augmented reality contact lenses to the office security cameras and motion sensors, the pressure sensors in the furniture, and the infrared heat sensors. One way or another, they figure out what you’re looking at. You still have to stay on your toes. The system was only up and running for a few months when the younger trackers started bitching about it. Chen set all this up, two years ago. He’s from Anhui Province, out of Hefei I think. I’ll always remember what he said to me when we were beta-testing the system together. “Minami, all you have to do is treat the sensor values as a coherence and apply Floyd’s cyclic group function.” Well, if that’s all I had to do . . . What did that mean, anyway? I’d picked up a bit, here and there, about quantum computing algorithms, but this wasn’t like anything I’d ever heard. Chen might’ve sounded like he was fresh off a UFO, but in a few days he’d programmed a multi-sensor automated system for flagging zombies. It wasn’t long before he left the rest of us in Security in the dust and jumped all the way up to Program Design on the strength of ingenuity and tech skills. Usually somebody starting out as a worker — a foreigner, no less — who made it up to Program Design would be pretty much shunned, but Chen was so far beyond the rest of us that it seemed pointless to try and drag him down. The crawl was moving slower. “Minami, just concentrate and it will all be over quickly.” I can still see Chen pushing his glasses, with their thick black frames, up his nose as he gave me this pointer. I took his advice and refocused on the crawl. The list started moving smoothly again, zombie URLs showing up green. Tracking ought to be boring, on the whole, but it’s fun looking for zombies you recognize from the Internet era. Maybe that’s why I never heard workers older than their late thirties or so complain about the duty. Still, I never quite got it. Why use humans to track zombies? TrueNet servers use QSL recognition, Lightspeed Magazine no 1:00:44 Book Reviews: July 2015 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-july-2015/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-july-2015/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:05:33 +0000 Andrew Liptak http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14880 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-july-2015/feed/ 0 Saltwater Railroad (Part 2) http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/saltwater-railroad-part-two/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/saltwater-railroad-part-two/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:03:57 +0000 Andrea Hairston http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14901 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/saltwater-railroad-part-two/feed/ 0 For the next few weeks Delia wrestled with hope. She walked the Island talking with Rainbow, who always lashed the tube to her back and stuffed cornbread in one pocket and a peach in another. Delia didn’t show Rainbow the hidden valley, Editor’s Note: Instead of two original fantasy short stories this month, we have for you a single fantasy novelette by Andrea Hairston (“Saltwater Railroad”), which is about twice the length of a regular Lightspeed story. So, although you are getting three stories instead of four this month, this novelette is the length of two full-length short stories, so you’re still getting the same amount of fiction. We hope you enjoy this minor deviation from our usual offerings, and rest assured we will return to our regularly scheduled programming next month. [Click here to read Part 1. (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/saltwater-railroad-part-one/)] —eds. Part 2 For the next few weeks Delia wrestled with hope. She walked the Island talking with Rainbow, who always lashed the tube to her back and stuffed cornbread in one pocket and a peach in another. Delia didn’t show Rainbow the hidden valley, just the inhospitable perimeter. An occasional ship passed in the distance. Nothing got close to the Island. After many dry days, a storm came out of nowhere and chased Delia and Rainbow into a cave mouth at the top of the Island. They watched lightning strike a tall mast. The ship caught fire, burning bright yellow against a black sea and sky. The ruined vessel broke up on the reefs. No survivors washed ashore. Islanders whispered about lost souls. Delia didn’t want to hear about lost souls, didn’t want to think on her son Andrew. Still, Delia took Rainbow down to the beach. They hurried over planks past Wolf Wedge to gather driftwood, drift-anything that might have floated their way from the shipwreck. Islanders poked through murky debris. Delia waded into the waves. Rainbow hesitated at the shore. “Red Quincy say giant whirlpools in the sea churn barrels and charred sails our way, not water-spirits.” Delia plucked a spyglass from scummy water. Melody and Fran cheered. Fran’s leg had healed well, just a slight limp now. She had Melody’s baby slung on her back. Rainbow counted nine women with babies. “Miz Delia, what you want always floats right to you,” Jenny Garlic shouted. “I have to dig and slog!” “Ain’t that good for you?” Delia shouted back. William set a bedraggled hat on Jenny’s bare head. Water dribbled down purple feathers as she scooped wet sand to reveal a wooden box. “What good is this junk?” Quincy and his ne’er-do-wells ran the rocks with three canoes on their backs. Strapping, muscular free men in the prime of life should have been a grand sight. Quincy smirking at Jenny’s hat made Delia’s blood boil. While the sea was calm, he planned to finish mapping dangerous waters. His crew would launch at a gush of water from an underground stream. Storm runoff would carry them past the worst reefs. Despite irritation, Delia, Jenny, and Granny Peaches spoke prayers for their safe return in Indian and African tongues. “Savage gods don’t have any power,” Rainbow said. “It’s worthless superstition to worship anything but our Lord Jesus.” Melody and Fran giggled, nose to nose, lanky hair mingling. Quincy snorted. William jumped in a Scout canoe. He knew the waters better than anybody except Twilight. “Say a good word for us to your god, then.” Rainbow sputtered. “I don’t know if Quincy wants a prayer from the likes of me.” “Quincy never thank the clouds for falling down on us or the fish for feeding us.” Delia dried her spyglass and stuffed it in a canvas bag. “He got me pegged for a fool talking to haints. He’s a learned man and say water ain’t got no spirit. Water just is. But I know a thing or two. Being take all your spirit power and when you done run through that power, why, you stop being or actually you’re ready to be something else. It’s like climbing a mountain. At the summit you’re ready to roll down to somewhere new with everything the mountain got to give you. Being takes a lot of work! You ever try to be water?” Delia and everybody except Rainbow smiled at the thought. Lightspeed Magazine no 1:10:28 Author Spotlight: Mary Robinette Kowal http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-mary-robinette-kowal/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-mary-robinette-kowal/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:02:58 +0000 Laurel Amberdine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14853 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-mary-robinette-kowal/feed/ 0 The Consciousness Problem http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-consciousness-problem/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-consciousness-problem/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 10:01:39 +0000 Mary Robinette Kowal http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14889 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-consciousness-problem/feed/ 0 Interview: Kelly Link http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-kelly-link/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-kelly-link/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:05:02 +0000 The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14877 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-kelly-link/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Andrea Hairston http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-andrea-hairston/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-andrea-hairston/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:04:46 +0000 Patrick J Stephens http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14863 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-andrea-hairston/feed/ 0 Saltwater Railroad (Part 1) http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/saltwater-railroad-part-one/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/saltwater-railroad-part-one/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:03:56 +0000 Andrea Hairston http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14900 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/saltwater-railroad-part-one/feed/ 0 Miz Delia’s Island was protected by deadly reefs on the Georgia/Florida side and nine hundred feet of jagged cliffs on the other. Indians called it Thunder Rock, a place where the wind and sea played rough and tumble. Editor’s Note: Instead of two original fantasy short stories this month, we have for you a single fantasy novelette by Andrea Hairston (“Saltwater Railroad”), which is about twice the length of a regular Lightspeed story. So, although you are getting three stories instead of four this month, this novelette is the length of two full-length short stories, so you’re still getting the same amount of fiction. We hope you enjoy this minor deviation from our usual offerings, and rest assured we will return to our regularly scheduled programming next month. —eds. Part 1 Miz Delia’s Island was protected by deadly reefs on the Georgia/Florida side and nine hundred feet of jagged cliffs on the other. Indians called it Thunder Rock, a place where the wind and sea played rough and tumble. Spaniards named it Ghost Reef because of whirlpools, deadly fog, and wailing drowned folk who wouldn’t rest. English sailors claimed that Delia was a vengeful slave haint, howling demon talk and luring men to a bloody death. What ship’s captain would risk his crew or his own hide on quicksand beaches and breakneck ledges? The few adventurers stupid enough to land and lucky enough to get back off in one piece warned everybody to steer clear. Anybody who knew the waters gave the Island a wide berth. Miz Delia was grateful for the tall tales. Born in the last century, after the Colonies took their freedom from Britain, she’d grown craggy and wild like her rock refuge. She had a gap in her front teeth, droopy eyes, and high cheekbones holding up tired skin. Always dressed in black, she blended into the gloomy ledges day and night. Rainbow was her first star child. Delia was going through the change, hearing mostly Spirit talk the night high waves tossed Rainbow against the reefs. Truth be told, many a body got banged senseless in the whirlpools at Wolf Wedge and drowned, but not Rainbow. She clawed her way to the surface, spit seaweed, and shrieked like a demon. Delia was on the other side of the Island. She tossed and fussed in a feather bed, lost in a dream she’d had every night for a month: A warm breeze turned to mist. Delia floated in fog above straw hat roofs tucked in a mountainside. She marveled at meteors streaking across a black velvet sky. Below Delia, a young woman (her mother?) ran along rocky cliffs at the edge of a Dogon village back in Africa. Delia’s mother waved to the flashes of light. Her laughter was brighter than her colorful headwrap. A man, flimsy as mist, dark as soot, with wing marks on his forehead, chased behind Delia’s mother. Tracking the meteors, the couple stumbled over a broken rabbit mask. Delia’s mother gripped the man so he didn’t fall over the edge on account of raffia ears. They laughed, then gasped in wonder as a fat-bellied boat with blazing lanterns and spidery sails (or were they wings?) flew down from the sky on a river of fog. “Delia! Delia!” Spirits shouted. Delia woke with a start, wheezing on mist drifting in her cabin window. A gurgling stream gnawed at the rocks by her door. Warm winds off the Georgia coast rustled the straw hat roof. “Sky is falling,” the Spirits said. “Bits of light coming down!” “Hush now.” Delia covered her ears. “I’m awake. I can’t hear dream talk.” “Stars falling into the sea, right now,” Spirits insisted. “Gifts, Delia. See?” The fat boat with spider-web wings rode the mist right past her nose. Delia leapt up as it sailed off into the night. She stuck her head out the cabin window and gasped. A shower of meteors dissolved in the dark, spraying colorful sparks before hitting water. Tears filled Delia’s eyes. • • • • The whole island poured from doorways, tents, and caves to watch the bright-as-daylight show. Men and women scaled jagged rocks, climbing to the top of the Island. Not a sail in sight or a wayward canoe, just a ghostly full moon floating at the horizon. Delia sauntered along the bluffs, in good spirits for the first time in a storm of days. Lightspeed Magazine no 1:07:44 Author Spotlight: Tony Daniel http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-tony-daniel/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-tony-daniel/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:02:57 +0000 Jude Griffin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14852 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-tony-daniel/feed/ 0 Life on the Moon http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/life-on-the-moon/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/life-on-the-moon/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:01:37 +0000 Tony Daniel http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14888 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/life-on-the-moon/feed/ 0 Editorial, July 2015 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-july-2015/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-july-2015/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 10:05:47 +0000 John Joseph Adams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14874 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-july-2015/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Liz Williams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-liz-williams/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-liz-williams/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 10:04:44 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14862 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-liz-williams/feed/ 0 Adventures in the Ghost Trade http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/adventures-in-the-ghost-trade/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/adventures-in-the-ghost-trade/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 10:03:51 +0000 Liz Williams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14899 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/adventures-in-the-ghost-trade/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-carrie-vaughn-8/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-carrie-vaughn-8/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 10:02:55 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14851 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-carrie-vaughn-8/feed/ 0 Crazy Rhythm http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/crazy-rhythm/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/crazy-rhythm/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 10:01:35 +0000 Carrie Vaughn http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14887 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/crazy-rhythm/feed/ 0 George was about to declare his undying love for Annabell when the front of the train station fell over. Ross, the actor playing George, yelped and dashed away, his army cap flying off. Arlene — Annabell — merely put her hands on her hips and glared at... (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Vaughn_575x442.jpg) George was about to declare his undying love for Annabell when the front of the train station fell over. Ross, the actor playing George, yelped and dashed away, his army cap flying off. Arlene — Annabell — merely put her hands on her hips and glared at the offending backdrop, a piece of dressed-up plywood that looked very much like the front of a train station, until it collapsed and revealed the braces behind it. “Cut!” Granger yelled, and the cameramen stopped cranking amidst an air of grumbling. When the director paced three steps, threw his hat on the ground, and looked for me, I was ready for him. “Margie! What the hell is that?” “Set broke, boss,” I said, tucking my clipboard under my arm. “Well, fix it! All right, people, take fifteen, don’t go anywhere,” Granger called across the set. Ross was having vapors, falling over, complaining of his brush with death while a gaggle of women extras dressed as train passengers rushed over to comfort him. Arlene rolled her eyes at me. What could I do but shrug? Shattered Spring was filming on the backlot, which we’d completely taken over — scene shop, studios, exteriors, everything. We should have been able to knock the film out in a month or two at most — down the block, Ben-Hur was serving as an object lesson as to what happened when you went over schedule, over budget, over everything. I was determined that wouldn’t happen to us. But I hadn’t counted on Granger. Inside the warehouse where the scene shop was located, I searched the piles of lumber, sawhorses, tools and benches, and clouds of sawdust for the head carpenter. “Palmer? Palmer!” He’d never hear me over the sound of sawing coming from the back of the room. “Hullo, miss, did you need something?” I didn’t recognize the young man who appeared from around a pile of plywood signs waiting to be repainted for their next incarnation as fake billboards or shop fronts or picket fences or castle walls, even though I knew most of Palmer’s crew. With his lanky frame and fresh face, he couldn’t have been very old, mid-twenties tops, same as me. But he had a tiredness in the lines around his eyes. He wore a cotton shirt, denim overalls, and a grease-stained cap. “Who’re you?” I demanded. “New mechanic. Mr. Palmer hired me last week.” The guy had an English accent, working class, round and polite. “Where is he?” “He, um, stepped out for a moment.” Which could have meant anything, from going for supplies to sneaking a drink at some dive. “Mechanic, eh? Can you nail a backdrop back into place?” “Yes — that is, should do,” he said. “Well, come on.” I waved for him to follow me outside the warehouse. “Where you from?” “Hull. In England.” “Yes, I got that much. Been in the States long?” “Several years, since . . . well, several years.” “Did Palmer warn you that working here will ruin pictures for you forever? Takes all the magic out of it.” “Oh, I don’t think so. Makes it even more magic, I think, when you wonder how you’ll ever get a picture out of all this.” He waved his arm to take in the cluttered lot with its rows of cameras, half-built sets, collection of cars, a handful of incongruous horses munching on hay, the equally incongruous actors in army uniforms, and a handful of Roman centurions who must have wandered over from Ben-Hur. “I think so, too,” I said, grinning in spite of myself. “Some advice — tell Granger it’ll take twice as long as you expect, and when you finish in half the time, he’ll be impressed.” “Just like the army, then.” Ah, that was where those worried creases came from. “You were in the war?” He ducked away and didn’t answer, and I didn’t push. At the injured backdrop, he pulled a hammer from his tool belt and handful of nails from a pocket and found the splintered bracket. “Wood’s rotten,” he said, pointing. “It was bound to give out sooner or later. Lightspeed Magazine no 1:00:13 Interview: David Gerrold http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-david-gerrold/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-david-gerrold/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 10:05:54 +0000 Mark Oshiro http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14658 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-david-gerrold/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: A.M.J. Hudson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-amj-hudson/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-amj-hudson/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 10:04:27 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14647 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-amj-hudson/feed/ 0 Red Run http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/red-run/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/red-run/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 10:03:04 +0000 AMJ Hudson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14730 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/red-run/feed/ 0 Hinahon didn’t belong in that hotel. On that Monday, she should have been at her apartment on East Bradford Street preparing to meet Natalie at a cozy restaurant downtown. It was their two year anniversary, and she was expected in a few hours. (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/RED-RUN-575X442.jpg) Hinahon didn’t belong in that hotel. On that Monday, she should have been at her apartment on East Bradford Street preparing to meet Natalie at a cozy restaurant downtown. It was their two year anniversary, and she was expected in a few hours. But instead of trying on potential outfits for the evening’s dinner, she boarded the elevator of the Red Run Hotel, a single overnight suitcase in hand, and jammed the button for the fourth floor with her thumb. The elevator doors slid closed, and the numbers above the door blinked as the elevator ascended. When it stopped, she retrieved a keycard from her pocket and exited. She hesitated right outside the doors, glancing right and then left with a frown. The suitcase in her hand felt heavy, even though there wasn’t anything substantial inside, and she readjusted the handle in her hand, gathering the energy needed to force her legs to move. Taking one trembling step right, Hinahon proceeded. Checking the numbers as she went past, she eventually reached the door of the appointed room, but just to be sure, she reached into her pants pocket for a familiar business card. Sure enough, the same room number was written in black on the upper right of the well-worn cream card. She’d made it. With clammy hands, she slid the keycard through the door’s card reader, and the light on the mechanism blinked from red to green. The door clicked open, and Hinahon turned the knob and pushed open the door. The room she entered was done in pale pinks and oranges, and the cream-colored comforter on the bed looked plush and soft, reminding her of the handmade paper Natalie kept stocked in seemingly every place she occupied. The sheer curtains shifted in the breeze. The tiny, square window was cracked just enough to let in a tiny stream of humid Georgia air. There was even a vase of flowers, fresh-cut tulips, on a small table near the window, and altogether, the aspects of the room made for a lavish scene. It wasn’t a bad place to die. Hinahon removed her simple black heels, placing them beside the door. The sunlight filtering in illuminated the whole space, coming in through the curtains, and somehow, the brightness of the room amplified the uncomfortable feeling that had settled throughout Hinahon’s entire body. Still, she pressed on, forcing herself to unzip the suitcase. It was too late to stop now, she reminded herself over and over. Inside her case, there was a navy blue dress in a clear garment bag, a plain black purse, and a zipped travel bag. She ignored those items in favor a small, stab-stitched journal tucked into the side pocket of the suitcase. Leaving the case, she went and sat on the bed, flipping the book open. Almost every page was full of notations, all in her own barely-legible, slanted handwriting. The scale of the notes varied from page to page, and some pages were completely filled with runny black ink while others were done in pencil. Every now and then, she caught a glimpse of writing done in bright red or ugly, faded violet. Some were a horrible, mismatched combination of multiple pen inks and pencil, and in some parts, lines of text were scratched out so thoroughly that there were little trenches in the paper. The organization, Perennial, had offered a data pad to hold all her personal information, since that was the easiest and fastest way to do things, but Hinahon had refused. Natalie had given her the book for their six-month anniversary, and almost every element of the book bore evidence of her girlfriend’s touch, from the pressed violet blossoms embedded in the heavy paper cover to the handmade paper within. Sometimes Natalie ordered her papers from another papermaker, to save time, but for Hinahon, she had done them herself. She had even sprayed each individual page with her preferred brand of perfume, some celebrity-inspired scent Hinahon couldn’t hope to pronounce, Lightspeed Magazine no 39:28 Author Spotlight: Amal El-Mohtar http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-amal-el-mohtar/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-amal-el-mohtar/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 10:02:24 +0000 Wendy N. Wagner http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14646 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-amal-el-mohtar/feed/ 0 Madeleine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/madeleine/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/madeleine/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 10:01:01 +0000 Amal El-Mohtar http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14729 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/madeleine/feed/ 0 Madeleine remembers being a different person. It strikes her when she’s driving, threading her way through farmland, homesteads, facing down the mountains around which the road winds. She remembers being thrilled at the thought of travel, (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Madeleine575by442.jpg) An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indiffere... Lightspeed Magazine no 45:34 Book Reviews, June 2015: Friendship, Chosen Family, and Queer Communities http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-june-2015-friendship-chosen-family-and-queer-communities/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-june-2015-friendship-chosen-family-and-queer-communities/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:05:53 +0000 Amal El-Mohtar http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14657 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-june-2015-friendship-chosen-family-and-queer-communities/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Chaz Brenchley http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-chaz-brenchley/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-chaz-brenchley/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:04:31 +0000 Rahul Kanakia http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14635 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-chaz-brenchley/feed/ 0 The Astrakhan, the Homburg, and the Red Red Coal http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-astrakhan-the-homburg-and-the-red-red-coal/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-astrakhan-the-homburg-and-the-red-red-coal/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:03:40 +0000 Chaz Brenchley http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14690 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-astrakhan-the-homburg-and-the-red-red-coal/feed/ 0 “Paris? Paris is ruined for me, alas. It has become a haven for Americans — or should I say a heaven? When good Americans die, perhaps they really do go to Paris. That would explain the flood.” “What about the others, Mr. Holland? (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Brenchley-QDSF-Red-Red-Coal-575-x-442.jpg) “Paris? Paris is ruined for me, alas. It has become a haven for Americans — or should I say a heaven? When good Americans die, perhaps they really do go to Paris. That would explain the flood.” “What about the others, Mr. Holland? The ones who aren’t good?” “Ah. Have you not heard? I thought that was common knowledge. When bad Americans die, they go to America. Which, again, would explain its huddled masses. But we were speaking of Paris. It was a good place to pause, to catch my breath. I never could have stayed there. If I had stayed in Paris, I should have died myself. The wallpaper alone would have seen to that.” “And what then, Mr. Holland? Where do good Irishmen go when they die?” “Hah.” He made to fold his hands across a generous belly, as in the days of pomp — and found it not so generous after all, and lost for a moment the practised grace of his self-content. A man can forget the new truths of his own body, after a period of alteration. Truly Paris had a lot to answer for. Paris, and what had come before. What had made it necessary. “This particular Irishman,” he said, “is in hopes of seeing Cassini the crater-city on its lake, and finding his eternal rest in your own San Michele, within the sound of Thunder Fall. If I’ve only been good enough.” “And if not? Where do bad Irishmen go?” It was the one question that should never have been asked. It came from the shadows behind our little circle; I disdained to turn around, to see what man had voiced it. “Well,” Mr. Holland said, gazing about him with vivid horror painted expertly across his mobile face, “I seem to have found myself in Marsport. What did I ever do to deserve this?” There was a common shout of laughter, but it was true all the same. Marsport at its best is not a place to wish upon anyone, virtuous or otherwise; and the Blue Dolphin is not the best of what we have. Far from it. Lying somewhat awkwardly between the honest hotels and the slummish boarding-houses, it was perhaps the place that met his purse halfway. Notoriety is notoriously mean in its rewards. He couldn’t conceivably slum, but neither — I was guessing — could he live high on the hog. Even now it wasn’t clear quite who had paid his fare to Mars. The one-way voyage is subsidised by Authority, while those who want to go home again must pay through the nose for the privilege — but even so. He would not have travelled steerage, and the cost of a cabin on an aethership is . . . significant. Prohibitive, I should have said, for a man in exile from his own history, whose once success could only drag behind him now like Marley’s chains, nothing but a burden. He might have assumed his children’s name for public purposes, but he could not have joined the ship without offering his right one. No matter. He was here now, with money enough for a room at the Dolphin and hopes of a journey on. We would sit at his feet meanwhile and be the audience he was accustomed to, attentive, admiring, if it would make him happy. It was possible that nothing now could make him exactly happy. Still: who could treasure him more than we who made our home in a gateway city, an entrepôt, and found our company in the lobby of a cheap hotel? “Marsport’s not so dreadful,” the same voice said. “It’s the hub of the wheel, not the pit of hell. From here you can go anywhere you choose: by canal, by airship, by camel if you’re hardy. Steam-camel, if you’re foolhardy. On the face of it, I grant you, there’s not much reason to stay — and yet, people do. Our kind.” “Our kind?” There was a moment’s pause, after Mr. Holland had placed the question: so carefully, like a card laid down in invitation, or a token to seal the bet. “Adventurers,” the man said. “Those unafraid to stand where the light spills into darkness: who know that a threshold serves to hold two worlds apart, Lightspeed Magazine no 56:48 Author Spotlight: K.M. Szpara http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-k-m-szpara/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-k-m-szpara/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:02:32 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14643 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-k-m-szpara/feed/ 0 Nothing is Pixels Here http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/nothing-is-pixels-here/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/nothing-is-pixels-here/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 10:01:06 +0000 K.M. Szpara http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14702 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/nothing-is-pixels-here/feed/ 0 “System Error ahead. Please turn around,” the Concierge’s voice speaks over the metallic growl of my dirt bike. I rev the throttle and lean into the warm wind. My seat bounces as mud ricochets up around me. Ahead,   (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/LSM_NoPixelsHere_442x575.png) “System Error ahead. Please turn around,” the Concierge’s voice speaks over the metallic growl of my dirt bike. I rev the throttle and lean into the warm wind. My seat bounces as mud ricochets up around me. Ahead, knobby limbs and crisp leaves dissolve into broken pixels. The SimGrid mutes as the soft voice fills the space between my ears, again. “System Error ahead. Please turn around.” “Not this time,” I say. Not the first time I’ve found myself talking to the Concierge. The wind should be cold — shouldn’t it? I remember trying to hide from the wind during winter. Ducking into alleys and behind dumpsters. “Sys — er — ahd.” Her voice crackles out as the pixels around me grow and blur. I tug my helmet off. It bounces in my wake. I hold my hand in front of my face. The edges of my peach fingers flicker. A gray line crawls across my vision. The front wheel slips. I grab for the handle just as it blinks from existence. The SimGrid turns sideways around me as my bike crushes the right side of my body. Gravel and sticks scrape through the lining of my pants. Bones crunch. Dust clogs my lungs. The front wheel spins fruitlessly in midair, slowing to a stop. “Please remain still. Reset pending,” The Concierge says. They won’t leave me here. And yet, I’d pull the dirt bike up around me like covers in bed, if I could. But before my endorphins can disperse, the SimGrid blacks out. Reset. • • • • The front door barely clicks when I close it. The hardwood floorboards are silent under my Kinetic, Inc. flip-flops. Muffled guitar leaks from Zane’s headphones, when I sneak past his workroom. His fingers play over his computer keyboard as if he’s playing piano. I never could sit still that long. I duck into our bedroom and pull off the newly generated scrubs. The blue papery material crumbles easily between my hands. I shove it into the trash, just as the door swings open. “There’s a naked man in my bedroom,” Zane says. “Not that I’m complaining.” He smiles and pulls me against him. His full lips press a kiss against mine. I tilt my head back while he nips and licks down my neck. Zane bites gently. I remember the sharp pain of gravel digging into my hip, the weight of my bike, crack of bone. I squirm away, running a hand through my hair. “You okay?” Zane squints, as if his dark brown eyes can bore right through me. They can’t. He’s not even really looking at me. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just . . .” My excuse trails off. We could leave the SimGrid. People terminate their contracts often enough. A year ago, our friends Cora and Brandi left. “You scare me with that dirt bike, sometimes.” Zane presses his hand to my forehead. Just an hour ago, blood trickled down the scratched skin. “I’m fine, really. Just been thinking.” I pull on a pair of briefs and a tee shirt. Zane’s hands warm my waist. He slides them up and down. Do I even feel him? The SimGrid can only approximate. What if it’s wrong? I’ve never really touched him. “Talk to me, Ash.” “Have you ever thought about unplugging?” The question erupts before I can stop it. His eyes widen. “Unplugging, as in from the SimGrid?” “Yeah.” “I mean, when Cora and Brandi left, I thought about it. But only in theory, not in practice. Have you?” He doesn’t wait for my answer. He knows it. We’ve been together fifteen years. He probably knows more about me than the Concierge does. “You have.” “What if it’s better?” “It’s not.” His voice is suddenly sharp. “How do you know?” “I remember what it’s like out there.” Zane rubs his thumb over an unremarkable spot on his left forearm. I’m surprised he hasn’t worn a hole through the light brown skin, over the years. I’ve stopped asking why — what was there before he plugged in. I wonder if I’ll ever get to see his real body. Our avatars show us how we want to be seen, Lightspeed Magazine no 41:23 Artists Showcase: Spotlight on the QDSF Illustrators http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artists-showcase-spotlight-on-the-qdsf-illustrators/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artists-showcase-spotlight-on-the-qdsf-illustrators/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:05:21 +0000 Elizabeth Leggett http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14756 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artists-showcase-spotlight-on-the-qdsf-illustrators/feed/ 0