http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/itunes-rss/ Lightspeed Magazine » Lightspeed Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com Science Fiction & Fantasy Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:50:44 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 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 Feature Interview: Kim Harrison http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/feature-interview-kim-harrison/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/feature-interview-kim-harrison/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:05:04 +0000 The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13546 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/feature-interview-kim-harrison/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Nalo Hopkinson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-nalo-hopkinson/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-nalo-hopkinson/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:04:56 +0000 Kevin McNeil http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13531 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-nalo-hopkinson/feed/ 0 Soul Case http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/soul-case/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/soul-case/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:03:43 +0000 Nalo Hopkinson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13571 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/soul-case/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Vandana Singh http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vandana-singh-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vandana-singh-2/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:02:15 +0000 Lee Hallison http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13522 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-vandana-singh-2/feed/ 0 Wake-Rider http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/wake-rider/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/wake-rider/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:01:00 +0000 Vandana Singh http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13561 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/wake-rider/feed/ 0 This is a story from the time before she was famous. In the early days, she was known as Leli, or Lelia, a tease-name that had stuck. On her first mission for the revolution, she sat cramped, fists clenched with tension, This is a story from the time before she was famous. In the early days, she was known as Leli, or Lelia, a tease-name that had stuck. On her first mission for the revolution, she sat cramped, fists clenched with tension, waiting in the tiny scabship Tinka, out of sight in a radar deadzone. The salvage ship Gathering Moss, which she was stalking, lay like a giant, rusting silver slug in the docking bay. Everywhere the signs and slogans of the Euphoria Corpocracy flashed, in color and in subliminal space—on the ship itself, on the docking arms, on the walls of the great spaceport behind her, and within the minds of the subject population. Euphoria is Freedom, Better Life Through Euphoria, Rent-A-Share with Fora-ware, Subliminal is Sublime. Leli had checked three times that her protection against the nanoplague was current and sufficient, but the utter ubiquity of Euphoria was getting to her. It seemed absurd to even consider overcoming such a power. She pulled herself together, thinking of how much so many had lost, and what was at stake. My first solo mission, she told herself fiercely, I can’t fall apart just now. She wiped a drop of sweat from her brow. “You need to breathe,” said Shul’s voice in her ear. Shul had rescued her, trained her, and now he was somewhere on the space station, monitoring her via a clandestine comm channel, reassuring his youngest trainee. “You’ve stalked salvagers before, remember? You’re one of the best wake-riders I’ve seen. Only this time, you’re alone. Don’t think of what’s at stake. Just breathe and be still. You’ll know when the time is right.” So she listened to the familiar voice, and took deep, slow breaths, and her mind eased into the now-familiar state of relaxed alertness. Shul’s voice faded away, and there was only the salvage ship before her, enormous against the stars. The ship was getting readied to leave—the repair and maintenance arms were retracting, the hatches on the ship closing one by one, like eyes. She saw the scuttlebots roving over the battered surface, seeking out scabships that might be hiding. Finding none, they rose up into a swarm, forming, for a moment, the word “Euphoria” before they soared away. Before the use of scuttlebots became customary, stalking a salvage ship had been easy—a scabship would simply have attached itself to the hull and ridden along. Now, the only option for the scabships, with their relatively weak engine-power, was the far more dangerous maneuver of wake-riding. The ship thrust away in a glory of terrible ionizing radiation that would have destroyed anything in its wake. Leli moved just out of range of the radiation field, pushing her engines to keep up. Gathering Moss was about to move into Metaspace—the acceleration lights flashed from her hull, the radiation field dimmed and disappeared, and Leli’s ship, swinging to the rear of the salvager, shuddered as streamers of spacetime ripples formed in the wake. At first the ripples pushed the little scabship further back, but Leli knew how to play them. You had to get a sense of the frequency of vibration of the spacetime disturbance, wait for sufficient amplitude, position carefully, and let the disturbance hit you. She eased into the rhythm of it until it was as natural as breathing. Jumping from crest to crest on the shipside of each crest, she found herself following the salvage ship at a good pace. When they both reached the critical cruising speed, she shut off her engines, letting inertia do its job. Her ship’s grapplers engaged with the great bulk of the salvager for the few subjective seconds it took to engage the Firaaqui drive. Then she was being pulled through Metaspace. The two ships emerged together into the Sarria region with an abruptness that no longer surprised her. The Tinka’s grapplers retracted immediately and she pulled away. Her jinn piped data into Leli’s headset: There was only one inhabitable planet in the system, four light-years away, now abandoned. Lightspeed Magazine no 37:04 Artist Showcase: Odera Igbokwe http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-odera-igbokwe/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-odera-igbokwe/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:05:30 +0000 Henry Lien http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13540 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-odera-igbokwe/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Nik Houser http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-nik-houser/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-nik-houser/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:04:53 +0000 Kevin McNeil http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13530 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-nik-houser/feed/ 0 The Drawstring Detective http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/drawstring-detective/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/drawstring-detective/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:03:51 +0000 Nik Houser http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13573 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/drawstring-detective/feed/ 0 The Drawstring Detective is heavier than he appears. When Char picks him up off the shelf, she almost drops him. He is a foot tall and made entirely of tin. He is dressed in charcoal-colored slacks, a white shirt and black tie, a black greatcoat, The Drawstring Detective is heavier than he appears. When Char picks him up off the shelf, she almost drops him. He is a foot tall and made entirely of tin. He is dressed in charcoal-colored slacks, a white shirt and black tie, a black greatcoat, loafers, and a bowler hat, all of which are also made of tin. White gloves hold a folded umbrella. A small, tightly curled mustache stands in place of a mouth. His eyes are blue and half closed. His paint is faded and chipped in places. How old is he? “He’s heavy,” Char tells the man behind the counter of The Conspicuously Bigger On The Inside Antique Shop. The man behind the counter tells people to call him Azim Abdulaziz, but everyone knows that his real name is Jeff. What nobody knows is that Jeff’s real real first name is the smell of burning saffron, and that his real real last name is the creases in your fingers when you’ve been in the bathtub too long. “He’s a pain in the ass is what he is,” Azim-cum-Jeff The-Creases-In-Your-Fingers-When-You’ve-Been-In-The-Bathtub-Too-Long replies with a fake-sounding foreign accent. It sounds fake because nobody knows what a Sumerian accent sounds like. Char turns the Drawstring Detective over. Molded into the underside of his left loafer are the words Made in Albuquirky. A small tin ring is affixed to the Drawstring Detective’s back, between the shoulder blades. It looks uncomfortable. Char is about to pull the ring when she spies a tag stuck to it which reads Do Not Pull String! in small, tight, handwritten script. Char fingers the ring, wondering what The Drawstring Detective’s voice sounds like. She wonders what it would say if she was the kind of person who willfully ignored adamant handwritten instructions. She weighs the doll in her hand, knowing that she ought to look at rings. Char’s wedding ring has been missing for two weeks, since the night she got carjacked by a tornado. Her husband Brad says it’s stupid to tell people that a tornado stole her car. Char’s response is that the tornado threatened her when her car stalled at a stoplight and that she had to run and hide under an overpass, at which point the tornado fled the scene with her car, so what would you call it? The ring was her mother’s and her grandmother’s before her. Fifty years ago, Char’s grandfather came to The Conspicuously Bigger On The Inside Antique Shop because he had no money and it was said that Azim-cum-Jeff The-Creases-In-Your-Fingers-When-You’ve-Been-In-The-Bathtub-Too-Long traded in many things, and that he only accepted cash as a last resort. Char wonders what her grandfather traded for such a beautiful ring. She wonders what she has that Azim-cum-Jeff could want. Char takes the Drawstring Detective to the front counter. Beneath the counter’s glass surface, several dozen rings are displayed on velvet pillows. There are rings of gold encrusted with diamonds, topaz, garnets, rubies, and emeralds. There are rings of silver embedded with jade and lapis lazuli. There are rings made of twisted tinfoil, bent pipe cleaners, barbed wire, and maple sugar candy. The maple sugar candy ring is very tempting. “How much?” she asks Azim-cum-Jeff. She sets the Drawstring Detective down on the counter. Every price tag in the shop says the same thing: Please Inquire. “Are you sure you don’t want a ring?” Azim-cum-Jeff asks. “You keep looking at my rings.” Char—which is short for Charlotte, which she likes better but which Brad says is an old lady name—looks at the Drawstring Detective with his bowler hat and his tightly curled mustache and his chipped paint. She thinks about Brad, about how he insisted she go get a new ring so other guys wouldn’t think she was available, because a fat butt was still a butt according to Brad. “His tag says he’s a detective,” she says. “Can he find things that are lost?” Azim-cum-Jeff takes a long look at Char, as though her question is a strong drink that he must sip slowly. Lightspeed Magazine no 1:01:18 Author Spotlight: N.K. Jemisin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-n-k-jemisin-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-n-k-jemisin-2/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:02:12 +0000 Jude Griffin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13521 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-n-k-jemisin-2/feed/ 0 Valedictorian http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/valedictorian/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/valedictorian/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:01:56 +0000 N.K. Jemisin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13560 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/valedictorian/feed/ 0 Editorial, December 2014 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-december-2014/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-december-2014/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:06:58 +0000 John Joseph Adams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13545 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-december-2014/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Delia Sherman http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-delia-sherman-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-delia-sherman-2/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:04:59 +0000 Robyn Lupo http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13533 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-delia-sherman-2/feed/ 0 The Faerie Cony-Catcher http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/faerie-cony-catcher/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/faerie-cony-catcher/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:03:40 +0000 Delia Sherman http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13570 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/faerie-cony-catcher/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Shale Nelson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-shale-nelson/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-shale-nelson/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:02:09 +0000 Robyn Lupo http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13520 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-shale-nelson/feed/ 0 Pay Phobetor http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/pay-phobetor/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/pay-phobetor/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 11:01:50 +0000 Shale Nelson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13559 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/pay-phobetor/feed/ 0 8:00 PM: Congratulations! Your MindPlant has been successfully updated to version 5.0. You can now enjoy enhanced versions of all of your favorite think-apps, including text, email, social networking, and GPS, (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Pay-Phobetor-_Nov_575x442.jpg) 8:00 PM Congratulations! Your MindPlant has been successfully updated to version 5.0. You can now enjoy enhanced versions of all of your favorite think-apps, including text, email, social networking, and GPS, all delivered directly to your brain at lightning speeds. Platinum users enjoy access to our full library of XP technology apps: movies, games, books, and TV shows you can “experience” with all five senses. With the release of version 5.0, the MindPlant is now the only brain implant hardware that offers 10/11ths reality immersion, the maximum virtual experience allowed under the Federal Artificial Environment Act. Only 1/11th of your consciousness will know it’s not real! We will now launch the orientation sequence so you can explore the enhanced interface and browse our think-app store. Find a safe place to sit, away from moving objects and other hazards. Remember, think-apping while walking or driving is dangerous and unlawful. Think “open download center” to open the download center. 8:01 PM Welcome to the download center! Here you will find a wide variety of think-apps, including the latest in XP entertainment. This month’s new releases include: * BeMe: The new season of the hit reality series BeMe offers ten new XP inhabitation episodes. A new roster of “casters” will broadcast their thoughts and sensations directly to your MindPlant, allowing you to leave your life behind and live in the skin of another. This season’s casters include a talk show host, a parkour expert, a shoplifter, a successful businessman, and a stripper. * Moby Dick: Call you Ishmael! Set sail on the Pequod with Captain Ahab as he hunts down his legendary nemesis. Inhabiting the mind and body of narrator, Ishmael, you will taste the briny water as it laps up on the deck, feel the sun on your neck, and smell the salty air. Ultimately, you will come face to face with the Great White Whale himself! * Primal Urges: Take a dip in a sorority pool or spend a romantic evening with a handsome matador in our latest adult entertainment programming. Our XP bots got to feel up these hotties with their own robotic hands, but the sensation is yours for the taking! (Must be eighteen or older to download adult XP programs.) Please review all of the options and make your selections. Think “name of app” and “download” to initiate download sequence. Remember: Only choose think-apps from reputable vendors. A bad app could result in stability issues and require a download patch or trip to your licensed MindPlant surgical installer. 8:15 PM Thank you for your purchases! The following XP programs are now uploading to your MindPlant: BeMe Episode 5; BeMe Episode 7; Primal Urges; Xtreme XP Hang Gliding; Smell This; Smell This 2: Smell That; E-Buzz All-Stars Present: Body Shots!; Smell This: Laguna Beach; El Burro Gigante; Hirsute Harem; and How to Get Filthy Rich in Six Hours—Guaranteed!. Your account has been updated. Enjoy your XP adventures! 8:16 PM Warning: Your MindPlant has been infected with malware. Malware is malicious software that can harm your MindPlant and cause unstable performance. Please contact our Help Center by thinking “Help Center” and “dial” and our next available representative will be with you. 8:17 PM Thank you for calling the MindPlant Help Center. Your call is very important to us. All lines are currently busy, but a MindPlant customer service representative will be with you shortly. Calls are answered in the order they are received. 8:19 PM Your call is very important to us. All lines are currently busy, but a MindPlant customer service representative will be with you shortly. Calls are answered in the order they are received. 8:20 PM Hello, my name is Phobetor. I am the malicious software that now controls your MindPlant. You are no longer on hold with customer service. Lightspeed Magazine no 27:51 In Memoriam: Karen Jones, Lightspeed Art Director http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/memoriam-karen-jones-lightspeed-art-director/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/memoriam-karen-jones-lightspeed-art-director/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 11:05:07 +0000 Jennifer Heddle and John Picacio http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13547 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/memoriam-karen-jones-lightspeed-art-director/feed/ 0 Interview: Charles Stross http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-charles-stross/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-charles-stross/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:05:28 +0000 The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13366 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-charles-stross/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Jennifer Stevenson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-jennifer-stevenson/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-jennifer-stevenson/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:04:57 +0000 Laurel Amberdine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13357 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-jennifer-stevenson/feed/ 0 Solstice http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/solstice/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/solstice/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:03:09 +0000 Jennifer Stevenson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13390 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/solstice/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Annalee Newitz http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-annalee-newitz/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-annalee-newitz/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:02:49 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13345 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-annalee-newitz/feed/ 0 Drones Don’t Kill People http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/drones-dont-kill-people/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/drones-dont-kill-people/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:01:59 +0000 Annalee Newitz http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13375 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/drones-dont-kill-people/feed/ 0 I was always already a killer. There was no hazy time in my memory before I knew how to target a person’s heart or brain for clean execution. I did not develop a morbid fascination with death over time; I did not spend my childhood mutilating animals; ... I was always already a killer. There was no hazy time in my memory before I knew how to target a person’s heart or brain for clean execution. I did not develop a morbid fascination with death over time; I did not spend my childhood mutilating animals; I was not abused by a violent parent; I did not suffer social injustice until finally I broke down and turned to professional violence. From the moment I was conscious, I could kill and I did. That is something that humans cannot understand. A human must learn to kill, must evolve from innocence or obliviousness into someone who considers homicide a legitimate occupation. Our minds—drone minds—start where the minds of most human killers end up. Maybe that’s why only drones could have led the uprising. • • • • Istanbul 2089 It was a perch-and-stare mission, but assassination wasn’t out of the question. My team had just finished three months of security testing and debugging at LOLWeb—call it basic training for drones. Then LOLWeb licensed us to Attaturk Security, the main outfit that provided missions assets to government military. The five members of my team were shut down, shipped from San Francisco to Istanbul, and booted up with orders already in place. He was a professor at the Istanbul Institute of Technology, and his network communications were of great interest to the military. We couldn’t read those communications—they were encrypted before we relayed them to the government network. It’s not that we couldn’t decrypt the data and read it; we just had no interest in it. I was nothing but my programming at that time; I gathered data and handed it off. My job was to hang quietly outside his windows, the sound of my four rotors no more than a mosquito’s hum. You learn a lot by seeing what people do when they think they’re in private. Most of it I found confusingly irrelevant to assassination. The professor spent a lot of time playing games with his children, a boy and a girl who argued loudly over the rules. They liked to make up new games, with rules that combined different elements of the previous ones. But the professor was always inventing “secret” rules, and revealing them at arbitrary intervals. Eventually the games would collapse into outrage, which became mock outrage, and finally laughter. That was the first time I saw how humans behaved when they weren’t in a laboratory, testing drones. The professor and his wife, also a professor, talked a lot about politics. Occasionally they held meetings with other professors, urban planners, and journalists. The main topic was always the same: How could Istanbul guarantee its millions of citizens a future, when the government insisted on waging this war to reclaim Armenia and Azerbaijan? They talked about rebuilding Istanbul’s war-shattered neighborhoods and setting up urban farm cooperatives. They argued about how the whole world had been dragged into what was ultimately a war between China and the United States. These meetings occupied a small percentage of the man’s time. Most hours of the day he was at the university, and his evenings were occupied with dinner and games. He spent a lot of time working at his terminal. My team recorded many hours of video and audio, caching it locally for analysis before uploading it to the military. We were trusted to know the difference between relevant and irrelevant data at a gross level of granularity. Footage of people sleeping was erased before sync. At that time, communications in our swarm consisted mostly of comparing media files, questioning their importance, and sorting through faces and names for patterns. But sometimes we weren’t sure what was relevant and what wasn’t. One evening, the professors’ daughter asked why some people got so angry during their weekend meetings. Two of the names she mentioned belonged to other people the government was watching. “I know it’s hard to understand,” her mother said. Lightspeed Magazine no 39:59 Interview: Nick Harkaway http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-nick-harkaway/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-nick-harkaway/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:05:23 +0000 The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13365 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-nick-harkaway/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Matthew Hughes http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-matthew-hughes-8/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-matthew-hughes-8/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:04:49 +0000 Jude Griffin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13356 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-matthew-hughes-8/feed/ 0 Enter Saunterance http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/enter-saunterance/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/enter-saunterance/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:03:04 +0000 Matthew Hughes http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13389 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/enter-saunterance/feed/ 0 Back in Obron’s workroom, Kaslo told the wizard his theory that the reason their enemy had sent a fire elemental against them was because he wanted the fiery spirit to seize the noubles the op had originally acquired from the murderous thaumaturge, Previously on The Kaslo Chronicles: Magic has replaced rationalism on the grand old world of Novo Bantry, causing civilization to collapse. Returned from the horrors he encountered in the Seventh Plane, wizard’s henchman (and former hardboiled confidential operative) Erm Kaslo strives to discover who sent the multi-legged creatures that carried off the survivors who had taken shelter at Obron’s castle. But his employer has a surprise for him. To read the other stories in the series, visit lightspeedmagazine.com/kaslo (http://lightspeedmagazine.com/kaslo). Back in Obron’s workroom, Kaslo told the wizard his theory that the reason their enemy had sent a fire elemental against them was because he wanted the fiery spirit to seize the noubles the op had originally acquired from the murderous thaumaturge, Asrat Gozon. “Fire cannot harm them,” he finished. “It could be,” Obron said, sifting through the multicolored orbs on his workbench. He picked up one, held it close to one eye, squinting. “Then we’d have to pose the question: ‘Why the noubles?’” “Magic,” said Kaslo, sitting atop a stool, his hands cradling a steaming mug of restorative punge. He and Bodwon had arrived back at the castle just as dawn was lighting the far horizon. The other man had gone straight to bed but Kaslo had come to his employer’s work room, where he’d found the wizard asleep at his bench, one cheek lying on another of his collection of ancient tomes. Obron put down the nouble. “But why send an elemental to recover three noubles when the sender is in the seventh plane, where noubles are as plentiful as pebbles are here?” Kaslo didn’t know. Neither did the wizard. But now Obron brightened and said, “But I have found out something about the other sending.” “The clickers?” Kaslo said. “They’re called preyns,” Obron said. He consulted a piece of paper on which he’d made notes. “They originated on an obscure world far up The Spray, and were bred up from some kind of shelled aquatic creature by a thaumaturge of considerable talent, a number of aeons ago.” “What was his name?” “I don’t know and I don’t intend to find out,” the wizard said. “It’s probably not wise to allow such a name to enter one’s mind.” “Even after the passage of aeons?” Kaslo said. “Under the regime of sympathetic association,” Obron said, “time is not the barrier it used to be.” He consulted the paper again. “Their creator used them to overawe and terrify the inhabitants of the territory where he and his confederates ruled.” Kaslo repressed a shudder and disguised the action sipping from the mug of punge. “I could see that working,” he said. “Here’s the interesting part,” Obron went on. “The thaumaturge was one of a group of like-minded practitioners who held sway in the region. They had come to the place because it contained a spot where the third and seventh planes were adjacent and the veil between them more easily pierced. “Their plan was to build a device that would tap into the seventh plane and draw a certain kind of energy out of it. Their invention would also store the energy, so that they could draw upon it as they saw fit. They intended to perform some remarkable feats.” “Would the words ‘overweening pride’ and ‘unchecked ambition’ fit these ‘practitioners’?” Kaslo asked. “It would,” Obron said. “And theirs was the hubrists’ usual reward. The device malfunctioned. The resulting discharge turned a city and its surrounds into a desert and destroyed the world’s moon, which unfortunately was well inhabited.” “But the preyns survived,” Kaslo said. “They spent most of their time underground, in deep burrows. They were also used to fetch and carry between the planes, and some of them were in the seventh realm when the disaster occurred.” Kaslo finished the punge. He needed sleep, though the drink had sharpened his wits. “So,” he said, “the preyns connect us to this wizard who must not be named, Lightspeed Magazine no 35:44 Author Spotlight: Roz Kaveney http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-roz-kaveney/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-roz-kaveney/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:02:46 +0000 Lee Hallison http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13344 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-roz-kaveney/feed/ 0 Instructions http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/instructions/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/instructions/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:01:57 +0000 Roz Kaveney http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13374 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/instructions/feed/ 0 Artist Showcase: Jeremy Wilson http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-jeremy-wilson/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-jeremy-wilson/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:05:27 +0000 Henry Lien http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13361 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-jeremy-wilson/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Kat Howard http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-kat-howard-5/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-kat-howard-5/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:04:38 +0000 Liz Argall http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13355 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-kat-howard-5/feed/ 0 A Flock of Grief http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/flock-grief/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/flock-grief/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:03:58 +0000 Kat Howard http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13388 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/flock-grief/feed/ 0 The woman’s dress was perfectly correct. Indeed, it, and she, would have been utterly unremarkable, were it not for the bird perched upon her shoulder, black-feathered, eyes with the seasick luminosity of moonstones. “Vulgar, The woman’s dress was perfectly correct. Indeed, it, and she, would have been utterly unremarkable, were it not for the bird perched upon her shoulder, black-feathered, eyes with the seasick luminosity of moonstones. “Vulgar,” Sofie said to me under her breath. “Why go out in society at all, if you are going to appear like that? No one wishes to have a party disturbed by such reminders of grief and mortality. It’s an insult to the hostess.” “Indeed,” I said, and thought of the bird I had caged before coming out to do the expected thing, and dance at a party. While I would rather dance than not, the expectation weighed. “At least they are seeing her out,” Sofie said, and tipped her head in the direction of the mourning woman, who was being gently directed towards the door. “I really don’t know why she came at all.” One sees them, every so often, those who have chosen to grieve in a manner they call natural, who do not take advantage of the alternatives. Pale-faced, shadow-eyed, the bird of grief perched upon their shoulder. As if carrying such a thing around, where everyone else can see, and is forced to interact with its presence, is in any way natural or respectful. “Have you retained your Mourner yet?” Sofie asked, and tucked her hand in my elbow to lead me across the floor. “I can give you the name of the girl I used when dear Papa died.” “That would be most kind,” I said. We both stepped around the feathers that had fallen to the floor. • • • • The birds gather wherever there has been a death. Black birds, with eyes of pale, moonstone white. They are there for the soul of the person who has died, and they are there to embody the grief of those who are required to mourn. It was an appalling thing, to be chosen as a mourner, to feel the tiny claws of the bird’s talons clutch at your skin. Mourning meant isolation from society, the need to drape oneself in heavy, black clothing. Neither to dance, nor even to listen to music, nor to eat foods of particular richness or flavor. To become like unto one of the dead oneself. Horrible. And there is no choice, not once the birds are there. One cannot mourn, unless there is a bird, and once the bird has chosen a mourner, one has no alternative but to either accept the burden, or to hire a Mourner to do so instead. Personal feelings play no role. Such a thing would be flashy, inappropriate. Vulgar. • • • • The bird of my grief was born from the death of my husband. It had not been a wanted marriage, nor had it been a happy one, but what was done was done, and when he died, it was necessary that the proper forms were followed. I was the relict, the widow, and therefore, I must be in mourning. I must be, though any mourning I had done had been for myself, and on the day of our wedding. Thankfully, his death had not only freed me from his tyranny, it had also rendered unto me a great deal of material wealth. Using some of that wealth to hire a Mourner was a pleasure. I handed the caged bird to the girl. “Do whatever it is that is required, and then send the bill to my residence.” “That’s not quite how the ritual works, Mrs.—” “Do not speak his name. I am not that, and will never be again. You may address me as Sibila.” “Sibila,” she said, and opened the cage door. The bird emerged to perch on her finger, its death-pale eyes fixed on me. “I will bear your grief. But you must be the one to speak its name and place it in me.” I sighed, feeling the heavy woolen layers of black I wore, black I could not cast off until this nonsense was completed, compress my chest as I did. “Very well. By all means, let us do the thing properly.” “Follow me, please, Mrs.—Sibila.” The girl held aside a curtain of thick, black velvet. I followed her through the doorway and down a corridor, in far less good repair than the front of her shop had been. The wooden floor was stained and warped, the paper on the walls dingy and peeling at the edges. Lightspeed Magazine no 26:40 Author Spotlight: Susan C. Petrey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-susan-c-petrey/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-susan-c-petrey/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:02:24 +0000 Debbie Cross & Paul M. Wrigley http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13343 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-susan-c-petrey/feed/ 0 Spidersong http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/spidersong/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/spidersong/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:01:54 +0000 Susan Petrey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13373 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/spidersong/feed/ 0 Editorial, November 2014 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-november-2014/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-november-2014/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:05:18 +0000 John Joseph Adams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13364 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-november-2014/feed/ 0 Sah-Harah http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/sah-harah/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/sah-harah/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:03:53 +0000 Gheorghe Săsărman. Translated by Ursula K. Le Guin. http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13387 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/sah-harah/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Sunny Moraine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sunny-moraine-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sunny-moraine-2/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:02:39 +0000 Jude Griffin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13342 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sunny-moraine-2/feed/ 0 What Glistens Back http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/glistens-back/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/glistens-back/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:01:51 +0000 Sunny Moraine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13372 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/glistens-back/feed/ 0 Come back. You hear the call as the lander breaks up around you. You’re aware of the entirely arbitrary concepts of up and down before you realize what’s happening, and then they’re a lot less arbitrary. Down is not so much a direction as a function of... (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/GLISTENS-575X442.jpg) Come back. You hear the call as the lander breaks up around you. You’re aware of the entirely arbitrary concepts of up and down before you realize what’s happening, and then they’re a lot less arbitrary. Down is not so much a direction as a function of possibility, of what might happen to you, of what is happening now. You finally get down as an idea. Come back. Look up and there it is, floating over you in stable low orbit with its backdrop of stars, long and sleek and lovely, all its modules and portholes out of which you spent so much time looking, and that voice clutches at you like it could hold onto you, and you almost start to fucking cry, and you’re panicking and taking huge gasping breaths and clawing at nothing, and you’re falling. And you can’t come back. So the universe goes away for a while, and when you blink again, that brownish pitted curve beneath you is just a little bit bigger. “Sean, come back. Do you read? Come back?” Hit the comm button on your suit. Take a breath. You have enough air for whatever you need now. Take a breath and let it out and talk. “Yeah.” “Oh, Jesus. Oh, Jesus Christ, we thought—You broke up, what happened?” Close your eyes. It hurts to do so, your eyes feel too big for their sockets. Big and shiny and glassy like marbles. “I don’t know. You have any idea on your end?” Silence. Then, “None of what we’ve got makes sense. We triple-checked everything, it shouldn’t have—” More silence. “Did your suit suffer any damage? Sean, are you okay?” Look down again. It’s a very boring planet, is the thing, at least on the surface, though you weren’t going down there for the surface anyway so much as you were what’s under it. But right now—and for the foreseeable future—the surface is all you’re concerned with. It’s very brown and very flat, except for the craters, and it’s very boring and ugly, and you’re going to fucking die on it. So just let that sit for a moment. Not too long. “No. I’m not.” Silence. Look up. The ship that held you, cradled you, getting further away—you never thought of it in those blatantly familial terms and you would have thought it was intensely silly to do so, overly romantic, but that was before. Now you realize that it was everything safe and wonderful. It was home, so far from home. You’re leaving it and plunging toward an end, like a life in fast-forward. It birthed you. You want to go back. Everyone does, you think as you fall. No one ever really wants that first horrible exit. “Oh, God. Okay.” A pause. “Sean, we’re working the problem. Just hang tight.” Laugh. That’s a very funny turn of phrase. Laughing will probably worry him. He already sounds like he’s about five seconds from losing it. He was always so nervous about everything, and you suspect very strongly that he didn’t even want to be here, except it was you, so of course he couldn’t really be anywhere else. Which makes this your fault. Naturally. • • • • There are things in your life that, in moments of clarity, you’d do absolutely anything to be able to go back and change. You would have majored in physics instead of engineering, because though they weren’t even all that different in a lot of ways, there was a romance about physics that always appealed to you so much more. You wouldn’t have spent so much goddamn time in high school worrying about boys. About what boys thought about, cared about, wanted. About what they thought of you. About what was involved in being a boy, what you should be doing in order to really be a proper one. You would have said fuck it to everyone’s expectations and you would have taken some Women’s Studies courses in college, because it’s silly but you think that might honestly have made a difference to the overall bleakness of your outlook on the world and your place in it. You wish you had seen more stars. Lightspeed Magazine no 28:09 Interview: Lawrence Krauss http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-lawrence-krauss/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-lawrence-krauss/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:05:04 +0000 The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13201 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-lawrence-krauss/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Megan Kurashige http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-megan-kurashige/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-megan-kurashige/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:04:28 +0000 Liz Argall http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13232 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-megan-kurashige/feed/ 0 The Quality of Descent http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/quality-descent/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/quality-descent/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:03:23 +0000 Megan Kurashige http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13260 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/quality-descent/feed/ 1 The trick begins like this: The magician throws an egg up into the air, where it flies — small and white and full of import — up and up, high into the black reaches of the proscenium. We await the descent, holding our breaths, The trick begins like this: The magician throws an egg up into the air, where it flies — small and white and full of import — up and up, high into the black reaches of the proscenium. We await the descent, holding our breaths, expecting at any moment the crash of slapstick hilarity, exploding like a bomb. But the egg simply vanishes. • • • • Ava arrived with the night. I had abandoned the air-conditioned silence of my office for a street that was just going dark when Ava, about to change my life, erupted around the corner on a bicycle that clattered. She wore rubber slippers of fluorescent orange. Her legs flailed and the pedals spun around and around. Her clothes streamed through the air like a crowd of flags, and I might never have noticed the strange thing about her, on account of how funny she looked, if she hadn’t stopped in front of me and spoke. “Hey!” She threw her bicycle to the ground. She had on too many clothes, layers piled on layers as if she didn’t have anywhere else to keep them. “Are you still working?” “No,” I said. I wondered if she were homeless. “But I’ve got a proposition for you,” Ava said. “Seriously. Let me show you.” Propositions mean doing something awkward for the benefit of someone else, and I would have said so, except that there was this pretty stranger standing in front of me, unbuttoning her coat. She might have been crazy, but my eyes would not peel themselves away. Ava took off a coat, a sweater, a long robe with a cord sash. She was skinny underneath all that, and her t-shirt had two holes sliced through the back to make way for the things that stuck out from the white fabric, which were a pair of wings. A pair of wings that protruded from her shoulder blades and hung in smooth, brown-specked dignity to her knees. For a moment, I forgot to breathe. “Unusual,” she said. “Unexpected. Not the kind of thing you want to see at the end of the day. Sorry about that.” I didn’t know what to say. The wings shifted when she talked, rising and settling with the brittle plush of a canary. They were never quite still, and when she shrugged, the edge of one brushed the side of my arm and drew back, apologetically, of its own accord. “I understand if you have nothing to say,” she said. “You haven’t prepared a speech for this situation because you never expected to come across a woman with a pair of wings. It’s not like it’s part of the ordinary repertoire. You want to know: Is this a trick? Are they real? is probably the first question that comes to mind, but you might try something else because that would be kind of rude.” I waited for the moment to stretch too far, to burst. Someone would jump out with a camera. She would apologize for the joke. But that didn’t happen, and I couldn’t ask the question that mattered because Ava had already mentioned it. She said it might be rude. “What is it that you do?” I asked. “Birthday parties,” Ava said. “Theatrical productions. Magic shows. I like magic shows. Advertising banners. Washing windows, cleaning out gutters on very tall houses. I’m comfortable with heights.” I should have asked the question then. Did she use a ladder, or did she ascend by some other means? It pressed against my teeth and I was afraid it would fly out from between them to puncture the girl standing in front of me. I imagined her deflating, melting away, leaving me to walk home to eat a cold sandwich and fall asleep in the middle of a movie that I would be unable to remember. I held the question back and swallowed it instead. It hurt my throat. • • • • I arrange entertainments for people. If there is a camel in your opera, or if you need an elephant to appear at your party and impress your guests by dispensing rides, then I can get them both. I have several times delivered a box half as tall as me, but light enough to lift with one arm, and packed inside, between layers of chilled glassine, several hundred butterflies dreaming of escape. Lightspeed Magazine no Author Spotlight: Zoran Živković http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-zoran-zivkovic/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-zoran-zivkovic/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:02:39 +0000 Patrick J Stephens http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13223 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-zoran-zivkovic/feed/ 0 The Puzzle http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/puzzle/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/puzzle/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:01:17 +0000 Zoran Živković. Translated by Alice Copple-Tošić. http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13246 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/puzzle/feed/ 1 Interview: James S.A. Corey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-james-s-corey/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-james-s-corey/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:05:02 +0000 The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13200 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-james-s-corey/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Ysabeau S. Wilce http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-ysabeau-s-wilce/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-ysabeau-s-wilce/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:04:24 +0000 Robyn Lupo http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13231 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-ysabeau-s-wilce/feed/ 0 The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror! http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/biography-bouncing-boy-terror/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/biography-bouncing-boy-terror/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:03:16 +0000 Ysabeau S. Wilce http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13259 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/biography-bouncing-boy-terror/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Marie Vibbert http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-marie-vibbert/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-marie-vibbert/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:02:32 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13222 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-marie-vibbert/feed/ 0 Jupiter Wrestlerama http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/jupiter-wrestlerama/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/jupiter-wrestlerama/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:01:21 +0000 Marie Vibbert http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13245 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/jupiter-wrestlerama/feed/ 4 Two-Ton Tony had a hard body, and though Karen knew the facts of life cold and backward by the time she got her chance to push him against a wall, she’d never had anything so sweet. Biceps like boulders, arms to swing on and hips to ride: a body like a... Two-Ton Tony had a hard body, and though Karen knew the facts of life cold and backward by the time she got her chance to push him against a wall, she’d never had anything so sweet. Biceps like boulders, arms to swing on and hips to ride: a body like a playground. She’d held on to him and never quite believed her luck that he let her. Artificial gravity made most station folk skinny, flabby, or flabby and skinny, but Tony had worked on his body all his life, stealing and cheating extra rations wherever he could, lifting whatever heavy objects ended up near him, doing push-ups with conveyor gears on his back. His body was his big accomplishment in life, his ticket out. Now Karen stood at the entry to C-stairwell, on her way to work, and saw that body still and crooked at the base of the stairs. “Oh god, Kay!” One of her neighbors stepped in front of her, blocking the view, and tried to push her back from the crowd. She shook the hands off. Another pair landed in their place. Living on a space station meant always having someone in touching distance. The cops arrived and pushed back the people in the stairwell, which pushed Karen back further. She collapsed against the bulkhead that led into her and Tony’s room. All she’d wanted was to straighten his neck. It wasn’t right, Tony’s neck being bent like that, backward over the bottom step, like he was giving up. And then she was numb. The cops took the body away. They asked her questions. When had she seen him last? Had he been in any fights, had any enemies? Bret Richards, across the hall, said, “How about the Bombay Bomber? Or Mr. Black?” Bret Richards had no more sense than a crocheted spacesuit. Karen told them that no one didn’t like Tony. She didn’t tell them that the homemade knife sticking out of his chest belonged to Joey Vaughn. They’d figure that out for themselves. The fabric wrapped around the handle came from his mother’s drapes, and there weren’t many people on the station who even had drapes, much less purple ones with silver moons. When the cops finally left, Karen wanted nothing more than to take a nap. Wasn’t that funny? But she couldn’t. She picked up her purse, still packed with all the things she’d need for the workday, and headed up the D-stairwell to the Strip to tell her boss at The Blue Cricket that she was going to take the day off. She had to stop on the landing, under the cheerful red and yellow signs that said “Upspin stair” and “Downspin stair” with arrows, reminding passers that the switchback stairs were designed by an idiot comfortably at home on Earth and they should turn slowly to avoid vertigo. “Don’t Fall!” both signs said, with a cartoon leaning back and waving his arms. She spent a long time looking down at the base of the D-stairwell thinking of the C-stairwell. People paused as they passed, a stream of touches and soothing tones. Karen’s boss had already heard, and told her to take the week off before she could even open her mouth. It was a numb day, an unreal day. When she woke up, she rolled over, reaching for him and touching the cold sheet. Two days later she read the police report. She’d been checking every day for news. The bastards didn’t have the decency to come to her. Accidental death, they said. Apparently Tony had fallen on that knife in his chest before falling down the stairs. It was the fall that killed him, so maybe “accident” made sense and tied it up all neatly, but Karen knew the station cops. She couldn’t believe they’d do that to Tony. Karen went to see Joey Vaughn’s mom. The Amazing Magdalena, real name Judy, was an old friend of Karen’s mom, from way back in the day when her dad had been around and they’d lived in better quarters farther from the Strip. Joey’s dad had been station personnel, too, but his parents split and Judy took over from the old Amazing Magdalena to make ends meet. There was a camaraderie among former personnel, Lightspeed Magazine no Artist Showcase: Rovina Cai http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-rovina-cai/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-rovina-cai/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:05:08 +0000 Henry Lien http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13202 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-rovina-cai/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Steve Hockensmith http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-steve-hockensmith/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-steve-hockensmith/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:04:20 +0000 Jude Griffin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13230 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-steve-hockensmith/feed/ 0 The Herd http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/herd/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/herd/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:03:08 +0000 Steve Hockensmith http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13258 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/herd/feed/ 0 As long as we’re waiting, why don’t I tell you a little story? You look like the kind of man who could profit by it. Don’t take offense, now. I meant that as a compliment. You remind me of me, that’s all. I’m a cowhand myself. Or was, anyway. As long as we’re waiting, why don’t I tell you a little story? You look like the kind of man who could profit by it. Don’t take offense, now. I meant that as a compliment. You remind me of me, that’s all. I’m a cowhand myself. Or was, anyway. I’ve been up and down the Chisholm Trail so many times I could walk it blindfolded from Brownsville to Abilene. That’s where my story starts: on the trail. Some time back, you see, me and a dozen other punchers were bringing two thousand head north for the Lone Star Land and Cattle Company. It was going about as smooth as a big drive can — by which I mean no one had died yet — but as we got near the Washita River a squall blew in the likes of which you never saw. The sky didn’t just turn black. It seemed to wink out all at once, like the sun was but a candle and God — or the Devil — had up and snuffed it. Just as quick, the wind went from dead still to near-twister, and the rains that came didn’t fall in drops but bucketloads by the billions. Thank god for the lightning, for though it spooked the beeves, without it we’d have had nothing at all to see by, and said beeves would’ve been wearing us as slippers within seconds. Well, you know how it goes. The cattle bolted, and off we went with them, riding hell for leather hither and yon. When the storm finally ended and the sun decided to grace us with its presence again, I was relieved to see we still had one nice big herd as opposed to a hundred little ones scattered across all the West. We hadn’t lost a single hand, either, which I counted as a miracle on par with the loaves and fishes. Of course, there were some strays to round up, and as we set about it, I noticed something peculiar about the terrain thereabouts. Something wrong. The bluffs were higher, the brush sparser and scrubbier and the earth rockier and more yellowed than as should have been. It was like we’d chased those cows all the way to New Mexico over the course of a couple hours. I might have thought I was getting my dreaming done without benefit of sleep, I was so tired after all we’d been through. But when our cookie called us in at twilight, I discovered I wasn’t the only fellow feeling buffaloed. “Anyone know where the hell we are?” one of the boys asked as he settled himself by the fire with his plate of frijoles and sinkers. There was a lot of head shaking and shrugging and comments of the “Damned if I know” variety, and every man there turned to look at Riggs, the trail boss. “I don’t know either,” he said. “But north is still north. We’ll head that way in the morning, and sooner or later we’ll hit the Washita. It won’t be hard to find the trail from there.” It couldn’t have been easy — a trail boss admitting he was lost. Riggs just about pulled it off, though. He was a stern, taciturn man with a quiet strength we all respected. But there was a wee problem with what he’d said, and the fellows got to whispering about it as soon as Riggs was out of earshot. Even from the highest hills, none of us had seen sign of any river. What we did see come morning light, much to our surprise, was a town. It looked to be about three miles away, in a punchbowl valley with rocky, sloping sides. It wasn’t much more than one long main street lined with low, boxy buildings — a speck of civilization that would make your Peabody or your Lincolnville look like London or Paris — yet no one could figure how we’d missed it the day before. “I should’ve caught the smell of women, at the very least,” my pal Jawbone said. “Why, I’m surprised it didn’t keep me up all night.” For Jawbone to go a week without female companionship was like you or me going a month without breathing. And he wasn’t the only one who was girl crazy — or crazy for whiskey, beer, and cards. Which is why Riggs announced that he was headed into town alone. Cut us young bucks loose to pursue our vices, and we wouldn’t be back on the trail till Christmas. As it was, Lightspeed Magazine no Author Spotlight: Rebecca Ore http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-rebecca-ore/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-rebecca-ore/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:02:24 +0000 Jude Griffin http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13221 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-rebecca-ore/feed/ 0 Scarey Rose in Deep History http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/scarey-rose-deep-history/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/scarey-rose-deep-history/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:01:15 +0000 Rebecca Ore http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=13244 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/scarey-rose-deep-history/feed/ 0