http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/itunes-rss/ Lightspeed Magazine » Lightspeed Magazine - Science Fiction & Fantasy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com Science Fiction & Fantasy Sat, 27 Jun 2015 04:41:41 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 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 Author Spotlight: RJ Edwards http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-rj-edwards/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-rj-edwards/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:04:22 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14639 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-rj-edwards/feed/ 0 Black Holes http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/black-holes/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/black-holes/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:03:43 +0000 RJ Edwards http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14691 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/black-holes/feed/ 0 “What do you think it would feel like to die in a black hole?” Joey asked, then immediately added, “Not being morbid.” Kant laughed. He had a loud belly laugh that made the bare bedroom feel full and bright. (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/BLACK-HOLE-ILLUSTRATION-575x442.jpg) You have butterflies on your skin, welcoming me in. “What do you think it would feel like to die in a black hole?” Joey asked, then immediately added, “Not being morbid.” Kant laughed. He had a loud belly laugh that made the bare bedroom feel full and bright. The mattress they were lying on had no bed frame, and, at the moment, no sheets. The only set not being used as makeshift curtains were drying in the basement. The only decorations on the walls were a handful of postcards. One was from Joey, one was from a high school friend living in Argentina, and two were from no one at all. Kant bought them himself, because he liked them. Joey turned zer head to give Kant a wildly serious glare. When his laughs subsided, Kant said, “It probably feels like dying.” Joey sat up. “But what kind of dying? You know — maybe it would crush you, or maybe you would suffocate.” “Jo! This is morbid.” Kant said. “What if it didn’t kill you?” Joey went on. “When I was a kid, I thought black holes just brought you to other places. New worlds. That’s what they did in TV. Or maybe the worlds that pass through them change.” Joey was too embarrassed to tell Kant why ze had a sudden morbid interest in black holes. Kant always seemed completely open to telling Joey any strange, spiritual or superstitious thought that ran through his head. He told his roommate those things, too. He talked about them with people he bummed cigarettes from at the bus stop, if it was the right sort of day. Joey was still practically a stranger when Kant opened up to zer about his kinks. • • • • They had met by chance three times — first, they were introduced to each other by a mutual friend at a birthday party. Then they sat together at the transmasculine spectrum support group that neither of them ever attended again. After running into each other at the Eric Carle picture book art museum, they decided to make a real intentional appointment to spend time together. They met up one week later in a cafe called the Purple Kitty for brunch. “Is it a latex thing?” Joey asked. “No, it’s not latex, and it’s not just balloons,” Kant replied, digging the side of his fork into his eggs benedict. They had a crab cake in the middle instead of a slice of ham, and the menu called it Kitty’s Seafood Delight. Kant did have a knife, but neglected to use it even once. “It’s more specific than that.” “I don’t know what you mean.” Joey said. Ze worked hard to get good at saying that. It used to be a terrifying thing for zer to admit. “It’s — I think it’s the moment that they pop.” Kant said, bringing a big gooey forkful to his mouth. “I hate that noise.” Joey said. Ze had finished zer modest plate of single egg over hard and wheat toast, and sat with zer hands folded on zer lap. Ze looked around at all the cat-themed photographs, paintings, clocks, and trinkets littering the walls. There was one blue porcelain kitten with a white tip at the end of its tail on a shelf in the corner of the room, facing the wall. “It’s not the noise,” Kant said tentatively, as if he was going to launch into a delicate explanation, but then smiled and shook his head. “I don’t think I can explain it. But it just fills me up with heat. People just have those things, you know?” “Yeah.” Joey said. “Do you?” Kant asked. “Do I what?” “Have one of those things?” • • • • Across the Atlantic Ocean and underground, Jean-Michel Gregory was speaking to Dr. Benedicta Goeppert about the end of the universe. She felt very strongly about the nature of existence being cyclical, that all matter would eventually return to the state that stimulated the beginning of the universe as we know it — long after humans were extinct and our sun was dead, expanding space would shrink until it was conducive to a big bang and everything that ever was would be again in its earliest, Lightspeed Magazine no 25:48 Queers Destroy Flash Fiction! http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/queers-destroy-flash-fiction/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/queers-destroy-flash-fiction/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:03:19 +0000 Sigrid Ellis http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14708 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/queers-destroy-flash-fiction/feed/ 0 The Lamb Chops http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-lamb-chops/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-lamb-chops/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:02:52 +0000 Stephen Cox http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14713 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-lamb-chops/feed/ 0 Helping Hand http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/helping-hand/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/helping-hand/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:02:51 +0000 Claudine Griggs http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14712 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/helping-hand/feed/ 0 Rubbing is Racing http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/rubbing-is-racing/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/rubbing-is-racing/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:02:49 +0000 Charles Payseur http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14711 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/rubbing-is-racing/feed/ 0 Melioration http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/melioration/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/melioration/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:02:44 +0000 E. Saxey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14710 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/melioration/feed/ 0 Gramophone music crackles out over the quad. “Read that last part again, Jay,” Professor Norris says. I raise my voice. “‘They’ has been used as a singular pronoun since Chaucer: whoso fyndeth hym —” A champagne cork pops, the drinkers cheer. (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/STEEN-ILLUSTRATION-575X442.jpg) Gramophone music crackles out over the quad. “Read that last part again, Jay,” Professor Norris says. I raise my voice. “‘They’ has been used as a singular pronoun since Chaucer: whoso fyndeth hym —” A champagne cork pops, the drinkers cheer. I can’t compete. “Oh, for goodness’ sake.” “You don’t approve?” asks the Prof. “This college isn’t a theme park.” “True. But it survives in the present partly by preserving traditions. Financially, I mean.” She leans back in her leather captain’s chair by her mahogany desk. She has a point. “Take lectures: the printing press made them irrelevant; the Internet makes them ludicrous. But the students expect them.” “At least you can learn from lectures. What can you learn from balls?” Or from rowing? Or from wearing tweed and riding a tandem? After my tutorial, I wander out into the quad. Flooded with sunlight, set in aspic. Striding towards me is Petheridge, pink and massive. Fresh from competing on the river, or possibly from a portal that has transported him ninety years through time. I shrink into a doorway. Ninety years ago I wouldn’t have been at this college at all, cluttering the quad with my breasts, my bespoke pronouns, and my socialist leanings. On a collision course with Petheridge marches Morley, a weasely chap in black. Morley could easily be Petheridge’s nemesis. Morley loves his gleaming white neuroscience lab, just up the road, and chafes at the tweedy tandem riders. He plays elaborate pranks on them, which is a perverse revenge, because antiquarians love pranking. To my surprise, Morley flings his arm round Petheridge’s shoulders (as far as he can get it). I didn’t think they were friends. Morley wouldn’t see the need for rowing, a pre-industrial form of propulsion to satisfy a neolithic display of strength. “Bugger off, Morley, old chap,” snarls Petheridge, displaying the antiquarian’s idiolect. He ploughs forwards, pretty much lifting Morley off his feet. “Fuck off, Morley! Don’t be a bloody [slur1]!” I can’t tell if Petheridge adopts these outdated terms deliberately, or if his school and his family never set them aside. “Get your [slur1] hands off me, you bloody [slur2].” I perform a quick genuflection to the idea of latency: maybe Petheridge is as queer as I am. Maybe he’s had the whole rowing team and feels terrible about it, and that’s why he uses these words. But I feel my chest tighten. “Ah! Ouch! [slur3]!” I imagine transcribing him, annotating him, giving him a scathing pseudonym in an academic journal article. Morley drops to the ground, at last. Petheridge strides out of sight, and Morley limps towards me, grinning. “Got him!” “Got him? He was wearing you like a satchel.” Morley holds up a grey box, palm sized, opalescent plastic. “I’ve got him in here. I’ve recorded fifteen words, and I’ve stolen at least four of them.” He slumps onto a bench. “What?” I sit down as well because my heart is pounding. It’s infuriating to be so shaken by insults not even directed at me. “I place my fabulous invention like so . . .” Morley shoves the box at my face, and I duck away. He holds it to the base of his own skull instead. “I record the brain activity during various utterances. Then: zip! I take out those particular words. Numb those neurons.” “That’s not how words work. That’s not how brains work.” “Jay. Which of us knows more about brains?” “It makes no sense. If you’d studied linguistics — ow.” He’s swooped in, pressed the box to my exposed neck. I feel a sharp nip on my spine. “What were you saying?” “That’s not how language works.” “And what’s the study of language called?” He smirks. “It’s —” It’s on the tip of my tongue, the dark of the moon, the back of beyond. The word’s gone. “Ha! Swiped it out of your tiny, doubting head.” My heart redoubles. Lightspeed Magazine no 14:22 Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/bucket-list-found-in-the-locker-of-maddie-price-age-14-written-two-weeks-before-the-great-uplifting-of-all-mankindbucket-list-found-in-the-locker-of-maddie-price-age-14-written-two-weeks-before/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/bucket-list-found-in-the-locker-of-maddie-price-age-14-written-two-weeks-before-the-great-uplifting-of-all-mankindbucket-list-found-in-the-locker-of-maddie-price-age-14-written-two-weeks-before/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:02:12 +0000 Erica L. Satifka http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14714 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/bucket-list-found-in-the-locker-of-maddie-price-age-14-written-two-weeks-before-the-great-uplifting-of-all-mankindbucket-list-found-in-the-locker-of-maddie-price-age-14-written-two-weeks-before/feed/ 0 The Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Manifesto http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/the-queers-destroy-science-fiction-manifesto/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/the-queers-destroy-science-fiction-manifesto/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:05:51 +0000 Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Editors http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14656 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/the-queers-destroy-science-fiction-manifesto/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Kate M. Galey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-kate-m-galey/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-kate-m-galey/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:04:27 +0000 Robyn Lupo http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14634 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-kate-m-galey/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: John Chu http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-john-chu/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-john-chu/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:03:24 +0000 Kate M. Galey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14633 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-john-chu/feed/ 0 About the Special Issue Staff http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/about-the-special-issue-staff/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/about-the-special-issue-staff/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:02:59 +0000 LIGHTSPEED Staff http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14678 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/about-the-special-issue-staff/feed/ 0 Backer Acknowledgments http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/backer-acknowledgments/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/backer-acknowledgments/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:02:12 +0000 LIGHTSPEED Staff http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14680 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/backer-acknowledgments/feed/ 0 勢孤取和 (Influence Isolated, Make Peace) http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/influence-isolated-make-peace/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/influence-isolated-make-peace/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:01:10 +0000 John Chu http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14561 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/influence-isolated-make-peace/feed/ 0 Jake acquired his target as soon as he stepped into the cafeteria. For the good of the war, he had passed without a trace through forests and mountains to reconnoiter and assassinate. For the good of the subsequent peace, (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Influence-Isolated-Make-Peace.jpg) Jake acquired his target as soon as he stepped into the cafeteria. For the good of the war, he had passed without a trace through forests and mountains to reconnoiter and assassinate. For the good of the subsequent peace, Jake now needed to have lunch with a random stranger and emulate a human being. The target sat by himself at a table in the corner, staring at his tablet. His lunch sat untouched, his chopsticks clearly unused. Slices of poached chicken breast lay on a bed of brown rice next to a pile of kimchi. The soy sauce and star anise of the poaching liquid and the spicy salty tang of the kimchi no one else seemed to notice hit Jake from across the room. Far more interesting than four slices of cheese pizza. Grease pooled in tiny orange circles on Jake’s slices and soaked through the paper plate onto his hands. “Excuse me, is this seat taken?” Jake pulled out the seat next to his target as he set his slices of pizza on the table. The target’s gaze flicked up at Jake. “Cyborg.” “Well, that didn’t take long.” The mission was to avoid detection. If cyborgs could pass for human here, they could pass anywhere. Everyone on base knew that Jake and the rest of his squad had been ensconced here until DAIS decided their fate. They’d been sold out in the peace treaty. If DAIS could be convinced that cyborgs could successfully blend into society, DAIS might choose not to obey the treaty and decommission — that was the term the treaty used — them. “The behavior’s about right, but you’d look more plausibly human if you lost, say, twenty, thirty pounds of muscle.” The target set his tablet down on the table. Text and a diagram of black and white circles on a 19x19 grid, a Go problem, filled the screen. “So would you.” Jake glared at him. “That’s why I chose to sit here.” Both Jake and the target were cracked tea eggs, white veins of scar tissue radiating across their skin. The way the target’s shirt warped around his torso betrayed the sort of solidity that didn’t come from benign neglect. “Except I am human.” “No kidding. Any of us would have solved that puzzle long ago.” Jake gestured to the tablet. “From that board layout, if both black and white play optimally, white will win by five stones. See ya. I’ll try to fool someone else.” “Wait.” The target reached for Jake’s forearm. “You play Go?” Jake rolled his eyes. “No point. Too much like work. I used to. Before.” “Before?” The target picked up a slice of poached chicken breast. “Before DAIS reconstructed you.” Jake discarded the sarcastic remark that headed his list of conversational alternatives. Snarking with every response was a decades-old gambit that anyone on base would recognize. Cyborgs soared through the Turing Test — they still had some human brain function, after all — but composing words was just a sliver of what he needed to do. He couldn’t merely pass for human; no one could be allowed to suspect he wasn’t. “I’m too good at it now.” Jake shrugged. That sounded arrogant as all hell, but nothing he could do about that. “During the war, I used to joke that the worst thing DAIS had done to me was destroy my love of Go.” “Too good at it?” The target’s questioning gaze brushed Jake. The face that gaze betrayed, the slim hope of seeing it again could have pulled Jake through the war. Jake bit down that unhelpful thought. “Are you just going to repeat everything I say? Who’s the cyborg in this conversation?” “Tyler.” The target offered his hand. “Please, sit. Can you walk me through the answer?” Jake shook Tyler’s hand, pursed his lips, subjected Tyler to a critical gaze, then sat down. Dealing with humans was annoying. He had to do everything off-speed. Dealing with humans who treated him like a glorified computer was especially annoying, even if the human in question had an especially winning smile. “Sure. Lightspeed Magazine no 54:13 Emergency Repair http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/emergency-repair/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/emergency-repair/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 10:00:54 +0000 Kate M. Galey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14683 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/emergency-repair/feed/ 0 I work the tip of a flathead screwdriver into the barely visible notch along the sternum and pry up the aluminum polymer casing covering the android’s chest. My fingers burn when they make contact with the exposed skeletal components — no time to let i... (http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Emergency_Repair_575.jpg) 1. Allow system to cool before servicing. I work the tip of a flathead screwdriver into the barely visible notch along the sternum and pry up the aluminum polymer casing covering the android’s chest. My fingers burn when they make contact with the exposed skeletal components — no time to let it cool down. If I were back in the R&D lab at Hess Industrial, I’d spray the unit with a liquid nitrogen compound to get it down to temperature quickly and use therma flec gloves to handle the carbon-nanotube motors. But the Hess compound, with my lab and its specialized equipment, is all the way across the bay. It might as well be across the Pacific. The inside of the casing is printed with instructions, complete with diagrams, but I shouldn’t even need to look. I wrote them. I wouldn’t be able to see them anyway, not in the dim light of the basement, not with my vision blurred by tears. I recite them step by step by memory, an anchor against spiraling despair. The instructions tell me one certainty: This is one of the originals. One of mine. I wish it wasn’t. I won’t be able to forgive myself now. If this works, you will forgive me. You’ve forgiven me for much worse. 2. Drain and flush the ferrofluid circulation system. Along the clavicular ridge, I find the port to the circulation. Every system in my original design corresponds to human anatomy, a complex advertisement of the medical applications the technology could have. It’s designed to be drained, and even with my improvised IV drip system the silver ferrofluid rushes out when the pressure is released. What comes next isn’t half as easy. It takes all my courage just to turn around, to face your still body on the bloody gurney in the corner. There’s an IV line, a real one, running into a vein in your neck, the bag of saline suspended from the exposed PVC plumbing above. Dark deoxygenated blood fills the tubing and seeps into the clear liquid in the bag; without the beating of your heart to pull the saline into your veins, the blood seeps out. Panic I can’t afford surges in me, making my hands tremble and my stomach turn. How long is it since your heart stopped beating? Three minutes? Five? One is a minute too long. Every second I waste on grief, the odds of my success halve. I tear the saline bag from the tubing, replacing it with the silver liquid. Burgundy mixes with silver in the line. I twist a knot in the tubing, sealing it until I need it. 3. Remove the outlet housing and take out the core. I go back to the android — back in my element — and lift the hatch covering the core. The core is revolutionary, the pinnacle of human technological achievement, the world’s most complex chemical computer. It’s the unit’s brain and heart, all in a cylindrical cartridge that slides out of the center of its chest. It’s my life’s work. It operates on the same principals as a single massive cell: terrabytes of data are stored in artificial DNA within a nucleus while RNA carries operating commands. Just like a human heart, chemical interactions produce the electricity it needs. In the long term, the technology in my design could have replaced organs, revolutionized renewable energy, mined asteroids for precious resources, terraformed Mars. Instead, it self-replicates like a cancer, consuming whatever it can convert to energy. The glowing eyes of the unit dim with the core gone. I can’t help but savor it. It’s meaningless — the androids don’t have lives to end — but ripping its heart out feels good after what it did to mine. I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about what I have to do next. My doctorates aren’t worth half a damn here — I’m not the surgeon, you are. But I can’t quit. I can’t give up on you. You didn’t, not even after everything went wrong and the whole world turned on me. I run my fingers along your chest. I know every inch of you by touch, Lightspeed Magazine no 24:57 Artist Showcase: Li Shuxing http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-li-shuxing/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-li-shuxing/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 10:05:57 +0000 Henry Lien http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14475 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-li-shuxing/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Matthew Hughes http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-matthew-hughes-11/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-matthew-hughes-11/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 10:04:15 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14470 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-matthew-hughes-11/feed/ 0 The Blood of a Dragon http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-blood-of-a-dragon/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-blood-of-a-dragon/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 10:03:21 +0000 Matthew Hughes http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14513 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-blood-of-a-dragon/feed/ 0 The moment Erm Kaslo’s flesh touched the substance of the entity, he understood everything — but only for that moment. Then it turned out that everything was far, far too much for a human brain to take in all at once. Previously on The Kaslo Chronicles: Wizard’s henchman (and former hardboiled operative) Erm Kaslo is being slowly absorbed into the substance of a vastly powerful entity mysteriously chained in the Seventh Plane, where will is the ultimate source of magical power. Now he will discover how he, his employer Obron, and even the Archon Filidor of Old Earth are playing pieces in another’s plot to resurrect a monstrous ancient evil. But with his body and mind being consumed as fuel to feed the entity, Kaslo must find a way to use his failing strength in one last desperate bid to save the world. To read the other stories in the series, visit lightspeedmagazine.com/kaslo (http://lightspeedmagazine.com/kaslo). The moment Erm Kaslo’s flesh touched the substance of the entity, he understood everything — but only for that moment. Then it turned out that everything was far, far too much for a human brain to take in all at once. He felt as if his skull was straining not to burst its seams, and as if the mind it housed was a thimble into which someone had crammed a barrel’s worth of knowledge. Just sorting all the information into gross categories would be the work of several lifetimes; subdividing it into manageable portions would take millennia. He managed to surface briefly above the flood to form the thought, It is too much, and directed it at the entity from which the torrents of knowledge had flowed, and were still flowing, into his awareness. He was instantly met with another expression of remorse. Stop apologizing, he thought, and help me deal with this. How? was the question that swept in his mind, with a hurricane force that almost drove Kaslo’s consciousness from him. Moderate your . . . strength of output, he thought back. You’re overwhelming me. Another apology, but it was softer and the message that followed came at a volume slightly less than deafening. Is that better? Yes, but a little lower still. The thunder toned down to a shout. How can I help you? Lower still. A mild, monotonic voice spoke in Kaslo’s mind. Better? Yes, Kaslo thought back. Now, all the information that has flowed into me. Take it back. I’ve never done that before, said the voice. Then a moment later, Oh, I see. Like this? The vast weight of universal knowledge emptied out of Kaslo as quickly as it had entered him. Now, he thought, give it to me again, but slowly, starting with a general overview. Then I’ll tell you what to zero in on. I’ll try, was the answer, but I’m not used to dealing with the tiny-minded. Kaslo decided the description arose from differences of scale. No insult was intended. Do your best, he thought. • • • • Once upon a time, the story began, there was nothing. Then the demiurge arrived. Wait, thought Kaslo. Where did he come from? I don’t know. He never told me. By the way, he wasn’t really a he. Nor a she, for that matter. An it? Kaslo asked. Your language doesn’t have the appropriate pronoun. Never mind. Stick with “he.” The entity explained that the demiurge came from wherever he came from, and his aim was to create Phenomenality, all nine planes of it. Why? He never explained. He just . . . acted. All right. Go on. The first task was to create tools. Or, the entity thought, you might call them — us, that is — helpers. Kaslo saw a crowd of entities, amorphously shaped. The demiurge was a nebulous light, huge, looming. He was giving the helpers jobs to do. And the first job was to create a sketch of what the final product would be like. A sketch? That might not be the right word. A blueprint? A schematic? A rough draft? An image formed in Kaslo’s mind: the nine planes, but not as he usually imagined them. Instead of a series of levels, he saw an infinitely convoluted shape, constantly roiling, its multiple parts intricately interconnected in ways that his mind was not designed to accommodate. He became dizzy and a little nauseated. Lightspeed Magazine no 1:02:01 Author Spotlight: Sean Williams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sean-williams-5/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sean-williams-5/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 10:02:00 +0000 Patrick J Stephens http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14461 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-sean-williams-5/feed/ 0 Ghosts of the Fall http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/ghosts-of-the-fall/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/ghosts-of-the-fall/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 10:01:22 +0000 Sean Williams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14494 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/ghosts-of-the-fall/feed/ 0 Book Reviews: May 2015 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-may-2015/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-may-2015/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 10:05:57 +0000 Sunil Patel http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14481 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/book-reviews-may-2015/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: R.C. Loenen-Ruiz http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-r-c-loenen-ruiz/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-r-c-loenen-ruiz/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 10:04:12 +0000 Patrick J Stephens http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14469 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-r-c-loenen-ruiz/feed/ 0 Breaking the Spell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/breaking-the-spell/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/breaking-the-spell/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 10:03:36 +0000 R.C. Loenen-Ruiz http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14506 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/breaking-the-spell/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Seanan McGuire http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-seanan-mcguire-4/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-seanan-mcguire-4/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 10:02:57 +0000 Lee Hallison http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14459 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-seanan-mcguire-4/feed/ 0 The Myth of Rain http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-myth-of-rain/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-myth-of-rain/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 10:01:20 +0000 Seanan McGuire http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14493 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-myth-of-rain/feed/ 0 Female spotted owls have a call that doesn’t sound like it should come from a bird of prey. It’s high-pitched and unrealistic, like a squeaky toy that’s being squeezed just a little bit too hard. Lots of people who hear them in the woods don’t even rea... Female spotted owls have a call that doesn’t sound like it should come from a bird of prey. It’s high-pitched and unrealistic, like a squeaky toy that’s being squeezed just a little bit too hard. Lots of people who hear them in the woods don’t even rea... Lightspeed Magazine no 39:52 Interview: James Morrow http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-james-morrow/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-james-morrow/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 10:05:57 +0000 The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14480 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/interview-james-morrow/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Helena Bell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-helena-bell/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-helena-bell/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 10:04:10 +0000 Laurel Amberdine http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14468 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-helena-bell/feed/ 0 Mouth http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/mouth/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/mouth/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 10:03:34 +0000 Helena Bell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14505 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/mouth/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Annie Bellet http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-annie-bellet/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-annie-bellet/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 10:02:55 +0000 Robyn Lupo http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14458 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-annie-bellet/feed/ 0 Goodnight Earth http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/goodnight-earth/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/goodnight-earth/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 10:01:18 +0000 Annie Bellet http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14492 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/goodnight-earth/feed/ 0 Karron leaned over the rail of her boat, the Tarik, and watched the meteor shower from its reflection in the river below. The bright streaks of light looked like underwater fireflies and the Ring more like a soft blue disk, Karron leaned over the rail of her boat, the Tarik, and watched the meteor shower from its reflection in the river below. The bright streaks of light looked like underwater fireflies and the Ring more like a soft blue disk, a monochromatic rainbow that ruled their lives in constant reminder of how broken the world was. “Water, water, everywhere,” she murmured to herself, the words half-forgotten, something she’d read in the Covenant Archive a world — and a lifetime — ago. In their case implanted at the top of her spine, her nanos stirred with the memory. The Tarik rode low in the Missip river as it tacked up the shoreline. She was a smaller boat, fifty feet and built with a shallow draft for sailing rivers and canals. Usually she carried only Karron and Ishim, and whatever cargo they’d bartered for, bought, or stolen. The ship wasn’t equipped to handle six people on board. Karron glanced at their passengers where they huddled on makeshift beds around the steam stack toward the aft of the ship. A man and woman, who had provided what were probably fake names, and two kids. A week ago now they’d appeared on a small dock upriver from Looston, asking about getting around the Covenant checkpoints between Looston and Ria, a good two-week journey if they did it straight. No papers for the kids, the woman, Jill, said. Plausible enough story, and their Covenant coin would spend all along the river. The thirty gallons of pure water they’d offered as bonus had decided it. Karron and Ishim would smuggle the four up to Ria, where Nolan, the man, said his parents and jobs were waiting. In the pale earthlight coming off the Ring, Karron could almost make out the little family’s faces. The adults appeared asleep under their blankets, but the two kids were awake, their dark eyes glinting. Oni, the boy, was supposedly seven years old, and his sister, Bee, was four. They were well behaved, the two kids. Creepily so. Quiet as fish lurking in the rocks, and as nimble as Button, the ship’s cat. Karron bit her lip and glanced to the fore where Ishim stood keeping the ship steering smoothly through the dark water. She hadn’t told him her suspicions about the children. Her thoughts were impossible, and she knew as well as he that even if she was right about what they were, there was nothing she nor Ishim could or would do about it. She’d always been too curious. Her instructors at the Academy had always said so in varying tones of annoyance or amusement. Curiosity killed the cat, she thought, turning over the phrase in her mind, a phrase from the old times, before the Ring, before the sky broke and war came to the world. “Satisfaction brought it back,” she whispered. She had to know. Creeping over the deck — the shush of wind in the mainsail and the lap of water against the hull covering any sound she might have made — Karron approached the sleeping passengers. She brought her finger to her lips and saw both children nod. The adults to either side of them didn’t move, apparently asleep. She knelt in front of Oni and reached for his head. He didn’t flinch, didn’t even seem to breathe as she slid her hand around the back of his neck and felt the base of his skull. The hard knot was there, distinct and familiar beneath her trembling fingers. Oni reached up and touched her arm. Karron bent her head and let him feel her own knot for himself. Bee’s tiny hand replaced Oni’s. “Not your aunt and uncle,” Karron whispered, her mouth moving but hardly any sound coming from her throat. The kids would hear her, if they were like she was. “No,” Oni whispered back. “Help us?” “How?” “Kill them. They are going to sell us.” She shook her head. “Not my problem,” she whispered. “You are like us,” the boy said. Beside him, Jill stirred, and all three of them froze until she settled again. “Not anymore,” Karron lied. For a long moment they sat in silence, watching one another. Then Karron crept away, Lightspeed Magazine no 36:42 Editorial, May 2015 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-may-2015/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-may-2015/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 10:05:43 +0000 John Joseph Adams http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14479 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/editorial-may-2015/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Merrie Haskell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-merrie-haskell/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-merrie-haskell/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 10:04:07 +0000 Lee Hallison http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14467 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-merrie-haskell/feed/ 0 Sun’s East, Moon’s West http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/suns-east-moons-west/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/suns-east-moons-west/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 10:03:32 +0000 Merrie Haskell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14504 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/suns-east-moons-west/feed/ 0 I shot the sparrow because I was starving. Though truthfully, I was aiming at a pheasant; the silver snow and the silver birches played tricks with the light, and as if by magic, pheasant turned into sparrow. When I saw what my arrow had done, I shot the sparrow because I was starving. Though truthfully, I was aiming at a pheasant; the silver snow and the silver birches played tricks with the light, and as if by magic, pheasant turned into sparrow. When I saw what my arrow had done, I cried with empty eyes, too dry to make tears. The sparrow wouldn’t amount to a mouthful of grotty bones — and even a starving woman knows songbirds are sacred to at least one goddess. My knees plowed into the snow beside the small creature. “How, how, how?” I fretted. “How did you become a sparrow, pheasant?” The bird did not answer, but when I reached to remove the arrow piercing its body, the accusatory glare of a beadish eye stopped me. A trickle of blood slid from its nares, and the bright eye closed. “Do not be dead!” I cried. “I would give anything for you not to be dead.” And while the breath-mist of this rash statement still hung in the air, a bear-god waddled out of the forest, lumbering and large. The bear-god said: “The sparrow will not die, if you live as my wife for a year and a day.” I licked my lips, tasting the clear, salty snot that comes of crying, and said, “I already have a husband.” The bear-god regarded me with placid eyes. “And I already have a wife.” I stared at him, the dying sparrow lying in a bloody lump between us, struggling to breathe. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, anything.” “Remove your arrow,” said the bear-god. When I had done so, he lapped the sparrow into his mouth with his ribbony pink tongue, closing strangely mobile lips over his teeth. We stood silent in the forest, staring at each other. I watched him closely, making sure he did not chew or swallow; he did not. Soon enough, a muffled cheeping emerged from the bear-god’s muzzle, and the corner of a beak protruded from his lips. The sparrow lived. I pressed my hands together in an attitude of supplication. “At the end of your year and a day,” I said, “if you had any armor lying around to spare, I would appreciate it if you loaned it to me.” “If you wish.” The sparrow burst from the bear-god when he spoke, fluttering up in a rush of wings to circle our heads. But instead of flying off, the sparrow landed on my shoulder to pluck out my hair, strand by strand. “Ow!” I waved the bird away, and he moved off to a tree branch, where its glare bit as sharp as its beak. The bear-god rumbled, a noise which could be interpreted as a sign of humor or an imitation of thunder. “Why are you laughing?” I asked crossly. “Sparrows have a petty but exacting sense of vengeance,” he said. “I admire it. Come now. Away to my castle.” “Is it far?” “Terribly far,” he said gravely. “Perhaps you should ride on my back.” I obliged him, and spent the uncomfortable journey staring at the silver-tipped fur between the bear-god’s ears. • • • • “Why did you shoot the sparrow?” the bear-god asked after a time. “I was hungry. Am hungry.” “Desperately hungry, I should think,” the bear-god said, and turned aside to dig in the snow until he uncovered a patch of wintergreen. “You’ll have to gather your own berries. There aren’t many . . .” I gobbled the berries gratefully as we moved on. I was by no means sated, and when we reached the great under-mountain castle, the bear carried me straight to a banquet hall set with six and seventy dishes. I sat down eagerly and ate and ate and ate, then promptly threw up all that I’d eaten. The bear-god summoned servants — swift and invisible servants — and they covered the evidence of my orgy of eating with a bit of cloth, and replaced the rich dishes on the table with plain barley broth and toast. “I can’t imagine what you need a wife for with this many magical servants around,” I said, sipping at the broth. “Well, Lissa, I need a wife for several reasons,” the bear-god said. I nodded. “To rub my ears in the morning,” he said, flexing one claw as though counting with it. “I can do that.” “To balance my accounts every week,” he said, extending a second claw. “Uh . . .” Lightspeed Magazine no 57:19 Author Spotlight: C.C. Finlay http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-c-c-finlay-3/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-c-c-finlay-3/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 10:02:59 +0000 Sandra Odell http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14460 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-c-c-finlay-3/feed/ 0 Time Bomb Time http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/time-bomb-time/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/time-bomb-time/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 10:01:15 +0000 C.C. Finlay http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14491 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/time-bomb-time/feed/ 0 Artist Showcase: Elena Bespalova http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-elena-bespalova/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-elena-bespalova/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 10:05:56 +0000 Henry Lien http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14294 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/artist-showcase-elena-bespalova/feed/ 0 Author Spotlight: Dale Bailey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-dale-bailey-2/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-dale-bailey-2/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 10:04:41 +0000 Patrick J Stephens http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14288 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-dale-bailey-2/feed/ 0 The Ministry of the Eye http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-ministry-of-the-eye/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-ministry-of-the-eye/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 10:03:53 +0000 Dale Bailey http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14325 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-ministry-of-the-eye/feed/ 0 Mornings were queues and cigarettes. Queues for the underground turnstiles and queues for the train, queues for stale bagels and queues for lukewarm coffee at the kiosk outside the station. By the time he queued up at the west gate of the pit, Mornings were queues and cigarettes. Queues for the underground turnstiles and queues for the train, queues for stale bagels and queues for lukewarm coffee at the kiosk outside the station. By the time he queued up at the west gate of the pit, Alexa... Lightspeed Magazine no 1:28:53 Author Spotlight: John Barnes http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-john-barnes/ http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-john-barnes/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 10:02:51 +0000 Robyn Lupo http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/?p=14276 http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/nonfiction/author-spotlight-john-barnes/feed/ 0