Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Apr. 2013 (Issue 35)

In this issue, we have original science fiction by Desirina Boskovich (“Deus Ex Arca”) and acclaimed indie bestseller Hugh Howey (“Deep Blood Kettle”), along with SF reprints by Kathleen Ann Goonan (“A Love Supreme”) and the legendary Robert Silverberg (“Schwartz Between the Galaxies”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Anaea Lay (“The Visited”) and Swedish sensation Karin Tidbeck (“A Fine Show on the Abyssal Plain”), and fantasy reprints by Bruce Sterling (“Dinner in Audoghast”) and Christopher Barzak (“Smoke City”). We also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with feature interviews with bestselling authors Jane Yolen and Brandon Sanderson. And for our ebook readers, our ebook-exclusive novella is “Bellony” by Nina Allan, and our featured novel excerpt is The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata. Cover by Armand Baltazar.

Apr. 2013 (Issue 35)


Editorial, April 2013

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


Smoke City

One night, I woke to the sound of my mother’s voice, as I did when I was a child. The words were familiar to my ear, they matched the voice that formed them, but it was not until I had opened my eyes to the dark of my room and my husband’s snoring that I remembered the words were calling me away from my warm bed and the steady breathing of my children, both asleep in their own rooms across the hall. “Because I could not stop for death,” my mother used to tell me, “he kindly stopped for me.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Christopher Barzak

I was trying to compare [an] aspect of the city’s past with its present day position as a city that has devoted itself to education, medicine, and green industries—the exact opposite of what it used to be. I knew I wanted to write a story that explored those differences, and wanted to write a story, too, that would have a character bound up with both the wreckage of the city’s past and the more privileged life of the present day.

Science Fiction

Deus Ex Arca

It was a crystalline morning in early June, and the sky was wide as a saucer. It was a beautiful day for the arrival of the box.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Desirina Boskovich

It’s a common narrative assumption that humans will one day obtain alien technology, either by discovering it in space, or capturing it in a war. Then, we’ll find a way to deploy that technology to our advantage, possibly with unforeseen consequences. But such an idea seems awfully presumptuous. It assumes that aliens are so nearly like us, and so close to us in their arc of technological development, that their tools would represent only a small intuitive leap.


The Visited

“Manuel Black is dead. Long live Manuel Black.”
—Headline of the New York Times obituary

“Are you crazy? You may as well ask me to write a eulogy for God.”
—Me, when my editor assigned me this article

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Anaea Lay

I planned to write a creepy story about a creature that interfered with people’s dreams by sticking fingers in their ears and doing something . . . creepy. It was vague. When I sat down to write the story, my brain informed me that I was instead going to impersonate Cat Valente and prove to the world that good things come of watching too much VH1 when you’re in high school. My brain is very opinionated and very hostile, so I don’t usually argue with it.

Science Fiction

A Love Supreme

Ellie Santos-Smith grabs a clean white coat as spring dawn brightens her worn Oriental rug and streaks with sun her only luxury, a grand piano. She runs a comb through her jet-black hair, cut short because she thinks that makes her look older. Her smooth skin glows with 20-ish health, though she is 47.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kathleen Ann Goonan

Because PTSD following combat, a violent crime, an automobile accident, or other life-shattering events can powerfully and negatively impact relationships and reactions to daily life, the ability to mitigate the intensity of certain memories will become an increasingly-used and very helpful option. I think that the key to responsible use of such medications or procedures will be individual choice.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Armand Baltazar

I began my career in animation as a traditional background painter on Prince of Egypt. My skill set expanded with each movie, as color keys, lighting design, and layout design were added to my toolbox, so to speak. This all culminated with visual development for the films. Essentially, visual development and concept art perform the same function in terms of preproduction design for a film.


A Fine Show on the Abyssal Plain

On a beach by the sea stands a gutted stone tower. A man is climbing up the remains of a staircase that spirals up the tower’s interior. Vivi sits on the roof, oblivious, counting coins that have spilled from her breast pocket: one fiver, three ones, one golden ten. She’s only wearing a worn pair of pajamas, and the damp breeze from the sea is making her shiver. She has no memory of how she arrived, but is vaguely aware of the sound of footsteps.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Karin Tidbeck

The troupe [believes] they have the function of upholding the order of the universe. That kind of ritual needs no audience except creation itself. The actors may also be their own audience—a sort of ever-ongoing roleplay.

Science Fiction

Schwartz Between the Galaxies

This much is reality: Schwartz sits comfortably cocooned—passive, suspended—in a first-class passenger rack aboard a Japan Air Lines rocket, nine kilometers above the Coral Sea. And this much is fantasy: the same Schwartz has passage on a shining starship gliding silkily through the interstellar depths, en route at nine times the velocity of light from Betelgeuse IX to Rigel XXI, or maybe from Andromeda to the Lesser Magellanic.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Robert Silverberg

Q: Ultimately, Schwartz chooses to remain in his fantasy world and exits the starship. Is mortality a theme you explore often in your work? Are there certain themes you find you return to? A: There certainly are, and mortality is one of them. Didn’t someone say that love and death are the only important themes for fiction?


Interview: Jane Yolen

Just like the old Wizard of Oz, I wanted everything black and white, and then when she saw the faeries, a burst of color. As I was going through it the second or third time for the revisions, it occurred to me that it didn’t make much sense unless she was color-blind. Otherwise, why is she, who is really our eyes here, not seeing things in color, why is everything in black and blues and gray tones?


Dinner in Audoghast

Delightful Audoghast! Renowned through the civilized world, from Cordova to Baghdad, the city spread in splendor beneath a twilit Saharan sky. The setting sun threw pink and amber across adobe domes, masonry mansions, tall, mud-brick mosques, and open plazas thick with bristling date-palms. The melodious calls of market vendors mixed with the remote and amiable chuckling of Saharan hyenas.

Science Fiction

Deep Blood Kettle

They say the sky will fill with dust in a bad way if we don’t do something soon. My teacher Mrs. Sandy says that if the meteor hits, it’ll put up enough dirt to block the sun, and everything will turn cold for a long, long while. When I came home and told Pa about this, he got angry. He called Mrs. Sandy a bad word, said she was teaching us nonsense. I told him the dinosaurs died because of dust in the sky. Pa said there weren’t no such thing as dinosaurs.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Hugh Howey

What I really had in mind while writing the story was the fiscal cliff in the news at the time. I created a scenario of perfect doom, and told the story of bickering politicians unable to reach the compromise that might save us all.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Bruce Sterling

I found Audoghast while reading a book about Moslem travellers and explorers. [It] really is “forgotten”—Audoghast was a wealthy, good-sized metropolis once, but nobody’s ever yet found any trace of its ruins.


Interview: Brandon Sanderson

I felt when I first read it that it was a satisfying ending. I felt it was the right ending. It’s been my guidepost for all the work I’ve done on this. There are going to be some holes. Robert Jordan told fans before he passed away that he didn’t want everything wrapped up neatly with a bow. And so there are no major cliffhangers, but there are some indications of things that happen after the series, things that continue on.