Science Fiction & Fantasy



Aug. 2014 (Issue 51)

We have original science fiction by An Owomoyela (“Undermarket Data”) and E. Catherine Tobler (“A Box, a Pocket, a Spaceman”), along with SF reprints by Gardner Dozois (“Morning Child”) and David I. Masson (“Traveller’s Rest”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Tahmeed Shafiq (“The Djinn Who Sought To Kill The Sun”) and Kat Howard (“Meaningful Exchange”), and fantasy reprints by Ken Liu (“State Change”) and Gwyneth Jones (“The Grass Princess”). For our ebook readers, our ebook-exclusive novella is “Rule of Engagement,” by Sherwood Smith, and of course we have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with feature interviews with bestselling authors Christopher Moore and Elizabeth Bear. We’ve also got novel excerpts from Dru Pagliassotti (CLOCKWORK SECRETS) and Peter Watts (ECHOPRAXIA).

In This Issue: Aug. 2014 (Issue 51)


Editorial, August 2014

Welcome to issue 51 of Lightspeed! Check out the editorial for a run-down of all our stories and articles, and of course, news and notes.

Science Fiction

Undermarket Data

A drink arrived that Culin hadn’t ordered. No one sent drinks to the crowded annex where Culin sat, crammed in with seven other people, all with contagion bands on their sleeves and matching tattoos on their arms. Sending drinks was an affectation Culin didn’t see much in the Dead Engine at all.


State Change

Every night, before going to bed, Rina checked the refrigerators. There were two in the kitchen, on separate circuits, one with a fancy ice dispenser on the door. There was one in the living room holding up the TV, and one in the bedroom doubling as a nightstand.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: An Owomoyela

I actually set out to write a cyberpunk story, when I sat down to write this. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I set out to write a story that would appeal to the sensibilities of a friend, who happens to enjoy cyberpunk stories, among other things.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ken Liu

“State Change” was written back when I was a published finalist with the Writers of the Future Contest. For the workshop with Tim Powers and K.D. Wentworth, we had to write a complete short story in twenty-four hours, and Tim started by walking around the room, designating random objects as prompts for each of us. When Tim stopped by my seat, he saw a half-finished glass of soda and the melting ice cubes inside, and so he picked one out and told me that was my story.

Science Fiction

Morning Child

The old house had been hit by something sometime during the war and mashed nearly flat. The front was caved in as though crushed by a giant fist: wood pulped and splintered, beams protruding at odd angles like broken fingers, the second floor collapsed onto the remnants of the first. The rubble of a chimney covered everything with a red mortar blanket.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Gardner Dozois

I started “Morning Child,” then an untitled fragment, about ten years before I finished it. I wrote a few pages, then lost steam on the story and put it away in a file drawer. Ten years later, I was going through old files, happened to pick up the fragment and looked at it, and suddenly saw how I could finish it. A couple of days later, I had.


The Djinn Who Sought To Kill The Sun

They travelled all day, and at night came to rest by one of the large rocks that jut from the desert. The last caveat to voyagers before the plains of windswept sand. Here is what the boy heard: “Long ago, almost fifty years by official counting, there was a boy named Alladin.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tahmeed Shafiq

when I decided I wanted to do a story centering around a phoenix, I started to patch a lot of different phoenix myths together. But my favourite is the most common one. The medieval phoenix, resembling a predatory bird, that dies and is reborn again from its ashes. I guess I’ve Harry Potter to thank for that.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Vitaly Timkin

Vitaly Timkin works as an artist for the games company Wargaming. His projects include the World of Tanks game. He lives in Minsk, Belarus. His works can be viewed at

Science Fiction

A Box, a Pocket, a Spaceman

The spaceman shows up on a hot summer afternoon, not in the dead of night when you’re crouched in the garden peering through a telescope that shows you the endless glories and wonders of the night sky. There’s no spaceship making a bright arc against a star-spangled sky. Just a man in a spacesuit, standing at the edge of your hammock.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: E. Catherine Tobler

The unreliable narrator, for me, tied into the idea of being a teenager on summer break, and everyone always asking what you did during those weeks. Would anyone ever believe you if you had a fantastic adventure—would you believe you, or was it just something you made up to pass the time while you mourned your aunt in your endless summer backyard?


The Grass Princess

It was April, and down in the orchard the first flashing blades of the new year’s growth were pushing aside the old, worn, winter stuff. The sky was blue and very clear, but the wind was cold. So the nursemaids put the little princess down under an apple tree, wrapped in her shawls, and ran away to play tag under the twisted apple branches, to keep themselves warm.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Gwyneth Jones

Grass is ordinary and relentless, like the domination of the family and the rules of everyday life. It ties things (and princesses) down, with countless tiny, tough threads, a mass of them, almost impossible to sever, and even if you break free, these tiny threads leave scars.


Interview: Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore is the author of eleven novels, including the international bestsellers, LAMB, A DIRTY JOB, and YOU SUCK. His latest novel is THE SERPENT OF VENICE, his second novel featuring Pocket, King Lear’s Fool. This interview first appeared on’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Science Fiction

Traveller’s Rest

It was an apocalyptic sector. Out of the red-black curtain of the forward sight-barrier, which at this distance from the Frontier shut down a mere twenty metres north, came every sort of meteoric horror: fission and fusion explosions, chemical detonations, a super-hail of projectiles of all sizes and basic velocities, sprays of nerve-paralysants and thalamic dopes.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: David I. Masson

I first encountered “Traveller’s Rest” on reading the Wollheim/Carr anthology WORLD’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION: 1966. (It also appeared in Judith Merril’s The 11th ANNUAL OF THE YEAR’S BEST SF, making it one of only two stories Wollheim/Carr and Merril agreed on in the two years their books overlapped.) But I confess I don’t remember it from that reading. Several years ago, I came back to it.


A Meaningful Exchange

Quentin told lies to people for money. Or drugs. Or kittens. Or anything, really. The particular currency didn’t matter, so long as what was being offered had value to the person who needed the lie.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kat Howard

The very first spark that turned into Quentin’s gift came, like so many good things, from Twitter. I believe it was the excellent writer Elizabeth Bear whose biography used to read, “I tell lies to people for money.” And it’s such a great description of part of the writer’s job (the other part, of course, being that we tell truths to people for money) that it stuck in my head, and made my want to do something with it.


Interview: Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear is a multiple-award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy, whose recently completed Eternal Sky trilogy was called “the most significant epic fantasy published in the last decade” by Her most recent novel, STELES OF THE SKY, was released April 2014. This interview first appeared on’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.