Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Aug. 2012 (Issue 27)

Novella: Joe Haldeman (“A Separate War”)

Novel Excerpts: Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Steals the Show)

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: Hrvoje Bešlić, Interview: Kim Stanley Robinson, Interview: Seanan McGuire (a/k/a Mira Grant)

Fantasy: Kat Howard (“Breaking the Frame”), Linda Nagata (“A Moment Before It Struck”), Wil McCarthy (“The Necromancer in Love”), Delia Sherman (“Cotillion”)

Science Fiction: Ken Liu (“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species”), Caroline M. Yoachim & Tina Connolly (“Flash Bang Remember”), Charlie Jane Anders (“Love Might Be Too Strong a Word”), Michael Swanwick (“Slow Life”)

Aug. 2012 (Issue 27)


Editorial, August 2012

Welcome to issue twenty-seven of Lightspeed! We’ve got another great issue for you this month, so click-thru to see what we have in store.


The Necromancer in Love

The young necromancer is a blight on the social landscape, because when his sweetheart meets with an untimely interruption of service (don’t they all? don’t they always?), he’s bound to do something the rest of us regret.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Wil McCarthy

The story kind of tells its own history: I was researching the actual process of brain death, and realized what a mushy concept it really is. Basically, the body goes through a shutdown sequence, and “death” is the point at which medicine can no longer reverse the process. But that point has been moving; with CPR, defibrillators, and ventilators, legal “death” stopped being about the heart and now takes place in the brain.

Science Fiction

The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species

There is no definitive census of all the intelligent species in the universe. Not only are there perennial arguments about what qualifies as intelligence, but each moment and everywhere, civilizations rise and fall, much as the stars are born and die. Time devours all.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ken Liu

Since much of my own short fiction stresses characterization, I particularly admire stories in which individual characters are basically absent, and the story is about entire peoples, species, ideas.


A Moment Before It Struck

He felt death coming a moment before it struck. In the lingering gray twilight, Smoke lay on his bedding, eyes not quite closed and mind adrift, only half-aware of the sounds of the encampment around him: steel on whetstone, the rattle of dice, a soft song, and loud bragging.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Linda Nagata

The Puzzle Lands books are a quirky sort of low-tech fantasy: gritty, fast-paced, and darkly humorous. The setting is entirely imaginary, but includes two cultures in conflict: the Koráyos, a stern, egalitarian people, and Lutawa, an extreme patriarchy bent on expansion.

Science Fiction

Flash Bang Remember

Red-haired Mother, with her sharp nose and freckled chest, leaned low over the hydroponics channel and declared that the dead plants were Girl23’s fault.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tina Connolly & Caroline M. Yoachim

he idea for this story didn’t start with memories at all—it started from some idle speculations about what it might be like to be a child on a colony ship. I wondered whether it might be easier to skip childhood entirely and emerge as a fully-grown crew member.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Hrvoje Beslic

Hrvoje Bešlić is a Croatian artist specializing in digital painting who graduated in 2007 from the Art Academy Zagreb. He learned how to draw on paper and only got his first PC a few years ago. Long hours since then spent with his Wacom tablet have brought him a long way, as you can see from the gallery. He has an affinity for fantasy, and scenes where a fight is just around the corner.



Celia Townsend’s mother brought up the subject of debutante balls for the first time in June. It was the day after graduation, and they were discussing when Celia would have to be home from Maine at the end of the summer to get ready for her freshman year at Vassar.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Delia Sherman

She’s very romantic, as the young are romantic, but she’s also a realist, as the young can be realists if they’ve got the right temperament. I see her as making both fairy-tale and adult choices—the fairy-tale ones in Faerie; the adult ones when she is back in the real world, facing going home to her certainly-displeased parents.


Love Might Be Too Strong a Word

Here’s how I remember it: A touch shocked me. I was reaching for a flash-seared bog-oyster, and then a fingertip, softer than I’d ever felt, brushed my knuckle. The softness startled me so much, it took me a moment to realize the hand had seven fingers, three more than mine.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Charlie Jane Anders

I spent a lot of time sitting in the Chicago airport, waiting to change planes, coming up with the details of this society. A few things became clear pretty quickly: With six different sexes, everything would become a lot more complicated, and you needed six sets of pronouns to differentiate them. None of the pronouns should conjugate exactly like “he/his/him” or “she/hers/her,” or you would lose some of the jarring quality of them.


Interview: Kim Stanley Robinson

The two things I postulated that I think make [my new novel] workable as a realistic kind of fantasia are space elevators on Earth and self-replicating machinery, and these are two supposedly possible engineering feats that are discussed in the literature, so they’re not physically impossible. They might be hard engineering feats, but it seems like they could be done, and there are even companies working on at least the space elevator.


Breaking the Frame

The photograph is of a woman at the center of a forest. She is slim and tall and pale as the birches she stands among. The shadows turn her ribs and spine into branches, into knots in the wood. Around her arms, the peeling white bark of the birches, curved in bracelets. Between her thighs, the hair is dense and springy like moss. She is turning into a tree.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kat Howard

“Breaking the Frame” was born from photographs. My friend Maria Dahvana Headley had shown me a book of Francesca Woodman’s photos, and they haunted me—I couldn’t get Woodman’s work out of my head, and I dreamt of the pictures.

Science Fiction

Slow Life

The raindrop began forming ninety kilometers above the surface of Titan. It started with an infinitesimal speck of tholin, adrift in the cold nitrogen atmosphere. Dianoacetylene condensed on the seed nucleus, molecule by molecule, until it was one shard of ice in a cloud of billions.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Michael Swanwick

Geoffrey Landis … observed that NASA had spent billions of dollars sending out probes to the planets and moons of the Solar System and then posted all the scientific data, analyses, photos, and films on the web, free for anybody who wanted to use it—and most science fiction writers were ignoring this largesse! Which seemed to me not only a valid criticism, but a great opportunity.


Interview: Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant

In order to come up with the Kellis-Amberlee virus, I read enough books on viruses to qualify for some kind of horrible extra credit program, audited a bunch of courses at UC Berkeley and at the California Academy of Sciences, and then started phoning the CDC persistently and asking them horrible questions.