Science Fiction & Fantasy



Dec. 2014 (Issue 55)

We have original science fiction by Shale Nelson (“Pay Phobetor”) and Vandana Singh (“Wake-Rider”), along with SF reprints by N. K. Jemisin (“Valedictorian”) and Paul Park (“The Lost Sepulcher of Huascar Capec”). We also have a bonus story to wrap up this year: a reprint of “They Tell Me There Will Be No Pain,” by Rachael Acks, which first appeared in the limited edition of June’s Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue. Plus, we have original fantasy by Nik Houser (“The Drawstring Detective”) and Damien Angelica Walters (“A Lie You Give, and Thus I Take”), and fantasy reprints by Delia Sherman (“The Faerie Cony-Catcher”) and Nalo Hopkinson (“Soul Case”).
All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with feature interviews with authors Kim Harrison and Steven Gould. For our ebook readers, we also have our usual ebook-exclusive novella reprint: “The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines” by John Crowley. We also have an excerpt from Sergei Lukyanenko’s new novel, THE GENOME, and an excerpt from Catherine Asaro’s new novel, UNDERCITY.

In This Issue: Dec. 2014 (Issue 55)


Editorial, December 2014

Read the Editorial for all the latest news, updates, and to learn about all this month’s great features.


In Memoriam: Karen Jones, Lightspeed Art Director

The Lightspeed family is sad to report that our art director, Karen Jones, died suddenly in early November of natural causes. In tribute to her, we offer these words of loving memory from two of her best friends in the field, Jennifer Heddle and John Picacio.

Science Fiction

Pay Phobetor

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.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Shale Nelson

Last year, my sister fell victim to a ransomware virus that caused her to lose a lot of important files, including irreplaceable photos. Some of my recent stories have involved brain implant technology, so I started thinking about what ransomware would look like in a future in which such technology is a part of everyday life. You could look at it as a cautionary tale, but I didn’t write it with that intention.


The Faerie Cony-Catcher

In London town, in the reign of good Queen Bess that was called Gloriana, there lived a young man named Nicholas Cantier. Now it came to pass that this Nick Cantier served out his term as apprentice jeweler and goldsmith under one Master Spilman, jeweler by appointment to the Queen’s Grace herself, and was made journeyman of his guild. For that Nick was a clever young man, his master would have been glad for him to continue on where he was…

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Delia Sherman

I wrote this story for the Datlow/Windling anthology SIRENS. They wanted an erotic story and, though I always do what Ellen and Terri tell me to, I’m not exactly a writer of erotic stories. To be honest, they make me blush. Bawdy stories, in an Elizabethan vein, were another pair of shoes. A PhD in Non-Shakespearean Renaissance Drama had left me (among other things) with a copy of Shakespeare’s BAWDY, a facsimile of Robert Greene’s THE ART OF CONNY-CATCHING, and a knack for writing Elizabethan prose. I figured I might as well get some use out of them.

Science Fiction


There are three things Zinhle decides, when she is old enough to understand. The first is that she will never, ever, give less than her best to anything she tries to do. The second is that she will not live in fear. The third, which is perhaps meaningless given the first two and yet comes to define her existence most powerfully, is this: She will be herself. No matter what.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: N.K. Jemisin

I saw a news article going around Facebook about a young black woman who was fighting to be named valedictorian of her graduating class. She had the highest GPA—but a group of parents and school administrators was pulling shenanigans to deny her the honor, changing the rules and so forth. She was enduring some harassment from her classmates and even death threats, but she was still fighting—and thing was, she already had a standing early-admission acceptance to a very good college on scholarship.


The Drawstring Detective

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.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nik Houser

On any given weekday, my alarm clock goes off at 4:00 a.m. so that I can get up and write before going to my day job. I don’t actually get up at 4:00. I usually hit snooze for a couple of hours until I have to get up, shower, and go to work for nine to twelve hours, then come home too tired to do anything but have dinner and fall asleep on the couch with my dinner plate on my chest and contact lenses still stuck to my eyes. So, my typical writing day doesn’t involve any writing at all, unfortunately. An atypical writing day would be me actually writing.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Odera Igbokwe

Odera Igbokwe (“OH-de-rah ee-BOH-kway”) was born in 1990 in a cocoon of fire and stardust and raised in Maplewood, New Jersey. Odera received a BFA in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design and studied movement-theater and West African dance at Brown University. Odera’s illustration work is in the collections of Beyoncé Knowles, Solange Knowles, […]

Science Fiction


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.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Vandana Singh

Currently we take it for granted that science and technology must advance at the cost of the environment and the poor, to the point where we are hardly aware of these costs unless we hear about a sweatshop in China manufacturing parts for our gizmos, or some mining disaster in a conveniently remote part of the globe. To me, it is not progress if it destroys people, communities, and the environment. If development is achieved through destruction, as in the current model, shouldn’t we critique it and look for alternatives?


Soul Case

Moments after the sun’s bottom lip cleared the horizon, the brigade charged down the hill. Kima stood with the rest of the Garfun, ready to give back blow for blow. The pistoleers descended towards the waiting village compong. Their silence unnerved. Only the paddy thump of the camels’ wide feet made any sound.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nalo Hopkinson

I used to prefer short stories because they’re, well, shorter. But I learned that some short stories can take as long to write as novels do. Now I don’t have a particular preference. The difference between novels and short stories is that novels have a longer, more involved story arc. There are more plot threads to tie off. A short story is like a sprint, usually. A novel is like running all the legs of a relay.


Feature Interview: Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison is the New York Times bestselling author of the Hollows series, about a young witch from Cincinnati who battles demons and vampires. She also writes the bestselling Madison Avery series for young adults. This interview first appeared on’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

Science Fiction

The Lost Sepulcher of Huáscar Capac

When I was six my eyes started to fail, for reasons no one could understand. Now, tonight, in this dark hole, now that I’m a man, I can appreciate how hard this was for everyone. I can appreciate my father’s sadness, how it ate at him and wasted him and finally killed him. Doctors and neighbors also found themselves affected: I was the only child of a dead mother, and my father was already old. At a certain moment in their lives, men and women find a skill for recognizing stories; when I was six, I was too young.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Paul Park

In the story, I got interested in trying to imagine a way of looking at the world that was different from my own, the result of the character’s early blindness and his highly developed internal labyrinth. In the real world, he is not interested in content, or cause and effect, but only form. In a way, this allows him to protect himself from the trauma of observing misery and violence, because he is able to stay resolutely on the surface.


A Lie You Give, and Thus I Take

Don’t be fooled by the breadcrumbs in the forest. This is not a fairy tale. The first lie is pretty and spirals from your mouth like candyfloss; sweet, so sweet, and I’m melting under your tongue. Baby, baby, baby, you say, and I gobble it up, unaware that every word you say comes with a candy thermometer and you’ve made me your latest caramel bonbon.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Damien Angelica Walters

I was thinking about the nature of liars, how they often get away with it by spoon-feeding people stories a little at a time, and the lengths they’ll go to to preserve that fiction as truth. Some of the best liars use sweet words as a lure; they tell people what they want to hear and believe, and they do it in such a way that their sincerity is never doubted. (At least not until it begins to fall apart, as all lies eventually do.)


Feature Interview: Steven Gould

Steven Gould’s first novel, Jumper, was adapted into a big-budget movie starring Samuel L. Jackson and Hayden Christensen that bears almost no resemblance to the book. Steve is now working with James Cameron on the upcoming Avatar sequels, and is also the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The fourth […]

Science Fiction

They Tell Me There Will Be No Pain

Colonel Rathbone attends my final debriefing. I’m wearing a paper hospital gown that doesn’t cover my ass; I’ve got a breeze where no breeze has any right to be, from the back of my neck right down where the good Lord split me. But despite that I’m sweating, the backs of my thighs sticking to the paper covering the hospital table

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Rachael Acks

I also searched for blog posts from veterans and active duty soldiers about the experience of PTSD. Some of them are very frank, such as with that concept of never feeling safe, always thinking about the exits. I’m grateful that veterans and currently serving soldiers are being more open about their experiences; it’s important for civilians to understand these things, because we’ve frankly been failing pathetically when it comes to our responsibility to those who have served and are serving.