Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Feb. 2012 (Issue 21)

Fantasy: “Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring” by Brooke Bolander, “The Mermaid and the Mortal Thing” by Chris Willrich, “The Gravedigger of Konstan Spring” by Genevieve Valentine, “Not Our Brother” by Robert Silverberg.

Science Fiction: “War 3.01” by Keith Brooke, “Dark Sanctuary” by Gregory Benford, “Craters” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, “Harry and Marlowe and the Talisman of the Cult of Egil” by Carrie Vaughn.

Novella:  “Hands Up! Who Wants to Die?” by Lucius Shepard

Nonfiction: Artist Gallery: David Wyatt by J.T. Glover, Interview: Daniel H. Wilson by The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, Interview: Chuck Palahniuk by The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy

Feb. 2012 (Issue 21)


Editorial, February 2012

This month we have original fantasy by new writer Brooke Bolander (“Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring”) and Fantasy-favorite Genevieve Valentine (“The Gravedigger of Konstan Spring”), and fantasy reprints by Chris Willrich (“The Mermaid and the Mortal Thing”) and the legendary Robert Silverberg (“Not Our Brother”). Plus, we have original science fiction by Keith Brooke (“War 3.01”) and bestselling author Carrie Vaughn (“Harry and Marlowe and the Talisman of the Cult of Egil”), plus SF reprints by award-winning authors Gregory Benford (“Dark Sanctuary”) and Kristine Kathryn Rusch (“Craters”). All that plus our artist showcase, our usual assortment of author spotlights, and feature interviews with bestselling authors Chuck Palahniuk and Daniel H. Wilson. And, for our ebook readers, our ebook-exclusive novella this month is the dark, brutal tour de force “Hands Up! Who Wants to Die?” by Lucius Shepard.

Science Fiction

War 3.01

Kevin O’Farrell was in town when the war broke out. He was in town when the war ended. It was that quick.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Keith Brooke

The internet and social media have had a huge impact in establishing a global perspective; no matter how much a country might try to control these media, it’s never going to work—the people will tweet.


Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring

The fox shoulders and wriggles from between her jaws, first the whiskery, pointed muzzle and then all the rest. Finally free, it shakes its sodden coat and shoots Rosa a disgusted look.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Brooke Bolander

The ending gave me fits for ages and I still don’t know if I’m entirely pleased with it, but I think it ends honestly and seems to work for most people. I’m at peace with it, anyway.


The Mermaid and the Mortal Thing

It is rare to glimpse a mermaid, rarer still a whole pod building sandcastles.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Chris Willrich

Several years ago my wife gave me good writing advice—stop trying so hard to outguess editors and write something you’d enjoy reading, whether or not you think it can sell.

Science Fiction

Dark Sanctuary

In the asteroid belt you either have fast reflexes or you’re a statistic. I slammed into the airlock bulkhead and stopped dead, waiting to see where the laser beam would hit next.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Gregory Benford

I wrote this story in 1979, when the whole Fermi question was a hot topic and we’d come to realize that the O’Neill colony ideas of that era implied that people might well live in space indefinitely. I just put the two together.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: David Wyatt

For me, Dartmoor is at once strange and familiar, possibly because some of the art that inspired me as a kid was created by people who live here. There’s a curious mix of cosiness and otherworldliness.


The Gravedigger of Konstan Spring

There was something more civilized about a town that could bury its dead, if they stayed dead, and so Folkvarder Gray put out the notice for a gravedigger.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Genevieve Valentine

Norse-Wild West it is indeed; in addition to the small-town decay going on in the Spring, I wanted to highlight how a town can often lock out the world around it, if its concerns are all of itself.

Science Fiction


The driver, head covered by a half-assed turban, smiles a little too much, and when he yes-ma’ams you and no-ma’ams you, you can be lulled into thinking he actually works for you.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I wish I could say I was smart enough to make intentional choices when I write. But the choices actually come from my subconscious as the story is developing.


Interview: Daniel H. Wilson

When I got a little older I studied computer science, and during an undergraduate degree in computer science the first thing I discovered was genetic algorithms, and then on a larger scale I found out about artificial intelligence and machine learning.


Interview: Chuck Palahniuk

I’ve got two stories that will both totally eclipse “Guts” in the public mind, but I’m not saying anything about them. I’m not going to spoil that thunder until the stories are ready.


Not Our Brother

Halperin came into San Simón Zuluaga in late October, a couple of days before the fiesta of the local patron saint, when the men of the town would dance in masks. He wanted to see that.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Robert Silverberg

Conrad is a big influence in my writing—not his style or technique, but his sense of the moral forces governing our lives—and I have acknowledged that many times by giving my characters and even my stories names out of his work.

Science Fiction

Harry and Marlowe and the Talisman of the Cult of Egil

Carefully, with gloved hands, she removed the object from its stone niche, where it had rested for centuries deep underground, inside the dormant volcano where the mysterious Icelandic cult that guarded it made its home. It hardly weighed anything.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn

Like a lot of people I’m attracted by the aesthetics of steampunk. It appeals to the anglophile and costumer in me. Also, big unlikely machines, ray guns, and all kinds of weirdness.