Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Feb. 2013 (Issue 33)

Novella: “The Happiest Dead Boy in the World” by Tad Williams

Novel Excerpt: The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: Yannick De Smet, Interview: Lois McMaster Bujold, Interview: Steven Erikson.

Science Fiction: C.C. Finlay (“The Infill Trait”), Carrie Vaughn (“Harry and Marlowe Escape the Mechanical Siege of Paris”), Robert Reed (“Eight Episodes”), Maureen F. McHugh (“Interview: On Any Given Day”)

Fantasy: Genevieve Valentine (“Abyssus Abyssum Invocat”), M. Bennardo (“The Herons of Mer de l’Ouest”), Marly Youmans (“Prologomenon to the Adventures of Chílde Phoenix”), John Crowley (“Exogamy”).

Feb. 2013 (Issue 33)


Editorial, February 2013

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

Science Fiction

The Infill Trait

Every time I fall asleep I wake up in a different body. Every time I wake up I know one thing and one thing only. Everything that follows starts from that one thing, the only thing that matters, and what matters is who we are and who we want to be, because no one else can ever be the we for me. I snap awake and know one thing. I am a hero I am a terrorist.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: C.C. Finlay

This will sound weird, but I was dreaming that I was a young kid walking through an airport. In the dream, the first line of the story came to me: “Every time I fall asleep I wake up in a different body.” As soon as I dreamed that sentence, I snapped awake and ran to my office to write it down. The story flowed very smoothly from that—it was one of the easiest and quickest stories I’ve ever written.


Prolegomenon to the Adventures of Chílde Phoenix

Perhaps you’ve heard an anecdote about a child named Cresencio who was skipping barefoot between hills of corn when a shallow bowl in the field, long turbulent with mutterings, broke into pieces. Cresencio spied a tongue of smoke, like the mockings of a demon; he bent, staring into the jagged mouth that was about to spatter the nearby trees with sparks and set his childhood on fire.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Marly Youmans

My father was an analytical chemist and my mother was a librarian, and I was an intense and constant reader. The three of us suffered in different ways from the death of a child, who was with us “every furlong and fathom,” though not often mentioned by name. What happens in the story is like and unlike my family—as if taking place in a different, more volcanic realm of the multi-verse, with different and more excessive versions of us.

Science Fiction

Eight Episodes

With minimal fanfare and next to no audience, Invasion of a Small World debuted in the summer of 2016, and after a brief and disappointing run, the series was deservedly shelved.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Robert Reed

Q: How did Eight Episodes start for you? A: What I recall is imagining a television show that didn’t survive and that slowly, stubbornly revealed its true meanings. When I began work, I probably had only a rough idea of what the mystery was.


Abyssus Abyssum Invocat

Once, a mermaid fell in love with a prince who fell from his ship in a storm; when he had ceased to struggle, the mermaid took his face in her hands, passed her fingertips over the lids of his closed eyes, pressed her mouth against his mouth. Then she delivered him to the surface, where he was safely found.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Genevieve Valentine

I’ve always thought that at heart “The Little Mermaid” was something of a proof against love. It’s more a story of desperation, and escape, and a sort of casual cruelty no one in the story can really help—it’s a cruel story because it’s just the nature of things to be cruel. I wanted to explore the themes of isolation and terrible transformation, and adjust the vectors of yearning a little.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Yannick De Smet (a/k/a Norke)

[To create this image,] I fantasized about war and battle and a good story to paint. The idea was to paint a strong female fighter who knows her limitations, not the type who beats twenty well-trained men, then dusts off her shoulders and walks away—not the Hollywood type of hero. A warrior that has feelings and needs to rest; she could be sad about something while taking a break.

Science Fiction

Harry and Marlowe Escape the Mechanical Siege of Paris

Harry looked out the window and thought: At least I saw Paris one more time before it was destroyed in the bombardment.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn

The attraction of steampunk is […] piling together all these disparate aspects and finding a way to make it all work. One way to look at it—this is Jules Verne’s Paris, and the thought of dirigibles mooring to the Eiffel Tower just seems so perfect you wonder why it never happened for real.



In desperation and black hope he had selected himself for the mission, and now he was to die for his impetuosity, drowned in an amber vinegar sea too thin to swim in. This didn’t matter in any large sense; his comrades had seen him off, and would not see him return the very essence of a hero. In a moment his death wouldn’t matter even to himself. Meanwhile, he kept flailing helplessly, ashamed of his willingness to struggle.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: John Crowley

Q: It seemed that the bond between the characters was strengthened with each sentence. How did you distill those developing emotions into such a small package? A: How I did it lies in what I did. It’s not a mystery, really—you’ve distilled it in your first sentence. To know more than that, you just examine the details. Each one takes a step from fear and loathing to acceptance and dependence.


Interview: Steven Erikson

Some people on the Malazan Empire fan site were sort of saying, why go for something where we know what’s happened? My response would be you only think you know what’s happened. One of the things I’m pushing for is the notion that history is not an accurate portrayal of anything at all.

Science Fiction


Twenty minutes into the transatlantic flight, Connor started wailing. Pauline cradled him in her arms. Then she rocked him, she offered him her breast, she sang to him; Connor continued to cry. The man sitting on her right gave her a thin smile. “Did you forget the baby’s pauser code?”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Mary Soon Lee

Technology can definitely help with some aspects of parenting. Old-fashioned technology provides invaluable help in the form of washing machines, dishwashers, fridges, and vacuum cleaners—not to mention vaccines and other medicines. Newer technologies such as video conferencing mean that you can communicate with your child when you are away from them. In the future, I expect there will be excellent software to entertain and educate children. Instead of a child passively watching a TV program, children could interact with the program.


The Herons of Mer de l’Ouest

A loon called this morning, loud and clear in the cold hours before dawn, but it was not that which woke me from my sleep. As I opened my eyes, the bay and the beach were wrapped in heavy blackness, invisible clouds shutting out any hint of starlight above. For a moment, I lay in my lean-to, breathing heavily under the shaggy bison skin blanket.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: M. Bennardo

The first inkling I had of this story came when I was visiting a heron rookery (or, technically, a “heronry”) in my home state of Ohio with my mother. Herons are very nervous, and they often respond to intruders by vomiting down on them—which is both unpleasant for the visitors and very bad for the birds. So we were only allowed to visit because it was winter and the nests were empty.


Interview: Lois McMaster Bujold

Q: To what extent do you think the future depicted in the Vorkosigan Saga might actually come true? A: In bits and pieces, I think it will. The space travel part I think is entirely bogus at this time. There’s no reason to believe that we will ever have cheap, easy interstellar travel. Other parts of it—usually the parts that I concentrate my plots on—are more realistic: the biology, the biotechnology, the genetics, and the genetic engineering, they’re more grounded.