Science Fiction & Fantasy

CHOSEN ONES

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Jan. 2021 (Issue 128)

We have original science fiction by D. Thomas Minton (“The Memory Plague”) and Phoebe Barton (“The Mathematics of Fairyland”), along with SF reprints by An Owomoyela (“The Hard Spot in the Glacier”) and Greg van Eekhout (“On the Fringes of the Fractal”). Plus, we have original fantasy by P H Lee (“Frost’s Boy”) and Adam-Troy Castro (“Answering the Questions You Might Have About the Kharbat”), and fantasy reprints by Maria Dahvana Headley (“The Orange Tree”) and Elizabeth Ziemska (“The Mushroom Queen.”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, and three fantastic book reviews, plus our ebook readers will get a sneak peek at Greg Bear’s new novel, The Unfinished Land.

In This Issue: Jan. 2021 (Issue 128)

Editorial

Editorial: January 2021

Be sure to check out the editorial for a rundown of this month’s terrific content.

Science Fiction

The Incorruptible World

That first autumn it felt as if the whole world had been made for them—which, of course, it had. They walked down the avenue of oaks that reached above their heads like Gothic arches, red leaves drifting lazily down to collect at their feet. Ashwin was pleased as anything and couldn’t say enough about the designers, how it was worth spending more sometimes, how you got what you paid for. Everything was just as he’d imagined it: roseate light, unseasonal butterflies, crisp air with a faint waft of frost in it. To Jade, the place was beautiful without having any special charm.

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

The Orange Tree

Since the beginning of the world, there’ve been a thousand ways invented to be lonely. In a market stall, surrounded by speechless wooden wares, or banished to a black rock in the center of the sea. In a tower, feet forced into standing, floor too small for kneeling down, the only view a high window, the world below made of fire. On a road, parched, nothing but horizon. In the dark, visited by spirits jealous with their leavings. At the tops of certain mountains there are places for those the world refuses, and at the bottoms of other mountains there are prisons for those the world regrets.

Science Fiction

The Hard Spot in the Glacier

Ayo lost all sense of time: The white roaring was her world, the avalanche was her only orientation, and every heartbeat came as a surprise. When the world stopped moving, it was like being born to a new reality. Slowly, she came back to herself, and the world turned to sense again. She was on her back. At an angle—steep. Most of her view up was obscured by glacier, luminous with reflected Saturnlight. The black sky beyond it was a ribbon, whereas before it had been a wide plane.

Fantasy

Answering the Questions You Might Have About the Kharbat

You have just been attacked by a Kharbat. It has sprung on you from hiding, in some place where you foolishly imagined yourself safe; and even as its many glittering fangs sink deep into the flesh and bone of your shoulder, you know that any attempt to save yourself is futile, that you were always fated to perish in this way, and this beast was always fated to usher you screaming into the world of the dead. What is a Kharbat? I don’t know. Why am I asking you? I am the world’s leading expert.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: Afro Puffs Are the Antennae of the Universe by Zig Zag Claybourne

LaShawn M. Wanak takes a look at this vivid new novel. Is it the right book for you? Find out!

Science Fiction

The Memory Plague

In the beginning, we are one, and we are ignorance. Our skin is chaffed tender from the womb-sac and the exit ring. Out, we writhe blindly in the grit that cuts our softness until the dryness of the air hardens us. Slowly, receptors awaken. Muted colors curve across the night, outlining the glistening ribs of the drop chamber arcing over us like planetary rings. Instinctually, we grope through the hard stillness. Our tac-pads draw against lines of unmoving flesh, cold like a memory of interstellar vacuum. A dome of skin radiates faint warmth.

Author Spotlight

D. Thomas Minton

Fantasy

The Mushroom Queen

It’s the middle of the night and the woman can’t sleep. Perhaps it’s the full moon, or the fool moon, the kind of moon that keeps you awake thinking stupid thoughts. She puts on her glasses and sees that it’s 2:55 a.m. The man lies beside her generating too much heat. There’s a small brown dog nestled into her armpit. A white dog sleeps at her feet. She’s wedged in between them like a crooked tooth. For about an hour now she’s been thinking about the two races of man. One race is very, very slow; they crawl upon the earth like slugs, leaving silvery slime trails wherever they go.

Nonfiction

Book Review: Heroes’ Feast: The Official D&D Cookbook

Chris Kluwe dives into the kitchen to gives this new cookbook a serious review. Hungry for more? Then don’t miss this review!

Book Reviews

Science Fiction

On the Fringes of the Fractal

I was working the squirt station on the breakfast shift at Peevs Burgers when I learned that my best friend’s life was over. The squirt guns were connected by hoses to tanks, each tank containing a different slew formula. Orders appeared in lime-green letters on my screen, and I squirted accordingly. Two Sausage Peev Sandwiches took two squirts from the sausage slew gun. An order of Waffle Peev Sticks was three small dabs of waffle slew. The slew warmed and hardened on the congealer table, and because I’d paid attention during the twenty-minute training course and applied myself, I knew just when the slew was ready.

Fantasy

Frost’s Boy

Once upon a time, in that place right near to us, there lived a man and a woman, together as man and wife, though, like most peasants, no one had married them nor given them any word. It was simply that their love for each other was stronger even than their poverty. Not that there are wealthy men in these lands—how could there be wealthy men where winter sleeps an inch below the earth?—but this man and this woman had so few stores that it was only their love for each other that kept them warm through the long dark.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: P H Lee

Nonfiction

Book Review: Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap

We know you love short stories, and so does Arley Sorg. He reports on his favorites from this new collection by Lightspeed alum Isabel Yap.

Book Reviews