Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams

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Jan. 2023 (Issue 152)

We have original science fiction by Isabel J. Kim (“The Narrative Implications of Your Untimely Death”) and Jendayi Brooks-Flemister (“From the Largest Crater”). We also have two flash SF pieces: “The Last Serving” from Lincoln Michel, and “A Guide to Alien Terms Useful in the Human Diaspora” by Deborah L. Davitt. For original fantasy, we’re starting with a short by Scott Edelman (“A Man Walks into a Bar: In Which More Than Four Decades After My Father’s Reluctant Night of Darts on West 54th Street I Finally Understand What Needs to Be Done”). Then we have an original fantasy short by Maria Dong (“Braid Me a Howling Tongue”) and a reprint from Seanan McGuire (“In the Deep Woods; The Light is Different There”). We also have “Between the Stones and the Stars,” a flash story by A.L. Goldfuss. Of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with book reviews from our terrific review team.

Jan. 2023 (Issue 152)

Editorial

Editorial: January 2023

Check out the editorial for a rundown of this month’s delightful content.

Science Fiction

The Last Serving

The story of Chef Buzzati’s sudden and horrifying fall from the heights of fine dining is well known. However, given that the culinary innovations and legal ramifications are still being debated today, a recap may be in order. Elena Buzzati was born to owners of an unremarkable Italian diner in the suburbs of New Jersey in 2024. She grew up surrounded by the scents of roasting meats and the hot gurgle of the deep frier. It sickened her. The headstrong Buzzati declared herself a vegetarian at age six. She had a strong bond with animals and is reported to have spent much of he childhood behind the diner befriending stray squirrels and pigeons.

Fantasy

A Man Walks Into a Bar: In Which More Than Four Decades After My Father’s Reluctant Night of Darts on West 54th Street I Finally Understand What Needs to Be Done

My father was so honest, people often spoke of him in cliches. For example—you know the way someone will sometimes say so-and-so was so honest they’d walk five miles to return an extra nickel they’d been given in their change? Nobody means anybody actually did that kind of thing when they say it, of course—you and I both know they’re only exaggerating for effect. Except in the case of my father. My Dad had really done that. Around the neighborhood, he was seen as so calm and understanding when compared to other fathers, other husbands . . . some of the grownups jokingly referred to him as Saint Barney.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

A Guide to Alien Terms Useful in the Human Diaspora

As you travel the spacelanes, the argot of your fellow beings may at first confuse and disconcert you. This guide is offered to help you acclimate to your new world and the strange beings that people it. All terms will be presented first as definitions, then used in context. Arakua (Origin: Tarukhxi, noun.) The process of “scooping” fuel in the form of hydrogen from the corona of a star, nebula, or gas giant. See also: il’arakua, mild pejorative. Scooping fuel from nearly-empty space; cf. “bottom of the barrel.”

Fantasy

Braid Me a Howling Tongue

When I was young, I used to fray apart my mother’s tales, seeking the threads of their structure. They were journeys, always, and marked by transition-places: doorway, gate, river. On the other side, someone offered the rules of this new environment. I liked the stories where these interpreters were animals or hags, though in my least favorite, it was a child with ragged clothes that admonished, that’s not the way things work here. I understand. Understand that people bore easily, that stories must be pragmatic. No time to waste on the heroine, bumbling her way through years of figuring out the rules.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk

Find our why our team says: C.L. Polk’s fantasy novella Even Though I Knew the End is the queer supernatural detective noir everyone needs in their life.

Science Fiction

The Narrative Implications of Your Untimely Death

Your deathless heart spasms. Once. Twice. You suck in a long, rattling gasp, and twist over the decanting table, great hacking coughs. Someone thumps your back. “Welcome back, boyo,” Media & Talent Production Coordinator Kayn says. “They got some great footage out of your death. Viewership tripled for the episode.” “Damn,” you wheeze. “Any chance I’m out?” Goosebumps pimple across your cold skin. You’re so sick of the Talent Decanting Room. You hope for finales. You hope for your exit stage left. “Nah,” Kayn says. “You’re polling too well with the sixteen to twenty-four demographic. The execs want to keep you in the cast roster.”

Fantasy

Between the Stones and the Stars

His rival appraises him with a measured stare, but he is used to such scrutiny, insults half-whispered through gritted teeth. He stands his ground, here among the windswept ruins of broken pillars and half-buried busts, before the vine-choked temple in the thin mountain air. He stands his ground, and the woman studying him smirks. He has not come all this way to be defeated by that. His rival leans against a sunken marble building, curls spilling down her back and muscles rippling under her sleeves. She’s beautiful in the winter sun, brown and freckled, with reddish hair and the thick, fine furs of the northern kingdoms.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi

Every now and then, even reviewer Arley Sorg needs to take a break from short fiction. This month, he’s recommending an exciting new fantasy novel: The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi.

Science Fiction

From the Largest Crater

AUDIO LOG BF-0003 / 2083-14-09 13:36 / This . . . feels strange. They said that it’s healthy for those of us whose spouses take Return Missions to record our thoughts. Audio journaling, they called it. Zeli, if you saw the way these devices look, you’d have laughed at the very suggestion of it. They said other spouses who’ve done it have found it helpful for “processing difficult emotions.” It just makes me think they want to keep tabs on what I say and do, but that’s my father’s paranoia coming in. They said it helps to finish my recordings with “over” so that I know when I’ve gotten my thoughts out. Doesn’t that seem strange?

Fantasy

In the Deep Woods; The Light Is Different There

A child will tell you, if asked, and if they are in the mindset to answer questions as they are posed and not as the child’s mind would have them interpreted—for the ears of children seem to work differently than the ears of adults, to be tuned to a different set of sighs and susurrations, not to the clean consonants and simple constructions of the adult vocabulary, and the answers of children are often similarly distorted.

Nonfiction

Book Review: The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry

Chris Kluwe recommends a fantasy novel full of magic, joy, and pet rabbits: The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry. Come find out why he calls it “splendid “!