Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



June 2012 (Issue 25)

Novella: The Cosmology of the Wider World (Part 2) by Jeffrey Ford

Novel Excerpts: Existence by David Brin, The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: Marc Simonetti, Interview: Morgan Spurlock, Interview: Anne Rice

Fantasy: Kelsey Ann Barrett (“My Teacher, My Enemy”), John Langan (“Renfrew’s Course”), Seanan McGuire (“Lost”), Tim Pratt (“Cup and Table”).

Science Fiction: Maggie Clark (“A Plague of Zhe”), Simon McCaffery (“The Cristóbal Effect”), Eileen Gunn (“Contact”), George R. R. Martin (“The Way of Cross and Dragon”).

June 2012 (Issue 25)


Editorial, June 2012

Welcome to issue twenty-five of Lightspeed—our second anniversary issue! We’ve got another great issue for you this month, so click-thru to see what we have in store.


Cup and Table

Sigmund stepped over the New Doctor, dropping a subway token onto her devastated body. He stepped around the spreading shadow of his best friend, Carlsbad, who had died as he’d lived: inconclusively, and without fanfare.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tim Pratt

The tokens are just one of the million weird little details I don’t even try to explain—the story is full of “exposition around the edges,” little throwaway things that imply a vaster universe where the story takes place. In my mind the tokens are sort of like the coins that people used to put on the eyes of the dead to pay the ferryman to take you into the afterlife—some kind of magical token to aid your journey to the land of the dead, a last kindness that a colleague can bestow upon you.

Science Fiction

The Cristóbal Effect

The wooden detour barricade is barely in place when I spot the car closing fast from the east. Just a glint of light against the desert hills, yet I know it is his car. I ignite the last flare and toss it onto the centerline of the lonely rural two-lane highway.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Simon McCaffery

Could any of us resist using [the Device] in some manner? I would probably pop across to an adjacent Earth so I could visit my parents and grandparents, or maybe buy Alfred Bester a drink. … Or would I become obsessed with using it to avert some disaster or personal pitfall? Even if it were nearly impossible to alter events on most Earths, it would be a wondrous tool for historians and scientists, but might be a very dangerous technology for any government to possess.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: John Langan

I liked the idea that, in order for you to study magic, there would have to be some kind of significant price paid, that magic wouldn’t be something you would happen to be born to, or understand intuitively. Thus, the magician who was going to instruct you would be not so much a donor as a vendor.


Renfrew’s Course

Six feet tall, the statue had been carved from wood that retained most of its whiteness, even though the date cut into its base read 2005, seven years ago. Jim thought the color might be due to its not having been finished—splinters stood out from the wood’s uneven surface—but didn’t know enough about carpentry to be certain.

Science Fiction


The Desert of Winds was inland, a four-day flight from the eyries along the coastal mountains. After the eight-day fast, it was a long journey, even for the strongest-winged. But when they felt the high, hot desert wind lift them like dry leaves, even the most exhausted stretched their wings to the fullest and surrendered to the euphoria of approaching death.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Eileen Gunn

This was the first story I wrote in which I tapped into, and consciously tried to transmute, my personal tragedies and joys. The discovery of how to do that, and really of the need to do that, was my most important creative takeaway from Clarion—second in value only to the deep friendships that began there and that have changed my life and sustained my art.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Marc Simonetti

When I don’t know how to start a work, I just let my hands begin the job and try to exploit all the unexpected accidents as a base. Most of the time, that gives me all I need to begin an illustration.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Kelsey Ann Barrett

This story arose out of my interest in the Algonquin myth of the Windigo. I’ve heard different versions, but the basic idea is that people who resort to cannibalism become these amazing super-powered but cursed creatures. The idea of losing your humanity through the acquisition of greater-than-human power is a fascinating idea, especially when I began coupling it with other cannibalistic mythos.


My Teacher, My Enemy

My enemy’s body is still warm when I take my knife to him. Stripped to his skin and lain upon his back, he looks much less frightening than he had when he was alive, armed, and desperate to kill me. But there is still power in the shape of his relaxing muscles and the size of his cooling frame, and, as he is a foot taller than I am, I feel a surge of pride in my accomplishment that is even greater than the hot pleasure of the kill.

Science Fiction

A Plague of Zhe

My inquisitor wore a hangdog look more than earned by the absurdity of this official interview. Had I the ability to be annoyed, I didn’t even imagine I would have been. Amused? Possibly: The incompetence of these proceedings was palpable enough.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Maggie Clark

By using a rather familiar set of genre tropes—one with a history almost as long as the genre itself—you really can observe what social issues have moved in and out of the spotlight over time. Gender fluidity, group dynamics, science without oversight—none of these are new topics in science fiction, but I hope I make observations about each in these two stories that at the very least suggest the flavour of the age I’m writing in and for. If not, that’s certainly something to aspire towards.


Interview: Morgan Spurlock

Comic books succeed—and have succeeded for decades—because of fans, because of people who love them. Big, giant Hollywood genre movies succeed because of fans. Video games have become more popular over the years because of fans. So for me this is a film that was very much rooted in those people—in their passions, in their desire, their obsessions.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Seanan McGuire

Neverland was before Pan; Neverland will be after Pan. There are other routes to the second star on the right, but I think most of them are more individual than this one. This was “everybody into the boat, we’re casting off,” and the kids just ran. Pan comes to your window and promises the most wonderful adventures. I wanted to remind people of that, that Neverland was there a long time before Peter fell out of his pram and got himself Lost.



Let the world tell all the lies it wants; I was there in the Year of the Children, and I know the truth. This is how it happened.

Science Fiction

The Way of Cross and Dragon

“Heresy,” he told me. The brackish waters of his pool sloshed gently.

“Another one?” I said wearily. “There are so many these days.”


Interview: Anne Rice

There [has] to be a seductive side to the power, of feeling yourself gain strength, and your muscles get stronger and your limbs get longer and your whole body becomes invulnerable with a soft wonderful coat of hair. And you get fangs and you get claws and you are able to really destroy your enemies without much thought. And I thought, “That’s got to be seductive. That’s got to be great.”