Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Mar. 2013 (Issue 34)

Novella: “Things Undone” by John Barnes

Novel Excerpt: The Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: Matt Tkocz, Interview: Angélica Gorodischer, Interview: Philip Pullman.

Science Fiction: Jake Kerr (“Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince”), Rich Larson (“Let’s Take This Viral”), Holly Phillips (“Three Days of Rain”), Angélica Gorodischer (“The Sense of the Circle”).

Fantasy: Sarena Ulibarri (“The Bolt Tightener”), Lisa Tuttle (“The Dream Detective”), Felicity Savage (“Ash Minette”), Karen Joy Fowler (“Lily Red”).

Mar. 2013 (Issue 34)


Editorial, March 2013

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

Science Fiction

Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince

Julian Samuel Prince (March 18, 1989 – August 20, 2057) was an American novelist, essayist, journalist, and political activist. His best works are widely considered to be the post-Impact novels The Grey Sunset (2027) and Rhythms of Decline (2029), both of which won the Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2031.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Jake Kerr

I wanted to tell a personal story and an epic story without directly telling either one. We would see them both from a distance, in relief. One of the things that I think is powerful about this is that it requires the reader to fill in so many blanks, that the experience requires more reader collaboration.


Lily Red

One day Lily decided to be someone else. Someone with a past. It was an affliction of hers, wanting this. The desire was seldom triggered by any actual incident or complaint but seemed instead to be related to the act or prospect of lateral movement. She felt it every time a train passed.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Karen Joy Fowler

Lily is the protagonist in a fairy tale when she arrives. She has a problem—her own dissatisfaction with her life—and so she goes on a journey, a sort of quest. She arrives at a magical place and meets the people who are to help her along the way.

Science Fiction

Three Days of Rain

They came down out of the buildings’ shade into the glare of the lakeside afternoon. Seen through the sting of sun-tears, the bridge between Asuada and Maldino Islands wavered in the heat, white cement floating over white dust, its shadow a black sword-cut against the ground.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Holly Phillips

“Three Days” started with the image of an island city left standing above a waterless lakebed, stranded by drought. I expected it to be a bleak story, but discovered that I found the setting remarkably beautiful. My own response to it is like that slightly painful yearning of nostalgia for a place or a time that never was.


The Bolt Tightener

“There are one thousand eight hundred bolts total,” the old man said. “You’ll work every night until sunrise. Always go in order. Never skip a bolt.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sarena Ulibarri

I had a nightmare that I was hired to tighten bolts on a strange moat, and I had to contend with a spiny octopus that lived near my floating desk. The dream stuck with me, so […] I shaped it into a story.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Matt Tkocz

I’m very much into paintings that feel like there is a little bit of story or a greater context behind them. I’m always fascinated by ordinary scenes with an element of the extraordinary—or vice versa. And that’s what I tried to do with this painting. A peaceful moment as it could appear on a postcard, with a dash of badassness!

Science Fiction

Let’s Take This Viral

Default hadn’t been down in the nocturns for some time, probably half an orbit, but he had just dissolved the geneshare contract with his now-ex-lover and needed to get completely fucking perforated to take his mind off things. His lift was full of revelers all laughing and widecasting the same synthesized whalesong from Old Old Earth.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Rich Larson

I’ve got a document loaded with tiny snippets of text and images, titled “idearrhea” because I created it two years ago when I was young and immature, and it was while scrolling through it this October that I rediscovered: “Insomniac society, cosmetic viruses, wet street, fast awake.” That fragment then became “Let’s Take This Viral” over the course of a weekend.


Ash Minette

The candlelight in our attic erased the imperfections from Libby’s round, heavy features: She seemed time-smoothened, a madonna of golden stone. But when she posed for me in the dress, her over-ripeness—the way she thrust out her chest, the coy glances—spoilt the illusion, corrupted it with indecent knowledge.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Felicity Savage

I chose to rewrite “Cinderella” because I was a shy, plain girl who detested and envied the Cinderellas of the world. I wanted to blow their founding myth to smithereens.


Interview: Philip Pullman

Oh, brutal punishments—eyes being pecked out by birds, people being put in barrels full of nails and rolled downhill, or sent out into the stormy sea in a ship where it’s going to sink. Things like that. But there’s always a principle of justice underneath it. It’s always the bad people who get punished, and it’s always the good people who get rewarded. So it’s not gratuitous, it’s not horror for the sake of horror.

Science Fiction

The Sense of the Circle

Have you seen those houses on Oroño Boulevard, especially the ones that face east, those dry, cold, serious, heavy houses, with grilles but without gardens, maybe at the most a tile patio paved like the sidewalk? In one of those houses lives Ciro Vázquez Leiva, Cirito.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Angélica Gorodischer

For me, words just come on their own, in a torrent, in a flood. I imagine what the character feels and their words come without my forcing them too much, just a little. The words and their meanings (deep meanings, not the ones in the dictionary) are fused in a single outpouring.


The Dream Detective

In the beginning, I was not attracted to her at all. Quite the opposite. I don’t know if it was intentional on her part, and honestly, I’m not the sort of dick who always judges women on how hot they are, but if there’s any situation in which a person’s attractiveness matters, I think everybody would agree it’s a blind date.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Lisa Tuttle

Years ago I woke up from a dream in which I had suddenly remembered that I’d killed somebody—although I couldn’t remember why, or how I’d managed to get away with it. […] And then I had to ask myself how a dream-murder could affect anyone except the person who dreamed it.


Interview: Angélica Gorodischer

Once at a friend’s house I saw a book called The Martian Chronicles. How odd, I thought. I opened it and I was trapped. I want to clarify that Ray Bradbury was never one of my favorite authors: He’s a little soft, kind of romantic, and, worst of all, moralizing. But The Martian Chronicles is a great book. And looking for similar things, I found the great writers of the 1950s and later.