Science Fiction & Fantasy


Mar. 2015 (Issue 58)

We have original science fiction by Marissa Lingen (“Surfacing”) and Cat Sparks (“Hot Rods”), along with SF reprints by Michael Blumlein (“The Brains of Rats”) and Ursula K. LeGuin (“The New Atlantis”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Matthew Hughes (“A Face of Black Iron”) and Vajra Chandrasekera (“Documentary”), and fantasy reprints by Linda Nagata (“The Way Home”) and Naomi Kritzer (“The Good Son”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author and artist spotlights, along with our review column and a feature interview with Patrick Rothfuss. For our ebook readers, we also have the novella “The Weight of the Sunrise,” by Vylar Kaftan and novel excerpts from Genevieve Valentine’s PERSONA and Daryl Gregory’s HARRISON SQUARED.

In This Issue: Mar. 2015 (Issue 58)


Editorial, March 2015

Make sure to read the Editorial for all our news and updates, as well as a run-down of this month’s content.

Science Fiction


Mishy had lived in the undersea city for twenty years. When she went down in the submersible, she was very young and very frightened, all bones and worries, but the years under the water did not feel like they had aged her on the inside. It was only when she had to look at the others that she could see that she was different after all.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Marissa Lingen

I’m a freshwater person. Lake Superior is my idea of a wonderful body of water. But I was thinking of where people go to flee a bad political situation, or where they might go. Historically, that’s hills, forests, and the sea — stay tuned for more stories set in the hills and forests of this world.Also, I like cephalopods. They’re neat. Any time there’s room for cephalopods, I say they hardly ever make a story worse.


The Way Home

The demon, like all the others before it, appeared first in the form of a horizontal plume of rust-red grit and vapor. Almost a kilometer away, it moved low to the ground, camouflaged by the waves of hot, shimmering air that rose from the desert hardpan. Lieutenant Matt Whitebird watched it for many seconds before he was sure it was more than a mirage. Then he announced to his squad, “Incoming.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Linda Nagata

I didn’t want to do a story where magic was a normal part of the world or something available to the protagonists. So I went with the classic “portal world” situation, and this is just the setting that came to me. What struck me on re-reading the story long after it was written is that, despite the fantastical setting, and despite John’s admonition, it feels like a science fiction story.

Science Fiction

The Brains of Rats

There is evidence that Joan of Arc was a man. Accounts of her trial state that she did not suffer the infirmity of women. When examined by the prelates prior to her incarceration, it was found that she lacked the characteristic escutcheon of women. Her pubic area, in fact, was as smooth and hairless as a child’s.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Michael Blumlein

Gender identity, for many of us, is not binary. It’s pleasantly hazy, or can be pleasant, and should be. It’s slippery. Today there’s a growing consciousness of this inherent fluidity. There are pockets where the words “male” and “female” are obsolete, even offensive. Where L, G, B, T, Q, and Z are beginning to lose their meaning. But these pockets are few and far between


A Face of Black Iron

Diomedo Obron and the Archon Filidor passed the evening and much of the night in the latter’s study, discussing the next day’s journey into the wastes of Barran and the expected confrontation with whatever survivor of the Nineteenth Aeon wizards’ cabal still lurked in the Seventh Plane. Erm Kaslo struggled to try to understand the concepts the two thaumaturges threw onto the table — sometimes literally.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Matthew Hughes

The overarching story is that of Kaslo, an immensely competent man in his natural habitat, who has to learn how to cope with a sudden shift to a very dangerous environment in which his skills are not much use. By contrast, there’s also Obron, who was a bit of a ninny in the old universe but who is becoming a genuine power in the new. The theme there is that we are all creatures of our environments,


Interview: Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss is the author of the epic fantasy trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicle. The first two books, THE NAME OF THE WIND and THE WISEMAN’S FEAR, are out now. His latest book, THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS, is a novella set in the same world.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Cat Sparks

Nearly half the world’s population live on less than $2.50 a day. That’s three billion people locked out of a better life, for starters. I’m not one of them — I grew up lower middle class and am a big fan of that particular strata of society. Middle class is all about having enough (whether we recognize such privilege and advantage for what it is or not), but “having enough” does not fit the capitalist ideology of limitless, relentless expansion. I believe Western middle class society is currently being eroded.

Science Fiction

Hot Rods

The winds blow pretty regular across the dried-up lake. Traction’s good — when luck’s on your side you can reach three hundred KPH or faster. Harper watches the hot rods race on thick white salt so pure and bright the satellites use it for colour calibration. Harper doesn’t care about souped-up hot rods.


The Good Son

I don’t just want to be with you. I want to live with you. In the kingdom under the hill, we could have been together forever. I didn’t want that. I wanted you — all of you. But that was before I understood what that meant.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Naomi Kritzer

I was in a store one day and I heard a parent paged for a lost child, which somehow got me imagining a childless person who hears herself paged, and shows up, and there’s this kid there, insisting that he’s hers. What if, instead of swapping a fairy changeling for a human child, the fairy child just showed up and insisted that he’d been your child all along? I poked at that a little but I couldn’t quite get it to work as the light, humorous story I’d initially imagined.


Book Reviews: March 2015

This month, Amal El-Mohtar reviews work from Lisa M. Bradley, Jennifer Marie Brissett, and Sonya Taaffe.

Science Fiction

The New Atlantis

Coming back from my Wilderness Week, I sat by an odd sort of man in the bus. For a long time we didn’t talk; I was mending stockings and he was reading. Then the bus broke down a few miles outside Gresham. Boiler trouble, the way it generally is when the driver insists on trying to go over thirty. It was a Supersonic Superscenic Deluxe Longdistance coal-burner, with Home Comfort, that means a toilet, and the seats were pretty comfortable.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Ursula K. LeGuin

I don’t recall having problems with it once I realized that what I thought were two different stories was one story. The “land” story was nearly complete; the “undersea” story was unfinished. When I saw they were separate parts of the same story, all I had to do was figure out how to combine them — where and how they should interlock with each other. And doing that enabled me to see how they both should end.



Kamaria turns into a helicopter gunship at the full metal moon. She stalks the fallow killing fields by night, chop-chop lost in the wind. Helicopter thoughts are slick with oil, but she will not fire her guns. That much she holds in place, like a single sputtering candle underneath the roar of her blades.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Vajra Chandrasekera

The problem is that the dichotomy is false; “real world events” are themselves fictions. I don’t mean that in either the solipsist or conspiracy-theorist senses; I just mean that the true reality of events is always too big to be known and ends up getting folded into simplified cartoon narratives. I do think it’s good for writers to try and complicate that when they can. Writers, unlike gen pop, have the advantage of already knowing themselves to be liars.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Wylie Beckert

Chance plays a major role in my compositions — sometimes it’s the only thing to fall back on when my imagination fails me and all my ideas start to look the same. Studying natural, randomized elements like tree bark or smoke helps remind me that shapes don’t need to be precise or carefully planned to be beautiful — borrowing from these sketches and snapshots provides a wealth of new ideas.