Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Nov. 2012 (Issue 30)

Novella: “West” by Orson Scott Card

Novel Excerpt: The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: Erik Schumacher, Interview: Alastair Reynolds, Interview: Terry Brooks.

Science Fiction: Sandra McDonald (“Searching for Slave Leia”), Tom Crosshill (“A Well-Adjusted Man”), Eleanor Arnason (“Ace 167”), Tobias S. Buckell (“A Game of Rats and Dragon”).

Fantasy: Jeremiah Tolbert (“La Alma Perdida de Marguerite Espinoza”), Richard Bowes (“Seven Smiles and Seven Frowns”), Aliette de Bodard (“As the Wheel Turns”), Carrie Vaughn (“A Princess of Spain”).

Nov. 2012 (Issue 30)


Editorial, November 2012

Welcome to issue thirty of Lightspeed! We’ve got another great issue for you this month, so clickthrough to see what we have in store.

Science Fiction

Searching for Slave Leia

A slip, slide, falling through icy coldness, white noise like TV static. A breeze of hot buttery popcorn. Giddy laughter, sweaty bodies, fanfare music over the intercom, and what’s this? A ten-foot-wide movie poster of young, pale, undernourished Carrie Fisher, posed seductively in a gold metal bikini with a collar and chain around her neck.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sandra McDonald

I was writing a guest post about female costuming for the blog Heroines of Fantasy when I hit a long-buried nerve in my psyche about Leia and that gold bikini. I remember seeing the overhead poster in the movie theater and being so disappointed that Carrie Fisher had been put on seductive display for Return of the Jedi while all the men were depicted as action heroes.


As the Wheel Turns

In the Tenth Court of Hell stands the Wheel of Rebirth. Its spokes are of red lacquered wood; it creaks as demons pull it, dragging its load of souls back into the world. And before the Wheel stands the Lady.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Aliette de Bodard

I’m an innate pessimist, and tend to think that most noble goals can only remain so in principle: carnage and misery form a very large part of how things come to fruition—not only in the maintaining of empires, but also for things that might seem noble, like self-defence or even the attainment of freedom and equality.

Science Fiction

Ace 167

It was after I lost my job as the manager of a traveling troupe of precision unicyclists that I met Ace 167. I was down and out in a bar in Venusport, my last credit gone to buy cheap Venusian wine. The jukebox was playing an old, tinny-sounding Beatles tune and on the jukebox screen tiny grey figures cavorted: the Beatles in their prime, back in the magic 1960s. Gone, all gone, I thought.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Eleanor Arnason

Why did I pick Venus? The story is about love, and Venus is the planet of love. I’m not sure why I made it the old, wet Venus of pulp science fiction. But I grew up with that Venus, and I liked it.


La Alma Perdida de Marguerite Espinoza

Marguerite Espinoza took her last breath as the sun slipped behind the Salt Mountains outside the expansive windows of her third floor bedchamber. Alvardo nearly missed the moment, eavesdropping to the gathered family’s whispered conversations. He had falsely predicted her passing four times in the past three days, but the passing was unmistakable. As Maestro Eusebio had said many times, “When the moment comes, you will know.” And he did.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Jeremiah Tolbert

For a few years, I had been thinking that I wasn’t living up to the full potential of fantasy in my fantasy stories, as far as how far I was willing to push the speculative elements. In science fiction, you have an obligation to reality and believability, but in fantasy, what “reality” means is much more flexible.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Erik Schumacher

Music and movies inspire me most of all. Matte painting is my favorite genre at the moment, so I really enjoy the epic scenery in films, as I hope to be able to create works like that myself one day. I like reading books, so I draw a lot of inspiration from them as well.

Science Fiction

A Well-Adjusted Man

On September 3, 2045, Jim Turner shot dead an innocent girl and went home to his family a well-adjusted man. It was supposed to be a simple escapee bust, out in the projects. Intel said three hostiles in the apartment, armed and volatile, on the run from Louisiana Debtors. So they rammed the door and went in, two other guys and Jim.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tom Crosshill

I’ve long been interested in the topic of human biochemistry and personal responsibility, not least because of the many dumb things that I’ve done under the influence of adrenaline. We like to believe we’re rational decision makers, but rationality depends on a delicate biochemical balance that fails when we need it most. The fight-or-flight response enables some amazing physical feats, but it also largely shuts down the brain, so you act on instinct.


A Princess of Spain

Catherine of Aragon, sixteen years old, danced a pavane in the Spanish style before the royal court of England. Lutes, horns, and tabors played a slow, stately tempo, to which she stepped in time. The ladies of her court, who had traveled with her from Spain, danced with her, treading circles around one another—floating, graceful, without a wasted movement.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Carrie Vaughn

Just about my favorite turning point in history regards Henry VII and his sons, and the fact that the one who would become Henry VIII was the second son, and not originally meant to become king. How different would it all have turned out, with King Arthur instead of King Henry VIII?


Interview: Alastair Reynolds

[Blue Remembered Earth] is a big departure for me. It’s my attempt to get back to something a little bit closer to the present in terms of the way I think about science fiction. So it’s a novel which looks at where we might be in a hundred and fifty years in terms of going out into the solar system, going back to the moon and Mars, but also looking at the Earth, the kind of trends that we might expect to see over the next century and a half on our own planet—things like artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and ubiquitous surveillance technology.

Science Fiction

A Game of Rats and Dragon

Moonlighting as a non-player character was a hell of a way to earn a living. Never made much sense to spend all that time garbing up in a virtual uniform that matched gamespace, but Overton took pride in the details. So getting punched in the stomach by someone so caught up in an augmented reality fantasy they couldn’t tell real from script, that left him in a foul mood. All the man had to do was ask the right questions, get Overton’s responses, and move on.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Tobias S. Buckell

The idea was not so much virtual reality, but augmented reality. I’ve been really intrigued by adding a pair of goggles that overlay digital data over existing objects in the real world (virtual reality inside out, so to speak). You can see the effect using the app AcrossAir for the iPhone. What is more interesting to me is what we’ll do when we gamify augmented reality.


Seven Smiles and Seven Frowns

Each time I find a new apprentice in these times of trouble, I remember being a girl of twelve, getting close to thirteen. The other lads and maidens my age were already starting to pair off. But I was still taking my little brother and sister to hear the Witch of the Forest of Avalon tell stories on her porch on summer evenings. The old tales always held a fascination for me.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Richard Bowes

Any story has an agenda, a point of view. And a folk tale/fairy tale has a very strong one, molded over centuries. After Perrault made the fairy tale into a literary form, writers used stories in this genre to advance what they saw as good manners and a proper way of life. The stories become quite elegant even when compared to the Grimms’ tales, which were cleaned up for 19th century consumption.


Interview: Terry Brooks

[Wards of Faerie] is the first in a trilogy that I have been thinking about for quite a bit of time. It’s in the future of the Shannara world, not in the prehistory where I have been working. It is a direct sequel to the High Druid set of books, and it’s about a topic that has been discussed ever since I wrote Elfstones back in the day—1982 or whatever it was when it was published—about the Elfstones themselves, which were forged in the ancient world of Faerie before humans, and nobody knows what happened to them.