Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Oct. 2012 (Issue 29)

Novella: “Dragonfly” by Ursula K. Le Guin

Novel Excerpt: Blackwood by Gwenda Bond

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: R.J. Palmer, Interview: David Brin, Interview: Ursula K. Le Guin.

Science Fiction: “Flowing Unimpeded to the Enlightenment”—Robert Reed, “Nearly Departed”—Pat Cadigan, “Art of War”—Nancy Kress (SF), “Bear and Shifty”—Benjamin Parzybok.

Fantasy: “The Black Bird”—David Barr Kirtley, “Spindles”—L.B. Gale, “Beyond the Reach of His Gods”—Brian Ruckley, “The Suicide’s Guide to the Absinthe of Perdition”—Megan Arkenberg.

Oct. 2012 (Issue 29)


Editorial, October 2012

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



The first thing that went missing was the smell of onions cooking in butter. It took her a good long time to realize that this was gone, for she had never realized that onions were the cause of the smell. Onions remained, of course. Raw onions still smelled as they always did. They still made you cry when you cut them. But when you fried them: nothing. There was no smell. It was gone.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: L. B. Gale

I love short stories that have fairy tale roots. Fairy tales, myths, and legends give storytellers a common language for effectively communicating big ideas.

Science Fiction

Flowing Unimpeded to the Enlightenment

Kartar is forty and Irish-Indian, blessed with an avatar’s sterling looks and a fine deep voice that lingers in the mind. He wears a piezosuit and a bright necktie advertising Chinese wetware, and a new Everything is pinned to his broad lapel. Twenty admirers have him surrounded.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Robert Reed

I assume that intelligence evolves along certain lines, and that nothing is new. Whatever humans are, we aren’t important. We don’t see our neighbors because they don’t want to be seen, or they have launched into a new realm or reality that we can’t fathom yet, or maybe we’re a game program playing out inside an artificial universe that has no purpose except to make us fucking crazy.


The Black Bird

The black bird on the mantelpiece spoke. It said, “Nevermore.” Spade looked up from cleaning his pistol. The bird, a black-lacquered falcon statuette, sat motionless. Spade placed the pistol down on his desk, pushed back the brim of his hat, and approached the bird. “You talk?”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: David Barr Kirtley

You may have read a million variations on robots or vampires or whatever, but how often do you read a story about Hammett, Poe, and philosophy?

Science Fiction

Nearly Departed

“Three things,” I said, and held up a matching set of three fingers. “One—” I curled my index finger. “I don’t do empaths. Two—” I bent my ring finger. “I don’t get physical. Three—” I pointed the remaining finger at the old fox on the other side of the desk. “I don’t rob graves.”

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: R.J. Palmer

The whole design clicked for me when I came up with the gills on her ribcage. I thought she could inhale regular air through these gills and breathe it out through her mouth as a sort of magic air that she could manipulate.


Beyond the Reach of His Gods

An unseen log boomed against Wolfrun’s hull. In the last few days, Rhuan of the Grey Hall had taken to posting a lookout on the prow, to ward against just such events. This great, fat monstrosity of a river seemed at times to carry almost as much debris as it did water.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Brian Ruckley

I’m sure someone somewhere has written a profound and slow-paced meditation on personal relationships and growth involving giant monsters … the obvious invitation in the premise “giant monster” is to go for the prose equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. That’s an invitation to have some fun.

Science Fiction

Art of War

“Return fire!” the colonel ordered, bleeding on the deck of her ship, ferocity raging in her nonetheless controlled voice.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nancy Kress

Who knows what aliens would do? They are alien. However, if they happened to conquer Paris anyway, I can see invaders studying artwork to learn more, just as archeologists now certainly study the art of any culture they are hoping to decipher.


Interview: David Brin

If ETs want to contact new tech races, they’re not likely to waste time and resources on gigantic beacons. They’ll know the thousand—or ten thousand, or fifty thousand—life worlds around them that have oxygen atmospheres. But the odds that any one of those has a shiny new civilization will be very small, at any one time. So they’ll just send a ping to each of them, once every hundred years—or maybe once a year—saying, “Is there anybody there yet?” Because that’s cheap to do.


The Suicide’s Guide to the Absinthe of Perdition

You cannot stop an angel who truly wants to fall. This is the first thing you learn in Pandemonium. The second thing you learn in Pandemonium is how to drink absinthe.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Megan Arkenberg

Beauty, terror, and the sublime are also a huge part of the appeal of fallen angels, from Milton to Doré. Pandemonium had to combine the richness and luxury of the Aesthetic movement with the brimstone and gore and decay of Hell.

Science Fiction

Bear and Shifty

I ambled around the side of the after-market armored minivan and helped Mr. and Mrs. Perkinson load in the rest of the grocery goods, stashing them in the back and strapping them down. They were going to have a hell of a ride home, we all knew it, so when the work was done, I lingered there.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Benjamin Parzybok

When I was imagining this world, I really liked the idea of an invading alien force that was technologically superior to us, but had made numerous vital mistakes about the terrain and their enemy along the way. That—like, really, all wars—the war they waged had grown long and complicated, with infinite loose ends that never seem to quite wrap up.


Interview: Ursula K. Le Guin

I do try to separate my personal activism—showing up at a demonstration or something—from what I write. I don’t write tracts, I write novels. I’m not a preacher, I’m a fiction writer. I get a lot of moral guidance from reading novels, so I guess I expect my novels to offer some moral guidance, but they’re not blueprints for action, ever.