Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams



Sep. 2012 (Issue 28)

Novella: Walter Jon Williams (“The Green Leopard Plague”)

Novel Excerpt: Greg Egan (The Eternal Flame)

Nonfiction: Artist Showcase: Frank Hong, Artist Showcase: Galen Dara, Interview: John Scalzi

Science Fiction: Adam-Troy Castro (“My Wife Hates Time Travel”), Brooke Bolander (“Sun Dogs”), Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette (“Boojum”), and Harry Harrison (“The Streets of Ashkelon”).

Fantasy: Nina Kiriki Hoffman (“Monsters, Finders, Shifters”), Peter Sursi (“The Seven Samovars”), Scott Edelman (“The Last Supper”), and Holly Black (“Heartless”).

Sep. 2012 (Issue 28)


Editorial, September 2012

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

Science Fiction

My Wife Hates Time Travel

From the very beginning—which I guess is also the middle and the end if you follow the bent logic involved and arrange events by some scheme other than strict chronological order—there was never any way of knowing which one of us, my wife or myself, was going to invent time travel.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Adam-Troy Castro

I think a little uncertainty goes a long way, and would appreciate a little reassurance that everything’s going to be all right, but having your hands held every step of the way takes the joy out of everything.


The Last Supper

Walter’s mind was at one time rich with emotions other than hunger, but those feelings had long since fallen away. They’d dropped from his being like the flesh, now absent, which had once kept the wind from whistling through his cheeks. He remembered those inner tides but vaguely, for he lived in the eternal present, with barely a shred of memory left in which to contain them.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Scott Edelman

My mind is often drawn to the extremes, and when it comes to a given fantasy trope or science-fictional conceit, I often think of the first or last person to experience such a situation. Those thought experiments don’t always become stories, but sometimes they do

Science Fiction

The Streets of Ashkelon

Somewhere above, hidden by the eternal clouds of Wesker’s World, a thunder rumbled and grew. Trader Garth stopped suddenly when he heard it, his boots sinking slowly into the muck, and cupped his good ear to catch the sound. It swelled and waned in the thick atmosphere, growing louder.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Harry Harrison

“The Streets of Ashkelon” was originally written for an anthology edited by Judith Merrill, who wanted the contributors to ignore the current taboos in force in the SF world. Unfortunately, the anthology didn’t go to print. It was more than a year before Harrison sold the story, and six years before it saw print in the United States.


The Seven Samovars

“The first samovar, the silver one at the end with the little bird perched atop the key, is filled to the top with Life,” she says, “freshly brewed each morning at sunrise exactly. A few drops will perk up most customers on a Monday morning, to be sure. And most of them need it, don’t you think?”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Peter Sursi

Everyone’s coffee ritual is very specific—the same time of day, in that specific cup, with a banana or an oatmeal scone. Everything just fell into place when I started telling the mini-stories within the larger story.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Frank Hong

Artists do tend to focus more on people and creatures, and environment art becomes almost secondary to these designs. Problem is, someone would have to take up this task! Almost 70% of concept art generated is environment concepts because of the vast number of levels and dungeons that have to be made for an entire game; for movies, every set and scene has to be illustrated, and people almost become scale references in those illustrations.

Science Fiction


The ship had no name of her own, so her human crew called her the Lavinia Whateley. As far as anyone could tell, she didn’t mind. At least, her long grasping vanes curled—affectionately?—when the chief engineers patted her bulkheads and called her “Vinnie,” and she ceremoniously tracked the footsteps of each crew member with her internal bioluminescence, giving them light to walk and work and live by.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear

I don’t remember how we thought of crossing Lewis Carroll and H. P. Lovecraft, but since “The Hunting of the Snark” is one of my favorite poems, in retrospect it seems utterly inevitable.



Across the landscape of the battlefield, men stared sight­lessly into the sky, their armor black with blood, their steam­ing intestines spread over the ground. Swarms of crows covered them in a jumping, fluttering carpet. Camp women scavenged among the corpses, cutting the throats of the dying and looting the bodies for anything of worth.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Holly Black

The thing I wanted to write about was being so cut off from one’s emotions that they’d become inaccessible. And I’ve always been fascinated with the story of the wizard who put his soul into his own finger, so that he couldn’t be killed. I thought that if I changed “soul” to “heart” then I could do something new with the tale.

Artist Showcase

Artist Showcase: Galen Dara

I like the dark. And have an affinity for the symbolic, the poetic. Things hinted at, the play between hidden and obscured, abstract and real. I like trees and bones and internal organs and birds. Also, I like things reduced to their most basic idea and shape, with all the excess stripped away.

Science Fiction

Sun Dogs

Floating through endless night in a tiny silver ball, surrounded by noise and confusion and the overpowering scents of metal and her own push-stink, the dog Laika dreams.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Brooke Bolander

In real life none of us are assured happy endings. We have choice and free will, but that also means we’re free to make terrible, wrongheaded decisions. That’s just part of being alive.


Monster, Finder, Shifter

My father’s family had produced monster-finders for several generations. More monsters were being born than ever; our village didn’t have enough finder power to track them all, or shaper power to abort or fix those the finders found, so many people had to offer their offspring to the Shadows.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Nina Kiriki Hoffman

When I was twelve, I’m pretty sure I thought people and human meant the same thing. Bert grew up in a culture where the dividing line between human and monster is clearly defined, and in his world, the chances of being born with “monster” traits are much higher, so I think he has a more difficult time with this question than I did.


Interview: John Scalzi

We have some of the best writers in science fiction and fantasy today that we’ve ever had in the genre. That said, one of the things is that when you have people who are really engaged on the literary side of writing, as many of our current really excellent writers are, there is a question of how approachable it is to someone who is just coming fresh into the field.