Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Sept. 2021 (Issue 136)

We have original science fiction by Thomas Ha (“Where You Left Me”) and Meg Elison (“Uprising”), along with a flash story by Adam-Troy Castro (“Judi”). Our reprint story is by Violet Allen (“Mister Dawn, How Can You Be So Cruel?”). Plus, we have original fantasy by Anya Ow (“Fanspell: Flowers in Spring (RobYung, NSFW)”) and Lizz Huerta (“Sía”). Our fantasy flash is by Adam R. Shannon (“It Begins to Snow”). Plus, we have a reprint story from Alexander Weinstein (“Invasive Species and Their Habitats”). All that, and of course we also have our usual assortment of author spotlights, along with book reviews from our terrific review team. Our ebook readers will also enjoy a book excerpt from Cat Rambo’s new novel, You Sexy Thing.

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In This Issue: Sept. 2021 (Issue 136)

Editorial

Editorial: September 2021

Be sure to check out the editorial for a rundown of this month’s terrific content, plus any news and updates.

Science Fiction

Judi

She sank to the ground on a world without name. We were far from home, farther than we had ever gone, maybe farther than anyone had ever gone. It was so far away, or at least so strange for some undefinable local cause, that we could have filled volumes with all the alterations in the way things worked; in the ways that light worked, in the way that time worked, in the way that mass worked. We spoke of bringing back word to the learned of my world and hers. We talked of making our names.

Fantasy

Fanspell: Flowers in Spring (RobYung, NSFW)

I am ashamed of the way I learned magic, and shame has made me a coward. I stay silent as Arul circles the body of the girl who has made bright flowers of her flesh, silent as he says, “Unorthodox interpretation of Lee’s Symphony of the Meteor. Backlash ultimately fatal. Time of unmaking . . . midnight, give or take a couple of hours. Stop staring, Myei. Write it down.” I write it down. The flesh column that was once a young girl stretches from the packed dirt of the kitchen floor to the belly of the longhouse above us, held high by stilts out of respect for the Mother River’s many moods.

Author Spotlight

Science Fiction

Where You Left Me

The best way to hide a red mouth is to know exactly when your gums start to bleed. If you check your teeth every so often with a quick swipe of the tongue, and you get a bit of that saltiness, you’ll learn to take a swig from a canteen and rinse before anyone else notices. The weeps are a little harder. Most of us wear tinted goggles when we ride at the barrier. They keep solar glare low, of course, but they also let you feel when your tear ducts leak, because the blood collects at the bottom of the rims. That and a dark handkerchief, and you can clean yourself up as needed, no problem.

Author Spotlight

Fantasy

Invasive Species and their Habitats

The vine’s voraciousness dwarfs even the kudzu of the Southern United States, whose growth of one foot per day is a snail’s pace compared to the Teczotchicin’s rate of up to twenty-five meters. It is among the rare plants one can watch growing beneath one’s feet, birthing folktales of its murderous qualities. Indeed, the vines have been known to devour whatever they encounter, entangling wild boars in their constriction, swallowing homes of nesting birds, and suffocating local banyan trees which reach thirty meters into the air.

Nonfiction

Book Review: Weird Women II, edited by Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger

Reviewer LaShawn M. Wanak dives into weird waters when she reviews the anthology Weird Women II: Classic Supernatural Fiction by Groundbreaking Female Writers (edited by Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger). Find out which stories are her favorite and see if you’ll like them, too.

Science Fiction

Mister Dawn, How Can You Be So Cruel?

I only met Mr. Compton once, but he was easy: fifty years old, twice divorced, thin black hair with gray roots, expensive off-the-rack suit, office shoes with rubber soles, an expensive gold watch on one wrist and an expensive smartwatch on the other, sunglasses inside, a smile on the outside. He told me that he loved “hot jazz.” He told me that he had never truly been in love. He told me that his favorite film was Breathless. These were all lies, but lies are much more revealing than the truth. Truth is molded by the real; lies are shaped like our souls. So I could see Mr. Compton very clearly

Fantasy

Sía

Right before I wake up from a dream of hotel sex, I hear drums. They start low, building, voices murmuring healing healing healing. I sit up in bed, pissed. I look to my altar in the corner. “Come on!” I yell, throwing the covers back. I hear cackling. My ancestors have been on a real asshole streak lately. After the tragedy I did the brown-girl-spiritual-thing, called upon my ancestors for guidance, but when my ancestors showed up, they were like me: sarcastic, shit-talking assholes. I felt seen.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: The Actual Star, by Monica Byrne

For this month’s review, Chris Kluwe looks at a millennia-spanning novel by Monica Byrne, The Actual Star, which follows the lives, both past, present, and future, of three extraordinary individuals, and how their relationships intertwine over the long years of historical time. Find out just why he calls it “a masterpiece”!

Science Fiction

The Revolution Will Not Be Served with Fries

“At least when I tell the fucking machine I don’t want pickles, it remembers that I don’t want pickles. Now, what goes on behind the counter is another story. They hire people who can barely read. But at least I’m trusting my order to something intelligent.” The man was talking into his phone, but the four people working in the kitchen could hear him. POS141 could hear him, too. All three of them had heard versions of this speech every day since the ordering kiosks had been installed. Quickly and quietly, the staff made his food. It was hot, fresh, safe, and contained no pickles.

Fantasy

It Begins to Snow

When it begins to snow, it never stops. Perhaps not for you, but another iteration of you—a manifestation of your wild possibilities. I hope it’s not you, for my sake. When it begins to snow, the sky comes down in sharp, precise fragments, and you press your forehead against the window and think: don’t ever stop. And it doesn’t. I don’t want it to be you, because when it begins to snow, the world ends.

Author Spotlight

Nonfiction

Book Review: No Gods, No Monsters, by Cadwell Turnbull

Reviewer Arley Sorg loved No Gods, No Monsters, the new novel by Lightspeed alum Cadwell Turnbull. Find out what made it such a great read for Arley, and see if you’ll like it too.