Science Fiction & Fantasy




Editorial, October 2010

Welcome to issue five of Lightspeed!

We’re doing a little something different this month. Because October is Halloween month, and Halloween is a time for scary stories, we thought it would be appropriate to make October “Horror Month” here at Lightspeed. But never fear, we haven’t changed our scope completely—each story in this issue is still science fiction; it’s just that you’ll be getting your daily dose of sensawunda but also a liberal helping of whadafrakwuzzat as well.

Here’s the schedule and teasers for this month:

October 5

In our lead story this month, “Hindsight,” horror author Sarah Langan tells the story of an apocalypse-in-progress, a world in which the laws of physics no longer seem to behave properly, and a mysterious cosmic anomaly called Black Betty. The last remaining survivors have one last hope, but can the technological singularity defeat the threat of a gravitational one?

In the related nonfiction, astronomer Dr. Pamela Gay discusses what there was before the Big Bang, gravity, the mediocrity principle, and just what might happen if two universes collided.

October 12

In “Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back,” author Joe R. Lansdale tells the tale of a mad scientist and his family who spend twenty long, hard years Down Under waiting for the war to end. By doing so, they manage to survive the end of the world, but when they go back Topside, they find a world very different than the one they remember—a world in which even a rose is supremely dangerous…and not just because of its thorns. (Reprint)

In our feature interview this month, Matt London talks to Marc Laidlaw—creator of Valve Software’s Half-Life series—about video game creation, his literary and gaming influences, and the intersection of SF and horror.

October 19

Imagine you’re awakened early from cryonic stasis aboard a starship traveling to a colony world where tens of thousands of starving colonists will die if you don’t get there to help them. John R. Fultz’s chilling “The Taste of Starlight” explores whether the lives of many outweigh the lives of few, as we experience the lengths the good Doctor Pelops is willing to go to in order to ensure his mission’s success. Would you—should you—be able to do the same thing?

The idea of cryonic suspension has been around nearly as long as science fiction itself, but just how plausible is it? And if it is scientifically viable—would it be a good investment? Scientist (and SF author) Dr. Gregory Benford weighs all the (cold, hard) facts, figures, and probabilities in “Considering Cryonics.”

October 26

There are few authors in the world about whom you can honestly say “he needs no introduction.” But when you’re talking about Stephen King, that’s most certainly the truth. “Beachworld,” one of the horror master’s rare forays into straight-up science fiction, follows the plight of the two survivors of a far-future interstellar spaceflight, who crash land on a harsh and unforgiving planet. (Reprint)

And if you think that place would be a terrible planet to crash land on, well, you’d be right. But, in case you’d like a little variety when choosing your final extraterrestrial resting place, author Genevieve Valentine scoured the cosmos and found “Five Planets that Will Kill You Dead.”

That’s it for our fiction and nonfiction selections, but be sure to also look for our author spotlights, and keep an ear out for the podcasts of “Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back” by Joe R. Lansdale and “The Taste of Starlight” by John R. Fultz.

So that’s our issue this month. I hope you enjoy it. And remember, if you don’t want to wait for the content to be released on the site throughout the month, or you’d just like a handy, downloadable version of the magazine on your favorite handheld electronic reading device, Lightspeed is available directly from our publisher, Prime Books, in DRM-free ePub format, and is also available in Kindle, iBooks, and Mobipocket format from external vendors, or from Fictionwise, which offers a variety of formats.

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John Joseph Adams


John Joseph Adams is the series editor of Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy and is the bestselling editor of more than thirty anthologies, including Wastelands and The Living Dead. Recent books include A People’s Future of the United States, Wastelands: The New Apocalypse, and the three volumes of The Dystopia Triptych. Called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes & Noble, John is a two-time winner of the Hugo Award (for which he has been a finalist twelve times) and an eight-time World Fantasy Award finalist. John is also the editor and publisher of Lightspeed and is the publisher of its sister-magazines, Fantasy and Nightmare. For five years, he ran the John Joseph Adams Books novel imprint for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Find him online at and @johnjosephadams.