Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Nonfiction

Nonfiction

Five Reasons Why Aliens Make Better Lovers

Humans are sexual beings, but though the human urge to merge is rooted in our biological imperative to procreate, nowadays we do it, well, mostly just for fun. And if the aliens we encounter aren’t made of gaseous clouds or bacterial sludge, and provided they have a reasonably similar physiology to ours, it seems pretty safe to assume that they’re probably just like us: total tramps.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Cat Rambo

“I think empathy is crucial to being human and one of the skills that we don’t teach, but should. I am always, sadly, amazed at our ability to rationalize treating other living beings with discourtesy and our willingness to accept things like the deceptively named term “collateral damage” in warfare.”

Nonfiction

Engines for the High Frontier

We want engines to get us into space and take us to the stars. Of course, as many note, we aren’t quite where we want to be yet. But there is hope. At the moment, spaceship engines can be classed into three categories: rockets, sails, and “other,” and each works in their own, individual way. Rockets work by pushing something out the rear; reaction equaling action, you go in the other direction. With sails, something external pushes. And in the “other” category are things like “space drives” and ramjets.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Geoffrey A. Landis

A few years back I was working on a project to look at the feasibility of interstellar probes. I arrived at this conclusion: the real key to any sort of a probe that could reach nearby stars using propulsion technologies which we could plausibly see in the near future was that the probe itself had to be as small as it could possibly be. That led me to a lot of thinking on the order of how small could you really go. How sophisticated could you actually make a small spaceship?

Nonfiction

Future Weapons

Ray guns! Death rays! The terms conjure images of the golden era of space adventurers—Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon. But in truth, future weapons have been a crucial aspect of science fiction since H. G. Wells armed his Martian invaders in War of the Worlds with heat rays that ignited everything in their path.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Yoon Ha Lee

I ended up first with Arighan’s Flower, because I figured wiping out whole ancestral lines would be a pretty big threat. I also knew from the beginning that I wanted the gun to be one of a set. … One of my beta readers actually wanted this story to be about five times as long as it is right now, and to follow that kind of structure, detailing Shiron’s adventures with each gun. Quite probably it would have been a good story, but it wouldn’t have been the story I wanted to tell.

Editorial

Editorial, September 2010

Welcome to issue four of Lightspeed. On tap this month… Fiction: “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” by Yoon Ha Lee, “The Long Chase” by Geoffrey A. Landis, “Amid the Words of War” by Cat Rambo, and “Travelers” by Robert Silverberg. Nonfiction: “Future Weapons” by Jeff Hecht, “Engines for the High Frontier” by G. David Nordley, “Five Reasons Why Aliens Make Better Lovers” by Carol Pinchefsky, and an interview with John Scalzi by Erin Stocks.

Nonfiction

Cyborg-netics

Long before the premiere of The Six Million Dollar Man in 1974, the idea of a bionic human has fascinated the scientific and science fiction communities. Just turn on the television or take a trip to the local movie theater to find some examples. But there’s a lot more to this burgeoning science than Darth Vader and the Borg. It’s not just science fiction; it’s not even science future. What most people might be surprised to discover is that the kinds of mechanized prosthetics writers used to dream about actually exist right now.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Joe Haldeman

Published in 1985, “More Than the Sum of His Parts” was set in the then-distant future of 2058. “It seemed a reasonable time frame, when we were somewhat more optimistic about space industrialization,” Haldeman says, “although the waldo technology is wishful thinking, or arm-waving—I didn’t have any actual technological rationale for it happening that soon, or ever. The waldos themselves were inspired by the story ‘Waldo,’ by Robert Heinlein. The idea of smaller and smaller waldos building their miniaturized successors came from the notions about self-replicating ‘von Neumann’ machines that were cutting-edge techno-dreaming at the time.”

Nonfiction

Interview: Robert J. Sawyer

“What intrigued me was that SF—especially in film and TV—had taken as a given that future AI will be malevolent, and that there’s no way for humanity to survive the advent of things more intelligent than we are. Well, SF is supposed to be about offering choices for tomorrow—and if we don’t have a positive blueprint, then the negative one becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”