Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Nonfiction

Nonfiction

Interview: Marc Laidlaw, creator of Half-Life

“Half-Life was conceived as horror first, and always intended to be scary above all else. The atmosphere shaded toward dark, dystopian SF in HL2, but in Half-Life 1 we treated the game as a Technological Gothic, with Black Mesa playing the role of the spooky old castle. The science fiction and horror elements set each other off nicely. At Valve, we are all about contrast. Unrelieved horror, like unrelieved anything, gets tedious, so we make sure our games are rarely flat: You’re either climbing toward a peak, plunging into a chasm, or approaching a dark corner. And when there’s no overt menace, you should be really nervous.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Joe R. Lansdale

I think there are way too many places for me to know for sure [where this story came from], but I did grow up in the fifties and sixties, when the fear of The Bomb, was at its height. I also grew up on numerous science fiction and monster stories about creatures created by radiation and so on.

Nonfiction

When Universes Collide

Once upon a time, in an age before civilization, before humanity, before the dinosaurs, even before the Big Bang, our universe…wasn’t. Nothing, nada. Void. It’s scary but true. Once upon a time, our universe didn’t exist, not even as a twinkle in God’s eye.

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sarah Langan

“The idea came to me like a bolt of lightning. I’d been researching technological singularity, and started to wonder, what would happen to us, if we all uploaded at the same time? Would the density of our consciousness create a gravitational singularity, and if so, would we be hastening our own end, rather than avoiding it?”

Editorial

Editorial, October 2010

Welcome to issue five of Lightspeed! On tap this month… Fiction: “Hindsight” by Sarah Langan, “Tight Little Stitches on a Dead Man’s Back” by Joe R. Lansdale, “The Taste of Starlight” by John R. Fultz, “Beachworld” by Stephen King. Nonfiction: “When Universes Collide” by Dr. Pamela Gay, “Feature Interview: Marc Laidlaw” by Matt London, “Considering Cryonics” by Gregory Benford, “Five Planets that Will Kill You Dead” by Genevieve Valentine.

Nonfiction

Interview: John Scalzi

“Before writing Old Man’s War, I went into a bookstore to see what kind of science fiction was selling; I saw more military SF than anything else, so I decided that’s what I should probably write if I wanted to sell a book. This sounds mercenary to some, but more charitably it was market research. I wanted to sell a book, so I was pretty dispassionate about what book that should be. Now, having chosen military science fiction to write, I made sure it was a book I myself would want to read—market research is fine and good but if you’re not writing something you’d actually want to read, then that book’s probably not going to be something anyone else would want to read either.”

Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Robert Silverberg

In “Travelers,” Robert Silverberg has created a future where travel between planets is the entirety of many people’s lives, people no more rooted in place than a zephyr or tornado. Without restrictions like health issues, life span or economics, the humans in this future can enjoy jaunting across galaxies the way twenty-first century oil barons enjoy island-hopping in the Caribbean. It can be a hedonistic lifestyle—or it can be a way to expand one’s horizons, ever-deepening one’s understanding of humanity through exposure to The Other: other people, other cultures, other worlds.

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.