Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams

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Podcasts

Produced by Skyboat Media, and under the direction of Grammy and Audie award-winning narrator and producer Stefan Rudnicki, our podcast features audiobook-style recordings of four of the eight stories we publish each month in Lightspeed, released more or less on a weekly basis. To subscribe (free!) to the podcast, you'll either need our podcast RSS feed and put that into your favorite podcast client, or you can just subscribe via iTunes. All of our podcasts from Lightspeed: Year One are also available as an audiobook from Audible.com and Downpour.com.

 

 

Science Fiction

Learning Letters

Enid sat on the front porch of Haven’s clinic with a half a dozen books, some paper, and a small chalkboard. Three days a week, when she was in town, she taught reading to Haven’s children who wanted to learn. The last two weeks, Rose was the only kid who came to the lessons. Her household’s daughter, Rose, eight years old, stared at her while wearing a resentful frown that begged to be allowed to do anything else at all in the whole world but this.

Science Fiction

From the Largest Crater

AUDIO LOG BF-0003 / 2083-14-09 13:36 / This . . . feels strange. They said that it’s healthy for those of us whose spouses take Return Missions to record our thoughts. Audio journaling, they called it. Zeli, if you saw the way these devices look, you’d have laughed at the very suggestion of it. They said other spouses who’ve done it have found it helpful for “processing difficult emotions.” It just makes me think they want to keep tabs on what I say and do, but that’s my father’s paranoia coming in. They said it helps to finish my recordings with “over” so that I know when I’ve gotten my thoughts out. Doesn’t that seem strange?

Fantasy

A Man Walks Into a Bar: In Which More Than Four Decades After My Father’s Reluctant Night of Darts on West 54th Street I Finally Understand What Needs to Be Done

My father was so honest, people often spoke of him in cliches. For example—you know the way someone will sometimes say so-and-so was so honest they’d walk five miles to return an extra nickel they’d been given in their change? Nobody means anybody actually did that kind of thing when they say it, of course—you and I both know they’re only exaggerating for effect. Except in the case of my father. My Dad had really done that. Around the neighborhood, he was seen as so calm and understanding when compared to other fathers, other husbands . . . some of the grownups jokingly referred to him as Saint Barney.

Fantasy

Mad Honey

The three wolves in the sun-smeared wood did not turn and run when Aran approached with his musket in hand. Wolves were supposed to run from men with guns. This was the way of the world. Sweat and necessity made his musket slide against his palms. He gripped tighter, not wanting to startle the beasts by bringing the musket to bear too quickly. Two of the beasts stood over the third, which reclined on its side in the patchy grass. He could count their rib-bones through their thin hides. His own hungry bones hummed in sympathy. But the world turned on toward frost and frozen ground, and necessity stilled the tremor in his chest.

Science Fiction

Last Stand of the E. 12th St. Pirates

STAND BACK DOORS CLOSING. Dee heard the musical bing-bong of the departure warning between song transitions in her headphones, and watched as the heads of workers in line ahead of her lolled back in the universal why, God gesture of commuters everywhere. There was only one freight car down the wall into the Flood District, and it was shared by all bulk service providers who came bearing gifts: maintenance workers, solar installers, grocery and package delivery, and the like. A bing-bong meant another fifteen-minute wait.

Fantasy

The Noon Witch Goes to Sound Planet

The Noon Witch is not a cat person. She likes the color purple, hates police procedurals, loves breakfast foods, thinks scented bath products and anchovy pizza are gross. Hates platform shoes. Hates walnuts in brownies. Used to like the electropop group all the girls at school like, until they used too much synth on their latest album, so now she hates them too. The Noon Witch isn’t an overcritical person. She’s just at that difficult age when you’re desperate to figure out who you are, so you lean too much on your likes and dislikes to try to cobble together what you think should be your personality.

Science Fiction

Beyond the Shore

Nobody noticed the first few. They walked. One by one, in the beginning. Isolated instances. On every continent, mid-meal, mid-shower, mid-work, mid-fuck, right out the door of a pulled-up car in the middle of a freeway—ordinary people turned their backs on their ordinary lives and walked. They walked, shedding their hair in clumps along the way, sloughing their skin in translucent sheets to reveal pale grey beneath. On bleeding feet they walked down highways and lanes and trails, unerringly taking the path of least resistance to the nearest coast. They crossed the sand. The sea cooled their aching calves. Still, they walked.

Fantasy

The Dirty Golden Yellow House

On the first floor of a Colonial-style house constructed last century out of planks of old growth cedar, a monster is dragging a woman’s husband from room to room. The specific path this monster takes will be evident the next morning from the gashes in the wood floors and the splattering of the husband’s innards upon the plaster walls. Blood on the ceiling. The woman herself is hiding in the upstairs bedroom in her closet, face buried in the nylon hems of her patterned dresses, hands to her ears, a washcloth between her teeth so she can bite down hard on something that isn’t her tongue.

Science Fiction

Primordial Soup and Salad

Wallace Englund, captain of the United Space Fleet vessel Caroline, stared out his private office window at the only view he’d had for nearly four years—outer space, in all its dull glory—and wondered why he couldn’t get a decent cheeseburger. Behind him were the last three attempts at a burger made by the ship’s food replicator. The first looked okay until Wallace bit into it and discovered a soft, gelatinous interior that still tasted like a cheeseburger but whose texture made it impossible to ingest. The second was visibly worse: the left side of the burger looked like brown gravy, and not in a good way.

Fantasy

Her Five Farewells

When the Asphodel Queen decides she’ll die to save our people from her ex-husband’s tyranny, she commands me to build her a coffin, the very first in our world’s history. Her ageless face of ivory and emerald is water on a windless day; her stillness betrays nothing of her decision. As the Senate screams in sorrow, I am held by her imperial glare, the enormity of my task sinking in like sunlight on skin. “Me, Your Majesty? I’m but a humble craftsman.” Her voice rises above the growing din, as panic races through data-vines and across the crystal-network.