Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams

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Podcasts

Science Fiction

The Historiography of Loss

I didn’t expect the trailer to feel so small and that some of the blood would still be wet. But I must have expected some blood because I cuffed my jeans before going in. And I didn’t expect the cats would have come back—a window was open, its screen clawed loose. I didn’t expect how they pawed through the blood. Dotting the counters with their small footprints. I didn’t expect the trailer to feel so densely packed—a family had lived here, a mother, a father, a twelve-year-old son, and all of their stuff.

Fantasy

Bhatia, P.I.

It’s a few minutes before seven on a cold October evening and I’m just reaching into the bottom drawer of my desk for the Old Monk and my well-thumbed copy of The Big Sleep when I hear footsteps hurrying up the stairs. A new case, has to be. I sigh, give the drawer a regretful look and shut it again. I sit up, awaiting the knock. It never comes. Instead the door swings open, slamming into the wall, sending plaster chips flying everywhere. Then I see her standing in the doorway.

Fantasy

The Honest Fox, or, A Truth Shared is Not a Truth Lost

I have heard it on the rumors that when the tale-spinner’s guild gathers in its secret places, a full half of them are sworn to never tell the truth, and the other half to never tell a lie, even if it mean their life. Being one of that trade myself, I can tell you that that’s more or less the shape of it, and I tell you this so that you will know that the tale I tell you now is true, just as it happened and just as it was told to me, for I am one of the ones sworn to the truth.

Science Fiction

Plausible Realities, Improbable Dreams

The multiverse broke last week. Broke is perhaps the wrong word. More accurate would be performed a state-change or found new equilibrium, but tell that to Catalina Chang, who has been popping aspirin like M&Ms ever since last Thursday, 5:54 PM, when the Unspecified Incident in the Lab superimposed all versions of reality together like a flaky scallion pancake. Aspirin still exists. So do coffee and antidepressant commercials, except on alternate Tuesdays, except when they don’t exist at all.

Fantasy

An Address to the Newest Disciples of the Lost Words

You are here because you ignored the words of your parents and elders, your more sensible peers. You have thrown away promising careers in sheepherding or law, trade or civil administration. You bribed your way here; you stole money for your passage; you broke promises and made new ones that you never meant to keep. You’ve sailed rivers and oceans, crossed mountains and plains, and now here you are at the edge of the desert.

Fantasy

In the Beginning of Me, I Was a Bird

In the beginning of me, I was a bird. A magpie, although I’ve since been a jay and a red-tailed hawk and even a big, black crow, crying tok-tok-tok at every passerby. But the magpie was special: on my first day, I saw those flashing blue wingtips, and I was myself. And every day after, I woke up and flew to a shiny window, just to admire my plumage. Birds don’t last. Their hearts beat so fast, the seeds burn them out.

Science Fiction

Red is Our Country

After the incident with Grey, you have three hours of air left and the only possibility of resupply is two hours in the wrong direction. Burke has found references to an old terraformers’ cache—emergency water and oxygen and who knows what else—and now she’s acting like it’s foresight rather than blind luck. Like she can even be sure the supplies are still there. “We’ll find it. We’ll resupply.”

Fantasy

When Sri Left the Ruined City

Listen, listen, hush, listen. You’re wrong about the war. You’re wrong about why the world is changing. Why it is dying all around us. That the Gods, many and unknowable be they, wanted this: That’s what you were taught, that’s what you believe. That’s why they gave the Memra their fire beasts and the drawing light that they wield so wildly. That’s why the Reach sings those great stone men into being to crush that flaming war machine.

Science Fiction

Cloudgazer

The nearest cloud cluster was sixty miles away, almost an hour’s journey if Bombay went at top speed. A fruit trader had seen it on her way to Sabon-Gari, floating lazily across the azure sky. “You don’t see that often,” the trader had said to the crowd, grappling her basket of mangoes. “A whole cluster, untethered, unbothered, what a sight! So you see why you have to buy my mangoes, they’ve been blessed by clouds!”

Fantasy

I Was a Teenage Space Jockey

Two days after my brother turned seventeen, he was gone, just like he’d guaranteed my dad. No sad goodbyes, no notes, no taking a knee in the hall before dawn to give me any good advice for high school when I got there. My mom’s story when anybody asked was that he’d moved out, he was old enough, he needed room, it was completely natural. My dad, if asked, would just shrug, knock back the rest of his can of beer, and say he hoped Rance was in the military.