Lightspeed: Edited by John Joseph Adams

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Podcasts

Fantasy

Persephone of the Crows

Isabelle Winters once saw a fairy. For real. It was little, like a hummingbird, with a hummingbird’s frantic wings, and it was moving through the garden, shaking the rosebuds open for the bees. She’s just told this to Polly, though not exactly in those words. The sarcastic for real, for instance, is all Polly. If there was ever a girl primed to see fairies, Isabelle Winters is that girl.

Science Fiction

Shadow Prisons of the Mind

With the right overlays, the city was charming—apartment buildings done up like giant row houses, seamlessly blending Victorian and modern sensibilities, boutiques and cafés on tree-lined streets, parks bathed in sunshine. Vivian Watanabe had lived on this block, once, in a high-rise apartment painted cornflower blue with trim in teal and white. She couldn’t see it now, not the way she used to.

Science Fiction

The Author’s Wife vs. the Giant Robot

The year I turned five, my father got taken out by a giant robot. I was present and I took it very personally. You honestly don’t expect that kind of thing when you’re a kid, not even if you’ve seen the giant robot from a distance every day of your life and have been taught what random carnage the giant robot got up to. I had grown to that tender age knowing that the giant robot killed people at the rate of one a day.

Science Fiction

Sing in Me, Muse

O Mother, dear Mnemosyne! It is I, Anisah, fifteenth of my line! Here is my song. Long have I waited for this, the end of my first shift; at last I am a daughter grown old enough to sing. I have sat at my post—I have looked out my mirrored window—I have logged my report with the cousins who keep the histories. But for you, my mother, on my first night’s watch, I will confirm that, port and starboard, there is nothing out my window but the black and endless sea.

Fantasy

The Bone-Stag Walks

The Bone-Stag walks at midwinter, sharp-antlered, hard-hoofed. Deep white snow spreads under deep black sky. Cold air slices lungs; rivers stand as stone. Over cresting drifts comes the Bone-Stag, leaving no mark of his passing. Down in the village, they draw their curtains fast against him. They bolt tight their doors. Garlic at the lintels and holly upon the sills.

Fantasy

Miss Beulah’s Braiding and Life Change Salon

The chime above my shop door rings. It heralds a young woman wearing a head wrap boasting a network of silvery constellations on indigo, interspersed with the occasional yellow-gold moon. The wrap itself is made of silk—not the finest grade, mind you, but sufficient to conceal what she must see as a fault. None of her hair is visible, but the contorted celestial bodies show the fabric is at the end of its tether.

Science Fiction

The Shadow Prison Experiment

The shopping district was crowded on a Sunday afternoon, and Vivian Watanabe was out running errands with her sixteen-year-old, Cass. Together they wove through throngs of shoppers wearing customized skins or the generic default. Vivian wasn’t fond of Generics—they fell into that uncanny valley between a nondescript human and a silver android. Cold and impersonal, plus it was hard to keep track of who you’ve interacted with. 

Science Fiction

The Swallows of the Storm

One of the Senators cleared her throat, turned on the microphone in front of her, and began. “Would you like to tell us when you first became aware of the phenomenon, Doctor? Perhaps that would be the best place to start. We can formulate our questions from there.” The hearing was not in the main Congressional building. It was in a building on another part of Capitol Hill, in a room overdue for remodeling, with drop-ceiling panels stained by leaking pipes. But the room, however humble, was crowded.

Harlan sat near the front of the room.

Fantasy

Great Gerta and the Mermaid

That notorious ship that sailed to the wretched isle known as Neverland under the leadership of one James, self-styled Jas., Cook, called the Jolly Roger, has most naturally been a subject of intense study among historians. Yet even the most meticulous of these scholars have often failed to note that among that dreadful crew sailed at least one woman, Gerta, or, as she named herself, the Great Gerta, or, as she was named by others, Gerta the Girthy.

Science Fiction

The End of the World Measured in Values of N

Listen. The world ended thirty seconds ago. You greet this whisper with incredulity. After all, here you are, living and breathing. The people around you are living and breathing. You might be drinking coffee in lying in bed trying to decide whether to get up. You are reminding yourself of all the little life tasks awaiting you, things that need to be taken care of in order for you to continue going about your day. Thoughts of the apocalypse are a thousand miles away. Lunacy, they seem.