LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE - Science Fiction and Fantasy

LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE - Science Fiction and Fantasy


Edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, LIGHTSPEED is a Hugo Award-winning, critically-acclaimed digital magazine. In its pages, you'll find science fiction from near-future stories and sociological SF to far-future, star-spanning SF. Plus there's fantasy from epic sword-and-sorcery and contemporary urban tales to magical realism, science-fantasy, and folk tales. Each month, LIGHTSPEED brings you a mix of originals and reprints featuring a variety of authors, from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best now voices you haven't heard yet. When you read LIGHTSPEED, you'll see where science fiction and fantasy have come from, where they are now, and where they're going. The LIGHTSPEED podcast, produced by Grammy Award-winning narrator and producer Stefan Rudnicki of Skyboat Media, is presented four times a month, featuring original audio fiction and classic reprints.


Kat Howard | The Key to St. Medusa’s  

My parents knew I was a witch before I was born. The signs were there, they told me. They were unmistakable. Well. Not all of the signs, or they never would have kept me as long as they did. But enough: My mother’s hair, previously sedate and well-mannered, turned curly and wild during her pregnancy, sometimes even grabbing forks from other people’s hands at meals. | Copyright 2016 by Kat Howard. Narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir.

Stephen S. Power | Fade To Red: Three Interviews About Sebold’s Mars Trilogy  

I’ll be the first to admit that my homemade rover didn’t do the original justice and my color treatment was a better reflection of my Hollywood thinking than of the Martian landscape. What appealed to JPL was how I captured the tension of driving the rover across Gale, where every pebble can put years of training to the test. They were also impressed that I left my Curiosity outside Hanksville, Utah, not far from the Mars Desert Research Station, then controlled it and its cameras from a van several miles away. And they were amazed that my route for approaching the Mars Light almost perfectly mirrored their own. | Copyright 2016 by Stephen S. Power. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki; Jim Freund; Claire Benedek.

Jeremiah Tolbert | The Cavern of the Screaming Eyes  

“Is that the collapsible, carbon fiber ten-foot pole from TrunchCo?” I slammed my locker door and spun the combo lock, but it was too late; the fanboy already seen my gear. I didn’t know what his interest was, but I didn’t want to encourage him. I said nothing. He continued: “I’ve got the one from a couple of years ago that folds up. It sucks." Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.

An Owomoyela | Unauthorized Access  

Prison 17 had been built long enough ago that it got next to no natural light—before all the studies that said that light was good for prison behavior and morale. And of course the rest of its district had been remodded in the past ten years, so the view from outside was a phalanx of solar panels over heat-reflecting paint, making a headache-inducing pattern of black and white. Prisons and hydroponics. Narrated by Jayme Grant.

Jaymee Goh | Crocodile Tears  

Everything we crocodiles taste in the water has meaning. It tells us about the people who live here: who does the washing, who harvests the water crops, what they are growing in their fields and belukar. We even know littler details: who is pregnant, who is dying, what couple has been frolicking in the river, heedless of the risks we pose to them. | Copyright 2016 by Jaymee Goh. Narrated by Judy Young.

Sean Williams | The Lives of Riley  

The sirens are growing louder. Riley doesn’t know how the peacekeepers found out---he was so careful, so sure he’d covered every trace of his existence, all of it---but that’s less important now than getting away. He cannot afford to make any more mistakes. The night seems dark and empty as he leaves the warehouse through the back door. | Copyright 2016 by Sean Williams. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.

Maria Dahvana Headley | See The Unseeable, Know The Unknowable  

There are woods, and the woods are dark, though there are lights hung from the trees. Many of the lights no longer light up. Around the edge of the clearing, someone has strung a long chain of origami animals on barbed wire, some gilded paper and some newsprint, some pages torn out of books, some photographs, each animal snagged on its own spike. The animals have been rained on, and more than once. | Copyright 2016 by Maria Dahvana Headley. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.

Tristina Wright | The Siren Son  

The day the dragons came, Neal kissed a boy. This span of months would later be remembered as the Awakening and condensed to precisely three pages in a tenth-cycle history text. Those three pages would lie nestled between twelve pages on the War of the Sea (when the merfolk rose up and attacked the trade ships in retaliation for an attack against their king) and twenty-four pages on the Reconstruction Age. | Copyright 2016 by Tristina Wright. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.

Jeremiah Tolbert | Taste the Singularity at the Food Truck Circus  

“There’s a stall in the new market where they cook just about anything on a stick.” These were the words, spoken by coworkers returning to the office from an early lunch, that drew me from my cubicle and onto the streets one late April afternoon. Everyone has their weaknesses, and mine has always been food. Anything? I thought. We’ll see about that. | Copyright 2016 by Jeremiah Tolbert. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.

Adam-Troy Castro | The Assassin’s Secret  

The world’s greatest assassin lives on a private island. That’s so much a given that you must have known it already. You’ve seen all those movies about master thieves, brilliant scammers, unflappable secret agents, dangerous people who live on their own tropical islands and must be lured into one last job. He was the source of the cliché. | Copyright 2016 by Adam-Troy Castro. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.

Mercurio D. Rivera | Those Brighter Stars  

The call came through as I paced outside the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, puffing on an e-cig and watching my breath turn to vapor in the chill. “Hello?” The bald, skeletal image of a stranger stared back at me on my phone. “Ava,” he whispered. “Oh, Ava.” It took me a few seconds to regain my composure. “Dad?” I said. | Copyright 2016 by Mercurio D. Rivera. Narrated by Claire Benedek.

Jilly Dreadful | 5×5  

Dear Scully, I should’ve been suspicious of the girl in the lab coat offering me psychic ice cream. But with you and your ponytail, the psychic ice cream just seemed so harmless. After it gave me a brain freeze that’d make the Sierra Nevada Mountains jealous, imagine my surprise when I started hearing people’s thoughts—thank science it’s only temporary! Good call on that, by the way. | Copyright 2016 by Jilly Dreadful. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki and Justine Eyre.

Kenneth Schneyer | Some Pebbles in the Palm  

Once upon a time, there was a man who was born, who lived, and who died. We could leave the whole story at that, except that it would be misleading to write the sentence only once. He was born, he lived, and he died, was born, lived, died, bornliveddied. The first few words of a story are a promise. We will have this kind of experience, not that one. Here is a genre, here is a setting, here is a conflict, here is a character. We don’t know what is coming next, but we do know what is coming next. | Copyright 2016 by Kenneth Schneyer. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.

Ted Kosmatka | The One Who Isn’t  

It starts with light. Then heat. A slow bleed through of memory. Catchment, containment. A white-hot agony coursing through every nerve, building to a sizzling hum---and then it happens. Change of state. And what comes out the other side is something new. The woman held up the card. “What color do you see?” | Copyright 2016 by Ted Kosmatka. Narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir.

Rochita Loenen-Ruiz | Magnifica Angelica Superable  

A woman from the street came in laughing from the cold. It was funny to see her with her black hair blowing all about her face. Her face was red. Red from the cold, red from the laughing, red from the rage that fueled that laughter. There are funnier things than a woman like that, but, well, she was the only one we got to look at that afternoon. Her name was some kind of long. It was Magnifica Angelica something at the end. | Copyright 2016 by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.

Vandana Singh | Delhi  

Tonight he is intensely aware of the city: its ancient stones, the flat-roofed brick houses, threads of clotheslines, wet, bright colors waving like pennants, neem tree-lined roads choked with traffic. There’s a bus going over the bridge under which he has chosen to sleep. The night smells of jasmine, and stale urine, and the dust of the cricket field on the other side of the road. A man is lighting a bidi near him: face lean, half in shadow, and he thinks he sees himself. | 2004 by Vandana Singh. Originally published in So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy, edited by Uppinder Mehan and Nalo Hopkinson. Reprinted by permission of the author. Narrated by Vikas Adam.

Steven Barnes | Fifty Shades of Grays  

Terrorist. That’s what they call me, but I am something worse: both successful traitor and failed saboteur. I want to die, for all of this to be over. For my last request, I asked to have paper and pen to write my last will and testament. They won’t let me have it, forcing me to use the mindsynch. Damned Traveler tech. Maybe they’re scared I’ll ram the pen up my nose, scribble on my brain, and cheat the hangman. | Copyright 2016 by Steven Barnes. Narrated by Vikas Adam.

Terence Taylor | Wilson’s Singularity  

Wilson woke in bed, back to back with his husband, as warm morning sunlight crept around the room and settled on his face like a lazy cat. He tried to stay asleep, tried to block it out by nestling deeper under the covers, but it was no use. Now that he was awake, Unity would pop up the time and temperature in midair before him, and offer news updates and messages. The news would be filled with his name and today’s ceremony, and he’d heard enough about that for the last week. | Copyright 2016 by Terence Taylor. Narrated by Miebaka Yohannes.

Sofia Samatar | The Red Thread  

Dear Fox, Hey. It’s Sahra. I’m tagging you from center M691, Black Hawk, South Dakota. It’s night and the lights are on in the center. It’s run by an old white guy with a hanging lip—he’s talking to my mom at the counter. Mom’s okay. We’ve barely mentioned you since we left the old group in the valley, just a few weeks after you disappeared. She said your name once, when I found one of your old slates covered with equations. “Well,” she said. “That was Fox.” | Copyright 2016 by Sofia Samatar. Narrated by Lisa Renee Pitts.

John Chu | Double Time  

Skaters in black practice outfits swerved around Shelly. Her music was playing over the PA system. She had right of way. A scattering of figure skating fans sat in the rink’s hard, blue, plastic seats. Even to a practice session, some had brought their flags. Her mom sat near the boards and waved her US flag as though if only it had shook more fiercely last night, Shelly would have landed her triple Lutz-triple toe jump combination in the short program. | Copyright 2014 by John Chu. Originally published in Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios. Reprinted by permission of the author. Narrated by Letty Valladares.

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