Lightspeed Magazine started in June of 2010 and through these last 8 years, they have delivered high-quality science fiction and, later, fantasy stories to their readers. 100 issues later, to celebrate the milestone, they asked back some of their most frequently published authors from the last 8 years. What results, is a super-sized issue with 20 stories: 10 originals, and 10 reprints. I am going to cover the originals first and then the reprints. I will use blue text to highlight the stories that I enjoyed the most in this issue, with the story in red text, being my favorite.
Vylar Kaftan – “Her Monster, Whom She Loved”(short story)
Kaftan writes a universe mythology story of epic proportions about a god named Ammuya that birthed many other gods. One of those gods, a monster, took all the pain and hatred from Ammuya at birth. Within the story, the two gods transform into different large manifestations of animals and wreak havoc through galaxies. The emotional impact of the story is that she must deal with her own child, but unfortunately, I just didn’t feel it much. These origin type myths just don’t really do much for me as I can never connect to their characters.
Carrie Vaughn – “Harry and Marlowe and the Secret of Ahomana”(novelette)
Harry and Marlowe find themselves on a lost island, a secret civilization, hidden away from the rest of the world, that has an advanced form of power from an alien spaceship. Harry and Marlowe have been looking for alien artifacts in the world and they never thought they’d find an intact ship on this island. They must decide between stealing this technology to protect Britain from Germany in WWII or allow the culture of the island to continue without interference. A solid story that wrestles with the many moral questions about using a people to save your own.
Adam-Troy Castro – “The Last to Matter”(novelette)
Castro writes a ridiculously trippy and far out novelette here. Kayn, our protagonist, gets expelled from the large orgynism that people have decided to become a part of at the end of earth’s lifespan. What transpires is Kayn visiting a ruined, battered, and desperate earth without hope in the future. This story is really about what happens when people lose hope and only think about themselves. A scathing commentary on the direction our current world is going.
Ken Liu – “The Explainer”(short story)
The Explainer is the natural progression of the young developing and adapting to new technologies before their parents or seniors. Tingting, a child, develops a kinship with the house A.I. Allie, but her mother just thinks of Allie as another resource. When Allie needs service done, it becomes a big deal to Tingting. As personal home devices with communication abilities become more prevalent, Liu asks the question, “will people become attached to their Alexa like devices in more ways than just using them?”
Sofia Samatar – “Hard Mary”(novelette)
Sofia Samatar writes a novelette about finding a robot in the woods that was lost from a corporation not known for its good-behavior towards robots. Mary becomes part of a family with a group of women. The women give Mary a personality and agency, while Mary talks in poetic lines, and adjusts to the world around her. When the corporation suspects their property has been found and stolen, they begin interrogating the group of friends. Samatar definitely appeals to a lot of readers but, unfortunately, I just haven’t gotten into her writing style yet.
Maria Dahvana Headley – “You Pretend Like You Never Met Me, and I’ll Pretend Like I Never Met You”(Short Story)
My favorite story of this whole issue. Max is a magician but he is also kind of a tramp. Max is all about taking advantage of lonely women but he bites off a little bit more than he can chew with the newest woman he meets because she is on her way to a funeral. A story about imperfect people that are dealt unfortunate circumstances, but with a little help of actual magic, things might not be so bad.
Cadwell Turnbull – “Jump”(Short Story)
Turnball writes my second favorite story in this issue because it ticks that relationship box I love in my stories. Mike and Jessie are in a long-term relationship with each other and Mike, on a whim, asks Jessie to teleport with him. It started out as something silly a couple does for fun, but it actually works, and Mike and Jessie end up across town instantly. The rest of the story is all about Mike’s obsession with wanting to teleport again and Jessie’s inability to understand Mike’s obsession, which ends up degrading the relationship.
Genevieve Valentine – “Abandonware”(Short Story)
“Abandonware” by Valentine is the story of how people give agency to, and imprint on objects. In this story, the narrator imprints on a deer in a complex interactive video game.
Sam J. Miller – “Conspicuous Plumage”(Short Story)
Sam J. Miller writes another excellent story with “Conspicuous Plumage.” A sister wants to understand what happened at the end of her brother’s life, so she gets the help of a friend that can find where her brother died, and interpret what happened to him. A story of acceptance, the beauty of art, and wanting to know the unknown, no matter if it hurts.
Kat Howard – “A Brief Guide to the Seeking of Ghosts”(Short Story)
Howard writes a little fictional reference guide about the different types of ghosts during certain conditions and seasons.
A. Merc Rustad – “How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps”(Short Story)
Rustad writes a story that includes a bunch of lists in it and I can’t help but think that if I wrote a short story my story would have a ton of lists in it too. A young woman is in love with a robot that works as a cashier but when the robot gets replaced, she starts a search for her long-lost love and grapples with the idea of her love towards a robot by possibly becoming one herself.
Charles Yu – “NPC”(Short Story)
NPC is the evolution of a side character in a video game world into one of the main characters. As the character levels, gains abilities, and greater powers, they come to understand that their quiet life as a mining NPC, and being near the love of their life, is all they really want.
Caroline M. Yoachim – “Stone Wall Truth”(Novelette)
Yoachin brings us another complex story with Stone Wall Truth. Stone Wall Truth is about a woman who punishes people by trapping their being inside a rock while connecting them to a wall. It is a weird combination of being put in stasis, punished, leaving ones body behind, and preserving the body. The woman doesn’t question what she does until the previous ruler is put on the wall by the new king. When she rebels against the system, she ends up on the wall herself.
An Owomoyela – “Travelling into Nothing”(Short Story)
When you have a chance to escape being a prisoner, you take it, even when it is piloting a huge space platform back to deep space.
Seanan McGuire – “Frontier ABCs: The Life and Times of Charity Smith, Schoolteacher”(Short Story)
An outlaw becomes a schoolteacher but is drawn back into the life
David Barr Kirtley – “They Go Bump”(Short Story)
A squad of soldiers must traverse the land invisible. The only problem is the enemy can mimic voices and are invisible themselves.
Yoon Ha Lee – “The Coin of Heart’s Desire”(Short Story)
The new ruler makes a bargain with a dragon for her heart’s desire. The ending of this story is fantastic.
Theodora Goss – “Elena’s Egg”(Short Story)
A job interviewee tells her backstory and gets a new job. What I liked about this story is that it made you question the intentions of people.
Charlie Jane Anders – “The Super Ultra Duchess of Fedora Forest”(Short Story)
A bird, a sausage, and a mouse live together in a forest. Yes, this story is wacky and fun, I really liked it.
Jeremiah Tolbert – “The Girl with the Sun in Her Head”(Short Story)
A young artist uses chalk to draw on buildings and sidewalks while discovering a magical part of her world.