Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014
by John Joseph Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a GREAT issue. I don’t think there was one story that wasn’t top-notch. My favorite SF stories were Codename: Delphi and Exhalation. My favorite fantasy was The Only Death in the City. The Afterparty excerpt was great and I added the book to my To Read list. As I normally do with collections or SFF magazines, below are my reviews per story. (They roughly align with my status posts, but sometimes I have to trim the statuses to remain within the character limits)
Codename: Delphi – a story almost certainly inspired by the Iraq/Afghanistan wars of the 2000s-2020s where drone operators worked from afar to provide backup to the war effort. In this story, battlefield oversight and command is now a job contracted out. Our protagonist works in a “call center” providing this oversight role and we spend a night with her. It’s one of those short stories that is less about character growth or a full story. Instead it’s a scene in what could be a much larger narrative. I enjoyed the story quite a bit.
Francisca Montoya’s Almanac of Things that Can Kill You – what starts off as a darkly humorous explanation of all the ways humans can die ends up telling the tale of a post-apocalyptic world. It’s especially creative for the fact that the story is told through ways of dying that are listed alphabetically.
Complex God – A very interesting take on the emergent AI concept. It also leads to an unexpected twist as our protagonist has their own twist planned as well.
Exhalation – a neat metaphor for what the current scientific thought tells us will happen with out own universe as time passes. It has a bit of that SF Golden Age (1930s-1940s) tone to it and I really enjoy that whenever I find it. 5/5 for this story.
Observations about Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa – very odd sort of fantasy in which you get glimpses of magic or things not quite being what they seem.
The Day the World Turn Upside Down – A fantastical metaphor for a breakup alongside a literal, non-metaphorical breakup. It was a sweet story and a nice read.
Alsiso – An exploration of how memes mutate that was a lot of fun to read. Also seems to maybe overlap a bit with the premise of Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.
The Only Death in the City – Something has happened on Earth and now people are reincarnated and completely remember their past lives. What would this to do life and society? Then our main character is the first newly born in thousands of years (he does not have a past life) – and so a moving story begins. An excellent selection for this fantasy reprint!
Novellas & Author Spotlights
The Autopsy – A science fiction horror novella that has a bit of a Lovecraftian bent to the narration. The plot has a few unexpected turns, but they are executed quite well. Reading the first paragraph of the next section of the magazine, an author feature, mentions this story is a classic. It definitely deserves that award.
Mihael Shea: No Form is Eternal- A tribute to Mr. Shea and The Autopsy.
Afterparty – An intriguing novel involving (essentially) 3D printed drugs. The character of The Vincent cinched it for me and I added this book to my To Read List (long though it is)
Steles of the Sky – An excerpt from a novel that takes place in a fantasy-tinged Mongol empire. Thanks to having read The Mongoliad I recognized the names as Mongolian immediately. Story seems fascinating. Perhaps I will give the author another shot. (I didn’t like the first novel of hers I read)
Interview: Darren Aronofsky – An interview about the movie and graphic novel adaptations of Noah.
The Myth of Everyman – An essay on why it was problematic that the entire Noah cast (in the movie) was white. A good, short essay to show someone who doesn’t understand the concept of why it’s bad that “white” is assumed to be the “default”.
Interview: Scott Sigler – Wonder how well Pandemic the book squares with the reality of pandemic in 2020-2021. Man, this is hard to read during COVID.
Artist Gallery/Artist Spotlight: Remi Le Capon – a mix of steampunk and SF images. His description of an ideal art project sounds like The Witcher meets Steampunk.
Linda Nagata – Looks like I was slightly off in the inspiration. Apparently the short story is providing POV to a character from one of her novels.
Shaenon K. Garrity – About the inspiration for the character in Almanac of Things that can kill you
Scott Sigler – A little more background on Prawatt and where she came from and her motivations in “God Complex”
Ted Chiang – How a Philip K Dick short story was part of the inspiration for “Exhalation!”
Carmen Maria Machado – The origin of the egg story.
Thomas Olde Heuvelt – The author’s experience with grief led to the story and its extended metaphor.
Spotlight: KJ Bishop – Discussion on how Alsisso comes from the idea of consumerism as the evolution of theology.
Spotlight: CJ Cherryh – In the discussion of The Only Death I learned that Paris is one of the oldest European cities.
The Legend of RoboNinja – A parody of cyberpunk, complete with unnecessarily complex words. Very fun.
Author Spotlight: RoboNinja – A great parody of the author spotlights.
View all my reviews