Review: Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 107, April 2019

Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 107, April 2019 by John Joseph Adams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Archronology of Love (Caroline M. Yoachim) – This short story involves an interesting idea where an alien race has created a VR history, but to make an analogy with archeology, when you view part of the history, you mess up that record and if you move around you mess even more up. (Similar to how digging up an archeology site disturbs the very record being observed) The story isn’t just a neat gimmick – it also has a nice little love story that goes along with it.

To Market, To Market: The Branding of Billy Bailey (Cory Doctorow) – This is a reprint form 2000, but it almost reads as if it was written yesterday (May 2023) as a critique of the concept of influencers. I guess Doctorow was ahead of the curve in seeing what was coming along the pike. This story (which also satirizes the corporate naming of everything – think in real life of how your team plays in a stadium named after a bank or something) involves a kid in elementary school considering how his actions align with his brand. Combine that with Doctorow’s usual sense of humor and you’ve got a winner.

Gundark Island, or, Tars Tarkas Needs Your Help (Matthew Corradi) – a love letter to science fiction and (according to the author interview) a semi-autobiography. Also a story about growing up

The She-Wolf’s Hidden Grin (Michael Swanwick) – this story takes a hard turn from where it appears to be going at first. Strong recommendation.
Blur (Carmen Maria Machado) – an interesting story, but seemingly no ending or anything actually fantastical? (Unless I “blinked” and missed it)

The Seeds of War (Ashok K. Banker) – the last of the shirt stories released prior to the first Burnt Empire book. It’s the most directly related to the plot in that book. The magical conception in this story makes me glad it doesn’t work that way in the real world.

The Lady of Shalott (Carrie Vaughn) – a parody of Arthurian tales that goes to a VERY unexpected place. I like Vaughn’s sense of humor.

A Conch-Shell’s Notes (Shweta Adhyam) – my favorite story in this issue. It’s a deconstruction of The Hero’s Journey and has a fun tone to the narrative.
The Speed of Belief (Robert Reed) – A rarity for SF, this story actually explores the idea of a completely different type of organism (ie not humanoid) and how that affects the way it thinks and acts. Also plays with the concepts of technology allowing some humans to be effectively immortal.
Upon a Burning Throne (Ashok K. Banker) – after having read the short stories that take place in this world, it was fun to finally read the first chapters of this book. I’ll probably move it up in my “to read” list this year.
Book Reviews: April 2019 (Chris Kluwe) – A series of books around the concept of knowing oneself. Great introduction by Kluwe. I appreciated for each of the reviews that Kluwe included a “for fans of” to help folks get a good idea of whether they would enjoy it (in addition to the few paragraphs they had written about the book).

Media Review: April 2019 (Christopher East) – I’d heard lots of good things about the show Russian Doll. This review makes me want to check it out. I’ll have to add it to my ever-growing media queue.

Interview: Rebecca Roanhorse (Christian A. Coleman) – An interview mostly focusing on the Sixth World series.

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