REVIEW SUMMARY: This week’s Short Fiction Friday looks at the Original Short Science Fiction and Fantasy offerings in the latest issue of Lightspeed. The November issue has additional reprint short stories as well as nonfiction and exclusive extras in the ebook addition.
BRIEF SUMMARY: Four nicely-paced original works of short genre fiction that offer ideas sure to stir the imagination.
PROS: Strong science fictional aspects, even in the original fantasy selections; wide variety in style and subject matter; solid nod to two classic science fiction authors; offerings demonstrate that short story writers haven’t forgotten that stories can be fun.
CONS: Purists might feel the two original works of fantasy contain too many science fictional leanings.
BOTTOM LINE: The original fiction presented in the November issue of Lightspeed showcases the variety in subject matter and style that makes engaging in short fiction so pleasurable. Not every story will work for every reader but the stories chosen demonstrate a proficiency with the medium that allows the ideas, and in some cases the characters, to shine through.
REVIEW SUMMARY: This week’s Short Fiction Friday looks at a subset of the September 2013 issue of Lightspeed: two works of original science fiction.
BRIEF SUMMARY: These two original science fiction stories each look at alien invasion in vastly different ways, offering entertaining, yet frightening, images of the future.
PROS: Imaginative sfnal concepts; thoughtful pacing; satisfying story structure; one story highlights actual scientific concepts.
CONS: Fans of character-driven science fiction over idea-driven science fiction may be disappointed.
BOTTOM LINE: The original works of science fiction in the latest issue of Lightspeed are very entertaining stories focused on science fictional ideas that spark the imagination. One story looks at a threat to an as-yet-unpopulated Earth while the other examines humanity in the wake of a devastating alien invasion. Both stories are work checking out and are available for your reading (or listening) pleasure. Additionally there are original works of fantasy, along with reprints and more, available in this issue.
REVIEW SUMMARY: The July 2013 issue of Lightspeed features four works of fantasy and four works of science fiction (two original stories in each category), plus a novella and two novel excerpts (ebook exclusive), interviews with Hugh Howey and Austin Grossman, author spotlights and a bonus short horror story from Nightmare magazine.
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REVIEW SUMMARY: In the June issue of Lightspeed, 2013 Hugo-nominated editor John Joseph Adams presents a solid slate of new and reprint fantasy and science fiction short stories, accompanying author interviews, feature interviews with Robert J. Sawyer and Nalo Hopkinson, and an artist spotlight and gallery of work for the creator of this beautiful cover illustration, Pavel Elagin. The Ebook version contains a bonus novella, “The Fool’s Tale” by L. Timmel Duchamp and an excerpt from the newly released third novel in James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, Abaddon’s Gate.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In this issue, variety reigns supreme. Stories feature time travel, immortality, travel via generation ship, life as art, witchcraft, a dark fairy tale in a modern landscape, terraforming on a hostile planet, and the story of the moon’s daughter and touch on issues of relevance as well as entertain.
PROS: Familiar tropes examined in a new context; wide variety in story offerings — darker, more serious stories mixed with lighter but no less entertaining selections; some longer stories allow for deeper characterization; first free online appearance of Ken Liu’s excellent Hugo-nominated “Mono no aware”.
CONS: Fans in the mood for a particular kind of story may find the variety off-putting [I realize that is a reach, but even with the stories that did not hit all my hot buttons, I appreciated what the author was trying to accomplish.]
BOTTOM LINE: Having already overused the “v” word in this opening snapshot, allow me to dip into the Thesaurus and say that the “array” of stories in the June issue meant that each story was a surprise that could be judged on its own merits. While there were stories that appropriated familiar science fictional or fantasy tropes, several included attempts by the author to play with those tropes — changing the setting or subverting expectations. It would be safe to say that despite my lack of specific “cons”, there were stories were not in my wheelhouse. Looking objectively I put those down to personal taste, as this issue was light on stories that missed the landing. I was predisposed to give this issue a high rating based solely on the presence of “Mono no aware”. I made an instant emotional connection with Ken Liu’s story when I read it upon release in last year’s The Future is Japanese anthology. It is a testament to John Joseph Adams that he filled the space around it with interesting and engaging stories.
REVIEW SUMMARY: The May issue of Lightspeed features two new and two reprint stories in both the science fiction and fantasy categories. This review covers the four stories being published for the first time in this issue. In addition to the short fiction, Issue 36 includes feature interviews with authors Karen Russell and Gregory Maguire and cover artist Giuliano Brocani.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The fantastic original fiction offerings in this issue of Lightspeed emphasize relationships set against the backdrop of mythology, end of the world, and parallel universe scenarios.
PROS: Unexpected outcomes; familiar story ideas examined through a new lens; satisfying endings; imaginative world-building.
CONS: The focus on relationships over science fictional or fantastical concepts may not be to every reader’s liking. One of the original works has some potentially disturbing imagery.
BOTTOM LINE: The May 2013 issue of Lightspeed, from an original fiction standpoint, is quite good and comes highly recommended from this reviewer. The authors do not shy away from weighty issues while offering up interesting backgrounds against which they allow their dramas to unfold. As these stories become available on the website it would be a shame to pass them up.
REVIEW SUMMARY: The April issue of Lightspeed features two new and two reprint stories in both the science fiction and fantasy categories, including a new release from self-publishing sensation Hugh Howey, as well as feature interviews with authors Jane Yolen and Brandon Sanderson.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Alien invasion and visitation, past and future examination of the disparity between the haves and have-nots, the importance of relationships and the efforts humans go to in order to heal the past and much more is revealed in the eight short stories included in the latest issue of Lightspeed.
PROS: Interesting ideas well-realized; contemporary stories that fuel nostalgia; a few likeable characters that the reader will root for; stories inspired by real places/events lend strength to the telling.
CONS: One story is longer and more descriptive than it needs to be to accomplish the same ends; fantasy offerings are weaker as a whole compared to the science fiction selections.
BOTTOM LINE: The April issue of Lightspeed is a good jumping on issue for those who have not given the magazine a try as it has a wide variety of stories balanced between new, upcoming authors and well-established storytellers. The science fiction stories are particularly enjoyable in this issue and it was particularly interesting to see a new story by Hugh Howey that is not set in the Wool universe.
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Lightspeed issue 34 offers up four fantasy short stories and four science fiction short stories, each category containing two original works and two reprints.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Virus-embracing post-humans, a future political activist and a group of friends playing poker rub shoulders with a dream detective and characters from more traditional fairy and folk tales in the latest issue of Lightspeed Magazine.
PROS: A couple of chilling offerings good for a dark and stormy night; a few offerings exhibit structurally sound storytelling.
CONS: Fantasy offerings feel unfinished; two of the science fiction stories are short on science fiction; stories generated more feelings of apathy than engagement.
BOTTOM LINE: The weekly endeavor to feature some of the latest short fiction offerings continues to challenge me as a reader as I struggle to find balance between my personal tastes and objective reviewing. This is a struggle I am happy to embrace as it not only teaches me to be a better reader but allows for opportunities for you to read these same stories and tell me how wrong I am. This issue of Lightspeed was disappointing as I found no stories which engendered a good connection. There were a few stories that I can objectively say were well-written and internally consistent but did nothing for me on an emotional level.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Psychosis and special government operatives; alien manipulation; alternate history; mermaids; Stygian horrors; mechanized warfare; pause buttons for children and more await discerning readers in the February 2013 issue of Lightspeed.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: This issue contains two original works of science fiction and two original works of fantasy, plus two additional reprint stories in each genre, interviews with each featured author as well as extended interviews with Steven Erikson and Lois McMaster Bujold. There is an essay on homage in science fiction, a reprint novella by Tad Williams, and a novel excerpt from Karen Lord’s recently released The Best of All Possible Worlds.
PROS: Seven out of the eight short stories are recommended; variety of selection in story styles; insightful author interviews; nice feature with the cover artist that includes full-color art gallery; well organized magazine layout.
CONS: One story was too enigmatic.
BOTTOM LINE: Issue #33 of Lightspeed is well worth picking up and is just the latest example of why this magazine is consistently strong and worth the price of a monthly subscription. There are entertaining, thought-provoking stories as well as bonus content that mirrors the type of work visitors to SF Signal expect to see on a daily basis. All four original works in this issue are solid offerings demonstrating the creativity and imagination present in contemporary SFF short fiction .