This week, a new online magazine was launched, titled Lightspeed Magazine. According to its website, there will be original and reprinted content, with an exciting list of authors coming up, with Carrie Vaughn, Jack McDevitt and David Barr Kirtley composing the first ‘issue’, with others, such as George R.R. Martin, Haldeman, Ursula K. Le Guin and more, coming in the near future. The site is edited by John Joseph Adams, who’s known for his Wastelands and Living Dead anthologies.
The setup seems to pair non-fiction articles with the stories. This issue sees Every Step We Take paired with Amaryllis, and Top Ten Reasons Why Uplifted Animals Don’t Make Good Pets with Cats In Victory, and so on. Several of the stories stood out for me:
Every Step We Take, by Amanda Levy – This column is a reflection on the environment, something that has been especially prevalent in the news lately, with the destruction of the Deep Water Horizon back in April. While adding nothing wholly new to the common sense and environmentalism realms of knowledge, it does serve as a good reminder, as well as a good piece that puts some things into perspective as we move forward. Its inclusion into what’s being marketed as a speculative fiction magazine is interesting, but it does go to show that these are issues that science fiction will likely be tackling in the near future with more frequency.
Amaryllis, by Carrie Vaughn – Captain Marie is the head of a communal household, set along a coastline fishing community where moderation is the normal state of being. In this future, their livelihood has largely collapsed, with energy and food limited. As a consequence, fishing households, ruled by quotas and guidelines, to prevent overfishing and overpopulation, have come into being. For Marie, this is a particularly close topic, as she was the result of an unregulated birth that split up her own household, and now, as the leader of a small group, must work towards their own benefit, but also with what is good for everyone.
Cats in Victory by David Barr Kirtley – This story is a cute morality story that reads much like Planet of the Apes meets the phrase ‘Curiosity Killed The Cat’, where Cats (Catmen) and Dogs (Dogmen) have evolved far beyond mankind (Monkeymen). When a trio of the cats chase after a pair of dogs, the arrival of a man and his spaceship pet prove troublesome for some long-held beliefs on the part of the pursuers.
The High Untresspassed Sanctity of Space: Seven True Stories about Eugene Cernan by Genevieve Valentine – This short piece looks at Eugene Cernan, a member of the third Astronaut group, who crewed Gemini and Apollo. It’s good to see information on the roots of spaceflight in this medium, but some of the facts aren’t straight. Apollo was begun in 1961, following the speech that Kennedy gave, which in turn gave rise to Gemini in 1962. Despite that, it’s a fitting look at the career of one of the United State’s most compelling and often unremembered astronauts.
The Cassandra Project, by Jack McDevitt – This story, about a dome and cover-up with the Apollo program, was fun, but one that really didn’t appeal to me personally, especially after reading and writing extensively on U.S. Space history. While the dome that’s discovered on the far side of the moon isn’t really a bit stretch for me, knowing the limitations and time pressures that the Apollo program and NASA were under. For me, credible world-building is something that might be fantastic, but rooted in reality, and this story just missed the mark for me.
Overall, I’m intrigued by the launch of this website. The first story, I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno, by Vylar Kaftan, is now up online, with fictional stories posted on Tuesdays, and non-fiction articles posted on Thursdays. The stories are available through a variety of means, taking advantage of the internet, and readers can read the stories online, or download them for the Kindle, iTunes or ePub, and for some stories, there is a listening option. The site itself is very well designed, and it looks like it’s ready to go.
Still, I’m somewhat let down, not by the fiction, but by the non-fiction articles. There’s a short top-ten list on animals, as well as some articles on various personalities and concepts, and while it’s nice to see the effort, they’re all rather short, to the point and lack a bit of depth that I’d really like to see. I think that a move towards a more scholarly direction would be good for some subjects, and even a section on genre news, to give an audience a real reason to return over and over again, such as what happens for some of the larger genre websites. While it’s not the same as sites like Tor.com, which offers a lot of stories, it’ll certainly come up against them, in which case, the sheer amount of content will likely win out, despite the advantages that Lightspeed has in terms of ways to read the material.
In short, the magazine is off to a promising start with Issue 1. There’s some interesting articles, spotlights and stories up, with more to come, and I can’t wait to see what’s being offered next.