Lightspeed is a freely available online magazine of science fiction and fantasy edited by John Joseph Adams. Lightspeed has no particular subgenre or thematic focus, but provides a wide variety of speculative stories. They publish eight stories a month. Half of the stories are science fiction, half fantasy, with a mix of reprints and originals. Half of the stories are produced for the podcast, so one story a week.
Skyboat Media produces the podcast. Many of the stories are narrated by Skyboat’s excellent voice actors Gabrielle de Cuir and Stefan Rudnicki. The production is consistently excellent, and the two of them are wonderful voice actors who do justice to so many different character voices.
Lightspeed produces some of my favorite stories every year, often among my picks for award nominations. Among their most popular issues have been their special issues of Women Destroy Science Fiction! and Queers Destroy Science Fiction!, and the Fantasy Magazine branches of those–Women Destroy Fantasy! and the upcoming Queers Destroy Fantasy!.
Fantasy Magazine was launched in 2005 with Sean Wallace as publisher and Paul Tremblay as editor. In 2007 Cat Rambo became editor, a role she filled until 2012, for which she received a World Fantasy Award nomination in the category of “Special Award–Non-Professional”.
In 2010, Fantasy’s sister-magazine Lightspeed was launched, also published by Sean Wallace and edited by John Joseph Adams–in its original carnation it was a science fiction only magazine, no fantasy (since Fantasy Magazine filled the other niche). John Joseph Adams was already well-known as an editor of popular anthologies and the launch of Lightspeed came with a lot of buzz, and resulted in multiple award nominations in its first year, including the Hugo and the Nebula. The magazine launched with the podcast with its very first episode “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno” by Vylar Kaftan.
In 2011, John Joseph Adams became editor of Fantasy Magazine (while continuing to edit Lightspeed) and not too long after Fantasy Magazine launched its own podcast with the first story “Lessons From a Clockwork Queen” by Megan Arkenberg.
Then in 2012, Fantasy and Lightspeed merged together, with Lightspeed being the remaining title. Since the merge, Lightspeed publishes both fantasy and science fiction, the same number of each that it published before the merge.
The podcast was originally hosted by Jack Kincaid, who then moved on to host Nightmare instead, so the host position at Lightspeed was filled by Jim Freund.
In 2014, in response to comments about “women destroying science fiction,” Lightspeed launched the Women Destroy Science Fiction! Kickstarter campaign which was wildly successful, to produce a special issue of Lightspeed that is staffed entirely by women and producing stories written by women. The campaign also reached stretch goals for Women Destroy Fantasy! (which briefly revived Fantasy Magazine and the podcast to host the stories) and Women Destroy Horror! (which was hosted in Nightmare Magazine, which I’ll spotlight next month). The guest editor-in-chief of Women Destroy Science Fiction! was by Christie Yant with Rachel Swirsky as reprint editor and Robyn Lupo as flash fiction editor, Mur Lafferty as podcast host, and Gabrielle de Cuir produced the podcasts for the month. The guest editor for Women Destroy Fantasy! was returning editor Cat Rambo.
In 2014 Lightspeed won the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine.
In 2015 the similarly very successful Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Kickstarter also funded, with fantasy and horror stretch goals. The science fiction portion has already run as of the writing of this article. Seanan McGuire was the guest editor-in-chief for this special issue, with Steve Berman as reprint editor, Sigrid Ellis as flash fiction editor, Cecil Baldwin as host, and Paul Boehmer as podcast producer. The fantasy and horror segments are in progress.
- “Drones Don’t Kill People” by Annalee Newitz
- “Nothing is Pixels Here” by K.M. Szpara
- “The Battle of York” by James Stoddard
- “Veil of Ignorance” by David Barr Kirtley
- “The Boy and the Box” by Adam-Troy Castro
- “Miss Carstairs and the Merman” by Delia Sherman
- “Phalloon the Illimitable” by Matthew Hughes
- “We’ll be Together Forever” by Joseph Allen Hill
- “Breathless in the Deep” by Cory Skerry
- “The Drawstring Detective” by Nik Houser
- “The Case of the Passionless Bees” by Rhonda Eikamp
- “Love is the Plan the Plan is Death” by James Tiptree, Jr.
- “A Fine Show on the Abyssal Plain” by Karin Tidbeck
- “Invisible Planets” by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu)
- “Harry and Marlowe and the Intrigue at the Aetherian Exhibition” by Carrie Vaughn
Next month I will be shining the spotlight on the podcast of Lightspeed‘s sister-publication–Nightmare, the horror counterpart. Nightmare is also edited by John Joseph Adams, and also produced by Skyboat Media, though at a slightly lower rate of one story every two weeks. Alongside Lightspeed‘s Women Destroy Science Fiction! and Women Destroy Fantasy! special issues, Nightmare also had a special Women Destroy Horror! issue.