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2015 Stories 223 - 231

This next batch is from this month's (September 2015's) issue of Lightspeed magazine #64, edited by John Joseph Adams:

223. SEVEN WONDERS OF A ONCE AND FUTURE WORLD by Caroline M. Yoachim.   Mei's quset to bring humanity to the stars is aided by Achron, a being outside of time that Mei has created / will create.  The story structure is based on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as reimagined among the stars in the near and not-so-near future. Although the main character changes as she experiences a future full of sensations unknowable to the reader, she is still at heart the Mei who starts the story -- reminding us that while you can't go home again, you can bring the best part of yourself with you wherever you go.

224. GOD MODE by Daniel H. Wilson (reprinted from the anthology Press Start to Play).  An unnamed narrator meets a girl named Sarah on a tram to the beach. Their first encounter involves an accident which causes Sarah some head trauma, which coincides with evidence that the universe is shrinking (stars winking out, etc). The question is: are the two connected, or is the narrator projecting his feeling that his own world is shrinking onto the universe? The narration feels appropriately claustrophobic for a "world disappears around us" story.

225. ALL IN A HOT AND COPPER SKY by Megan Arkenberg.  The Narrator writes letters in her mind to a dead lover, Socorro, who was responsible for several deaths in a real time/life Biosphere experiment simulating life in a domed colony on Mars. The epistolary format mixed with internal monologue is very effective for conveying what the narrator did or didn't know about the events leading up to the deaths and how she feels about what has happened in the intervening years.

226. HARRY AND MARLOWE MEET THE FOUNDER OF THE AETHERIAN REVOLUTION by Carrie Vaughn (reprinted from The Mad Scientist's Guide To World Domination). In a story that takes place early in the career of Harry (aka Princess Maud of England) and her companion Marlowe, the two track down Doctor Carlisle, the scientist who made Aetherian technology usable by humans. It's a clandestine visit to the imprisoned doctor, to see what else he might be hiding. Of all the Harry and Marlowe stories (which I love), this one has the most Gothic Horror feel. I think it shows that Vaughn can plug just about any genre into her Aetherian alternate history and make it work. Also, since this story is earlier in their history, it's fun to watch Harry and Marlowe still figuring out how they work best together.

227. THE IRON HUT by Maurice Broaddus (reprinted from Sword & Mythos, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia).  A neat Lovecraftian/Haggardian tale. A modern archaeology team discovers evidence of a lost legendary city called Kilwa Kivinge, on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. That night, the team leader Leopold dreams of a Nokian warrior named Dinga and his encounter with the city and its denizens. Broaddus takes the aspects of Lovecraftian cosmic horror and Haggardian lost cities and indomnitable warriors and puts his own indelible spin on both.

228. THE NINTH SEDUCTION by Sean McMullen.  Castellerine Lynder of Faerie demands beauty from her lowborn goblin artisans. Raksar, the best of these, becomes a pawn in a game between the Castellerine and her mortal nemesis Lady Torval. If this were just a story about the testing of bonds of loyalty and the effect of beauty on a person's decisions, it would be good enough. But it's also a commentary on the way new technology changes not only warfare but our view of what behaviors are appropriate ... and how changes to both of these affect not just individuals but nations and worlds.

229. ESTELLA SAVES THE VILLAGE by Theodora Goss (reprinted from Queen Victoria's Book of Spells, edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow).  Young Estella lives in a quaint happy village with her foster mother Miss Havisham and their neighbors (Tess D'Uberville, the Ushers, Joe Gargery, Pip, Reverend Rivers, Holmes and Adler, and more). Trouble starts the day Estella notices black dots appearing everywhere ... dots no one else notices. This was a really fun bit of literary crossover fiction with a twist that is truly satisfying and, to me, wholly original.

230. WEREWOLF LOVES MERMAID by Heather Lindsley.  A werewolf meets a mermaid at the wedding of a vampire to a teen mortal girl.  Of course it's about opposites attracting and alter-egos and hidden lives getting in the way. And it's a truly funny story.

231. MILO AND SYLVIE by Eliot Fintushel.  Milo is a troubled 15 year old with a secret he can't even bring himself to acknowledge, never mind telling the psychiatrist assigned to work with him. Fleeing when he thinks the shrink is up to no good, he meets performance artist Syvlie and slowly discovers who he is, how to cope with his secret past, and whether he's alone in the world or not. Fintushel moves the story along smartly, using Milo's point of view (but not first person narrative) to keep us in the moment even while flashing back to Milo's past.

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