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2015 Stories 200 - 207

This batch of stories all appeared in the July 2015 issue of Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams:

200. CRAZY RHYTHM by Carrie Vaughn.   A Prohibition-era Hollywood dictatorial director makes like difficult for an Assistant Director and newly-hired Props guy: he wants his WW1 epic to include a fleet of real working tanks. The props guy has actual war experience that the Director denigrates. Vaughn’s first person narration (from the POV of the aggravated yet concerned AD) is spot on, really drawing the reader into the story. The characterization of the director is a trope, but Vaughn plays with that and runs with it, using the stereotypical director to draw out more nuanced characterizations for the assistant director and war vet. A neat piece of alternate history, as well.

201. LIFE ON THE MOON by Tony Daniel.    Henry, a poet, marries Nell, a cutting-edge architect. They grow together and then apart as her art takes her to build a city on the Moon, a barren place earthy Henry just cannot bring himself to follow. The story is effectively interspersed with both Henry’s poems and Nell’s moon-city architectural treatise. Daniel’s prose is really evocative of the way, even without the SFnal elements, relationships spring up, settle in, and go to dust.

202. THE CONSCIOUSSNESS PROBLEM by Mary Robinette Kowal.    Elise has problems with focus and time loss due to a subway accident. Her husband Myung is the head of a team that has successfully cloned a human and copied consciousness from original to clone. Kowal juggles several different storylines off of this premise: is Elise a clone herself (of someone who died)? Can Elise (clone or not) tell the difference between her actual husband and his clone? Where do/would clone rights begin and end, especially if the consciousness of the clone is the consciousness of the original (rather than the clone having its own personality and history)? Each question is addressed, and Elise’s confusion is the piece that holds it all together.

203. VIOLATION OF THE TRUENET SECURITY ACT by Taiyo Fujii (translated by Jim Hibbert). Years after an apparent programming glitch locked the world out of a possibly-sentient internet, Minima finds himself revisiting SocialPay, a bit of software he created pre-Lockout. He sees possibilities in the program, but how can he connect it to the strictly-controlled TrueNet, and can he trust his superior Chen to help? This is a great piece of corporate espionage fiction. I felt Minima’s elation and then paranoia as events unfold around him.

204. ADVENTURES IN THE GHOST TRADE by Liz Williams.   Detective Chen polices the supernatural elements in Singapore3, and is not popular with the regular police because of it. In this story, he investigates the disappearance of a ghost named Pearl, who despite her family following the correct protocols does not end up in Heaven as expected. There is some really wonderful world-building in this story, combining science fiction elements (multiple large city complexes named after Singapore) with urban fantasy (supernatural detectives, ghosts, demons), and Chen’s world-weariness also really comes through in the narration.

205. SALTWATER RAILROAD by Andrea Hairston.    In this novella, a shipwrecked woman (called Rainbow by her rescuers) washes up on a hidden island off the coast of the Carolinas. The island is full of runaway slaves, Indians and a few other downtrodden colonial-era folks. Miz Delia is the island’s spirit-seeing leader, but Rainbow’s unexpected arrival naturally foments unrest between those who feel the island society should stay hidden and those who feel it’s time to strike back against the mainland’s slave-owners. Hairston’s Delia is a compelling POV character and the politics of the hideaways are well-drawn.

206. ANA’S TAG by William Alexander.    Ana clearly loves her older brother Rico, and when he acts strangely regarding graffiti that has appeared at the high school, she investigates what he’s hiding. She finds an entry to the Fairy Lands and discovers that friends aren’t always who they seem to be. The story is at once whimsical and dark, a really solid piece of YA short fiction.

207. DAPPLE by Eleanor Arnason. Full disclosure: I had no idea this story is part of a larger sequence until I read the Author Spotlight at the end of the issue. Dapple is the story of Ahl, a girl who yearns to be an actor in a society where women are not allowed to be. Her attempt to live as a male show her real life in the way the men’s plays she’s seen don’t. Dapple’s society is a matriarchal one in which same-sex relationships are the norm, and breeding is done by family contract (and where breeding out-of-contract is highly frowned on). Really great world-building, and kudos to Arnason for showing a female-led society that is just as fraught with violence and discrimination as any patriarchal society.


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