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2015 Stories 321 - 329

This batch of stories all comes from the December 2015 issue of Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams.

321. TOMORROW WHEN WE SEE THE SUN by A. Merc Rustad.  The story of a gender-neutral executioner whose sense of identity has been erased by the Sun Lords who employ it. The mystery is in the main character's erased history, and Rustad spools the story out with great tension and fluidity.

322. BENEATH THE SILENT STARS by Aidan Doyle.  Jean-Paul is a Verifier for the Bibliotheque. He and his lover Parveen, a Summerizer, have been sent to find out why the ship Maripose X destroyed the one hyperspace gate linking this part of the galaxy to the rest. The story addresses issues of abandonment, trust, and real vs. simulated experiences in a very intimate and involving way.

323. TEA TIME by Rachel Swirsky.  The Mad Hatter and the March Hare are stuck in a timeless tea party and friendship has turned to lust and love. Swirsky captures the feel of Lewis Carroll and adds her own take on the nature of time, love, insanity, obligation, beginnings and endings.

324. EX LIBRIS NOCTIS by Jay Lake.  Beatrice has an unusual journey into fantastic worlds as she tries to attend her father's funeral. Lake's penchant for keeping the reader as off-kilter and confused as the main character is strong here, as is his amazing knack for tieing it all together in a way the reader can relate to.

325. BEACON 23 by Hugh Howey.  An unnamed veteran tends a beacon in an asteriod belt, designed to guide faster-than-light ships safely past the hazard. What happens when it seems that function has failed? Is it really a system failure or is it manifesting PTSD for the main character? Howey keeps the character, and the reader, guessing until the end.

326. THE TIME TRAVEL CLUB by Charlie Jane Anders.  Lydia stays in the church basement after her 12-step meeting and encounters the Time Travel Club, whose careful attention to LARPing is disrupted by Madame Alberta's revelation that she has invented a working time machine. I won't pretend to understand the mathematical and scientific underpinnings of the story (which Anders did a lot of research into, per the author spotlight), but then again I don't really have to understand it, because characterization drives the story far more than science, and the characterization is very strong.

327. THE QUEEN'S REASON by Richard Parks.  A great play on the tropes of an addled new Queen who must be rescued from her insanity by her destined spouse, the court surrounding her who want to manipulate her for their own good fortune, and the court magician who knows more than he's letting on. A really wonderful, light story.

328. PORTFOLIO by Mark Rigney.  Eight year old Nathan spends a summer with his grandparents and learns the secrets of his grandmother's connections with paintings and gardens. The tone of the story is nostalgic, and reminded me very much of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

329. THE SURFER by Kelly Link.  A young teen soccer player's life is disrupted when his doctor father drugs him and takes him on what turns out to be one of the last planes to leave the US before a huge viral outbreak decimates the world's population. The kid, his father, and everyone else on their plane end up quarantined in Costa Rica until they can be proven clear of the disease. Personalities clash, friendships are formed, and there's even the possibility the kid will get to meet the titular "surfer," a man who claims to have encountered aliens years earlier ... aliens who he says will be returning. Really fantastic world-building and character work.


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