Review: Lightspeed Magazine Issue 1 June 2010

Lightspeed Magazine, June 2010Lightspeed Magazine, June 2010 by John Joseph Adams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently subscribed to several genre magazines, including Lightspeed Magazine. I helped support the magazine’s latest two Destroy issues via Kickstarter, but I had not yet dived into any issues. Now that I own them all and am subscribed for another year thanks to a generous Kickstarter reward, it’s time to get started with Issue 1!

The four short stories in the debut issue of Lightspeed are all fantastic. “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno” by Vylar Kaftan is a beautiful literary journey through love, space, and time. The level of Kaftan’s craft here is excellent, including the pacing, language, sounds, and episodic time jumps as a woman describes her on-again off-again relationship with a man set against exponential progress in technology. I also love how Lightspeed and Nightmare Magazines include “Author Spotlight” interviews for each story; it’s wonderful to read about each author’s process and the genesis of their stories. Lightspeed Issue 1 also includes nonfiction essays after each story that explores their science further. These are often pretty basic in content, but the passion of the essayists is quite apparent.

“The Cassandra Project” by Jack McDevitt uncovers a secret about the moon that might explain Fermi’s Paradox, and the decades-long conspiracy to keep the finding from the public. I work in planetary science and I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the story very much because I’ve had to deal with conspiracy theory advocates in the past, but I had a great time with the story and appreciated its thoughtfulness about the great mystery of why we don’t see a sky crowded with aliens all talking at once. I also really enjoyed the interview with McDevitt and “The High Untresspassed Sanctity of Space: Seven True Stories about Eugene Cernan” by Genevieve Valentine, a list essay of quite exceptional depth and fascinating historical tidbits related to the last astronaut on the moon.

“Cats in Victory” by David Barr Kirtley is speculative science fiction at its best and most “Planet of the Apes” like, but this time with dogs and cats and other animals. It’s also quite tense and I’m thankful it didn’t end quite where I expected the plot to lead. Another great “Author Spotlight” and Carol Pinchefsky’s “Top Ten Reasons Why Uplifted Animals Don’t Make Good Pets” is hilarious.

Perhaps my favorite of the four stories is “Amaryliss” by Carrie Vaughn. The writer explores a world that has been forced by near-apocalypse to enact systems of sustainability that introduce their own complex consequences. This is a story about mothers and daughters and it left me in tears. The world building is spectacular, so vivid and alive. The author provides insightful background to her story in her interview. The accompanying essay suggests ways we can individually be more sustainable today, and though some of the suggestions are a bit rote and even scientifically questionable, it’s helpful to read the essayist’s thoughts on the subject and to ponder again my own Ecological Footprint.

What a great start to a magazine that seems to be thriving several years later. Just 72 issues to go until I’m caught up!

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.