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Lightspeed August 2010
Edited by John Joseph Adams
Cover Artist: Daniele Scerra
Review by Sam Tomaino
Lightspeed  ISBN/ITEM#: LIGHTSPD201008
Date: 30 August 2010

Links: Lightspeed / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Here's the third issue of Lightspeed a new online magazine with stories by Catherynne M. Valente, Tananarive Due, Adam-Troy Castro, and Joe Haldeman, along with Author Spotlights on all of them and non-fiction articles by Dr. Pamela Gay, Carol Pinchefsky, Andrea Kail and Matt London.

Here is the third issue of Lightspeed, the new online magazine, devoted exclusively to science fiction in all its forms. I'll give the setup for the third and last time. Each month they intend to publish two new stories and two reprinted stories, from a variety of authors ranging from old pros to newcomers. They will also have a "variety of nonfiction features, fiction podcasts, and Q&As with our authors that go behind-the-scenes of their stories". You can read the issue, for free, as it comes out through the month, publishing fiction and nonfiction every Tuesday. You can also purchase it in ePub format, Kindle/Nook/Sony Reader, iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch for $2.99 and get the whole issue at once. They also accept PayPal donations. We are also told that Lightspeed is also a podcast, which will feature one or two free stories each month in audio format, produced by Grammy and Audie Award-winning narrator and producer Stefan Rudnicki. For more details, and the issue itself, check them out at

The fiction begins with one of the original ones, "How to Become a Mars Overlord" by Catherynne M. Valente. As you might expect, this one is written with tongue firmly in cheek. After and opening paragraph called "Welcome, Aspring Potentates", we get a section called "Query: Why Mars?" which tells us that every solar system has a red planet located nears its primary, usually named after a war-god or something like that. We get some interesting looks at the mythologies of these other Mars' namesakes. Then we get practical with "Step One: Get to Mars" and "Step 2: Become an Overlord" with more practical advice and examples. All this was quite amusing an fun to read.

Next, is a reprint, "Patient Zero" by Tananarive Due. This was originally in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2000 and I'm sure I must have read it then. I certainly think it's a good story, now. It is told in a series of diary entries of a boy named Jay. He was one of the first to get a deadly virus but, unlike everyone else, he recovered. He is in a special facility because he is still infectious. People are trying to figure out why he recovered but, after four years, have not. We get hints that a lot of people have died. We get a clearer picture as the story develops. I'm glad they reprinted this one.

Then, it's back to an original, "Arvies" by Adam-Troy Castro. In some future world, the rich people are never actually born but remain fetuses. They are fully adult in mind and can choose the person whose body they will travel in. Those people are those that have actually been born but are considered legally dead. They are called 'arvies'. JenniferAxioma-Singh has chosen Molly June as her latest arvie but as special plans for her. I won't give that away but I will say that this was a rich, imaginative tale with some implied commentary about our own world. I have liked Adam-Troy Castro's stories before and this is right in there with them.

The fiction concludes with another reprint, "More Than the Sum of His Parts" by Joe Haldeman. This was published in Playboy in 1985. Dr. Wilson Cheetham's body is almost entirely destroyed in an industrial accident. His employers pay for him to be re-constructed using cyborg technology. They reconstruct eyes, arm, leg and various other parts, including, this having been published in Playboy, his penis. He finds his abilities to be super-human but does not use them in a responsible manner. This was another good story.

The third issue of Lightspeed. Once again, I recommend that you check out their web site and support them in some way.

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