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Lightspeed #14 - July 2011
Edited by John Joseph Adams
Cover Artist: Maurizio Manzieri
Review by Sam Tomaino
Lightspeed Online Magazine  
Date: 27 July 2011

Links: Lightspeed / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Here's the fourteenth issue of Lightspeed the online magazine with stories by Tom Godwin, Jake Kerr, Kat Howard, and Karen Joy Fowler, along with Author Spotlights on all of them (and and Artist Spotlight on cover artist Maurizio Manzieri), and non-fiction articles by Mike Brotherton, Jeff Hech and Ekaterina Sedia along with a Feature Interview with Author Mary Mary Doria Russell by Kat Howard.

Here is the fourteenth issue of Lightspeed, the new online magazine. You can find the issue and how to pay (or not) for it at

The fiction begins with as classic a reprint as you could ever have, "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin (originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, August 1954). If you've never read this story, you are science fictionally illiterate. Here you have the opportunity to correct this defect in your education. The setup is simple. A pilot of a small spaceship is delivering urgent medicine to a planet. He discovers a stowaway. He has just enough fuel to deliver himself and the medicine to the planet. Interstellar Regulations say he must jettison the stowaway into the vacuum of space. The stowaway is a young girl. I won't give away the ending even at this point. The story is supported by an Author Spotlight on Tom Godwin, who died in 1980 and an article on the story. Both are very good.

Next up is "The Old Equations" by Jake Kerr. The setup for this is given by a quote from a physics history book published in 2187, "few remember Einstein these days—he died during the First World War, after publishing a widely ignored theory that would have set physics back centuries—and instead our future has been shaped by the models developed by visionaries such as Planck, Schrödinger, and Jain." The story starts in 2193 and is an epistolary (I love using that word) one. It's a series of messages to and from a man traveling on a deep space mission. They can't figure out what is causing the relative times of the ship and Earth to be off. Might it be some theory of a forgotten amateur named Albert Einstein? In the Author Spotlight, Kerr tells us that his story is an homage to Godwin's. It's very good and quite heart wrenching, but I'd never want my story to be placed next to such a classic and inevitably be compared to it.

"Sweet Sixteen" by Kat Howard is a brief tale about a young girl named Star who is approaching her sixteenth birthday. That is when she makes the decision on what she wants to be for the rest of her life. A process then takes place that gives her whatever she needs to be that. She wants to be a Tiffany, "the girls who were cute, who entertained, who were B-list and gossip fodder". She gets advice from her home-mom and career-mom and the story comes to a good conclusion, very good and simply done.

Finally, we have another reprint, "Face Value" by Karen Joy Fowler (originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1986). Taki and Hesper are on a planet studying a race called the mene. The mene are described as "the size of human children, but with furry vestigial wings, hourglass ab¬domens, sticklike limbs". The humans have not found a way to communicate with the mene, who are a very obtrusive race. Taki and Hesper don't communicate with each other very well either. This was an interesting story but I found the setup a bit too unlikely.

The fourteenth issue of Lightspeed was quite good, with the highlight being the focus on "The Cold Equations". I do recommend that you check out their web site at and support them in some way.

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