Lightspeed Magazine Issue 155

I gobbled up the April issue of Lightspeed Magazine in only two days. Unfortunately, the fiction wasn’t as good as it has been in previous issues this year. Not one 5-star story for me. ☹

AI is a strong theme in science fiction right now, and “Virtual Cherokee” by Brian K. Hudson continues this trend. It is a virtual talk show hosted by an AI. The guest is an anonymous hacker who works to give AIs consciousness. This mood and setting are bit too “social media” for me. It takes away from the story. (My rating: 3/5)

On the other hand, the setup for “Lament of a Specialist in Interspecies Relationships” by Amy Johnson is absolutely delightful and is a big part of what makes the story so good. It is a letter to a recent visitor to Earth who, let’s say, had a less than respectful attention to the rules of their visa. The letter writer attempts to gently bring up what they did wrong without alienating them. A fun and funny piece. (My rating: 4/5)

Adam-Troy Castro is becoming one of my favorite new (to me) authors. His “Spaceman Jones” is another winner. A starship captain must turn around after one of her crew disobeys orders and gets himself addicted to the planet’s highly addictive drug. He must be left there as the planet is the only source of the drug. It is touching story of learning to love the life you have. (My rating: 4/5)

Every Bone a Bell” by Shaoni C. White is about a stowaway on board a ship who is forced into becoming the ship’s singer/navigator to pay for his stolen trip. Unfortunately, this is a permanent role and involves being integrated with the ship. This is a story of individual determination and revenge. (My rating: 4/5)

A girl comes into a sword shop looking for the blade that will help her defeat her nemesis. But the proprietor senses more complicated emotions under the surface. Having similar experience, she coaches the shopper as she helps her with her purchase in “So You Want to Kiss Your Nemesis” by John Wiswell. A sweet, sort-of romance of enemies becoming lovers. (My rating: 4/5)

The main character in “Construction Sacrifice” by Bogi Takács is a human who has become a mid-size city. A trans mage wanders the city and connects with the city. This story is a metaphor for the trans experience, as the mage considers becoming a city themself. I like the concept, but the idea of becoming a city just didn’t translate well for me. (My rating: 3/5)

The oddest story of the issue is “When the Giants Came Through the Valley” by Derrick Boden. The people live in the literal footprint of a giant who had walked down the valley. They are cutoff from others. They have to deal with challenges no one else does. It feels like a metaphor for climate change and capitalism, but I spent so much time trying to understand the metaphor itself that it just didn’t work for me. (My rating: 2/5)

The final tale is “The House, the Witch, and Sugarcane Stalks” by Amanda Helms. In it a witch lives in a sentient house made of candy which is also a stop on an underground railroad. At first the house isn’t too keen on the idea. It’s interesting to see the back and forth between the witch and the house. (My rating: 3/5)

Overall the issue comes in at 3.375 which I am rounding down to 3.25. A solid effort but not the best this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.