Lightspeed Magazine, August 2010 [MultiFormat]
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by John Joseph Adams, Catherynne M. Valente, Joe Haldeman
Category: Science Fiction
Description: The August 2010 issue of Lightspeed Magazine features all types of sf, from near-future, sociological soft sf, to far-future, star-spanning hard sf, and anything and everything in between: Catherynne M. Valente teaches us "How to Become a Mars Overlord," with her step-by-step program that enables each and every one of us to find the right Mars for us to rule over; Tananarive Due tells the tragic story of "Patient Zero" in her chilling account of a child being raised in isolation, ignorant of an apocalyptic infection raging in the outside world; in the audacious "Arvies," author Adam-Troy Castro tells the story of a post-poverty utopia in which everybody lucky enough to be plugged into the society's opportunities gets to do whatever the heck they want to do with their lives, indulging their slightest whims--including living their lives inside a living womb.; and for our final fiction selection of the month, we present "More Than the Sum of His Parts" by Joe Haldeman, an examination of one man's transformation from human to cyborg that asks the question: As a person becomes less and less organic, might they become less and less human?
eBook Publisher: Prime Books/Prime Books, 2010
Wildside Press eBook Store Release Date: August 2010
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [MultiFormat - What's this?]: eReader (PDB) [145 KB], ePub (EPUB) [167 KB], Rocket/REB1100 (RB) [99 KB], Portable Document Format (PDF) [479 KB], Palm Doc (PDB) [111 KB], Microsoft Reader (LIT) [155 KB], Franklin eBookMan (FUB) [171 KB], hiebook (KML) [270 KB], Sony Reader (LRF) [197 KB], iSilo (PDB) [93 KB], Mobipocket (PRC) [114 KB], Kindle Compatible (MOBI) [173 KB], OEBFF Format (IMP) [157 KB]
Reading time: 93-131 min.
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Editorial, August 2010
John Joseph Adams
Welcome to issue three of Lightspeed. I want to thank all of you readers again for all of your support. We've had a great run so far, and the enthusiastic feedback of readers like yourself goes a long way toward letting us know what's working and what's not.
With that in mind, before I get to this month's teasers, I just wanted to suggest a way for our loyal readers to help spread the gospel of Lightspeed. We love it when you leave comments on lightspeedmagazine.com, but I would also like to invite you to post a review of any of our issues on Amazon.com (where it is available on Kindle) or in the iBooks store (for iPhone and iPad), or wherever else you might find the ebook edition available. Or if you don't want to spend time writing a review, just giving any of our issues a positive "star rating" might encourage other readers to try the magazine.
With that out of the way, on to this month's teasers!
Catherynne M. Valente teaches us "How to Become a Mars Overlord," with her step-by-step program that enables each and every one of us to find the right Mars for us to rule over.
Tananarive Due tells the tragic story of "Patient Zero" in her chilling account of a child being raised in isolation, ignorant of an apocalyptic infection raging in the outside world.
In the audacious "Arvies," author Adam-Troy Castro tells the story of a post-poverty utopia in which everybody lucky enough to be plugged into the society's opportunities gets to do whatever the heck they want to do with their lives, indulging their slightest whims--including living their lives inside a living womb.
And for our final fiction selection of the month, we present "More Than the Sum of His Parts" by Joe Haldeman, an examination of one man's transformation from human to cyborg that asks the question: As a person becomes less and less organic, might they become less and less human?
On the nonfiction side of things this month, in addition to author spotlights on all four of our fictioneers, we're starting off with "Dead Mars," a fascinating article by Astronomy Cast's Dr. Pamela Gay in which she tells us how Mars, now dead, once lived, and how we might make it live again.
Carol Pinchefsky, meanwhile, brings us "Bangs & Whimpers: A Look at the Top Five Doomsday Scenarios" and explains why we may or may not have to worry about them.
You won't want to miss Lightspeed nonfiction editor Andrea Kail's interview with multiple award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer, in which he discusses the possibility of the internet becoming sentient, religion's place in science fiction, and what it was like watching his novel FlashForward adapted into a television program.
And last, but not least, we have an exploration of the cutting-edge science being done today in the field of prosthetics and cybernetics from author Matt London, in which he tells of an amputee mountain climber who designed and built his own bionic legs and explains how the Six Million Dollar Man would have been a bargain at that price if he were (re)built today.
So that's our issue this month. I hope you enjoy it. And remember, if you don't want to wait for the content to be released on the site throughout the month, or you'd just like a handy, downloadable version of the magazine on your favorite handheld electronic reading device, Lightspeed is available directly from our publisher, Prime Books, in DRM-free ePub format, and is also available in Kindle, iBooks, and Mobipocket format from external vendors, or from Fictionwise, which offers a variety of formats.
Fiction editor John Joseph Adams is the bestselling editor of many anthologies, such as Wastelands, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), By Blood We Live, Federations, and The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Barnes & Noble.com named him "the reigning king of the anthology world," and his books have been named to numerous best of the year lists. Prior to taking on the role of fiction editor of Lightspeed, John worked for nearly nine years in the editorial department of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. In addition to his editorial work, John is also the co-host of Tor.com's Geek's Guide to the Galaxy podcast.
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How to Become a Mars Overlord
Catherynne M. Valente
Welcome, Aspiring Potentates!
We are tremendously gratified at your interest in our little red project, and pleased that you recognize the potential growth opportunities inherent in whole-planet domination. Of course we remain humble in the face of such august and powerful interests, and seek only to showcase the unique and challenging career paths currently available on the highly desirable, iconic, and oxygen-rich landscape of Mars.
Query: Why Mars?
It is a little known fact that every solar system contains Mars. Not Mars itself, of course. But certain suns seem to possess what we might call a habit of Martianness: In every inhabited system so far identified, there is a red planet, usually near enough to the most populous world if not as closely adjacent as our own twinkling scarlet beacon, with proximate lengths of day and night. Even more curious, these planets are without fail named for war-divinities. In the far-off Lighthouse system, the orb Makha turns slowly in the dark, red as the blood of that fell goddess to whom cruel strategists pray, she who nurses two skulls at each mammoth breast. In the Glyph system, closer to home, it is Firialai glittering there like a ripe red fruit, called after a god of doomed charges depicted in several valuable tapestries as a jester dancing ever on the tip of a sword, clutching in each of his seven hands a bouquet of whelp-muskets, bones, and promotions with golden seals. In the Biera-biera system, still yet we may walk the carnelian sands of Uppskil, the officer's patron goddess, with her woolly dactyl-wings weighted down with gorsuscite medals gleaming purple and white. Around her orbit Wydskil and Nagskil, the enlisted man's god and the pilot's mad, bald angel, soaring pale as twin ghosts through Uppskil's emerald-colored sky.
Each red planet owns also two moons, just as ours does. Some of them will suffer life to flourish. We have ourselves vacationed on the several crystal ponds of Volniy and Vernost, which attend the claret equatorial jungles of Raudhr--named, of course, for the four-faced lord of bad intelligence whose exploits have been collected in the glassily perfect septameters of the Raudhrian Eddas. We have flown the lonely black between the satellites on slim-finned ferries decked in greenglow blossoms, sacred to the poorly-informed divine personage. But most moons are kin to Phobos and Deimos, and rotate silently, empty, barren, bright stones, mute and heavy. Many a time we have asked ourselves: Does Mars dwell in a house of mirrors, that same red face repeated over and over in the distance, a quantum hiccup--or is Mars the master, the exemplum, and all the rest copies? Surely the others ask the same riddle. We would all like to claim the primacy of our own specimen--and frequently do, which led to the Astronomer's War some years ago, and truly, no one here can bear to recite that tragic narrative, or else we should wash you all away with our rust-stained tears.
The advantages of these many Marses, scattered like ruby seeds across the known darkness, are clear: In almost every system, due to stellar circumstances beyond mortal control, Mars or Iskra or Lial is the first, best candidate for occupation by the primary world. In every system, the late pre-colonial literature of those primary worlds becomes obsessed with that tantalizing, rose-colored neighbor. Surely some of you are here because your young hearts were fired by the bedside tales of Alim K, her passionate affair with the two piscine princes of red Knisao, and how she waked dread machines in the deep rills of the Knizid mountains in order to possess them? Who among us never read of the mariner Ubaido and his silver-keeled ship, exploring the fell canals of Mikto, their black water filled with eely leviathans whose eyes shone with clusters of green pearls. All your mothers read the ballads of Sollo-Hul to each of you in your cribs, and your infant dreams were filled with gorgeous-green six-legged cricket-queens ululating on the broad pink plains of Podnebesya, their carapaces awash in light. And who did not love Ylla, her strange longings against those bronze spires? Who did not thrill to hear of those scarlet worlds bent to a single will? Who did not feel something stir within them, confronted with those endless crimson sands?
We have all wanted Mars, in our time. She is familiar, she is strange. She is redolent of tales and spices and stones we have never known. She is demure, and gives nothing freely, but from our hearths we have watched her glitter, all of our lives. Of course we want her. Mars is the girl next door. Her desirability is encoded in your cells. It is archetypal. We absolve you in advance.
No matter what system bore you, lifted you up, made you strong and righteous, there is a Mars for you to rule, and it is right that you should wish to rule her. These are perhaps the only certainties granted to a soul like yours.
We invite you, therefore, to commit to memory our simple, two-step system to accomplish your laudable goals, for obviously no paper, digital, or flash materials ought to be taken away from this meeting.
Step One: Get to Mars
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a poor man to get to Mars. However, to be born on a bed of gems leads to a certain laziness of the soul, a kind of muscular weakness of the ambition, a subtle sprain in the noble faculties. Not an original observation, but repetition proves the axiom. Better to excel in some other field, for the well-rounded overlord is a blessing to all. Perhaps micro-cloning, or kinetic engineering. If you must, write a novel, but only before you depart, for novels written in the post-despotic utopia you hope to create may be beloved, but will never be taken seriously by the literati.
Take as your exemplum the post-plastic retroviral architect Helix Fo. The Chilean wunderkind was born with ambition in his mouth, and literally stole his education from an upper-class boy he happened upon in a dark alley. In exchange for his life, the patriarch agreed to turn over all his books and assignments upon completion, so that Fo could shadow his university years. For his senior project, Fo locked his erstwhile benefactor in a basement and devoted himself wholly to the construction of the Parainfluenza Opera House in Santiago, whose translucent spires even now dominate that skyline. The wealthy graduate went on to menial labor in the doctoral factories much chagrined while young Fo swam in wealth and fame, enough to purchase three marriage rights, including one to an aquatic Verqoid androgyne with an extremely respectable feather ridge. By his fortieth birthday, Fo had also purchased through various companies the better part of the Atlantic Ocean, whereupon he began breeding the bacterial island which so generously hosts us tonight, and supplies our salads with such exquisite yersinia radishes. Since, nearly all interplanetary conveyances have launched from Fo's RNA platform, for he charged no tariffs but his own passage, in comfort and grace. You will, of course, remember Fo as the first All-Emperor of Mars, and his statue remains upon the broad Athabasca Valles.
Or, rather, model yourself upon the poetess Oorm Nineteen Point Aught-One of Mur, who set the glittering world of Muror letters to furious clicking and torsioning of vocabulary-bladders. You and I may be quite sure there is no lucre at all to be made in the practice of poetry, but the half-butterfly giants of Mur are hardwired for rhyming structures, they cannot help but speak in couplets, sing their simplest greetings in six-part contratenor harmonies. Muror wars exist only between the chosen bards of each country, who spend years in competitive recitings to settle issues of territory. Oorm Nineteen, her lacy wings shot through with black neural braiding, revolted, and became a mistress of free verse. Born in the nectar-soup of the capital pool, she carefully collected words with no natural rhymes like dewdrops, hoarding, categorizing, and collating them. As a child, she haunted the berry-dripping speakeasies where the great luminaries read their latest work. At the age of sixteen, barely past infancy in the long stage-shifts of a Muror, she delivered her first poem, which consisted of two words: bright. cellar. Of course, in English these have many rhymes, but in Muror they have none, and her poem may as well have been a bomb detonated on the blue floor of that famous nightclub. Oorm Nineteen found the secret unrhyming world hiding within the delicate, gorgeous structures of Muror, and dragged it out to shine in the sun. But she was not satisfied with fame, nor with her mates and grubs and sweetwater gems. That is how it goes, with those of us who answer the call. Alone in a ship of unrhymed glass she left Mur entirely, and within a year took the red diadem of Etel for her own. Each rival she assassinated died in bliss as she whispered her verses into their perishing ears.
It is true that Harlow Y, scion of the House of Y, ruled the red planet Llym for some time. However, all may admit his rule frayed and frolicked in poor measure, and we have confidence that no one here possesses the makings of a Y hidden away in her jumpsuit. Dominion of the House of Y passed along genetic lines, though this method is degenerate by definition and illegal in most systems. By the time Harlow ascended, generations of Y had been consumed by little more than fashion, public nudity, and the occasional religious fad. What species Y may have belonged to before their massive wealth (derived from mining ore and cosmetics, if the earliest fairy tales of Vyt are to be believed) allowed constant and enthusiastic gene manipulation, voluntary mutation, prostheses, and virtual uplink, no one can truly say. Upon the warm golden sea of Vyt you are House Y or you are prey, and they have forcibly self-evolved out of recognizability. Harlow himself appears in a third of his royal portraits something like a massive winged koala with extremely long, ultraviolet eyelashes and a crystalline torso. Harlow Y inherited majority control over Llym as a child, and administered it much as a child will do, mining and farming for his amusement and personal augmentation. Each of his ultraviolet lashes represented thousands of dead Llymi, crushed to death in avalanches in the mine shafts of the Ypo mountains. But though Harlow achieved overlordship with alacrity and great speed, he ended in assassination, his morning hash-tea and bambun spectacularly poisoned by the general and unanimous vote of the populace.
Mastery of Mars is not without its little lessons.
It is surely possible to be born on a red planet. The Infanza of Hap lived all her life in the ruby jungles of her homeworld. She was the greatest actress of her age; her tails could convey the colors of a hundred complex emotions in a shimmering fall of shades. So deft were her illusions that the wicked old Rey thought her loyal and gentle beyond words even as she sunk her bladed fingers into his belly. But we must assume that if you require our guidance, you did not have the luck of a two-tailed Infanza, and were born on some other, meaner world, with black soil, or blue storms, or sweet rain falling like ambition denied.