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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Lightspeed #34, March 2013

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Lightspeed #34, March 2013

“Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince” by Jake Kerr
"Let's Take This Viral" by Rich Larson
"The Bolt Tightener" by Sarena Ulibarri
"The Dream Detective" by Lisa Tuttle

Reviewed by Cyd Athens

Jake Kerr's “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince” is written in the form of a Wikipedia entry interspersed with excerpts from interviews, speeches, and other interactions with the fictional title character. Prince was a post-apocalyptic journalist who reported on and wrote about life after the Meyer Impact, a global environmental catastrophe in which an asteroid decimated Earth's population. Like a well-written Wikipedia article, the story guides through Prince's life--the highs, lows, loves, and controversies. It's a sobering story about living in the aftermath of a global disaster.

When Rich Larson says "Let's Take This Viral," he really means it. This cyberpunk story follows Default and Schorr as they enjoy a series of designer viruses, each one in vogue for a span of time before it's replaced by the next. Here, viruses, the kind that attack the immune system, are fashion statements that go along with non-stop partying. The thrill of having the latest and greatest is addictive. Default and Schorr carry their craving to a logical conclusion. This is a story for readers who enjoy being thrown into the deep end of the pool and left there to make sense of the words on their own.

If you don't have time to do it right, you don't have time to do it over. Chaun, the protagonist in Sarena Ulibarri's "The Bolt Tightener" learns this lesson when he is hired to tighten the bolts on a seawall that is keeping the ocean from flooding his city. Of the one thousand eight hundred bolts, there is one that is problematic. The old man who hires Chaun tells him the number, 841, and nothing else. Chaun soon discovers the problem though he is at a loss as to what to do about it. This dark fantasy is an interesting read that leaves just enough to the imagination.

Grace Kearney is "The Dream Detective." Lisa Tuttle's character is introduced in the course of a blind date with the narrator. When, in the course of idle chit-chat, Grace tells him what she does, he finds it hard to believe. Feeling no romantic spark, the two part ways and the narrator doesn't think of Grace again until he starts having weird dreams in which he feels like he's being followed. Initially Grace insists that she has a gift, for which she would never charge people money. By the end of the story, Grace has changed, courtesy of a single decision the narrator makes in a dream. The story is scary in a good way.


Cyd Athens writes, edits, and reviews speculative fiction from 45ø 29 30.65 N, 122ø 35 30.91 W.