Edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, LIGHTSPEED is a Hugo Award-winning, critically-acclaimed digital magazine. In its pages, you’ll find science fiction from near-future stories and sociological SF to far-future, star-spanning SF. Plus there’s fantasy from epic sword-and-sorcery and contemporary urban tales to magical realism, science-fantasy, and folk tales. Each month, LIGHTSPEED brings you a mix of originals and reprints featuring a variety of authors, from the bestsellers and award-winners you already know to the best now voices you haven’t heard yet. When you read LIGHTSPEED, you’ll see where science fiction and fantasy have come from, where they are now, and where they’re going. The LIGHTSPEED podcast, produced by Grammy Award-winning narrator and producer Stefan Rudnicki of Skyboat Media, is presented four times a month, featuring original audio fiction and classic reprints.
Here's the Latest Episode from LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE – Science Fiction and Fantasy Story Podcast (Sci-Fi | Audiobook | Short Stories):
The shopping district was crowded on a Sunday afternoon, and Vivian Watanabe was out running errands with her sixteen-year-old, Cass. Together they wove through throngs of shoppers wearing customized skins or the generic default. Vivian wasn’t fond of Generics---they fell into that uncanny valley between a nondescript human and a silver android. Cold and impersonal, plus it was hard to keep track of who you’ve interacted with. Narrated by Susan Hanfield.
One of the Senators cleared her throat, turned on the microphone in front of her, and began. “Would you like to tell us when you first became aware of the phenomenon, Doctor? Perhaps that would be the best place to start. We can formulate our questions from there.” The hearing was not in the main Congressional building. It was in a building on another part of Capitol Hill, in a room overdue for remodeling, with drop-ceiling panels stained by leaking pipes. But the room, however humble, was crowded. Harlan sat near the front of the room. | Copyright 2020 by Ray Nayler. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
That notorious ship that sailed to the wretched isle known as Neverland under the leadership of one James, self-styled Jas., Cook, called the Jolly Roger, has most naturally been a subject of intense study among historians. Yet even the most meticulous of these scholars have often failed to note that among that dreadful crew sailed at least one woman, Gerta, or, as she named herself, the Great Gerta, or, as she was named by others, Gerta the Girthy. | Copyright 2020 by Mari Ness. Narrated by Judy Young.
Listen. The world ended thirty seconds ago. You greet this whisper with incredulity. After all, here you are, living and breathing. The people around you are living and breathing. You might be drinking coffee in lying in bed trying to decide whether to get up. You are reminding yourself of all the little life tasks awaiting you, things that need to be taken care of in order for you to continue going about your day. Thoughts of the apocalypse are a thousand miles away. Lunacy, they seem. | Copyright 2020 by Adam-Troy Castro. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
It doesn’t take long. She has few earthly possessions and her travel options are limited. There is a train that runs west through the Swamp Forest to the coast, but everyone knows and fears the old witch here, and on moving trains, she can cause quite a commotion. “Do not eat my children, Baba Yaga!” people cry when she steps onto the dining car. “Oh, please, have mercy! Do not use your pestle to grind up my bones!” She sits quietly in a booth, minding her own business. | Copyright 2020 by Kristina Ten. Narrated by Justine Eyre.
The bear has been stalking the taxidermy garden for ten weeks now, ever since Raffi showed up. Sometimes it disappears for a few days or a week, but it always comes back. Prowls the perimeter, looking for weak spots. From inside the taxidermy garden, Raffi feels the bear’s presence tugging on her, as though it has become the pole of her personal compass. The taxidermy garden isn’t a real garden. It’s a ski chalet, or what used to be a ski chalet, all hand-hewn logs and wood stoves. | Copyright 2020 by Em North. Narrated by Judy Young.
Dear Mr. Quilas: This morning, I began to read your new collection of essays, Forgotten Lives. I’ve enjoyed a number of your books previously, but this collection held a particular interest for me. Aned Heast, the subject of your third essay, “A Refuge in Juar,” held a personal interest and I looked forward to reading your piece about him. Sadly, I was disappointed. Your essay was riddled with misinformation and errors. I’m sure you do not wish to be told that. Few writers want to be told they are wrong. | Copyright 2020 by Ben Peek. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
The first time Fresia tasted scotch, it was true love. She was twenty-two. Her boyfriend had just turned twenty-one and had gotten a bottle of Glen Livet from his dad. He poured a shot for himself and for his friend, but none for Fresia. “Come on,” she said, “I want to taste it.” “Girls don’t like whisky,” he said. “Trust me, you’ll hate it.” “Let me find out for myself.” “Not for what this costs, sorry.” The friend gasped over his empty shot glass. “Oh, that’s good.” Her boyfriend put the whisky on the top of the fridge where he knew Fresia was too short to reach. | Copyright 2020 by Marie Vibbert. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
My mother used to tell me we came from the matriarchal vampiric line that had been traced farther back than Queen Elizabeth. She only told me these things after a seizure. Many people with epilepsy talk about how, after a seizure, strange memories pop up---small but suddenly vibrant details; my mother would recall the small vibrant details of our collective vampiric past. What kind of mother would do this? Mine. And, when I was little, I loved her for it. | Copyright 2020 by Julianna Baggott. Narrated by Judy Young.
Your guidebook writers are---alas---very familiar with booking tickets in search of love. How many of us haven’t packed our bags for the new continent with this foolish goal in mind? We’ve stumbled through our travels, searching cities and villages for romance. In cafés, opera houses, and hotel rooms, we felt acutely alone. Why, even the most exquisite restaurants were dulled by the empty chair across from us. | Copyright 2020 by Alexander Weinstein. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.
When the quantum supercomputing systems of the God called Nemesis registered the sighting of the heretic Candor Gray---already tried in absentia and slated for termination, and assigned the serial number of HA3-940QK322PF-P---Enga Afonbataw Konum of Nemesis was already waiting, as she’d waited during the last few dozen stupid assignments. Enga was an angel of Nemesis, a no-longer-human cyborg built for a singular purpose: to hunt down and destroy the Gods’ enemies. | Copyright 2020 by Ada Hoffmann. Narrated by Susan Hanfield.
Narrated by Justine Eyre.
Time is best described as the thing that must crawl by before even the most unlikely events finally get around to happening. A lot of it had passed in the little village we now visit, drifting down its cobblestoned streets like loose papers carried away by the wind, before the most unlikely of all developments had finally occurred. Samael, the junk collector, had fallen in love. Nobody had ever expected this, in large part because Samael was as dull and unimaginative a man who had ever lived. | Copyright 2020 by Adam-Troy Castro. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
As different as earth and sky. That is what they said about us. Yet even earth and sky meet at the horizon. Shade your eyes from the sun. Look, far in the distance. Do you see that line where brown merges into blue? I’m ready to walk there. But not before having told my story. | Copyright 2020 by Rati Mehrotra. Narrated by Justine Eyre.
On their ninth rewrite of the third act of Detective Pikachu vs. Predator, it occurred to Thicket that they might just be the voice of their generation. In a fever, they swiped together the final epic speech where Detective Pikachu refutes Predator’s cynical attempts to turn him against his human partner, arguing that the Pokémon relationship with humanity was one not of servitude but of guardianship, for every Pokémon can see within each human the potential to rise above their flawed nature. | Copyright 2020 by Andrew Dana Hudson. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.
When de words “glass bottle dancer” come to me as I was day-dreaming, listening to music on de radio, I thought it sounded like someting I’d like to see, didn’t tink it would change me whole life. I imagine it might mean taking a bunch of soda and beer bottles, laying dem on dey sides and stepping on dem widout having dem roll away. I thought a limbo dancer might do it to add someting special to dere act. | Copyright 2020 by Celeste Rita Baker. Narrated by Celeste Rita Baker.
Two women, Best and Least, woke in a bright room. Best did so as if surfacing in a pool of water, her eyes wide and observant. Least woke with a start, and immediately slammed her back against the wall behind her, her arms splayed. Where are we? asked Best. Who the fuck are you? demanded Least. Now, now, came a voice from the doorway. There’s no need to be coarse. A tall, graceful Being entered the room, diaphanous fabric afloat around its slender body. | Copyright 2020 by Veronica Roth. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Every child knows the story of how King Adhamrya, Son of Suns, slew a demon to win the heart and hand of Schyan, the goddess of love and desire. But the story of what happened afterwards is not as commonly known. In this entry I will present to you the full account of that sad tale, for I believe it is one worth remembering. —Excerpt from A History of the Hexasun Lands by Imperial Historian Nananaore | Copyright 2020 by Tahmeed Shafiq. Narrated by Kate Orsini.
Gorman was on foot, crossing a frozen continent. It was not Antarctica. That was light years away, and so over. Nobody went there anymore. This continent he had chosen for his latest adventure was bigger, broader, colder, deadlier, nastier. It was not fun. Every step was an occasion for regret. He was probably going to die. He was glad he came. | Copyright 2020 by Adam-Troy Castro. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Nora is a serial becomer. She has become many things in her life, though rarely on purpose. The first time, it just sort of happened. The second time, it was a coincidence. Now, it is a habit she cannot seem to break. In the past, she has become a rock climber and a scuba diver, a beekeeper and a gardener and a mechanic specializing in European cars. For two months last summer, she was a stand-up comedian. Her senior year of college, she amassed New England’s largest collection of antique coins. | Copyright 2020 by Kristina Ten. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
The Blue Marble is shrinking; as Orion II lifts off, ripping from the grasping tentacles of Earth’s gravity, the world gets smaller, smaller, a blot on the cosmic sheet of infinite blackness, which closes in like a camera iris in a classic film’s final shot. Picture the planet’s surface, where the wonders of the old world buckle at the top of the hour under the weight of new wars; where down below, all those little people fall to their knees, desperate voices crying, crying out to their deity-du-jour for deliverance. | Copyright 2020 by Russell Nichols. Narrated by Janina Edwards.
Leslie Anne Moore had known Hardy Devine since second grade, when he had bloodied her nose in a game of dodgeball and then the other boys caught him crying about it and beat him pissy. By the end of the school year, Hardy had picked a fight with each one of those boys individually and found more satisfactory results. He didn’t look Leslie-Anne square in the eye again until seventh grade when he asked her to the Boone County Middle School Homecoming Dance and she said no. | Copyright 2020 by JT Petty. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
Since the discovery of the Eighth continent, your Tour Guide writers have received many letters from travelers and concerned individuals. We have heard, for instance, from the embattled New Zealand geologists who have long attempted to gain traction for their theory of the unrecognized continent of Zealandia. These hardworking scientists argue that the collection of partly submerged fragments off the coast of New Zealand comprise a much larger landmass, claiming this fits within standard definitions of continental attributes. | Copyright 2020 by Alexander Weinstein. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.
Sure, I know István Horvath. We met about a year before Eva died. That’s my wife, Eva. You knew that? Yeah, I figured you were pretty thorough. It was the year of the blizzard, when snow covered the cars parked on the streets and even the Post Office shut down. I didn’t have to go to work for a week. So one night, I think it was Thursday, Eva says, “Mike, I only have one of the blue pills left.” This was when we still thought the chemo was doing something. | Copyright 2005 by Theodora Goss. Originally published in Realms of Fantasy. Reprinted by permission of the author. Narrated by Kristoffer Tabori.
Ten months after the ark first floated, and forty days after its keel snagged on a drowned mountain peak, Noah released a raven to look for land. Her name was ungraspable by humans, but might be translated as Bessary, plus a term ravens used for the taste of three-day-dead goat when the temperatures have stayed just above freezing, plus a color at the 327-nanometer wavelength, plus a sensation along the rictal bristles in a particular sort of cool air. Her feathers rustled like silk. | Copyright 2020 by Kij Johnson. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.
It’s the Day of Good Birds in the city of Um-Helat! The Day is a local custom, silly and random as so many local customs can be, and yet beautiful by the same token. It has little to do with birds---a fact about which locals cheerfully laugh, because that, too, is how local customs work. It is a day of fluttering and flight regardless, where pennants of brightly dyed silk plume forth from every window, and delicate drones of copperwire and featherglass---made for this day, and flown on no other!---waft and buzz on the wind. | Copyright 2018 by N. K. Jemisin. Originally published in How Long Til Black Future Month. Reprinted by permission of the author. Narrated by Janina Edwards.
I never had a sister. Okay, so I did have a sister. She just died before she was born. No one talked about her, because sometimes a family looks ahead and sees through a veil into another universe where tomorrow is a given. But then we end up not living in that reality, and it creates a terrible break in our brains. Her name was Sarah. My dad finally told me her name on the deep black road between Omaha and Chicago, on my return to college for junior year. | Copyright 2020 by J.R. Dawson. Narrated by Chloe Amen.
Ever since the discovery of the eighth continent, we’ve all had to come to terms with the presence of a landmass we never knew existed. In this age, wherein it often feels like every inch of mountain and valley has been charted, crossed, and geocached, how could we have been blind to a continent floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? We suppose, like the mapmakers of a millennium ago, we were blinded by our self-assured scientists and their navigational tools. | Copyright 2020 by Alexander Weinstein. Narrated by Paul Boehmer.
The pain of losing something so precious that you did not think you could live without it. Oxygen. The ice breaks beneath your feet: Your coat and boots fill with water and pull you down. An airlock blows: Vacuum pulls you apart by the eyes, the pores, the lungs. You awaken in a fire: The door and window are outlined in flames. You fall against a railing: The rusted iron slices through your femoral artery. You are dead already. | Copyright 2011 by Kij Johnson. Originally published in Eclipse Four, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Reprinted by permission of the author. Narrated by Justine Eyre.
She’d had a hard day. Earlier that morning she’d discovered that the game her company was developing, which was already months behind schedule for release, had a glitch somewhere in the code that caused the game to crash if the player character was equipped with diamond armor on the level with the meteors, and nobody could figure out why. It didn’t make any sense. It was a total nightmare. Anna, her boss, was mad at her for leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen again. | Copyright 2019 by Matthew Baker. Narrated by Justine Eyre.