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

Lightspeed #106, March 2019

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Lightspeed #106, March 2019

 

Self-Storage Starts with the Heart” by Maria Romasco Moore

On the Shores of Ligeia” by Carolyn Ives Gilman
A Hundred Thousand Arrows” by Ashok K. Banker
My Children’s Home” by Woody Dismukes

Reviewed by Kevin P Hallett

There are four original stories in the 106th issue of Lightspeed, one of which is a novelette.

Self-Storage Starts with the Heart” by Maria Romasco Moore

James is lonely in this short fantasy. His roommate Christopher has left and gotten married, leaving a dysfunctional James to find new friends.

James explores putting his loneliness in cold storage, but balks at the high monthly rent. Finally, he decides to create his own loneliness storage unit—after all, how hard can it be? At first successful, he quickly expands to store other people’s loneliness and other afflictions. But then things begin to go wrong. No one had warned him of the consequences if his storage units failed.

Though this story was slow at first, the pace picked up in the second half, making for an interesting read.

On the Shores of Ligeia” by Carolyn Ives Gilman

In Gilman’s SF short, the European Space Agency has sent an AI driven robot to Titan. Seth is the assistant astrobiologist who’s written part of the AI program that searches for signs of life.

When an accident hospitalizes Seth’s boss, he must take over and run the first execution of the program. However, the software allows the robot to take too many risks in its search, and Seth soon finds the robot in a precarious position and despite finding some tantalizing signs of life, the robot is shutdown. Can Seth find a way to save the robot and avoid the embarrassment caused by his errant programming?

This was a nicely written story with a few unexpected and sometimes incredulous twists.

A Hundred Thousand Arrows” by Ashok K. Banker

In Banker’s fantasy novelette, the demi-god Vrash has sworn celibacy so his step-brother, Virya, can be King and father of the continuing dynasty. In a time when prowess is most desired, Virya is a gentle, thoughtful, and considerate king. When another king offers the hand of each of his three beautiful daughters to the winners of a mortal contest, Vrash decides to take steps to secure a bride for Virya without letting him risk his life.

Showing up, unannounced, at the contest, Vrash steals all three princesses, and rides off in a chariot. Quickly, the other contestants set off in pursuit to free the young women. With so many warriors trying anything to kill him, Vrash must find a way not only to survive, but also to keep the fair princesses from becoming collateral damage.

The story’s prose was well constructed, though it was hard to accept the predictable motivations of the characters.

My Children’s Home” by Woody Dismukes

The ‘father’ manages batches of children in this SF short. He supervises the training and development of the children from incubation until the Bureau auctions them off.

Though he is good at his job, the father worries about what happens when his children reach maturity. He has his own favorite boy, D-13, from the oldest batch, but the bureau is also unusually interested in this student.

The prose was easy to read, but the story felt as if it was a piece from a bigger story and incomplete by itself.