Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
Lightspeed published three stories for July, including a novelette broken into two parts.
Carrie Vaughn starts with “Crazy Rhythm,” set in the silent film industry in the 1920s. Margie is the director’s assistant on a war film, with a director who wants to make the film as realistic as it can and insists on having actual tanks in the film. A new worker from England, Peter Jeffries, who knows something about the war, offers to give that realism. The result reminded me of one particular episode of The New Twilight Zone. These are a pair of subjects – silent movies and World War I – that I have always found fascinating, and I like the details of the moviemaking and Hollywood of the era. It’s not a particularly deep story, and the fantastic element is tenuous, but it is fun to read.
“Saltwater Railroad” is a novella set in the antebellum South on a small island off the Georgia/Florida coast where misfits and escaped slaves gather. Delia, who talks to the spirits, helps keep them safe. But a new castaway, Rainbow – who also has some witchery about her – joins them and leads to some serious trouble. While the setting and characters of Andrea Hairston‘s story have great potential, I found its writing choppy and hard to follow and found the story a long slog.
“Violation of the TrueNet Security Act” by Taiyo Fujii is a cyberpunkish look at a future where the Internet had locked humans out of it. TrueNet is its replacement, and Minami Takasawa has the mundane task of cleaning up old processes that are still around. He discovers that an old website of his is still active and starts to poke into it, which opens up some strange possibilities. It’s ultimately a Super Hacker story, well told, that primarily reveals a situation, though it’s more than just a revelation story in that it all affects Takasawa’s life. While somewhat familiar in concept, the story has enough in it to make it a worthwhile read.
Chuck Rothman’s novels Staroamer’s Fate and Syron’s Fate were recently republished by Fantastic Books. His fiction has recently appeared in Analog, Daily Science Fiction, and, very soon, in the anthology Temporally Out of Order.