Lightspeed #70, March 2016

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Lightspeed #70, March 2016

“Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station / Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0” by Caroline M. Yoachim

“Sparks Fly” by Rich Larson
“RedKing” by Craig DeLancey
“Michael Doesn’t Hate His Mother” by Marie Vibbert

Reviewed by Bob Blough

The March issue of Lightspeed starts off gloriously but sadly ends on a lesser note.

Foremost is a terrifically funny story by Caroline M. Yoachim. It is told in the style of one of those “find-your-own-adventure” books. Unfortunately for the protagonist here all the choices eventually lead to “Z”. The title pretty much tells you all you need to know – “Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station / Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0.” If you laugh out loud at Connie Willis or Terry Pratchett, John Scalzi or Neil Gaiman then you will enjoy this one.

Rich Larson continues in the humorous vein with “Sparks Fly.” In this America there are people called sparkheads who destroy any technology placed near them. One sparkhead falls for a regular girl and can control himself long enough to go on a date with her. As may be expected, the problems of control pile up for him while on this date. This one is not hysterical but is romantic and sweet.

Craig DeLancey unfortunately covers well-trodden ground with “RedKing.” This is a police procedural about finding a coder who has created a very pernicious code which can go viral in surprising ways. It is not a bad story, per se. It is, however, rather so-so and a bit behind the curve for these kind of stories.

A mechanical mother is at the heart of Marie Vibbert’s “Michael Doesn’t Hate His Mother.” The story is smartly written about young people with a dysfunctional mother dealing with growing up. Unfortunately the mechanical mother could easily have been an alcoholic or drugged/strung out one. The mechanical mother is not enough to make this SF and it isn’t slippery or subversive enough to be fully slipstream. And the plot is horrific enough without adding in the SF gimmick. It is a mundane story dressed up with one SF conceit.

Sadly, except for the Yoachim story, this was a very lackluster issue for Lightspeed.