Lightspeed #71, April 2016

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Lightspeed #71, April 2016

Origin Story” by Carrie Vaughn
Dragon Brides” by Nghi Vo
The Knobby Giraffe” by Rudy Rucker
The Birth Will Take Place on a Mutually Acceptable Research Vessel” by Matthew Bailey

Reviewed by Robert L Turner III

In “Origin Story” by Carrie Vaughn we are introduced to Commerce City, a town overrun with heroes, supervillains, and vigilantes. Mary, the protagonist, is standing in line when she recognizes that the supervillain robbing the bank is none other than her ex-boyfriend Jason Trumble. The story is more a quick vignette about lost loves and rekindled (?) relationships than SF. It is a quick and breezy read, but isn’t anything special.

Dragon Brides” by Nghi Vo is the tale of a queen who, 40 years previously, was rescued from a dragon and who now returns to the cave looking for something missing in her life. The queen, long since tired of her life, explores the cave and uses the few remaining gold trinkets to elicit memories from their previous owners. The story is well written, but very predictable and the setting is that of a generic fantasy world. The only interesting aspect of the story is how gold is linked to memory.

Irit Ziv, the protagonist of Rudy Rucker’s “The Knobby Giraffe” is a physics PhD candidate working with quantum uncertainty using it to try and control outcomes in the larger physical world. When her PhD advisor and lover Shirley Chen dies, Irit becomes obsessed with solving the quantum challenge. From there the story devolves into an acid trip melded with quantum theory. The story is trite, predictable and the writing feels stilted. Don’t waste your time.

The Birth Will Take Place on a Mutually Acceptable Research Vessel” by Matthew Bailey is the final entry for the month. In it, the first mating between Humans and the recently met Tharkan species is the subject. Told from the viewpoint of the expectant human mother, the story delves into the complexities of intercultural and interspecies communication. Bailey does a solid job of presenting the larger world through the eyes of the narrator and making the personal universal. The constant repetition of the idea of Self and Autonomy is well played against the unique situation of a first interspecies birth. Overall, the story, while not groundbreaking, is interesting and the best of the issue.