Lightspeed Magazine #4, September 2010

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Lightspeed Magazine #4
September 2010

“Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” by Yoon Ha Lee
“Amid the Words of War” by Cat Rambo

Reviewed by Bob Blough

An excellent short story is a marvelous and rare thing.  In fact, the short story brilliantly done is, to me, a wonder beyond compare.  In my reading this year, I have come across some magnificent short fiction–especially, but not exclusively, in e-zines such as Lightspeed.  The fourth issue of this magazine is well worth your time.  

Cat Rambo’s “Amid the Words of War” is simple plot-wise but the emotions portrayed are spot on.  The story focuses on a crablike alien recalling its past while living as a whore in a spaceport and fulfilling human’s bizarre sexual fantasies.  These crablike aliens are fighting a war with humans, and how this specimen was captured by the enemy and ended up in this whorehouse is quite moving. The story offers a fascinating portrayal of the “other” and of the similarities between the aliens and humans.  Excellent story.

“Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” by Yoon Ha Lee is a mind-expanding short story.  Absolutely amazing in its vast implications, it’s told beautifully and succinctly.

The ancient protector of an ancestral gun is met on a backwater space station by a computer construct in human guise who not only knows who she is but what the gun she protects is supposed to do.  He’s come to ask her to use that gun for a special need.  

I cannot reveal more of this maze within mazes story without spoiling it for you.  Just know that the first read reveals science fictional ideas of the first water.  And the second reading produces an emotional punch which rivals the first.  It’s as if Escher wrote stories instead of painted.  

Even the reprints in this issue are wonderful choices.  For me, this is the year of the short story–even if not another one I read comes up to this level.

A new monthly e-zine launched the summer of 2010, Lightspeed can be found at