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Edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, LIGHTSPEED is a Hugo Award-winning, critically-acclaimed digital magazine. In its pages, you'll find science fiction from near-future stories and sociological SF to far-future, star-spanning SF. Plus there's fantasy from epic sword-and-sorcery and contemporary urban tales to magical realism, science-fantasy, and folk tales. Each month, LIGHTSPEED brings you a mix of original short stories and flash fiction featuring a variety of authors, f ...
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It was a long fall in-system from the warp point, so Va Sojourner had plenty of time to observe. She found a peace in her observations that was expensive or painful to scratch out anywhere else, when she had to organize herself around the demands and expectations of everyone around her. | © 2024 by Phoebe Barton. Narrated by Roxanne Hernandez. Lear…
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You’ve been driving for hours and I wish you would stop. You clutch the steering wheel so hard, your knuckles pop white, your palms slick with sweat and desperation. Sunken, glassy, your eyes flick between the fuel gauge, the endless road, and the trembling land through which we pass. | © 2024 by KT Bryski. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more a…
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On the third evening of every week, dozens come to Stalactite Keep to hear the storyteller teach about the place beyond Wonderland. Tonight, with only dewdrops of honeycomb light seeping through the cells of the sky, Creed told them of toys. | © 2024 by Wen-yi Lee. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/ad…
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Josea Dream was the pearl captain at the heart of the bivalve ship Blue Spring, which had swum the black for a thousand years. It was a mystery to Josea---it was a mystery to anyone who’d ever thought about it---why the bivalves suffered their captains’ proddings. | © 2024 by Christopher Rowe. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more about yo…
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Scarlett’s eyes had to be perfect. Jon was the artist who’d made her, so it bothered him to think that so much of Scarlett would be crafted by other people. Scarlett’s limbs were carved from silicon polymer and coated in a soft synthetic skin from the best prosthetics companies in the world. | © 2024 by Everdeen Mason. Narrated by Susan Hanfield. L…
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Recent scholarship has shed considerable light on many previously puzzling or mysterious aspects of the life of the Baba Yaga---or, as some would still have it, the Baba Yagas. But one element has remained largely unstudied, and indeed, almost completely ignored. | © 2024 by Mari Ness. Narrated by Susan Hanfield. Learn more about your ad choices. V…
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Mahō Shōjo Kira Kira Sunlight is an American web series created by an unknown animator or animators. The show combines magical girl anime tropes with cosmic horror, following high schooler Sally Hoshino (Kira Kira Sunlight) and her friends. | © 2024 by Stewart C Baker. Narrated by Susan Hanfield. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm…
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The coffin she carried had felt like an imposition at first—a holy imposition! a welcome imposition! but an imposition nonetheless. But by now she had carried it on her shoulders out from the tenth school, carried it across plains, up and down canyons. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices…
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My son tells me that there’s a man in the house, someone he hears well after the lights are out, in the narrower halls or maybe at the far side of the den---a gait and creak he’s certain isn’t me or his mom, since he can hear us both breathing heavily and tossing in our sleep. | © 2024 by Thomas Ha. Narrated by Mirron Willis. Learn more about your …
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It’s my twelfth birthday and we’re all waiting for Wormwood and everyone is here and I mean everyone. Me and Mom and Dad and Big Pa which is my grandpa who was the strong man at one of the last traveling carnivals in America, and Bigfoot of course, and a swarm of killer bees collectively named Kyle who aren’t really so mean. | © 2024 by David Anaxa…
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“Good evening, sir,” Dave says pleasantly, hiding his crossword puzzle under his computer keyboard, as the front door chimes. “Do you have a reservation?” “Afraid not.” The guest fiddles with his suitcase. “I saw the No Vacancy sign, but I gotta ask---” “No problem at all.” Dave’s keyboard clatters busily, a series of well-practiced keystrokes. | ©…
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Posit a man. He could be any man. She could be a woman. They could be any human being anywhere on the spectrum. The story would play out the same. This is, however, entirely the creation of a writer who has written plenty of formidable women, and so he exerts authority for this one time and says that this is a man, | © 2024 by Adam-Troy Castro. Nar…
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Finneus Lark finds the man nestled inside of the abdominal cavity of a doe, his skin so pale that his veins are like spiderwebs. Slick with visceral fluid, leaves and petals cling to the man’s bird-boned wrists. His face, haloed by damp curls and crowned by the doe’s diaphragm, is so peaceful he might as well have been asleep. | © 2024 by Lowry Pol…
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Alvin’s scripts arrived in yellow envelopes. They were hand delivered, placed inside his letter box as if part of the regular mail, but with no address or stamps on it. The scripts were typed on unlined paper. They were short, never longer than a page, never more than a scene. The scene would be set inside a shop, or a bar. | © 2024 by Ben Peek. Na…
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Once a decade, a titanium-nosed shuttle plows through the rings of the planet Tartarus with a new batch of prisoners destined for the Orpheus Factory. The debris that makes up the rings is so thick that it thunders like a hailstorm, deafening the passengers. As the orbiting debris bounces and scrapes against the hull, the prisoners squeeze their ey…
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Kharatet moistens his sightless eyes with his tongue as he draws his finger across the limestone tablet glyphs. His audience today is a clutch of toddling nymphs, motionless save for their short tails rippling the shallow water impatiently. It’s a good age to read to, while the little ulmuns are still young enough. | © 2024 by Sloane Leong Learn mo…
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The first time you can’t answer the question, you are already within the Great Dragon. Any bad decisions today? Mindy’s text reads. Around you, the Great Dragon’s pistons squeal, stutter, while the crew’s stressed voices echo above and below you. | © 2023 by A.T. Greenblatt. Narrated by Judy Young. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit meg…
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The two of us, myself and this man I did not know, sat at a table in a windowless white cell with an indefinite light source. I was afraid, as afraid as a human being can be. I remembered every step that had brought me here and I did not consider this a place of safety. | © 2023 by Adam-Troy Castro. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more about you…
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The unkind witch in Hook Tree Woods has little use for people. Mothers and sisters, obviously, will only disappoint you, and friends—well. She never had many of those. Her only friends now are snakes and toads, who are far preferable to humans. | ©2023 by Carlie St. George. Narrated by Susan Hanfield. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megapho…
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“Is there a problem, officer?” “We’re not the police.” My partner, Enrico, places his palm against the door, ready to test the old man’s resolve. I tap my finger against my thumb and SNAPbeam the warrant to the old man’s synaptic cache. “We’re EPF.” | © 2023 by D. Thomas Minton. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit m…
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Azahn had been the ninety-third Imperial Foresight to the Dynasty of Silken Flame for only three weeks when he was forcibly retired. His body had been blessed by the holy waters of the Sky-Vein River, and he had earned the named-blade Stalwart Thy Mind, Strong Thy Arm, even now strapped to his back. He had trained his entire life. © 2023 by Martin …
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How did we end up here? The humans before me had the same physiological traits as I did, yet still we had no means of communicating with one another. I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Words and phrases spilled from their mouths, a torrent of sounds bleeding into one another, syllables pouring out in a drum roll, unending and uninterrupte…
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I didn’t want to eat Joshua, but he turned into dust, and the way things go in Carrucchi village is that if someone turns into ashes you inhale them till there’s nothing but smoke in your lungs and redness in your eye. Sometimes we have to eat people to make us less lonely. I didn’t want to do it, but Joshua named me as his eater, so my entire vill…
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If you’re reading this, in a self-destructing DM, on the reverse strand of a plasmid, in the recipe binder you found in a deported neighbor’s belongings dumped on the curb, you’re no longer angry. You’re hungry. Your last co-op got raided by the Department of Homeland Biosecurity, hunting for pharmaceuticals “dangerous” to those at risk of getting …
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Every Teshiarr metropolis, town, and hamlet had featured an agora, the community centerpiece for shopping, conversing, and joining. It was where one received their daily meals, heard news from leaders, and reported to communal soul alcoves. © 2023 by A.L. Goldfuss | Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/a…
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When the ship’s scanners first chirped in the dead of night, Sien figured it was another misfire: light reflecting off asteroid ice, solar radiation, space dust. But xe still slid from xir berth into the chilly, cramped cockpit, eyes bleary. © 2023 by A.L. Goldfuss | Narrated by Paul Boehmer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adc…
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The house was on the same street as a bakery whose only offering was penis-shaped waffles. Rufaro didn’t like American houses very much. They looked paper thin like doll houses that would lift off into the clouds if a strong wind came by. | © 2023 by Yvette Lisa Ndlovu. | Narrated by Christina Ogunade. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaph…
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“I lined up a new gig for you,” said the Glovemaster. “All you have to do is protect one special guy.” I sat in my trailer with my Bluetooth headphones on and my laptop perched on an Amazon box. I wore a boonie hat with a militia logo. | © 2023 by John Kessel & Bruce Sterling. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit meg…
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Dr. Nirwater Leera only agreed to study Mr. Girat because he is supposed to be dead. Tomorrow, they will meet in person for the first time. But today, Leera wastes time by staring at a cellophane bag full of Girat’s vomit. | © 2023 by Lowry Poletti. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices…
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The soldiers slit the woman’s throat every evening before bedding down so they can sleep without worry. She mocks them but never fights the knife coming to her. Two of the men still take turns watching her in case she heals before the rest of the cadre wakes. | © 2023 by Sloane Leong. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki. Learn more about your ad choices. V…
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Muna shuts the storeroom door as quietly as she can. Holding a just-waxed bundle of letters to her chest, she sticks out her head to check the bookshop floor. If she walks between the shelves on the far right, she can slip out unnoticed in ten heartbeats. The main door of the bookshop is propped open, the sun shining after what feels like a year of…
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I need a binge-worthy banger about the incident on Titan. Let’s start with that one picture from Titan that leaked, the one of the weird fishes in those underwater ruins dying. Let’s get going with a second-person narration of You looking at it, thinking about how extinction just happened, and your hands are trembling, and history---your memories o…
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Call me Philoctetes. My real name doesn’t matter, and I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you what it is, anyway. Security concerns, you understand. What you need to know about me is that I was a US Army Green Beret---one of the Quiet Professionals. Usually tasked with working with the locals in counterinsurgency efforts and the like. The stuff that does…
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The most beautiful boy you have ever seen in your life is hot-wiring a spaceship. It’s an objectively unsexy spaceship, insofar as a spaceship can be unsexy---a six-seater built like a 2008 Honda Odyssey, a car model you’re only aware of because it continues to appear in memes. The boy is decidedly not unsexy, though. His name is Eddie, he’s your x…
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Crunches and shrieks buffeted the Magellan LLC smartship as it plunged into Enceladus’s kilometers-thick ice crust, making their way to the subsurface ocean and the rival LuxeSpace corporation’s station situated there. Warning signals flashed through Jarrell and his fellow shipminds’ readouts, but they followed their orders and continued inward. Th…
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I came to the city to find an egg. A robin’s egg, to be precise, an oval of pale, perfect blue that echoed the spring sky. Inside, not a robin, but an emerald. Inside the emerald, a wizard’s heart. He had decided he missed it, and he wanted it back. It was the usual sort of thing, or so he had assured me. His heart taken out and stored for safekeep…
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The house wakes from its somnolence as the witch trudges up the path made of tarts. Through its rock-candy windows, the house scans her figure for any signs of hurt. The witch’s errands in the city make her nervous. And the house, being made of her magic and therefore of the witch, worries along with her that the wrong person might recognize her, o…
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What I observed was a giant anthropomorphized ribbon microphone, the type one might imagine standing in front of a radio announcer and his studio audience, selling soap in the dirty 1930s. It sauntered lazily over to an overstuffed red couch, walking on stick-figure legs that looked like they’d been hand-drawn by a young child. The large red couch …
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The town was not called Byzantium. The Ministry named it during the first meeting. “It’s not a colony,” Thomas James would have said if he could, but the office was hot and bright, the sun in the windows, in his eyes. He felt like he was surrounded by faceless figures even though there were only two other people in the room. The town they were talk…
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“Who loves you?” I ask. My daughter looks away. Doesn’t answer. I lean down and turn her to face me, resting my thumb in the dimple in her chin. It’s the same dimple her mother has. Or had. “You love me, Daddy.” “That’s right, so please listen closely,” I say. She’s only nine, but Anya’s eyes are flat and black and hard to read in the dim light of …
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I punched my brother because he was an idiot, because he couldn’t see what I saw, how hard mom held onto the dish rag when she came out onto the deck to tell us dad had been in an accident, which is why the first thing out of his idiot mouth was “So can we go to Pizza Hut for dinner instead?” And her face had already been enough to tell me dad was …
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Enid sat on the front porch of Haven’s clinic with a half a dozen books, some paper, and a small chalkboard. Three days a week, when she was in town, she taught reading to Haven’s children who wanted to learn. The last two weeks, Rose was the only kid who came to the lessons. Her household’s daughter, Rose, eight years old, stared at her while wear…
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AUDIO LOG BF-0003 / 2083-14-09 13:36 / This . . . feels strange. They said that it’s healthy for those of us whose spouses take Return Missions to record our thoughts. Audio journaling, they called it. Zeli, if you saw the way these devices look, you’d have laughed at the very suggestion of it. They said other spouses who’ve done it have found it h…
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My father was so honest, people often spoke of him in cliches. For example---you know the way someone will sometimes say so-and-so was so honest they’d walk five miles to return an extra nickel they’d been given in their change? Nobody means anybody actually did that kind of thing when they say it, of course---you and I both know they’re only exagg…
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The three wolves in the sun-smeared wood did not turn and run when Aran approached with his musket in hand. Wolves were supposed to run from men with guns. This was the way of the world. Sweat and necessity made his musket slide against his palms. He gripped tighter, not wanting to startle the beasts by bringing the musket to bear too quickly. Two …
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STAND BACK DOORS CLOSING. Dee heard the musical bing-bong of the departure warning between song transitions in her headphones, and watched as the heads of workers in line ahead of her lolled back in the universal why, God gesture of commuters everywhere. There was only one freight car down the wall into the Flood District, and it was shared by all …
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The Noon Witch is not a cat person. She likes the color purple, hates police procedurals, loves breakfast foods, thinks scented bath products and anchovy pizza are gross. Hates platform shoes. Hates walnuts in brownies. Used to like the electropop group all the girls at school like, until they used too much synth on their latest album, so now she h…
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Nobody noticed the first few. They walked. One by one, in the beginning. Isolated instances. On every continent, mid-meal, mid-shower, mid-work, mid-fuck, right out the door of a pulled-up car in the middle of a freeway---ordinary people turned their backs on their ordinary lives and walked. They walked, shedding their hair in clumps along the way,…
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On the first floor of a Colonial-style house constructed last century out of planks of old growth cedar, a monster is dragging a woman’s husband from room to room. The specific path this monster takes will be evident the next morning from the gashes in the wood floors and the splattering of the husband’s innards upon the plaster walls. Blood on the…
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Wallace Englund, captain of the United Space Fleet vessel Caroline, stared out his private office window at the only view he’d had for nearly four years---outer space, in all its dull glory---and wondered why he couldn’t get a decent cheeseburger. Behind him were the last three attempts at a burger made by the ship’s food replicator. The first look…
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