Magazine: Lightspeed Oct 2015


Lightspeed Magazine Issue 65

We got a call about a disturbance at the old Ferguson place. The house had been some rich guy’s mansion, then a nursing home, and most recently a failed bed and breakfast. We knew that empty places attract trouble (teenagers, meth cooks, and uglier things the people of the community pretend don’t exist here), so we followed our standard procedure: rolled in on the place with our van’s lights off, breached the front entrance, then the rest of the team headed upstairs while my canine partner and I took the ground floor.

I headed for the kitchen — the perpetrators were just as likely to be there as anywhere, and if not, we could score some snacks. I was checking the expiration dates on the cheese and sandwich meat in the industrial-size refrigerator when a charging rhino burst through one of the kitchen entrances. My pistol bullets won’t punch through rhino hide, so we high-tailed it out of there, the rhino on our heels.

We gained a little distance dodging through a series of doors and hallways, since rhinos don’t take ninety-degree turns very well. My partner bounded up the stairwell. Smart dog, rhinos probably can’t climb stairs. I took the stairs three at a time, but the rhino thundered up behind me. I screamed into my radio “coming up the stairs, perp’s on my tail”, and sprinted down a second-floor hallway after my partner, trusting him to pick the best escape route.

The rhino was almost on me when Sergeant Velma blindsided it, putting it into a headlock — one arm around its neck, the other hand levering its horn, twisting and bringing the brute to a halt. Fred hit the rhino from behind, taking out its back legs and knocking it onto its side. Daphne piled on, immobilizing the beast.

I walked up to the rhino, grabbed its face in both hands, and pulled. That’s just something I do to rhinos. Its face gave way, and I tumbled backwards holding a rubber mask. I landed on my butt and stared into the eyes of the real culprit. “Talking Chicken!”, the entire team blurted out in surprise.

My partner took the rubber mask in his teeth and shook it back and forth, growling. I patted him on the head. “Good boy, Scoob. Good boy.”

Short Stories

Solder and Seam by Maria Headley. A long series of infodumps, which aren’t in the right order if their purpose is to provide information.

Children of Dagon by Adrian Tchaikovsky. A second story that’s not really told in story format. Human/Sea Otter hybrids live in the ocean and fight with humans.

Time Shards by Gregory Benford. A story first published in 1979. A scientist can read acoustic messages from old pottery, based on tiny vibrations that worked into the clay. I enjoyed how this tied into a modern activity.

Water Rights by An Owomoyela. Early space colonists react to a disaster.

The Fiddler of Bayou Teche by Delia Sherman. A well-written fairy tale set in Cajun country.

The Invention of Separate People by Kevin Brockmeier. Everyone in the world is telepathically connected to everyone else, until one man learns to break the connection.

Tragic Business by Emil Ostrovsky. This reads like something a seventh-grader would write, if he were angry about being given a writing assignment.

The Karen Joy Fowler Book Club by Nike Sulway. The characters are rhinos, but they talk, read books, open restaurants, and have lesbian love affairs. It’s like a sequel to Talking Chicken. (Both authors are from Australia; I need to investigate whether bad science fiction is being pumped directly into their water supply.)

We dropped Talking Chicken off at central booking, but before we could finish the paperwork, we got a call about trouble at the Foggy Point Lighthouse. It was going to be one of those nights.

Answer my polls to let me know at what point you realized the intro story was Scooby-Doo themed, and to identify with a Scooby-Doo character.


  1. I think you’re really starting to nail it with these short fiction reviews.

    A bit of trivia on “Time Shards”: Benford says the late David Hartwell took him to task for not rending the medieval English dialect correctly and rejected if for the magazine he was editing.

    1. I wonder if he knew the correct form, but changed it so contemporary readers would understand, or if he just put together something that sounded close enough. I sure wouldn’t know the difference.

      1. Hartwell had a doctorate in medieval English so Benford understood why he was being picky but decided to go with the “Idea Is Hero Even If It’s Wrong”. The actual idea of getting sound out of paper came from an article in Journal of the I.E.E.E.. As of 1986, the experiment had been tried but no good data had been retrieved.

  2. Aw, and I so like info dumps. I’m disappointed if they couldn’t add up to a story.

    1. If you like info-dumps, you’ll love a story in one of my upcoming reviews…

  3. A ha ha – excellent 😀

    “Sergeant Velma” – classic 😀

    1. You do not want to face the Sarge in a street fight.

      1. Didn’t they use to call her “Mean Velma”?

  4. […] deal means nothing if you just switch to lesbian rhino […]

  5. […] contributing to this cluster:  Analog, Asimov’s, Daily Science Fiction, Diabolical Plots, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Uncanny, and Worlds Without […]

  6. […] seen a city go to Hell before, and this is how it starts: first talking chickens, then lesbian rhinos, then where does it end? I scream “Where does it end?” before realizing I’m alone […]

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