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Lightspeed

Entry updated 26 February 2021. Tagged: Publication.

US professional Online Magazine initially devoted exclusively to science fiction, published by Sean Wallace via Prime Books until December 2011, and edited by John Joseph Adams, who also took over as publisher from January 2012 at which time it also absorbed Fantasy Magazine and made fantasy fiction part of its content. It has appeared monthly as an ebook since June 2010, but the website posts one new story and one nonfiction piece each week, and selected items have been podcast from the start. In its first year it met with much acclaim, being nominated for a Hugo award and three stories being nominated for either the Hugo or Nebula award, two from the first issue, "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See you in Reno" (June 2010) by Vylar Kaftan and "Amaryllis" (June 2010) by Carrie Vaughn, and "Arvies" (August 2010) by Adam-Troy Castro. Lightspeed takes advantage of all the latest digital technology and publishes work by the current generation of writers who have established their careers more in online than in print magazines. A few older writers are included, notably Jack McDevitt, Carol Emshwiller and Robert Reed, but most of the earlier generation of writers are represented by reprinted stories to link in with an author spotlight or interview. At the time the magazine was launched Adams stated that "No subjects will be considered off-limits and we encourage our writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope." Several stories have achieved this, not least Castro's "Arvies", an uncomfortable account of how bodies are reborn time after time to be used by others for a variety of experiences. Many of the stories are not so much narrated tales as emotional experiences, intense but static. Wallace and Adams have also linked the fiction and nonfiction, to allow further discussion of the science featured in the stories.

As at the end of 2012, Lightspeed had an estimated 15,500 unique visitors every month, according to the annual Locus survey; by 2020 this had risen to 29,800 with 2,200 subscribers. It may be too early to say whether the day of the Print Magazine has been superseded, but both Lightspeed and Clarkesworld, of which Wallace was previously an editor, are in the vanguard. Lightspeed won the Hugo Award as best semiprozine in 2014 and again in 2015; Thomas Olde Heuvelt's story "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" (trans Lia Belt; April 2014) won the Hugo for best novelette.

Lightspeed celebrated its one hundredth issue with a special enlarged print number in September 2018. Conscious of the increasing concern over market accessibility for underrepresented groups (see Fireside Magazine and Fiyah), Adams published three special "Destroy" issues: "Women Destroy Science Fiction!" (#49, June 2014) edited by Christie Yant, "Queers Destroy Science Fiction!" (#61, June 2015) edited by Seanan McGuire and "People of ­Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction!" (#73, June 2016) edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim. The last of these, treated as an anthology, won the British Fantasy Award. Amal El-Mohtar's "Madeleine" from the "Queers Destroy" issue was a Nebula finalist.

An anthology drawn from the magazine's first year contents is Lightspeed: Year One (anth 2011) edited by John Joseph Adams. [MA]

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