HomeAll postsLIGHTSPEED Women Destroy Science Fiction!

LIGHTSPEED Women Destroy Science Fiction!

Press release from Lightspeed Magazine

It could be said that women invented science fiction; after all, Mary Shelley wrote what is considered by many to be the first science fiction novel (Frankenstein). Yet some readers seem to have this funny idea that women don’t—or can’t—write science fiction. Some have even gone so far as to accuse women of destroying science fiction with their girl cooties. So to help prove how silly that notion is, LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE‘s June 2014 issue—our fourth anniversary issue—is a Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue. And we also—for the first time in LIGHTSPEED‘s history—have a guest editor at the helm.

Our Inspiration

Women aren’t writing “real” science fiction, the fallacy goes. “Real” science fiction is… whatever science fiction certain men like. Some days this makes us sad. Some days it makes us angry. And some days it just seems hilarious… and a quip on Twitter turns into a special issue of LIGHTSPEED in the space of roughly half an hour.

When we announced the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue in September, the response was immediate and overwhelming. All people had was a title and an email address but the enthusiasm was boundless. The special “I Want to Destroy SF” inbox we setup filled with subject lines like:

  • Helping my sisters destroy science fiction since 1983
  • If anyone’s going to destroy SFF—
  • Please sir, may I destroy science fiction?

Why, yes. Yes, you may.

LIGHTSPEED was founded on the core idea that all science fiction is real science fiction. The whole point of this magazine is that science fiction is vast. It is inclusive. Science fiction is about people (roughly 50% of whom are women) just as much as it’s about ideas. Science fiction is about us, our perils and our promise; it’s about our collective future. LIGHTSPEED has also been committed to gender parity from the beginning and we have achieved it consistently for nearly four years now. But looking around at media at large, it’s clearly just not enough—and thus the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue was born.

The Guest Editors

For this special issue, control of the magazine has been handed over to the women of LIGHTSPEED:

LIGHTSPEED assistant editor Christie Yant—who has been with the magazine nearly since its inception—is the guest editor-in-chief (and original fiction editor) for this special issue.

An author who has appeared on every major ballot our field has to offer, founding editor of PodCastle, and winner of the 2011 Nebula Award, Rachel Swirsky joins us as guest reprint editor for the issue to showcase the ground-breaking work done by women in the past.

Producing our podcast for the month is Grammy nominee and Audie Award winner Gabrielle de Cuir of Skyboat Media, with guest host Mur Lafferty, former editor of SF audio magazine Escape Pod, and winner of the 2013 John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

This issue is about the voices and art of women and, as such, our goal is to find ways to include as many women in science fiction as possible. So, for the first time, in addition to our usual original short stories, we opened our doors to flash fiction as well. LIGHTSPEED assistant editor Robyn Lupo is our flash fiction editor for the issue.

To further that goal, we’ve also got our managing editor Wendy Wagner on board to serve as the editor of a series of personal essays by the women of science fiction we’ll be posting here on Kickstarter as project updates.

The Special Issue

A regular issue of LIGHTSPEED contains an equal mix of science fiction and fantasy short fiction, consisting of 4 original stories, 4 reprints, plus a novella reprint (exclusive to our ebook edition). Each issue also includes feature interviews, an artist showcase, and spotlights on the authors who appear in the issue. The special issue contains the following:

  • All science fiction (no fantasy)
  • 11 original, never-before-published short stories
  • 15 original, never-before-published flash fiction stories
  • 4 previously-published short stories
  • 1 previously-published novella
  • Author Spotlights on our authors in this issue
  • 7 nonfiction features, including a roundtable interview with some of the great women of our field, conducted by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • 28 personal essays by women readers and writers in which they discuss their experiences reading and writing science fiction
  • An original cover by Hugo Award-winning illustrator Galen Dara
  • All together, more than 150,000 words of fiction and nonfiction
  • Includes original fiction by Seanan McGuire, Charlie Jane Anders, N.K. Jemisin, Carrie Vaughn, Maria Dahvana Headley, Amal El-Mohtar, and many more. 

And naturally, all of the above will all be authored entirely by women. You can see the full table of contents here.


LIGHTSPEED is a digital science fiction and fantasy magazine. In its pages, you will find science fiction: from near-future, sociological soft SF, to far-future, star-spanning hard SF—and fantasy: from epic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, and contemporary urban tales, to magical realism, science-fantasy, and folktales. When you read LIGHTSPEED, it is our hope that you’ll see where science fiction and fantasy comes from, where it is now, and where it’s going.

LIGHTSPEED is a three-time finalist for the Hugo Award, and stories from LIGHTSPEED have been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award and the World Fantasy Award.

When not doing a special issue devoted to amazing women, LIGHTSPEED is usually edited by bestselling anthologist John Joseph Adams, editor of Wastelands, The Living Dead, Brave New Worlds, and many other anthologies.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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