Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 10
Sweetly the Dragon Dreams
by David Farland
The Fort in Vermont
by David A. Simons
The Tile Setters
by Ami Chopine
A Heretic by Degrees
by Marie Brennan
The Absence of Stars
by Greg Siewert
by Mette Ivie Harrison
The Robot Sorcerer
by Eric James Stone
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

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A Heretic by Degrees
    by Marie Brennan
A Heretic by Degrees
Artwork by Dean Spencer

The king was dying, and nothing in the world could save him.

The Councillor Paramount said, "Then we must look outside the world for help."

The suggestion was heretical, and treasonous to boot. Two years before, the king had established by sacred decree that there was only one world, and that nothing lay beyond its bounds; anything seen there was a delusion, a final torment sent to test the faithful before their eventual salvation. And for two years, his Councillors and subjects had respected his word.

Now they faced a choice. Disobey the king -- or lose him. Commit treason, or let him die, and with him, the last remnant of the sacred royal line.

The Councillor Paramount's statement met with a lengthy, embarrassed, indecisive silence.

By the standards of his predecessors, Qoress was new to the position of Councillor Paramount; he had been in service for a mere two years. The man who served before him had gone into the spaces outside the world, and only his right arm and half of his head had come back. Thus the decree, and thus the need for a new Councillor Paramount.

One might expect from this that Qoress would be the last man to suggest that something might exist outside the world, much less that help might exist in those places. But he was a thoughtful man, and moreover one who cared for his king; also, he knew that his fellow councillors were a weak-willed lot who would consider and discuss and debate and do everything in their power to avoid making a decision, for whoever brought matters to such a point could subsequently be blamed for it.

From out of the rustling of ceremonial robes and uncomfortable creaking of stools came one timid, anonymous voice. "But -- we wouldn't know where to start."

Their lack of spine served Qoress' purpose, for it meant they wouldn't argue with him. He smiled down at them all, hands arranged in the gesture of Serene Confidence. "Do you really believe all of His Holiness' subjects have obeyed that decree?"

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