Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Issue 12
Stories
Over There
by Tim Pratt
The Multiplicity Has Arrived
by Matthew S. Rotundo
Somewhere My Love
by Stephen Mark Rainey
The End-of-the-World Pool
by Scott M. Roberts
Hologram Bride: Part One
by Jackie Gamber
Folk of the Fringe Serialization
WEST
by Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card Audio
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
The Crack
by David Lubar
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Essay
American Idol
by Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury

Writing Fantasy

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-   -   -   -   P   r   e   v   i   e   w   -   -   -   -

Over There
    by Tim Pratt
Over There
Artwork by Anselmo Alliegro

When I was eighteen, I went on a quest to win back my true love. I trekked a thousand leagues across a strange world, helped by a ragtag band that grew into a mighty army, and in the end I faced down the nameless emperor who'd stolen my Gwen. I defeated him in single combat, swept Gwen into my arms, and brought her back to our world to become my wife.

That was twenty-two years ago. For the past ten months, I've been cheating on my true love with one of my graduate students.

After sex, I sprawled on the sprung bed in the motel room, Isobel's length stretched alongside me. The ceiling was waterstained and cracked, and as always, after, I felt sad and defeated. I blamed it on the room. I'd once kissed a woman in the rainbow mists of the Isle of Bright. How could a seedy motel room compare, regardless of the glory of the body of my partner?

"I saw your wife the other day," Isobel said, and I understood the meaning of the expression "his blood froze."

"Oh?" I aimed for a casual tone and fell short. "How's that?"

"Don't worry, I didn't talk to her. I just saw her at the grocery store. She's really hot, Harry."

"How do you know it was Gwen?" I didn't keep a photo of my wife on my desk anymore; somehow her image, frozen from a happier time in our life, made me feel guiltier than her preoccupied presence at home ever did.

"The clerk called her Mrs. Overkamp, and that's not exactly a common name, professor. Besides, she had a weird wedding ring, just like yours."

I glanced at my wedding band resting on the nightstand, a ring of smooth bluish carved coral. I always took it off before even kissing Isobel, and told myself I was somehow keeping faith with Gwen by doing so. "Ah."

"So was she, like, a child bride? She doesn't look a day over thirty."

"No, she's only a year younger than I am. She's just aging gracefully. All the women in her family do." That was a lie -- Gwen was adopted, her biological parents unknown -- but I didn't want to have this conversation. I loved Isobel's assertiveness, mostly because it was such a contrast to Gwen's ethereality, but sometimes she made me nervous.

"She's so tiny. I must look like a lumberjack compared to her." Isobel was nearly six feet tall, on par with me, and she had generous curves, though her belly was smooth; she worked out a lot, because the women in her family "ballooned" as they got older, she said.

A lumberjack. I once fought a war-witch of the Four Gorges tribe in single combat, but this conversation had just turned dangerous in an entirely different way. "You're beautiful, Isobel. A much better fit for me. Gwen is . . . fragile." In more ways than one. "Sometimes I'm afraid to touch her, she seems so, I don't know, breakable."

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