Letter From The Editor - Issue 41 - September 2014

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Issue 20
Stories
Sympathy of a Gun
by Gary Kloster
The Vicksburg Dead
by Jens Rushing
The American
by Bruce Worden
Bonus Christmas Stories
Wise Men
by Orson Scott Card
IGMS Audio
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

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

The Never Never Wizard of Apalachicola
    by Jason Sanford

1st Place - Best Cover Art - 2010

The Never Never Wizard of Apalachicola
Artwork by Julie Dillon

Space slides dark and Earth churns blue. And me, two hundred miles up, rocking through water dreams of marsh and bay and gentle-downer waves. And me, Major Solomon Lawrence, sweat fogging my spacesuit visor. Eyes stinging. Tongue salting. The suit's bottle-crisp air blowing the sting and taste into memories of Apalachicola Bay as a child.

And a raven, a true damn-it-all raven perched before me on the station's new solar array, preening its purple-burn feathers in the vacuum of space.

I pull closer to the raven, my hands shaking at the nonsensical sight. We installed the array two days ago, but a glitch kept its solar panels from fully deploying. Now the raven's leather-cut talons grip the release bolt that I need to turn. I wave my quarter-million-dollar NASA wrench at the creature but it ignores the threat.

"You okay, Sol?" my partner, Aleena Samasut, asks. Her white-suited form floats a dozen feet away. Praying I haven't caused my colleagues or mission control to suspect the craziness I'm experiencing, I ask Aleena if she notices anything strange about the release bolt.

"Looks the same as in practice," Aleena says as the raven silently caws. "Turn it so we can go home."

Through Aleena's visor I see her lovely dark-brown face, which reminds me so of my sister. How could I have forgotten my sister? The raven knows, and shakes its head at my silly, silly amazement.

I float closer to the bolt and the raven. A few twists from my wrench and the array's accordion panels will shoot out like oversized insect wings. After all, there is a method to affairs like this. The array, the station, the shuttle, my space suit -- all are true and proper science. The result of real world engineering. The raven can't pretend to any of that.

Not that the damn bird cares.

And that's when I remember everything. Remember the raven sitting malevolently on Chapél's front porch in the swamps off Apalachicola Bay. Remember me wading there, pistol in hand, to kill that damn wizard for taking my sister. How Chapél laughed in his gravel-magicked voice. How the raven flew at me. How I woke floating in the bay, two husky fishermen pulling me onto their boat, asking if I was okay.

And me, not knowing the answer. Until now.

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