Letter From The Editor - Issue 41 - September 2014

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Issue 36
Stories
The Saltwater Wife
by K. C. Norton
Once More to Kitty Hawk
by Greg Kurzawa
IGMS Audio
Bonus IGMS Audio
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
At the Picture Show: Extended Cut

Writing Fantasy

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

The Sturdy Bookshelves Of Pawel Oliszewski
    by Ferrett Steinmetz


  Listen to the audio version



When people asked me about Pawel Oliszewski's bookcases - which they inevitably did, especially for the brief period I was paid to answer their questions - I told them my story in strict chronological order. I explained how I moved next door to Pawel, a quiet Polish accountant, when my mother died. I told them how, over the course of seventeen years, my neighbor gifted me with seven fine specimens in his legendary line of improbable bookshelves.

No, I wasn't willing to sell them. Yes, he offered me more bookcases - roughly four a year, actually. Yes, I turned him down - the man would have filled my house with bookcases, if only I'd let him. Yes, I still have them all - the specimens I currently possess are specimen #89 (Vickers hardness test: 970 MPa), specimen #113 (Vickers: 1325 MPa), specimen #234 (Vickers: 2250 MPa), and the much sought-after late-era specimens #269, #287, #292, and #304 (effectively untestable).

Yes, it is an irony that each of the bookcases are worth more than my house now. Oh, no, I've never heard that one before.

But above all, I tried to tell the origin of the bookcases honestly - the tedious hobby of an asocial immigrant who specialized in awkward pauses. This was an error. People wanted Pawel's garage workshop to be a magical wonderland - wanted Pawel himself to be a sage, armored in wise silence.

The official biography - which I did not write, despite being both a professional obituary writer and a good friend to the Oliszewski family - jostled the facts around, made it seem as though Agnes knew there was something special about Pawel's craftsmanship all along.

But no. His bookcases were boring, as was Pawel, as was I. Ask yourself: If anyone had seen anything of interest in that quiet accountant, wouldn't the world have discovered his bookcases years ago? Wouldn't they have discovered Myra Turnbull's purses and Jeb Guhr's model planes?

No, the truth lay there all along, resting beneath cobwebs; it was just tedious. Easily overlooked. Like me.

Still. I'm going to tell you the way I've always told it. Strict chronological order. Just to channel a bit of the old man's magic.

Are you interested now?

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