Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017
First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren't
rare. But there be bad and good, as the pirates say. Take September, a bad
month: school begins. Consider August, a good month: school hasn't begun yet.
July, well, July's really fine: there's no chance in the world for school. June, no
doubting it, June's best of all, for the school doors spring wide and September's
a billion years away.
But you take October, now. School's been on a month and you're riding easier
in the reins, jogging along. You got time to think of the garbage you'll dump on
old man Prickett's porch, or the hairy-ape costume you'll wear to the YMCA the
last night of the month. And if it's around October twentieth and everything
smoky-smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight, it seems
Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bedsheets
--Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
I discovered Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes about fifteen years ago. But
it's one of those books that no matter how late in life you meet it, it changes the way you
see life in such a deep, abiding way that it seems that you have must have always known it.
Every October, I shake hands with good ol' Will Halloway and slippery Jim Nightshade. We
meet at Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, to stare at the carousel and
wonder, wonder. . .
By the time you read this, Halloween will be almost upon us. Here are five original tales to
put a tingle down your spine and bring those shadows in the corner to life:
Let's start with a witch. Jonathon Edelstein's "Oba Oyinbo" braids magic, politics, song, and
murder together in Lagos, 1937.
The conversation in the room dissolved into screaming, and Mary found herself
in the middle of a confused group of women rushing down the stairs. Outside,
the gathering darkness revealed a body lying on the ground, with two gaping
wounds in his forehead and blood running in rivers to the gutter.
The police were there quickly--they must have been on patrol and heard--so
Mary had only seconds to register two facts. The first was that the victim was a
drummer she'd sometimes seen play with Tunde King. The second was the
scrap of paper he held in his hand--a scrap that read "OBA OYINBO."
. . . and from there, let us descend to Hades together--literally--along with Camila
Fernandes. Camila is the winner of this year's Hydra competition, and the Intergalactic
Medicine Show is pleased to publish her story, "The Best of the Three."
In short, he was born intelligent and strong. But that wasn't what separated him
from the other dogs.
The difference was that he had three heads.
And as soon as his mother's licks freed him from the placenta, the three heads
stuck themselves to three teats and sucked voraciously. They found no
competition. The litter's other two pups came out stillborn. Noting this, the bitch
gave them a fitting end, sending them back into her body, bite by bite.
The man didn't mind her eating the dead puppies. What bothered him were the
extra two heads for a single living pup.
"He killed the others in the womb," said his wife, "to have the mother to
"Don't talk nonsense, woman. Dogs are born dead just as often as children or
goats. This dog was born for the gods. We should give it to them."
October is a month for change. Transformation. In the northern hemisphere, summer truly dies in
October, and the trees light its pyre with leaves that burn yellow and red. Kurt Hunt addresses a
more unexpected transformation in his short story, "The Sharklings of Anchor Valley:"
Some neighbors evacuated, accompanied by the sound of jury-rigged outboard
motors. Others drowned, stubborn; their swollen bodies tapped at the eaves for
days before the current pulled them away.
The Smiths, however, simply stayed put.
After those first days dodging debris, after their skin grayed and their eyes
blackened and their feet flattened and their teeth sharpened (though they
noticed none of this), the anxiety of the flood was replaced by tranquil
What would October be without children? Odd children. Speaking odd things. Playing odd
games. David Williams introduces us to "The Kids in Town:"
She took a half-step back, a confused look on her face. She focused, like Dad
when he tried to read without his glasses. She was trying to see him, peering at
him like he rested in shadow, like his face was missing pieces.
"SenTeekoh Brnsalsl. Hashwho?" she said, three quick words, in a voice as quick
and high as a bird. She moved slowly to his left, circling, eyes still watching him.
There was a hum in her ears, and a faint redness colored the sparkling in her
eyes. "SenTeekoh Brnsalsl. Hashwho," she said, again, a look of surprise
growing on her face as the red sparkles returned.
"I'm Enoch," said Enoch, looking up at her. He thumped his chest with a closed
fist, leaving muddy stains on the front of his shirt. "Enoch." He thumped again.
"What's your name?"
We started with a witch; let's end with one too. And three sisters. And a dark forest. Rati
Mehrota's "In the Woods, My Voice" is our audio selection for this month, read by Emily
When Grandma died, she left her two most precious possessions to my sisters.
To my older sister Jeet--the plain and clever one--went the magical flute that
could charm any listener. To my younger sister Jamila--the pretty and brave
one--went the protective stick that could fight off unsuitable admirers and
And to me, Jerri, the graceless middle one?
"To you, best beloved," said Grandma, "I give my voice." She pushed a small
velvet box into my hands. "And now, since it is exactly midnight, I shall die." She
fell back on her bed with a huge sigh, closed her eyes, and pretended to be dead.
All three of us stared at the clock on the wall, and then back at her. She was still
breathing, but none of us dared point that out. At last, after fifteen minutes of
ferocious pretense, Grandma succeeded in dying. Her face, so grim and
formidable in life, relaxed into a peaceful smile. That's how we knew she was
And don't miss out on Lawrence Schoen's Intergalactic Interview with Robert J. Sawyer!
Since you've been such good little beasties, we've even reprinted Robert's science fiction
short story, "The Shoulders of Giants."
Scott M. Roberts
Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show