Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Issue 58
Stories
Oba Oyinbo
by Jonathan Edelstein
The Best of the Three
by Camila Fernandes
The Kids in Town
by David Williams
In the Woods, My Voice
by Rati Mehrotra
IGMS Audio
In the Woods, My Voice
Read by Alethea Kontis
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
The Shoulders of Giants
by Robert J. Sawyer

Writing Fantasy

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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 around corners.

--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 himself."

"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 aftermath.

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 Rankin:

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 monsters alike.

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 really dead.

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."

Happy Halloween!

Scott M. Roberts
Editor
Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show


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