Letter From The Editor - Issue 65 - October 2018

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Issue 64
Stories
The God Down the River
by J.P. Sullivan
IGMS Audio
Bar Scenes with Time and Entropy
Read by Alethea Kontis
Vintage Fiction
The Singing Tree
by Rati Mehrotra
Bonus Material

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Letter From The Editor - Issue 64 - August 2018

Summer seems to be award season for speculative fiction, with the Nebulas, Hugos, Dragon Awards and more all crowding the corridors for your attention. Good luck to all the nominees!

JP Sullivan's novelette, The God Down the River, combines a great many things I love: coming-of-age-stories, mythic fantasy, and trains.

Every seventh day we all went to worship a God that never answered, which struck me as odd, given that a perfectly lively one lived just down the road. Why not ask him for help with our problems?

"Because he's evil, is why," said the baker's boy. He looked at me like I was an idiot. Chances are good that I was an idiot, but back then I figured I was the smartest person in the world; children usually do, despite all evidence to the contrary.

"Evil how, exactly?" I figured it was important. "Nobody's ever seen him do anything."

But we all saw him, certainly, as much as the grown-ups tried to pretend he wasn't there.

Hard Times in Nuovo Geneva, or How I Lost My Way, by Chris Barnham, speaks to longing and wanderlust and the ache of love.

I sense he's keener to listen than to tell me anything. I used to be the same. I help him along, and as we work our way through the first bottle of wine I give him a potted history of Nuovo Genova, under the cloak of telling him about myself. It's after nine, and we're on the second bottle, when I think he's relaxed enough to move the conversation on a bit.

"I was like you once."

"In what way?"

I need to handle this delicately. I don't want to scare him off by pushing too hard to soon.

"Five years ago, I arrived in the city and it was completely alien to me. I mean completely. I knew no Italian. Had no clue about the city's history, or how it worked now. I ended up here by pure chance."

"Where did you start out?" He watches me closely, shadows in his eyes from the lights above. "How did you get here."

"I met a girl."

Joshua Ogden returns to IGMS with The Preventable Future of Peter Jones, a story that is terrifying in its familiarity.

And after I had written all this down, I sat down in the green grass and wondered to myself why I was so scared when the things I want for my life are so wonderful.

That's when the blackness appeared. Slowly and murderously it seeped onto the stage of my mind, and without my consent. It had perhaps always been there, in the back corners, hiding from me. It said, "Peter Jones, you have the ability to die!" slowly and matter-of-factly in the most terrifying way you can think of.

I don't know what it is, or what it means. But it feels awful. It's a flame that lives to eat without thought of anything but its appetite, and it goes against everything wonderful and real that naturally takes time to blossom. And I'm disgusted by this thing because I know it will take away any chance of a real life of happiness that I have the potential to live.

And it will be my fault for letting it.

Josh Pearce takes on big box furniture stores and portal stories with Selections from the Wolfmonth Catalog of the Fairyland Regional Fürni Store.

Brödrost--you buy a cute little toaster and plug it in. It glares up at you and turns its back. "Come on," you coax, "do something brave today." It pulls its own plug out and grumps. Wisps of smoke gather in fuming clouds over its head. Even when you plug it back in and bribe it with raisin bread, the little punkass burns angry black lines into your breakfast.

Kvast--okay, at first they seem to perform as advertised, endowed with self-motivation, packaged in reasonably-priced sets but, come on, all they want to do is go outside and sweep the damn yard. And then they track all that dirt right back into the house, no matter how many times you swat them with a rolled-up newspaper and yell very loudly to assert your dominance. If you don't let them in, they're gonna keep you up all night tapping against the sliding glass door.

Our audio selection this issue is Laura Pearlman's "Bar Scenes with Time and Entropy," read by the effervescent Alethea Kontis:

A time elemental and an entropy elemental walk into a bar, because apart from their inborn ability to influence forces of nature, they're perfectly ordinary people who enjoy an adult beverage every now and then. Time is a man, tall with dark brown skin and handsome features, wearing the kind of classically-styled suit often described as "timeless". Entropy is fair-skinned with freckles and hopelessly tangled hair, wearing a dress whose design resembles the pattern of water spots thrown off by an Afghan hound shaking itself after a bath, only more colorful.

The bar is crowded; it's the first clear night after a week-long thunderstorm. He orders a Scotch on the rocks; she orders a strawberry daiquiri. He raises an eyebrow.

She shrugs. "I just need something that's been through--"

A shot rings out. Time falls, bleeding but still conscious.

Entropy kneels by his side and grips his hand. "Go back" she says. "Don't think, just go back."

Last of all, don't miss our reprint of Rati Mehrotra's The Singing Tree.

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


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