Letter From The Editor - Issue 67 - February 2019

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Issue 67
Stories
The Gilga-Mess
by Alex Shvartsman
Reading Dead Lips
by Dustin Steinacker
All the Things You Want
by Andrew Peery
Dayshift
by Brian Trent
The Cost of Wonder
by Leah Cypess
IGMS Audio
The Cost of Wonder
Read by Alethea Kontis
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
Sweetheart Come
by Alethea Kontis
Bonus Material
The Story Behind the Stories
by Dustin Steinacker

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Letter From The Editor - Issue 67 - February 2019

I am sad to report that Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show will be pulling up stakes in June 2019. I've been a reader since the first issue, and on the staff since 2009. My kids have grown up with the magazine in their lives, and I am fiercely proud of all that we've accomplished.

I am also very, very pleased with the state of science fiction and fantasy in general today. When IGMS first rolled onto the scene, online magazines were few and far between. Now the main mode of consumption of short SFF literature is online in one form or another (podcasts, e-issues, webpages, etc). And the voices of SFF today are vibrant, strident, beckoning, beseeching, screeching, awesome myriads. We have been a part of that polysymphonic wonder. We were one of the first to tell our truest lies on the brave digital frontier.

Here are the nitty-gritty details of the closure:

The following issues will be published:

Feb/March (this issue) 2019
April/May 2019
June/July 2019

All three issues have a full complement of original stories.

Subscribers whose one-year subscription ends after June 2019 will be refunded the unused portion of their subscription ($15/year for 6 issues = $2.50/issue). Sometime in the fall of 2019 we will remove the IGMS paywall, and all issues of the magazine will be freely available online.

There are still stories to tell in the meantime.

Alex Shvartsman is one of my favorite story-tellers. He makes a re-appearence this issue with "The Gilga-Mess:"

The false messiah was a giant of a man. He was seven feet tall, long-haired, broad-shouldered, and olive-skinned, his long beard curled in layers of elaborate ringlets, in the style depicted on ancient Babylonian tablets. He was dressed in a plain white cotton tunic. He stood in front of a sizable crowd, his hands raised skyward, his face radiating unnatural calm.

We watched from the café across the street as gawkers rapidly filled the small Jerusalem square. People of all faiths and walks of life flocked to the spectacle. Ever since Gilgamesh had shown up claiming to be the divine messenger of an ancient god, he'd been quickly gaining followers--people always look to those who can make the most lavish promises in turbulent times. Our job was to expose his miracles for the parlor tricks they were and to knock him down a notch.

"The whole 'meek shall inherit the earth' thing doesn't quite ring true with this beefcake," said Abby. "Look at him. He's more Goliath than David."

"That's Christianity," I said. "What this fellow is peddling predates Christ by millennia."

Dustin Steinacker's novelette, Reading Dead Lips, recounts a harrowing journey homeward that feels at once fantastic and terrifyingly possible.

Nouelle had always thought that she'd feel a sense of homecoming when she returned to the country that had birthed her. But after eight years, it was already a foreign land. Her first day back she risked a hostel, near the border, and the shower water was wrong; it stung her flesh with its force but never seemed to rinse off the lather. The loudest voices in the common room all spoke the occupiers' dialects and she stayed silent rather than mark herself as a Czir. The cooking smells too were unfamiliar.

After that she slept out of doors.

She was wiser than she'd been when last she breathed Czir air (this she told herself, and sometimes she believed it too). She now knew occult sciences, after all, and had acquainted herself with the many stages of corpse-stink. So yes, she was standing on ground that she'd had to sell herself to escape, occupied ground. But she was also prepared. She'd lost everything she ever had in this country and now, dammit, she had the chance to take just one thing back.

Somewhere within these borders was her sister.

Andrew Peery's "All the Things You Want" has a distinctly different take on home, with a cloned consciousness threatening the earth in order to win the hearts (and presence) of his source's wife and child.

Kate is outside weeding the garden. Watching her from orbit, I can see the fine hair of her arms and the wet flecks of dirt between her fingers. Every few seconds the telescopes adjust to filter the quiet glare of an explosion. Unfortunately, the missiles launched at my ship are too small to be seen from the ground.

I wish the bombs would burn brighter. I would vent hydrogen from the reactors if Kate would just look up at me, but she is focused on pulling up the dandelions that I had always rather liked. "They look like flowers to me," I would tell her.

"Weeds," she would say back, shaking her head.

Brian Trent's "Dayshift" dumps a reporter from the elite castes of the Arkology into the rattle-scrabble world of junkpunks: blue-collar kings of trash and precious metal archaeology.

She's getting to her feet, retracting her parachute into her backpack, when the junkpunk materializes beside her.

He's a frightful apparition. Snout-like mask and rubber-rimmed goggles appearing in a pixelating rainbow, his spectarmor dulling to pewter gray to distinguish him from the eye-melting colors of trash around them. "Welcome to the Pile, arky. I'm Neil Rix, corporate crow."

"Vanessa Roderigo," she manages, still breathless from the exhilarating paradrop.

"World Tree Arcology and . . . did you say corporate crow?"

His laugh is tinny in his rebreather. "My formal title is Perimeter Security Officer. The title of crows . . . well . . . that's what we call each other."

Vanessa can see why. There are real crows about, alighting on the Pile's undulating slopes of junk and flapping, half-buried newspapers. Yet the junkpunks patrolling the peaks and valleys have a decidedly avian quality to them, too; with their beak-like masks and black goggles, they make her think of medieval plague doctor costumes. Even Neil's bulky armor gives him the hooded appearance of a carrion bird.

She wonders what he looks like beneath the armor.

Our audio selection this month is Leah Cypress's "Cost of Wonder," narrated by Alethea Kontis.

I could never afford a memory like this, but I wasn't buying this one. I had made it, and it was mine, and I wanted it to last forever.

I'm not going to sell this day.

But even as I thought it, I was calculating, trying to guess just how much it was worth. I had known today would be magical; I had dressed Gina for the part, in a little denim dress and matching hat, both of which I'd bought with my earnings from last week's trip to the playground. The hat flattened but didn't tame her curls, and her round face was stretched by her smile. She squealed again as soap bubbles filled the air, trying to catch them with tiny, uncoordinated half-jumps, unaware of the iridescent globes settling all over her arms.

My heart swelled with a joy so potent it almost hurt, and I swore it again: I'll keep this day for myself.

But the next morning Gina woke up sobbing, with a temperature so high she was hot to the touch. I had to beg the doctor to let me bring her in. He was busy, but he relented; I always paid on time.

AND don't miss this month's reprint, also from Alethea Kontis.

Enjoy it while it lasts, kids!

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


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