Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 69
To Know and Be Known
by Aimee Ogden
The Chaos Crushers' Day Off
by Alethea Kontis
Long Hair
by Stefan Slater
IGMS Audio
Long Hair
Read by Kaitlin Bellamy
Vintage Fiction
by Eric James Stone
Bonus Material
The Story Behind the Stories
by Jared Oliver Adams

Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

This is the last issue of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.

By the time this editorial is posted, I will have had around six months to acclimate myself to the idea. There is nothing that I can write to describe how proud I am of the authors, artists, performers, editors, assistant editors, publishers, columnists and techno-wizards who made this magazine possible. Given a decade, even, I don't think I could adequately express how much my team has meant to me, and how profoundly the magazine has affected my life.

Together, we made something wonderful, dynamic, and hopeful.

There is little else that matters in the world than to create, foster, and share wonderful, dynamic, and hopeful things.

So, good work, you yahoos. While we may have pulled up stakes, we hope you'll continue doing fantastic work far into the future. And who can tell, but the Medicine Show will come creaking 'round again, dragging new dreams and fantasies both bright and deep back into the reading world?

These are the stories we leave you with for now:

Jared Oliver Adams's "For Sale: Veterinary Practice on Sigma 4; Certain Conditions Apply:"

"But you will die out there on Sigma 4, Helouise," said her fellow students at the Newganda School of Veterinary Medicine. "You cannot even breathe the air!"

But they were complainers, and many of them were skinny as well. Helouise Kwami, DVM, found both attributes to be equally inexcusable.

Besides, the air of Sigma 4 was only slightly toxic. It required the bare minimum in breathing apparatus, a simple facemask that connected to a very reasonably sized filter at your belt.

Much more difficult was arranging transport to a planet that nobody wanted to go to, this in spite of the fact that it had been featured on an Intergalactic Geographic expo! They certainly did not film Intergalactic Geographic expos in crowded cities like Newganda, where veterinary students counted themselves lucky to sleep in a cubby and share a common room with nine other people.

So, transport was difficult. What kind of veterinarian minds difficulty?

Jeremy A. TeGrotenhuis's "Into the Roots of the World, Bearing Light:"

"Are you sure you want this?" His stubble brushed her jaw.

She searched his face, traced the arch his cheek with the tips of her fingers.

"I am," she said.

"I carry my father's sword, oath-bound to serve at Baldar's call."

She kissed him, touched her forehead to his. "I know."

"If the serpent wakes in our time--"

"Shhhh." She closed his lips with her own and gathered the quilt about her shoulders. "Why think of such things now?" His chest was thick and solid as she rose above him and pressed him to the bed. "Come, my love. We have much of life to live."

Aimee Ogden's "To Know and Be Known:"

The first time Rrela saw the tower, she was twelve years old. She watched it grow in the sky as her family's oxcart drew nearer and nearer to the city of Oabim, through the little monocular that her parents had given her on her lucky twelfth birthday. The tower lay just beyond the city, of course, not within its walls: its base was four city blocks on a side, and Oabim had no such space to spare. Not with the workers that must be housed now, the traveling stonecutters who brought pink-speckled gneiss from the south side of the Shear and red granite from the Ekkuron Peaks. Rrela and Ekvey's parents made them kneel in the back of the cart and recite the Call to Glory when it first bloomed out of the landscape and into the sky. Dusk picked out the sparkling orbs of heaven in purple and gold, too.

When the girls had finished, their parents spoke breathlessly of what a miracle it was, that a dozen nations could come together to such an end. That people could reach for something so far beyond them. Rrela listened to them with half an ear while she drank down the sight of the tower and the heavens alike through her monocular. Finally Ekvey begged her for a turn with the thing, and she relented. Thirty years' construction had raised the tower far above its surrounding plain, but Rrela could see already how it would grow taller, how it would slice the sky open and let the gods' goodness and wisdom rain down upon the thirsty ground.

Alethea Kontis's "Chaos Crushers' Day Off:"

"Where is that blight-brained halfling?" Hands on hips, Persimmon Petalwhisper stomped a foot in exasperation. A burst of glitterspark and forget-me-nots sprang up beneath her expensive heel and fell blessedly short of her couture mini dress. Persi enjoyed looking her best whenever the guild wasn't adventuring hither and yon. But she couldn't afford to singe another hem with her temper.

Her guild uniform consisted of a dull but useful conglomeration of rags that concealed a variety of supplies for mischief-making, and no shoes whatsoever. But as a result of the sleeping sickness that still held High Wizard Vasim in its thrall, all their daily wear was receiving a much-needed cleaning. The Chaos Crushers had suddenly found themselves with some time off.

Which meant that today was game day. The guild gathered around the table in their usual abandoned barrow. Most of them, anyway.

"Yenry's always late." Kian tied his shining locks of black hair back into a queue, revealing the dusky pointed ears he normally kept hidden. "Mithrax knows why we put up with him."

"Because, even late, he always shows up." Azorius slid his shield beneath the stone bench. "And he's usually very amusing."

"Unlike Bob." Nex crossed her very long legs. The curl of her blood red lip revealed a pointed tooth.

"He said he might show," said the paladin. "But you know Bob. They're a private person."

"Bob's probably a double agent," said the dark elf.

"Bob's not a double agent," said the dragon-shifter.

"Bob's a jerk."

"It's tough being a gelatinous sphere," said Azorius.

Sarah Grey's "Last Days at Rosewood House:"

Raul in the Dogwood Suite goes soft: a long exhale, a reflexive squeeze of his son's hand.

Around him, the Rosewood House Hospice--three stories of restored Victorian glory, ornate as a spider's web--waits for Raul to pass. When it's over, the Rosewood drinks him up.

Raul's is a smooth life, a life ordered and humble, all the joys drawn from giggling infants and midnight strolls and the roll of a dust cloud over high desert homes. Everything of Raul not bound to meat and bone, the Rosewood claims. The scent of a long-dead grandmother's house, lime and cigarillos, sinks into the grain of the parquet floor; the banister absorbs the slope of a failed marriage, a cordial divorce; in the windowpane lingers the view from a small Costa Rican hotel, the hot pulse of a tropical rain, the cry of howlers from the trees at dawn.

The Rosewood plays these moments through, invisible to the patients and staff, as if reviewing a reel of film or rifling through shoeboxed photographs.

Our audio selection this month is Stefan Slater's "Long Hair:"

I am all sorts of things, the Lady told me. I was broken. Unnatural. A walking crime.

The proof was my hair. The roots are golden, but it's so long, and never stops growing. It crushed spiders wherever I walked in the tower, and gathered so much dust and filth it darkened to mud-brown. My neck ached constantly from dragging it.

She never helped me carry it.

Whenever the gnarled Lady visited my tower, she brought food and sharp words. Cursed, she called me. My parents had been thieves and fate had punished them--they gave birth to me.

The curse turned me rotten. My bones went crooked, and my nose fell off and my hair kept growing and growing and growing.

"Your mother never hesitated," she told me once. "She saw you that first time and paid me in silver to take you away--easy as breathing."

. . . and we are also pleased to have Eric James Stone join us one last time as our featured reprint for this issue.

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

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