Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Sample Issue
Letter From The Editor
by Edmund R. Schubert
Stories
Sojourn for Ephah
by Marina J. Lostetter
The Golem of Deneb Seven
by Alex Shvartsman
On Horizon's Shores
by Aliette de Bodard
A Heretic by Degrees
by Marie Brennan
Oyster Beach
by Sophie Wereley
Beautiful Winter
by Eugie Foster
The Hanged Poet
by Jeffrey Lyman
IGMS Audio
At the Picture Show: Extended Cut
New wave
by Chris Bellamy
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

Writing Fantasy

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Not A Hugo Sampler Issue - Letter From The Editor, 2015

To Readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy Everywhere,

I suspect that most of you already know this, but for those few who may have stumbled upon this collection of short stories and novelettes by other paths, let me start off with a summation (along with the caveat that this will be highly simplistic for the sake of brevity): in early 2015 a campaign was launched by a group of science fiction and fantasy fans who felt their views and tastes were being marginalized. They wanted to force the rest of fandom to recognize them, and their plan for doing so was to put a slate of nominees they considered worthy-but-overlooked on the final ballot for the prestigious Hugo Award. Their actions were successful in the extreme, and the reaction by much of fandom was equally extreme. Things got ugly. Quickly. Very. (Editor's tip #463: Forcing people to see your point of view is rarely successful . . .)

I was one of the people nominated for a Hugo Award during in this campaign, although I didn't know anything about it until after it had already happened. And while I feel these fans had certain valid concerns, hijacking the Hugo Awards wasn't the right way to go about making them. I therefore withdrew my name from consideration.

The analogy I've continued to make about my feelings is that I can't complain about the deck being stacked against me and then feel good about being nominated for an award when the deck is stacked for me. My integrity won't allow that.

However, I do think it's appropriate to take this opportunity to declare that more reading is always a good thing, and that people should open their minds to new work without pre-judging it. Thus this collection was born.

So, now that we've got that out of the way . . . welcome to my Not-A-Hugo-Sampler sampler-issue of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show (IGMS). All of the stories collected herein were originally published in the online magazine (found at www.oscigms.com) and are reprinted for your entertainment and enjoyment. Half of these stories are from male authors, half from female authors; half are science fiction, and half fantasy. Half were published within the past two years, half are older than that. The science fiction stories are gathered together at the front, the fantasy comes afterward. The authors, poor souls, are scattered all about. It's like the hokey pokey run amok.

Before I talk about the individual stories, let me tell you a few things about the magazine. IGMS was founded in 2005, with its first issue published in October of that year. It was originally published and edited by Orson Scott Card, but I had the good fortune to appear in the first issue because Orson bought a short story from me and published it in the inaugural issue. Back then everyone was very excited about this groundbreaking new magazine; it was one of the very first on-line magazines to pay professional rates to its authors and artists. And that was one of the primary goals behind Orson's creation of IGMS: he saw a need for a market that was open to newer writers as well as established pros, so he put his money where his mouth was. As we approach our tenth anniversary, IGMS is still open to writers of every stripe. Every stripe.

Not long after launching IGMS, Orson also became aware that the magazine was far more of a time-consuming enterprise than he could properly devote himself to, so he hired a guy that no one had ever heard of to edit the magazine in his stead. (For those of you keeping score at home, that would be me.) At the first convention I attended as the new editor of IGMS, one of the fans said, quite succinctly and entirely politely, "Congratulations. No offense, but I've never heard of you."

Truth is, I couldn't blame that fan one bit. I had attended Orson's Literary Boot Camp and sold him that one story, and Orson knew I was editor of a business magazine, so he took a chance. He believed I could bring together the editing work I did in non-fiction arenas and the lessons from his Boot Camp -- which apparently I'd mastered at least well enough to sell one short story.

I will leave it to you to read the stories in this collection and make your own judgment as to whether or not he was right to take that chance and put the entire magazine in my hands. The stories in this sampler resonate with me. The only honest way to judge my taste is to try them yourself.

And for better or for worse, IGMS has been solely my creation since that fateful day in late May of 2006. It would not take all the fingers of both hands to count the number of stories Orson Scott Card has personally selected for the magazine since then, so if you like what you find in IGMS, that's on me. If you don't, that's completely on me, too. (Yeah, I know . . . what was Orson thinking? I've been asking myself that question every day for nine years running.)

Before you read the stories, let me take one more moment of your time to point out a few relevant bits of information you might not otherwise be aware of:

  1. IGMS is a bi-monthly subscription-based magazine that usually publishes six new stories per issue. Paying authors and artists professional rates requires at least a little help from the readers (in this case a very reasonable $15 per year, which gives you not only a year's worth of new stories, but complete access to our entire library of past issues). But we also want readers to have a chance to try the magazine, so in addition to this sampler, we additionally have a link on our homepage to several free issues of the magazine. The free issues rotate on a regular basis, so stopping by every now and again will get you even more free stories to read. We always have the next-to-most-recent issue for free so you can read a current batch of stories, and then we have a vintage issue, too, featuring one of our issues from the early years.
  2. In addition to short stories, IGMS publishes an assortment of book- and movie-review columns, writing advice, and other columns that are always free. No subscription necessary to read those.
  3. IGMS has a PG-13 guideline and does not publish graphic sex, violence, or language. This does not mean we shy away from adult themes, only that we think you can tell a great story without dropping F-bombs or blowing up a character's head in miniscule detail.
  4. For several years now we've run an annual Reader's Poll and take great pleasure in awarding the authors and artist an extra cash prize for work that especially resonates with our fans. If you are a subscriber to the magazine, please make sure you cast your ballot, because it benefits the creators personally. Several of the stories in this sampler were winners or runners-up in our Reader's Poll.
  5. Speaking of contests, IGMS also co-sponsors the biannual Hydra Contest in Brazil, featuring the best speculative writing from that country. Christopher Kastensmidt originally organized the contest, and he continues to provide translations of the stories into English so we can reprint the winner (and occasionally some runners-up) in IGMS, and we commend and support his efforts to expand readers' horizons.
  6. One last item about contests: The Washington Science Fiction Association gives out its annual Small Press Award every year in October at the convention known as CapClave. It's not a major award like a Hugo or Nebula (yet), but it is one I particularly respect because they judge their entries blind, with the names of the author and the publication stripped away. All that remains is the story. And with blind judging, a story from IGMS has been a finalist three times in the past five years, including two that won the award. I mention this because it serves to me as solid evidence that if people will set aside their pre-judgments and read our stories objectively, they will find quality work being presented in our pages. I'm proud of the stories we publish in IGMS and would be grateful to see the work done by these talented authors recognized for the quality material that it is.

That's my request to you. Read the stories. Judge afterward.

So let's get to them, then, shall we?

It gives me tremendous pleasure to present to you the following:

The Science Fiction of IGMS

"Sojourn for Ephah" by Marina Lostetter will always be one my personal favorites, exploring deftly but unflinchingly one man's journey -- a man of the cloth -- from the day he finds an alien on the steps of his cathedral, to the end of time and space and the birth of a brand new god.

"The Sound of Distant Thunder" by Mike Barretta, presents a look at the near-future and one boy's arduous journey from Africa to America, and from the Earth to the stars.

"The Golem of Deneb Seven" by Alex Shvartzman: The seventh planet in the Deneb system is under invasion as part of an ongoing war, but bringing the Emet -- the truth -- to the ongoing conflict between Rivkah's father and grandfather is going to be a much more challenging battle.

One of IGMS's audio productions (which we generally feature one of per issue), "Dogs From Other Places," was written by Shannon Peavy, and shows us a world that looks just like our own, except that the fringes of the known are being encroached upon by something else, something unknown that changes people. People, and apparently dogs, too . . .

"On Horizon's Shores" by Aliette de Bodard. By way of introducing this story about love and identity, let me tell you another story: when this novelette originally appeared in IGMS, I received two emails through our contact page within the same week, one complaining that we had published a misogynistic story, and the other complaining that we had published a story saying that women could do anything they wanted to and men just had to take it. Both were about "On Horizon's Shores." That pleased me to no end -- which probably tells you more about me as a human being than it does about the story, but there it is. (I'm rarely happy about making people unhappy -- and never happy about being accused of misogyny -- but if I can somehow hit both extreme ends of the spectrum between the eyes with the same story, I feel like I've done a good thing.)

"Escape from the Andromedan Empire" by Ian Creasy is a smart SF extrapolation on the current digital piracy landscape, projecting the theft of not just an author's work, but of authors themselves.

An Interlude To Cleanse Your Palette

An interview with Ken Liu, by Jamie Todd Rubin

"At The Picture Show: Extended Cut," an in-depth article by our regular film critic, Chris Bellamy

The Fantasy of IGMS

"A Heretic by Degrees" by Marie Brennan is an older story but one that remains with me years later. It is the tale of a man who goes off into a disintegrating world in search of answers that might save his king's life, despite his king's proclamation that doing so is the worst kind of heresy.

"Remains of the Witch" by Tony Pi tells the tale of a flying monkey who was taken under the tutelage of the Wicked Witch, only to find that role short-lived when the witch is killed by a bucket of water. But when that monkey gathers up the puddle that was once her wicked teacher, she finds the witch's power is not quite at its end.

"Oyster Beach" by Sophie Wereley is a haunting tale about different flavors of love, seasoned lightly with a nasty mermaid creature; one that will linger in your mind long after the tide has gone out.

"The Light Crusader's Dark Deserts" by James Beamon is a rollicking high adventure through lands of many kinds of death -- right up until the protagonist has to sit down to dinner with his deceased wife and child, which provides him with answers to several necessary but unpleasant questions.

"Beautiful Winter" by Eugie Foster is a Cinderella-esque tale in a Russian setting, with a Prince of Ice and Snow and an ending most unexpected. I had the privilege of working with Eugie several times and meeting her at Dragon Con. She was a wonderful woman and I'm honored to have known her.

"The Hanged Poet" by Jeffery Lyman is a powerful recounting of a conversation between an exiled general and a woman who was hung by the neck for her seditious poetry many years earlier. She's still hanging there, unable to truly die until her poetry does too. But the general is a collector of poetry and a man in need of a mission . . .

So there you have it: the stories science fiction and the stories fantasy. There are beautiful pictures that go with most of them too (we assign artists to create custom illustrations with every story we publish, except for the audio stories). I hope you enjoy perusing all of it as much as I've enjoyed collecting it over the past nine years. My unending thanks go out to all the writers and artists who've contributed their best to IGMS, and to you, the reader, for spending some time with us.

Sincerely,

Edmund R. Schubert
Editor, Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show
www.oscigms.com


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