It's like when you (or your wife) are pregnant: suddenly there are pregnant women everywhere. At the mall waddling from storefront to storefront; in the DMV standing in that line that never moves and never ends; in the supermarket buying ice cream and cookies. The truth, however, is that there really aren't any more pregnant women than there were before; it only seems that way because your awareness of them has been heightened.
It was that way for me when I put the current issue of IGMS together. I didn't set out for it to be a themed issue, and I'm still not completely convinced that it is. On the other hand, once the idea reared its head, it seemed quite inescapable.
I blame Dennis Danvers. His story "The Angel's Touch" opens with a man getting on the elevator in his apartment building, only to find an angel there, waiting for him and wanting to chat. Not the nicest angel you ever met, either. Although "The Angel's Touch" wasn't the first story I bought for this issue, without it there probably wouldn't have been any of this 'theme' business.
You see, I had already bought Matt Rotundo's "Frankenstein Diaries" and planned for it to begin in issue eight (it's our current novelette, and will be concluded in issue nine), and at the time it was simply a great story about a man and his son's clone, nothing more. And even when I found Dennis's story after that, still the word 'theme' never entered the conversation.
Next came Stephanie Dray's "Limbo," and I thought to myself, Now there's an interesting and amusing twist on the afterlife . . ."
And then John Brown's "From The Clay of His Heart." It's your typical girl-meets-golem, girl-can't-rid-of-golem, girl-almost-loses-golem-to-evil-volhov story. You know how those go.
But then "End Time" arrived. Maybe I should point the finger at Scott Bull instead of poor Dennis. But as soon as I read it, I thought, Hey, I've already got the angel story . . . I should put this story, about a guy who's tired of doing the devil's bidding, in the same issue. Kind of a yin and yang thing. They would be great together . . .
And then suddenly all of the stories were pregnant with thematic possibilities. The golem, the distant and not-so-distant relatives displaced from the afterlife, the angel, the devil, even the novelette, which so nicely captures the original Frankenstein's theme of man playing God and paying a price for it. They all seemed to have religious implications.
But I needed one more piece. I had enough fantasy stories for this issue; I needed one more SF piece to balance things out. So when I found Aliette de Bodard's "Rise of Horus" about an AI (artificial intelligence) and his murdered father -- who were both named after Egyptian gods -- I knew I had to include it in this issue. It just fit . . .
But, hey, there's still Eric James Stone's ultra-fun flash fiction story, "Accounting For Dragons." It features dragons and virgins and treasure and accountants (oh my). No God or gods or even anybody named after one. So you see, it's not a themed issue. Not on purpose, anyway. Really.
Edmund R. Schubert
Editor, Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show
P.S. Yes, here comes issue eight, and no, we still haven't posted the Ender universe story for issue seven. It is coming. We promised an Ender universe story in every issue and we'll keep that promise as soon as humanly possible.
P.P.S. New Story behind The Story essay tomorrow. I promise.