Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Lo'ihi Rising" by Geoff Cole - IGMS issue 15

A Yeast-Free Recipe to Make Lo'ihi Rise

By Geoffrey W. Cole

In the first year after their children were born, the original inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands would pile their families into their canoes and sail to the volcanic coast of Hawaii, the Big Island, in order to perform a ritual that ensured their children would have a long and happy life.

They walked inland to the field of hardened lava-rock where their parents had performed the same ritual when they were infants. Once settled in, they'd kneel beneath the hot sun and carve a hole in the porous. Then, they'd place the dried umbilical cord of their child in the hole, put a stone over the hole to keep the umbilical cord in place, and camp out for the night.

Above them, the active volcano Kilauea might spit smoke or lava, and sometimes mighty Mauna Loa would belch fire. It was a holy place, close to their gods. In the morning, if the umbilical cord was gone, their children could hope for a long and prosperous life.

My wife and I learned about this ritual during a trip to Hawaii & Maui in spring 2008. We were engaged at the time; she hoped to avoid planning a marriage by eloping on the islands, or as we liked to call it, getting Mauied. During the same visit to Volcanoes National Park, we learned that a new Hawaiian island was growing from the ocean floor southeast of Hawaii. In fifteen thousand to fifty thousand years, the seamount would rise above the waves to become a new island named Lo'ihi. I filed that tidbit of information away in the "oh so awesome what a great idea but it needs to ferment" drawer.

A few months after the tip, after my wife-to-be and I had settled back into our daily routine of work and lunch, and the warm sun of Hawaii seemed but a pleasant dream, I realized I needed to find a birthday present for my lovely fiancé. I opted for a story. Step one: it had to be a love story. Step two: I wanted to evoke our Hawaiian vacation. Step three: there was still a new island growing on the bottom of the Pacific. So I asked myself: what will happen when the new island is born? Real estate boom. The fact that my fiancé and I had been looking to buy a new home in Vancouver's hot pre-crash market helped fuel this speculation.

The world in which the story is set is loosely tied to a series of other short stories and novels I'm working on. For the setting, the history of the Big Island of Hawaii helped shape how the place looked in the future I imagined for it. Over the past couple hundred years, Hawaii has suffered more natural disasters than the average tropical paradise. Towns and villages and individuals have been wiped out by tsunamis, earthquakes, lava flows, ash fall, clouds of poisonous gas, mud slides, shark attacks, and bad shellfish.

Despite these disasters, the Hawaiian people (of all ethnicities) bounce back, re-build, and seem to live care-free lives despite the terror looming all around. My fiancé and I saw a grisly humour in these innumerable tragedies, so I wanted the future Hawaii to suffer her fair share of disasters.

I had a setting, I had an event around which the story would turn, all I needed was the lovers. Thank goodness the post-humans Fadid and Kabime (pronounced the Hawaiian way) came along. They received half the blessing that the ancient Hawaiians sought for their children in the rocks beneath Kilauea: Fadid and Kabime lived for a very long time. They lacked the other half of the Hawaiian blessing: they weren't happy.

How can love survive over decades, centuries, millennia? For my fiancé's birthday, I tried to answer those questions. And I speculated on the best way to cure sentient VDs.

Hey, it worked. She married me!

* * * *

"Lo'ihi Rising" by Geoff Cole is available now in issue 15 of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show - issue 15 now available

IGMS issue 15 - November 2009


Body Language
by Mary Robinette Kowal
(amazing cover art by Howard Lyon)

Lo'ihi Rising
by Geoff Cole

Aim for The Stars
by Tom Pendergrass

Report of a Doubtful Creature
by Ian Creasy

Sweet As Honey
by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Orson Scott Card audio, reading
Tom Pendergrass's "Aim For The Stars"

Darell Schweitzer's Interviews with the Fantastic: Vernor Vinge

Tales For The Young and Unafraid
Get Out of Gym For Free, by David Lubar

continuing the serialization of OSC's collection of interlinked short stories with "Pagaent Wagon," from Folk of the Fringe

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Hunting Lodge" by Jon Crusoe, art by Walter Simon

by Jon Crusoe

When two members of a predator species meet, they follow a specific pattern of behavior in dealing with each other. Animal behaviorists have recorded this for years.

When members of two different predator species meet, unless one backs away, there’s usually a fight. And if both are evenly matched, it can mean mutual death.

The question arises as to what would happen if the two species were both intelligent as well as evenly matched. Hopefully, they would both realize that a fight might just mean the end – the total end – of both species.

Given that understanding (and a willingness on both sides to coexist), they would most likely see the need to establish mutually beneficial methods for dealing with each other.

One of these might be the need for a safety valve that allowed them to limit aggression toward each other. As they are both predators, the aggression would definitely be present.

One way would be to allow the more aggressive members of each race to fight in a specific place, with given rules and handicaps to allow a level playing field. With each combatant having an equal chance to kill the other, there would be less chance of the two races going to war than if one was to be simply killed by the other.

Another point is that many combat situations have become sports over the years. Karate, wrestling, the javelin, and others became sports. The Olympic biathlon that combines skiing and marksmanship came from ski troop training.

It would be an easy step for the safety valve that the two races employed to turn into an organized sport. Hunters from both races would flock to a place where they could hunt the most dangerous game they had ever faced.

Of course once that happened, there would be some who would object to the hunts and vilify the hunters. Some would do it for political reasons, some for racial reasons, and some would commit immoral acts because of their belief in a cause that they consider moral. In all of the above cases, it is a very small step from simple belief in a cause to outright fanaticism.

And when that belief does turn fanatical, people tend to begin dying. It is too easy for the fanatic to decide that some deaths are justifiable when working for The Cause.

Would some humans act this way? Absolutely. Would members of another race? Very possibly. The point is that we would have no way of knowing until we met another intelligent predator species.

This is one of the reasons that humans are one of the races involved in the story. We ground-dwelling, hairless apes are the only intelligent predator that we know of.

Another reason that humans were chosen (and more important to a starving author) is that humans will be paying for this story.

As to the choice of bears as the other race, bears are like humans in that they are primarily solitary hunters. Other predators could have been chosen, but most species tend to hunt in pairs or in packs.

Another factor is the ferocity of bears. Forget the 1950’s touchy-feely “nature” films from a mouse-loving studio. Bears are not cuddly, loving, and playful in the wild. Anyone who has ever seen a half-ton bear attacking with teeth that can be inches in length and slashing with claws longer than an adult person’s fingers is not going to want to get closer than effective rifle range.

Now imagine that this bear is intelligent and stalking its human prey. The human with the rifle might not even know that the bear is anywhere near until it breaks from cover in full charge. Unless the person with the rifle is very fast and very accurate, the bear will be the one to take home the trophy that day.

So if we bald apes ever get off this rock we call Earth in earnest, and we do make it to the stars, we just might encounter another predatory species. They might even look like bears.

And if we survive the initial contact and manage to open up a dialogue, we might find that we have more in common with them than initially thought. If that happens, there might someday be members of two races drinking together in a hunting lodge on the night before they try to kill each other.

* * * *

"Hunting Lodge" by Jon Crusoe is available now in issue 14 of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show

Monday, November 09, 2009

Winning the WSFA Small Press Award - by Greg Siewert

I found out I was a finalist for the WSFA small press award over the summer, but I didn’t hear that I’d won until two weeks before the ceremony. I’d made the decision not to go simply because I live in California and Washington D.C. is on the other side of the country. I’m a winemaker and when I got the call from Edmund Schubert, the editor for "InterGalactic Medicine Show," I was working for a consulting client who has a micro-winery; he makes Sauvignon Blanc in his converted car port. "I was wondering if you could write something else for me" Edmund said. I didn’t know what he meant and I figured he was talking about a bio or something. Then he told me it was an acceptance speech. I couldn’t believe it.

The journey of "The Absence of Stars" was a weird one. The request for a re-write came long after I’d submitted it and I’d totally forgotten I had anything in submission. It was also a time when I wasn’t very focused on writing. I’m sure any aspiring writer can sympathize with the notion that finding time to write is sometimes the hardest part of the craft. "The Absence of Stars" is a long story, which took me half a year to write. I made the usual circuit of magazine submissions and then put it on the shelf, what else can you do? To find out that the story still had life, and that it was being considered by a magazine owned by Orson Scott Card, was really exciting.

I made it through the re-write process and they accepted it. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that if I’m writing 6 months from now, that encouragement out of the blue had a lot to do with it.

The nomination, and then later finding out I was a finalist, was a very gratifying thing. Banging away at something at home can be a pretty isolated experience. There’s no more difficult task than critiquing your own writing, and when you’re in the heat of creating something, how do you know it’s any good? To know that someone read your story and liked it, is a big deal.

I consider myself a "young" writer, but I mean that not in a chronological sense, (turning 36 canned that for me) but in terms of how much I’ve written. I had this idea, as I started writing science fiction, that I wanted to do my "version" of some familiar science fiction sub-genres. My story "God Loves the Infantry" got third place in the "Writer’s of the Future" Contest and represented my take on the "post-apocalypse urban hell-scape" as I envisioned it taking place in California. My unpublished novella "Boneman" was my take on the popular "demon escapes from hell" story. In my version, the demon is the protagonist and is strongly influenced by the super-hero genre. Anyway, this is all to explain that one of the most well-tread topics in science fiction is the "object is heading toward Earth" story. I knew I wanted to write one, and that was: "The Absence of Stars."

I had a few goals in writing this story that I felt would make it my own. First, the idea that the object(s) could be a hailstorm of black holes seemed really exciting. Second, I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t devote a single word to the consideration of who was and was not worthy of being evacuated. I’m not sure why I find that conversation so annoying and boring but I do. Third, the Earth doesn’t survive. So sad. Not the first story to take this approach but it was important to me. Finally, I’m an amateur physics buff and I wanted to use the story to explore some ideas and air out some opinions of mine about what relativity really means in terms of space exploration.

When I found out I won, I decided to make the trip and I have a confession to make; Capclave was my first science fiction convention. My friends Craig and Mary Beth live in D.C. and I decided that when it comes to writing, life doesn’t always give you a lot of opportunities so you should make the most of any that come along. I didn’t tell anybody that I’d won, not even my family or Craig and Mary Beth. I did this partially because I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone, and partially because I thought it would be more fun to keep my friends in suspense!

Capclave was great. It was really oriented toward writers. Every hour they had seminars in the different rooms of the hotel. I saw one seminar about the future of the space program and also saw an interview with the Guest of Honor; Harry Turtledove.

My friend Craig joined me for the ceremony and--still not having been told that I won--he was terribly excited and surprised at the result. It was really fun accepting the award and taking photos with the other finalists. After, Edmund was kind enough to show me one of the parties in the hotel and I had a fantastic time. I met a bunch of interesting and creative people and It’s a neat feeling to be around people you share a common passion with.

It was quite a bit of travel for such a short stay, but I have no regrets. Like I said earlier, writing is a craft that doesn’t always provide you with much encouragement, and it’s important to take advantage of any positive feedback that you get. Whatever keeps us writing!


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Welcome to Two New IGMS Assistant Editors

I'm very excited to announce the addition of two new assistant editors to the IGMS staff. My goal is to significantly improve the speed of the response times for all submissions, as well as increase our online/social networking presence. I also realized over this past summer (as I was recovering from surgery on my left shoulder) that things could get out of control pretty quickly, and with a second surgery coming up in a few weeks I wanted to make sure the magazine would keep moving forward even if I wasn't.

Toward that end, I have hired Scott Roberts for one of the assistant editor positions. His primary responsibilities will be setting up and maintaining an IGMS Facebook page, maintaining the IGMS blog, being active in the IGMS forum, and of course reading some of the submissions. Scott is a Writer's of the Future winner, having attended their workshop and been published in their annual anthology. He is also a graduate of Uncle Orson's Literary Boot Camp and has been published twice in our magazine (as well as the IGMS anthology released last year by Tor).

Assistant editor number two is Eric James Stone. If you read IGMS, you should know his name, becase his stories appear practically in every other issue. Eric is also a Writer's of the Future winner, also a graduate of OSC's Literary Boot Camp, and a graduate of the Odessey Writing Workshop as well. In addition to his IGMS publishing credits, he has also been published in various anthologies and multiple times in Analog. Eric will be taking on a healthy portion of the IGMS submissions.

I'm very excited to have both of these high quality people to work with. It's something I've wanted to put in place for quite a while now, and when I finally got the green light, I knew right away who my first choices would be. Now I've got them both, and I couldn't be happier.

Congrats, Scott and Eric, and welcome to the Show!