Monday, May 18, 2009

"Somewhere My Love" - by Stephen Mark Rainey

"Somewhere My Love" was one of those stories that started out as one thing and, in the process, became something else altogether. I needed to write a witch story for a specific anthology. I had a firm idea for its foundation: back in my elementary school days, there was one lady in town who all the kids said was a wicked witch. Just so happened she was our music teacher. She really did live in an old house that always appeared deserted. She usually wore black and had a very austere demeanor. I also thought that she was very sweet. Scary, but sweet.

For this story, I just knew that she had to be the witch.

I intended it to be a scary story. I mean, it was an anthology about wicked witches. But as I started writing, somehow the story stayed sweet. I kept waiting for something horrible to happen, but it just wouldn't. In the end, "Somewhere My Love" became an autobiographical account of events that never happened. Nothing like these things ever occurred in my life. However, the emotions I attempt to convey are very, very authentic. In fact, when I look at this tale now, it brings back the most vivid memories of being ten years old, even if the plot is fabricated. In some ways, it's probably the most honest story I've ever told. Whether it works for anyone else, I can't say, but evidently, when I wrote "Somewhere My Love," it was the tale I was truly meant to write.


"Somewhere My Love" by Stephen Mark Rainey is available now in issue 12 of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Arriving at the Multiplicity" - By Matthew S. Rotundo

It was during the 2004 election season, I think, that I first became familiar with political blogs--and very quickly discovered the quiet war that raged among them. I was amazed at the depth and breadth of the silent bloodbath. Reading the entries and comments, one could easily be convinced that the fate of all civilization hung in the balance of these ideological battles.

I remember reading through a particular comment thread, wherein one obnoxious commenter was accused of being a twelve-year-old kid, trolling from his parents' computer. That accusation totally changed how I thought of the obnoxious person. It was probably pretty close to the truth, but what amazed me was how quickly the Internet enabled the alteration of my perception. What a weapon that could be, I thought.

The history of politics is replete with smears and distortions, of course. It's nothing new, and it's not limited to any particular party. Perception is reality; politicians ignore this fact at their peril. The most successful of them exploit it to their advantage. But just how malleable is reality? How much can you manipulate it before the manipulation becomes apparent?

It seems to me that the Internet has drastically moved the goalposts. Given its ability to rapidly disseminate disinformation, its ephemeral nature (websites vanish without a trace, individual articles/blog entries are quickly buried in an avalanche of fresh data and forgotten), and its facility for anonymous attacks, it has taken the political game to a strange and disturbing level.

Compounding the problem, the "mainstream media" seem unable to compete--although I think this is more a function of incompetence and cowardice on the part of those media, rather than any inherent superiority of political blogging.

So what does that leave us with? When will it end? How far can it go?

These are classic science fiction questions. "The Multiplicity Has Arrived" is one attempt at an answer.

Each story presents its own unique challenges, and "The Multiplicity" was no exception. The opening paragraph and subsequent interludes were tricky for me. I needed some way to familiarize readers with the workings of the Multiplicity without resorting to great chunks of tedious infodump. Then I got the idea to cast the interludes in the voice of a tent revival preacher. The idea delighted and terrified me at the same time; I don't usually play with voice. It was a stretch for me, but I'm happy with the way it turned out.

I struggled with excessive length on this one, too. Earlier drafts of the story were over 9,000 words. It was just too long. After much scrutiny--accompanied by wailing and gnashing of teeth--I found a scene that could be cut in its entirety. It did little more than reiterate information already established. And removing it required very little revision to other scenes--a sure sign that I didn't need it in the first place. Eureka!

Most troublesome, though, was the crisis of confidence that hit me while working on this story. At some point, I found myself struggling to believe what I was writing. And if I couldn't believe it, I would never be able to make readers buy it, either.

How did I get over that hump? Well, I have a confession to make: I'm not sure "The Multiplicity Has Arrived" is science fiction. It certainly walks and talks like SF, and dresses in SF clothing, but after much consideration, I think it has a bit of magic at its heart. It might actually be fantasy. This realization is what enabled me to regain my belief in the story, finish the rewrite, and send it into the world.

(But don't tell Edmund, OK? I think he thinks it's SF.)

I would be interested in knowing how readers would classify this one. Stop by my blog, or hunt me down at a con (I'll be at ConQuesT, OSFest, and WorldCon this year) and tell me what you think.

Can I get an amen?


Matt's story (science fiction or fantasy, you decide) "The Multiplicity Has Arrived" is available now in issue 12 of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"End-of-the-World Pool" - by Scott Roberts

Every year, the writer’s group, Codex (, holds a Halloween short-story writing contest. "The End-of-the-World Pool" was my entry from 2008. I was given a story seed by the incomparable Laurel Amberdine ( to start me off: “A place which remains in perpetual darkness, no matter what kind of illumination is attempted.”

When I was a kid, we lived for a couple months in a gated community called Hilltop Lakes in Texas. Every day, we’d go to the titular lake there, and go swimming. This wasn’t a tame beach; I don’t remember there being sand at all. There were gnarled tree roots dipping into the water all along the side; and periodically long water-weeds would bloom in the warmer sections of the water. I was just learning to swim, and after she was sure I was relatively buoyant, Mom let me splash around on my own while she sat on shore. The water in the lake was murky; when you put your toes down on the lake-bed, they squished through clay rather than sand. There was only one section of the lake we were allowed to play in—the one away from the tree roots. Mom told us that she was afraid that we’d get our feet caught in the roots and drown.

That idea stuck with me. I’d swim to the bottom, and open my eyes to see nothing at all. The darkness was vast. I could feel the slimy water weeds brushing against me, and I imagined the tree roots sneaking their way through them toward my legs, like some knobby, wicked fingers that would latch on and drag me down into the clay.

The translation from that memory to The End of the World Pool is obvious, and I can now forgive Mom for traumatizing me. See? Writing Horror can be therapeutic…

My older brother, John, was the one to take dares. He willingly jumped into ponds, swimming pools, and drainage ditches at which even a rat would turn up its nose. There always seemed to be some yahoo willing to say those three magical words that turn boys into heroes or emergency room cases: “I dare you…” As far as I know, John never met a pervy swimming pool mermaid there beneath the water. He did manage to impress a number of girls, though, which I suspect might have been the point of the whole exercise.

His willingness to take dares was the source for Grant and Evan’s birthday dare tradition.

I stumbled across Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, Annabel Lee, quite by accident. I was bored with writing, and went scratching around the internet for something to ignite my brain. I’m not a big fan of Poe, but I was writing a spooky story after all. There’s a certain gothic element to the man’s work. Maybe you’ve noticed… Anyway, I didn’t feel like committing to re-reading his short fiction, so I Googled Poe’s poetry, and spent an enjoyable afternoon grazing on what I found. When I read Annabel Lee—well.

“Serendipitous,” said Grant.

“Adventitious,” Evan added.

“I dare you to go play in the street,” I said.

* * *

"End-of-the-World Pool" by Scott Roberts is available now in issue 12 of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show

Friday, May 01, 2009

IGMS Issue 12 is Live

Issue 12:

Table of Contents

"Over There"

by Tim Pratt

Art by Anselmo Alliegro

"The Multiplicity Has Arrived"

by Matthew S. Rotundo

Art by Jin Han

"Somewhere My Love"

by Stephen Mark Rainey

Art by Nick Greenwood

"The End-of-the-World Pool"

by Scott M. Roberts

Art by Anna Repp

"Hologram Bride: Part One"

by Jackie Gamber

Art by Julie Dillon

Folk of the Fringe Serialization: "West"

by Orson Scott Card

Art by Scott Altmann

Orson Scott Card Audio: "Somewhere My Love,"

by Stephen Mark Rainey

Read by Orson Scott Card

Art by Nick Greenwood

Tales for the Young and Unafraid by David Lubar

"The Crack"

by David Lubar

Art by Lance Card

InterGalactic Interview With Joe Haldeman

by Darrell Schweitzer

Essay: Story Subs like American Idol

by Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury