Monday, January 31, 2011

SuperZeroes: Why Can’t We Get Heroes Right?

Quick reminder: today is the last day to vote for your favorite IGMS story of 2010.

There have been a bunch of super-powered TV wannabes popping out of the tube lately.  As a former comic-book addict I was excited for each and every one of these shows.  I love the super-hero meme; put a good origin story and a cape on it, and I AM THERE.

From Heroes to The Cape, the recent crop of meta-abled television shows have been disappointing.

It’s possible I’m too familiar with the cliches of the genre—the mainstays of origin stories are boring to me now.  I know that normal humans actually use more than 10% of their brains; I think that evolutionary watersheds are not likely to happen in a readily observable timeframe (from a human perspective).  I’m dubious about the abilities of gamma rays, x-rays, or cosmic rays to confer anything more than radiation sickness and a slow painful death. 

It’s possible that Buffy Summers ruined all future TV-based super-hero stories for me in a blinding display of camp and wit.  (Yes: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a super-hero)  Joss Whedon can’t even live up to his creation (as he showed with the dreadfully boring Dollhouse); and if Joss can’t do it, is there really hope for anyone else?

I suppose it’s debatable whether Dollhouse was super-hero SF or just plain SF.  I shall not debate it here.

It’s also possible that Hollywood (or whomever) doesn’t really understand the type of story that draws people to superheroes, and that’s why so many big-and-small screen versions of them fail.  Will the curse that brought the X-men and Spider-man movie franchises low in their 3rd iteration carry-over to Christopher Nolan’s Batman series?  Remember that the 80’s Batman franchise nose-dived on its 3rd title…  These stories all died because of their sudden weight gain—too many antagonists, too many protagonists, and not enough time  spent clarifying and building the relationships between them all.  For me, NBC’s Heroes was a flop because the people were all caricatures who moaned, groaned, and whined their way through their new super-powered lives.  (With the exception of Hiro.  If the show had been called Hiro, and featured just him, I’d have been happy.)  ABC’s attempt at remaking the Fantastic Four family style (No Ordinary Family) fails for a similar reason: I don’t believe in this family.  Fall in a lake, and get super-powers from bio-luminescent thingies, sure; but the family dynamic is unbelievable.  Heck, the *individuals* are unbelievable.

Maybe it’s that I’ve become cynical in my advanced age.  I’m not sure that the glut of super-heroes flashing muscles and bespangled costumes on TV isn’t just a ploy to capitalize on the upcoming Thor, Green Lantern, and Captain America movies.  Like some exec is up in his office saying, “Know what’s big right now?  Heroes, that’s what.  Big heroes, with muscles and … you know, like that guy, whats-his-name, Stan Lee, used to write!  Get me Jessica Alba and a script, STAT!”

The good news is that super-heroes are making a comeback in literature too.  And from what I see, MUCH more successfully.  While it’s hard to put the same amount of visual splash into text, the super-heroes I’m reading about in short stories from James Maxey, Will Mcintosh, Ken Scholes and others pack a punch that their big-screened counterparts simply can’t match.


--Scott M. Roberts

Assistant Editor, IGMS

Thursday, January 20, 2011

First Annual InterGalactic Awards

We are pleased to announce the First Annual InterGalactic Awards. These awards are voted on by the readers in the following categories:

• Stories
• B&W Illustrations
• Cover Illustrations

In the first two categories, you may vote up to five times, ranking the stories and illustrations first through fifth place. For the cover illustration, you may vote only once.

Each subscriber can submit one ballot.

The voting window will be open until January 31 and winners will be announced in the February 2011 issue.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goodreads interviews Orson Scott Card

Link to the interview


I believe in the only real magic, which is born of genuine love and service to others. It is astonishing what can be done when people are truly loyal to each other and eager to meet each other's needs. Ultimately that's what all my fiction is about, because that's what life is about. I usually sum it up as "hunger, love, and death"—the needs of the body, the longing for community, the search for identity.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Interview with Faith Hunter

Intergalactic Editor-in-Chief, Edmund Schubert, recently interviewed fantasy novelist, Faith Hunter. Faith has a new novel out—Mercy Blade—which debuted this week at #24 on the NY Times bestseller list.

Edmund – Faith, tell us a bit about yourself.

Faith – I am a fantasy writer, born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. As Faith Hunter, I write urban fantasy (Jane Yellowrock series, also known as the Skinwalker series) and post-image apocalyptic dark fantasy (Rogue Mage series). Under the penname Gwen Hunter, I write action adventure, mysteries, thrillers and one novel in the category of women’s fiction. As Faith and Gwen, I have 22 books in print in 26 countries. I make jewelry for relaxation, mostly with stones, pearls, and copper. For fun I RV with the hubby and the two Pomeranians to Class II and III rivers, where we kayak whitewater. Ummm. By we I mean the hubby and me. The dogs stay in the RV, in air-conditioned comfort. Don’t think I’d let them on the water, or that they would go if I did. They are definitely frou-frou doggies.

I am one of the founders and contributors of, a forum for writers and readers, about writing and all things fantasy. And I have several websites:,

Edmund – Most of your novels, as both Faith and Gwen, are set in Louisiana and in the Appalachian mountains. Why do you tend to pick those locales as settings?

Faith – New Orleans, even after the devastation of Katrina, is unlike any place in the US. It’s a vibrant, friendly town with old and new, rich and poor, black and white, sitting cheek-to-jowl. It smells and feels old-world rich and old-world poor, nearly European in its energy, yet full of life and industry and an intense, organic passion. It smells of coffee and food and you can hear music everywhere. I adore it!

The mountains are full of history and mystery. The folds of earth, the dangerous terrain, make great places to set action scenes. And then there’s that whitewater. I just looooove researching in the Appalachian mountains!

Edmund – You have two series. Tell us about the worlds your novels are set in.

Faith – The world of the Rogue Hunter series is our world in every way except for a tiny shift in the historical timeline – when image Marilyn Monroe was staked by the Secret Service in the oval office while trying to turn the president of the US. Word got out that “things that go bump in the night” were real. Vamps and witches came out of the closet, forever changing society and culture. Jane Yellowrock appears modern time—literally, walking out of the mountain forest naked, wounded, scarred, with no memory of humankind. She is a full-blooded Cherokee and a Skinwalker—the title of the first book of the series—who hunts insane vamps and dispatches them.

The Rogue Mage novels, featuring Thorn St. Croix, are set in a post-apocalyptic world, one hundred, five years after the great image disaster struck. And while the apocalypse started out as many of the world’s religions expected, with the appearance of angels, it didn’t end up the way anyone had predicted. After billions of humans had died of the plague the angels brought, and then of war with demons and Darkness, the first generation of PostAp babies were born with the gift of magic. Thorn St. Croix is a stone-mage. And becomes a battle-mage as well.

Edmund – Describe a typical day of writing.

Faith – I am so boring. I mean really boring. My day is utterly mundane. Up at 8-ish. Take the dogs out. Check email and do important but less-than-creative work, like pay bills. Then I start the creative part of my day. To get into the mood and flow of the work-in-progress, I rewrite the previous day’s pages, which can take a few hours if the word and page count was good. I stop for email and brunch. Then I write new content, usually about 6 to 8 hours on the new stuff, which makes my work day 8 to 10 hours. Supper at 8. TV and dogs and hubby get attention. Bed at midnight. Except when I’m on the water, kayaking. Then the schedule goes all to heck!

I also work at a hospital lab on weekends, two 17 hour days. I do this for the benefits, and because I have a love of the job I trained for.

Edmund – Are you an outliner / planner or pantser (someone who writes by “the seat of her pants”)?

Faith – I am an outliner, for sure. Lately I’ve begun to call it OOPS – the Organic Outline ProcesS. It’s an outline of the plot points and the resolution. The organic part is what happens inside the character’s head and heart during the process of the unfolding of the plot. That is always such a surprise! And that surprise factor keeps me writing.

Edmund – You have a new book out, Mercy Blade, the third Rogue Hunter novel. Your main character, Jane Yellowrock, is a skinwalker, meaning that she can change into the shapes of other animals. But you added a unique twist to the character – the voice of Beast. Tell us about Beast and Jane, and how you came up with the idea of them.

Faith – I’ve always heard voices. The story-telling voices not the other kind. Well, maybe the other kind too. J Anyway, Kim Harrison and I were having tea and sharing ideas for new books and series and I bounced the idea of the series off of her. Then Iimage read the first Temple Grandin book and I was hooked on the way the animal brain works as opposed to the way the human brain works. I began to remember the old Tarzan movies. You know, Me Tarzan. You Jane. Beast was born, and became both Jane’s greatest strength and her greatest challenge.

Jane is one tough cookie – a conflicted, capable loaner. She is violent, broken, tender, loving, giving, solitary, a Cherokee skinwalker—possibly the last of her kind. She is … complicated, partially because her own history is lost to her in a version of traumatic, protective amnesia that left her isolated from other humans. She is a modern woman. She is a warrior woman who accidentally did black magic once, very long ago, and now has the soul of a mountain lion inside with her—her Beast. Beast wants to be alpha. And Beast is not always happy to be sharing her body. I thought the series would be a way to unravel who Jane is, but is seems she is growing more complicated! Welllll… Her love life is certainly growing more complicated…

Edmund – If you had to describe Mercy Blade in one word.

Faith – Action! But I’m a novelist, not a poet, so I’ll add to that if you don’t mind. Jane is torn in new and different ways with the appearance of weres on the world stage and in her life. She has an unwelcome houseguest Evangeline Everhart. Rick, her sometimes boyfriend, goes missing. (But is he undercover again or is he in trouble?) Bruiser is always there. But something isn’t right with him either. And then there’s the Mercy Blade (what is he?), and the weres, and the Grindylow, who is a different kettle of fish altogether. It’s not a laidback read. It’s intense, energetic, and has multiple twisted plotlines. As a novel, think of a fast-paced paranormal thriller.

Edmund – What is the next book?

FaithRaven Cursed is next. I just turned it in to my editor. But after Raven Cursed, I have nothing under contract. My future is dependant on the readers and how faithful they are to the series. Fans make or break books, and writers live on their joy and their love of books. If fans buy books and tell their friends to buy books, then a writer gets contracts. So far, Jane Yellowrock is selling, If I do my job well and the fans like it well enough to do theirs, then there will be more books in the series. All I can do is hope!

Edmund – What advice do you have for writers looking for that first big break?

Faith – Two things. First,, a site dedicated to writing and to fantasy, hosted by a number of excellent writers: David B. Coe, Misty Massey, AJ Hartley, Stuart Jaffe, a certain Edmund Schubert, and lil’ ol’ me! Second, How to Write Magical Words, a Writer’s Companion. It’s available at Amazon and from the publisher, at

Thank you for having me here, Edmund!

Edmund – Thanks for visiting with us, Faith.

To learn more about Faith, please visit her at her website: Faith Hunter

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Titles, a Follow Up

A while ago, Edmund wrote this blog entry about titles.

In kind of a follow-up to that, I decided to scroll through my database of slush entries and post some titles that caught my eye.  The only qualification is that the title had to make me interested in reading the story.  I gauged interest by whether or not I slowed down my scrolling for more than a second to consider the title.

Hillbillies and Hovercars
Dead Letter Box
My Anosmia Blog
Checkerboard Bomb
Redeef's Hungry Wife
Robots Just Want to Get Paid
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
Jump Joint
Free Surprise in Every Box
Death's Last Daughter
Indecent Magical Things
Showing Fairies for Fun and Profit
The Booby-Trapped Boy
Eye of Newt and iPods
Iron Clown Gideon
Jesus Particle
More Than Kin, and Less Than Kind
The Skin of the Lesser God
The Prophet and the Clown
Captain Amberson's Amazing Electric Menagerie
Boys that Bite, Boys that Bark
Feeding the Feral Children
The Truth About Robots
The Tiger in the Forest Between Two Worlds
Heart of Darkest Tortuguero
Inside Things
Artificial Intuition

There are a couple things that strike me about the titles I’ve selected.  I like titles that have a little bit of poetry to them—assonance and alliteration, when not overdone, draw my eye and give me the impression that the author is literate and quite possibly even intelligent.  I apparently like titles that seem refer to other literary works—is Heart of Darkest Tortuguero an analog for Conrad’s Heart of Darkness?  Does The Tiger in the Forest Between Two Worlds make reference to Blake’s The Tyger?

I also like titles that suggest a story—Redeef’s Hungry Wife, for example.  That’s conjures visions of an insanely peckish woman, and her hand-wringing husband who tries to sate her.  What does he give her to eat?  What macabre appetites does poor Redeef try to satisfy?

A third element I notice in these titles is that I seem to be drawn to the combination of words that don’t necessarily go together—like Artificial Intuition.  Usually, I hear about artificial intelligence; intuition is word that implies an inborn-ness that is contrary to the idea of artificial. 

While I like titles that imply adventure and travel (Heart of Darkest Tortuguero) I noticed while scrolling through the slush titles that stories that use alien and fantasy names in their titles tend to be dissuasive.

Things to keep in mind…


--Scott M. Roberts

Assistant Editor, IGMS

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Annual Intergalactic Awards

We are pleased to announce the First Annual InterGalactic Awards. These awards are voted on by the readers in the following categories:

• Stories
• B&W Illustrations
• Cover Illustrations

In the first two categories, you may vote up to five times, ranking the stories and illustrations first through fifth place. For the cover illustration, you may vote only once.

Each subscriber can submit one ballot.

The voting window will be open until January 31 and winners will be announced in the February 2011 issue.

Orson Scott Card Talks Fantasy and Mapping on

Mapping worlds in The Lost Gate.

Sometimes you know when you’re onto something big. LostGate It was the same year that “Ender’s Game” appeared in Analog—my first sci-fi publication. I was working with Ben Bova, and the stories I was selling all had spaceships and rivets and machines. But in my heart, what I loved was fantasy.

No, let’s be more precise: What I loved was Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and George Macdonald’s The Light Princess and C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces and Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead and Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd and John Hersey’s White Lotus and Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz and Crowley’s The Deep and Peake’s Ghormengast.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Never Never Wizard of Apalachicola-- Jason Sanford

As a child I spent many happy summers in Apalachicola, a small town on a small bay on the Florida panhandle. While I was too the-never-never-wizard-of-apalachicola young to remember all the specifics of the my visits, general impressions of the bay and nearby pine forests remain. Mixed with these memories are the good feelings evoked by the sing-song quality of the word Apalachicola. To this day the name reminds me of the innocent and hopeful times all children should experience.

I tried to capture this innocent and hopeful quality with my story. However, the story is more than that. As we grow up we realize the world isn't all happiness and child-like wonder--that dark deeds and times exist alongside the good. My story is an attempt to contrast this duality with the split between magic and science. Because of what many people see as humanity's mundane existence, people often imagine that it would be a great thing if magic really existed in our world. But I doubt this would be a good thing, for reasons expressed in my story.

--Jason Sanford

Friday, January 07, 2011

Orson Scott Card on Strokes


Money shot:

So look, if you're as stupid as I was and you haven't lost weight and got your blood pressure down after ample warnings, I highly recommend my stroke over all the others I've seen or heard of.

--Scott M. Roberts

Asst. Editor, IGMS

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Vicksburg Dead—Jens Rushing

When I first saw the (seminal, superlative) HBO series Deadwood, I was deeply moved by a scene where the doctor begs with a silent god to make sense of the suffering that he witnessed during the Civil War. The writing, the acting came together for a moment Vicksburg Dead of artistic perfection, and I wanted to know what the character had seen to reduce him to his current state of despair. In general I am interested by the changes that traumatic events can wreak on humans (survivor's guilt, PTSD, et al) and that, with the episode of Deadwood, led me to consider a Civil War story. The story of Vicksburg is an amazing one - the lengths to which the besieged went for survival, for one, and the - ah - I was impressed by the clemency shown by the victors in this struggle (though, of course, it was shown for numerous political and logistical reasons, more so than humane ones) and consider it a victory of the human spirit that this particular violent struggle, in the midst of such a bitter war, ended with so many lives saved when so many could have been destroyed. I have always despised the idea of a "glorious battle" or a "good death," the idea that war is anything other than a tragic, senseless waste of human individuals, and thus I wanted to write something celebrating humanity in the face of the full horror of war.

--Jens Rushing

Saturday, January 01, 2011

How To Write Magical Words

In June of 2010 I sat down one evening at ConCarolinas (a wonderful convention in Charlotte, NC) with a group of writers who had one particular thing in common: they are all regular contributors to a blog called Magical Words ( The blog is largely devoted to offering advice to aspiring writers, with the ultimate goal of making their journey a little easier. The core members – Faith Hunter, David B. Coe, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, and Stuart Jaffe – were brainstorming ways they could expand what they did with Magical Words, and by time the night was over the book How To Write Magical Words was born and I was editing it and contributing to it. It’s been a great treat and privilege to work with the Magical Words crew, and I’ll continue to do so as long as they’ll have me. The book is now completed and can be ordered at the publisher’s website (, or at Amazon, or you can ask your local bookstore to order it for you through their normal distributor.

The book's full description is below, including a much-appreciate blurb from Orson Scott Card. Obviously I'm biased, being as involved in this project as I have been, but this is a book I'm especially proud of, and I'm sure it will be valuable to anyone who reads it.

A Writer's Companion

Editor: Edmund R. Schubert
Contributors: David B. Coe, A.J. Hartley, Faith Hunter, Stuart Jaffe, Misty Massey, C.E. Murphy
First Edition
6"x 9" Trade Paperback; Retail $17.95
ISBN 978-1-933523-80-4
LCCN 2010941759

"This is the best idea for a writing book that I've ever seen. It's like sitting in a room full of professional writers, and after each one delivers a riff on one aspect of writing, the others weigh in to buttress, amplify, refine, or add to what was said. It's an extended conversation with writers who know what they're talking about—and what matters in writing fiction that really communicates with readers."
—Orson Scott Card

A compilation of essays originally published on, a popular writing blog with thousands of regular followers. Distilling three years worth of helpful advice into a single, portable volume, it contains nearly 100 essays covering such wide-ranging topics as:

- Getting Started . . . Again
- Creating Characters in Small Spaces
- Storytelling Tropes: Belief
- Binding Character and Narrative: Point of View
- Word Choice and Pacing
- Metaphors, Similes, and Analogies, Oh My . . .
- Writing Action Scenes
- The Beginning of the End
- Developing Your Internal Editor
- Artistic Choices and the Market
- Business Realities for the Writer

Many of these essays are accompanied by comments and questions from the blog's readers, along with the author's response, making this volume unique among how-to books on any subject.

The core members of Magical Words — David B. Coe, A.J. Hartley, Faith Hunter, Stuart Jaffe, Misty Massey, C.E. Murphy, and Edmund R. Schubert — have experience writing and editing fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, romance, science fiction, non-fiction, and more. This group is uniquely qualified to cover the full spectrum of writing-related issues. How To Write Magical Words: A Writer's Companion is a book that belongs in the library of anyone interested in the craft of writing, the business of writing, and the writing life.