Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SideShow Links: June 01, 2011

Can your house do this?  The Very Large Telescope in a beautiful time lapse film.

I heard a piece on NPR recently about the Crawler, the vehicle that transports the space shuttle and its booster rockets from their work-a-day sites to the launchpad.  This is a massive, massive machine.  It will be making its last run shortly, as the space shuttle program is being phased out.

The Muppets Meet Firefly:  Yes.  There is nothing more that need be said.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Side Show Links, 05/26/2011

That’ll do, Spirit.  That’ll do…: NASA gives up hope of reviving the intrepid little robot.

It’s full of stars…: The orchestra pit, I mean.  Better than American Idol, and easier on the eyes.

Peter Sellers puts the classic in classic rock

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nebula Awards Weekend

Members of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) gathered in Washington DC over this past weekend for four days of carousing, armored combat, and hedonistic abandon. 

That’s only a slight exaggeration.

Here are some InterGalactic authors making the scene:


Above, Assistant Editor Eric James Stone (left) shows off his T-Shirt of Ego +3.  In this case, the t-shirt is warranted; Eric had been nominated for a Nebula award for his novella, That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made (which (SPOILER)……he later won).


Genre Princess Alethea Kontis holds court in the mass signing on Friday evening.  Alethea’s delightful picture book, 'H is for Halloween’  will be re-released in October.


The luminescent Mary Robinette Kowal displays her wonderful Regency-style fantasy, Shades of Milk and Honey, which was nominated for a Nebula.  A rumor is circulating among cognoscenti that a sequel is upcoming; prudent individuals will show their superior breeding by purchasing both.


Alliette de Bodard flew all the way from France to be at the Nebula Awards.  Actually, no—she opened a gateway to the underworld, and sallied forth in a palanquin carried by jaguars and the honorable spirits of ancient Mexica warriors.  Which is fitting, considering her novel, Servant of the Underworld, pays homage to the myths and peoples of Central America.  Aliette was nominated for best novella for her story, The Jaguar House, in Shadow.


Brad R. Torgersen may not be a jaguar, but he does have a Cheshire cat-like grin.  And for good reason: Brad was this year’s winner of the Analog Reader’s Choice award for his story Outbound

--Scott M. Roberts

Assistant Editor, InterGalactic Medicine Show

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nebula Awards

Congratulations to IGMS Assistant Editor, Eric James Stone, for winning the Nebula for Best Novelette!  His story, That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made, took the prize against a very strong field.

-- Scott M. Roberts

Assistant Editor, IGMS

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nebula Awards Weekend

InterGalactic Assistant Editors, Eric James Stone and Scott M. Roberts will be attending the Nebula awards weekend in Washington DC, from May 19-22. 

Eric will be attending the mass signing on Friday, May 20, from 3:30pm to 5:00; he’ll also be a panelist on Short Story Plotting on Saturday, May 21, at 11:30 in the Jefferson Room of the Washington Hilton.

The mass signing is open to the public. 

Scott will be hanging about looking dodgy and blithe.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Numbers Game

We have played this game before; as before, I’ll just note that these are my numbers, and that Eric and Sarah’s numbers are probably much, much higher.


Total Stories: 622

Rejected: 506 (78%)

Recommended: 116 (22%)


Submissions that were received prior to genre tracking are not included in the numbers below.  The number of stories that were reviewed prior to genre tracking is 230. 

Note that the Published numbers are as near as I can guess;

Total Stories considered: 392

Horror: 3 (.7%)

  • 2 Rejected
  • 1 Recommended
  • 1 Published

Fantasy: 169  (43%)

  • 128 Rejected
  • 41 Recommended
  • 6 published

Science Fiction: 202  (51%)

  • 147 Rejected
  • 55 Recommended
  • 6 Published

Other: 18 (4%)

  • 18 Rejected
  • 0 Recommended
  • 0 Published

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sideshow Links May 11, 2011

Aunt May and Ma Kent on Mother’s Day:  Ignore the conclusion; the fact that Krypto exists means Ma Kent loses.

That’s what SHE said…: Analyzing the joke to this depth kills it.  And possibly all of humanity, as computers come one step closer to achieving Singularity.

Ah, SPRING!  Cue the wah-wah guitar…: Male jumping spiders need no cheesy 70’s music.  Well…maybe they do.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Love, Cayce—Marie Brennan

I am very much a gamer -- to the point where (I kid you not) when I was in graduate school, my field of study was role-playing games. (They even paid me a fellowship to do it!) It's one of my favorite hobbies.

And yet for all of that, I've played very little Dungeons & Dragons.

This is largely because I like games for their narrative aspects: character, plot, and so on. D&D, as game systems go, is more oriented toward killing monsters and taking their stuff. If I want to do that, I'm generally going to do it in a video game, where the machine will run all the numbers for me and leave me free to enjoy the hack-n-slash.

But I did play in two D&D games for a while -- or perhaps I should say, two Forgotten Realms games, as they were much more about the love-caycesetting, much less about the usual D&D dungeon-crawling. (Seriously, we sometimes went entire sessions where the only roll anybody made was to see if your character noticed someone checking him out.) In the first one, we played a group of adventurers bound together by fate to do Great Deeds . . . and in the second, we played those adventurers' kids.

"Love, Cayce" is not based directly on that game; the characters are different, and so is the story. But that is where the idea came from. We got kidnapped by Shar early on, and ended up in the Underdark somehow, and when we finally got a chance to breathe I wrote a letter home to my parents, apologizing for having vanished out from under their noses, and giving a rather alarming summary of what had happened since then. It got me to thinking about what it would be like to live in a world like the Forgotten Realms -- and, more to the point, what it would be like to have kids there. I mean, being an adventurer is crazy enough: getting hauled off to other planes of existence, dying and being resurrected, all the rest of the insane stuff that's a day in the life of a D&D player-character. But what happens when it's your daughter doing those things? And then writing home to tell you all about it?

And you thought sending them off to college was bad.

The opening line wandered into my head, and then I had no choice but to write the story and find out just what had caused one or more people to be dead in the first place. Not to mention how they got not-dead afterward. Figuring out how to manage the story through letters was the hard part, especially once it became clear that it would be divided up into several missives. Soon I was having to wrangle two narrative timelines, one telling the parents about what had happened between the send-off at the Rose and Crown and people dying, and the other following ongoing events. But once I settled into the style of the thing, it was a sheer blast to write, with me constantly looking for ways to make the events more outrageous.

In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I kind of want to write a sequel story. The ending certainly leaves space for one. And I even have an opening line:

Dear Cayce,

I know you're tired of receiving Well-Intentioned Parental Advice, but there are a few things every young woman should know before she goes to Hell.

I want to know what happens at the wedding -- and the only way to find out is to write the story.

-- Marie Brennan

Monday, May 02, 2011

Exodus Tides—Aliette de Bodard

"Exodus Tides" grew out of several conversations at last year's Eastercon about immigration: both about society's acceptance of massive influx of migrants, and of how migrants themselves dealt with leaving the homeland behind, and starting a new life in a foreign country. In many ways, it's about the experience of the second generation, who has no link to the homeland beyond the stories of the older generation, and who has to adapt from childhood to an environment that might not be kind, or welcoming. For Emilie, of course, there is the extra layer of being a mixed-blood, stuck between two worlds--which isn't always a simple thing.

More than anything else, I intended the story to be about the exodus tidesproblematic relationship of migrants and their descendants to the homeland: the sense of nostalgia that's inevitable, and also a little misleading--for the land that is remembered might have no connection at all with the land the way it is now, especially if fifteen or twenty years have passed, and things abroad have moved on. The stories that are told to Emilie push this notion to the edge: instead of a real homeland, what she has are myths and fairytales, which come both from a desire to protect her, and from her mother's own nostalgia for the lost country (which, in this case, is very literally lost). It's very much a story about the cost of lies--they might help a small child, but when they run their course, the revelation causes a painful shock, with repercussions that might not have been thought out.

Unlike other stories, this one came to me in bits and pieces: I usually write chronologically, but this story actually started with the swimming pool scene and the strong image of the completely "Frenchified" mother picking up her conflicted daughter. The other scenes were gradually filled in afterwards, still without coherent order (I think the ending was pretty the second thing that came to me, for instance). The story also developed fast, with extra scenes filled in partly from a sense of what the story needed, and partly using the French headlines of the time, which were about "problems" caused by migrants (in reality, by rootless second-generations, who are actually French citizens by right of soil). The character of Jamila came from this last, and also from a need to have a foil for Emilie: someone also struggling with her own cultural identity, and her own family stories, which might or might not be true. The holidays in Brittany are also a mainstay of French culture (it's generally either that, or going to the beach on the French Riviera), and I had a lot of fun putting familiar settings to work for the story.

Another fun tidbit was working out character names for the mermen: I chose a pattern frequently used by Asian immigrants, which was to take a "safe", non-adventurous name in order not to stand out. Thus, every merman in the story has an old-fashioned French name--broadly speaking, they're a generation late, using names that suit, but are hardly cutting-edge.

When I submitted the story to Edmund at IGMS, he kindly pointed out that the ending as it was did not work: it dumped too much information on the reader in one go, and left Emilie no time to come to a decision of her own before the reader could work through their confusion. Accordingly, I moved some information upwards,, to have the reveal come gradually. The original ending turned out not to work so well after the new reveal, so I had to tweak it slightly in order to keep the effect. I kept it ambiguous, deliberately: I have my own opinion on what Emilie does, but it's a tough problem, and I can easily put forth arguments for one decision or another.

The big question a lot of you might be asking is how much of the story reflects my own experience. Mostly, I'm not saying--gotta keep some things to myself, after all. But remember: I'm a writer. I tell plausible lies for a living.

--Aliette de Bodard