Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nick Greenwood wins Chesley Award for IGMS Cover

One of the big differences between IGMS and other magazines (e- or traditional) is that we publish artwork with every story. It’s one of the big selling points of the magazine; I always look forward to seeing what new art is going to be displayed on our lovely virtual covers.

At Renovation over the weekend, Nick Greenwood was honored with the Chesley Award for his cover to IGMS #17 (June 2010). Good work, Mr. Greenwood!

Follow the link for details!

-Scott M. Roberts

Asst. Editor IGMS

Monday, August 22, 2011

Second Chances Made of Glass and Wood—Michael T. Banker

When I started writing "Second Chances", Nattly's voice just fell onto the page, without even trying. It was one of those beautiful moments in writing when even I didn't know where it came from. And through her voice, Faerci, Papa, Cook, Havrim, everything naturally settled into place. I simply looked through her eyes, and her world opened up to me. It’s a world that I’d like to explore more of in the future.

This was simultaneously one of the quickest and the slowest pieces I have ever written. I came up with the concept for it randomly while second-chanceson a walk, spent two days mulling it over and outlining (between studying for my actuarial exam, which is what I was supposed to be doing), and then wrote the first draft within 24 hours (technically not of the same day). I was proud of that first draft, and a great deal of the story and voice carried through to the final version. But from there it went through countless critiques and drafts. The ending in particular was reworked several times. A whole character was cut. (Alas, you will never know Gisella.) It made semifinalist at Writers of the Future, after which I did my best to address K.D. Wentworth’s criticisms as well. Finally, the poor, dazed and confused thing found a home at IGMS.

I don’t know where the concept came from. Usually I can trace it, but this time I can’t. As it often goes, I felt as if I was discovering a world that already exists rather than actively inventing it. Every plot choice I nixed, every character who felt somehow off, simply wasn’t a part of that world, and I had to keep searching until I found it.

--Michael Banker

Asst. Editor’s note: When ‘Second Chances’ came to IGMS, it’s my opinion that it was NOT “poor, dazed and confused.”  We don’t accept stories of that type; we’re not an orphanage.  Smile

--Scott M. Roberts, IGMS

Monday, August 15, 2011

Old Flat Foot—Ross Willard

Old Flat Foot was, for me, the result of several seemingly unrelated ideas coming together.

One of the ideas was more of a question. In most of the literature that I read and the movies I watch, when a machine becomes self aware, it does so in large and impressive ways. Perhaps it decides that humans are no longer worthy of control of the planet, or that it no longer wishes to perform the task for which it was created. Both ideas are valid and have ample potential for rich story-telling, but neither really addressed the question that interested me the most: what would define machine sentience?

After pondering the question for a while I decided that in order to define a machine as sentient, not merely intelligent, but truly old-flat-footsentient, the machine would have to be able to make a mistake. Not just an error, but make a mistake, on purpose. Though I don't know a great deal about programming, I have spent years studying people, and thinking about what separates us from computers the most notable trait that we have is the ability to come up with excuses for unreasonable choices. From a machine's perspective, I decided, this would essentially be the same as deciding to malfunction.

The second idea that formed the foundation of this story came from my own personal experiences with bureaucracy. Having worked for a number of different companies over the years, I've witnessed a peculiar phenomenon in which companies attempt to standardize their services to such a degree that the employees could well be replaced by machines. Human beings become cogs in a machine, their personal choices and beliefs irrelevant, and their jobs reduced to scripts. Displaying the robotization of people, contrasted by, for lack of a better word, the awakening of robotic sentience, struck me as interesting.

The third and final idea that played into this particular story, was the old-flat-footquestion of how exactly a machine would show love. The concept of love is complicated enough that humans have been arguing over its exact definition for centuries. So, assuming that a machine could feel love, I wouldn't think that the machine would know exactly what it was feeling. So how would it communicate that emotion? The most interesting answer I could come up with was that the machine might attempt to 'give of itself' in a very real and literal way.

--Ross Willard

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Whiteface—Jared Oliver Adams

I wrote the first draft of “Whiteface” at Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp, as a direct result of an idea generation exercise that Scott whitefacehad us do. We were to come up with five stories in particular ways. One way was by walking around town and noticing odd things that could be prodded into a story, and I saw this teenager at a local WalMart with white paint streaked over his face. I got to thinking: Is this some new kind of fad I don’t know about? I decided he was probably trying to look like a vampire or something.

Anyhow, that led to me wondering what would happen if we all had painted faces, and the colors determined something about us. And what if we chose these colors as infants? I had this great image of a baby sitting in the middle of circle of colors, about to choose, and this became the basis of a story about a son who chooses a color that makes him basically a slave to his tribe.

But that story seemed . . . dry. I was interested in the society but not the characters. Enter the second idea generation activity: research.

Oddly enough, my research topic was Nikola Tesla, who figures prominently in this issue’s cover story “Under the Shield.” I’d seen a Discovery channel documentary on him a couple weeks earlier, and was intrigued by him. What I found was that he was a proponent of whitefaceEugenics, which is an appalling application of the theory of evolution that says we should keep people with negative traits from breeding in order to increase the vigor of the human race. From that I got a story about a boy who was to be castrated when he came of age because of a genetic deformity.

That story, like the other, seemed lifeless as well. It wasn’t until I combined them that things started coming to life. I realized that the real story was about the father coming to grips with his son’s fate, and that the son was adamant about accepting the color he’d chosen as an infant.

That first draft was rough and full of holes, but the critique process was revelatory. Not only did I get some awesome suggestions from Scott Card himself (Leaping-Deer, Otter’s father, was not in the original story at all), but the other bootcampers supplied me with the most useful, honest critiques a writing group can possibly give. I went back home immediately and got to work on the story, doing more research, and tightening up the story with the help of fellow bootcamper Trina Phillips.

I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I did writing it!

-Jared Oliver Adams

Monday, August 08, 2011

IGMS - Issue 24 - August 2011

Issue 24 of IGMS just went live. Let's dive right into the stories, shall we?

Our cover story is "Under The Shield" by Stephen Kotowych. An alternate history tale set in turn of the 20th century New York, it depicts a world brought to the edge of war by Nikola Tesla's powerful energy shields and death ray, the latter of which was the true cause of the devastation at Tunguska in 1908.

Next up is "What Happened at Blessing Creek," an . . . let's call this one an alternate reality story by Naomi Kritzer, where 19th century pioneers explore a west that's a little wilder than the one we knew, replete with Indians and wolves, as well as dragons and magicians -- and one young girl who suddenly finds herself thrust into the middle of the conflict between settlers and Indians over the fate of the town of Blessing Creek.

Michael Banker's "Second Chances Made of Glass and Wood" takes us to an intriguing fantasy world where souls can be magically transferred from dying human bodies to carved wooden miniature bodies, and explores this world through the eyes of someone who never walked the world in a human body to begin with, never knew the taste of food in her mouth or the flash of color before her eyes.

"Old Flatfoot" by Ross Willard swings the pendulum in the other direction, showing us the existence of a police robot designed to protect and serve, but never allowed to make a decision of its own. But when 'Old Flatfoot' discovers its days are numbered, it takes matters into its own hands in an unexpectedly sentimental way.

Part One of Jared Adams' "Whiteface" is the first half of a novelette about a father's quest to find a place in the world for a son who repeatedly chooses the path of the outcast, first as an unknowing child, but later in life with the full knowledge of not only the ramifications of his choice, but full knowledge of his father's displeasure with such a choice. Part Two will conclude the story in our next issue.

And as with every other issue, we bring you another of David Lubar's Tale for the Unafraid, and Darrell Schweitzer's InterGalactic Interview with Ben Bova.

Last, but by no means least, we bring you a sneak-peek at Orson Scott Card's forthcoming novella Shadows In Flight, a direct sequel to his hugely popular novel, Shadow of the Giant. Shadows In Flight is due out from Tor in November of this year, but IGMS will preview it, presenting chapter one in this issue, and chapter two in the next issue.


Edmund R. Schubert
Editor, Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show