Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Now Available - IGMS - Issue 31

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving turkey, and I also hope you saved a little room for an IGMS-style desert.

Our cover story, "Inside the Mind of the Bear" by Rahul Kanikia, is a look at a bear bent on global domination, presented in the form of a scientific paper. I know, I know, you see this kind of thing all the time. But I promise you, this one really is different from all the other scientific papers about Godzilla-sized grizzlies.

Next up is Kevin Jewell’s "The Probability Flatline." A robot programmed to work in a daycare who is about to permanently run out of electricity gets a second chance at life, but the ever-shifting odds of achieving that extended life just might cost the lives of the very children she is designed to care for.

"The War of Peace – Part One" is the first installment of a novelette by Trina Phillips, part two of which will appear in issue 32. When humans plant their new town atop the birthing grounds of an alien race who have planted their offspring seedlings below that same ground, something has to give.

Speaking of two-part stories, this issue also brings you part two (and the conclusion) of Orson Scott Card’s excerpt of his new novel “The Gate Thief,” sequel to his popular novel “The Lost Gate.” “The Gate Thief” isn’t due to be released until March of 2013, but you can read the opening right here in IGMS now.

Doubling as our audio feature for this issue, "The Flittiest Catch" is tongue-in-cheek look at the perils of fairy fishing in the open skies. Written by Robert Russell, the audio version is read by the appropriately gruff-voiced Stuart Jaffe.

And last but certainly not least, we once again bring you a pair of short-shorts. Since they're both under 1,000 words we decided two was better than one, to ensure everyone got their money's worth. Both—“The Postman” and “Always There”—are written by fan-favorite Ken Liu, who is also the subject of this month’s InterGalactic Interview, brought to you by guest-interviewer Jamie Rubin.

So what are you waiting for? Time to dive in and start eating… er, reading.

P.S. As usual, we've collected essays from the authors in this issue and will post them here. Feel free to drop by and catch The Story Behind The Stories, where the authors talk about the creation of their tales.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Aristocritics: Genre Fiction vs. Literary Fiction

From time to time, some nouveau-jazz listening, ivy-league-educated, black turtle-neck-wearing literary aristocritic will deign to look at the current offerings of genre.  He'll spider fingers over titles; sample plot with trained tongue; gaze calculatingly at style.  And will sniff and call all offerings less than adequate repast for discriminating palates.

"It is not literature," says the aristocritic.  Inevitably, every syllable of "literature" is pronounced. 

From time to time, genre writers will shuffle out of their bedrooms, pajama-clad still, and read the aristocritic's words.  A defense will conjure upon their fingers.  Wordsmiths in grand defense of their chosen medium will summon not just their own prowess, but the screaming hordes of genre-fans to take up arms and strike!  For Bradbury, for LeGuin, for Chabon! 

Well.  I'm not much for war any more.  When I was a young writer-- the internet was still a New Thing-- you can bet I was there on the front lines, defending genre.  "Genre can too be literature! Yes-huh, it can!" 

The older I got, the more I realized-- They're Just Not That Into Me.  And the more I realized that there's very little I can do to change that-- trust me, TPing their homes does not work-- the more that genre's insistence that it IS TOO LITERATURE seem like the demands of a petulant teenager demanding attention from an ex. ("If you give me another chance, I know you'll love me this time...")

I think that this is a hard lesson for writers to learn.  I crave acceptance and validation, and I think that's true for a lot of us.  Part of the reason I write is so that people can see some little piece of me on the page there (distorted, twisted, or made gloriously bright) and say, "Oh!  Oh, yes.  That's just how I feel, too!" And literary fiction has gravitas and authority-- that's why they have big universities, and libraries, and smoking jackets.  So acceptance and validation from one of them is soul-currency.  It means a writer has transcended...something.

But transcendentalism is schlock.  I learned that by getting older, too.  I don't want to transcend: I want to engulf.  I want to entwine.  I want to enfold. 

So, here, genre: have some advice.  Stop panting after literary fiction's approbation.  If critical acclaim from literary fiction comes, excellent.  If it doesn't, forcing the issue won't make either literary mode better. 

You, as a literary mode, are not entitled to acceptance or love. 

But remember that you ARE loved by those who matter most: readers.

In the end that's what it comes down to: from a certain sense, base populism.  The greatness of a story, I believe, is in how broad its audience is, and how deeply the tale pierces their souls.  Concentrate on that-- casting wide nets of evocative story-telling-- and let the aristocritics get back to their tea. 
--Scott M. Roberts
Asst. Ed

P.S.: Wm Henry Morris makes similar comments (but with more panache) here:

Monday, November 05, 2012

Dragonslayer—Nathaniel Lee

My friend David Steffen wrote a piece called "The Quest Unusual" for the PodCastle flash fiction contest.  His story was a humor piece, dragonslayerfeaturing a dragon in armor asking oblivious local peasants if they'd seen any dragons around, with the punch-line being the rural man's remark that there was no such thing as dragons.  I couldn't get the image of a dragon-who-is-a-knight out of my head, especially once I realized that he would logically have to be looking for a knight-who-is-a-dragon, just for symmetry.  I started out writing just a 100-word sketch for Mirrorshards, but that wasn't enough to exorcise the idea.  I didn't want to "waste my time" writing an entire story because I felt like I was just riffing on David's concept.  However, at the time, I was under a self-imposed demand to write at least one full short story every two weeks for a full year, so I finally just gave up and went for it, figuring I'd keep it for myself if it turned out rubbish.

Two days and seven thousand words later, with the story largely in its present form (I am both a binge writer and an incorrigible dragonslayerpantser), I realized that the concept *really* had legs.  I sent the manuscript to David; because the story was largely inspired by his own, I didn't want to submit it anywhere without his permission.  Initially, David was (understandably and thoroughly justifiably, I think) reluctant, and he told me I'd have to trunk the piece, as I'd expected.  A few days later, however, he changed his mind, and asked only that I wait until he'd sold his flash fiction story.  (He says he was worried that a glut of dragons-that-are-knights would drive demand down, making it a harder sell; me, I think you can never have enough dragons.)  As you've likely guessed, David's piece sold quite quickly (you can read it at Daily Science Fiction's permanent archive), and so here we all are today.

--Nathaniel Lee