Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Second Annual InterGalactic Readers’ Choice Awards

We are pleased to announce the Second 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 nominating ballot.

The voting window will be open until February 27 and winners will be announced in the March 2012 issue.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Arkmind—Niall Francis McMahon

This was a cathartic process, as I will explain.

Frequently, my stories spring into my mind largely complete (from arkmindsome darn place) but Arkmind was an exception. I wrote it the hard way – lots of thought, graft and even a little research, which is very unusual for me (correlative map of consciousness, anyone?)

I wanted to paint on a large canvas and create a tale detailing major events over vast distances and great expanses of time, whilst asking some fundamental questions along the way. I have always admired such stories and the scope they provide for reader and writer alike. Moreover, I had recently lost my father (three days before my 40th birthday) and had been thinking a lot about life, time and bereavement. I had also been thinking about memories – specifically their subjective nature and the way in which they define and preserve us. I guess Arkmind is a synthesis of all those considerations and emotions.

The result, I believe, is a love story.

The concept of a sentient machine falling in love with a human being is nothing new. That the machine should subsequently sacrifice its arkmindimmortality to live a human life is not new either. The originality (I like to think some exists!) lies in the manner in which Arkmind comes to appreciate life and its own place within the cosmos, something with which we all grapple. The character ‘Constance’ facilitates this process and acts as a metaphor for the human condition: in the end, with limbs or no limbs, sight or no sight, to what extent do any of us control our lives or perceive the reality of the world about us?

Finally, it is a story about death; confronting it, accepting it, overcoming fear of it – something each character achieves in his/her/its own fashion. My personal motivation here is obvious.

I wanted (needed) to write a positive tale which might leave the reader smiling, so I make no apologies for the sentimental finale. I believe a good story, even the most intellectual or esoteric, should contain an emotional payoff. Besides, you can’t beat a good, old-fashioned, happy ending…

--Niall Francis McMahon

Monday, January 23, 2012

Remains of the Witch—Tony Pi

For the 2011 Codex Writers Halloween Contest, I had received a story seed from another member: “reflection in a pool or other liquid”.  Aside from bobbing for apples, which didn’t inspire me, I remains-of-the-witchwas stuck on how water might be involved with the holiday. It seemed the wrong season for swimming.

Luckily, the phrase “other liquid” was an interesting ‘out’, and seemed like a good starting point for a brainstorm. Quicksilver. Tea. Ink. Poison. Milk. Honey. Oil spill. I had all the makings for a Mad  Hatter’s tea party, but no plot.

So I returned to the Halloween theme and found myself drawn to two of its icons: the witch, and the scarecrow.

That’s when the ideas collided, and I knew I would write about the remains-of-the-witchmelted remains of the Wicked Witch of the West, and a reflection therein. But whose reflection? The story would hinge on that.

From my brainstorming, ‘ink’ had suggested a letter, and I always wanted to write a tale told through epistolary. For me, the draw of the epistolary form is that the letter is an intimate glimpse into the relationship between two people. There are things the letter-writer must have courage to say, or else omit to save face. It can be a plea, a lie, the truth, flirtation, or trifles. I was more intrigued by the dark side of Halloween, so decided on a confession.

A winged monkey seemed fitting, but why would it resort to a letter to tell its tale? I had an answer that only raised more intriguing questions. I also really wanted to write about afternoon tea, after having my first two experiences just months before I began writing this story. Also fortunate was finding a copy of Michael Smith’s Afternoon Tea at home, a recipe book with the history of tea and proper etiquette.

The sum of those inspirations is Remue’s letter.
--Tony Pi

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Letter From The Editor - Issue 26 - January 2012

Here comes issue 26 of IGMS. A lot of news items have surfaced since our last issue came out, the biggest of which was the signing of Harrison Ford to play Battle School commander Hyrum Graff in the upcoming Ender movie. Indiana Graff meets Hyrum Solo—exciting news, indeed. But outside of the three-ring circus known as Hollywood, we’ve got a few exciting news items happening right here at the InterGalactic Medicine Show.

First of all, the long-awaited InterGalactic Awards Anthology - Vol. 1 has just been released by Spotlight Publishing. It's a collection of the winners of the 2010 IGMS InterGalactic Awards Reader's Poll (both the stories and the artwork), plus popular stories from the years before the award was launched. Edited by Orson Scott Card and yours truly (Ed Schubert), it also features an all new introduction by Peter S. Beagle.

And speaking of the InterGalactic Awards Reader's Poll, voting for the 2011awards will begin next week. Look for the announcement when the polls open—and remember, you’re not just voting for the best stories and artwork published in IGMS in 2011; in all likelihood you’re selecting the featured stories for the next anthology.

While we’re on the subject of awards, this would be a great time to mention that the current issue of IGMS proudly presents the Grand Prize winner of the 2011 Hydra Contest for the best Brazilian speculative fiction. “Story with Pictures and Conversation” was written by Brontops Baruq (the author’s pseudonym) and originally published in the limited edition magazine Portal Fundação. It is an unusual science fiction story presenting the report of an unnamed official describing a child’s words and hand-drawn pictures created during an interspecies war—as well as a subtler one between her mother and father.

Our cover story, "Remains of the Witch," by Tony Pi, tells the tale of a flying monkey, Remue, who was taken under the tutelage of the Wicked Witch, only to find that role short-lived when the witch is killed by a bucket of water. But when Remue gathers up the puddle that was once her wicked teacher, she finds the witch’s power is not nearly at its end.

"Arkmind," by Niall Francis McMahon is a powerful science fiction story set in a world where a super nova has forced mankind to fling its seeds away from earth to seek new homes. En route one of the ship’s artificial intelligence achieves consciousness, but with all of the humans either dead or in very raw genetic form and still waiting to be incubated, the AI must follow its own bumpy path to understanding what consciousness actually means.

"Contaminant Source Removed" is a fun YA fantasy about a 12-year old boy named Marco who discovers the hard way that improvising with magic spells can lead to all sorts of unexpected challenges, while "Lair of the Twelve Princesses" by Amanda Davis is a smart retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale as seen from the perspective of a the female warrior and her wish-granting imp, whom she continually vexes by refusing to ask for wishes that he grant.

Darrell Schweitzer interviews Carrie Vaughn, whose popular Kitty Norville novels have been an urban fantasy hit since their first publication in 2005. But did you know that she’s written four other novels, as well as some 50 short stories? See what else you’re missing in Darrell’s interview.

Last, but by no means least, we bring you a sneak-peek at Orson Scott Card's forthcoming novel, Ruins, the second book in his popular Pathfinder series, due out later this year.

Off with you, then. It’s time to start reading the stories…

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

P.S. As usual, we'll be collecting 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.