Friday, June 13, 2014

Salt and Sand, by Kate O’Connor

My father taught me to build boats. Sailboats were his thing, but the first boat we built together was a little cedar-strip canoe – just my size. He measured me so the boat would fit with a little more room salt-and-sandfor me to grow into it. All these years later, it’s still a beautiful boat. I named it Pooka, which made him laugh. He asked if I thought it was going to dump me at the bottom of the lake. I said, with all of my ten-year-old indignation, that other people might need to watch out, but she wasn’t ever going to dump me. Funny thing is, she hasn’t, and we’ve travelled some rough waters together.

Fifteen years after we built that boat together, he died of cancer. The summer before he got sick, we put Pooka on his big sailboat and used her to ferry us back and forth to shore as we sailed up and down Barnegat Bay. The only thing was, Pooka only had room for one, so whoever lost rock-paper-scissors-best-two-out-of-three had to swim behind. I usually lost. Dad was like that – cards, darts, coin-tosses – luck (and no small amount of skill) was always on his side with those kinds of things (though not at all when it came to car repairs or plumbing or trying to re-wire the house – there’s a whole novel’s worth of stories in those adventures).

Dad was a storyteller and a teacher. He sang dirty Irish drinking songs to me and my brothers and sister and explained all the words and innuendos we didn’t know. He travelled all over the world and brought back stories of his adventures. Often times, he took us with him. He spent an entire summer telling us about the Voyage of St. Brendan, one island a night. I’m pretty sure Dad’s version had a lot more to do with what would keep us entertained than the traditional story. On the other hand, the old monk just might have sailed to an salt-and-sandisland with a winged unicorn: an orange one with flames for a mane, because I wasn’t a pink kind of girl and white was boring.

I wrote Salt and Sand for my father. It took a long time to get it right. It is a fantastical adventure, because he preferred a good healthy dose of the surreal in his stories. In his defense, some of the adventures we had together travelled well into “they’re never going to believe this back home” territory. There are monsters who are not monsters and heroes who happen to be real people who have kind of messed up the personal side of things because they were busy being heroic.

Dad’s heroes were realistic. When he was telling stories, he didn’t try to hide the fact that people weren’t perfect and most are born with a full range of emotions (even the uncomfortable ones). They didn’t always make it out of the story alive and whole. What made them heroic was that they kept trying.

With Salt and Sand, I wanted to write a story that would have kept him entertained. I wanted it to feel like one of his stories and one of mine too. Because this one’s for him, the vehicle for transformation is a small sailboat. Without the boat, there is no story. It is rough and worn with distance travelled, but it’s sturdy enough for another journey. It was made to safely carry its occupants beyond the world and back again. It will take them as far as they have the will to go.

--Kate O’Connor

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Memory of Magic, Jacob A. Boyd

Some years back, my wife, friends, and I rented a house in Hood River for a long weekend of wind surfing, brewery hopping, and memory-of-magicelaborate home cooked meals. This was around the time my friends had begun starting families. One couple had started sooner than the others, and that couple brought their son. He was maybe two years old, perhaps younger. He was mobile, curious, and very hands-on.

The idea around which “Memory of Magic” eventually formed came from observing him, the lone child among our friends, during that long weekend.

He grabbed things and got into things and demanded things. His parents vacillated through wild pangs of joy and shock and worry and delight. In short, he was a little kid. They were new parents.

Once, he yanked a potted jade plant from its soil and shook it like a dirty pom-pom. It should be noted that this was a very nice rental house, so nice that there was an abiding sense of how-did-we-land-this-place? We were guests, paying guests, but guests nonetheless. Someone lived there. They were coming back. With that in mind, his parents descended on the situation and tucked the jade plant back into its pot, all the while calmly explaining to their son that this was a plant, and it needed soil, and it shouldn’t be handled like that, it was alive.

To me, the way they were saying it sounded like they were reminding him of something he knew, but he didn’t quite remember. I thought, memory-of-magicwow, he’s powerful but he doesn’t understand that he’s wielding power. He doesn’t remember. He’s like a little wizard who forgot his magic. While growing up, he could turn out any number of ways, and his parents were working to ensure that he’d turn out good, that he’d nurture things rather than destroy them just to see how they could be destroyed.

The first draft of “Memory of Magic” was titled “Little Wizards.”

Some years earlier, before my friends with the son had started their family, my wife and I visited them while they worked as caretakers and guides for Independence Mine State Historical Park in Alaska. Independence Mine is a beautiful site set at the end of a valley where two mountain ridges converge to form a horseshoe of peaks. The mine is quite literally at the end of the road. Memory of the mine complex remains vivid for me: the schoolhouse, the bunkhouses, the array of non-affiliated miner shacks, the offsite “relaxation” shacks, the assayer’s office, and the mine itself. It seemed like a place with a wealth of buried mysticism, which had been tempered by hard living, hard weather, and hope.

The memory of Independence Mine eventually wrapped itself around the idea for what was then “Little Wizards” and they worked off each other for “Memory of Magic.”

--Jacob A. Boyd

Monday, June 02, 2014

Free Tonic from InterGalactic Medicine Show!

From Edmund Schubert's Letter From the Editor this issue:

Starting this month, IGMS will make the most recently published previous issue free on a rotating schedule. This means that from now on, during the same time that the current issue is live, the entire issue that was published right before it will be free for anyone and everyone to read. For as long as Issue 39 is the latest one out, Issue 38 will be available for free. Then when Issue 40 is published, Issue 39 will be free, and so on. You still need a subscription to read the latest issue, and you still need a subscription to have full access to our entire archive of issues and all the stories contained therein, but we believe in the authors and stories we publish and we want a wider audience to have a chance to sample them. So tell your mother, tell your best friend, tell that co-worker of yours who's a closet SF-fanatic but doesn't want the boss to know; tell everybody: free fiction from IGMS!

Link to the free issue (issue 38)

Thursday, May 01, 2014


New Contest for Best Fantasy Adventure Story
Debuts in 2014 at Premier Gaming Convention Gen Con

April 30, 2014, Riverdale, New YorkBaen Books, in association with the popular gaming convention Gen Con, has launched a new annual fantasy genre contest that will present the winning entrant with the inaugural Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. The contest will be centered on adventure fantasy short stories, whether epic fantasy, heroic fantasy, sword and sorcery, or contemporary fantasy.
“We are very pleased to be presenting this award in association with Gen Con and its Writer’s Symposium,” said Baen senior editor Jim Minz. “Gen Con is the best-attended gaming convention in the world, and it is the perfect place to seek out and showcase great fantasy talent.”
The contest opens for submissions on May 1, 2014 and all entries must be received June 30, 2014.  Each entry is limited to a short story of no more than 8,000 words, and there is one entry per author. 
“We're looking for the best piece of original short fiction that captures the spirit and tradition of such great storytellers as Larry Correia, Robert E. Howard, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Andre Norton, J.R.R. Tolkien, David Weber and Marion Zimmer Bradley,” said Minz. “We want fantasy adventures with heroes a reader wants to root for. We're looking for warriors, either modern or medieval, who solve problems with their wits as well as their swords.”
“We're delighted to be working with the leading independent SF publisher in the US,” added Marc Tassin, Director of the Writer's Symposium at Gen Con. “Baen Books is synonymous with strong, action-oriented adventures featuring the kind of heroes that hook readers from the moment they take the stage. It's an honor to us that they chose to take part in our program's 20th Anniversary. Along with welcoming Guest of Honor Jim Butcher, and Special Guests Larry Correia & Scott Westerfeld, we anticipate 2014 to be the biggest Writer's Symposium's we've ever had.”
Baen Books is known for its New York Times bestselling science fiction and fantasy, including David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire alternate histories, Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International urban fantasies, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga. Baen’s paper titles are distributed by Simon & Schuster.
Gen Con is the original, longest-running gaming convention in the world. Last year, more than 49,000 people attended, with more than 10,000 events, making it truly The Best Four Days in Gaming™! In 2014, Gen Con will be held in downtown Indianapolis, from August 14th through the 17th.

 For more information visit

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rights and Wrongs, by Brian K. Lowe

Sometimes when you speculate about the near future, events will overtake your story and render it irrelevant. So if you're going to write a story about the near future, write it fast.

"Rights and Wrongs," on the other hand, took five years. It startedrights-and-wrongs 9000 feet high in the New Mexico mountains, at the 2008 Taos Toolbox workshop, where Walter Jon Williams gave me some of the most valuable advice I've ever gotten: "Write what you care about."

What did I care about? I cared about being a writer. Why else was I spending two weeks at a ski lodge so high in the air it took two days before I could walk to my car in the parking lot? But stories about writers are a dime a dozen, so what else did I care about?

In 2008, the War on Terror was everywhere. Enemy combatants were being locked up for years without charges. Rumor was that the government might try to do the same with American citizens, shelving habeas corpus for the duration. And once the government can imprison you for anything, leaving you to rot without charges, democracy is dead.

Of course, it didn't happen, but that was my thinking when I sat down the next day and penned the first line of what you eventually read (or will read). When I was done, I had a story about an attorney for a shape-changing alien who might be a terrorist who had been given a sham trial and was about to be dragged off to be shot and/or rights-and-wrongsdissected. In desperation, he switches bodies with his lawyer and tries to escape. But the lawyer manages to alert the guards to the switch, and the alien is killed attempting to escape. The lawyer comes out okay, but feels bad about the whole thing.

   The story bombed. Sure it did--it was depressing with a capital D. But even then, it received just enough positive comments for me to try revamping it. I re-wrote the escape scene. Still depressing, I changed the ending to a courtroom drama with a 2000-word explanation by an anthropologist about how the alien wasn't responsible for his own actions because he was driven solely by biology. Very science fiction. Very dull. But the esteemed editor of this magazine, showing the kind of faith that moves mountains, thought he saw something in the story. All I had to do was re-write a small part--as in, the entire second half.

It took two years of re-visiting the story every few months, beating my head against a wall, before I finally realized that to re-write the second half, I had to re-write the first half, too. I started almost from scratch, filling in some characters, re-engineering the plot, struggling to find a way to present what I cared about without making judgments and without being boring. And I did.

       But the important thing isn't how I came to write this story. It's that this near-future story took me five years to write, and unfortunately, it's still relevant.

--Brian K. Lowe

Monday, April 14, 2014

Camila Fernandes wins the Second Hydra Competition

With three female finalists and over one hundred and fifty entries, the second edition improves upon the success of the first...

Once again, the judges of the Hydra Competition received stories published by Brazilian authors during the last two calendar years (2011 and 2012) and chose three finalists to send to author Orson Scott Card, who defined the winner. This time around, the chosen tale was “The Other Bank of the River” by Camila Fernandes, announced last weekend during the Fantastic Literature Odyssey III, an annual convention held in Porto Alegre. The story will be published in both text and audio by Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show.

The winning story was first published in Camila’s single-author collection Reino das Névoas (“Misty Kingdom”) by Brazilian publisher Tarja. Camila is a writer, editor, and illustrator. She has published stories in many Brazilian anthologies, but “The Other Bank of the River” will be her first publication in English.

In second place came “Sun of the Heart” by Roberta Spindler, first published in the Solarpunk anthology by Editora Draco. Roberta is a publicist and audiovisual editor. She has written since her teen years, and along with many published short stories, co-wrote the novel  Contos de Meigan (“Stories of Meigan”).

The third place story, “Mary G.” by Nikelen Witter, was first published in the Autores Fantásticos (“Fantastic Authors”) anthology by Editora Argonautas. Nikelen Witter is a writer and history professor. She has published many short stories and one YA novel, Territórios Invisíveis (“Invisible Territories”).

IGMS editor Edmund R. Schubert writes: “I was greatly looking forward to this year’s contest—many thanks to Christopher Kastensmidt for translating all three finalists so I could read them as well (Orson is fluent in Portuguese but I am not)—and the quality and variety of ideas was a treat. It’s a privilege for IGMS to be involved in this partnership, to showcase the best of speculative Brazilian short stories, and we all send our heartiest congratulations to the winner, Camila Fernandes, as well as the other finalists, Roberta Spindler, and Nikelen Witter.”

Tiago Castro, competition organizer writes: “Brazilian speculative literature is making great strides in quality, diversity, and discovering new authors. This second edition brought us a pleasant surprise, with three female finalists. I’m glad to have been able to participate and organize this important prize for Brazilian fantastic literature.”

Christopher Kastensmidt, contest founder and translator of this year’s stories, says: “I’d like to thank InterGalactic Medicine Show, the participating authors, the judges, and this year’s organizer: Tiago Castro. Brazilian speculative literature is rarely seen outside the country’s borders, so every chance we have to make that literature available to readers of other cultures is a huge victory for our community.”

The Hydra Competition is a partnership between Brazilian website Universo Insônia, Christopher Kastensmidt’s Elephant and Macaw Banner, and Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, seeking to expose Brazilian fantastic literature to the English-speaking world.  This edition also counted on the participation of Brazilian judges Claudia Fusco (Nerdices - Superinteressante) and Daniel Borba (Além das Estrelas).

About Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show
Founded by multiple-award winning author Orson Scott Card, and edited for the past eight years by Edmund R. Schubert, IGMS is an award-winning bimonthly online magazine publishing illustrated science fiction and fantasy short stories, audio stories, interviews, reviews, and more. Authors range from established pros like Peter Beagle and David Farland to first-time authors making their professional debut.  IGMS can be found at

About The Elephant and Macaw Banner
The Elephant and Macaw Banner is a fantasy series set in sixteenth-century Brazil.  The stories tell the adventures of Gerard van Oost and Oludara, an unlikely pair of heroes who meet in Salvador.  News, artwork, and in-depth explanations of historical and cultural references from the series can be found at the website

About Universo Insônia
The site Universo Insônia (Insomnia Universe) publishes articles, news, and reviews on fantastic literature, cinema, comics, TV series, cartoons, and fantasy pop culture in general.  The site’s principal objective is publicizing and supporting professionals in the area of Brazilian fantasy culture.  The site also contains content about traditional and international productions.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Sound of Death, by Gareth D Jones

The Sound of Death started life as a 600 word story in response to a the-sound-of-deathflash fiction challenge – basically just the opening scene of this alien murder mystery. Right from the start I wanted the cause of death and the scene of the crime to be as non-human as possible. As I started expanding the story I realised this principle had to apply to the whole society, their social interactions and motivations. It was soon clear that everything I had learned from watching several seasons of CSI was also useless. I needed to invent entirely new forensic procedures and investigative methodology.

I found Inspector Ek-Lo-Don to be the most interesting character I have written, not only because of who and what he is, but because I was forced to give far more thought to him than I usually would to a human character. The story only briefly scratches the surface of his society – which is just as well because when I was writing it I wasn’t the-sound-of-deathentirely sure what might be below that surface. Since completing The Sound of Death I have been back and analysed the story and put together detailed notes on every aspect of Ek-Lo-Don’s world as revealed so far. It’s all too easy when you’re creating a new world to get carried away and lose track of what you’ve already established.

I’m currently writing a second, longer, Ek-Lo-Don story that explores many more aspects of his world, and a third story is biding its time to be written too. Hopefully you’ll find it as intriguing as I have.

--Gareth D. Jones

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

High-Tech Fairies and the Pandora Perplexity, by Alex Shvartsman

It started on Twitter.

My friend Sylvia Wrigley posted something along the lines of “I’m high-tech-faerieshaving a difficult time explaining Cthulhu to Grandma.”

To which I responded by saying that “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma” would make a great short story title.

Sylvia was kind enough to let me have it, and I came up with a family-run magical pawn shop (loosely inspired by the History Channel’s Pawn Stars), and named the protagonist Sylvia, as a thank-you to my friend for inspiring the idea.

The resulting story was one of the funniest I have written, and I was very proud that it became my first short story to be published in IGMS (you can read it in issue #33). This story has since gone on to receive some great reviews, and was even included in Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List for 2013, with the maximum possible rating of three stars.

I had so much fun playing in the magic pawn shop sandbox, that I knew I would have to come back to this setting and characters, again and again. In the first story, Cthulhu trapped in a snowglobe-like high-tech-faeriespocket dimension was brought into the pawn shop. So I got to thinking, what other interesting items might show up at its doorstep? Excalibur? Holy Grail? A mint Alf action figure, still in original packaging? The Pandora’s Box was definitely on the short list, and that’s what I went with.

Of course, I wanted the title to be as over-the-top as “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma,” which is how I came up with “High-Tech Fairies and the Pandora Perplexity.” It sounds like an episode of the Big Bang Theory which, to my mind, is a good thing. I was especially pleased with the play on words – in addition to its popular meaning (bewilderment), perplexity is also a mathematical term, dealing with the probability of distribution. Which sort of makes sense for this story – you’ll know why once you read it.

I intend to keep writing funny magic pawn shop stories, so this hopefully will not be the last you’ve heard of Sylvia.

--Alex Shvartsman

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Underwater Restorations, by Jeffrey A. Ballard

“Underwater Restorations” was born out my love of all things underwater-restorationsunderwater.  As a kid, I used to spend hours snorkeling in Keuka Lake in upstate New York, until I was blue and my father had to pull me out for safety.  I often wished that our house was underwater and imagined how much fun it would be to snorkel and dive down into it—of course, I wasn’t a homeowner then, and now it isn’t something I would wish at all.

Right before I wrote “Underwater Restorations,” I had been attempting to write literary fiction and came to the decision that it wasn’t for me.  Undeterred from giving up writing, I thought back to all the stories I loved to read and movies I enjoyed to watch as a kid, which were all Science Fiction and Fantasy.  And there waiting for me after the genre shift, was the childhood desire to go snorkeling through an underwater house.  These two came together seamlessly and produced “Underwater Restorations.”

Writing “Underwater Restorations” was an easier experience than some I’ve had, and whole lot of fun—which was my intent in writing it: to just have fun.  It is my hope that the reader enjoyed in some of that fun and I plan to come back to Isa, Puo, and Winn sometime in the near future and see what they’ve been up to in my absence.

--Jeffrey A. Ballard

Monday, February 10, 2014

Into the Desolation, by Catherine Wells

There are stories that come to you complete, and there are stories that you have no idea are there until they play themselves out. "Into the Desolation" was definitely one of the latter.

I started off in third person past tense, as I usually do, and I thought the story was going to be all about the Imogene character and her adventures in the Time Wastes. Gus was just a tool, a point-of-view for the reader to see Imogene. But then his voice began to take over, and I realized the story would be better told with his vocabulary and rhythm, and that was first person present tense. I'm not a fan of present-tense stories, but for Gus, it just worked.

I still thought getting into the Time Wastes would be just the first part of the story, and then something would happen. But as I went about motivating Gus to go--as I remembered what it was like to grow up in a small town and imagined how it would feel if a smart kid like Gus stayed--I realized he was subconsciously aching for Imogene to convince him to go. He was a blister waiting to be popped. But I honestly didn't realize what the trigger would be until she asked him, "What makes you think I want to come back?"

I have a friend who lost a child. I've seen how that pain continues to haunt her. But what binds Imogene is the what frees Gus. I wonder what adventures they will have together in the Time Wastes? And how will they grow?

--Catherine Wells

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Seven Tips to Enjoy Your Time in the Unreal Forest- Van Aaron Hughes

“Seven Tips to Enjoy Your Time in the Unreal Forest” is my most seven-tips-to-enjoy-your-timeautobiographical story so far. Like my character Jordan Hudson, I grew up on Mercer Island, Washington, I went to North Mercer Junior High, and I waited for the school bus at a little clearing surrounded by a dense curtain of fog. My memories of that time and place inspired this tale, but just to be clear, all the characters in the story are made up. I never had a brother; my father is not the rat-bastard depicted here (sorry, Dad!); and if you happen to know a gorgeous woman named Traci who went to North Mercer in the late 70s, I never made out with her, much as I would have liked to.

Oddly enough, the key to getting this story to come together was the title. I outlined the whole piece and started writing, even though I feared the story was too episodic and missing something at the end to give the reader a sense of resolution. Also, I didn’t have a title.

Looking for something to seize on for a title, I researched fog and stumbled across this passage from T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” which I had read years ago and long since forgotten:

Unreal City,

Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,

I had not thought death had undone so many.

I proceeded to rip off T.S. Eliot shamelessly. The opening line of my seven-tips-to-enjoy-your-timestory is paraphrased from this passage, there are several other allusions to “The Waste Land,” and most importantly, Eliot gave me the idea that the unreal forest was a place the dead might reappear. I added that near the end, hoping it would create the feeling of resolution the story had been lacking.

Continuing to lean on Eliot, I made my working title “The Unreal Forest.” But somehow I wasn’t satisfied with that. I started thinking about how to embellish it, and hit upon the idea of adding to the title the concept of “tips,” pointers that the narrator is giving to someone else who encounters a similar “unreal” location. I liked the title better with that addition, and it prompted me to divide the story into seven specific tips, hopefully turning the episodic nature of the narrative into a strength. I’d love to hear what people think!

--Van Aaron Hughes

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Big Al Shepard Plays Baseball on the Moon—Jamie Todd Rubin

There comes a point in your life when you realize that you will never play baseball in the majors. I’m not talking about in high school, or big-al-shepardeven college. I’m talking about when you turn 40 and watch a game on TV with your 4-year old and think, “He still has a shot one day, if he wanted to play, but me, not in this lifetime.” You are resigned to watching the game, wishing you could play, but aware that your decades of baseball knowledge, to say nothing of your curveball, will go untapped by the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, or let's face it, even the Royals or Astros.

There comes a point in your life when you realize that chances are pretty good you won’t ever make it to the moon. In my twenties I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. I got as far as earning my private pilot’s license. In the course of educating myself on what it took to be an astronaut, I learned that most of the astronauts NASA selects into its program are over-achievers, even by the standards of mainstream over-achievers. It wouldn’t do to have just a pilot’s license. You also needed 3,000 hours in 20 different types of aircraft. Having a Ph.D in some physical science might improve your chances a little. Two Ph.Ds and a medical degree and now you might be in the running. Throw in competitive rock climbing and HILO parachuting, and you’re probably a shoe-in.

All I had was a pilot’s license.

But the great thing about being a writer, and specifically, a science fiction writer, is that age and decrepitude are inconsequential. My characters can be young. My characters can be experts in their field. They can play baseball, and they can fly to the moon.

It isn’t often that a writer gets to write a pure wish fulfillment story big-al-shepardand see it published. For me, telling a good story is my most important job, and that sometimes means setting aside what I wish would happen, and allowing the narrative to unfold in such a way as to make the best possible story. In the case of “Big Al Shepard” I tried my best to tell a good story, and it turned out to also allow me to play for the Red Sox and fly to the moon.

I spent much of 1998 reading all I could about the Apollo moon missions, and marveling at the fact that men walked on the moon before I was born. (Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt, the last two men to walk on the moon, did so when I was 9 months old.) At the same time, I’m a lifelong baseball fan, and thinking about how Alan Shepard swung a golf club on the moon got me thinking about an alternate history in which he might swing a baseball bat instead. A title popped into my head, “Big Al Shepard Plays Baseball on the Moon” and I imagined it as a headline on the New York Times or Washington Post. That was all I had. I sat down to write, and the story emerged mostly as you see it.

I’d never written an alternate history before, and I had more fun writing this story than I’ve had on any previous story. It was wonderful creating an alternate timeline where Apollo 1 doesn’t end in disaster. I wanted one of the original Mercury astronauts to be first on the moon--something that Deke Slayton, in his role as director of crew operations, really wanted as well.

The baseball angle was just as much fun to write. Although I’ve made baseball references in my stories before, I’d never written a scene that involved any sort of sports drama. Writing the scene where Big Al Shepard is attempting to break Joe DiMaggio’s record was some of the most fun I’ve had as a writer. It also took me out of my comfort zone. As a lifelong New York Yankees fan, could I write credibly and positively about the Boston Red Sox? Or New York Mets?

This story was different in one other way. Usually, I have an idea, a “what if,” as well a good idea of how the story will end. Then I just write. In “Big Al Shepard” I had the idea, “What if, in an alternate history, Al Shepard was a major league baseball player before he landed on the moon?” But I had no idea of how it would end. Discovering that ending  was a big part of the fun I had with this story.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to my friend, and trusted beta-reader, Ken Liu. Ken read this story in an earlier draft, and identified things that helped make it into a much better story.

-- Jamie Todd Rubin

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Light Crusader’s Dark Dessert, by James Beamon

The idea for "Light Crusader" came to me in Afghanistan.  I was in Helmand Province, where landscapes range from rugged mountain streams to sparse, flat desert.  It was both desolate and beautiful.  Nothing new existed; the entire populace seemed to be experts in the art of gerry-rigging, giving the place a reassembled, post-apocalyptic feel. 
I wanted to bring this feel back to the States, so instead of a light-crusaders-dark-dessertconvergence of cultures on the other end of the world we have a convergence of gods at the end of the world.  All I needed was a spot to stage the story when I ran across the Dismal River on Google maps, with the small town of Tryon sitting twenty some odd miles down.  Yep, all the places in the story exist today in some form; since I've never been to Tryon in person it'd be nice to know how close (or far) I came to depicting it here.
Research and inspiration aside, what I like most about "Light Crusader" is the world as a host for all doomsdays.  We tend to imagine the end of the world as an instantaneous, nuclear flash bang or a two minute infectious bite frenzy.  I like the end of the world on the timetable of the gods, beings unconcerned with age or years or fitting all the action into a single movie scene.  Life still goes on for a humanity forced on an immortal schedule, forced to deal with a multitude of pantheons the world over and their competing notions of what the end is.  Like the province of Demeter, it feels like fertile soil for my imagination.

--James Beamon

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Heading Into Convention Season

Starting 2014 with a flurry of activity, I've got conventions on back to back weekends. This coming weekend I'll be at IllogiCon, along with GOH's Mary Robinette Kowal and Lawrence Schoen, plus other luminaries such as James Maxey, Misty Massey, Ada Brown, Gail Martin, Mark Van name, John Kessel, and Gray Rinehart.

IllogiCon is held Jan. 10 - 12, though I won't be there on Sunday because of another commitment. It's at the Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle, which is actually in Cary, NC (just a smidge south of Raleigh).

The following weekend I'll be at MarsCon, which is at the Fort Magruder Hotel and Conference Center in Williamsburg, VA, Jan. 17 - 19. I will be at the whole con, no conflicts. Guests at MarsCon include YA GOH Carrie Ryan, who got me invited in the first place (it's important to know who to blame for these things), as well as Princess Alethea Kontis, Mike Pederson (who helps run RavenCon in Richmond in April), and a whole slew of people whom I've never met before. This is my first time at MarsCon, so I'm looking forward to meeting lots of new people.

Actually, it's also my first time at IllogiCon, but that one is close to where I live and I already know a lot of those folks... which is a whole other reason to look forward to going.

Hope to see you there. Or the other there. Or both. (I'm flexible.)