January 9th, 2010

Summary: Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, 2009

Summary: Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, 2009

Intergalactic Medicine Show is almost five years old now. This year five issues appeared, though shorter ones than in the past. It remains a steady source of interesting fiction, a mix of SF and Fantasy and Horror, though on balance I would say 2009 was weaker than the past couple of years. The editor is Edmund R. Schubert.

The five issues included 28 stories, 175,000 words of fiction. (One story was a completion of a 2008 piece.) There were 1 novella, 6 novelettes, and 21 short stories, with four of the latter short-shorts (all of them David Lubar's little horror pieces). Besides the fiction, the site is stuffed with features, including movie reviews, essays, interviews, and book reviews.

The novella was "Hologram Bride" by Jackie Gamber (in two parts, May and July), enjoyable enough work, about a woman sent from ruined Earth to another planet to be a bride, only not much liking the arrangement. The best of the novelettes again came from Peter S. Beagle. "Vanishing" (March) tells of an old man, suddenly snatched away to a mysterious reenactment of his time as an American soldier monitoring the Berlin Wall, particularly his witness of a woman trying to escape East Berlin who is shot down by the Russian guards. The story moving examines the effect of these events on the old man, on a younger man with a very personal connection to the escapee, and on the Russian guard who was forced to shoot the woman. Other decent novelettes were by Tim Pratt, Geoffrey R. Cole, and Mary Robinette Kowal.

Good short stories include Saladin Ahmed's "Judgement of Swords and Souls" (September), about a young woman trying to become a dervish, but frustrated by political machinations in her lodge; Rebecca Day's "The Urn of Ravalos" (March), about a failed mage forced to confront again his Talent and also his inability to work with it; and Ian Creasey's "The Report of a Doubtful Creature" (November), in which Charles Darwin is asked to examine what seems to be a fairy. Also, I enjoyed stories by Eric James Stone, Eugie Foster, and Matthew S. Rotundo.

By my count 17 of 28 stories were SF, 61%, more than in 2008. And 7 of the stories, 25%, were by women, less than in 2008.