ecbatan (ecbatan) wrote,

Summary: Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, 2007

Summary: Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, 2007

This is another online publication that is trying to survive with a for-pay model. The presence of a big name in the title has to be seen as a selling point, especially as Card regularly contributes new fiction to the site -- the stories I have seen from him have been set in either his Enderverse or his Alvin Maker alternate history, and they have been decent but not brilliant work. The editor is Edmund R. Schubert.

The three issues I saw included 29 stories, almost 160,000 words of fiction, plus part one of a story to be completed in 2008 (so I will consider it there). There were 9 novelettes, and 20 short stories, with four of the latter short-shorts. Six of the shorter stories, including all the short-shorts, were nasty little horror pieces by David Lubar, some of which were amusing, some of which missed the mark. Besides the fiction, the site is stuffed with features, including movie reviews, essays, interviews, and book reviews.

The best of the novelettes was Peter S. Beagle's "We Never Talk About My Brother" (July), about two brothers, significantly named Jacob and Esau. Esau has a sinister power to change the near past, and he uses it in increasingly unpleasant ways -- until Jacob's own power is revealed. Another outstanding story by a great writer who has been very prolific recently, with very good results. Other nice work came from Brad Beaulieu, Jamie Todd Rubin, Jason Sanford, and Eugie Foster. Also, Orson Scott Card's two novelettes were both solid work.

My favorite short story was by Tammy Brown, "Original Audrey" (July), a sweet story about an Elvis Presley clone and an Audrey Hepburn clone meeting. Other strong stories came from Peter Friend, Cherith Baldry, and Cat Rambo -- and, again, one of Card's stories was short story length, and it too was enjoyable.

I think the overall quality is improving -- most of the stories this year were pretty sound. There is a strong emphasis on newer writers, and I would say that the general aeshetic is much in line with what I perceive to be Card's tastes (based on his fiction). The main improvement to be hoped for is at the top end -- more stories that really stand out.

12 of the 29 stories, by my count, were SF, and that is counting all the David Lubar stories as not-SF -- so 12 of 23, or over 50%, of the "regular" stories (counting Card's) were SF.

7 of 29 authors were women, 24%. (In 2006, only 1 of 19 stories, just over 5%, was by a woman.)


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