Tangent Online

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

InterGalactic Medicine Show #64, August/September 2018

E-mail Print

InterGalactic Medicine Show #64, August/September 2018

"The God Down the River" by J. P. Sullivan

"Hard Times in Nuovo Genova, or How I Lost My Way" by Chris Barnham
"The Preventable Future of Peter Jones" by Joshua Ogden
"Selections from the Wolfmonth Catalog of the Fairyland Regional Fürni Store" by Josh Pearce
"Bar Scenes with Time and Entropy" by Laura Pearlman

Reviewed by Kat Day

This issue of Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show contains a collection of stories with a loose time-travelling theme, whether that be moving through time in the coming-of-age sense, actually hopping between time (or alternative realities), or simply imagining one's own future.

"The God Down the River," by J. P. Sullivan, tells the story of a young boy living in a town that has a real (evil) God as a neighbor. A stranger arrives on the river barge who ends up staying with our protagonist, and everything changes. This is a fun coming-of-age story with strong characters and a spooky train. Come on, who doesn't love an evil God and a spooky train? A spooky train with an eyeless conductor, no less! Did I mention the mysterious journal and the gun-toting priests? All aboard!

"Hard Times in Nuovo Genova, or How I Lost My Way," by Chris Barnham, features a character who used to travel between alternative realities with his girlfriend Sian, and now spends his days hanging around coffee shops trying to spot other, similar travelers. It's an entertaining vignette, although I couldn't help feeling I'd rather have heard Sian's story. What happens when the person who came along on the dimension-hopping ride gets left behind? Turns out they end up drinking a lot of coffee and stalking strangers.

In "The Preventable Future of Peter Jones," by Joshua Ogden, Peter Jones walks around dreaming about his life, what he wants from it, and how it's all inevitably destined to go horribly wrong. It's terribly noir. Whether you enjoy this will probably depend on whether you can empathize with Jones. Personally, I felt he was in dire need of someone to clap him on the back with a "cheer up, mate, it might never happen," and take him down to the pub for a pint. But that would have spoiled the prose somewhat.

"Selections from the Wolfmonth Catalog of the Fairyland Regional Fürni Store," by Josh Pearce, features… selections from the Wolfmonth Catalogue. That's not especially helpful, is it? This isn't a traditional story in any sense. There's no protagonist as such, although after a while the descriptions of the weird and wonderful catalogue items become less generic and the catalogue seems to start talking to the reader. By the end a sort of story structure has developed. Some of the items have clear references to familiar story elements (the Högplatå, for example, is an obvious nod to the stone table in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) whereas others are less recognizable, at least to begin with. In the story notes, Pearce says he was inspired by the "little vignettes of completely furnished apartments where one can see demonstrations of clever space-saving tips" in certain DIY furniture stores. Ikea. It's Ikea. For some reason, no one wants to use the word Ikea, even though it's very, very obviously about Ikea. Anyway, this is definitely a unique piece of fiction, which will probably leave you craving meatballs.

In "Bar Scenes with Time and Entropy," by Laura Pearlman, the titular characters, a time elemental and an entropy elemental, walk in and out of a bar at different points in time. All the pieces of the story are out of sequence because, hey, they're a time elemental and an entropy elemental. Information is gradually revealed and we're left to put the pieces together. At the end there's a reference to a name which was mentioned in passing earlier on, which sort of explains what's happened. It might be a brilliant piece of storytelling, or it might just be really confusing. Either way, a couple of double espressos will probably help. Apparently there's a really good place in Nuovo Genova…

Kat Day makes children handle fire and dangerous chemicals for living (it’s okay, she’s a chemistry teacher). When not doing that, she spends her time writing and trying to wrangle her own two children into line (without fire or dangerous chemicals, because that would be frowned upon). She has had a short story published in Daily Science Fiction, another in the anthology “24 Stories,” and one upcoming on the Cast of Wonders podcast. You can follow her on Twitter @chronicleflask.