OSC InterGalactic Medicine Show #25, Oct./Nov. 2011

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Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show #25, Oct./Nov. 2011

“Under the Surface” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
“Nanoparticle Jive” by Tomas Martin
“Walks Before Greatness” by Kate Marshall
“Counterclockwise” by Alethea Kontis
“Whiteface – Part II” by Jared Oliver Adams

Reviewed by Jo-Anne Odell

 The partial novelette, “Whiteface – Part II” by Jared Oliver Adams isn’t reviewed. 

In “Under the Surface” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Edona and her family have returned to their beach house for the summer.  She pines for Gavin, a neighbor boy back home, but his family isn’t fond of hers.  Coincidentally, Gavin and his parents show up, just as a tsumani strikes.  Edona’s father whisks his family into the car, to flee.  Edona isn’t worried for herself.  Water is her element, and she can control it.  She is concerned for Gavin.  With her brother’s help, she heads back to the ocean, to do what only she can.
This tale contains the germ of an interesting idea, but the execution is loose and awkward.

“Nanoparticle Jive” by Tomas Martin tells us of Brendan, a university student, and aspiring DJ.  He lives in a social media world, where popularity is measured and scored.  He’s also desperate, lacking the money to stay in school, the marks for a scholarship, and the social rep to gain corporate funding.  He meets Rachel, the girl of his dreams, at the same time as his music provides a breakthrough in his physics research.  Brendan soon discovers that Rachel’s whole life revolves around keeping her popularity up.  He has to decide whether that is what is important to him.

This tale’s strength is its commentary on the reach of social media, but I found it a tough read.  It cuts through a wide swath of intriguing subjects, but barely touches most of them. 
In “Walks Before Greatness” by Kate Marshall, Tanith is sure that her twin sister, Ainara, is born for greatness.  Ainara finds Marlis trapped in the forest, and asks Tanith to sing him free.  Tanith does.  It starts a chain that leads to both of them falling for Marlis.  Ainara makes a dreadful choice, forcing Tanith to make another. 

The essence of this story is supposedly the relationship between the sisters, but to me, they’re distant and disconnected.  In a tale that is supposed to be about emotion, no one exhibits any.

Edie has an unusual relationship in “Counterclockwise” by Alethea Kontis.  In her world, Britain has split into three universes.  They come together once a year.  When Edie meets Edward, it’s the first time for her, and the last for him.  He’s from another universe, going through life in the opposite direction.  They meet again, and again.  When he reveals that they may be trapped, forever recycling the same story, Edie makes a fateful decision.

There are aspects of the story I enjoyed, but this series of vignettes barely skates the surface of a good idea.  The plot hinges on the strength of Edie and Edward’s relationship, but there’s no formative event to create one.  They remain ships passing in the night. 

When I first reviewed IGMS in 2010, I thought it was a standout.  In an industry that had gone milquetoast, it provided compelling characters and strong, interesting plots.  Now, it looks like most of its competition.  This isn’t a strong issue.