US professional downloadable Online Magazine (hereinafter referred to as OSCIM) published by Orson Scott Card's Hatrack River Enterprises; Card also worked as editor on the first two issues, October 2005-March 2006, with Edmund R Schubert as editor since October 2006. Originally twice a year, it became quarterly in 2008 and bimonthly from March 2009, a schedule it has kept except for a brief hiatus between January and June 2010 when the editor and publisher needed to take stock, pause and then revamp the magazine and website. In addition to each issue, there are weekly columns and reviews on books, movies, video games and writing advice, and Darrell Schweitzer provides regular author interviews. The website also has a link to the editor's blog where he discusses stories with the contributors.
Card is known for his frequently controversial fiction, particularly on themes of religious faith and sacrifice, but whilst there are some controversial stories in OSCIM, it is clear that the majority of contributors have not set out to shock but to entertain, and to entertain with challenging ideas and storytelling techniques, not all of which work, but most of which are refreshing and rewarding. Card has, not surprisingly, contributed extensively, including new stories in both the Ender and Alvin Maker series and some independent stories – a few of which stand out for their use of religious motifs, notably "Wise Men" (December 2010/January 2010 #20) which reworks the story of the birth of Christ from the angle of Alien control. But Card's work does not dominate the magazine. If anything, the tone for the magazine – where the contents are pretty much evenly distributed along the sf/fantasy spectrum – has been set by the work of two other writers. Card has been fortunate in publishing a number of stories by Peter S Beagle, some of which are sf, such as "Trinity County, CA" (August/September 2010 #18) which depicts an alternate California where there is a need to get dragons under control. Of particular interest are the stories by Eric James Stone, whose contributions have helped cement his reputation as one of the most interesting new writers of the decade: examples include his fantasy of temptation "Salt of Judas" (March 2006 #2) and the ingenious melding of science and magic in "The Robot Sorcerer" (December 2008 #10).
There are stories of Military SF, such as "Night of the Falling Stars" (October 2007 #6) by Steven Savile or "From the Clay of his Heart" (April 2008 #8) by John Brown, the latter using the Golem legend to retell the story of conflict in the Balkans from a historical perspective. There are stories of redemption and the testing of faith, notably in "In the Beginning, Nothing Lasts" (October 2007 #6) by Mike Strahan, a provocative story of how the chance of being reborn and living a life in reverse (see Time in Reverse) affects the parents of a child that had died aged three. And there are stories of extreme societies, such as "A Rarefied View of Dawn" (October 2005 #1) by Dave Wolverton, which challenges homophobia head on. But there are also tales, only some of them fantasy, which are simply off-the-wall – such as Tim Pratt's "Dream Engine" (October 2006 #3) with its Shapeshifter criminal trying to seek redemption while serving a kleptocratic government, and Margit Elland Schmitt's "Uncle Janey's Garden" (July 2007 #5), a children's fantasy of extreme horror. Through OSCIM, Card is able to use his name to help promote good storytelling and innovative writing. An anthology of stories from the first four issues is Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show (anth 2008) edited by Edmund R Schubert and Orson Scott Card. The InterGalactic Awards Anthology Volume I (anth 2011), also edited by Card and Schubert, with an introduction by Peter S Beagle, collects together the winners of the annual InterGalactic Awards in addition to other stories from the magazine's first 20 issues. [MA]
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