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Galaxy's Edge Magazine

Orson Scott Card

  ISSUE 30: January 2018

  Mike Resnick, Editor

  Taylor Morris, Copyeditor

  Shahid Mahmud, Publisher

  Published by Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick

  P.O. Box 10339

  Rockville, MD 20849-0339

  Galaxy’s Edge is published in January, March, May, July, September, and November.

  Galaxy’s Edge is an invitation-only magazine. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Unsolicited manuscripts will be disposed of or mailed back to the sender (unopened) at our discretion.

  All material is either copyright © 2017 by Arc Manor LLC, Rockville, MD, or copyright © by the respective authors as indicated within the magazine. All rights reserved.

  This magazine (or any portion of it) may not be copied or reproduced, in whole or in part, by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

  ISBN: 978-1-61242-400-2


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  Advertising is available in all editions of the magazine. Please contact [email protected].


  Please refer all inquiries pertaining to foreign language rights to Shahid Mahmud, Arc Manor, P.O. Box 10339, Rockville, MD 20849-0339. Tel: 1-240-645-2214. Fax 1-310-388-8440. Email [email protected].


  The Editor’s Word by Mike Resnick

  Of Love and Olives by Nick DiChario

  Kite Dancer by Laurie Tom

  Graves by Joe Haldeman

  See a Penny… by David Afsharirad

  Frozen Moments, Stolen Out of Time by George Nikolopoulos

  The Bitey Cat by Kij Johnson

  After the Story Ends by M. E. Garber

  An Unfamiliar Face by David VonAllmen

  A Tail of Two SKittys by Mercedes Lackey

  The Godhead Grimoire by Sean Patrick Hazlett

  A Song for Charon by Eric Leif Davin

  Carousel by Orson Scott Card

  Recommended Books by Bill Fawcett & Jody Lynn Nye

  A Scientist’s Notebook: Humanity as Cancer by Gregory Benford

  Decoherence: 1968 by Robert J. Sawyer

  The Galaxy’s Edge Interview: Joy Ward Interviews Lois McMaster Bujold

  Serialization: Daughter of Elysium by Joan Slonczewski (Part 4)


  by Mike Resnick

  Welcome to the thirtieth issue of Galaxy’s Edge, which is about twenty-seven issues longer than most people expected us to last when we began five full years ago. This issue features some old friends: Mercedes Lackey, Kij Johnson, Orson Scott Card, and Joe Haldeman, new and newer writers Laurie Tom, Nick DiChario, Eric Leif Davin, Sean Patrick Hazlett, David Afsharirad, M. E. Garber, George Nikolopoulos, and David VonAllmen. And of course we’re got our regulars: Recommended Books by Bill Fawcett and Jody Lynn Nye, science by Gregory Benford, and literary matters by Robert J. Sawyer. We’re presenting the fourth segment of Joan Slonczewski’s serialized novel, Daughter of Elysium. And this issue’s Joy Ward Interview features six-time Hugo winner and former Worldcon Guest of Honor Lois McMaster Bujold.

  As fifth anniversary issues go, we think it’s a nice one!

  * * *

  There was a time when science fiction—its fandom, its conventions, its literature—was almost exclusively an English-language sport. Oh, there were a few old exceptions, such as Jules Verne, and a few recent ones, like Stanisław, but the huge majority of it was by and for those who spoke and read English.

  In fact, of the first sixty-four Worldcons, Heidelberg was the only one not held in an English-speaking country. As you can tell from recent Worldcons and forthcoming bids, things are changing.

  There was a time when, if you won the Hugo and a couple of other awards, you’d covered the field. Not so any longer. Just speaking of my own experiences—and I’m no Heinlein or Asimov—I’ve won awards in France, Spain, Japan, Poland, Croatia, Catalonia, and most recently China, awards that weren’t even a gleam in the eye of the presenting organizations back when I got into the field. And this isn’t a disguised brag. I’m sure there are a number of established science fiction writers who have won awards in even more countries and languages.

  These countries have also joined the worldwide fandom scene, which is to say their conventions aren’t insular. I’ve been a guest at conventions in France, China, Slovakia, and I’ll be a guest at CatCon in Spain’s Catalonia five days from when I write this and more than a month before you read it. And again, I know for a fact that a number of writers in the field have been invited abroad as convention guests in many more countries than I have.

  Even little old Galaxy’s Edge has gotten into the game, buying stories from France, China, Greece, and elsewhere.

  Since science fiction is inextricably tied to the term “extrapolate”, what can we extrapolate from all this?

  That science fiction has broken through the language barrier, and now appeals to writers and readers of every language.

  That science fiction fandom is truly a worldwide phenomenon.

  That conventions will continue to import and introduce writers from other countries to their attendees.

  That awards will go to the best stories and novels, and not just the best stories and novels in a particular language.

  In sum and in brief, the future that science fiction aficionados have always predicted and hoped for has arrived.

  Nick DiChario is a Hugo, World Fantasy, and John W. Campbell Memorial award nominee. His fifth appearance in Galaxy’s Edge is another in his series of modern Italian folktales.


  by Nick DiChario

  Once upon a time there was a young woman named Elizabeta who lived with her husband on an olive farm in il Villaggio di Ombre. One day she walked to the seashore for her usual morning swim, and as she curled her toes into the sand and squinted at the sunrise, she noticed a huge block of ice the size of a fishing boat washed ashore. Com’è strano! she thought. How strange!

  Elizabeta walked over to investigate and peered through the ice. She was sure she saw a man frozen deep inside. She ran to tell her husband Crispo about it. He went to the barn to get his tractor, and they drove together down to the shore. Crispo wrapped a big hook and chain around the ice so that he could haul it back to the frantoio, the mill where they pressed olives into oil, and there he left the block outside the building to melt in the summer sun.

  Elizabeta’s discovery fascinated her. She was curious to find out if there was truly a man frozen inside the ice, or if it was an optical illusion. She wouldn’t know for sure until the next day when the ice block melted enough for her to get a better look inside.

  “It’s a man, all right,” she said to Crispo. “I think he’s a soldier. That might be a uniform he’s wearing.”

  Crispo gazed through the kaleidoscope of ice. “You could be right. It looks a lot like an Italian World War I uniform. See the coat? And the boots? Just like the outfit my great-grandfather is wearing in the old picture on the fireplace.”

  Elizabeta ran into the house, snatched the photo from the mantle, and brought it outside to compare. “Yes, look, it’s the same uniform! But how did a soldier from World War I get frozen inside a block of ice and end up in the sea? On our shore, no less?”

  Crispo shrugged. It was common for strange things
to happen in il Villaggio di Ombre, and he rarely questioned them as he hadn’t been born with the same natural wonder of the world that Elizabeta had. “I have no idea, but we should call someone. An official from the government, or maybe the police. The military will want to know, of course.”

  “No, not yet,” Elizabeta said. “The authorities will just take him away. Don’t you want to know who he is first? Let’s allow the ice to melt all the way, then we can search his clothing.”

  The couple stared at one another, wide-eyed as frogs, with the block of ice between them. Elizabeta was a tall, straight woman with severe features, quick, hawk-like eyes, and wooly hair. She’d had suitors when she was younger, all of whom had lost interest in her when they’d found lovelier, more cheerful girls with a greater eagerness to please and be pleased. Crispo was handsome in his own way, with a square, rugged face hidden under a mop of black hair and a messy beard, but he’d never bothered to pursue a suitable match on his own. He was unnatural in social situations and preferred talking to olives more than women.

  They never argued, this man and wife, not even when they disagreed. They’d been together for three years, an arranged marriage to which neither had objected (although each secretly believed they’d settled). While it was true they longed for children, and children had not come, the olives and the land seemed enough for them for the time being.

  Crispo removed his cap, scratched his beard, and dabbed his sweaty brow with the tattered handkerchief he kept in the pocket of his overalls. “I suppose there’s no harm in waiting for the ice to melt. But then we’ll call someone—an official from the government or the army. We are in agreement on this, sì?”

  * * *

  Is this folktale a romance story? It’s hard to say. Neither Elizabeta nor Crispo experienced the joy most newlyweds shared when they first came together as one. In truth, Elizabeta wanted a man capable of releasing her inner desires, her passione, while Crispo longed for a woman who could free him from his awkward bashfulness. But they could not help each other. They were intimate strangers. One day they were neighbors of passing acquaintance living on their estates—two of the largest olive farms in the village—and the next day they were married, sharing a villetta overlooking the blue-green waters of the sea, and expected to solve an age-old problem that had plagued both houses for generations.

  Elizabeta’s family olives were of exquisite flavor, but the farm’s yield was low. Crispo’s family olives practically fell from the trees in hampers but, alas, they tasted no better than average. The parents of both families hoped that once the children wed, the olives would start sharing their secrets across the terraces, and both families would prosper.

  Nevertheless, while the ice block continued to thaw, Elizabeta had little interest in the secrets of the olives, the operations of the mill, or the details of the farm. She could not concentrate on any of her chores. She checked the progress of the melting ice at every opportunity, gazing with fascination at the mysterious figure trapped within, wondering who he was and where he’d come from. Crispo, on the other hand, would only shrug, carry on with his farm work, and wonder what had so mesmerized his wife.

  Then, on the third day, with Crispo out in the fields and Elizabeta watching the ice drip and drizzle away in the sweetness of an early morning summer haze, the soldier suddenly rolled over and sat up, cracking the layer of ice that remained around him. He shook his head and sent a cloud of frost flying in the air, looked at himself, and then straight into Elizabeta’s eyes, and said, “Where am I?”

  Elizabeta almost fainted from shock, but she regained her composure and told the man what little she knew: that he’d washed ashore frozen in a block of ice, and the ice was so thick it took three days to melt, and he might have been frozen for more than a hundred years. “And here you are, alive and well. I can’t believe it.”

  “I’m cold,” he said. “And starving.”

  “Of course you are! I’m not thinking. Let me help you.”

  She led the man inside and showed him how to work the hot shower. He was much taller than Crispo, so she borrowed some dry clothing from one of the field hands for him to wear. She started a fire and sent a worker out to the groves to fetch her husband. The soldier sat wrapped in a blanket in front of the fireplace with a giant plate of cheese, olives, bread, and soppressata, which he devoured like a wolf, with water and wine to wash it all down.

  When Crispo arrived, he could not believe his eyes. How was it possible that the soldier was alive? Even he had to agree it was a miracle. They asked the soldier his name, but the young man couldn’t remember, and Elizabeta found no identification in his clothing. He was just a boy, really. He looked to be no more than eighteen or nineteen years old. He was gaunt, but seemed healthy, other than the starving and shivering. They asked him how he ended up frozen in ice, but he had no idea.

  Elizabeta sat beside him and grasped his hands. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

  The boy shrugged. “I was fighting the Austrians in the mountains. It was the dead of winter. We were all freezing. It was impossible to stay warm. No one had a pair of gloves or boots without holes. Snow had piled high all around the trenches. There was almost no fighting because it was too hard to move in the snow. But one of our generals came to the front and demanded an offensive against the enemy’s position. Imbecille. We all knew it was a death march.”

  “Do you remember the general’s name?” Elizabeta asked.

  He shook his head. “No. I don’t recall any names at all. Isn’t that odd? But I remember the captains asking for volunteers to go on a night raid. No one was willing because we all knew we’d be killed, so they had to order some of us to do it.”

  “How horrible,” Elizabeta said.

  “That’s the way it was in the war,” he replied, sounding much older than he looked. “The generals sat at their desks and sent men out to die. One side would order their men to charge, and the other side would mow them down. Then the other side would return the favor. Back and forth. There was no point to any of it. Just to kill and die.”

  Elizabeta trembled. “What happened next?”

  Crispo had remained standing, hoping the conversation would end so he could resume his work among the olive trees, but now that it seemed as if the talk would go on, he perched on the arm of the sofa and sighed under his breath.

  The boy pressed his lips together and closed his eyes in concentration. “All right. Yes. It’s coming back to me. We wrote goodbye letters to our families in case we didn’t return from the mission. We put on our packs and snow shoes, grabbed our rifles, and walked out into the night. It was hard going. We could hear the snow and ice cracking under our feet. I remember it was pitch black. Not even a sliver of light from the moon to guide us. The cold filled my lungs with every breath. The Austrians must have heard us as we drew near. A flare went up, and there we were, all of us exposed, standing no more than a dozen paces in front of the Austrians’ trenches like targets waiting to be shot down. Some of us hit the ground, a few tried to turn back, most never got a chance to decide. I was on the flank and ran to escape the circle of light. My heart was pounding. I was sure I was going to die.”

  “What a nightmare!” Elizabeta cried.

  The soldier opened his eyes, knitted his brow, and spoke gravely. “War is a nightmare.”

  “And then?” she urged him on.

  He searched his memory for more details, pulled apart another piece of bread, and dipped it into the olive oil. “I ran. And then there was no snow or ground under my feet. Just like that, I fell and kept falling. I must have let go of my gun. I remember trying to grab hold of something, but it was too dark to see, and there was nothing to hold but air. The cold wind whistled in my ears. I have no memory of what happened after that. I might have fallen into a crevice, but we were very high up in the mountains, and I think I would have died if that had happened. More likely I fell from one
cliff to another.”

  Elizabeta nodded. “Sì, sì. And the snow was so deep, you must have sunk like a stone. You could have fallen unconscious and then frozen. As the winter wore on, you became encased in ice. Maybe you lost your identification in the fall. How you lived and ended up in the sea, and then on our shore, is a mystery.”

  The boy took a long drink from his glass and nodded. “This is the best wine I’ve ever tasted. The wine on the front was horrible, what little of it we got.”

  Crispo stood, sensing an opening. “Well, now that you’re here, it’s clear we must contact the authorities. I’m certain the military will be able to identify you. And the world will want to know all about you. You’ll become a sensazione internazionale.”

  Elizabeta could tell by the boy’s expression that he was wary of becoming an international sensation. She didn’t like to challenge her husband, but she was not afraid to when she thought it was necessary. “He’s barely had time to wake up,” she said. “Can’t we put some weight on him before we call the authorities? Let him regain his strength and get used to the idea of living in the modern world? In a little time, he might even remember who he is and where he came from.”

  Crispo didn’t like to say no to his wife. He much preferred to maintain peace in the household. “Is that what you want?” Crispo asked the soldier, trying to conceal his irritation.

  The boy studied his hands as if they held an answer. “It’s crazy, isn’t it? It doesn’t seem possible so much time has passed. Yes, if you would be so kind as to let me stay here for a while, I think that would make me happy. Who won the war?”

  * * *

  It didn’t seem right to Elizabeta that the soldier had no name, or at least not one that he could remember, so she called him Emilio after her brother who’d died in her mother’s womb. She cooked grand meals as she’d never done before, doted over him during the day, and kept him company in the evenings as he sat wrapped in a blanket beside the fire. Each day Emilio gained strength, but he could not rid himself of the chill in his bones, as if he’d thawed on the outside, but the ice was still holding him together on the inside. Each day his eyes glowed with frost, a reflection of the cold sealed deep inside him.