Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show is actually an online magazine for writers of science fiction and fantasy. This book is a compilation of short stories that have been published in the magazine.
Is it any good? Well… there are four stories in the book written by Card, one of which I’d already read in Ender in Exile (“A Young Man with Prospects”), one about Mazer Rackham, one about Ender’s Battle School classmate Han Tzu, and one about Bonzo Madrid, a bully who picks on Ender when he first gets to Battle School.
Card’s stories were interesting and insightful additions to the Ender canon; well-written, in-depth looks at the back stories of three minor characters with stories of their own to be told.
The rest of the stories, however, didn’t fare so well. I should have listened to the friend who lent me this book, who suggested that I only read Card’s stories.
Some of them had interesting premises, such as “Tabloid Reporter to the Stars,” about a reporter who is on a spaceship that establishes first contact with an alien race who worship an interesting god, and “Audience,” about a man who becomes famous in a world full of talented people because he’s the only one average enough to be an audience to those talents.
But the writing — oh, the writing. It was like reading an entire volume of fanfic. I am not using that term in a positive way. The writing was clunky, pretentious, and amateurish. These stories embody the kind of sci-fi and fantasy writing that makes people think that these genres are hopelessly geeky.
It doesn’t help that the authors are allowed to explain how the story came to be in a little section after each story. These explanations are chock-full of smug self-importance. “I am an imaginative person, so I was just thinking… what if we lived in a world where A was like B, and everyone did C instead of D?” Meeeeeeeeh.
If you ever get your hands on this book, skip to the stories that Card wrote. If you’d like the other stories, you’re probably submitting your own fanfic to the InterGalactic Medicine Show already, anyway.