Simone Heller

astray in worlds and words.

Tag: space

Life Beyond Us anthology

There are only few days left to crowdfund the Life Beyond Us anthology, organized by the European Astrobiology Institute and Canadian publisher Laksa Media. The anthology will not only feature 22 original science fiction stories, but also accompanying essays by scientists matched to them. And I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to contributing one of these stories and having the support of a scientist for research!

I’m already working on the concepts and themes of my story and can’t wait to start writing it. It’s still just blurry shapes in the mist (maybe quite literally!), but it might have an alien point of view character (surprise), show alienation by meeting humans, and debate our sense of curiosity and our interest in meeting others vs. the cost of our meddling. So let’s see how much of this will survive my awful writing process …

The Kickstarter updates are full of additional resources, including short interviews with many of the contributors. You can find mine here! Editor & organizer Julie Novakova did stellar work to prepare the campaign.

The icing on the cake, though, would be reaching the stretch goals. The anthology is already international, but the first stretch goals would unlock translated stories, with contributions from Lisa Jenny Krieg, Liu Yang, Jana Bianchi, and Renan Bernardo. I’d love to see all of these translated, because we need more sf in translation, and because from what I know we don’t want to miss these stories. I greatly enjoyed Jana Bianchi’s “Death is for Those Who Die” in Clarkesworld and want more, and I already love the not-yet-expanded version of “Ranya’s Crash” by Lisa Jenny Krieg (if you read German, you can find it here as “Ranya stürzt ab”). If there’s even further funding, there will be open slots for submitting stories to the anthology!
Life Beyond Us cover
So, if you’re interested in strange forms of life, exploring other planets (or a fresh angle on our own), AND the science behind it all, this might be a project for you! And whether you choose to back it, spread the word, or are simply excited about this book — thank you!

Sunday Story Time: The Secret Life of Bots

With the Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer, I came for the title and had my eyes glued to the screen from the moment Bot 9 is activated and given a (rather domestic) job on a starship with a (rather crucial) mission. It is a beautiful, fun, and fast-paced story you don’t want to miss if you have ever suspected appliances might have feelings, too.

While exploring the diversified bot population of the ship (always operating within well-defined parameters), Suzanne Palmer keeps you grounded: Familiar space opera/military sf tropes are used as a mere backdrop … until they aren’t.

You can follow the adventures of amiable busy-bot 9 on Clarkesworld #132 (also podcasted). And don’t forget to put Steve Jablonsky’s Transformers soundtrack to good use for the finale of this stellar story!

Small Crush: Six Wakes (Mur Lafferty)

Once in a blue moon, some book’s premise triggers my curiosity so effectively I can’t resist. I. Need. To. Know. I need to know what happens and how it’s done. Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes is one such story.

Six WakesDormire is a starship with six crew members on a long, long voyage. They all wake up in their cloning tanks with memory loss, while the ship is off course and their murdered former bodies are still floating around in zero gravity, because someone disabled the AI and the basic functions of the ship. One of them did this, but they can’t even trust themselves, because each and every one of them has no memories of the time leading up to the disaster.

I didn’t need to know more to start reading. It’s like playing the RPG Paranoia – you can’t trust anyone and keep staying on your toes. And it’s kind of a derailed cousin of Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. While Angry Planet’s Wayfarer is full of fluff and love, and nothing much happens in an utterly adorable way, Six WakesDormire houses an equally diverse crew (not as colorful, because no aliens), but it’s full of suspicion and flaring tempers, and ALL THE THINGS happen. The whirlwind plot cycles through the characters, the pacing is relentless, and your suspicions shift along with the crew’s. Before long, you expect this dysfunctional team to rush into another killing spree any minute instead of working together to save the ship.

Gradually, the story transcends the fundamental Whodunnit premise and ends up asking questions about cloning ethics and forgiveness. There are even some echoes of Nancy Kress’ Beggars in Spain when you learn about the development of mankind under the influence of cloning. And then to read in the afterword that it all started as an FTL fan fic warmed my gamer heart, although I never would have guessed.

Six Wakes offers no easy camaraderie and feel-good vibes, but an interesting bunch of troubled characters in a dire, dire situation, and the revelation that comfort food helps even in space.

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