- Amazon: Three-Quarters Martian
- Smashwords: Coming soon
Selected as one of The Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2011.
I originally wrote the sequel to this under the working title “Martian Return,” about the decisions that Anna-Jing and her depleted crew faced as the approached their return to Earth. The most poignant scene in that draft was clearly (Spoiler Alert!) Mick’s death, so I took a cue from the recommendations of fellow writers and wrote that scene up as a full standing story. One day I may update the sequel, or maybe not.
When I submitted “Three-Quarters Martin” to the short story contest at On the Premises, my actual goal was to get a paid critique (me paying them, $10, to be clear) when the contest was over. When I was notified I made the top ten I was told the critique would be free. Then I ____ed up and won the contest and never got that critique. Oh well…
“Three-Quarters Martian” is set in a bleak near-future where the nations of Earth have fractured into thousands on tiny nations, city-states and principalities. It’s not quite an apocalypse, but nevertheless a huge decline in civilization and a huge increase in war. The multinational, polyglot Mars expedition crew represents a lost past. My recently published short story, “The Fletchers Nyqvist,” is also set in this fractured world.
The first man to walk on the moon was a hero to five generations. The first woman to walk on Mars was forgotten even before her boots plunked into the red dust.
“Hey,” a husky voice said in the dark.
I ignored her: the Swedish hockey team was calling to me from the sauna.
“Anna-Jing.” Same voice. A large hand grasped my shoulder.
I was losing my battle to recapture the fading dream.
“Wake up,” commanded a new voice in a rich brogue, “now.”
I took a deep breath, tasting the dust in the cool air, then slowly opened my eyes. Pulling the threadbare blanket around me, I sat up in my hammock.
Kaiza, the first and likely last aboriginal Australian to teach planetary astrophysics at Stanford, gently removed her hand from my shoulder. “Trouble in Florida.”
“The launch isn’t today.” I said, still groggy. Our resupply rocket was scheduled to lift off from Cape Lee in a week. We needed this one—the last launch, from Kazakhstan, had crashed in West Korea.