I do love a good sci-fi short story and recently read three for Carl’s Sci-Fi 2015 Experience.
A Tall Tail by Charles Stross
A really enjoyable is-it-or-isn’t-it-true story set at a Pentagon-hosted conference about the 100 Year Starship, where our author bumps into the rocket scientist twin brother of the writer Gregory Benford who introduces him to Leonard-not-his-real-name who tells him the tall tale/tail of the title, involving all sorts of Cold War shenanigans. Great fun, and apparently most (if not all) of the science is accurate. Stross is becoming one of my favourite sci-fi writers.
The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal
This is just a wonderful but sad but hopeful short story. It starts off with the Lady Astronaut herself being given a check-up by her doctor Dorothy (from Kansas who lived with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry on a farm before a dreadful space-related accident, so yes, it’s that Dorothy). Dorothy came to Mars because she was inspired by the LA, Elma, now elderly and with an ailing husband and a burning desire to go back out into space. She is unexpectedly given the opportunity to do so and has to make a difficult choice – go and leave her husband behind or stay and watch him pass away. Lovely, nominated for a Hugo and I’m not ashamed to say I cried a little bit reading this. A new author to me but I am going to look for more of her work.
A Short History of The Twentieth Century by Kathleen Ann Goonan
Or When You Wish Upon A Star. This is the story of Carol, whose parents were both scientists but whose mother gave up her career for the reasons women did in the 1950s. Her Dad was a rocket scientist with leftist leanings who didn’t like the use made of German science brought to the US after the War. Influenced by the future as described by Walt Disney, Carol wants to follow in her Dad’s footsteps but it’s not a career for girls. According to Amazon (annoyingly) this is only science-fiction by association. I’m not sure I agree with that. But a lovely and inspiring story and I loved Carol’s Mum and how hey watched the moon landing on TV (something I do vaguely remember, being only 7 at the time). I read a couple of Goonan’s novels many years ago and this reminded me why liked her and that I really should pick up her work again.