Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek


The new issue of Clarkesworld is up. It contains my hard science fiction story, 'Sirius'.

For a long time, I've wanted to write a hard science fiction story. I don't actually like most of the authors in the genre--most of the work I've come across is terribly written from an aesthetic and social point of view--but I have always liked the idea of the sub-genre. Real science informing fiction. What's not to like? I also wanted to try it because the SF genre as a whole has an unreasonable respect for authors who write it and really, you got to try out the thing everyone loves, if only to see how hard it is. Still, no doubt, someone will say that 'Sirius' isn't a hard science fiction story, and perhaps they'll be right, but this is as close as I'll ever get to it, and thus, it will always be known as my hard science fiction story.

Althought I had had the idea to write a hard science fiction story in my head for years, it only came about because of a day spent playing mini golf. I was attending a birthday party/mini golf moment where, among others, the author and fiction editor at Cosmos Magazine, Cat Sparks (catsparx) was. After a day of trying to cheat terribly (as in, I was terrible at cheating), I went off to try to write a hard science fiction story that she'd buy, and the story you see now is the result of our back and forth. In the end, another editor struck it down and the mag didn't want the story, but the input Cat had on the story early on was hugely important to the story you can read today.

The other person who had the greatest impact on the story was my girlfriend, Nik, who shall not be mentioned by a single letter, in this one case on the blog. Until very recently, she worked in AIDs research, until she moved in with me to begin life as an artist, surrounded by too many books, and without enough money. But, it was she who gave me the crash course in diseases, and told me a story that inspired the start of 'Sirius', and she read the early drafts and told me when it made sense and when it didn't, scientifically speaking and fictionally speaking (she's read more than me and it's beautiful). Still, 'Sirius' is a story just under four thousand words in length, and a lot of the struggle to make the piece work is to convey all the information while also maintaining the balance of character, theme, and resolution--and while the balancing act of it is all mine, as is the blame for any science I chopped out, I'd be a bad partner indeed if I didn't tell you all that all the intelligent stuff in that came from someone other than me.

As for the rest?

Well, that's just me. I explode space stations, discussion colonialism, and have dead narrators.

But it's a cool little story, and it's my hard science fiction story, and if it were not for Cat Sparks and Nik Nevins, it would not exist, and you would not have the chance to read it.

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