Saturday, July 16, 2011

Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier: "Goodnight Moons" by Ellen Klages

I’m still reading my way through Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier (Viking, April 2011), a new original Young Adult science fiction anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan that's packed with stories from a range of contemporary international writers, including Ian McDonald, Rachel Swirsky, Chris Roberson, Nnedi Okorafor, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Nancy Kress.

The seventh tale in the anthology is “Goodnight Moons,” penned by award-winning American writer Ellen Klages. A cute story, the plot revolves around an accomplished female scientist who unexpectedly gives birth to a baby girl, Podkayne, during the long journey of the first human expedition to Mars. Here are the opening lines:

I’D always dreamed of living on Mars. From the first time I went to the library in Omaha and found the books with rocket ships on their spines, discovered Bradbury and Heinlein and Robinson. Later, I heard real scientists on the news saying it could happen—would happen—in my lifetime.

Interestingly, considering that the concept of the frontier in American history figures prominently in this story, Klages notes that she reread Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic children's novel Little House on the Prairie (1935) for inspiration.

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