Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Life on Mars, tales from the new frontier: "The Taste of Promises" by Rachel Swirsky

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, Nnedi Okorafor, Chris Roberson, Nancy Kress, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Ellen Klages.

The eighth tale in the anthology is “The Taste of Promises,” penned by Californian short story writer and poet Rachel Swirsky. The plot revolves around two teenage brothers, one human and the other a “lifted” human who has no body but whose soul lives inside a computer, each in search of his own identity. Here are the opening lines:
THEY approached the settlement at dusk. Tiro switched the skipper to silent mode, grateful he wouldn’t have to spend another night strapped in, using just enough fuel to stay warm and breathing.
A message from Tiro’s little brother, Eo, scrolled across his visor. Are we there yet?
Tiro rolled his eyes at Eo’s impatience. Just about, he subvocalized, watching his suit’s internal processor translate the words into text.
Is it someplace good? asked Eo.
I think so. Be quiet and let me check it out…
Swirsky notes that Dr. Robert Zubrin's "witty, fast-paced book" How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet (2008) "was a tremendously fun read and helped me to shape some ideas about what life might be like on a settled Mars."

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