Raji and I were always designing new torments for ourselves, and then calling them good, and running around the Moon was just the latest idea. We tattooed wedding bands on each other’s fingers after our courthouse elopement, and for good measure, each other’s names. Raji ran down my thumb, and Valanna nestled in his palm along the fleshy crease. We honeymooned outdoors in the dead of winter on the Appalachian Trail, eating garlic couscous boiled in a bag. When we got the flu, we shared it between us like a good book, like a tissue box passed from one nightstand to the other. He worshipped at the mosque, and I at the cathedral. We sinned extravagantly, and we repented extravagantly too. We prayed and fasted with devout abandon. We prided ourselves on our self-denial, on the stares we got when we kissed in our congregation parking lots.
We punished our bodies with crash diets and binge drinking. We took up brutal sports. We ran farther and farther each evening. Eventually, we quit our jobs to seek our limits.
We liked making love on beaches in the rain so the chill drove us closer together. We relished the friction of sand. We got sunburned just to drip aloe down each other’s backs at night. These things reminded us we were alive. Our families called us damned, and most days, we agreed, but this too delighted us. Like Dante, we wanted to pass through Hell at least once before we saw Paradise. (Continue Reading…)
Nobody remembered how Red Kelly got his hands on the moon. He picked up a lot of things back then. You had to, working at the Westinghouse on a brazier’s pay. Red played cards, ran numbers around town, and, every other year, warmed hands for the Democratic machine in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t unknown for him to come home with an acquisition of mysterious provenance. Once he got the Kellys an entire patio table and chairs, with an umbrella and that. The umbrella was printed with the name of a restaurant whose owner had bet a bundle down at Duquesne Gardens.
So it wasn’t surprising Red had the deed to the moon. It didn’t even come up until, well, must have been 1968 of course, when the two men in the tailored suits showed up at the Kellys’ doorstep in North Versailles. You don’t forget a thing like that, the whole neighborhood watching through their lace curtains. Red was still at work, so Blanche Kelly sat the men down in the living room, introduced them to the girls, and set up boilermakers. They were from the military, it turned out, which was a good opening since Blanche had been a WAC. She cut a deck of cards.
At 4:30, Blanche pocketed her winnings, got in the car, and drove to the bottom of the hill to pick Red up from the bus stop. She left the girls to keep an eye on the men. (Continue Reading…)
The claxon blares three times: all clear. We file out of the underground shelter and up the serpentine lava tube. Our semi-annual hibernation drill, bureaucratic gibberish for run down to the emergency shelter and hide, is now monthly. I’m all for avoiding nuclear annihilation, but I wish the drills weren’t scheduled so close to lunar sunset.
I jostle my way toward the front of the long line headed for the surface modules. It’s been fourteen Earth days since I’ve talked to my best friend. Sure we could have emailed or texted, even from two-hundred and thirty-nine thousand miles away, but that would be cheating. We’re the Interplanetary Morse Code Club. Sally is President, Earth District; I’m Vice President of Lunar Operations. It’s a small club. (Continue Reading…)
This story was previously published in Return to Luna, the anthology of the winning stories of the National Space Society’s fiction contest (published by Hadley Rille Books, 2008). The story also appeared in the author’s collection of short stories, Life Without Crows (also published by Hadley Rille Books, 2010).
I’m a transplanted Seattleite who’s lived in Northern Virginia for nearly three decades. I started writing professionally in my early 40’s, and it’s been a fun ride so far. I have had stories and poems appearing in many anthologies and magazines, such as Sword and Sorceress XXIII, Footprints, She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror, Dia de los Muertos, and Sails and Sorcery.
about the narrator…
Dani Cutler last narrated for EP in 389: Keeping Tabs. She has been part of the podcasting community since 2006, hosting and producing her own podcast through 2013. She currently works for KWSS independent radio in Phoenix as their midday announcer, and also organizes a technology conference each year for Phoenix residents to connect with others in the podcast, video, and online community.
by Gerri Leen
The interface between Luna and Earth was particularly bad–like a slow connection to the Net when I was a kid and my grandparents had been too cheap to move off dial-up. Cal’s image moved in fits and starts, and it wasn’t what I wanted–okay, needed–to see. As chief base shrink, I should be woman enough to admit I _needed_ to see my husband in some way that didn’t immediately scream he was roughly 380,000 clicks away.
Even if Cal was barely my husband; he and I hadn’t touched in eight months–and I’d only been on Luna for six. Coming here had been my way of saying goodbye, of letting our marriage die slowly and gracefully rather than living through the drama of a messy divorce. Funny thing about the moon, though: you don’t get over people here. You miss the hell out of them, every part of them. Or maybe you just forget the bad parts, maybe they disappear in the middle of this resounding grayness.
I used to think my marriage was gray and grim. Landing at Echosound–getting my first view of my new home in the bright lunar daytime that had gone on for fourteen Earth-days–had been a reality check of the highest order.
“Vanessa?” Cal was probably wondering why I’d called. We were supposed to be getting used to being away from each other, and I didn’t have much to say that was related to the impending dissolution of the marriage.
So I said the first thing that came to mind. “How’s Denny?”
The jerking image made his expression unreadable. “He’s fine.”
I didn’t normally ask about his parrot. In fact, I hated that damn bird. Probably because I knew Cal would part with me, but not with him. As a psychiatrist, I don’t shy away from truths. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make me any better at dealing with them.
“Van, I have to go.” Cal didn’t sound disappointed, especially on five-second delay. Not for the first time I wished personal calls were given the same priority for real-time access as mission-related calls. But they weren’t, so I would deal. Badly, no doubt. But I’d deal.
“I have to go, too. Time for my shift.” Which was a lie. I may have normal duty hours, but as essential personnel, I’m on call all the time. No shift work for Doctor Vanessa Holmes. It used to make me feel important; now it felt like a stone around my neck–an Earth-stone in Earth-gravity where it would actually be heavy.
Cal ended the call before I could say anything more. It shouldn’t have hurt. It did anyway.
It’s been a long time since America has been to the moon. Hell, at this point even the Chinese have sent a lander there, if not actual taikonauts yet. The last moon mission was Apollo 17, back in 1972.
Or was it?
The found-footage film Apollo 18 aims to show why we haven’t been back. And if this film is to be believed, there’s a damn good reason.
Every time I read a YA novel, I wonder why all novels don’t move at the same pace. I’m not missing anything in the YA genre — the characters are just as developed, the action is just as action-y, and the story is just as engrossing. I just don’t have to slog through hundreds of extra pages of tangential plotlines and lovingly-rendered character descriptions to get to the good stuff.
And I think that adequately describes Allen Steele’s new YA sci-fi adventure, Apollo’s Outcasts, which will be published this November by Prometheus Books: for the most part, everything extraneous has been trimmed away, leaving a tightly-written, fast-paced novel that I quite enjoyed.