Solaris Rising 2 is jam-packed with SF short stories that explore man's efforts to leave this humble dot of blue in a sea of black, and all this week on the Solaris blog, we're talking about the short story form and our favourite examples of it from SF.
Yesterday it was PR guy Mike Molcher, and today it's Solaris publishing manager Ben Smith...
There’s a short story that has stuck with me for decades. It troubled me then and it troubles me know. I can’t even remember the name of it, but I can tell you the author, Orson Scott Card. I first read Ender’s Game at the age of 13 and was, like so many others, catapulted into the future and twisted along with Ender himself as he was bent into the shape of a general.
I read everything by Card that I could get my hands on. Even to my teenage mind the preoccupation with homosexuality in his books was plain – but being honest he was one of the few authors I ever read at the time who did engage with it – and as I understood those books back then it didn’t occur that he was, well, the man who prompts boycotts today.
Having read almost everything he’d written, it was his autobiographical short story about the death of his own child, and the ghost of that child who then came to stay in the space under his house, along with others boy-ghosts, that I could not shake.
It read as truth, but there were ghosts. Did he really believe this had happened? He must do. It was worrying. It weirded me out. To be frank it didn’t fit with how I understood the world. Just what the hell was going on? As I read through the book of stories I came to Card’s explanation. It was kind of obvious; he’d made it all up. He knew some people felt cheated by the emotional value that the story achieved by putting himself and his family into a fictional story, but hell, it was his story. But the son who died, how could he write him in as a ghost? (SPOILER) The son had never existed.
To teenage me, it was the first fake-out I had ever had played on me by an author. I didn’t like. But damn if the story hasn’t hung around with me for the next 25 years.