SOLARIS RISING 2 Countdown To Launch (T minus 1 Day): Martin McGrath's favourite SF short story

Tomorrow, Solaris Rising 2 will launch at Waterstones Gower Street in London where editor Ian Whates will be joined by authors Paul Cornell, James Lovegrove, David Mercurio Rivera, and Martin Sketchley, to talk about their contributions to this cosmic collection.

Solaris Rising 2 is available for preorder on including, and indiebound, and 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, the collection's authors are talking about the short story form and their favourite examples of it from SF.

Martin McGrath has chosen The Star by Arthur C Clarke...

"I can’t tell you what my favourite science fiction short story is. There are too many to choose from.  I don’t even think I could pick one favourite short story author. How could I choose between writers like Ted Chiang or William Gibson or Ursula K le Guin or James Tiptree Jnr or Cordwainer Smith or… ?

"But I can tell you which short story had a profound impact on me and the one that made me aware of enormous potential of science fiction.

"Arthur C Clarke’s The Star is a very short story, less than 2500 words, written in 1954. It is the story of a Jesuit scientist travelling home from an expedition to the ruins of an alien civilisation that was destroyed by a supernova. The unnamed narrator is shaken by the fact that this civilisation, which seemed peaceful, graceful and wise, was “destroyed so completely in the full flower of its achievement, leaving no survivors”. But it is the timing of this act of destruction that really shatters the faith of the priest. The star would have been a beacon in terrestrial skies as ancient wanderers were making their way to Bethlehem.

"I first read this story when I was about ten-years-old. I’d grown up in a small, tightly-knit, catholic community and this story hit me like a lightning bolt. It is not written in the finest prose or with the most delicate characterisation, in truth it's a bit clunky, but The Star is a story that rang like a bell."

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