An Old Rock Climber

Shreya stood in her little office on the Eisenmenger, occasionally pacing, staring at her globes. They'd expanded from her shelves many years ago, colonizing her desktop, cabinet, and even areas of the floor she was sorry to say. Old starship manuals were stacked in piles just to give her globes a little variation in height. She… Continue reading An Old Rock Climber

Return of the Centauri Man

It had been a long time by any measure. But of course, the measure was the whole point. Max was awake and returning to Earth. He'd spent the bulk of the journey in a state of minmet. Even so, his stretches of wakefulness totaled more than four years subjective. Four years, five weeks, two days,… Continue reading Return of the Centauri Man

Lifeforms on Aether Rex

Nia's backpack dug into her shoulders. It was heavy and hard, but it contained her suit's life support system. It made constant clicks and whirs and gurgles, almost white noise but more distracting. The worst part was that it probably wasn't needed. Aether Rex was perfectly safe by the initial readings. But Nia heard enough… Continue reading Lifeforms on Aether Rex

The Seventh Moon

The six inner moons of Avalon—a typical ice giant out on the fringe—were fine places. Rocky bodies, essentially spheroids, rich in ices and metals. Good for industry, and more than capable of supporting associated settlements. But the seventh moon—that was the prize. If you could get to it. Preliminary data indicated a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere, temperate… Continue reading The Seventh Moon

Ups and Downs

Nu stood in the warm tidepools and took in one last look at the blazing blue sun. It had no name, just like this planet. But with a little luck, they would both be in the catalogs in a couple hours. The planet was rich in drinkable water, breathable air, and stable landmasses, but luck… Continue reading Ups and Downs

Entering the Throat of Kraken

The little boat was getting tossed around more than she'd expected and it was making her a little queasy. The reduced gravity only served to amplify the effect. Dr. Hena Hanover was entering the Throat of Kraken. Officially it was the Seldon Fretum, a narrow straight separating the northern and southern basins of Kraken Mare,… Continue reading Entering the Throat of Kraken

Hunters

Pelpoloi saw the first of Kepler-22b's satellites rise over the mountain peak and scrambled into a narrow crevice in the rock face. Pelpoloi didn't know what a satellite was and had no need to. The entire concept of the HXX—Habitable Exoplanet Exploration initiative—would confound him. His language lacked so many of the words needed to… Continue reading Hunters

Lure

At long last, Jimenez saw the blazing white lance of the beacon in the slate green haze, and after a few more steps forward Leroux's slim profile appeared near the beacon's base. He wasn't moving. She tried hailing him. No response. No surprise; she'd been hailing him for hours. Jimenez approached carefully over the crevices… Continue reading Lure

Nothing Comes From Nothing

The tunnel walls were smooth as blown glass, hard as diamond, and cold as everything else in the empty depths between the stars. A brown marbling splintered across the cream-colored surface like veins. Jiten had never seen anything like it anywhere in the solar system, and he'd been to three rocky planets and a hundred… Continue reading Nothing Comes From Nothing

Unbound in the Shade

"Entering the Shade in 30 seconds," said Ecliptious, the Resolution's onboard AI. It was the smartest member of the crew—though they were all gifted scientists and explorers—even bound as it was. The risks of this mission were unknown, but the risks of an unbound AI were well understood. The mission proceeded, and Ecliptious remained bound. No… Continue reading Unbound in the Shade