What inspired ‘Duo-13-trip’

Dear Robot cover

Dear Robot’s editor Kelly Jacobson asked the anthology contributors to share our inspiration for writing. She is running a blog hop from November 30-December 4, where anyone who comments on her blog post or any contributor’s blog hop posts will be entered in a drawing to win one of five copies of the anthology (please leave your email address, for example: name (at) gmail dot com). Dear Robot is also running a Goodreads Giveaway from now until December 10.

What inspired “Duo-13-trip,” which is being published in Dear Robot? I wanted to write my own space story. I have been obsessed with space ever since I can remember.

At summer camp in rural Maryland, we would always stay up late and see the stars shining brighter than we ever had before back home. Sometimes, we would only go to bed as the sun was beginning to rise.

While I didn’t grow up in the 70’s, my stepdad introduced me to David Bowie at a young age. I became obsessed with his “Space Oddity” glam-rock music video, playing it on repeat. I learned all the words, learned all the slight variations in the different versions. I wanted to be the Major Tom Bowie sang about, floating in a tin can, far above the world.

When I was seven, the International Space Station (ISS) was launched into orbit some 200-miles above the Earth. Astronauts from around the world have inhabited the station since then. In my 20’s, the space exploration rhetoric ramped up to #JourneytoMars, send long-term missions to Mars, and form a colony on Mars. There has even been a flurry of talk around a Dutch-based Mars One mission, which wants to send people on a one-way trip to Mars (some have said this is all based around a reality-TV show and might not turn out to be a real mission). In November 2014, the Rosetta lander Philae touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko — the first spacecraft to land on a comet. In the summer of 2015, New Horizons flew by Pluto, capturing thousands of photos and data about the dwarf planet.

In high school I read “Fahrenheit 451” and was hooked on Ray Bradbury’s dystopian vision of the future. He’s now my favorite author. I’ve since made it a goal to devour every Bradbury book and short story I can find. Reading “The Martian Chronicles” was a rattling experience. Bradbury made it seem so realistic and plausible that humans finally made it to Mars. But no one thought of the martians that might already be living there — that we invade and colonize once again. After “Chronicles,” I’ve been finishing space book after space book on astronauts, science fiction, everything. These are a few of my favorites: “Life on Mars” by Tracy K. Smith, “Packing for Mars” by Mary Roach, “The Martian Chronicles” by Ray Bradbury, “The Martian” by Andy Weir, “Out of Orbit” by Chris Jones, and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams.

My dad took me to see the third “Star Wars” movie (or the first, in its wacky unchronological timeline) in high school. I was pretty lost because I’d never seen the other movies, but it was still an exciting adventure in space. It seems that countless adventures in space are now being made for the big screen — and I, of course, try to see most of them: “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Gravity,” “Interstellar,” “The Martian,” “Star Trek,” older goodies like “Apollo 13,” “Firefly” and “Serenity” — and others I haven’t yet gotten to (I know, I know) like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “The Right Stuff.” I’ve been surrounded by star stuff and, as Neil deGrasse Tyson told me in “Cosmos” and his “Star Talk” podcast, I’m made of star stuff.

All of this otherworldly, or outer-worldly, reading and media has been very inspirational. I only hope my story “Duo-13-trip” is a quarter as good as some of these spacey works.

“Duo-13-trip” details two astronaut’s long-term mission to orbit Mars. I wondered what was the most boring job an astronaut could be tasked with (even though I doubt any job in space could be boring; maybe tedious and routine). That’s where the premise came from. But I can’t give too much away, of course. You’ll have to read the story in the anthology to find out more. Hope you enjoy!

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