Bill actually goes back to the very inception of this anthology–no shit, there he was. I mentioned my idea for getting a bunch of science fiction and fantasy writers to do stories with this classic starting line at a panel, and he said he thought it was a great idea. “Okay,” I said. “But you’d better submit something if I do this.”
He said, sure he would, in that laughing way that I tend to assume means actually no. But then he did. Bill’s a man who puts his story where his mouth is, and he spun me a tale of two wisecracking guys who are basically space auto mechanics, trying to retrieve Mariner 10 from its orbit near the sun.
There’s a wide range of stories in this anthology, and my slush jackalopes and I mentally arranged them on spectrums between two poles. From the moment I read Bill’s story, Steal From the Sun, I knew I wanted it. And I knew it would pin down the “hard scifi” end of the spectrum. It’s got everything I could want out of a hard science fiction story in the style of the classics–space ships, physics, witty banter, and people solving engineering problem after engineering problem as the hull temperature slowly creeps up and threatens to cook the intrepid heroes.
Oh, and a flirtatious news anchorman who is adorable.
And unlike some hard SF that has left me cold before, Bill balances his elements in a perfect mix of cheeky wit and engineer porn that I was doomed to love. I jammed Steal From the Sun into the “I WILL HAVE THIS” file so fast I probably gave the pixels friction burns. It was almost–almost–the first item in that file, only the necromantic weasels got there first.
But that’s a story for another time. Literally.