« OMFG!!1! Massachusetts Votes for Some Guy! Americans Give Up All Hope, Lie on Floor, Slowly Starve! | Main | Recommended Listening: "The Kindness of Strangers" by Nancy Kress »

Recommended Listening: "Skinhorse Goes to Mars" by Jay Lake

Hey, Fritz, this is the story I mentioned the other day: Escape Pod -- EP212: Skinhorse Goes to Mars

It begins:

When I met Skinhorse, my first thought was old. Which was weird. Nobody gets old these days. We all die young, some of us after living a long time, if we’re lucky.

He was in Piet’s Number Seven, a bar-cum-caravanserai in an illegal orbit trailing far enough behind Vesta to be ignorable. Piet’s had been instantiated in an old volatiles bladder that had done the Jovian run a few too many times before falling into the surplus circuit. You could store entire cities in Piet’s cubage, which made for a somewhat attenuated bar experience. Plus the place had one of those gravity cans — yes, those gravity cans — which meant your drink stayed stuck down long as you were near a Higgs carpet.

From a plot standpoint, this story is pretty pedestrian (a basic McGuffin Retrieval Operation), but the world building--especially in terms of language, and balancing what would be a natural way to speak for characters in this foreign context vs. what will make sense to actual readers--is really excellent. As you get older and write more, it's easy to forget that vivid world building is a huge part of genre writing's draw (almost every adult f&sf reader I know has mentioned at one point or another that what really drew them into f&sf, initially, were the worlds themselves, not the plots or characters).