Given a title like Rocket Science, you’d expect much of the anthology’s contents to involve journeys of one kind or another. Strangely, it didn’t quite work out that way. Which is not to say some of the stories don’t involve trips – by rocket, of course – between one planet and another. Simon McCaffery’s ‘The Brave Little Cockroach Goes to Mars’, as the title suggests, is one such story. He writes:
Stories are usually the product of a collision of two or more unconnected ideas that provide the necessary “what if?” that propels the tale. I had spent the better part of a year researching Mars and the dozens of proposed manned mission profiles, spacecraft designs and related technology for a novella. I followed the daily exploits of Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars rovers that refused to die, and exciting designs for new, more complex autonomous surface robots. I discovered that there’s an entire branch of planetary robotics that seeks to mimic the most successful locomotive designs in nature including, you guessed it, the lowly cockroach.
I also enjoyed the idea of an unwanted stowaway along the lines of Tom Godwin’s ‘The Cold Equations’, and a story in which the characters must adapt to unforeseen, dire events far from home. While reading an article about cabin designs for a manned mission to the Red Planet and imagining that arduous six-month journey, my mind’s eye saw a weary astronaut spying the most unexpected thing inside a billion-dollar chronometer-precise spacecraft – a cockroach. I saw the astronaut instinctively try to swat it, and wondered what if he missed?
‘The Brave Little Cockroach Goes to Mars’ attempts to answer that question, and despite a vein of cynicism regarding the current state of the American attitude toward space exploration, rekindle a spark of wonder and hope.
I’ve published a lot of horror fiction in venues like Black Static, The Zombie Feed, various Books of the Dead Press collections, and John Skipp’s upcoming Psychos mega-anthology, but science fiction was my first love, and I’ve been spending more time in that genre. I’m proud to appear in Rocket Science, and I have a story appearing later this year in the online magazine Lightspeed and John Joseph Adams’ anthology Other Worlds Than These. And I have that pesky science fiction-horror hybrid novel to complete. Drop me a line at simonmccafferyfiction.blogspot.com.