Mars may be our nearest planetary neighbour, but the Moon is nearer still. And we have visited it. Between 1969 and 1972, twelve men walked on the surface of the Moon… and we’re not likely to return until the middle of this century. If ever. Science fiction, however, has a long tradition of colonising Luna – indeed, many such stories imagined it would happen before the end of the Twentieth Century. Obviously, it didn’t. But that doesn’t mean we should stop writing about it. Deborah Walker’s story in Rocket Science, ‘Sea of Maternity’, is one such:
It can be tough to be a teenager, trying to find you way in the world. Just imagine how much harder it is if you’re stuck on Lunar. You’re the oldest teenager on the colony. And there’s nobody to date. And your Mum doesn’t understand you at all. Dad’s okay. He’s more understanding. At least he makes the effort. But Mum? Forget about it. No wonder they got divorced.
Two story threads came together in my story ‘Sea of Maternity’. The first thread examined the family problems that come with living on an off-world colony. Shelia’s a single mother on the Moon. She’s mother to a very unhappy teenage daughter. She’s a research scientist, who dreams of going to the next colony world, Titan. She’s juggling her ex-husband and a new boyfriend.
The second thread in my story concerns Shelia’s research. She develops new strains of radiosynthetic fungi. These fungi were first discovered in Chernobyl reactor bin. In my story, the fungi soak up carbon-dioxide and create biomass. But instead of light, the radiosynthetic fungi use stellar radiation as an energy source. That’s quite a handy thing to have around on the Moon with all that radiation knocking about.
A long time ago, a very long time ago I did post-graduate research into photosynthesis. Although I was working on spinach, not fungi. It’s funny how these things stick with you.