Craig Pay’s story ‘Incarnate’ is one of the more overtly hard science fiction stories in Rocket Science. Even so, it’s very much about people – and that was something I was keen on for the anthology.
I was ten years old when the first Shuttle launched in 1981. Already hooked on science fiction, I then spent my childhood dreaming about joining the RAF as a fast jet pilot (specifically to fly Tornado F3s), because the next logical step, or so I thought at the time, would be a move to NASA to become a shuttle commander.
You see my parents both worked in the RAF, in ground roles. My younger years were filled with the sound of jet aircraft flying over our married quarters’ house and I remember occasional days, with the wind blowing in from the runways, when I could fling open my bedroom windows and enjoy a Scott Saunders novel surrounded by the glorious stink of aviation fuel. I love planes, I still do.
Well, I would have made a terrible pilot! I only have to look at a fairground ride to start feeling queasy, so I can imagine how I would have coped with all those high-G manoeuvres. But I never lost my desire to get into orbit, so now I write about it instead. And with recent developments in space tourism I still remain hopeful that I will get there one day.
But I’m nervous about how my inner ear might react. This is what formed the inspiration for writing ‘Incarnate’ for Rocket Science. When I write I’m interested in the little details, human frailty, how people cope with adversity. ‘Incarnate’ started as a scene where an estranged husband meets his ex-wife aboard an orbital station. The station is rotating to provide artificial gravity and they are both suffering from nausea induced by the local Coriolis effect. From here the story became something else, how technology might influence how a couple deals with the loss of a child, and how a rich social diversity will of course accompany us on our travels around the solar system.
I guess I’m a bit of an explorer. I like to live a little as the characters I write about, eat what they eat, learn a few words of the languages they speak. I’ve just returned from a trip to China where I was researching a historical fantasy novel set in the 1800s. My novel is now very nearly finished.
You can read about my China trip on my blog at: craigpay.com.
I hope you enjoy reading the stories in Rocket Science. I certainly can’t wait to read them. I may even have to drive out and find a conveniently noisy runway where I can put up my feet and lose myself in all those glorious words!