Cover Letter (by Bill Peters, Assistant Editor)
To our readers—
I’ve always been of two minds about that proverb (well, curse) that has been attributed to the ancient Chi- nese of “May you live in interesting times.”
Because let’s face it, boring times are getting further apart and fewer. The era of the noble farmer living a quiet life on the plains is long dead in much of the developed world, and while we always dream of re- turning home to a quiet Ithaca, I think a lot of us prefer the torrents of the seas and not knowing what the next isle will bring.
Which is bit of a long way of saying that it was a bit of a crazy month last month, wasn’t it?
Thousands of much better words than these have been etched in the cyber on the wave of popular revolu- tions in North Africa and the Middle East, so I’m going talk about the impending end of the Space Shuttle program.
Space shuttles were always a bit of science fiction that existed in the real world for those of us who grew up after the space race. They were the oddly shaped white space ships in the toy box with the X and Y- Wings and variants of the Enterprise.
They mixed the aspiration of escape from the bonds of gravity with the weight of tragedy that such aspira- tion can lead to. They were something between a pickup truck and the first real wave of space colonizers. Not that the two are mutually exclusive
The third to last shuttle mission is skimming the stratosphere as I write this, and the last one is due to launch in June. And then the US civilian space program will be reliant on private sector for space vehicles until at least 2015. Which, in a way, is progress.
But progress that doesn’t quite sit right. You want commercial haulers out there making space civilized, useful, and cheap enough that you might be able to hop out there for less than a decade’s salary. But there’s a need for ships of the line, and those come from the public masses.
Last month, Escape Pod brought you four stories, two of which will be republished here. Unfortunately we bought EP279: Conditional Love just before we started asking for ePub rights, as it was just nominated for the Nebula. Escape Pod knows all, but not always at the right time.
But we are bringing you the excellent David D. Levine’s Written On The Wind and the quite interesting Alex Dally MacFarlane’s The Notebook of My Favorite Skin-Trees. One’s about a bunch of aliens living together, mostly in peace, and the other’s about advertising in the near future.
We also did something a little special with the Written On The Wind episode, and you can read about it in the back of this month’s Soundproof.