With the results of the latest Analog magazine Analytical Laboratory (AnLab) readers’ choice award now public, I can happily make it official: I’ve picked up my third AnLab! For my novelette, “Life Flight,” which first appeared in the March 2014 issue of the magazine, and which is now in print in my short fiction collection Racers of the Night from WordFire Press.
I won my first AnLab for my novelette “Outbound,” for the publishing year 2010. That was my first-ever story in the pages of Analog and I went on to win a second AnLab for my novella “The Chaplain’s Legacy,” which became the foundation for my Baen novel, The Chaplain’s War.
The AnLab has a special place in my heart, because it represents the aggregate approval of the readers of Analog — who are an astute bunch! — and because Analog is such a venerable publication. Most of the greats of Science Fiction have published in Analog’s pages at one time or another. To include Robert A. Heinlein, Larry Niven, George R. R. Martin, Lois Bujold, and Orson Scott Card.
Being able to collect a third AnLab tells me that I am continuing to give Analog’s readers the kinds of stories that they enjoy. Indeed, I think I got more enthusiastic (and in many instances, heartfelt) reader mail, for “Life Flight,” than all the mail I’ve gotten for all my previous Analog stories combined.
Here’s a story sample:
Audio Journal Transcript: Day 17,500
I’ve been accused of playing favorites.
I can live with that accusation.
So what if I rigged the wake-up schedule to my liking?
There are some people who were never going to spend any significant time awake anyway.
To prove my point I showed the plaintiff a roster of all names currently in stasis: 48 men, 49 women, 112 girls, and 83 boys. All of the adults drew lots when they volunteered to come on the trip, and all of them swore to uphold their part of the bargain, if they happened to be one of the ones assigned to an “awake” shift in support of the Osprey. Did it really matter if I scrubbed my parents from the next stint? Or Li, who was actually supposed to be awake now—for the first time, not the second.
I once read that a military general on Earth said: no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The trip to Delta Pavonis is a war of attrition. Fuel dwindles, supplies get used up, reserves are recycled, re-used, recycled, and re-re-used, to the point that waste must inevitably be jettisoned. Frankly I am amazed we haven’t had worse problems than we’ve already experienced.
And if a couple of untimely deaths gave me an excuse to swap a few names around on the list, who are the newbies to argue with me about it?
I’m old enough to be their father for Christ’s sake.
Of course, my list of names did not include the 10,000 embryos also being carried in stasis: an entire, healthy human gene pool, with plenty of room to spare.
Not that all 10,000 are expected to be implanted in wombs the instant we arrive. If the medical science is right, those embryos will be good for at least a hundred years or more, on top of the total trip time. So that as new generations of Delta Pavonians—my Lord, that is clumsy, we simply must come up with a better word for ourselves—come of age, the women can have some original offspring, and at least one or two “stasis babies” originally carried from Earth.
Inside of two centuries, if everything progresses according to the plan, there’ll be no fear of inbreeding. For anyone. And there will be so many people living on the new world that even a significantly major disaster won’t be able to wipe us all out.
Much depends on those first 25 years. When we’ll be digging in. Putting down roots. Staking our claim.
To that end I’ve been slowly and methodically constructing my arsenal of weaponry. Using the rifle designs Ben and I first finalized way back when I was in my 20s. I’ve taken them outside and test-fired the lot of them, and am satisfied that they will suffice. Unless the new planet is literally infested with bloodthirsty monsters bigger than the biggest elephant, we ought to be able to fend off whatever nasties may be lurking in those jungles and forests.
Which we still can’t see—as anything more than a green blur.
It takes hours for the telescopes to find the planet circling Delta Pavonis, and then it’s impossible to get a clear shot because of relative drift. Even when we’re getting closer and closer all the time.
I want to say a hearty THANK YOU to everyone who gave “Life Flight” their vote, during the AnLab selection process. Again, this is the readers’ choice award, so not only does it come with a nice check from Penny Publications & Dell Magazines, it represents the overall satisfaction of Analog’s subscribers and readers as a whole. Given the magazine’s lengthy history in the field — and all the many amazing authors who’ve gotten their start in Analog’s hallowed pages — I am enormously pleased to have (again) delivered the kind of story that Analog’s readers find satisfying and enjoyable.
Have not read it yet? You can get the story *NOW* in my collection below.
Smashwords: multiple formats