1. Hanging Trees – Deep Magic
This is the first year I’ve recommended my own work for consideration, as it’s the first year I have something I feel worthy. That story is “Hanging Trees” (Deep Magic, 4400 words).
It’s been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, but is really a much better fit for the science fiction awards. You can purchase the story for Kindle (free with Kindle Unlimited) or, if reading for award consideration, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred format and I’ll happily send you a copy.
“Hanging Trees” is allegory for an event in the history of science which impacted me deeply and turned out to be extremely relevant in 2018. More than that, though, the story is about humanity’s place in nature, and how we might improve the ways we relate to our fellow bioforms.
Eleanor Franklin, a young marsborn colonist, discovers the first complex extraterrestrial lifeform known to science: bioluminescent “trees” that dangle from the ceiling of a cavern deep below the Red Planet’s surface.
We craned our necks up toward the source of the deep green glow, and that’s when we saw them—the upside-down trees, hanging from above like living chandeliers. Their luminescent roots traversed the ceiling in a light-show lattice joining each tree to the others, anchoring the ethereal forest to the rock above.
Others take credit for Eleanor’s discovery, however, and when they realize the trees are the source of the poisonous gas plaguing their colony, they destroy them–along with the only connection to non-human life Eleanor has known.
Her days numbered, Eleanor desperately searches Mars’s underground karst landscape for more trees … and for a way of life that will allow humanity to better share the cosmos with its fellow residents.
2. The Last Stand – Terraform (VICE)
My other eligible story is “The Last Stand” (1000 words), which appeared Nov. 2018 in Terraform (VICE). It draws on climate/fire science and my years as a firefighter to paint a picture of what California wildfires will look like–and what we stand to lose–if we don’t alter current trends. It lacks the layered depth of “Hanging Trees,” but I certainly won’t stop you from considering it!