Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ruth Nestvold’s short story “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” makes Preliminary Nebula Awards Ballot

Mars: A Traveler’s Guide,” a short story by Ruth Nestvold which was published in the January 2008 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, is on the 2008 Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot.

A clever story told through a rover computer system's responses to queries from a desperate tourist on Mars, the opening lines of “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide” are available at

I just read this wonderful short story and several other readers seem to have enjoyed it:

• “This one is great satire on the drawbacks of computerized help systems.” Sam Tomaino of SFRevu

• “Those who have studied transport disasters will recognize the horrific inevitability of supposed fail-safes not working in a cascade. [...] an object lesson in how to write very short stories.” Colin Harvey of The Fix: Short Fiction Review

• “Had a clever concept, and was short enough that it didn't wear it out, but it almost did. I skipped the infodumps several times, because the story was really between the lines here. A tough thing to manage, but mostly succeeded for me.” Jeremiah Tolbert, writer and contributor to Thaumatrope: The Twittering E-zine

• “Areological technological assistance breakdown. 4 out of 5.”
Blue Tyson, SF megafan

• “An extreme example of the conceit dominating the story. In fact there is no story, only the hint of one glimpsed through the entries accessed on a traveler’s encyclopedia of Mars. A clever bit of work.” Andy Spackman, librarian and aspiring author

• “Nestvold builds an eerie suspense through the limitations of the perspective that's highly effective by the end of the story. A gimmick story, in a sense, but very well-done.” Russ Allbery

• “The perfect parody of everything that is wrong with the computerized phone systems so many companies now use. [...] Now imagine that sort of set up in the wastelands of Mars.” Puss Reboots

To learn more about “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide,” read John Joseph Adams’s comments about his 2007 interview with Ruth Nestvold. According to Nestvold, the seed for her story was "a lecture Michael Swanwick gave at a workshop I once attended that he called How to Win a Hugo."

You can purchase the January 2008 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which contains "Mars: A Traveler's Guide," through Fictionwise.

No comments: