Friday, September 18, 2009

“First Words,” a new short story by British SF&F writer Mark J. Howard

This past summer, the website The Wry Writer, which is designed to “provoke, encourage, and enable interesting and rewarding conversations with and between writers and readers of spec-fiction,” published a humorous short story penned by British science fiction and fantasy writer Mark J. Howard. Entitled “First Words” (2009), the story is about the first words uttered by the first human to set foot on the Red Planet. Here is the opening paragraph:

Nearly half an hour passed before the panic died down, although to the casual observer the word ‘panic’ would hardly seem to apply. The four astronauts spent that time gabbling at one another in a controlled and even manner, running through checklists and reading out numbers from various screens. Eventually, it was ascertained that the damage was not as bad as had been initially feared and their thoughts returned to the continuation of the mission. Forty minutes after this, Commander Trent Hooper, snug inside a bulky environment suit, opened the outer hatch and looked out over the Martian landscape for the first time. …

Mark J. Howard lives in Lancashire, England, with his dog.

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