Friday, September 3, 2010

“The First-Born” -- new health sciences short story by Brian W. Aldiss

Here’s another new short story written by award-winning British science fiction author Brian W. Aldiss. It’s titled “The First-Born” and it was published earlier this summer in Gateways (Tor, 2010) , an anthology of new, original stories by bestselling SF authors inspired by science fiction great Frederik Pohl and edited by his wife, Elizabeth Anne Hull. Set on an arid Mars settled by bands of unemployed humans and their families thanks to subsidies from blocks of universities back on Earth, the plot revolves around the death of the first baby born on Mars, the medical issue of Martian infant mortality, and what it all means for the human colonization of the Red Planet. Here are the opening lines:
This week marks the first fifty years of humanity walking on the planet Mars. As yet, a better and more peaceful culture has to establish itself, but that the settlements still exist is a matter for congratulations.

Fadrum and his buddy Reet were kicking a ball against the alley wall, Fadrum to Reet, Reet back to Fadrum. Thud bump thud bump, went the echoing ball, in terms of complaint. They seemed never to tire, those two bored boys, but suddenly ceased their game.

Reet made off, ball under arm.

“You don’t say much these days,” he shouted back at Fadrum.

“Gotta study,” was his response.

Fadrum, before heading for his house, launched a jet of urine against the wall, that wall like most others made of processed rock and facbric-blend...
Brian W. Aldiss is also the author of the poem “There Are No More Good Stories About Mars Because We Need No More Good Stories About Mars” (1963), the short story “The Difficulties Involved in Photographing Nix Olympica” (1986) and the novel White Mars or, The Mind Set Free (1999).

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